Alhaji Adebayo Azeez, an indigene of Ilorin emirate in Kwara State, is a well-traveled mechanical engineer and socialite who has owned Haz Group of companies since the 70s. The politician, who claims President Buhari means well for people of this country, says he has no political ambition tells BIOLA AZEEZ that he is more concerned with local politics for greater development of his area.
WHY did you leave the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the All Progressives Congress (APC)?
To start with, I have all along belonged to APC in Abuja and PDP in Kwara State, just because of low level of development and the political structure in the state.
When Lawal was the governor, his monthly allocation was not up to N1 billion and we saw a lot of things done: electricity, roads, water, schools and so on.
The monthly allocation was in the range of N850, N900, N950 million that time. But since time of Saraki, the state has been collecting N5 billion, N3, N4 billion while the lowest has been N3 or 2.5 billion and they have not done anything appreciable. They have found it difficult to pay local government salary.
That’s why we can say the state government has a lot to do. We in the opposition try to advise them on the suffering of the people, but they would not listen.
When the allocation money comes, we don’t know what they do with the money. That’s why we decided that we can’t cope with this type of government. When they left PDP in 2014, we remained in PDP to rebuild it.
After rebuilding the party, they came back after spoiling the APC or after they were refused what they demanded for. We cannot cope with that kind of political move because when he comes now, he will be controlling them. If we had not rebuilt PDP, would it have remained till now?
And you know politics in Kwara, sorry to say, I’m from Ilorin, but people are still in darkness, or do I say they are still being blinded? Their eyes are just being opened gradually. About 60 per cent of the people don’t know what’s called politics. If you go to Oyo, Osun, Kogi, you see what they’re doing there and Kano State is like London; buildings, roads, over head bridges everywhere. But what do we have here? almost nothing. That’s why we said we can’t cope any longer. What Buhari has done in short period of three years, the PDP’s 16 years didn’t do it. He has introduced another airline for the country. He could have done more but Saraki and his people didn’t allow him. Just because we’re in democracy, when Buhari wants to carry out development programmes, he takes it to National Assembly in form of budget. It took six months before budget was signed. How can he work? That’s why we say enough is enough. They should allow this man to work for Nigeria. Buhari came in just to help rebuild Nigeria and make people enjoy democracy but they wouldn’t allow him. When he was seriously sick, they were jubilating. But God knows it all.
How will you assess the present government in the state?
The present state government can’t get pass mark in my assessment, because things are not in good shape in terms of development and dividends of democracy to people. For instance, a public school close to Unity Road in Ilorin, has no toilet, and the roof is dilapidated. Go to Edo State, all schools have modern red, green, blue roofs. In fact, I credit Oshiomhole for his stride as governor in the state. Maybe the poor rate of development in the state is due to sharing of allocation by a few people. Pointing at what I think they did, maybe International Aviation College; but how many people are working there? At International Vocational Centre IVTEC, Ajase-Ipo, which I learnt the Federal Government even contributed to, what’s happening there? Look at Shonga farm, there’s nothing more there. You can’t point to many people still working there. It’s only milk they are producing there and people are roaming the streets looking for job. We have to do something about that. What have we benefitted?
For growth of PDP, and better development of Kwara State, some PDP elders in Kwara State have pledged their support and joined Saraki in PDP. How do you see this?
Politics is like that. There’s money politics and there’s real politics. The main PDP that crossed to APC started with Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo, who was the former PDP chairman in the state. The real PDP started with him and Professor Abdulraheem Oba; but people like Joel Ogundeji. have been with Saraki camp all along because Saraki used to plant his men in opposition camps with resources. For instance, we don’t know what they used the Paris Fund given to state governments to pay workers salary for.
Saraki said he left APC, accused the leaders of intimidation, witch hunt and maltreatment after helping to form the party. Don’t you think you can suffer same maltreatment as new joiner?
Nothing like that will happen. This is it. This Saraki, when he joined APC, demanded for so many things. If you look at it, he was not supposed to be the Senate President in the first instance.
I think everyone knows that. With the use of money politics, he managed to get himself inside. Like one Yoruba sayings goes, whatever position you forcefully occupy won’t augur well. That’s why he’s facing problems now. He should have waited for his own turn to enjoy benefits and peace of the office. The Buhari you see may look gentle but he’s quite focused and determined. He wants good for Nigeria. But whatever he wants to contribute to better the lots of the country, these people block it. For instance, they will not sign (budget) on time. And this means a lot to masses’ welfare. The Ogbomoso-Oyo road was abandoned by the Obasanjo regime, but it’s part of the roads being constructed now. Development projects are happening all over the six geopolitical axes of the country. Look at railway project from Abuja to Kaduna and another one is going on from Ibadan to Lagos. That’s all we need. Buhari means well for people of this country.
Saraki said that he was demanding for some things for the people from the Federal Government which he said was not given. I have the list with me. Out of about 30 positions given to the state as its quota, he gave to his people here and there.
With the increasing agitation for the 2019 governorship position among three senatorial districts in the state, in your own assessment, whose turn is it now?
The incumbent governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, is from Kwara South senatorial district of the state. I think it should be the turn of the Kwara Central now. Shabba Lafiagi from Kwara North has done his turn; likewise Bukola Saraki who said he’s from Kwara Central, had done his turn. Abdulfatah Ahmed has done his own. I believe and I think it should be the turn of Kwara Central. With this present political situation we are in the state now, we need someone that would take us to the promised land, somebody that is experienced, capable and competent. That’s what we need right now. After that, when the new man may have taken us to the promised land, it can be rotated among the districts all over again. That’s my own opinion because system needs urgent attention and solution. People are already saying that ‘Bukola Saraki is our son; let’s rally round him’. But I will say that we need a competent hand to rebuild the state.
What is your view about the call for generational shift among political actors in government?
It’s okay to give young generation chance to exhibit their prowess in governance, but look at what’s happening at the two chambers in the National Assembly where you have young Nigerian males and females as members. These young Nigerians have not made it before and when they get few millions in their kitty they tend to misbehave. If they see someone that will give them some millions, they will even oppose their constituents for their selfish reasons. Though, there are some of them that are responsible and will not do anything against the wish of their people. But many of them will forget when they see money. That’s it. So, may be after we rebuilt this country to an appreciable level of development, the young generation can come in. But at this stage of our development, we need experienced people.
What are your words of advice for politicians as 2019 electioneering approaches?
We vote for them to represent us, they should not forget the people when they get to power. Look at what Senator Sanni Sheu said about millions they earn. If they work for people, the people will enjoy them for what they voted them for. Electorate that stood in sun and rain to get them to positions of power should not be forgotten. That’s why people stone some of them in some places. If you do well for your people, they will be happy to vote them to power again.
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