My target is to become the president of Nigeria – Obanikoro

Babajide Obanikoro Though he has been declared winner of the October 22, 2011 local council election in Ikoyi-Obalende LCDA, by the Lagos State Local Government Election Petitions Tribunal, Mr. Babajide Obanikoro, son of Nigeria’s former High Commissioner to Ghana, Musiliu Obanikoro, is waiting to resume duty. In this interview with ALLWELL OKPI, he shares his experience in proving his victory and his political ambition

How do you feel about the indefinite adjournment of the judgment to confirm your victory at the tribunal, as the duly elected chairman of Ikoyi-Obalande LCDA?

I think today (Thursday) is a big setback to our judiciary and our entire democracy. This is because what we were meant to do today (Thursday) was the final argument and then adjourn for the final judgment. Knowing full well that they have a very bad case, a group decided to write a petition questioning the integrity of the judges. And it’s sad that an ordinary petition that holds no water would disrupt and put on hold a proceeding that has been going on for over a year now. It’s now an administrative issue within the judiciary. I don’t know how long it’s going to take them to resolve it. It’s a shame to our democracy but I’m still confident of my case. There is no where they want to push it that they would be successful because the documents are clear.

How were you able to garner so many votes during the election?

We knew we were up against Action Congress of Nigeria and not the local government chairman. So we worked very hard on our campaigns. We had to strategise because we figured out that it is not popularity that makes you win an election but the structure you put in place. We selected our vice chairman and councillors carefully and we made sure that we campaigned on real issues. We appealed to the residents of Ikoyi-Obalende in the manner they want to be appealed to. If you lose an election, you bow out honourably. When I lost the election for the state assembly, it didn’t take me up to 4pm the next day to call the winner and congratulate him.

What is implication of your victory for the Peoples Democratic Party? Do you think your party would stand a good chance of winning Lagos in 2015?

This victory is a sign that the PDP will take over Lagos in 2015. I’m sure we will perform. That is why ACN is trying everything possible to stop us. They are scared because they know this is the beginning of the end for them. They are the ones always crying foul play at every little thing and under their nose they can’t do the right thing.

Don’t you think the fractures existing in the Lagos PDP would work against it in 2015?

A fractured PDP has won Ikoyi-Obalende, a fractured PDP won Badagry, a fractured PDP won in Shomolu; a fractured PDP won Agbado-Oke and some other places. It’s only natural that when you have a big family, that there would be different views. I’m sure we are managing it well now. Our fracture doesn’t stop us from defeating them (ACN) in 2015. We are ready for them.

When did you start thinking of politics?

I’ve always thought of politics. I started showing interest in politics when I was in JSS1 at Kings College. My friend was our class captain in the first term. I remember taking him on that he was not fit to be the class captain, because the class was always dirty and he could not control the boys. We complained to the class teacher and we had an election and I won. So I was the class captain in the second term in JSS1 until SS3, when we passed out. I was also our dorm captain and I contested for treasurer of the African Students Association, which was the largest students association in the school then, I won. I later contested to be the president and I won. So, I’ve been participating in elections and asking people to vote for me right from childhood. When we got our democracy in 1999, it became obvious that if you going to get involved in governance, you have to either go through the civil service or through politics. Since I had flair for politics and with the kind of father that I have, I went to study political science at St. Cloud State University, Minnesota, US. I later went for a Masters in public administration at Pace University, also in the US. I went as far as studying local government administration in Oxford University, London. Politics has been in me from childhood.

To what extent did your father influence your foray into politics?

He influenced it much because growing up, I saw that many of his friends were politicians. So, many people I was interacting with as a child were politicians. That helped to form the idea in my head and I started learning the modalities and my interest improved.

What is your highest ambition in politics?

I look forward to being the president of Nigeria someday. That is where I’m aiming at and I will get there. I think age is on my side. I’m a young man walking in big shoes.

Do you think other young people, who do not have the kind of privileged background you have, can succeed in politics?

I will keep encouraging youths to summon the courage to go into politics. If we keep shying away from it and leaving it for others, we will keep having people who do not know how to run governments, taking positions. If learned youths do not get involved in governance, we will not get into modernisation, and things will keep being this way. We can’t allow the godfathers, the generation in-charge now, to keep picking for us, they will never pick people, who are enlightened. They only pick people they can control. So, we need to fight them. We have a role to play as youths to save our nation. More than half of Nigeria’s population is made up of youths. So, we have the manpower, we can defeat any generation and make our own input into building our nation. Learned young people need to get involved in politics. It is expensive also because we, young people, have made it expensive. They bring money and you do what they want you to do. When I was in the US, I campaigned for a few legislative candidates and they did not give me a dime. We did it as volunteers. That is how it is in the US but here it is ‘you give me money and I do what you want whether it is right or wrong.’ Nigerian youths have to start participating in politics without focusing on the money.

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