Interview

No plan to dump PDP as lone opposition lawmaker – Agboola

 

He was once a member of the 4th Kwara legislature under the
Speakership of Hon Isa Benjamin. On Tuesday, the Appeal Court declared
him the winner of the Kwara State House of Assembly election for
Ilorin South constituency. In this interview with HEAD POLITICS,
MUMINI ABDULKAREEM, Hon Jimoh Raheem Agboola talks about the struggle
so far, his blueprint and addressed fears in some quarters being the
only opposition member. Excerpts:
How can you describe the struggle so far that culminated in your victory?
The whole scenario started when there was an announcement of the
winner of the election by INEC among the 25 parties that contested for
the election including the PDP, APC and others. Having heard of the
result, the person that was declared the winner, Suleiman Shehu (alias
Sule Cement) is a well known person and it was apparent that he did
not possess the qualification and certificates he claimed to make him
eligible for the contest. They were forged and he knew that we are
aware that he never attended the school he claimed. It was this
process that landed us in court and we filed for forgery, false claims
and lying on oath by him. It is important that I state here that it
was this Suleiman Shehu that contested the election ab initio with me
and not Hassan Azeez Oluwanilo that was later sworn-in by INEC.
Oluwanilo’s name surfaced after we commenced litigation on the matter
when his party, the APC said he won the party’s primary and was later
presented with the INEC Certificate of Return. But we were less
concerned about all that and we continued with our case. At the
tribunal level, we were short-changed because it was Shehu’s name that
was on form CF001 that candidate need to fill for submission to INEC
and the declaration of the result was for same person. Everything
about that election was about Suleiman Shehu and the other candidates
that vied for the election including me for the PDP. We proved our
case and the tribunal and INEC saw that what we said was correct
interpretation of what transpired during the general elections. We
were supposed to be pronounced the winner of the contest but the
tribunal in its wisdom ordered a fresh re-election which would have
mean the APC would not have participated because of the candidate
crisis they were having. We were contemplating going for appeal
because we envisaged the Zamafara scenario should be replicated in
Kwara as it has shown that the APC don’t have candidate for the
election when suddenly we saw their own appeal claiming that the said
Hassan Azeez should have been joined in our suit in the first instance
as a legally substituted candidate of the APC. The two appeals were
considered and we thank God that it was victory at last for democracy,
Ilorin South local government and the common people.
Were you sceptical that the Nigerian factor might creep in at a stage?
The judiciary has proven itself as a separate and independent arm of
government and the hope of the common man. We thank God they are
living up to their roles now.
Were you at any time under pressure to back off this struggle while
this trial lasted?
Not at all because my victory was the voice of the people and the
cause was that of Ilorin South Local Government. We believe it is now
we are having an original representative of our constituency, the
issue is not about me per se. Every local Government has its own
representative while some are even lucky to have two. So imagine the
pain we have that the only one we have went to another Local
Government again as an annex. That is bad enough. There was no time I
was under pressure to jettison or withdraw the case. The people of the
Local Government know the indigenes and can separate the visitors. For
us, the practice in Ilorin South is that anything representatives,
whether councillor or any elective position, it is mainly for the
Local Government indigenes. But when it comes to appointive position,
whether supervisors at the local level, commissioner at the state
level and ministers at the federal strata, that can be shared with our
visitors. If that slot now goes to another Local Government, adding to
the one it has before, common sense will tell us that is not normal.
This is a victory for we the indigenes who are grassrooter. That is
how I will put it.
What do you consider the implication of this victory?
It’s about the task of developing the community, the constituency and
its people and that we are not going to be mouthpiece of the executive
and judiciary but perform our role as a pure legislator which is
recognised as an independent organ of government even though there
must be mutual relationship to move things. We should be a megaphone
of the entire people of the constituency and the state at large.
There are concerns that you might cross carpet when you get to the
House of Assembly as the only member of the opposition. What is your
reaction to that?
No, going to the House of Assembly is through the platform of my party
and what is supposed to be important to us and any other
representative is the development of the state and our constituencies.
I am not seeing it with the prism of a lone opposition lawmaker. We
are all colleagues and will work together under a symbiotic
relationship to develop the state. They have their own party and their
agenda likewise me and we will now see how to manage ourselves to make
sure things work. That is matured and preferred politics. At the end
of the day, will I now tell my constituency that I went into the House
to fight and therefore I was unable to bring back the dividends of
democracy to move the constituency forward and make life easy for
them? Primarily we are to move Kwara forward, that is it.
What if you are approached by the APC to cross over, will you obliged?
I think they know that we are not going there for party politics but
rather to develop the state together and what would be of paramount
importance to them is how to move the state forward understanding that
this is now our collective administration unlike before. So partisan
politics should not get into the way of the development of the state,
it shouldn’t.
What obstacle do you foresee ahead?
Life itself is about challenges and no matter what you are bringing to
the table, there will still be some people who don’t like you and vice
versa. But the important thing is to make sure you are speaking the
minds of the people and you can damn the consequences once you can
achieved that.
What will be your blueprint?
As a second time lawmaker now, the experience is supposed to be there
and I am going there to make people understand the importance of the
organ called the legislature through my function and using oversight
to get things done for our people. Today in my constituency, there is
no house you will visit that there is no graduate looking for job and
we have the challenge of the civil service already over stretched and
saturated. We should be able to use oversight to improve the lives of
the youth, men and women of our people.
How was your first tenure as lawmaker compared to now?
I was a member of the fourth legislature during the speakership of Isa
Benjamin in the administration of former and late Governor Mohammed
Lawal. Then there was real cooperation and while it was the APP that
was in government, I won through the AD but that did not stop my
motions from sailing through because what I am bringing is also what
the other constituencies lacked that others also want their
constituency to have. So it was easy for my bill to scale through. We
had five AD members in the House then but I was the only one from
Kwara Central. I can say I may be operating in a similar terrain this
time again (laughter). I envisage there should be cooperation too in
this dispensation because without it, we can’t move things round and
the people will not feel the impact or importance of the legislature,
they will assume it is only the executive that is performing which is
not so.
What is your message to your constituency and the dynasty?
I pray we have more revenue to answer this great call to satisfy the
people and for God to help me for people to feel my impact. Like minds
will always come together and there is no permanent friend or enemy in
politics. Dr. Bukola Saraki remains my leader. The Saraki dynasty is
all about giving and that is the task that I will continue, the legacy
of continuously giving. What is happening to the dynasty now is that
we are in trying period, which is normal. The constituency should be
patient with us and allow us to sort out things with fact and report
back to them. I am going to run a transparent representation and open
a constituency office just like my first time. So my people can be
able to talk to me and reach me to discuss facts. For the PDP, they
should see it that one of their own is coming to represent them.
Although I am the only opposition member now, I know we will still get
more through the court and there is light at the end of the tunnel.
For my leader, Dr Saraki, he should continue giving the way he has
been giving and be rest assured that only God can recompense any
giver. He is coming back by the special grace of God.

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