Mr Kolapo Kola-Daisi, the son of elder statesman and Bashorun of Ibadanland, Chief Kola Daisi, is the candidate of Accord for Oyo South Senatorial District. In this interview by DARE ADEKANMBI, the 44-year-old chartered banker speaks on why he wants to be a senator, how 2023 elections will be different from past polls, the strength of Accord, among others.
Since you left the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Accord to realise your senatorial aspiration, how would you say things have been shaping up in the party? Any regrets leaving the APC?
If things had gone differently, there would not have been any reason to leave. But the truth is that even if we had decided to remain, it would be difficult to coexist with the ideology of the current occupants of various positions in the party. I absolutely have no regrets. I feel at home in Accord which is a place where all the leaders are like-minded and most of our candidates, if not all, are youths. We have the same mindset and ideology and we all want the best for the state. We urge every citizen of Oyo State to vote Accord across the board. I feel more at home in Accord because the party is like a family setting. We all support one another, want the best for one another. I am confident that the people of the state will see this and vote for us.
Is Accord a party that has been accepted or you are just trying to get a footing in the political space of the state?
Luckily for us, Accord had existed before this period. The party had candidates up to the House of Representatives and the House of Assembly. It is a party that is already very well known and liked in the state. We now have very popular candidates that have now joined the party. If you look at our campaigns, rallies and meetings, you will find that the membership of the party is growing on a daily basis. People are very happy to be part of the Accord family. They like the message. They see the current alternatives to Accord, that is, the APC and the PDP, as not being able to provide what they want. Don’t take my word for it, go round the state, attend our meetings and see for yourself what is currently going on at all the local government councils and wards.
How would you address the impression out there that those of you who left the APC for Accord are only interested in playing the spoiler for the candidates of the APC?
To be practical, there is no way our exit won’t naturally affect the votes of the APC. But the other fact is that we are all in the race to win elections across the elective positions in the state. We are going to spoil PDP’s votes as well because we are also seeing a lot of disgruntled PDP members and leaders who are looking at Accord as an alternative and who are finding APC very difficult to join because that house is just not in order. Spoiling APC and PDP votes is for us to be able to have victory. We are in the race to win it. We are not spoiling APC and PDP votes just to make a point. Politics is a very expensive venture, emotionally expensive, financially expensive. So, anybody who is in it to spoil is in the wrong profession. I am in it to win it and serve the people of Oyo South Senatorial District and Accord as a party is in it to serve the people of the state.
Your stint in partisan politics is very short, why is the Senate your first shot?
This question keeps coming to me. But politics is one of those paths that you take and you don’t necessarily have to rise through the ranks. A lot of people believe that you have to have been successful in other aspects of life before you try politics but we have this law called not-too-young-to-rule. The age limit to be president, according to that law, is 40 years. So, if there is a law in the country that says you only need to be 40 with only secondary school certificate to run as president, then at 44, why should I be thinking that I need to start in a small position before I run for Senate?
If you look across the world, particularly in Europe, you will see that presidents and prime ministers are very young people. The French president, Emmanuel Macron, got to power at 39 years. We have one of the youngest female prime ministers in Finland in the person of Sanna Marin. She got to office at 33 years. These are leaders that are not only young but have done very well where they have been tested.
So, I don’t understand it when people assume that when it comes to politics, then you have to somehow start from the bottom. It does not necessarily work that way. I have the requisite experience. I have been in employment since 2000, that is, 22 years ago. I have worked in various capacities in the financial sector. I have a B.A in Economics. I have an MBA in Business. I am chartered banker in Scotland. I am a chartered banker in Nigeria. I am a chartered accountant. I qualified as a chartered account in 2004 and I am a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. So, I don’t know any profession where I will reel out these and I will be expected to start from the bottom. The intention of the not-too-young-to-rule law is to get young people into politics and there was no mistake in making the law. The drafters of the law have realised that the more young people they get into politics, the better for the country. At 44, I am able to think a bit more about the long term. In 20 years, I will be 64. So, I know that I will be part of those who will suffer for it if I get there and make the wrong decisions as a senator. So, when it comes to politics, experience counts and experience outside politics also counts. I don’t believe I should have started from any other position. What you should be asking me why I am not running for president.
