Prince David Adetunji Adeyeye is a legal practitioner and energy expert. He is also the Young Progressive Party (YPP) candidate for AMAC/Bwari Constituency for House of Representatives in 2019. In this interview with PAUL OKAH, he speaks on the National Assembly under the leadership that the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, even as he implored lawmakers to veto the 2018 Electoral Amendment Bill. Excerpt.
How did you join politics?
I am a lawyer and I work in the power sector. I am also the candidate of YPP for AMAC/ Bwari House of Representatives in 2019. However, the most important thing people should know about me is that I am not the traditional politician. Having been a victim of bad leadership in the FCT, especially from 1999, I want to be a louder voice to my people.
A child, who was born, raised and schooled in the FCT cannot get certificate of origin of the FCT for professional or academic pursuit. For instance, the child of a family friend, who was born in Bwari and who schooled in Bwari, applied for Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA) and the parents put Bwari as the Local Government of origin. But when he was offered an admission, he went to the local government to get a certificate of origin, but it was not given to him. He lost the admission, because he couldn’t produce the certificate of origin. How can someone be discriminated against in his own country, especially in the FCT?
It is an injustice, and an injustice to one is an injustice to all. This is the voice I want to become: the voice of fairness, equity and justice. We can’t have a good, dynamic FCT if we don’t treat people equally; in spite of religion, tribe or ethnicity.
I will become the voice that will bring very meaningful legislation, which will create jobs for community development. In 2017, the constituency project that was captured and approved in the budget was about 2 billion naira. I have travelled the whole of the FCT, but I have not seen any constituency project that is worth N500 million. Therefore, I want to bring accountability, service and accessibility to people.
These are the things that drive me. I am not a traditional politician, but a politician that has come to be the voice of the voiceless.
How did you emerge your party’s flag bearer despite not being a traditional politician?
I emerged the candidate of my party after the party primaries held on Friday, October 5 in Abuja. I was unopposed and I thank my party members for their support and loyalty.
My decision to stand for election in FCT wasn’t just borne out of the simple desire to run for office, but from a sober, spiritual reflection and determination to combat the poor representation we have experienced over the past years. Our people and I have been victims of bad leadership from the non-performing and clueless politicians that have represented us over time.
This must stop for the sake of our children’s children. We must embrace a vision of service, accountability, accessibility and robust representation that plans for the future and not just election cycle.
It is quite unfortunate that politicians in the FCT are inaccessible. They become demigods once they win elections and can’t even represent the people. I have also suffered the consequences of that. However, I want to be a different politician. When I am elected, I will publicise my office address, time and date that I will be there and also my phone number. In fact, I am the only politician, who has put his phone number in flyers and social media platforms and my number will not change when I win in 2019. I cannot represent you if we cannot engage.
So, how do you intend to influence the economic policies of FCT?
Our women and youths have been disenfranchised economically. They don’t have employment or opportunities to get money to start up businesses and this depresses our local economy. I will establish community banks in my constituencies when I win in 2019. This is a model I am borrowing from Pakistan and India.
I will divide AMAC/ Bwari into zones and I will have seven zones. For instance, we can have Ushafa Community Bank. The bank will give loans to people in the community, at a single digit interest of say two to three per cent.
I will set up the community banks with N2 million and start capitalizing them every six months. Put in N2 million and just give them and have a volunteer in the community to administer it. This is not a politician’s role, but people who live in the community and maybe want to expand their businesses or to start trading with maybe N10, 000, N20, 000 or N100, 000 kind of initiative.
If Wuse Zone eats their own money as politicians money, by the time I will want to capitalize them, I will give the money meant for Wuse to another zone, like Gwarinpa. That becomes aggregated and then you will have local economies doing well.
So, if you do that, there will be competition. It will radically transform lives of people there and since it is not a politician’s money, but money meant for a community, they will make it perform well. Ushafa will know that if they don’t perform, the guys in Gwarinpa will capitalise on it and get more money because they are performing.
Nigerians are very creative, but we lack opportunities, money and capital. If we have the community bank, by the end of my tenure, we will have N10 million within that community. People will have access to it without interest. I don’t need government to do that. I am not looking for appropriation. We don’t need a big building, just one small building or small kiosk with staff and administered by the communities themselves. Now, they are going to get this money if they are banking with that community for a period of three months. Once we start it, we will attract more models and sources.
So, what else will you do differently?
Like I said I will be accessible. If there is an issue in the community that people want to protest against, I will lead the protest. I won’t be like other politicians driving in tinted glasses with bodyguards.
I will lobby for creation of jobs in the FCT. My FCT Job Creation Bill will make sure that youths in the FCT are employed.
I will lobby for projects and follow up. I will follow up the supervising ministry and local government chairmen on projects. Government don’t create jobs, it is the private sector that creates the job.
We are not creating jobs in Nigeria because we are not getting the right incentives. We are aware that constituency projects have allocation from the national budget. But what our politicians typically do is to drill borehole and other meaningless projects and they pocket the rest for scheming. I am going to look at projects that will develop our youths. For instance, we need libraries in our communities. We cannot abandon our children and young people. I will create e-learning centres. You may wonder what does a child in Ushafa need a library for. I like sharing the success story of the girls in Anambra state, who won the Silicon Valley Prize for designing an app that can detect fake drugs. Those girls never saw computer in their lives. They were never born with programming, but they talents manifested when they were introduced to computers. They are a lot if kids within the community who are talented, but they need to be exposed. Our children are not inferior to kids born in Paris, Spain, Dublin, America or other countries.
