Vui Lameko follows father's footsteps
The eldest son of a former Member of the Council of Deputies, the late Tuiloma Pule Lameko, is making his debut in the political arena.
Vui Seinafolava Laneselota Lameko will become Tuiloma's second son to enter politics, should he succeed in the 2021 General Election. His brother Aumua Isaia Lameko is the current Member of Parliament for Falealili West.
The 56-year-old is taking on the challenge to run under the ruling Human Rights Protection Party [H.R.P.P.] for the seat of Fa'asaleleaga No 4 and will be contesting alongside Matafeo Reupena Matafeo, to try and unseat incumbent M.P. and Associate Minister of the Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Peseta Vaifou Tevaga.
Vui, who is an accountant by profession, said his desire to run for public office comes from his will to give back to the community and the country.
He also wants to continue the legacy of his father, who was a founding member of the H.R.P.P.
"The aim is to serve the country in a different way," Vui told the Samoa Observer. "I have been serving the government for 33 years not only in Government ministries, but also in the private sector.
"So I want to continue on serving and giving back to the community from a different area. I want to serve the people of the villages and the district.
"Moreover, I want to make good use of the talents, knowledge and experience that I gained throughout my 33 years of service to the Government. I will make good use of it to serve the community.”
His late father’s success in Samoa’s political arena and his connection to the ruling party was not lost on the candidate.
“I come from a family with a strong political background. My father was a founding member of the ruling Human Rights Protection Party and was a Member of Parliament, a Cabinet Minister and went on to become a Council of Deputy,” he reiterated. "Therefore, I thought it would be best to follow my father's footstep and contest in the upcoming election."
Education tops his list in terms of his areas of focus, should he win and get into the Legislative Assembly next year. Vui believes in investing in children’s education if standards of living are to improve for families and the community.
"It [education] will develop families and the district. As they say, a well educated nation is a wealthy nation.”
"If I succeed, I want to work on developing education not only in Lano, but also for the other villages in the constituency. Starting from the primary level in terms of school buildings and facilities. Also getting good teachers as well.”
Casting an eye on the current education infrastructure such as school buildings, the account-turned-candidate is of the view that school buildings are okay but need other resources in order to lift the standards.
Agriculture is also an area of focus for Vui, who, as a farmer himself acknowledges the sector as the backbone of any country’s development.
"Self-sufficiency of the people is vital. I want to encourage farming and fishing as it contributes to the developments of families and villages. When we encourage and supply them with the good resources, they will be able to work the land, and earn from it."
However, he believes Samoa’s agriculture sector is challenged by the shortcomings of essential infrastructure such as road access which is impacting development in Fa'asaleleaga No.4.
"There is a great need for access roads to be fixed within the constituency," Vui added.
"In order to develop agriculture and farming, we need to have good access roads and fix the roads that will take people to their lands further in-land.
"The villages have so many lands that are uncultivated because we don't have good roads that go to the plantations. Most of the families now have cars, but they are a bit hesitant to go further in-land because we don't have good roads.
"I also want to have awareness programmes for the people in the community so they will know and understand the different skills they can do so they can develop their lands and make plantations for their families.”
The push for a bridge to be built in Lano is also a priority for the aspiring politician as he acknowledged the number of lives lost in the past when crossing the ford.
"I want to make sure that they will fix up the roads and build a bridge for the safety of not just the people of Lano, but also the people of Savai'i in general,” he emphasised.
"There are two bridges that need to be built in Lano. The other one is located at the end of Lano near Asaga, and the main one where an incident happened in the past that claimed the lives of people.
"That is the one that is usually hard to cross during bad weather conditions or when the river banks explode. Those are the areas we need to work on for the safety of our people living in Savai'i, especially with climate change, it has a huge effect on the roads and people.
"Because the families that live on the coastal area and are close by this area get affected easily and are usually flooded during the rainy season.
Asked if he was nervous about the other candidates he is going up against, Vui replied saying he is "not worried at all."
"Peseta Vaifou is a good friend. I know him very well. But this is God's calling for me to continue the service and to contest in the election. To me, being a Member of Parliament is not for me or my family. It is my way of serving. I am nothing but a servant. To serve the people, community, district and church.
"Matafeo is also a relative. It is his right to run and I also have the right to run too. I wish them well and God will decide.”
Vui revealed that he has discussed his political ambitions with his brother, the current Member of Parliament for Falealili West, and they agreed he will serve his mother’s family by running from Savai’i and his brother will represent their father’s side of the family.
"But we are both working together. We do visit our families in Savai'i and we both go to Falealili and serve both sides. We also render our monotaga for both sides."
Vui holds a bachelor of commerce degree from the University of Technology [UNITECH] in Papua New Guinea and a masters degree in business [majoring in accounting and financial management] from the Australian National University.
He worked for the Ministry of Customs and Revenue [1987-1988], the Electrical Power Corporation [1988-2016] and is now a co-managing director of local firm Top Tree Trimming & Electrical Services Ltd.
He is also a certified public accountant, a lay preacher for the C.C.C.S. and was a treasurer for the Samoa Rugby Union from 2016-2018. His other involvement include the Samoa Chamber of Commerce, Samoa Koko Industry Association and the Samoa Banana Association.
He also holds the titles Tuiloma from Sapunaoa, Tusa from Matautu Falealili, Loau from Saoluafata, and Sa'ilimalo from Lotofaga Safata and is married to Louise Betham-Lameko and they have six children.