Goke Ogayemi is an aspirant for Ijebu Central Federal Constituency, comprising Ijebu-Ode, Odogbolu and Ijebu North-East, of Ogun State, on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In this interview with THISDAY, he says he is ready to take his constituency out of the woods “after eight years of APC’s poor representation.” Excerpts:
Why did you decide to go into politics?
Politics has always been an integral part of my life, even from as early as secondary school. My political adventure also extended to my university years as I held important roles in the Student Union of the University. I have been an advocate for youths in politics since 2013 when we founded “Youth Movement for a Better Ogun State (YMBOS)” with some other very active youths. We now have over 10,000 members across the state, with the goal of clamouring for better governance, particularly the inclusion of women and youth.
However, having worked on the YMBOS platform for a long time with results to show, it became pertinent that we needed to step up from demanding good governance to becoming decision makers. Interestingly, only the PDP encourages free and fair youthful participation in partisan politics, hence the reason I am running on the platform of the party.
Also, in recognition of my contributions to youths emancipation, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Babatunde Enitan Ogunwusi has found me worthy and nominated me for the award of this year’s “Africa Royal Award” taking place on May 21, 2022. This is in recognition of my leadership qualities. As we speak, I happen to be the youngest aspirant for House of Representative, not only in my Federal constituency Ijebu Central but in Ogun State.
What are you bringing to the table for your constituency?
I will be bringing to the table capacity, youthful representation, quality representation, and most importantly, interactive and improved delivery of dividends of democracy. It has become a norm for representatives to mismanage constituency projects with the mindset of doing what they “think” people need and not what the people need. Hence, it is my plan to ensure that there is constant communication between me and the people, ensuring that their voices are heard through me, their servant, and prioritizing their demands at all times.
How close are you to the people at the grassroots who form the bulk of the electorates?
For us as a team, we have been at the grassroots for a long time with our youths advocacy, and part of what we have done, includes mobilizing personalities like artisans, students, traders, and the likes to get involved in the electoral process by getting their Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVCs) and then, empowering them in ways that increase their value to themselves and society at large. During my time as Special Adviser (SA) to the Acting National Chairman of PDP, it is on record that I facilitated the inclusion of many youths into the party hierarchy, both at zonal and national levels. Therefore, the people, and the youths in particular, know my capabilities if given the mandate to represent them. My parents are adopted children of Tai Solarin, so the ideology of “service to humanity” has always been a core element of my life.
What do you want to do differently in the House of Representatives?
In my opinion, there is no communication between the sitting representative and his constituents. I mean, there are no cases of town hall meetings, no interactive sessions, no form of dialogue, or any kind of access to him. The above listed and many more are going to be core parts of what my administration will work on as I am solely focused on working with the demands of the people.
Do you have the financial resources to slug it out with other co-contestants in this race?
For me, the youths have always been an integral part of the financial picture, and they will continue to be. For example, a project we organized called “Ogun What’s Next,” which was held in 2021, was very financially challenging and, interestingly, 80% of the needed budget to excellently operate came from the youths. We will be having its second edition, called “Nigeria What’s Next?” this year, and notable Nigerian youths are already showing support.
Don’t forget that historic movements like “#ENDSARS” and co. were solely sponsored by the Nigerian Youths. Therefore, if the youths see capacity, diligence, and commitment, don’t undermine how far they can go in going all out for such a person. Of course, the Nigerian political scene has been bastardised with money, but we have been up to the task and will continue to be. The money-bags are not likely to find it easy this time around because the coming election (especially the primaries) will be issue-based. I am well-grounded in partisan-politics and I know how the system works. The good people of this constituency are enlightened and very aware of candidates who have the will, dedication, and capability to serve them adequately. Of course, they will share money, but I assure them that my people will collect it and still not vote for them.
Finally, I believe I have the support of Almighty God and the good people of this federal constituency, and that is the most important factor in my victory.
There have been hues and cries over the high costs in obtaining expression of interest and nomination forms for all elective offices. Don’t you share the same opinion?
I feel if you are going into a race, there should be all forms of preparation, which includes financial capabilities, and in this case, finances play an integral role. For me, my party’s nomination fees are reasonable and a set of standard for those who choose to represent the party.
Ogun State PDP is fragmented into two camps, what is the national leadership of the party doing to reconcile all the feuding parties to forge a common bond ahead of the 2023 general elections?
For me, Ogun state’s PDP is more united than ever. Ogun PDP is one and very firm at this moment. And of course, we are going into the 2023 elections as a formidable and united front ready to go all-out and take over power. As regards the build-up to the general elections, all factions have been reconciled, and herculean bridges are being built as the day passes.
PDP is an opposition party in Ogun State, but what gives you much confidence that you can win at the poll?
As an individual and for the party, we have shown adequate capacity between the years of 2003 and 2011, with visible projects that are still there to show for. The then PDP-led Government still remains the best Ogun State has ever experienced till date. From the senatorial angle, a glaring project is the International Stadium in Ijebu-Ode, amidst other projects that meet the people’s needs and wants. There is no doubt that the people have tasted both APC and PDP governments, and I can tell you that they are tired of the intense suffering that the APC government and its representatives have inflicted on the people, which will definitely reflect in the polls.
Just as I said earlier, the money-bags will not find it easy this time around as the elections will be issue-based. The people have suffered for a long time. They know better now and are ready to choose better, and I am certain, I am the fresh air they breathe to take this constituent out of the mud. With me, as the candidate for this federal constituency, the PDP is sure of victory. I strongly believe I have the backing of the Almighty God and the good people of this constituency to become victorious.
My decision to pitch my tent with PDP is not far-fetched. Politics, for me, is not a do-or-die affair, and the PDP is a platform that aligns with my mission, vision, and objectives, which is part of the reason I, my followers, women, and youths in particular, decided to follow this path. The PDP as a party is people-oriented, youth-friendly, people-friendly, broad-minded, goal-oriented, result-focused, not oppressive, liberal, highly democratic, and solely committed to societal development.