Dennis Joseph, a cleric and Chairman South-South People’s United Forum, Kosofe Local Government Area, Lagos State chapter, is also a Lecturer at the Christian Association of Nigeria Bible College, Lagos State. In this interview with THERESA TEKENAH he speaks on his vision for his group and why he is backing Lagos State governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode for a second term.
What is the focus of your leadership in the South South group?
My focus as the Chairman, South-South People’s United Forum, Kosofe LGA chapter is to ensure unity of among my people, ensure that there is peace among the people
and also to carry everybody along at ensuring that they benefit from all the programmes of government as it relates to them, especially with regards to jobs and other things that will help our people to enhance their lives and live better lives.
Talking about unity of the people of South-South in Kosofe local government and in Lagos State, apart from the fact that you want to have a common purpose, is there a focus, what is the core purpose or you want to put them together to have a voice?
My aim is to ensure that as we all came to Lagos, we are all here to make sure that we live well, we have families, we have siblings and we are taking care of them.
So the commonest of purpose is to make sure that we are united in one voice so that we can work hand in hand with the government of the state to make sure that there is peace in Lagos State,
in Kosofe Local Government, to make sure that the non indigenes in Lagos State also work hand in hand with the state to achieve what we are supposed to achieve in terms of good health,
in terms of free education, in terms of making sure that there is law and order, to make sure that Lagos State get to the next level of glory
Don’t you also think that you need to encourage your people to support the government before you can expect the government to be of benefit to them like encouraging them to pay their taxes, to be law abiding, is that also part of your plan?
Yes, that is one of the major part of our programme, to make sure that our people pay their tax according to the law of Lagos State.
To make sure our people contribute towards security, to report any information of hoodlums that have the intentions of creating problem in the state, to make sure that Lagos State is cleaner as we are seeing the governor is doing, we need Lagos State to move to the next level and we can do this collectively.
Our people, the South South people in Kosofe, we have to contribute to make sure that Lagos State maintain its glory in all ramifications.
And we can only do this by being united and educating our people on the importance of working with the government and making sure that the ruling party has our support.
What’s your relationship with the ruling party in Kosofe Local Government and what’s your relationship with the leadership of the local government council?
You can find out from the day of my inauguration, the local government chairman, in the person of Hon. Sofola Afolabi, Hon. Oreoluwa Samuel aka Clinton, the APC chairman in Kosofe LGA, was also there present.
This is to testify to you that I am part of the party. I’m contributing my own quota. I’m a member of the APC, and I’m working towards making sure that APC develop Lagos State.
Must the South South people, become members of APC before they can belong to your group?
The truth is that once you are an indigene of South South, you are a member. So, it doesn’t matter if you belong to the party or not. The party is an individual thing.
If you choose to be APC, you are welcome, and if you choose to belong to another party, you are also welcome. But I encourage my people to be where I belong because they will get a lot of benefits.
As a member of the party, I know that you are the leader of South South people in the local government, what do you expect them to benefit?
Members have a lot to benefit from our party. They will benefit free education, all the things that other geopolitical zones in Lagos State are benefitting.
You will agree with me that my inauguration just took place and we are working with stakeholders of Kosofe Local Government and the state to make sure that things are put in place. Sooner or later, things will be visible. It’s just a matter of time.
If you are to meet the Lagos State governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode and he asks you what major thing you want for South South in the state, what will it be?
The major thing I will tell the governor is that he should look into his executive, because currently we do not have a representative in terms of appointment in the state, so we as a people, we need a representative in terms of appointment so that our people can move closer to the government.
How will you assess Ambode as governor of Lagos State?
I can describe Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, the executive governor of Lagos state as a visionary leader. He’s a visionary leader in every ramification.
You can see it, the way he is piloting the affairs of Lagos State. Things are moving well. A lot of people are clamouring for the kind of change we are seeing through him in Lagos State.
Lagos is becoming cleaner and cleaner, construction of roads, layback bus stops, it is fantastic, international standard. There is a lot of development in Lagos State. Everybody is seeing it.
It’s not something that is invincible. It is very visible and we are saying the governor should continue with what he is doing. We will give him all the support he needs because he is doing a good job. Come 2019, he is still the man we know.
I can attest to you that we are going to support him with everything we have because we believe he will do more if given the opportunity.
How do you look at the government of APC, especially from the centre, do you think Nigeria from the centre is working?
As I can tell you, I belong to Kosofe Local Government. I’ve been in Kosofe to be honest with you, for over 10 years now I have not been to Abuja to know how it is there, and how the development is there.
So I cannot say much about Abuja and how things are being done there, but I know that we have our brothers that are working with the Presidency.
They are in the best position to say if the Presidency is doing very well, because actually my power is in Kosofe and in Lagos State.
That is why I’m talking of Lagos State and Kosofe where I belong to, where I’m working, where I’m seeing everything with my two eyes.
The PDP doesn’t seem to think so. Do you have any fear that the PDP may pose a problem to Governor Ambode in 2019?
They can’t pose any problem to Ambode as long as he is the governor of Lagos State and we are seeing what he is working.
PDP has done what they can do in previous years, they have ruled this nation for I6 years before APC just took over, so the people that are saying PDP can bring the governor down, to take over power I think that they should have a rethink.
Because it is not by mouth, it is practical. You have to go to the polling booth and do that.
I don’t know how they are going to do it, but I can attest to you that from what we are seeing, it is not possible, because people are behind the governor of Lagos State and you can see that even the South South people, we are supporting him.
So I don’t know how they want to do the miracle. Let us wait till then to see how they are going to do that miracle of pushing the governor away.
But I can attest to you that it is not possible as long as human beings are the people to vote on that day.
There is a lot of development in Lagos State. Everybody is seeing it. It’s not something that is invincible. It is very visible and we are saying the governor should continue with what he is doing. We will give him all the support he needs because he is doing a good job. Come 2019, he is still the man we know. I can attest to you that we are going to support him with everything we have because we believe he will do more if given the opportunity.