They are some libraries that have e-learning centres, coaching, creative hubs, so that instead of our kids roaming the streets of the community, you can have time for coaching and different things to engage their creative minds. We will also link that to sporting centres in the communities, so that I don’t need to come to places like Rockview Hotel to be able to play tennis or swim. All those things in the community will develop talents. That’s what other countries are doing.
These things matters and that is the only way Nigerians can compete globally either academically, creatively or in sports.
As well as I am aware of hunger in the land, we also need to worry about the quality of education and what kind of kids we are raising.
My goal is not be to call anybody out, but for the Minister to come with me to the community to see things for himself.
Why the YPP platform?
The YPP is a party for the now and the future. We even participated in the vice presidential debate last week, where our vice presidential candidate, Mrs Umma Getso, performed excellently well.
Our simple model is to put Nigerian interest at the centre of our policies. Everything we do in YPP revolves around increase in the welfare of the people. Our candidates for different positions are people with competence and integrity and who have the capacity to deliver. They have proven themselves in different human endeavours.
We are not career politicians, but technocrats. Check out our presidential candidate, Prof Kingsley Moghalu, the best presidential candidate. Even our senatorial candidate for FCT, Mrs Nnenna Lancaster Okoro, is a barrister and an engineer. We have done things in different capacities at our levels; even without being in government. It is our interest to have leaders without greed, leaders that will be prone to accountability.
What is your take on President Buhari’s decision to decline assent to Electoral Amendment Bill?
I am disappointed and shocked that President Buhari refused to sign the Electoral Amendment Bill for the fourth time it was presented to him. By refusing to sign the Bill, he has shown us that his election is above the national interest of Nigeria, that’s what it demonstrates.
As a lawyer, I am one of the people that immediately shouted for the National Assembly to use their veto powers to override the president. Both APC and PDP National Assembly members should put party politics aside and do the needful. Posterity will remember or judge them fairly if, for once, they stand on the side of truth, fairness and justice.
How would assess the two major parties, APC and PDP, as it concerns their years in office?
There is no difference between APC and PDP. PDP and APC have cumulatively ruled Nigeria for twenty years, but have failed to provide quality leadership to Nigeria. Twenty years is enough time to turn a country around.
I will give you an example of Dubai, which is not even a country, but a city state. Dubai was a desert 20 years ago, but it is a heaven today and all our politicians are going there for medical tourism, wedding of their kids and to buy properties. Nigerians should rise up and be bold and do something new by voting out the failed politicians.
They should vote for YPP for development. PDP and APC don’t have any agenda. We have seen and tested them and they are all lies.
What are your thoughts on vote buying?
The electorate should ask themselves that since politicians have been buying our votes have we had better healthcare? Have we had better education? Have we relied on the increase of our investments? Has security improved? If the answer to the above is “NO”, then vote buying has failed us. This time, you can take their money, but don’t vote for them, because it is business for them. If they buy your vote, they will go there to steal money to buy more votes.
How does your party intend to beat the traditional parties?
We know the capacity and competency of the APC and PDP candidates. I tell you for a fact, this is not to brag, I am simply the best candidate and I will dust them in terms of competency, in terms of vision and ideas.
In terms of antecedent, we know the PDP candidate and what he has achieved before, but he has a lot of baggage to answer.
Unfortunately, the APC candidate is not even better, even though he is a young man. He is a young man who is London-based. You cannot represent someone you don’t know. You cannot represent the commoners, the people that are not your constituents. YPP candidates are on ground in the Council and we rise and fall with our people. APC and PDP have nothing to offer to the people and the people know it.
President Buhari was booed at the NASS while presenting the 2019 Budget, what does this say of our lawmakers?
Our politics has descended into a very shameful and low level. The National Assembly, which ought to be a congregation of wise and respected men, has become a market place where you have touts bickering for nothing sake. This was not shocking though.
You can’t place a crown on a clown and expect him to become a king. It is not their fault, but the fault of the people who have continued to elect very clueless and self-serving politicians. We cannot get very quality lawmakers when we have elected the worst crop of lawmakers in Nigeria’s history. Irrespective of the difference in ideology, it is simply reprehensible for President Buhari to be booed by lawmakers. I don’t support president Buhari, but we should do things for posterity sake and for our children to be proud of us. Booing of buhari is a shame to the whole world.
So, are the NASS leaders to blame?
I don’t exempt the APC or PDP from the blame, because they are two sides of the same coin. The show of shame is a reflection of the type of lawmakers we elected. Nigerians should do something different, something new by electing a different crop of quality, emerging leaders.
The current crop of lawmakers has been playing politics for the whole of four years. They have been failing in their duties, in terms of projects and legislative obligations and it is a sad development.
We have other politicians who are good and competent in character and everything else and should be elected in 2019. They are imbued with the capacity to think and are the type of people needed for the positive development of the country. Nigerians should vote out the current politicians and replace them with new ones who can deliver.
In the history of the National Assembly, we have a divided and unfocused crop of lawmakers. The fact that the senate president and speaker of the House of Representatives did not deliver their speeches does not exempt them from the fact that we have bad leadership at the National Assembly.
Such a thing will not happen, especially in the US Congress, but it is happening in our own democracy and it is a reflection of the leadership at the National Assembly. That is why I am reiterating my earlier call for young, critical masses and the electorate to vote for the kind of leadership they should be proud of. They should vote for the YPP in order to enjoy quality representation.