Hon. Akeem Amao is a former governorship aspirant of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in Kwara State. Also he served as the Senior Legislative Aide to the former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki. The Ojoku-born politician, who is a People Democratic Party (PDP) local government chairmanship aspirant in the forthcoming local government election in Kwara state, in this interview with TOPE SUNDAY, speaks on why he wants to takeover the Oyun local government administration and his path with his former boss, Saraki.
As a UK businessman, why are you aspiring to serve as a local government chairman?
If you are asking me why I am contesting for local government Chairman, I would say the love of my people lured me into it. Although, I have not officially declared my intention of contesting, an extensive consultation has been ongoing on the project. I appreciate the advice and concern from well-wishers and mentors who are anxious that my aspiration comes to a reality. Running for the office of a local government chairman is not to make name. I’m far above that in politics. We need to take our destiny into our own hands for the sake of our state, for the sake of our children, and the less privileged in our society. My focus in politics will be to ensure that institutions work and people can benefit from government’s services irrespective of class or social status. I want to help create policies that will help diversify our economy with a renewed focus on tourism, manufacturing and youth empowerment. Copies of my manifesto will be out soon. I encourage all young people to follow my cue and take an active role in partisan politics. Recall that in times past I have actively been involved in grassroot development, rural capacity development, humanitarian services, and philanthropy especially in my country home. This is a project where the narratives will be changed in totality.
In 2015, you aspired to be governor of Kwara State on the platform of the defunct CPC. Why do want to be a local government chairman now?
This is where you get it wrong! My aspiration is hinged on identifying the needs of the people and try to find a solution to that need in my own capacity. It is true that I was a front-runner in CPC vying for governorship at a time but that is not to say I couldn’t vie for councillorship. It is only in Nigeria we attach importance to some offices while making some unattractive. I believe it sounds ridiculous to you that’s why you came up with the question. It should not be like that when we truly mean to serve. Public service should not be about class or level. I have stayed in United Kingdom for over a decade, the idea of taking one office as lower to a status when it comes to service means personal aggrandizement not service. Anyone who truly wishes to serve must not think of that. If the people need you in a capacity to deliver, yield to their call if you truly love them. Don’t forget I was a Senior Legislative Aide to the immediate past Senate President after running for governorship. That is to tell you the kind of politics I’m playing. I don’t attach importance to the office but any avenue to serve my people will surely be welcomed by me. Recall Owelle Rochas Okorocha vied for presidency for many years before settling for governorship seat in Imo State and now a Senator.
Will you say he belittled himself?
His passion for service was not limited to an office and he has proven that to the world.
Even in the cause of our consultations, I was able to identify some communities that had issues with portable water. Water project is one area where I become a household hold name in Kwara. What was obtainable during the ABS Water Intervention Initiatives which I chaired shall be revisited and scattered across the eleven electoral wards of Oyun LGA. This will commence in no distant time, as we are collating list of all dysfunctional boreholes in Oyun Local Government already. People said to me that things are not done the way I was doing it. I am supposed to get my ticket first before laying hands on these projects but I believe that there is a blessing in giving someone a cup of water. What is money before our creator? I hate counting my achievement by number of houses or cars I own. Rather, number of lives I’m able to touch positively. I derive more pleasure in supporting, uplifting the people and helping the needy.
Are you aware that your party, the PDP has said it has no plans to conduct primaries yet?
How does that affect my programmes and beneficial projects for the common man? With due respect to the office of the party Chairman, I am not bothered by the press release. It doesn’t affect my projects nor aspiration. The party said the national leadership of the party and the State Executive Committee have not released guidelines for the conduct of primaries for the envisaged local government council elections in Kwara. I am a party man to the core and I know how the party machinery works. The communique has nothing to do with our consultations. It’s just a measure to curb those who are misleading the public by claiming to have been anointed, selected or elected as the party’s flagbearers in the forthcoming council election.On my part, I have no problem with the statement. In fact, it is a welcome measure to avoid party crisis.
What do you think qualifies you as the best candidate for the Oyun Local Government?
Only Allah is the most perfect and most sufficient. I am confident in the support and the wider acceptability that I’ve been enjoying from the people of my local government. My aspiration is based on popular demand. All you see me doing is in tandem with the clarion call by my people. They know me, they know my capability, they know my character. They want the best kind of leadership at grassroots. They need someone who can change the narratives without fear or favour and they opted for me. Here I am, I have offered myself for the leadership task. I hope the party leadership will also respect the wishes of the majority by giving my candidature a nod…
You were a Senior Legislative Aide to the former Senate President. How would you describe your relationship with him?
