The much talked about 2019 General Elections holds days away. With a number of the young candidates running for office relatively unknown, YNaija has in the last 3 months through the series #YNaijaPolitico, offered a free platform to boost the chances of these candidates not more than 35 years of age – notwithstanding the political office they are running for.
This series aims at getting them to talk about their aspirations and how they hope to achieve whatever they have outlined to the people they hope to lead, on assumption of office. It is indeed an opportunity to reach a wider audience.
Ferdy ‘Ladi’ Adimefe, a creative industrialist is one of such candidates who has taken the opportunity of the Not Too Young To Run Bill to take up a political office. We had an interview with him recently on his ambition to represent the people of Eti-Osa Federal Constituency, Lagos at the Federal House of Representatives.
Here’s our interview with him:
- Are there things you will like to share about you that people do not already know?
As a candidate running to represent Eti-Osa Local Government in the Federal House of Representative, I have worked on 5 proposed bills ahead of the election. This is because I believe campaigns are not just about getting people to vote for you, but about engaging with your constituency to collectively shape the ideas and policies that will impact them.
I have a decade’s corporate experience spread across advertising, branding and PR, oil and gas, media, entertainment, and technology, and what is important is that policies must be shaped from the standpoint of the people. I am passionate about our people, and country.
2. Is there any reason(s) you decided to be involved in partisan politics, especially since your name already resounds with advocacy?
People evolve, so have I. Advocacy is important, but it is limited. More than our demand for quality governance, we must get in, and roll up our sleeves.
Much of what we grapple with as a country are legislative bottlenecks, we need to troubleshoot and open the way. Our desire should be creating an environment where every Nigerian can truly fulfil their potentials. We can’t reduce our people to slaves and prisoners in their own country. Take for instance, I am passionate about advocating for repatriation of Nigerian citizens trapped in Libya, but these people who attempt to travel by road are running away from something. How do we get them to stay back and how do we use policy to structure programs that can cater for these ones. This and many other reasons is why I am in the race.
3. Do you think the youth possess the know-how to change the face of Nigerian politics?
Most of our current leaders led this country in their late twenties and early thirties. The first-generation leaders were more patriotic and by far more ideologically savvy than the crop we have now.
We live in a very complex and dynamic world that most of our policy makers and current leaders are still struggling to navigate. However, I think our advantage of running is not because we are young. Most of the young people I have met on this journey are very experienced in the corporate space and accomplished in their rights.
- How important is this decision to run for office to you and the people who you aspire to represent on a legislative level?
It is very important. An average of 3 doctors leaves the country daily, about 2,000 Nigerians get buried in the desert or drown in the sea attempting to flee this country every year. We are in a crisis, but we are asleep. This election is a defining one, and we can’t proceed to the polls like we have always done. It is about time we got to work. I believe our mission as a generation is about rebuilding the ruins of our country and contributing to shaping a new culture that can support development, enhance civilization, and emphasize value for the life of every citizen.
5. It is well-known that politics is a game, how much of this game do you truly understand? And how have you used this to connect to the people you aspire to lead?
Thanks to my background in advocacy and political participation, I have garnered some experience in real life politics. At the Alliance for New Nigeria(ANN), we see politics as the contest of ideas and ideology. This runs against current practices like money politics, rigging, and power plays. It has been tough going to communities and trying to convince them not to sell their votes, but there have been victories. I have met good people who believe in the new Nigeria, and our volunteer base keeps growing. That keeps me going every day.
- How far have you gone with understanding and solving the problems of the people you aspire to lead? What yardstick(s) will these people use to go all out to vote for you?
It is a continuous process of listening to the electorate. I don’t think it ever ends but at the moment, we have a two-pronged approach, the people on the streets, we engage with social impact: there are health programs, and training programs which provide an incentive for them to come and we can engage them while listening, and building a list of the pertinent issues. For the middle class, we hold conversations and meetings to share our policies and get their contributions.
- What does Legislative Representation really mean to you?
Legislative representation means having strong and credible people making laws for us. It means having lawmakers who are inclined to think holistically about their role in the economy and society, who are passionate about solving the everyday problems of common Nigerians.
- Godfatherism is a case in point in Nigerian politics. Do you think godfathers are indispensable in Nigeria?
On one level, the problem is not really about godfathers, but the kind that is practiced in Nigeria. Culturally, Africans defer to elders to help resolve issues with their wisdom and give direction with their insight. But the type of godfathers we see here are self-serving. They have profited from our oppression, and benefited from our underdevelopment, but they are only as powerful as we let them be. What the next generation of politicians need is not a godfather, but role models and mentors who can help them legislate better and on whose shoulders they can stand and see farther.
- In every election, there is a winner and a loser, so what if you lose the election?
Regardless of the outcome of this election, my participation is first about shaping discussions and the culture in general. This is not an event, it will be a process. I have a long-term view to this election, and whether I win or lose, the task before us must be accomplished. We must continue to participate in building and in fighting for what we believe.
- Any final thing you will like to say about your candidacy?
We want to make Eti-Osa a model constituency. We will run a transparent representation, where 60% of what is given is dedicated to each ward every month and dedicated to our projects. It is my firm belief that Eti-Osa constituency can be made a model for driving strategic policy formulation which cuts across business, labour laws, creative and cultural industries, technology-driven education and job creation, environmental policies, and mental health. The vision behind this dream can be expanded, with its influence spread across Nigeria.
This can only be achieved through a collaboration of like minds: those who still believe that our best years are ahead of us and not behind, I need your support.