October 31st has been slated by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct the Kosofe Constituency 2 bye-election in Lagos state. However, political parties have commenced the process of choosing their flag bearers among aspirants. According to reliable sources, the All Progressives Congress ( APC) has picked the Assistant State Secretary, Hon. Femi Saheed, as its Consensus Candidate.
At the party’s state secretariat at Acme road in Ikeja, OKUNADE ADEKUNLE of the WESTERNPOST had a media chat with him on issues bothering on his candidacy, uproar over his endorsement, how he intends to represent the constituency if elected and why he was picked as the party’s standard bearer.
May we know you?
My name is Femi Saheed, I started my political career as a Youth Leader in the then Alliance For Democracy (AD) from there to Action Congress (AC) to Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) then to All Progressives Congress (APC) . So, my people find me worthy to be elected twice as Assistant State Secretary of the party . I am somebody that have served the party in various committees, I have represented the party nationally and internationally. I think I am a party man who has acted twice as Acting State Secretary of the party , so I am a loyal member of the party and I have been in the party for so long and does not know any other party.
On my professional experience, I worked in the banking industry for more than two decades which within the period I rose to the position of Chief Operating Officer and Chief Marketing Officer and Head, Marketing, of various banks.
What do you think that makes the party to pick you as Consensus Candidate?
I have served the party meritoriously in various capacities as I had said earlier and our party is a party that rewards merit with compensation like this, so it is not me. But almighty God grant eternal rest to our amiable and eloquent lawmaker, Hon. Tunde Braimoh . It is just a clarion call for me to represent them, they believe he had started well and they need someone who will continue what he started and the party found me worthy . We have more than sixteen intelligent, young, educated and vibrant aspirants that jostled for the position but I think it’s providence that displayed itself with that of loyalty in my story . There is no way one would have acted as the State Secretary of the party without the party not having a recourse to compensate such member. While I acted as State Secretary, former State Chairman, Otunba Henry Ajomale and I worked assiduously to make sure all our party candidates won their elections. I believe it is just about being loyal, patient and passionate about ones job. It is not that I am the best but the party leadership felt it is high time to do what they did. It is even a call for me to do more at this time especially Kosofe where we need somebody who should embrace all and make it cohesive as a constituency so that we can have dividend of democracy separate across all board not somebody that will segregate. Somebody that will carry out objectively the manifestoes of the party in such a way that the citizens and members of the party will see reasons why APC is the best to beat in the state.
What are the things you have put in place to market your candidacy aside party’s plan?
We will campaign rigorously. I have the qualities to win the election even if we are more than one thousand candidates. I have the educational qualifications, professional experience and my political background to face any obstacle that may arise from there. I think the party has made a very good choice considering my background as a professional. I am an economist, educationist and a banker turned politician, my experience cut across every facets of human life. I am not just a politician but also a technocrat. That is why you can see the online discussion that was on during the rating because this was done by people I had met in my journey of life. People will say one or two things about you, but the outcome of the rating shows it all.
Initially, your endorsement threw up agitation among your co-aspirants, what do you have to say?
There is no way such will not come up and when I started this interview I said we are all qualify, we are all members of the party we are all educated and equally qualified. Even within that, it has never happened in the democratic political history of Lagos state where more than sixteen aspirants jostle for single position and at the end of the day, they say leave it for one person without any rancour. I thank them I sincerely appreciate them as well.
If you are elected on the 31st of October, what would you be bringing to the table as a legislator?
That is why it is good for you to be well educated and even when you are educated it is equally good for you to have professional experience . Even if you are vying for any political position, it is equally good for you to be a grassroots politician so that you will know where it pinches you will know the yearnings and aspirations of your people.
As a professional, I know my right from my left. I have worked in the financial sector in all my working life and this has made me to know and understand the tenets of financial management, the financial status of the country and the state , the environmental challenges due to poor governance, infrastructural deficit, housing deficit , security and whole lots of empowerment including youths, men and women empowerment. Even as the assistant scribe of the party, this has broadened my horizon in understanding human perception , human social welfare; so taking these to the legislative arm, I think it will be an added advantage for me to really forge ahead to join my colleagues to make good laws and move motions.
How would you ensure that your constituency’s interest is well protected in the legislature considering the fact that you will operate among 39 experienced legislators?
There is one common goal which is to make Lagos state better than what it is. Another thing is to represent your constituency and its interest, so, if I can take all these into consideration, there is no way you can take lobbying out of politics. I will lobby my colleagues to listen to the feelings and expectations of my people and I will table it in a way using my professional experience so that the argument will so juicy for them to accept my lobbying. These are some of the things that will make the discussion more lively, more reasonable and at the end of the day, my people will know that a round peg is in the round hole.
What are the basic things your constituents should expect from you if elected?
My constituents should be expecting sound performance in terms of quality motions, feedbacks, and they will know that I am a man for all.
I visited Kosofe Constituency 2 severally and I noticed that the downtrodden dominates the environment, even as there are urban occupants. How do you intend to carry along both strata of the society?
My constituency is a kind of mixed constituency where you have the elite, urban and the downtrodden. Look at it for example, you have Magodo, Shangisha and Ogudu GRA likewise we have the biggest market, all these are part of my constituency. It is obvious that my constituency needs someone who understands cross section of the people represented within the axis. And I think it is not going to be a difficult task for me because I grew up in the constituency, people know me, I play with them and we understand our feelings and our expectations are common expectations so I believe it is not going to be a difficult thing for us to really work together to get things done.
What do you really have to tell those who contested with you within the party for the ticket?
I really want to commend them. I want to thank them, I want them to support me as they have assured me. It is not about me but all about our constituency and I will try my best to make sure the interest of the constituents is protected.