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How Labour Party ‘ll turn fortunes of Lagos around – Vivour-Rhodes

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Gbadebo Vivour-Rhodes, Labour Party’s (LP) governorship candidate in Lagos state, in this interview with ADEWALE AJAYI, speaks about the chances of his party in the 2023 general elections, how he intends to prosecute his campaign, plans to turn the state around to make things better for residents and make the youth more productive

Most political parties have started their campaigns. How have you been going about yours?

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We are taking the campaign to the people,we have been having groups meetings,we are meeting with different groups, across Lagos State,we are also galvanising our party.People do accuse us  that,we don’t have structure,we are putting all our structure in order,after that,we shall continue with our town halls  meeting and sell ourselves to the people.

What has been the response from those you have visited, those you have sold the party ideology to?

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We have had a very positive response, you saw what happened in October 1st in Lagos state, when we had our rally, you saw a situation where people turn out in large numbers for the rally, despite that no any form of mobilisation from the party. These are people who are hopeful for a new Nigeria, a new Lagos, they came out en masse for that rally,we  are very excited about that rally and we believe we are going to galvanise more of that support.

After the governorship primary between you and Hon. Moshood Salvador, the Afenifere leader Pa Ayo Adebanjo reconciled the two of you over the feud generated by the outcome of the primary and he (Salvador) was persuaded to run for senatorial position which I am not sure he showed interest, how is the relationship between the two of you and your followers?

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I don’t know, I cannot say that he did not pick the senatorial seat form, I want to believe, I have been seeing his posters for senatorial race. Our relationship is fine; there is no problem. He and my father are good friends, even before Chief Adebanjo intervened, what was said on that day, and the appeal made to us, everybody calmed down, and we embraced the process.

How will you describe your party’s  strength in Lagos state? I learnt the names of House of Assembly candidates and other candidates running for National Assembly positions were submitted late by the former chairman of the party, Ifagbemi Awamaridi.

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We are pursuing that, and  I can tell you categorically that INEC will soon publish the names of all our candidates and they shall participate in the elections.

How will you describe your party strength, because the belief is that Labour Party became popular because Mr. Peter Obi joined the party to pursue his presidential ambition?

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Dr. Obi joined the party and came with an ideology. It is not just about Obi, it is what he represents, though, nobody is perfect, but he represents what you will like to see in a good president. He represents, the people that wants the government to have integrity and capacity to rule, and serve the people by showing empathy and love, and I feel that there are a lot of people being galvanised, that will go out and vote for Labour Party candidates.Those are the people we have been galvanising, those interested to come and vote and  restructure the party, we don’t have regular politicians that just hang around, obviously, to make money off candidates. We have people who are truly interested in a new Nigeria and a new Lagos.

Talking about Lagos state, do you have what it takes to prosecute the election?, I mean do you have enough members that can serve as agents on election day at each polling unit, also will you say your party has the resources to prosecute the election?

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I hope you saw the rally on October 1, 2022. We have a large supporters. But many of them that came out for the rally are not members of your party. They are member of our support groups, we have support groups.The support groups are going to work with the party. Don’t worry about our membership strength. With the support groups we have no problem, and we have confidence in the support groups.

Chief Ifagbemi Awamaridi, whose name the party initially submitted as the party governorship candidate had a briefing with journalists and insisted that he is still the party standard bearer for the governorship position, that you are only campaigning on his behalf, moreso, that he is in court challenging your position as the party flagbearer. Do this in anyway affect you psychologically or in any form?

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He is challenging the process that leads to my emergence in court,we are constantly reaching out to him,to make sure we can settle the matter out of court.We want him to be part of the electioneering campaign.We have a letter of withdrawal that he withdrew as the party governorship candidate, we are filling our defence,since he was interim candidate,and the party position is that,he withdrew from the race. He get offended that the party refers to him as a space holder, the party position is that, their candidate, those who contested for party governorship position purchased nomination form  and expression of interest form for N 15 million Naira and two aspirants did that, I and Hon.Salvador.We had a very tough primary and a winner emerged, and that is the party position.

