Abdul-Azeez Adediran, popularly known as Jandor is a politician and founder of CORE Media Group, whose team has been working towards ending the “era of giving party tickets to unpopular candidates” in Lagos state.
Jando is a resolute and articulate crusader cum activist who speaks truth to power and stand for his people in the face of oppression and intimidation. His movement Lagos4Lagos has gained huge momentum in the past 6 years and has attracted the interest of all major parties, who have also been making contact to negotiate allegiance ahead 2023 elections.
He recently spoke with City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE & SEUN JOSEPH on how the Lagos4Lagos movement sought to launch a new beginning in Lagos politics. Read excerpts
What actually inspired this movement that has gained momentum in the whole of Lagos?
Let me just say that I chose to leave my comfort zone for the past 6 years to begin to do the unusual because we believe to achieve greatness, you have to sacrifice for it, because greatness will not come from your comfort zone.
What we are doing appears like we are fighting someone but we are not. The truth is that we are fighting the system that we believe never worked for anyone for about two decades or so. And until something is done, nothing will happen and this is just our own little effort to contribute to achieving the Lagos that we have long been dreaming of. What then do we need to do?
Having studied the game and the system for a while, and we pick one of the holes and say this is what is wrong, let’s find the solution to it, so when we started, of course as expected, politicians didn’t take us seriously. We were dismissed.
You know I have never contested, and I also never been appointed, so it’s easier for anybody to say, what does he know? And just like I have said to my team; I said they are going to dismiss us, but don’t be tired. Go ahead and continue to do what you believe in.
Today, I’m sure the story has changed. If there is one thing that actually got them unaware is because, they never saw me coming, and we have eaten so deep before they realise what has gone wrong. So just like every other trade which you want to venture into, you will sit down and do your study very well; what is actually wrong? What do people want?; what is wrong with the system and how can you bring change.
In Lagos we’ve seen that we have what we call silent majority, who have never been part of the process or who have deliberately been edged out of the process, as a result of one individual often making pronouncements on who gets what in Lagos. A lot of people want to be something else, but they were unable to get there because of those long term constraints. I was telling my team that, I know we have huge followers, sympathisers and supporters, even within the system, but unfortunately they are invisible. And we can understand why. Nobody wants to be haunted. But we believe that we have nothing to lose. We never minced words I want to be the governor of Lagos state. Am I the governor as we speak? No. what is the worst that can happen? I will still not be governor. But again, I have nothing to lose. But if we fight it through, I can then be what I want to be. So, to chicken out or to be bought over will not arise, because we believe in where we are going. This is why we say I won’t be a project of 7 to 8 months to the election. It has to take long term planning; for you to travel everywhere to do what has never been done before. Because in Lagos, we are used to just one man blowing a whistle and telling us who to vote for. And everybody will be looking and asking; who knows this person? What does he do? Where is the picture?
So for the first time, we are trying to give Lagos the governor they have never had for years; someone who has been in their domain, who understand with them and can truly tell the story of Lagos; from Badagry to Epe, from Lagos Island to Ikorodu. someone who is familiar with almost all the wards, unlike the one that will come 7 months to the election the moment he gets to Ikorodu town hall, they will organise people for him to talk to and after the talk, that will be all. Someone who doesn’t know there’s Ijede in Ikorodu, Ibeshe, Ewe Elepe, Imota, you know all of these core areas that you cant tour within a day and get familiar with them. Or the one that gets to Badagry town hall, which he will of course go by boat, he won’t even understand and appreciate how the Badagry people live. He just talks to them and go away. Unlike us, we have been everywhere. We have gone to those places and interacted with people. For the very first time, give them a feel of who wants to be their governor; they can touch him, they can speak to him; they can sit with him and often we have done that the entire 245 wards if you want to use the local government or 377 wards if you want to use the 57 local government and LCDA.
So this is what we are doing differently, and we are trying to also tell a story that in 2023, perhaps a platform won’t even matter anymore, because it’s beginning to get a personality election, so who is that person that wants to run? Let us see them, and we have done a whole lot.
