Anifowoshe Owolabi, a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), contested the last National Assembly primary for Ikorodu Federal Constituency, but lost. In this interview with AUGUSTINE ADAH, he spoke on the performance of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode in Lagos and the need to give more opportunities to the youth in the country. Excerpts:
How did you feel when you aspired to represent Ikorodu Federal Constituency in the last election but could not make it through the primary?
I felt fulfilled because to me, contesting an election is not a must-win. The party at that time had spoken and as a loyal party man, it behooves on me to abide by the party’s decision and work for the success of the party in the election which I did. I am happy that we came out victorious in that election. So, having contested for the House of Representatives primary, I felt a sense of achievement in me in that a young man of my age had inspired many youths in Ikorodu to come and participate in the strategic government through political participation. To me, that was a huge achievement.
Now, youths in Ikorodu are feeling that if Anifowoshe can contest an election, they too can come out to contest an election in the area. Now, I am seeing some youths aspiring to other elective positions as 2019 general elections is approaching. I am appealing to our party to give them the opportunity.
Now that preparation for the 2019 general elections is gathering momentum, are you still going to contest this time around?
This question has been coming to me since Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), announced the timetable for the elections. Some people have gone as far as branding T-Shirt with Omo Anifowoshe for 2019. But, as it is, I am still consulting and have not made up my mind on the matter. You know, in the last primary, we were about eight aspirants who aspired to represent Ikorodu in the House of Representatives, which Jimi Benson emerged the winner and some of us supported him. I called a meeting of other aspirants on the need for us to support the winner of the primary and we worked for his victory. However, the effort was not appreciated by either Benson or the party.
What is your assessment in term of youth participation in politics?
Our party has not done enough for the youth, especially in bringing them into the government considering the role they played during the last general elections. Youths in Nigeria constitute more than 60 percent of the voting population and they deserve to be properly represented in the government, both at the local, state and federal levels. Unfortunately, it is not e so because if you look at those appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari into the cabinet, almost all of them are old men. We were also disappointed in the recent board appointments announced by President Buhari in which the younger generations were not properly represented in the appointments. As the 2019 general elections are fast approaching, our party should understand the role of the youth and give them key positions. If we want to reduce crimes in our society, we must ensure that our youth are empowered so that they will not be used for negative purposes.
Do you believe the youths are given their rightful place in the governance of this country?
I believe the youths have not been given adequate opportunity to contribute to the development of the country. However, I must give kudos to the governor of Lagos State for some youth programmes he has put in place, which are at the verge of execution. Nevertheless, I think the governor and our party can do more in terms of giving more roles to our youth in strategic places of governance. There is nothing wrong in appointing commissioners who are between the ages of 25-35 in the state. I know we have people who are intelligent, competent and exposed among our youth that can be appointed into such a sensitive position as commissioner.
I think our party (APC) and the governors should do more in appointing the youth into positions of governance, both at the state and federal levels. If you look at ministers appointed by the present administration, there is virtually no youth there. The youngest minister, if I am correct, is between 49 to 50 years. I believe we have competent youths who can be appointed as ministers and commissioners in the country. We should not forget that the party’s campaign in the preparation for the last general elections revolves around the youth. If we must find lasting solutions to the country’s problem, it is the right time we begin to involve our youth in governance because they are full of energy, innovation, vigour and all qualities needed to bring the country out of its present predicaments.
I am, therefore, appealing to our elders and the political parties to give special recognition to the youth in the forth-coming National and State Assembly elections in 2019. I want to suggest that they should peg the maximum age of candidate to 45 years so that the youth can have better opportunities. Before the last local government election (in Lagos) last year, we had a young man, possibly 28 years, as administrator of Agege local government area. I think our political leaders in Ikorodu should desire to have such a thing in our area here.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode would in the next few months in Lagos celebrate its third anniversary, how do you assess his performance so far?
The governor is doing his best in the state. However, he need to do more because there other things that need his attention. It is now we understand why he was not in hurry to start work when he came to power. At the beginning of the administration, some of us were confused over the pace of development when he was sworn in. But, with time, he was able to bring his administrative experience to bear and things started moving the way it should be. We are impressed with the construction of some roads across the entire state.
If you go to Epe, Agege and other places in the state, you see that the governor is changing the face of Lagos. Here in Ikorodu, we have the road from Agric area to Arepo in Ogun State. That road is strategic because when completed, it would afford the people of Ikorodu an alternative route to Lagos. We also have a road from Igbogbo to Ijede, which is ongoing. We are just talking about road construction; we have other areas that the governor has left his foot marks in less than three years. However, we still want him to consider empowering more of our youths in order to reduce unemployment and crimes in our society.
Culled from Independent