Dr Toyin Akanle is an aspirant to the Kogi West Senatorial seat on the platform of the All Progressives Congress Party (APC). Akanle, a former Director of Department of State Services and philanthropist, in this interview with OYIBO SALIHU, speaks on his senatorial ambition, the zoning arrangement in Kogi West senatorial seat and the chances of APC in 2019 general elections, amongst other issues. Excerpts
You are aspiring for the senate, what exactly is your motivation?
Thank you very much. I have been involved over the years in community development services, offering scholarships to indigent students and rendering all manners of selfless help. In all these, I did not know that God was actually preparing me for leadership. Today, I am in the race for Senate and as I continue to traverse the length and breadth of Kogi West Senatorial District to actualise my aspiration, I get inspired to forge ahead because of the plight of our people.
With the benefit of hindsight, there was a deficit in representation in this senatorial district over the years. The people of Kogi West are very enlightened and therefore I believe that the time has come for our people to be represented by those who will give priority attention to their needs. Secondly, I believe that I have been divinely inspired to make myself available to serve our people at that level at this critical period.
Do you believe in the zoning arrangement that has subsisted in Kogi West?
As a democrat, I believe in the principle of equity, fairness and justice. For that reason, I do believe in zoning. If you look at the history of representation in the Senate in Kogi West, our political leaders shortly before the 1999 general elections deliberated on the need to rotate the senatorial seat amongst the three federal constituencies in the Kogi west. Good though, some of those who took that decision are still very much around. This is what has guided the senate seat in the district until it was truncated in 2015. But let me state categorically that I am in the race not because of the zoning arrangements, but because I am eminently qualified to offer quality representation which has been lacking for some time now. Nevertheless, many progressive minded people of Kogi West believe it is the turn of Yagba East to produce the next senator for the district.
What would you say to those who are opposed to micro zoning?
Zoning has no two meaning. Whosoever believes in zoning should not in any way discriminate on the level be it macro or micro. Whoever is opposed to micro zoning must equally be opposed to macro zoning. Whatever makes anyone agree with macro must equally affect his or her judgement positively on micro zoning. It is self deceit and political prostitution or manipulation that will make somebody believe in one and jettison the other. For instance, there is a clamour for the Kogi West Senate seat to go to Yagba Federal Constituency, but at the constituency level, where should it go? Based on the history of the senate representation, Yagba East is the most eminently qualified for zoning of the senate. This is premised on the fact that the local government area has never been represented before.
What are your chances?
I am one person who by my faith believes that power belongs to God and He gives to whoever he like. So, first and foremost, I am trusting God for success in the election. By that I mean, emerging victorious in the primary and winning the general election. For the response of the people, I must say with a sense of humility and gratitude, that it has been very encouraging. The type of advice and support I have been receiving on a daily basis have continued to drive the ticking of our campaign efforts. Added to this, is the call from well meaning individuals at all strata of the society in Kogi West. Those who believe in me because of my pedigree and commitment to the socio economic transformation of our people and communities have made strident calls for me to get on the starting blocs for the race.
You are contesting under the platform of APC and some people believe that the party is suffering from a dwindling fortune particularly in the state?
(Cuts in) Well, I don’t understand what you mean by dwindling fortune. And again, dwindling is relative. It depends on who is looking at the issues. As what may be dwindling fortunes to person ‘A’ could be the best of fortune to person ‘B’. One thing I know is that there is no party without its own challenge. You will agree with me that APC came into power after about sixteen years of PDP rule and as such, one should expect that APC will encounter some teething problems. If you look at the magnitude of the rot inherited by APC government particularly at the federal level and the decisiveness to tackle those problems head on, you should understand why it would appear as if the party is not making progress. The party is fighting institutionalized corruption and because people are already used to certain lifestyle, to effect a radical change becomes a herculean task. The APC government is just about three years and as far as I know, it is making a bold and pragmatic steps towards revamping the fortunes of the state and the nation.
Change is the most difficult thing to effect and yet it is the most permanent and constant thing in life. What is happening at the moment is the effect of change and I strongly believe that things will get better.
But what will you say about the alleged non- performance of the government particularly at the state level to guarantee the victory of the party?
Like I told you earlier, one major thing that took place in Kogi is change. There is an ethnic power change, generational change and political party at the helms of affairs. The APC government in an attempt to do things differently based on her party manifesto has no doubt received knocks from here and there. It is normal based on the type of change that ushered in the present government. The radical reforms instituted by the government has triggered off reactions even from those who are benefitting from it.
Also, the isolation of some groups of persons who have hitherto entrenched themselves in the governance of the state has also not helped matters. If we look at the crises that the government have faced within the last two and a half years, you will agree that the government has proven beyond reasonable doubt that it is out for purposeful leadership. Even when a government is performing, in the light of the situation on ground, the fierce opposition resisting the new order will never be celebrated. There are grey areas that need attention anyway. The issues of inclusiveness, some interest group felt they have not been adequately carried along. I believe that the government will look into this with dispatch to ensure that we are all on the same page towards the 2019 general elections.