At 35, Mr. Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, who is the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for Lagos West Senatorial seat, says he has all it takes to trounce the incumbent, stressing that what he offers “is freedom from leaders that are not empathetic to our basic needs.” He spoke with SEYE OLUMIDE
• Lagos indigenes politically extinct in their state
How do you react to perception in some quarters that Lagos PDP structure is weak?
Truth is, every political party has its challenges and PDP is not excluded. But the important thing is how we resolve our challenges. Our party is doing a lot of rapprochement to ensure victory in 2019 and I can tell you confidently that the party’s structure remains very solid and intact.
For example, when our former state chairman, Mr. Moshood El-Salvador, defected to APC (All Progressives Congress), nobody joined him, which was a testament to how strong and united we are. The issue ahead of us now as a party is how to get the electorate in Lagos understand the fact that the coming election matters just as we are going to change the narrative in 2019.
Do you see Alhaji Atiku Abubakar beating Buhari in next year’s poll?
I am one of those that supported the incumbent president in 2015, but my support for his administration didn’t last more than four months after he assumed power on May 29, 2015 because of his style and policies.
It is true Atiku has a lot of issues, but you cannot compare him with Buhari, who has demonstrated that he appreciates his section of the country more than others. Atiku has been a businessman and also a detribalized Nigerian. The country has been more divided under this administration.
What would you do differently in the Senate if elected?
I will fight for an Infrastructural Development Bill that will fund the repairing of federal roads in Lagos, most of which cause undue hardship, especially to the people of Lagos West constituency.
The reckless abandonment of Badagry Expressway, Oshodi-Isolo Expressway, Ojo road, Apapa and several others are grinding business activities in those areas to a halt and are inconveniencing commuters daily. We must decongest Lagos and reduce the number of trucks on our roads. As your senator, I will engage my distinguished colleagues from other senatorial regions to push for the appropriation for the extension of port facilities in other coastal states.
Lagos is the business capital of the country, and power is cardinal to its productivity. Therefore, through a legislative bill I will fight tirelessly to see that the abandoned Independent Power Project of Lagos State becomes a reality. It is high time Lagos generated and distributed its own power in order to boost productivity.
Also worthy of attention is the need for a special tax status for the state to ensure that Lagos gets a better deal from the federal purse. Time may not permit me to reel out several of my intentions, but I have put together a document that can be found on my campaign website, detailing all the things I intend to deliver to my constituents, to Lagos and to the people of Nigeria.
Our dreams can never be achieved in isolation. Only by working as a community can we create a Lagos that we all hope for. I am proud to be the flag-bearer for the PDP on this senatorial ticket, a party, which has encouraged and actualised youth engagement in politics at the highest level. Let us take our hands and lead ourselves out of the chains of incompetent leadership that has bound us for so long. Our path to freedom starts here.
What are your chances of defeating the incumbent Senator from the ruling party?
I stand a good chance of ousting Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola, who has been nursing the ambition of becoming the governor of Ogun State and treating Lagos, where he currently represents in the senate, as a second fiddle. I believe Lagos does dies not deserve this kind of treatment.
The incumbent senator has not also put up meaningful bill since he joined the senate in 2015 for the benefit of the zone he represents. He tried to push two bills but couldn’t go beyond the first reading because the bills were for selfish purposes. One of the bills was for accountants and senators, right to free speech.
Adeola is not a people’s senator. For instance, there are many challenges facing Lagos West Senatorial District like Badagry division. In the area of infrastructure it would have been expected of him to sponsor a bill that would hasten the construction of Badagry and Oshodi Expressways, which are international routes. Adeola ought to have fought for the appropriation for these roads in collaboration with his colleagues, but that does not matter to him. The present state of Badagry Expressway is appalling and it is making life difficult for the people of Ajeromi in terms of traffic caused by containers. If these two major roads were fixed, our ports would be decongested. And this is a thing only the National Assembly could do through legislation and not the governor or president.
I do not also see Adeola ensuring that our independent power projects start working soon. He does not really have the track record to base his reelection campaign apart from sharing commercial motorcycles, grinding machines and other items in his empowerment programmes.
Another thing is that Lagos is made up of indigenes, non-indigenes and a vibrant youth population which is looking for fresh ideas and face in the senate next year. I also have the advantage that PDP controls 10 out of the local governments in Lagos west.
Funding of electioneering
I always look at the last general campaign and conclude that APC did not outspend PDP in 2015. It was just that the people decided where they wanted to go.