You can see the outcome of this in our congress. We have been able to create the necessary implosion within the strong base of the status quo. There is no how they want to count it, Ko le p emo. ko possible (it won’t be complete anymore), with what we have done, and that is speaking to our conviction and our readiness that we can get this done and that’s what Lagos For Lagos is all about. Lagos4Lagos is a mantra that has everybody living in Lagos embedded in it. Either you re of the Igbo extraction, or you are the Arewa extraction or you are a resident or an indigene. We believe Lagos hasn’t worked for anyone. It has only been working for only one person and a privileged few.
That is why you will have in the Igbo extraction, just only one person known by this man, occupying office for 20 years. What about others who are of the Igbo extraction, what about others? Just one person, in the name of Joe Igbokwe. If you also go to the Arewa people, just one person, Kabiru, for 20 years. What about others?
So it’s just doesn’t work for anyone, or how do we reconcile the fact that in Igbo dominated market as Alaba, Ladipo where they understand the nitty-gritty of the trade, where they are many, and you go there and impose on them an Iyaloja or Babaloja? It goes to say these people don’t understand what they do or think? In that situation, Lagos has never worked for them. So this is what we are changing. We have a market board up there. We can put all Awori, Ijebu, Lagos Island or anybody there. We don’t care, but the market where they operate if you want things to go smoothly, you should give it to them and let them run it.
So, that mantra is also embedded into our Lagos4Lagos project, as against what the opposing camps are peddling that Lagos4Lagos is a project o of the indigenes and all that, when they say that, I think is like a guilty conscience pricking them because they have been giving us governors that are not from here; the governor is not from here, the speaker is not from here; so the moment we said Lagos4Lagos, they say, this is all about them, Of course, you won’t take out the expression of the indigenes of Lagos embedded in that mantra away from them, that’s their own expression, they will travel with it, but me, as somebody who wants to govern the state of Lagos, you won’t see me saying I want to be governor of indigene or non-indigene, I want to be the governor of Lagos state. In the same way, I will not be the governor of APC or PDP; I want to be governor of Lagos state.
In our Lagos for Lagos, we created it in such a manner that all political parties are part of that movement. Some of us are of the APC, some are of the PDP, and even our director of mobilization is a PDP man. So, this is the way the whole thing is playing out as far as Lagos4Lagos is concerned. So we have been preparing and planning to govern Lagos unlike those that were called upon, they never planned or prepared to govern Lagos. That’s why today, we see them coming up with several needless policies, and they don’t know what to do. They will just be at the mercy of somebody who will tell them jump here; don’t jump there.
We have seen several mistakes from the sitting governor; he will say one thing today and tomorrow he’s changing it to another.
Can we for the very first time in the history of this state produce an independent governor? The one that will not require a second level approval before he gets things done in Lagos state.
This is our project, we are not fighting anybody. We just want to right some wrongs. We don’t want anyone to impose anyone on us anymore. You can see from our congress. We had the congress on the same day. It’s not that their crowd came to our own, we had it simultaneously and you saw the difference between both congresses. In our own case, all our people use their money to transport themselves to the venue; plenty of them.
So what else are we asking for? Things are already shifting in Lagos and it will shift completely come 2023.
Let’s talk about the challenges that you have faced in the cause of achieving this Lagos4Lagos project
There’s no how a project of this nature won’t come with its own challenges actually, but in our own case, we decided to ignore the obstacle and decide to debate the issue. Because there will always be obstacles. Over the years in Lagos, we have always paid attention to the obstacles without debating the issues, but this time, it will be different. We may appear like opposition within, many times we would want to use a place and they will shut it down because they believe we are gaining popularity, but we remain unrepentant regardless. What we started like play 6 years ago has become a threat to the system. The election is next year whether you like it or not when I said next year, nothing is happening in 2023, all we will have is voting, so we are already at the eve of it, so you can see currently that alignment and realignment have commenced. I think we are good to go. More challenges are coming and we are prepared for them.