Does it not affect you psychologically or any way that he is challenging your emergence as the flagbearer?

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It is part of the process, politics is a constant force. We are civil and civilised, it is not out of place to challenge the process.

There is the impression that some influential forces in the state encouraged you to join Labour Party so that you can deplete the vote of the PDP that is the major opposition party in the state, because your root is in the PDP. Is this true? 

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That is not correct, I am not a baby, I was the one that made up my mind to buy N1.5million form in the PDP. I was convinced, I was prevailed upon to withdraw from the race, and I withdrew based on agreement. The agreement was reneged upon, so that is the situation we found ourselves.

What is your manifesto like? What are your plans for Lagosians?

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My government will be a transparent and accountable government; my administration will focus on easing transportation problem, making sure we build four rail lines simultaneously, in the  next eight years, we should finish them. We are going to partner with infrastructural developers and we will create an enabling environment for them to move in. Our main aim is for people to be able to access Lagos, to reach Lagos at the minimum possible time. We will work at having local government autonomy and ensure we have visionary local government administrators, so that inner roads across the local government are completed so that we can be proud of it. We will determine the roles for the local government because,state government have usurp a lot of responsibilities meant for the local government. Most importantly, to make sure that visionary people are at the helms of affairs, because those inner roads, drainages, it should not be the state that will be fixing them.The local government chairman should be more  committed to project in his community. It is also important that we implement the resources available to the state, to get us the infrastructure that we need. We will work at having multi income sources. We must work with cooperatives, work with groups, social housing funds, to make sure that all funds generated from high income development, Banana Island, Eko Atlantic, are put into social housing funds to build multi income housing units, to ensure that the barrier in people getting house to live in is lowered. As far as you are part of the tax payers in Lagos state, you are a member of the commonwealth of Lagos. We must be able to give you the benefit and the incentive of paying your tax to you. Then you can say these are the benefits that I have, then it will entice more people to join the partnership.

If you are to assess the development in Lagos state, compared to revenue generated in the state and money realised from federal allocation, will you say it is commensurate with the development we have in the state?

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Not at all, far from it, most of the projects not executed, it is only in Lekki tollgate, which was executed by private company and the Lekki link bridge that we are very proud of. Look at the development recorded by Alhaji Lateef Jakande, who was governor of the state for just four years and three months.

Those who have been running this state for over two decades now, none of them can afford to send their children to public schools because they fail to improve the standard in public schools.There is traffic everywhere, those in power rely on police escorts to beat traffic, where is the development? Lagos state was center of excellence at a point but those in government in the last 20 years have abused everything, they now extort money from commercial bus drivers through the park management team set up. Bus drivers have to go on strike to protest the extortion.

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We need a Lagos state that is safer, that allow businesses to flourish, not a Lagos state that suppress the masses and people who want to work, threatening market people that they will close their market.

Young men that are supposed to be involved in production, they are turned to touts and were being used to harass people. There is a lot more government can achieve.

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Our government will achieve that  and make business to thrive and stop any form of harassment, as long as you pay taxes, you have social contract between you and and we must account for what we are using your money for.

What programme do you have for the youth? If you observed, many of the youth want to make money quick, how do you intend to change their psyche to be more useful to themselves?

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We are going to focus on enterprenureship, skill acquisition, and we are going to invest in sports and community building, we are going to build communities across Lagos state and invest in it. We are going into sports creation and open it to the world, and then give people who have enterprenureship skills to be productive and have alternative means of living. We must also have value engineer and social engineer society, so that Lagos will be better than what you see today. What you see in Nigeria today is more of a reflection of the political elite than social elite, more of political elite, because they are the ones that use this young men to suppress people.

when they read reports that rats eat N10 billion, monkey eating N20 billion, they are also out to get money quick, every time they hear people stealing billions of Naira.

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What advice do you have for the electorate because during election, they will be induced with money, and most time, they can’t resist the temptation because many of them have been impoverished?

I will appeal to everybody that if they can afford not to collect money from politician before they vote to do that, but if they can’t resist the temptation, they should take the money and vote their conscience.They should vote wisely and vote for people who can move Nigeria forward.

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