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Socialist Democracy April - May 2003 | Index

"OUR PRIORITY IS WELFARE OF THE WORKING MASSES AND YOUTH"

 

Lanre Arogundade, the NCP candidate for Lagos West senatorial district is a socialist activist, journalist and a former NANS president. In this interview with Ojo Olajire (Socialist Democracy), he explains the party’s programme for his constituency:

 

Socialist Democracy (SD): What are your plans for Lagos West?

 

Lanre: Well, my plans for Lagos West are in line with 10-care programme of the National Conscience Party, NCP. As you are well aware the party has a 10-care programme covering employment care, security care, housing care, food care, water care and so on, and that would be the priority of anybody that is elected on the platform of the NCP. This means that at the National Assembly we shall be initiating bills and motions and also supporting bills and motions that will ensure the realisation of this 10-care programme which if provided would make life bearable and meaningful for the vast majority of Nigerians. Along that line for Lagos West I am concern about the state of the youths in this area. Lagos West is made up of ten local government areas, very big area, and everywhere you go either in Mushin or Ikeja or Ajeromi/Ifelodun or Amuwo/Odofin you could see from the number of youths who are roaming about the streets that there is a problem of massive unemployment.

It has reached a very terrible state in the area and now what we are saying is along with the party's programme of employment care the first thing we are going to do is to establish through a data base the correct statistic about the unemployed in this area. What I am saying is that we need to know how many people, youths that are unemployed, what phase they come from, whether majority of those unemployed are graduate of science and so on. So, we are going to have this comprehensive database with which we can now work and advise industries, government, etc on how they can absorb all these unemployed youths. You know that once the problem of joblessness is tackled, you are invariably also trying to solve the problems of crime, drug addiction and other problems that prevail. So the question of what happen to our youth is a priority. Then such a data will also be useful in making recommendation for those who will benefit from the social security scheme that our government intends to put in place in Lagos State and other states that we might control. Again for Lagos West like I said is the largest district in Lagos State and people have talked about the neglect in the state. So at the National Assembly we are going to be making a case for special allocation for Lagos State.

The state really needs to be declared a disaster zone. The infrastructures have actually collapsed. The only difference is that we will be making a point that if we have this money it will be democratically managed and used for the purpose it is meant for under an NCP government. Next priority for Lagos West also relates to a question of the youth. Now we are looking at those who are in school and those who are out of school. Because I run a cyber café here I happen to know how much important people attached to computer education, internet knowledge and so on. I feel in all the local governments in this Lagos West, we need community resources centre complete with library, internet and computer facilities where even school children in primary schools could go at the end of their schools and try to update their knowledge. If we put this in place, it will also help in solving one of the problems have.

Another major priority is the question of what the multinational corporations in the Lagos West are doing for the people. If you look at the Ejigbo area, where the NNPC depot is you discovered that the roads are in a very terrible state. We would mobilise and pressurise organisation like NNPC to take up some of the basic responsibilities of that area in terms of constructing roads, providing link bridges so that the problem of traffic congestion could be solved. Of course, you also look at other industrial areas like Oshodi/Isolo and Ikeja, we are going to be looking what input these industries can actually make to the development of environment in which they find themselves. I must quickly say that though one is permanently representing Lagos West but at the same time as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, you are supposed to also contribute to the promotion of welfare of the people in other areas. Given my background, I come from a working class background, from a socialist background, and to that extent we are going to accord high priority to issues that affect the working class in the National Assembly. And whatever we are able to do successfully would of course benefit workers in Lagos West. We are looking to the issue of living wage to merge the rate of inflation, this will largely beneficial to workers in this area. We are looking at opposition to privatisation and commercialisation; we are going to fight it, we are going to examining the possibility of using the instrumentalities of the National Assembly to stop the ongoing privatisation and commercialisation so that workers would no longer lose their jobs which is the case under this so-called privatisation and commercialisation.

We are going to campaign for democratic management of our resources and public ownership of the commanding sectors of the economy. It is only when the wealth and resources of society are commonly owned and democratically managed by the working people to provide for the real needs of the people and not luxury for a few rich that we can abolish poverty in the midst of potential abundance. That is what we mean by a democratic, socialist system to be put in place by a workers’ and poor peasants’ government. This is what can provide lasting solutions to the numerous problems facing the country, particularly the working masses.

We are also looking at the problem of education that has remained the question of inadequate funding of our universities system; we will be making a case for adequate funding and beyond that we will also be making a case for government intervention in the educational system. Such intervention does not necessarily have to be inform of given direct money to institutions. But I have cited the example of the ongoing ID scheme, Nigeria has spent billions of naira on this scheme yet we have universities that could have been asked to develop the necessary materials that would have allowed the scheme to have commenced since like designing the computer, getting universities involved, getting the students involved if this huge money that has been wasted on ID card gets to universities, I think they would have benefitted from it. This is just the overall perspective of the programme that one has for Lagos West.

