Ayokunle Babasanya-Craig is the House of Representatives candidate, Abeukota South Constituency in Ogun State, of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) party in the upcoming 2019 election. Having demonstrated exceptional leadership in different sectors with proofs before venturing into politics, he discusses his chances at the poll, the Buhari administration, Abeokuta politics and his plans for the people of Abeokuta, in this interview with TOPNAIJA.NG’s Naomi Akhagbemhe. Enjoy!
TN: Please tell us a little about yourself and your history?
Babasanya-Craig: I am Ayokunle Babasanya-Craig, a native of Igbore, Abeokuta south, born to the family of Abiodun Babasanya-Craig in 1977. Though born in Ibadan, I started my education from Lawson Nursery School and on to St. Bernadette Primary School, both in Abeokuta and on to Government College Ibadan for my secondary education and Yaba College of Technology for a National Diploma and finally culminated at Ladoke Akintola University of Technology. Where I trained as an Electronic/Electrical Engineer. I have in the last decade successfully managed a brand support service business.
TN: The election is just a few months away. How prepared are you to defeat the ruling political party and incumbent House of Representatives candidate? How are you going to beat them to it?
Babasanya-Craig: The truth is we have to keep campaigning and mobilizing till the last day. Politics is a game of numbers, the more people you engage with the better. We are already meeting with various groups and engaging with them at various levels. We have our strategy and we are working very hard at it.
TN: As a thriving business man, when did you decide to run and what prompted your decision to join politics?
Babasanya-Craig: Getting involved in politics has always being in the pipeline. The truth is, there will never be a right time. We cannot continue to fold our arms and expect something magical to happen. Credible people with good intentions must get involved. It is obvious the other political parties have tried their best already.
TN: You have been around and done a lot of work before venturing into politics. If given the opportunity to serve as House of Representatives candidate, Abeokuta South Constituency in Ogun State, what will be your priorities?
Babasanya-Craig: Being an HoR member is about effective representation. It is about the grassroot, it about the people. It is about development at that level. My priority will be to echo the voice of my people, and ultimately to play an active part in introducing bills and resolutions that are citizen-centric.
TN: How easy was it winning the primaries ticket of your party to contest for House of Representatives candidate, Abeukota South Constituency in Ogun State?
Babasanya-Craig: I won’t say it was that easy. I must commend the leadership of Alliance for Democracy for making it an easy process.
TN: What gives you the impression that these voters will not vote for APC and PDP over AD?
Babasanya-Craig: The electorates are tired of APC and PDP. I dare say they are more about a credible candidate.
TN: Tell us about the Alliance for Democracy (AD) party of today?
Babasanya-Craig: Alliance for Democracy (AD) is the same party that was formed in 1999. AD was the party that brought in the likes of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Cheif Olusegun Osoba and the likes. The party was founded on the idealogy of Pa Obafemi Awolowo, Afenifere. It is all about economical development, welfare of the people, agriculture and free education. I can boldly say that the last time meaningful development happened across Ogun state was when Chief Olusegun Osoba was the governor of Ogun State and it was easy for him because that was what the party stood for. It is time to go back to the good old days, when what we were all about was making lives better for the people.
TN: Given the way you speak, you are very confident. Why do you think people will vote for you? What unique value are you bringing to the table?
Babasanya-Craig: Credibility and Respect for humanity. It will be all about the people and how we can improve their livelihood.
TN: Before now, how would you describe the political representation in Abeokuta South, especially under the incumbent House of Representatives member?
Babasanya-Craig: Not impressive at all, it could be better. It has been very poor, in terms of representation for 8 years. The people hardly had opportunities to interface with him. My representation will be different. I will be visible, I will be reachable and I will be approachable.
TN: We know other candidates; including Owolabi Kola-Balogun of PDP and others have also been talking about how they will change Ogun state. How are you different from these guys?
