Hon. Dipo Okeyomi, popularly known as Carry Go, is the Co-ordinator of the Sanwo-Olu Vanguard Independent Campaign Group, Ojokoro Local Government Development Area, Lagos State. In this interview with SAKIBU OLOKOJOBI, among other things, he speaks on the amount of efforts that have gone into mobilising the people of the area ahead of the general election for the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu. Excerpts:
You have started vigorous campaign for Babajide Sanwo-Olu governorship ambition in Lagos for some months now. As the co-ordinator of the campaign group in Ojokoro Local Council Development Area, how would you describe your efforts so far?
Well, let me say that since we set out for the task ahead of us, everything has been going on very well. We have our target. You would recall that we said our target is to get 250,000 votes for Sanwo-Olu in Ojokoro area. The project has been on course and from all indications, we are going to achieve the 250,000 target and more. Although we encountered some challenges in the course of the campaign, by the grace of God, we have been able to surmount them and we are very hopeful of achieving our goal.
How easy or otherwise has it been and how convinced are you that you will be able to meet your target, especially now that the election is near?
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We are very sure, very sure. Initially, our target was to canvass the support of politicians in Ojokoro area, but we have gone beyond that now. We have sought and got the support of the generality of the people of the area. The artisans, market women, students and youths, among others are now involved in the task and we are working towards achieving our goal. It is a collective responsibility; it is a collective task and everyone is involved in it. It is a marked difference from what obtained in the past. We no longer restrict ourselves to party loyalists, but to the generality of the people. It is Ajumose, meaning, collective responsibility. Everybody wants good things to come to the area in particular and Lagos in general, so, they are involved. They are not leaving it to the typical politician alone. Like I said, it has not been very easy, but we are convinced that we are going to achieve our objective.
In what ways have you sensitised the people of the LCDA to support Sanwo-Olu in the coming election?
We have carried out a number of activities. The other time we organized a walk to sensitise the people. No fewer than 10,000 people were involved. Apart from that, a lot has been done in other areas. We have produced t-shirts, caps and other souvenirs for people in general. We are organising football matches among the community development associations; as it is we are organising another one for the youths. That is starting very soon. We did all these to show our support for our Symbol, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and we have been well received by the people.
You said you encountered some challenges in the course of the project. What are the challenges?
You know it can be very tough bringing the generality of the people to support a cause; you need to convince them, especially those that are not politicians. You will recall that I said we have gone beyond merely canvassing support for Sanwo-Olu among the politicians to the generality of the people. What many did in the past was either to sit at home or go out to vote. But now, we have to bring them in and let them participate in political activities. That is the difference. It is not easy to bring in those who were not into politics to participate in some of these sensitisation activities. We made them know that they are key stakeholders and they have to be fully involved. For us, we don’t discriminate; we welcome everybody. And to God be the glory, we have succeeded in this area and our figure has risen very well.
Let me add too that to a reasonable extent, without sounding immodest, I enjoy some goodwill among the people and they gave their support. I have been involved in philanthropic activities and they know that. That has helped in our mobilisation. We know the different groups and identified with them. My team and I met with students, non-indigenes, the traditional rulers, the landlord association, the community development associations, the community development council and others. We made some donations where necessary, especially to the CDC on behalf of Sanwo-Olu. Sanwo-Olu did not send money to us, but because of our passion for the cause we have embarked on, we did that and many more. It is not to get anything from Sanwo-Olu, but to ensure that we achieve success. The figure of members of the party in the area has increased and the party chairman is highly excited and praying for me and my team for the success recorded so far. We are still going to do more because we still have some time to work. I must say that we get the support of the Director General of the campaign orgnisation, Mr. Tayo Ayinde. Any time we visit his office for campaign materials, he gives us enough to go round and that has been helpful too.
Many have described you as a great mobiliser, particularly at the grassroots level. What is the driving force?
I am a grassroots person and the driving force has been my love for the development of my area, the need to emancipate my people. I am a friend of so many people. People have come to know me for what I am. They know what I can do and what I cannot do and I am also enjoying their support. I feel comfortable among them and I love to see them live a better life. I am close to the okada riders; I am their patron; the Keke Marwa people know me very well; I am their patron. When they have problems, they call on me and I attend to them. I enjoy their support. So, the motivating force is the need to improve the lives of the people around me and to God be the glory we are doing well. I have as a result embarked on the empowerment of a number of people in the community, even in the course of this current campaign. Recently, I gave out some pepper grinding machines to some to work with. There are countless other things that we have done for the betterment of the lives of the people of the LCDA.