 

SD: In your manifesto you said that you are going to earn the salary of an average civil servant; I want to ask, if you are being paid the jumbo allowance that they are getting at the National Assembly, where are you going to keep the rest? Are you going to keep it in the federation account or how are you going to do it?

 

Lanre: Well, we are not going to give it to the federation account because we know that if that is done unless you have an NCP government in place we do not have confidence in all these other parties. The money is likely to be mismanaged. What we will do really is to openly and publicly donate the money to the struggles of the working class and youths and others progressive constituencies which we come from. I have said I am a unionist, that is very clear, you also have student movement, then you even have the media which is my own background. One look at the situation whereby the media could have a trust fund to which you can make donations so that people would recognise that it is possible to serve the people without necessary becoming super rich. So this will be done openly and publicly.

 

SD: What are your likely chances and that of the NCP in the forthcoming general elections?

 

Lanre: We have gone round and the response from the electorate is highly encouraging. As you know, we are confronted with problem of cynicism by the electorate and that shows much about how well the previous governments have faired. The truth of the matter is that the past governments including the present one have disappointed the people and people feel that the only thing they can get is when you come around to ask for their vote and they ask for money. Because of the fact that NCP has integrity, the leadership is respected, the person of Chief Gani Fawehinmi, and we also have programme coupled with the antecedents of some of us, we are able to get some good response from people, that they will give us a chance with the hope that you are going to make the difference. I, personally, have received encouraging response, I am the candidate to beat in Lagos West but what we are telling people is march your words with action. If somebody believes in our cause, be ready to defend it, be ready to cast your vote, be ready to say and ensure the vote are counted in your presence and be ready to defend that mandate in case of attempt to rig and other unwholesome malpractices. So ultimately the power lies with the people.

 

SD: Your words to the electorate?

 

Lanre: Well, my words are that they should go out en masse and vote for NCP on 12th April, 19th April, 3rd May and during the local government council election.

 

 

 

"WE WANT TO RESTORE HOPE TO THE PEOPLE"

 

- Blessing Peters, the NCP candidate for Ajeromi-Ifelodun constituency 1 of the Lagos State House of Assembly speaks to Emmanuel Adikwu (Socialist Democracy):

 

What prompted you to partake in the forthcoming election?

 

A: I have always wanted to contribute to the development of my community. So my involvement in politics is not by accident but something I have nurtured since when I was a kid. I strongly feel that with the type of corrupt and inept leadership that presently obtains the mass of the people have lost hope. In essence, we are here to restore hope to the people. I am also a socialist and member of DSM, an organisation which fights for the rights of the workers and the masses in general, and which also stands for a socialist alternative to the present rotten, anti-poor capitalist system. Getting elected as an NCP assemblywoman would give me and other party representatives a very good opportunity to advance the interest of the working masses who are presently marginalised.

 

 

What do you hope to achieve if elected into the state house of assembly?

 

A: I am going there to serve and not to dictate or turn my back on the people. I wish to sponsor bills and mobilise the masses to ensure that the lives of people are changed. I hope to promote education by sponsoring bills to that effect. I will concentrate on the youth to a very large extent, on their welfare, education, jobs, etc. I will also advocate for vocational training for the youth. I will put pressure on the government to ensure that electricity supply, good roads, water, etc, become available to the mass of the people, and that drainages are also constructed to ensure proper flow of water to eliminate flooding which is a perennial problem in my constituency.

 

What are your chances and of the NCP in this election? What is the party doing to ensure victory?

 

A: We have received appreciable and tremendous support and recognition from the people during our campaign so far. With the woeful performance generally of the PDP and AD, most of the change seeking people in my constituency are solidly behind all NCP candidates. May be because I am a lady, I have received tremendous support, encouragement. We intend to take our campaign further to the market places, churches, mosques, to various associations, schools, hospitals and even to the workers in the local government secretariat. Although, it is rather tasking, but to ensure total victory, no stone will be left unturned. I want to use this opportunity to tell the people of Ajeromi-Ifelodun Constituency One that they should tell the professional politicians that the time for money politics is over. I know times are hard, but if they decide not to sell their votes, I strongly believe that ultimately, we will together put up a formidable struggle and liberate ourselves and our entire society from the shackles of the corrupt elite politicians and looters who have perpetually condemned the mass of the people to abject poverty and penury.

 

 

 

Socialist Democracy April - May 2003 | Index