Five of the candidates in the Eti-Osa Federal Constituency, yesterday, presented their manifestos at a debate in Lagos.
The candidates, including Fredinand Adimefe, the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN); Ibrahim Obanikoro, the All Progressives Congress (APC); Olubukola Wellignton of Mordern Democratic Party (MDP); Omotosho Bakare, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Tessy Owolabi, the Social Democratic Party (SDP), made their presentation at the first House of Representatives candidates’ debate organised by Media Room Hub in conjunction with BBC Pidgin and Pulse Nigeria at the Civic Centre in Lagos.
The candidates, who disagreed on the role of godfathers in Nigerian politics, also disagreed on who the godfathers are.
While Wellignton, Bakare and Owolabi said godfathers are not in the interest of the people and should not have any room in the country’s politics, Adimefe and Obanikoro said godfathers have a crucial role.
According to Wellignton, government and public service is about the people, not about “the highest bidder.”
He said it is wrong for an individual to impose his whims on the people and urged young people to come together to wrestle power from the old politicians.
Adimefe, on his part, said his godfathers are the people of Nigeria and the constitution from which he will derive his mandate if elected.
He said: “My godfathers are the constitution and the people of Nigeria. Nobody has the right to contest to be a representative if he doesn’t know he owes it to the people. The constitution and the people are my godfathers and I will answer only to them if I’m elected.”
Owolabi called on the people to unite and fight godfathers, noting that, “we don’t need a godfather who will put a rope on our necks.”
Obanikoro, however, said godfathers are important because of the advisory role they play.
He said: “My father is my godfather. Godfathers are internal affairs of political parties. They have nothing to do with general elections. You need their experience to move forward. When there are issues, I can discuss them with my father and he can advice me based on his experience. You cannot do away with the experiences of godfathers.”
The candidates also disagreed on whether the legislature should be on part-time or full time basis.
Bakare, Owolabi and Adimefe said the legislature should be part-time to save cost and allow the representatives spend more time in their constituency, rather than in Abuja.
Owolabi said a part-time legislature will also allow the representatives spend more time with their constituents, rather than spending all their time in Abuja without knowledge of what is happening at their constituencies.
On his part, Obanikoro said: “Legislation is a public service work and the requirements and expectations of the office are so enormous that you cannot do it on part-time.”
Wellington said the problem in the legislature is not whether it is full-time or part-time, but the huge allowances paid to legislators. “The money collected by legislators is too much. We need legislators who will work overtime with less pay.”
On the most important skill set for a representative, Obanikoro said it is good negotiation skills and knowledge of what the people want.