Wale Oluwo is the Lagos State Governorship Candidate of the Boot Party. In this interview with thegazellenews.com‘s crew in Lagos, he speaks on how he intends to dislodge the Sanwo-Olu administration via the 2023 general elections.
Q: What is the ideology of the Boot Party?
A: We are a centre left party and our ideology is capitalism on the basis of welfarism. As we encourage capitalism, we encourage wealth we also embraced welfarism to help the weak members in the society.
Q: Is this a new party?
A: No. The party was registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in 2019 after the elections. You can say relatively new when you compared to others. The party is a product of struggle, because the party approach INEC for registration around 2015 and INEC denied it.The party went to court and it was the court that ordered INEC to register it. They were in court for like two years and I thought of it that if there is a young party that was birthed out of struggle and I see the Lagos election as a political struggle, so tell me the best party to use if not the party that is already used to struggle.
Q: And you think the Boot Party can unseat the current gov?
A: We are approaching this in two ways. One, to go all out alone and secondly to go into alliance with other parties. We are open to alliance talks, a lot of underground talks are on-going. By and large, it is not that Boot Party cannot do it alone, we can but the time is short. If the alliance talk did not work out ,we still go ahead. For us we see election and we see beyond election. The struggle is not an election, election is just one element, ANC has been in South Africa for decades eventually they got political power, for us we are also seeing a struggle so that if the elections fails, the struggle continues.
Q: Some people believed you are part of the old order, why are you challenging the status quo?
A: Well maybe in terms of membership of a political party. Political party is a big umbrella that accommodate all tendencies, to that extent I was part of the old order within the context of membership of a political party but in terms of believe,ideology,political inclination,I was not part of them. I maintained my position from the beginning – put my state first,people first before personal or party interest. That had been my guiding principle.
I was in government and I did not betray that principle. That was why for three and half years that I aws there I didn’t touch their money. I don’t believe in politics of I want to be a millionaire or I am going to government to become rich, that is nonsense.
Q: Is that why you left the Lagos state cabinet, a lot of people felt you are sympathetic to the former Governor Ambode?
A: Partly so. But more importantly, I can’t function within the system that was being created. I worked with the governor directly and not with the cabal of APC. So three and half years in government, I didn’t step my foot one day in Bourdillion. When I saw the kind of work we were doing under Ambode’s administration, we were on the right track, people of Lagos believe then and till now that Ambode was doing a good job just like Fashola.
A decision was taken by a group of people, I don’t know whether you saw my resignation letter, to stop Ambode from the work he was doing for the betterment of the state and I questioned that. This is someone who is performing and you said he can’t continue, they didn’t say he was not performing they said he was delivering dividends of democracy but he was not a party man. How can we put party interest above interest of the people and the interest of our state? I know there is a conflict between that, what I believed and the government so I resigned. You were not born to be in government, if it is against your fundamental principle, you go because majority carried the vote because it is a collective responsibility. I have a life outside government, so I had to leave.
Q: With the way you left and coming back now to challenge the incumbent, don’t you think some people will believe you have an axe to grind?
A: No, far from it.
Q: So do you think they will vote for you?
A: Lagos state? Why won’t they vote for me?
Q: Don’t you feel they should maintain the status quo?
A: If we say they should maintain status quo forever, that is not democracy. We are in democracy and if you are vying for public office, the elect must come back to renew the mandate and he is coming back, others who have better ideas will come and people will make the decision. For me, if you are referring to Governor Sanwoolu as status quo, is doing the best he can within the limit of his circumstances I understand that. He has constraints, I have been in that system before, but I would have loved if within that constraints he delivered in a way that when I get to the street of Lagos and I asked 10 people, 6 or 7 should say he is doing a good job let us not change him. That is what politics is all about. It is not about being popular or taking selfie, don’t try to be popular. You are working for the people let them determine whether you are popular. Not trying to promote yourself on billboards as if you are a product. You can do that when election is coming. The Governor is not meant to be seen all the time, if you are Governor of Lagos state, you are a Governor of a country because Republic of Benin’s economy is not up to the economy of Eti-Osa, how can you consider yourself as a governor of a state like Taraba, Ekiti, that mentality must change that you are managing a country.