You are running to represent Oyo South, the biggest of the three districts and the most cosmopolitan. What are you going to do differently from others? What gaps have you identified in the activities of those who have represented the district that you want to change?
It is also funny that in Oyo South, nobody has done a second term as senator. I have been traversing the length and breadth of the district and the message is the same. Politicians come, make promises and talk about what they are going to do. They make the people believe that they are going to do stuff for them. The people vote for them and they don’t see the politicians for the next four years. When another election period comes, they come back and beg for votes again. My message in this regard has always been very simple. It is our civic duty to vote at elections. What promise-and-fail syndrome by politicians tends to lead to is voter apathy. But I say to the people that they should vote out politicians who are not performing. We want the advancement and development of our various constituencies. So, I tell the people that if somebody is not performing, they should not get tired of going out to vote such people out.
Another thing we have also noticed is that the people have not really seen adequate representation in the Senate. They don’t know what their senators do and they don’t see them. I have promised them regular engagement to know what the issues are, what ideas they have and we want to propose laws that have direct impact on the people. The next thing they complain about is the nature of empowerment, buying motorcycles, hair dryers, deep freezers. Someone who is a barber, you give him a freezer. Of what use are these things to these people? Definitely, we want to do empowerment. But we will do what the people really need to make their lives better. Is it money? Is it tools? We have to get to that level when we tailor the needs of our people to the solutions and empowerments we provide for them. I tell my constituents that a vote for me is a vote for effective representation and I will be accessible, accountable and responsible.
What would you say is going for you in this race? Is it your family name or the popularity of your in-laws, the Ajimobis?
I try to be as practical as possible. There are some things you cannot run away from. I can’t run away from the fact that my father, Kola-Daisi, is the Bashorun of Ibadanland who has done amazing things in the state for the benefit of a lot of citizens of the state. I can’t run away from the fact that my wife is an Ajimobi, daughter of one-time senator and the only governor to have done two terms in the history of Oyo State. These are things I can’t run away from. I will never shy away from either because that is who I am and who I have become. My wife is my family and my father is my father. But if this is the only thing I am relying on, then I don’t think I myself would have got this far in the first place. A lot of people would have seen through the whole façade of me relying on my father’s name or that of my in-laws. The journey would have probably ended even before it started if this is what I am relying on.
ALSO READ FROM NIGERIAN TRIBUNE
I can tell you that the names help and people know I won’t mess up because of those names. So, the names are a plus. But apart from this, people have come to know who I am. They know I have the capacity to deliver on the things I say I will deliver for their benefit. They know my pedigree; what I have done, my cognate experience in the corporate world. So, all these things add up to make the candidate that is KKD. My father and my father-in-law worked hard to build their names. I have to make sure I do things they will be proud of. I am happy both names contribute to my story. I know for a fact that I also have a personal story that is resonating round my constituency that people are enjoying and like to hear and they are responding positively to it.
You are running against candidates that are older in age and in politics, Joseph Tegbe and Chief Sharafadeen Alli. How would you rate your chances of winning the election?
Again, I like to be practical. You have mentioned people who have at various times in their political careers run for the governorship of the state. So, these are no small competitors by any means. But I think everybody will run their race. Everybody needs to deliver their own message, communicates what they want to do to for their constituents, go out there and fight for their own votes. The dynamics of the electorate have changed beyond us just turning what has been done in politics. People want to hear from the candidates and want to see if the candidates are capable of delivering. So, I have a constituency that I have a lot of focus on and that is what I am going to do for the youths. Everybody is concerned. People need to go to school and stay in school. They need jobs and those who don’t want to be in employment need to be provided with the environment in which they can thrive in whatever profession or skill or anything that they decide that they want to do. Those are the things that people are going to want to listen to this time around. My message to the people of my constituency is that, if I do not perform well in four years’ time, they should vote me out. Yes, my competitors are older and maybe with more life experiences. But let’s see who can connect with the electorate the most. I am very confident of victory because God is on our side. A lot of things are happening that I begin to wonder why things are lining up perfectly for us in Accord. We are not resting. We will keep working hard to get that sweet victory.