What a fantastic question! I served Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki and I never regret that share of my life. Till tomorrow, I remain a loyal aide of His Excellency. Over the years, I have met and worked with several people, I must confess Dr Bukola Saraki is “one man too many”. He is my leader and boss, in whom I am proud! Working with ABS gave me the clue to what the man Saraki is endowed with. The man is just too fantastic for me to describe. His leadership is awesome. His guidance and directives are brilliant. His administrative techniques are the sweetest I’ve ever seen. His contributions to the growth of the Nigerian democracy are significant and enduring. As a prominent political figure in Nigeria, he served the nation with dedication, passion and concern for the common man.In the National Assembly, where he was the Senate President from 2015 to 2019, he was more than one man in that chamber. He provided leadership. He was a stabilising figure. He worked hard and tirelessly to make Nigeria a better place. He cared for all Nigerians. Beyond office, we share a father and son relationship. He saw the passion in me and he availed me with the opportunity to serve the people through his good office.Dr Saraki is highly intelligent and visionary. I can say without exaggeration that, in this generation of ours, Dr Saraki is one in a million. I’ll forever be indebted to him for the opportunity of service as I look up to more of his guidance, support and encouragement.
As one of his former aides, would you say Dr Bukola Saraki is supporting your local government chairmanship aspiration?
Please, leave the leader out of this. I would not want his name dragged into this at all. He’s a national leader of the party, this is local politics. Although, every politics is local as they say, I don’t think anyone in his right senses will come out to drag my oga’s name into the envisaged local government election in Kwara. I know it would be his joy seeing his party coming out victorious at the polls both at the state and national levels. Notwithstanding, his name should be preserved. If we can not do this successfully without dragging him into it, then we are not making him proud.
How would you rate the APC led administration in Kwara so far and what are your expectations?
A fresh administration like this always claim work in progress, while I call it cluelessness. Taking over from an opposition party is not always easy because the parties usually don’t have the same agenda. The first year already gone. However, my study about the administration is that, the party neither prepare to win nor to rule in Kwara. Their winning to us in PDP, was a shock, and to them, it was a fluke, no doubt! That’s why you see them parading cheap programmes and policies. The patronage they enjoyed at the initial stage as you can see has dropped drastically. The expectations were on the high side at the inception but the electorates are now hitting the disappointment button.
It is a general belief in Nigeria that politicians have godfathers who help them rise to office and they become answerable to them . How do you intend to perform if you emerge as Oyun LG chairman with a godfather?
I am very sincere about the role I want to play in politics. Let me say that; in my opinion, it is not bad to have a godfather. You can have a godfather, you can have a mentor and it depends on the role they are playing in your life. Political godfatherism is not alien even to western world politics. Some people through their title or role become popular in a community and therefore, will determine who gets what in such jurisdiction. This will naturally subject anyone seeking for anything in that area to their authority. That does not stop a visionary person to deliver. Considering the fact that making sure you deliver will make you and the godfather more relevant. I will not appreciate a godfather that does not believe in performance but celebrates mediocrity. I would want a godfather that pulls someone that has what it takes. For me, while I was going into politics, I have vowed to serve not to be served. I have promised myself to make not to mar people. I equally pledged to put the people first and respect their input in policies. These were the ideologies I saw in Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki which lured me to join his camp after my sojourn in CPC before the merger of 2014 that gave birth to the APC.
As a politician are you saying that service to humanity is paramount to you than the luxury of an office?
I have a ‘theme’ on my political journey which is “selfless service”. This is the route I have chosen to ply. Before I ventured into politics, I did a lot. I have always been a philanthropist. The records are there in the hospitals where I had gone to pay bills. Rural communities where I supported them in several areas of human endeavours. Educational support scheme and sports upliftment to oil the wheel of unity among my people and so on. I am from Oyun local government area of Kwara State. Oyun is an agrarian area. I noticed that there was the need to bring these communities together, I came up with the idea of a football competition tagged: “Amao Unity Cup”, which is coming up soon. I can’t be counting my community impact on the pages of social or print media, I just thank God almighty for using me to uplift some people and better their lots.
How desperate are you to clinch the local government chairmanship ticket of your party and do you envisage that you may lose at the poll?
Let me set the record straight. I’m an optimist not a pessimist. I hope and pray to win not to lose. I am going to work very hard to ensure victory beckons. However, I am not a desperate politician. Serving the people must not be a do-or-die affair. If we win, to God ‘ll be the glory. If otherwise, to God ‘ll be the glory as well. But we pray to win to bring forth our vision for a new Oyun local government.