Aare Mojeed Alabi is a member of the national convention committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He is a professor of Political Science, professor of Law and a onetime speaker of Osun State House of Assembly.
In this interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly, the don turned politician told us how the just concluded presidential primary election of his party went and why he was chosen by the party leaders to represent Ede, Egbedore and Ejigbo federal constituency in the House of Representatives come next year.
Can you give us a brief on what you have succeeded in doing as a politician now and in the past?
I have been into politics for quite sometime. I have been in politics for about 25 years. I have been a secretary of a local government from 1991 to 1993.
I participated in the non party primaries that were held between 1987 and 1989. Eventually, I became the secretary of a local government during Babangida’s era. The republic also collapsed and I returned to the university. I have been in politics since 1998 till date.
How do you feel about the just concluded APC presidential primary election?
It is a fantastic development in the electoral history in Nigeria. I’m saying this with all sense of responsibility. Apart from the fact that I’m a politician, I have been a teacher of Political Science. One of the areas I concentrate is electoral qualities and I also participated actively as a member of the national constitution convention committee of the All Progressives Congress.
In composing the electoral committee, we made sure the nominees were there and at every stage of the process they were part of our meetings in Abuja, Lagos and all through.
And when we got to the day of voting, you saw the way the polling booths were arranged, you saw how the states were called one by one, how the ballot papers were released to them in batches, how individuals went to the polling booths to cast their votes, how they dropped their ballot papers in the open, how all the 40 ballot boxes were emptied because that was strategic. We didn’t want to count state by state so that no candidate would say a particular state voted for me and a particular state didn’t.
So, that was why we created a bigger ballot box where we emptied each of the 40 ballot boxes into the bigger one before we started counting. You could see the sorting that took several hours, you could see the counting that took several hours, you could see how everything was done in the full glare of the camera and that was why at the end of the exercise, not a single aspirant faulted the process. They all embraced the result and promised to work together with the winner. That showed transparency and it should be a lesson to other political parties to emulate.
By the look of things, does Buhari deserve to rule us again?
Right from day one, Buhari has been a man of integrity, prudence and selflessness. Nigeria has reached a point that we need salvation, we have reached a point that we need to make sure that we have a leadership that will take Nigeria to greatness, we need a leadership that would bring back our lost glory, we need a leadership that would be able to stamp out corruption.
We need a leadership that would be able to instill discipline, we need a leadership that would be able to turn the economy around, we need a leadership that Nigerians would be proud to be part of and I can tell you Buhari represents all these. I think the delegates didn’t make a wrong choice when they voted massively and you can see the wide difference between the winner and the first runner up. That showed that Nigerians are actually ready for change which Buhari represents.
What is your view about Ejigbo, Ede and Egbedore politics? Is it anything to write home about?
I’m about to represent Ede, Egbedore, Ejigbo constituency in the state of Osun at the National Assembly. It is a very big constituency comprising four local governments and up till now we don’t have problem in our selection process because we are always rotating this position among ourselves.
For example, in the current dispensation that is going towards an end, the senator is from Ejigbo, my home town, the member of House of Representatives is from Ede but this time around they have given the Senate seat to Alhaji Isiaka Adeleke, former governor of the state and because of that they have to move the House of Representatives back to my town. It was the decision of the party that I should represent the constituency at the National Assembly from Ejigbo.
A lot of other political giants like you are aspiring for the same seat, what is your selling point?
At the risk of being accused of over pricing myself, I don’t want to talk too much but nonetheless, I must be able to tell you that I’m a political scientist. I have degrees up to PhD in Political Science. I have been teaching Political Science in the university and apart from that, I’m a lawyer. I also have degrees at all levels in Law and I have also taught Law in the university.
Apart from that, I’m a practising lawyer, I have been in politics for long. I have been the Speaker of House of Assembly for four years unimpeached. I’m a speech maker so, I see myself as a round peg in a round hole because I’m not going to be a bench warmer in the Assembly. I know the purpose of going to the Assembly. I know what the work of assembly would be, I know the kind of knowledge, skills that I possess that I can input into the work of the National Assembly that would make impact on legislative development and the overall development of our country, Nigeria.
Godfatherism is the norm in Nigerian politics, who is your godfather?
I don’t have a godfather but I have people that I call my role models, people who I appreciate for their ways of doing things in politics. My starting point would be Chief Bisi Akande who I served as a Speaker; I remember Rauf Aregbesola, who showed me how to be a principled politician without losing touch with the people that I represent.
I see a role model in Ahmed Bola Tinubu who remained consistent in the fight for uplifting the downtrodden masses. There are lots of them, they serve as role models because I have seen how they play their politics and it is very endearing.
What will you tell the people of Ejigbo, Ede, Egbedore and the people of Osun in general to assure them that indeed you are going there for their own good and not for personal reason?
My people know me. I’m not a person that would hustle for power. Don’t forget, when my tenure was about to end in 2002, my people told me they wanted me to contest again, I told them I’m not going to contest because I’m not the only one that brought fame to my town. I told them there are other younger elements who can come up and I’m happy to tell you today that the person that took over from me was from Ede. He was my student in the university and he also performed.
That is the kind of idea I have. I’m not the only one, let us develop the youth. I was a national delegate by virtue of my position, I know the kind of entreaties that were sent to me. I knew some of us didn’t take them and I knew those who took and yet voted for Buhari who did not spend a kobo. Buhari didn’t spend a kobo, they did everything for him. So, this gave me the assurance that there is hope for Nigeria.
Can Nigerians really trust the APC that it will be better than PDP?
We are all human beings and when you are dealing with human beings, it’s a matter of hope. Most times you discover that it is not the policies or the programmes that are at times faulty but operators of those programmes or policies. The only hope is that we eventually get the right people who will be able to implement these policies or programmes.
– NIKE POPOOLA