The Aspirant of Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), who is contesting as a member of Ogun State House of Assembly, Ifo Constituency 2, Comrade Hassan Taiwo Soweto said constituency project will be thing of the past if his political party take over power. He stated this in an exclusive interview with Community Gist on Friday, 12th of October, 2018. Below is his conversation with our correspondent.
Q: Can we meet you?
A: My name is Comrade Hassan Taiwo Soweto, I am the candidate of Solicialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), contesting as a member of Ogun State House of Assembly representing Ifo Constituency 2. Am a human right activist of repute, a socialist and a defender of downtrodden and am going to Ogun State House of Assembly to champion the course of the people of Ifo 2 Constituency.
Q: Why are you aspiring for this post?
A: I think the person and the party occupying the position at the moment have failed the people of Ifo 2 Constituency miserably. The entirety of the period during which they occupying that position, there have been nothing fundamental in terms of improvement in the conditions of life of the people of the constituency and one major evidence of failure of the person who is occupying the position is the condition of the roads in Ifo 2 Constituency. There is hardly any corner of the constituency where you can point to any good and motorable road. In fact more than 70% of the constituency has no road at all, what we call footpath, that the government has neglected and the people of the community are the one just trying to grade these footpaths in order to be able to access their homes and businesses. So their failure is the reason why we are contesting and our passion; that passion that we can actually transform the situation positively. We believe the reason why this constituency is in this parlour state is not because of lack of resources, we think that Ogun State Government in terms of internally generated revenue as well as money get from the federation account on month by month basis has enough to ensure that roads in the communities within the constituency are tarred as well as other public amenities like public schools and health care are provided. Why this is not the case is 2 reasons; one, the greed of the elements who are in power, secondly, the ineffective representation, the weak representation, self-centred representation by the person currently occupying that position. Instead of people centred representation that energetically defends the right of the people of the constituency to all of the aforementioned social services that I mentioned earlier.
Q: What are your contributions in the community?
A: If you are talking of contribution, I have not been able to give money to anyone neither have I been able to say that I want to hire boys as political thugs that I will be feeding everyday, because those are the major contributions that those we are contending with have as their score card. Our own contributions is about providing ideological education for the youths to realize that they have the right as members of this community, as citizens of Nigeria to demand the social amenities that are not provided in the community are provided. In fact before we decided to contest, we had form Olambe Peoples Movement called OPM, which was used for a period to campaign around some issues we are talking about like lack of roads, electricity crisis, crazy bills. We have actually written on some occasions both press statement as well as petition on some of these issues.
And on voters education and voters card, our party played a fronter role during the last Continuous Voters Registration Exercise to ensure that people are able to register. As you know, the winning party always corner the process of registration so that ordinary people will not be able to get registered. On two occasions, we liase with INEC in Ifo Local Government and when we get the location of the registration centres we equally announced it to the people and we also mobilized people for the registration. As a fall out of that, we have to petition INEC over the discrepancies that we saw during the registration exercise and Ogun State INEC have set up a panel which we met on Wednesday, the Secretary of the party was at that panel on Wednesday in order to seek for more time because they are asking us to present our evidence to back the allegations we leveled against the INEC officials in Ifo over how they mismanaged the registration exercise. If we win that kind of appeal process, it could mean that several thousands of people who are still disenfranchised in the communities in Ifo might have another chance at possibly getting registered as voters. So that’s some of the things we have done but there are works in progress.
Q: What do you have to say about people traveling from Olambe and its environs to get registered in Ifo?
A: It’s completely wrong, is part of the petition we wrote. I must equally say at this early stage that the petition over which INEC is asking for is the second petition we about to write and same issue of voters registration is part of what we asking for. We don’t agree with the situation whereby communities that in this part of the constituency will not have adequate number of registration centres. We think that by doing that INEC is helping to further disenfranchised the people. We have told INEC to consider integrity of an election not in terms of what happen on the day of election, rather the entirety of what happen prior to election, election day and after election. And voters registration is an integral part of electoral process, which if compromised, will compromise the integrity of the election itself. So we send notice to INEC and if they did not listen to us, it means we have to take them up on the higher level before the forthcoming election.
Q: What are your agenda for the constituency?
A: Our agenda is very simple, we are asking for all of those who are fed up with this condition of neglect and abandon, who are fed up of the very terrible roads, public school and health care, who are fed up with lack of job, who are fed up with bad representation of APC and PDP are practicing over the years. We are asking them to support us, to send us to the assembly because we think that as a human right activist we are best fit to go to the assembly and defend the right of our people to good roads, good primary health care, not just in one or two areas but all corners of the constituency.
Q: What do you have to say about constituency allowance?
A: Constituency allowance is party of the illegality that has been introduced in the political arrangement of Nigeria. I call it illegality because by virtue of who a legislature is. A legislature legislate, he does not execute. And the founder of democracy, I mean capitalist democracy envisioned a political arrangement whereby there will be effective checks and balances among the three arms of government; where the law makers also execute project, that compromises the ability to effectively discharge their duties of checks on the executive because it means that they are close to the contractors, while they are the ones who suppose to oversee the affairs of the ministries and departments. If our party take over in Ogun State in particular and Nigeria in general, constituency projects will be the thing of the past because it is robbery, illegal and unconstitutional. It is something that compromises the legislators to effectively discharge their duties and it must be stop if we want vibrant legislature.
Q: What is your advice for the people of the constituency?
A: I greet them, I empathize with them. The reason why I said that is because they have suffered for too long. There are over 50 communities in this constituency and there is no government that can beat his chest since 1999 that they made any fundamental development in any of the communities. It is Landlord Association, CDAs and CDCs that are developing the communities by grading the roads, buying electricity poles, among other things. Now I challenge them that this is now the time to draw a clean break over this past of misery. Past of everybody trying to play the role of government. This is the new chapter whereby the government will be brought directly to the people. Government will do all those things Landlord Associations, CDAs and CDCs are doing. We want an end to the burden that has been shouldering for too long.
Q: Your final words
A: Don’t vote sentiment, do not willingly take yourself back into slavery. This is an opportunity to liberate Ifo 2. The Solicialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) is your best bet, my candidacy is the only thing that can transform this constituency. There is no other person in this context who is capable, who can be trusted, who have the record of defending the downtrodden. Send me to serve you and you shall not regret it.