So when you are doing that you must not sleep more than three hours, you go out to monitor at nights. That was what Governor Fashola did and succeeded. Ambode also did it. I was on the road with Gov Ambode every night minium of four times in a week and we go back to the office around 3.30am. You see the projects, you see security, nobody will come in the morning and tell you different stories. In Lagos, if you go out in the afternoon, you cause traffic, you are distracted by the people.
The people want to see the city that works for them, they want to sleep at night and be secured. They can wake up in the morning and there is something to go and do. Either a business or in employment. What do we see now? Almost every streets, cluster of young men doing nothing.You know what it does? It kills the dignity of the human person.
If you say what is wrong with the status quo, I tell you I see these people around and government is pretending as thay don’t exist. They are in danger, the state, security and economy. People want to leave their homes and get to their offices on time. If you are living at Alagbado and you work at Lekki, you want to leave and get to Lekki by one hour. Instead of staying in traffic for several hours, some would have reduced the hours spent in traffic when there was okada but now it’s gone.
Okada has been banned and the only means of transportation is the buses. They just go there to queue no buses. If individuals services or goods cannot move from one point A to B, no city can be productive, no city can be smart. The roads that the Okada will ply are constructed with government money and government money belongs to everybody. So, you cannot discriminate that this one can ply the road and another one cannot.
But here is one thing, because government has the responsibility to protect lives and property, having motorcycles on a major highway is a big risk, so you can ban them from the highways, which is what we have been doing all along. We must allow motorcycles to operate in the neighbourhood.
The decision by the government is a knee-jack approach to administration, you don’t run a government like that. I believe riders are Nigerians, they are riding their motorcycles to feed their families and sustain their livelihood. You cannot close your eyes to that, let us accept that motorcycles must operate. Let us define where they can operate and where they cannot operate based on risk assessment.
The government is trying to be lazy about this. It requires a lot of intellectual application of yourself to be able to think that if some riders are using it for criminality, how do we capture them. There is suppose to be a smart city project, and this project is going to put Lagos in a position that there will be cameras all across the city.
Let us bring GOKADA back, we used to have them, they operate like Uber then. Which government ban without providing alternative. Okada has been banned. Few years ago, we have GOKADA, it’s like Uber and have started deploying its service, is it not the status quo that stop it? Two years after, you stop the one the masses are using. They are to blame.
If they did not stop the okada, they will have started to migrate to into the communities. A woman that leaves home for work will have to trek to the bus stop about 1km, she can be robbed because the traffic is already building up. People leave their homes 5am, government must be sensitive to the people. Your policies must impact on the people or does it expose them to danger. If status quo don’t know and can’t identify the problems why should we leave the status quo?
They say a new Lagos rising, I say rising to where? A new Lagos that is inside traffic and does not know how to come out of it, where is it rising to? I am not trying to belittle the work of the Governor. I sympathize with him. For the first time since we have been having godfatherism, you have a godfather who is trying to be president, where will he get money to fund projects?
Q: Highlight three cardinal points of your campaign
A: One is managing traffic. We have a transportation master plan set to achieve three objectives- To encourage those who have cars to leave their cars at home and join public bus,the day we achieve this we have solve the problem because the traffic will not fall from heaven. We also intend to put a lot of our people on water to use the water transportation.
Since Asiwaju’s administration Lagos started BRT, Fashola implemented it in his first term. Under Governor Ambode we also did some BRT lanes I remember that one from Oshodi to Abule Egba, the implication of that is that in the absence of railway, we put BRT lanes on almost on the major roads either state or federal.
We must create terminals some as big as that of Oshodi, some not as big. As you create, terminals, we must create lounges where the rich people who left their cars can relax because if you say public transportation is for the poor, that is not correct, Lagos is peculiar, the public transportation must have coaches for the masses as well as executive coaches, if we want to encourage them to drop their cars at home. You cannot take BRT and stop at Anthony and rain is beating you.