Let me state here too that as far as the campaign for Sanwo-Olu is concerned, I go beyond Ojokoro to campaign. I am known outside my immediate vicinity and I use the opportunity to seek their support for our symbol. I have groups which involves Nigerians from all walks of life. I have the Change Agent Foundation and other organisations. We are doing a lot and from all indications, it is apparent that Sanwo-Olu has won already. What’s that candidate of the PDP, called… Is it Jimi Agbaje? He is our “customer” and we shall attend to him as we have always done.
A reconciliation meeting was held in Ojokoro among chieftains of the All Progressives Congress, APC, recently. How did that come about?
The Community Development Council tried very well in that regard. Apart from that, one of leaders in the state, Cardinal James Odumbaku, and Mr. Tayo Ayinde, came in too, held a meeting with us and by the grace of God, we have settled our differences; we are together now. We are all working towards the same goal – how Sanwo-Olu will win the election.
The reconciliation has yielded fruit. It is one of the reasons the membership of our party in Ojokoro increased. All the aggrieved people in the party have been reconciled. No one is fighting the other person any longer. We are together. We want anyone still nursing animosity against any other person to calm down and put whatever might have happened behind and face the future with the hope of achieving success together. Everything is settled. We are together in Ojokoro.
What is your relationship with the Chairman of Ojokoro Local Council Development Area, LCDA, Hamed Idowu Tijani, now?
HID is my friend; we are not fighting. He is my friend and brother. We are very close. He is the chairman of my local government. He is there to work and he is working. We don’t have any problem. We are working towards the same goal and by the grace of God, we are going to win that election. Ours is to deliver in Ojokoro and we are going to deliver. Our target is 250,000 and we are going to deliver.
Running a campaign of this nature and magnitude involves so much money. How much has gone into it?
I can’t calculate that now. A lot has gone into it in terms of money, material, time and so on. And we are still spending. So, we cannot do the calculation or quantify all the efforts that have gone into it.
You have always campaigned against political violence, but during the flagging off of the APC campaign in Lagos recently there was violence. How would you react to this?
Well, I am opposed to violence and I have been campaigning against it. What happened was unfortunate. I have always campaigned against thuggery and I don’t harbour anyone involved in it. Thuggery amounts to working against yourself and your spirit. The spirit by God is not that of violence, so if you are violent, you are working against the spirit of God in you. Politics is not by violence, but your mind and your thumb. Politicians who promote violence will buy gun, cutlass and other weapons for you. After the election, they abandon you and you are on your own. I have said that countless times. I am opposed to the use of guns and dangerous weapons. The weapon that I know is your mind and your thumb and they do not bring about violence.
You were at the event in Ikeja. How did you escape the violence?
I escaped through the help of God. I must say, the PDP caused the problem on that day. They infiltrated us and caused the problem…
But we learnt that the violence was by some members of the NURTW who…
No, no, no. The people that came to attack us were PDP thugs. They were out to cause problem and give our party a bad name. They know they cannot win the election hence the decision to disrupt the rally.
Going by the figure released by INEC, Lagos is known to have the highest number of registered voters. Do you see that as translating to electoral fortune for your party, especially at the federal level?
Very well. It gives us hope of great support. Lagos is for Buhari and our national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has said we should give our party over three million votes. I can assure you we are going to give the party well over that; we are going to give him more than that.
As the elections approach, what advice do you have for the people of Lagos State and Nigerians in general?
I want to appeal to the people of Lagos State to go out on election days and vote for Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Obafemi Hamzat at the state level. I want them to go out and vote for President Muhammadu Buhari as president again. I would advise youths to shun thuggery. They should remember that politicians who are violence-inclined will use them and dump them. I warn you, the youths: If they give you weapons, at the end of the day, they will abandon you; when they abandon you and you use the weapon to rob or do something bad, the police will arrest you and jail you. Do not engage in violence. Believe in yourself and work towards making your lives better.