The senatorial candidate of the African Democratic Congress for the Lagos Central Senatorial District, Yomi Idowu, speaks to BABATUNDE TITILOLA about his plans and chances at the forthcoming polls

Some say Nigeria’s age-long issues are beyond the capacity of young people. What do you have to say about the interest of youths coming into politics?

I think it would be better to understand the real youth age grade, most especially in Nigeria. Who is a young person? In most cases, the United Nations defines a youth as a person between the ages of 15 and 25. Other schools of thought extend the age to 35. In today’s politics, about 98 per cent of Nigerians vying for elective political offices are above 35, so, they are not youths and therefore quite old enough to lead at all tiers of government to tackle economic, political and social challenges facing us as a state. Furthermore, the old “experienced” politicians have failed to solve Nigeria’s problems in the last two decades.

How do you rate the performance of the current government in terms of economy?

Nigeria has not had a stable economy in the last two decades of this Fourth Republic. We will begin to experience a stable economy when we begin to manufacture more of our needs and export the excess; introduce practical training in our secondary schools/tertiary institutions, strengthen small and medium scale businesses, build refineries for our crude oil, give grants to our farmers for mechanised agriculture. This is why Nigerians must elect the right candidates in February.

There seems to be increased political awareness among the Nigerian populace. What do you think is responsible for this?

The reason for more political awareness in Nigeria now is not far-fetched. Hardship is knocking harder on both the rich and poor today. The language of insecurity is louder than ever, even hitting the elites. Now, an average Nigerian believes that the old-order politicians have offered Nigeria for outright sale with a glaring price tag. Everybody wants the real change by legitimate means at the polls. People abandon their tight schedules on weekdays to collect PVCs in order to secure the licence to vote out backwardness, the power to rewrite 1999 constitution and the struggle for the majority to rule in the real sense. Almost every Nigerian is tired of sitting on the fence.

What is your view on local government autonomy?

Democracy is simply defined as government of the people. Local government autonomy is sacrosanct. Local government as the third tier of government must reclaim its full residual powers for us to progress as a state. Local government civil servants must also be put on their toes regarding performance, diligence, accountability, transparency, career upgrade, project execution since politics, globally, is local. The grassroots should be actively involved in democracy.

How can Nigerians get the lawmakers to make laws that are really pro-people, rather than self-serving ones?

The majority of Nigerian lawmakers are hand-picked by godfathers, and so they do the bidding of their godfathers only. This has resulted in the weaponised poverty of the people.

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For us to have an effectively performing legislature at all levels, the electorate, across the board, must stand firm to ensure that their votes count at all times. The voice of men is the voice of God.

Lagos is Nigeria’s commerce capital. What are your thoughts about management of tax in Lagos?

Every tax collected from the citizens is expected to translate to provision of quality social services for taxpayers. This automatically promotes voluntary tax payment and reduces poverty-induced insecurity. Based on this, Lagos State should redefine tax administrations in line with global best practices. Tax payment can be combined with direct benefits to the people.

How much impact do you think social media will have on the outcome of this year’s general elections?

Social media is opening the iron doors of all the strong rooms in the corridors of power. It has really informed the masses, particularly the youth of all the good, the bad, and the ugly shadows of power play. This has helped a lot to sensitise the ordinary man on the street on the necessity to speak out at the right time. Though not without its challenges, I personally see social media as a big plus to our democracy.

What informed your decision to join the race for the Senate?

I am standing up to contest in the forthcoming general elections for two major reasons. One is to challenge the old-order politicians’ style of leadership. As we can all see, they have run out of ideas. They allow the western world to remotely control our economic and political lives. With all our natural resources and human endowment, the naira depreciates on a daily basis due to poor political will and backward leadership. It will be dangerous to sit on the fence and merely become a complainant at this critical time of our national life. I therefore decided to contest election for a seat in the Senate in order to redefine senatorial politics vis-à-vis ensuring that democracy’s dividends really get to the grassroots where democracy derives its name.

You are contesting in Lagos where there is a strong presence of the ruling party, APC. How do you honestly rate your chances at the polls?

Lagos Central’s constituents have gone far beyond party politics that has been enslaving them in the last 24 years. They are eager for a positive change. The poverty situation is the same everywhere I go in Lagos Central. I’m convinced that the so-called popular political parties with ‘structures’ have failed them since 1999 because of political apathy. How could a political party brag to have a structure of hungry people? The structures that are neither academically empowered nor have access to proper health care?

In fact, the current senator representing Lagos Central District was declared winner by INEC in 2019 with less than 30 per cent of votes of the registered voters in the district. Does that justify democracy?

What the people want now is the real change, and we are very close to that. I pray INEC, security agencies, and the media play a neutral role.

By Vision

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