The governorship candidate of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) in Ogun State in the 2015 election, Prince Rotimi Paseda, in this interview with journalists in Abeokuta, speaks on national issues and the forthcoming local government election in the state, among others. OLAYINKA OLUKOYA brings excerpts:
After the 2015 elections, the Paseda Legacy Foundation, became more prominent in the state. What inspired you to set up the foundation?
It is a platform for me to do what I am known for: which is touching lives as best as I can. The reason for setting this up is because I don’t like to do things like everybody else. I like to be myself; I like to set the pace; I like to set the tune and stick to who I am. Foundations are everywhere, but this foundation is specifically targeted towards the three cardinal points that brought me into politics. First is education. I am completely committed to providing free education because that is the only thing that can make the rich and the poor equal. The second thing is health. It is something that equates both the rich and the poor because we all get sick, whether you are rich or poor. But the difference between the rich and the poor is that some can get on the plane for headache and go to Dubai to see a doctor in the morning and fly back in the evening. But some will have a more severe condition that a little amount of money can cure and yet won’t be able to afford it. So, it’s quite key that some of us concentrate on certain aspects of the community, rather than just be doing everything. You will not find me distributing rice or okada because I am not for that. But my concentration is education, health and strictly housing. Governments have tried within the constraints of the fund available to them but some of us need to assist. My proposal on what I intend to do is called ‘Mine,’ iletemi (my own house). I’m taking things from where Chief ObafemiAwolowo and Alhaji Lateef Jakande, left it. The reason I am in UPN is because of those points.
What is your take on the agitation between the Ijebu and Yewa-Awori people on the zoning of the governorship ticket, ahead the 2019 elections?
I didn’t go into politics to practise politics of segregation. I am sure you could see that I actually sponsored PDP and APC members in the last election; we gave them tickets. My type of politics is all-inclusive; we are one Nigeria, we are one Ogun State. If the governor that has been in office prior to when somebody like me emerged had done what needed to be done, it wouldn’t have mattered that you are from Egba or Yewa or Ijebu. It doesn’t matter where the person comes from. We have three senatorial districts and if the government had assisted, developed equally all the three, it would have been okay. But I see it as a direct form of discrimination if we say Egba is different from Yewa and Yewa is different from Ijebu. What makes us different? What we need is a man or a woman, who is willing to do the right thing. It is very normal that if you are a governor, you don’t want your immediate environment to be bad; you don’t want your roads to be bad; you don’t want the road to the family house to be bad. So, you will do something to enhance that path of your life, but then you must carry everybody along.
Mind you, one of my earliest supporters is not an Ijebu person and I appreciate that. So if I am from Ijebu and the person that supported me much earlier on is not Ijebu, that is the way it should be. We should start learning to do the right thing. We need to change our election and electioneering process; people’s voice and people’s vote should be counted. We have to look for a way to make sure that we improve our system so that it is the will of the people that prevail; not the will of the few that want to grab power and stay there at all cost.
I always like to go back to the sage (Obafemi Awolowo) saying in one of his write-ups that there will come a time when the right and the left will come together and form one. That one will become the real government, the real system that will carry everybody along and then, at that point, we will be fighting for ourselves. That is what he said and it is happening. You will find out that whether we like it or not, there will come a time when money can’t do it again. You can have all the billions you have got, it won’t make a difference; the will of the people will always prevail and we are getting there.
Both APC and PDP are sharply divided along various blocs. Do you think your party stands the chance of serving as the third force in the polity?
It is already the third force. It is not how do I think because if you take the right and the left like I just said, APC and PDP, I can safely tell you that those that are leaving APC are coming to UPN as at today and those that have left or leaving PDP are in UPN. They are just waiting for the last nail to be nailed on the coffin and you will find out that they are in UPN. I must say what is happening in those parties is not unusual; it happens even in civilised countries. But it is a good thing, we have to break it down to build it and you might not build it in the same form. However, you must be ready to break it down.