The BRT for your information must not be inside any traffic, if we need to do a bridge where BRT shares connection with other buses, we will do it. The day we achieve that, people can plan to go to one to four places in a day. That is where the status quo is not getting it right. Gov Sanwoolu talked about bottlenecks when he assumed office, he tried to do some but there are still some left undone.
I don’t have anything personal; I just believe Lagos can be better as it were. Let me give you an example, I spent two and half years working on a reform project for the power sector in Lagos. I spent the first six months in office to study the power architecture of the state.
I went to all the power substations in Lagos, over 500 of them. And I got all the stakeholders in the energy sector together, and we came up with a reformed document. That document was designed to give Lagos 24 hours power supply.
I took it to Abuja and they set up a technical committee. Three times we presented it to the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission. It was approved after the third session.
I came back to Lagos to create a bill that will make Lagos to implement embedded power that can put the government working with the discos in a position to generate, distribute power all in Lagos. And our economy will be on 24 hours power supply.
The bill was passed by the state Assembly and the Governor assented to it in 2018. We have the legislative framework to change the power equation in Lagos but nobody has touched it. The reformed document is there, they didn’t use it.
Flooding is the second. I get embarrass that Lagos gets flooded every time. We must study the drainage system and see that point where the land awash the Lagoon and that area we put dice there. Put giant pumping machine when it rains, the water from the lagoon will not enter into the community. I saw something like that inside Dolphin Estate this year, why having a system that don’t put in place multiple solutions.
Security is the third one. The day you drive around and you start seeing street gate on government road, it is the first sign that security is deteriorating. The people are no longer save, under Gov Fashola in those days, the gates were dismantled and community policing system were strengthened. They are more now. For us, we will strengthened security including marine and along Badagry, Epe, Ikorodu because we still have forest, we would not wait for bandit to come.
Q: But some people believe the terminals are white elephant projects?
A: No they are not. It is like cooking soup if they put all the condiments, it won’t be sweet. Government project is the same thing if it is about reform, what we are doing is reform and I was part of the committee. The reform was to build terminals all over Lagos. Oyingbo was supposed to be a depot, it was vandalized during the EndSARS, Maryland was supposed to be a big terminal. From Maryland bus stop, the two petrol stations will be demolished, we have already negotiated with stations and they agreed. It was to prepare the ground for the terminals.
There was an approval to buy 5,000 capacity buses, we succeeded in bringing in 820. I see LAGRIDE, this government does not have business with cars, they are increasing the traffic. What they need are high capacity vehicles that can take 50 people at the same time. An average of two people per car, if have buses that can take 50 people, you have remove 25,000 on the road.
We encourage the manufacturer to come and set up plant in Epe not with govt money, but we are going to concession road to different private sector to go there. It will create jobs and increase GDP. If someone has abandoned the plan to assemble the bus plant in Epe, what will be inside the terminals?
Q: But it has been said in some quarters that you were being sponsored by ex-Governor Ambode?
A: I consider that as an insult, at 56 years. Ambode is not even a member of our party. It is going to be a serious government. I am not interested in money, fame, power or influence, I am in this for the people. We must take the resources that are being wasted, take it from those who are wasting it and put it back to work for the people. That’s what this struggle is about and we will do it.
Q: It is generally believed that you cannot go into politics without a god father. Who is yours?
A: That is a fallacy. It is a myth and I tried to demystify them. I entered politics since 2006, I have also heard that they need to take you to a shrine and I am still looking for the mad man that will take me there. I have been spending my money, why must I be in public office when I have other things I do. People who go there to steal are the ones that are desperate. I am not a desperate politician and I won’t be a professional one. For all the time I have played politics I have been in full time employment or business. If opportunity comes, I play it if not I move on with my life. That is how a public officer should be.
No godfather and there will be none. Not even Governor Ambode they are attaching my name with. He was a victim of godfatherism and can’t be my god father. I am a maverick in my own right. I want the best for the Lagos people. The people of this state want change, APC is not on ground.