The Governorship Candidate of Lagos State, BOOT Party, Mr Oluwole Oluwo in this interview with Nigerian NewsDirect explains factors that make him the best Governorship candidate for 2023 election. Oluwo, a former Energy Commissioner during the administration of former Governor Ambode suggests solutions to traffic problems to be implemented by his administration. Excerpts.
I know you as a banker and Commissioner for Energy in Lagos State. We need your formal introduction and why you are now into politics fully.
My name is Olawale Oluwo. I am an Investment Banker. A trained Economist, Chartered Accountant, and Chartered Stock Broker. I have served in the private sector, I have reached the height of my career. I have been an executive director, managing director at a different level. I have also contributed to the public sector when I worked under Governor Akinwumi Ambode as Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources between 2015 and 2018. I left government in December 2018.
I am not a full time politician, and I have never been, but I combine politics with work, and some other time, I combine politics with business, because I believe politicians must have life outside politics. Because if you don’t, you won’t be able to stand your ground and be independent and put the interest of the state, the nation and the people first, you will compromise.
So, that is it, I started politics in January 2006. I was an aspirant under the PDP for the House of Representatives in Epe. And in 2007, I was a governorship candidate for ANPP in Lagos State while Buhari was the presidential candidate then. I started politics but I never took politics as my work or career.It has been a combination.
Shockingly, you perform excellently and we were expecting you to pick the senatorial ticket in 2019 election, but you resigned and joined PDP, why?
Well, I think there was a conflict of approach, one man established himself as Governor, that was performing and they were bent on stopping him. I did not understand that angle. I could not stand that.
Secondly, I know he was doing well because I was an inner person in the government and I know the effort he was putting in after about one and half year of his administration, people of Lagos adjudged former Governor Ambode as a performing governor delivering the dividends of democracy. Now the establishment in APC that removed him might not have accused of lackluster performance. They saw he was doing excellently well as a governor and delivering, “but he was not a good party man.” So, there was a conflict, should we put the interest of the party and personal interest first, or should we put the interest of the state or the people first? I chose to put the interest of the state first. So, when the establishment wanted to put the interest of the party first, I said let us put the interest of Lagos and people first that was why I resigned.
What are you aiming at now?
I am the governorship candidate of Boot Party in Lagos State.
What is the vision of the party?
We are center level party. We believe in capitalism, we also believe in welfarism, because there must be capitalism to create the wealth, there must be a market-economy system that can allocate resources. But market cannot be perfect, that is why we must have an intervention to ensure that those who are outside the market, government can still involve them. So, that is why we are center level and we’ll continue to do that.
What is the structure of the party?
It is a community based structure. It is not the kind of structure you see in APC, PDP, having candidates in all elective posts. We are not doing that. The party that will be able to do that will be a party that was in the government or they are still in government. We are a young party. We were registered in 2019 after the election. The best way we can be effective is to have community involvement. We have community foot soldiers in a lot of communities cut across almost all the local government areas in Lagos. We have built that structure 80 per cent. It has been working in the past four to six months. So, we are community based party, not a structure based party because the election that is coming now is going to be based on the people because of the BVAS and electronic transmission of result.
Economy intervention: Anybody that is still playing the politics as it used to be is not ready for this election, because the votes of the people will count at this time. So, if you are not in the communities to reach out to people, you are going to have problem during the election.
At the national level we have not heard much about the presidential candidate.
Our focus is not on presidential candidate or national level.
Let us look at infrastructure, four years after you left office, what can you say about that and what are those things you think are not built up which you wish to do as next governor of Lagos State?
I will start by saying, I don’t even know how to say it, I refer you to this 3pm for 2pm appointment. That is traffic, it is the biggest problem in Lagos State.
When we were in government, we made conscious effort to have think tank, every day we were thinking of how to deal with the traffic in different locations. We were not sleeping. So, we now have a city that is not smart, that is not efficient, where you cannot move what I call GPS, that is, Goods, People and Services. You cannot move them from point A to point B in a time that you can determine. I can’t leave Ikeja and say I want to get to Badagry at the time I schedule. I can’t, I may not get there in the next 8 hours. Any city that is like that is not a city that is competitive, it is not a city that is productive and the status quo we have today is not interested and absolutely not doing anything about it and that bothers me.
When you talk about infrastructure the intervention is transportation infrastructure. We have our own plans. Our plans by God’s grace, one, to achieve a movement from point A to B in a time that will be determined or determinable and it will not be interrupted by traffic.
Second objective is that we must make sure that we remove the bottlenecks from all the roads. We can clear them like we were doing under former Governor Ambode. We continue to expand the roads to make sure that traffic is free flow.
And number three objective, we must be able to put a lot of people on the road. We are in a coastal state, from Badagry to Epe, and we have a Lagoon that stretches from Badagry to Epe, why can’t we invest massively on that, both government and private sectors are going to collaborate.
