OrderPaperToday – Many youths are getting ready to run in 2019 with the hope that the Not-Too-Young-Run bill would be assented to by President Muhammdu Buhari. Meet Pelumi Olajengbesi, a former students’ union leader who is vying to represent Oriade/Obokun Federal constituency, Osun State in the House of Representatives under the People’s Democratic Party. The 31 years old legal practitioner spoke about his quest to dislodge Oluwole Oke, a third time incumbent. Excerpts by Bakare Majeed:
Why are you running for public office?
I believe it is given to every man to partake in the action and passion of his time, less he is adjudged to have lived. The action and passion of our time is politics; the reason is because you have to take interest in the affairs of our state; over time we have allowed charlatans and people with short sightedness to shorten the vision. So why I am contesting because there is a need for alignment and realignment of social forces across the country, to join hands together to entrench younger people, younger elements in position of authority to change the fortune of this country. Nigeria is actually afflicted with poverty of leadership and ideas and this country might not go forward, if we young people don’t get up to salvage this country from the penumbra of social political darkness. Recently there is an unconfirmed record that Nigeria is producing 1.6 million graduates every year who join the colony of unemployed; this means that problem of unemployment remains a top priority, but the current administration of President Buhari and the elements who are in positions of authority have not even designed a particular policy statement to liberate this country from such challenges; so that is why I am contesting election.
How is becoming a member of the House of Representatives going to help in tackling the numerous challenges you listed?
One, I am going to give a better representation to my people. I am also going to use my office to catalyze a lot of developments across the country and it is not just about me alone, it is about the people, the people have begun to reason recently that there is a need to help ourselves, come out of the present situation, that is the main reason why I am contesting. I am not just contesting alone, there are people like me across board, from different places, who are also contesting, who are also aspiring within our cadre
You talked about the failure of leadership, however, the incumbent (Wole Oke) is a member of your party, why should the people trust your party, the PDP?
In all fairness to him (Oke), he has done very very well; he has been able to represent the people to the best of his belief and understanding of what representation means and I assumed it is satisfactory to him and to the people; but we have to kick start leadership with a new thinking; these are people who are analogue in the real sense of it, who believe that leadership is all about giving welfare packages. However, leadership as far as the House of Representatives is concerned, also entail a lot of things; I am coming with a new thinking, and a new style of leadership, I am coming with a new leadership that is going to turn Oriade/Obokun to youth leadership hub in Nigeria; as a matter of fact, where young people could aspire and achieve greatness, we are coming out to contest that position. I am going to defeat Hon Wole Oke anyway, I will defeat him and we will bring in new form of leadership into Oriade/Obokun, we believe he has done his own bit and there is a need for younger generation. We are coming for meaningful ideas, and by the way, Wole Oke seems to be tired of that office, he has been there for too long; if people like us are coming in to assist him I don’t think there is anything wrong in it.
The new trend is for young people to come out to run for office without structures on ground. Beyond the rhetoric of Not-Too-Young-To-Run, do you have any structure on ground?
I have a strong structure on ground that is capable of defeating Wole Oke with or without any political party, and in all honesty and sense of sincerity, my background as a student leader has actually networked me across the whole country and also given me the appreciable knowledge to move within any system to achieve my aim. The first thing I was able to do was to put structures in place, and the good thing is that we have a generation of people who are very determined, who want to see that there is development, who want to see youths leadership entrenched in our country; it is not about Wole Oke, it is about the people, it is about the fact that people believe that after 12 years of representation, the old wise saying of “you can’t do the same thing over and over, expecting different outcome” is true in this instance. The pattern of leadership we are getting is the same for the past 2 decades of the return of democracy, people who have been in position of power since independence are the same today, they are not innovative and bring in nothing new but we are bringing in a new kind of leadership that will galvanize and catalyze creative instincts of our younger generation.
Being a new comer to electoral contest, what gives you the assurance you can defeat a 3 time member?
I will defeat him, there is no rocket science about it, the incumbent is not INEC, he is not the one voting, he has his own vote, what people fear about incumbency is not credibility rather financial capacity to run an electoral process, so we are going to confront him, when they spend money, we shall supply them with ideas, when they bring other things, we shall supply them with superior logic, that would give us advantage over them, that is why I am very courageous and confident, that I am going to flog him in that election.
Talking about new ideas, what failure from the incumbent are you highlighting and ready to provide remedy?
Coming on board to contest, I didn’t aspire to look for where Wole Oke has failed, I know that Nigeria is in a state of comatose, it is not actually about Wole Oke, it is about the country at large, although my constituency first. The essence of Senate and House of Reps is to for an aggregate at the National Assembly, to give a better direction; it is not about him performing or not, what performance can you see all around you from the current leaders around? I am contesting on a very strong belief that I am passionate about.