Babasanya-Craig: It is all about been credible, sincere and intentional. There are no airs around me, neither do I have a sponsor that I will have to revert to after I win the elections.
TN: What are your concrete plans to bring prosperity to the people of Abeokuta and Ogun state as a whole?
Babasanya-Craig: I will ensure that I am actively involved in formulating policies that manage people’s actions and activities. These policies are meant to represent people’s wishes and must express the understanding of the challenges that we have as Ęgbas and as a community.
TN: If you win, how do you plan to deliver effective representation to your people, across board?
Babasanya-Craig: I would say that for you to be effective, you have to be available and accessible.
TN: Having successfully led in different capacities prior to going into politics, what does leadership mean to you?
Babasanya-Craig: Leadership is all about service and influence. It is about empowering people to succeed. It is about creating the right environment for them to express their potential.
TN: How would you rate the leadership and performance of the present Buhari administration so far?
Babasanya-Craig: It could be better. In my opinion, they have not done badly but it could be a lot better. Until the simple man on the street feels a positive impact of governance, then there hasn’t been effective and good governance. The wide gap between social strata needs to be bridged.
TN: Would you say the APC government has brought value to our country? And Why?
Babasanya-Craig: I wouldn’t say that. The people are the greatest asset and how they live is a reflection of what the economy is. For the average Nigerian, it is all about the basic needs and if we as a country cannot provide the basic needs which are food, shelter, health care, education, etc then we are far from it.
TN: But at least they say they are fighting corruption. Can you see value in that?
Babasanya-Craig: Good governance is about sincerity and good intention. While I commend the good intention of fighting corruption, it seems to be the only agenda of the present government. It appears to have over shadowed every other agenda. I believe that other action points need not suffer because you are fighting corruption. I must commend them though; they have succeeded in blocking some loopholes. Stealing is no longer ‘commonstance’.
TN: People largely vote who they know. What plans have you to penetrate the heart of the populace before Election Day?
Babasanya-Craig: We will increase our publicity and engagement with people. We will ride on people’s good will.
TN: What would you say you stand for? What are the core values that drive you as a person?
Babasanya-Craig: Compassion, Excellence, Dependability, Accountability
TN: Who are your political godfathers?
Babasanya-Craig: The electorate. The people must know that they have the power.
TN: Following our research, we found out you have strong ties with former president Olusegun Obasanjo. Tell us about your relationship with him.
Babasanya-Craig: The former president Olusegun Obasanjo is more like a father to me. We have a very good and pleasant relationship.
TN: What does he think about your decision to run and what has been his role on this journey?
Babasanya-Craig: He was excited when I informed him of my intention and he encouraged that I went ahead. We may not belong to the same political association but a father always blesses his son.
TN: How much do you value Obasanjo’s endorsement given your closeness to him, If you value it highly, have you gone to get it?
Babasanya-Craig: His endorsement is key. At the right time that will be done.
TN: You are a highly dedicated Christian and family man with strong values? How do you think you can involve yourself in Nigerian politics as they say politics is a dirty game?
Babasanya-Craig: Plato said that “one of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors”. If the right people who are not after their own lust govern us, then politics would not be referred to as dirty. Indeed, the reality is that people play very dirty in politics however, this doesn’t politics itself dirty. So, it is ultimately about the player and we need to correct that impression to encourage more credible people participation. We must elects clean players.
TN: Tell us about your immediate family. What roles are they playing on this major move of yours?
Babasanya-Craig: I am married to Oluwatosin and we are blessed with three wonderful children. They have been very supportive and encouraging all through.
TN: What message do you have for Nigerians as we inch towards the election?
Babasanya-Craig: We must recognize we have the power to make the right choice and we must do it wisely. Enough of been deceived every election period. I tell people that if I do well, I don’t need to convince you nor dangle money in your face for you to reelect me. It is obvious they have failed and the electorates need to wake up to the reality and make the right decision at the polls.