In this exclusive interview, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro speaks with The Trent’s Political Editor, Ephraim Adiele about his newly established Lagos Independent Presidential Campaign Group for President Jonathan, President Jonathan’s chances in the polls, electoral violence and his confidence about Jimi Agbaje’s emergence as Governor of Lagos State.
Do you think there is a level playing ground for the campaigns in Lagos?
Not at all! The APC government in Lagos is not concerned about democracy. They are trying to kill the opposition in Lagos while we have created space for the opposition at the center. In Lagos, they are hiding under LASAA to deprive us, the opposition a voice. In today’s Lagos, an average person cannot contemplate running for office because of the huge cost of running a campaign. This is what they are doing consistently to ensure only their posters and billboards are out there. This is a recipe for unnecessary crisis. Because when you remove other candidates signposts, billboards and posters, they on their own too can retaliate which can lead to violence. I believe people deserve to know what the opposition is saying and put it side by side with what the APC is saying. On another level, the APC campaign has been largely crisis ridden. Just today, 3 people were killed in Shomolu during one of their campaigns. They have also officially christened their thugs, TEAM LAGOS and they have bought lots of deadly weapons that they want to use on Lagosians. I think it is time for the police to begin to beam their searchlight on these people.
What are Jimi Agbaje’s chances in the gubernatorial elections in Lagos State?
I am confident with the feedback I am getting with an average person on the street of Lagos that they are clamoring for a change that will end one man’s control over our resources in Lagos. They are clamoring for a government that will invest in education as a way to end the slavery in our state. Just recently, Lagos State Government placed a N10, 000 fee on children sitting for JSS 3 exam. This is wicked and grossly insensitive on the part of a government that promised to give hope to the hopeless. And when education is no longer affordable, how can the people have hope?
Why did you set up the Lagos Independent Presidential Campaign Group for President Jonathan?
I set up the Lagos Independent Presidential Campaign Group for President Jonathan to deepen the President’s presence in Lagos State and take his message directly to the people. There is a lot of misinformation going on and a critical way to counter that is through grassroots mobilization.
Do you see President Jonathan winning the election?
I have no doubt in my mind that the president will win. It is going to be a close election, but I have no doubt in my mind that at the end, the President will carry the day. However, from the distribution and collection of PVCs, it is clear that the APC wants to rig in the North. How do you explain states like Borno and Yobe with the dislocation of insurgency recording 80 percent collection? APC is setting the stage to write election results. I am more convinced about this, because their candidate is not a known democrat, so he doesn’t mind doing or condoning whatever it takes to win. He has no history of promoting the rule of law.
Do you foresee any outbreak of violence after the presidential elections?
I hope not and that is why I am happy about the peace accord signed by Buhari. Let’s not forget that it is his silence that escalated the violence we are witnessing today. After his loss in 2011, his followers went on rampage and he kept quiet. This degenerated into the activities of Boko Haram. Prior to that, the activities of Boko Haram were not as deadly as they became after the 2011 elections.