Mr Oladipo Quadri is the candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party for the forthcoming House of Representatives election in the Owo/Ose Federal Constituency of Ondo State. He speaks about the state of the nation, the 2023 general election, and some other political issues in this interview with PETER DADA
People see the NNPP as a third-force party; do you think this party can change the game in the general elections?
When some people heard that I’d joined the race, they started panicking. I know that we (the NNPP candidates) will grab most of the positions. We are making waves, and we will succeed. I have been in politics for a while, as an activist and a politician, and I was instrumental in bringing the Labour Party to Owo Local Government. When former governor Olusegun Mimiko came and saw the crowd, he was shocked. I really worked towards his emergence as the governor of the state.
You said you brought a new party, LP, to Owo Local Government; now that you are also in another new party in Ondo State, what have you been doing to sell the party to the people of the state, particularly in your federal constituency?
I want to tell you that the NNPP is not a new party in Nigeria. It has been in the northern part of the country. Every elective post has a candidate, so, we are really on the ground in Ondo State.
We learnt that there is still pressure on your presidential candidate to step down and join other parties. You know, in politics, anything can happen. What is your reaction to this?
It is mere speculation. Though they say anything can happen in politics that is not the case in this case. It’s the same as me as a candidate coming out to lobby and telling opposition candidate that I want to resign for them; no one will take me seriously again tomorrow. We have gone far beyond that.
For him (the NNPP presidential candidate) to say he wants to step down or join other parties is just mere speculation because we are already working towards achieving our goals. He’s been travelling from state to state, working, consulting, and strategising on how to win in the Southwest; how will he now step down? It is impossible.
We are running the general election; we know the people we are contesting with.
We learnt that some of you in the party were once members of APC, but left the party and joined the NNPP over some issues. What went wrong?
When you talk about politicking, you see alignment and realignment, so you ask, “Where are the potentials?”
As a result, people will tend to move. If I can convince anybody from UPN to join NNPP, it is normal. I talked about Mimiko the other time, and I know the number of people he was able to mobilise to decamp from the House of Assembly then. So, to ensure that your party is at the top, it is dependent on your ability to win people over to your side.
So, now that I am adding some APC members to my party, that is a credit to me. I am also still working with the PDP and other political parties to ensure they join my party.
How have you been converting people in the state? What is your strength in the state now?
We are doing our best aggressively and progressively to ensure a good result and people are joining us.
You are contesting against the incumbent in your constituency, where do you think is your stronghold?
When you are talking about Owo and Ose (a federal constituency), you are talking about a constituency that is politically aware and politically sophisticated. You can’t cajole them with money or material things.
My opponents have been in one political position; what was their impact? What are the improvements they brought to the constituency? The one who was in the state assembly for eight years, what was he able to do? How many unemployed youths did they engage? Again, what was the contract they brought? What companies were they able to influence to have multiple effects on the market? Are you able to influence any road from the federal level?
Everyone knows that the Owo/Ose Federal Constituency needs a university, but what have they been able to do to ensure that university comes down to the constituency? Is it not normal if we have a railroad terminal in Owo? Are you there to work solely for your own benefit or to better the people in your constituency?
How do you intend to make a change if elected?
I am going there to influence some decisions that will favour my constituency. It is not about travelling and gallivanting around; go there, know what your people need, contribute strategically to the debate in the house, and make sure that things work out for the country. As a result, your primary goal is to ensure that your constituency improves.
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What about the issue of vote buying; how do you intend to tackle that in case it happens during the election?
I said earlier that Owo is more sophisticated in that regard; they know their onions. If anybody is giving them money, let them take it and vote for the candidate of their choice.
In Owo/Ose, we’ve tested APC and PDP, so we know what they are. I didn’t take a dime from anyone when I ensured light got to Ifon from Owo.
My going to the House of Representatives is motivated by a desire to ensure that people are safe. If everybody is a bit okay, the rate of robbery and insecurity will go down because nobody will be there to oppress you.
What is your take on the call that Nigeria should replace the presidential system of government with a parliamentary system?
We’ve seen that the presidential system of government is a waste while the unitary system is less expensive. If we are talking about expensiveness, can all the citizens of this country be well represented? How can they be well represented in the parliamentary system of government?
Even when we are talking about the National Assembly, are the entire regions well represented? Do we have equal rights? If we are saying parliamentary, yes, it might be cheap, but is every segment of the country represented in that system?
How can we form it and make sure that every voice is being heard in the parliamentary system of government? If we make sure that every local government will be well represented in the parliamentary system, then that is fine.
What do you think is wrong with our federalism system?
What we need is true federalism, in which we examine the resources that come from each area so that each area can develop at its own pace, rather than everyone waiting for federal allocation before they can develop their states.
Some people asked me the other day, “If I am the governor, what will I do?” I said we have a lot of departments; these departments are to function in different ways.
In the olden days, a crate of eggs was bought for 30 kobo, so every ministry should be up and running and make sure they have enough revenue.
How will they generate the revenue you are talking about?
We have a ministry of agriculture; how many farms do they have? How many people should be in the office doing nothing? We should have mechanised farming; engage tractors, and you will see that many people will cultivate a lot of farms.
Let the ministry itself have its own farms, where every supervisor or director goes every day. We say we are the highest producer of cocoa in the country, how many cocoa plantations do we have in this state? But if they say they’re drilling for oil today, the state government will jump on it and make sure we’re partners with them. Why can’t we partner and have mechanised cocoa farming to ensure revenue comes in?
I will also like to say that Nigeria should be restructured; we should make sure that we are productive; our raw materials should be processed here in Nigeria and sold.
How do you hope to achieve this when you get there?
You will lobby the other segment of the country for the benefit of all so that there will be fewer people at the federal level so that everybody will be pleased and development will come.
Now that they have oil in the north, the pressure on the southwest will be a little less, so if we have an oil rig in Owo or Ifon today, I think the pressure will also be less. We, the legislature, need to work with the state government to improve the state as a whole.
You are a Yoruba man; people are saying every Yoruba man should vote for a Yoruba candidate; how do you feel about that idea, especially when the candidate of your party is from the North?
The idea of Yoruba voting for Yoruba I am a nationalist; I believe in the unity of this country; and I believe that for the first time, we should consider the credibility and capability of the candidates, as well as their intelligence and not ethnicity.
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