Former Chairman Iwo Local Government and Proprietor, See Bee Hotel in Iwo, Hon. Alh. Sulaiman Bello Akanji, has thrown his hat into the ring for the House of Representatives seat in Iwo/Ola-Oluwa/ Aiyedire Federal Constituency of Osun State. Running on the platform of Labour Party, Akanji is seen as a game changer of sort in a race where the APC incumbent Hon. Abdulgafar Akintayo Amere is being challenged by PDP’s Hon. Tajudeen Babatunde alias Ologburo. Former council chairman Akanji speaks on the race and his aspiration in an interview with WESTERN POST’s BIODUN AKANDE…
Initially, the two major contenders vying for a seat in the House of Representatives in Iwo/ Ola-Oluwa/ Aiyedire Federal Constituency were from PDP and APC, why your sudden interest in the race?
It’s because of the problems that emanated from the congresses held by the two political parties, which prompted our people to call on me to bail them out. That’s why I came on board. I’m humbled by that call by our people; I’m humbled by the invitation.
Don’t you believe you entered the race too late?
No, it is not late at all. I still have enough time to campaign and also to fully prepare for the election. I think I have to thank God for where I am today. My previous achievement and record give me an edge over the other two candidates.
What are your chances in this election? What gives you the impression that you are the most suitable candidate for the job?
As I said earlier my record lends credence to this. Ask people around. Everybody is clamouring for my emergence as the House of Reps. member representing Iwo/Ola-Oluwa/Aiyedire local governments. The people really appreciate my efforts in making the step-down transformer project for Iwo a reality. Also, the citing of See Bee Hotels in Iwo is a welcome development for Iwo and its environ.
What precisely is your agenda for the constituency?
My programme is divided into two parts. I have human capital development and community development. By human capital development, I’m out to add value to the life of every individual in the community. Like I did when I was the local government Chairman when I embarked on so many developmental projects such as sponsoring people to undergo vocational training, giving interest-free loans to artisans, bursary awards to students and also by giving books to students in both public and private schools. All that is categorized as human development, which ‘am going to improve upon when I become a member of the House of Representatives by the grace of God.
Community development has to do with programmes and projects that the community can directly benefit from. I’m going to make sure more transformers are provided, sinking of more boreholes, facilitate construction of more schools and health centres and putting in place e-library with internet facilities at the headquarters of each local government I am representing. I will make sure that we have federal presence in my constituency in the area of higher institution. I will also find out why Gbongan-Iwo-Oyo road project has been abandoned. I will get to the root of the matter and make sure that work is resumed in earnest. In addition I will make sure that all other abandoned federal roads in my constituency are completed.
You are familiar with the political terrain of Iwo where there is always a dominant political party which a majority of the people embrace in this instance the APC, how do you intend to convince the people that you are the best candidate for the seat?
There is a new development in Iwo right now because of my own candidature. Although people used to believe that Iwo belongs to either APC or PDP but that has changed now with the emergence of Labour Party. People’s perception has changed completely, they now lay emphasis on personalities, not on political parties any more. This factor gives me the confidence I have based on the support I get from my people. They keep referring to my track record, generousity, kind-heartedness and diligence and all these make them to believe that I will give them good representation at the National Assembly. They have assured me and given me their words.
Has INEC done well so far as regards preparation for the general election and what’s your reaction to the postponement of the February polls?
It’s a pity Prof. Attahiru Jega found himself in this messy situation because he is not in full control. The Federal government and security chiefs are dictating to him and that’s why the election was postponed as Jega had initially assured Nigerians that he was fully ready for the election. Postponement of the election a week to the fixed date is a bad omen for our budding democracy.
Can you enumerate some of your achievements as Chairman Iwo local government?
I don’t know where to even start. I made a record in terms of road construction because my administration embarked on road rehabilitation and construction that surpassed the achievement of my predecessors. The records are there. In terms of electricity provision, many transformers were bought for those areas where they were in high need of it and also don’t forget the role I played in ensuring that the dream of having a step-down transformer in Iwo came to pass. In the area of security, apart from the provision of a security patrol van for the vigilante outfit, four police post at Odo Ori, at the back of First Bank, Idiiroko and Ogburo were also constructed by my administration not to talk of provision of operational office for the SSS. Then, a reasonable number of classroom blocks were also constructed and rehabilitated by me and those schools were fully equipped with free text books, teaching tools and computer systems. In the area of employment generation, some youths were also employed as temporary primary school teachers known as See Bee Corps and those that graduated from the School of Hygiene were also employed during my tenure. I also inaugurated a task force purposely for revenue generation. On the issue of social welfare, we took care of widows and orphans and cars were also bought for traditional rulers in my domain. I made it a priority that the work force under me received their salary on the 25th of every month throughout my tenure.
On a final note, what is your advice for the electorate on the forthcoming election?
We should eschew violence. Youths should not allow themselves to be used for thuggery. Whosoever desires otherwise should use their children for such criminal act. I pray for continued peaceful co-existence of Iwoland.