Those are the three things we are going to achieve. Let me tell you something as we speak, BRT enters traffic, if you go to all the bus stops, you will see people in numbers. Because of traffic you leave your house by 5am and you are at the bus stop for hours. It is not fair. I will say that is insensitive or it is possible they don’t know what to do for people to move from point A to B without traffic and they are not doing anything about it. I am just going to make sure that the BRT that we have is going to be extended to all major roads in Lagos. I have marked the roads. We have about 25 to 30 roads that cut across Lagos. I will put BRT on all of them. People who leave their homes and get back spending five hours will now spend 1hr 20 minutes. So, we must be able to cut the commune time at least by 70 per cent which is possible because I did not create the BRT, it was a concept they took from London. It was Asiwaju Bola Tinubu that brought BRT to Lagos as a concept; Fashola was the one that implemented it. If the BRT is working why that? When we were in government under Ambode, we extended the BRT to Abule-Egba. And it was meant to be a continuous thing until you do that, the masses cannot move.
It is a dumb thing to make everybody sit in a traffic. We use to have a way out before. Okada was one of the means. Now, as at the last time, they banned Okada from ten local government areas. Okada used to be the only transportation move that can take you from one place to another. I am not encouraging that Okada should be on the highway.
Since Fashola’s time, which was also sustained by Ambode, we normally b an Okada on the highways, because government has a responsibility to protect lives and there is a correlation between accident and Okada riding on the high ways. That is why every responsible government will tell you not to ride okada on the highways. But that okada must operate within the community because the traffic situation is still very bad. Some people who will leave their house in the morning like 4:30am going to work, from your house to the bus stop they are being robbed. They’re being dispossessed of their belongings.
I will say something again, about year 2020 or thereabout, a company came to this Lagos and started doing Gokada. Gokada operates like Uber. This same government stopped them and there was no replacement.
Now this same government is banning local okadas with no replacement. So, something is beneficial to the masses why do we stop it? It is a financial sustenance. Some people took Gokada on hire purchase, whether they ride or not, they are paying. If it is security problem, banning will not solve it. It is only when you do not have solution to security problem you begin to look for excuses. What about people that are out using Uber to work, can you ban Uber? An economist does not think like that. My own thinking is that if there is a problem with okada, particularly if it is a security issue, then we need to go back to that Gokada. Go call them to come back, put their okadas on the net, everybody can see them. You can use different points, you can even use the Neighbourhood Watch and create offices for them in different communities to be monitoring them.
In fact, for every locality that you have plenty okadas, you can use LASTMA or Neighbourhood Watch on power bikes who will be monitoring them, that is it. Or else they do the BRT lane. There will be no BRT bus that will be interrupted.
Now, BRT too enters traffic, BRT means: Bus Rapid Transit. What is missing in that BRT is the R, that is Rapidity. The R is not there, and so we are still in the traffic. So, these are the issues.
Number two, as we do the BRT we must not erroneously think that we are providing the BRT alone for the masses, as we provide the BRT for the masses we are also providing the executive version of the BRT to those who have cars, either big or small version. We have almost twenty of them on the interment. Those terminals can have executive coaches and the BRT buses that will operate will also have executives because traffic will only move when we make the road motorable. We must remove the bottlenecks and we provide the BRT lane that carries the poor man and the middle class. Let me tell you why I am saying we must make provision for the middle class in public transportation system. It is the people that have cars that create the traffic every day. So, any transportation mode of operation that is not encouraging those who have cars to keep their cars at home and have confidence in the public transport has not provided solution to the traffic. That is why Boot Party is saying we have the solution.
On water transportation, we are going to make sure that the boats that will be approved will be the flat bed boat, large that can take a lot of people. People are afraid to go on water because of safety or other considerations. When you go on water you will see some safety islands where divers, live savers can stay. We will employ a lot of them, let say like 2,000, because we have road LASTMA as much as ten thousand or less. I think we can also have two thousand marine LASTMA so that for every five minutes journey on the water, the life savers are there just waiting in case of any accident and accident will not happen because we will make sure that the life jacket you wear are going to be brought from Europe and America. We will not let any man go and import anything. We will go to Europe and America to get the best producers and tell them to come and establish in Lagos and we will license the local companies that will be their vendors.
Number two, any boat that uses any life jacket that is not produced by the government is going to face jail term. It is going to be jail term because we are going to be brutal when it comes to protection of life. So, we will make the waters safe, we will dredge to create the channels and put jetties so that people can move on the water. Even, they can move in the night, we will put light. I am the light up Lagos man. If I can put light on the roads, I can also put light on water. That is when we can say we have transportation in Lagos. It can take two years. I tell you something, we must have this reform. But why we are having this problem now is because we were planning to bring 5,000 high capacity buses. We brought in 820 in the first instance, which became controversial and some of the House of Assembly men began to ask questions on the buses. That’s a discussion for another day. That 820 was supposed to be part of 5,000 batch, remaining 4,000. We had already told the manufacturers to come set their assembly in Epe so that 4,000 will be assembled in Lagos here, that generates jobs. Not only that as they are doing that, we are not going to use government money to do that again. We will just concession the routes to individuals. If you need 50 buses, go to their factory. Government will support you and assemble it for you.