2nd June, 2010
A first term member of the House of Representatives, Abuja, Nigeria, Mr. Adebayo Odulana, a.k.a. Niganga has been locked in a political tango with some politicians in his Ikeja Federal Constituency which comprises Ikeja Local Government, Ojodu Local Council Development Area and Onigbongbo Local Council Development Area. In this interview with JIDE OSOKOYA, the lawmaker who served in the Lagos House of Assembly for two terms, opens up on the political crisis and his achievements in his constituency
Q: How has it been representing Ikeja Federal Constituency?
A: Everything has been smooth, we are representing the people to their satisfaction.
Q: What have you been able to do in your constituency since 2007?
A: Going to represent my people at the National Assembly is a great privilege and that is my primary duty to them. It is quite different from coming to execute one or two projects in your constituency. If you are able to come from Abuja to put some projects down, itâ€™s as a result of your representation there. Iâ€™ve been able to bring classrooms constructions to various parts of my constituency in the last three years.
Q: In which schools?
A: Ojodu Primary School, Agidingbi Primary School, Olusosun Primary School, Anifowose Primary School and Tokunbo-Alli Primary School. We also supplied furniture to those schools. We equally supplied drugs to health centres in my constituency. Iâ€™m building a computer centre at Olusosun Primary School presently. Let me state clearly that it is the function of the executive to implement the projects, so we brought all the projects through the executive arm of government. And Iâ€™m trying to stress that it is the responsibility of the executive, so if there is anybody at the state level that wants to say well, as a member of the House of Assembly Iâ€™m not to put this there, itâ€™s not when you go physically to put it there, but you can make laws that will force the executive arm to bring and implement those projects in your constituencies. So, itâ€™s not as if money will be given to you to go and execute the project, but you have prompted government to bring those things to your constituencies, thatâ€™s why those things are there.
Q: Some people claimed that since youâ€™ve gone to the House of Representatives youâ€™ve never been able to raise any motion, is it true?
A: Going to the National Assembly to raise motions, is that a big deal? Iâ€™ve done that for almost 12 years now. I was in the Lagos State House of Assembly for eight years and I have enormous experience to do that. Raising motions on the floor of the House does not mean anything.Â I go to the House, I raised motions. Is it every motion you raised on the floor of the House that you come back to your constituency to tell them, or the amount of goodwill you bring to your constituency for progress? I think the raising of motions is not an issue, mediocres would think all you go to the House to do is to raise motions. No member of the House of Representatives has failed to raise motions. Motions do not have force of law, they are just advisory and in some cases, a way of calling attention to issues going on in your constituency.
Q: Your critics claimed that youâ€™ve done nothing in your constituency, how do you want to clear this?
A: If Iâ€™ve been representing a constituency for almost 12 years of three terms and you are saying the person has not done anything, how come the person kept on winning election?Â Iâ€™ve never lost any election in my life since I joined the Alliance for Democracy, AD and later Action Congress, AC. I donâ€™t know the critics you are talking about, but whoever the critics may be, they should have used their common sense before criticizing me. Somebody has represented a constituency for three terms and he has not done anything since 1999, is it possible?
Q: Before now there had been very cordial relationship between politicians in Ojodu Local Council Development Area, LCDA and Ikeja Federal Constituency in general. All of a sudden things started falling apart.Â What is the genesis?
A: Well, I donâ€™t know. But you know they say some people have their moments of madness, I think may be that is their moment of madness, because when I was in the state House of Assembly, I tried to bring all the factions in Ikeja Local Government together and there was absolute peace. Ojodu was even like the yardstick with which other local governments were measured. But now, since I did empowerment programme for the people in my constituency when I gave 135 people N100,000 each, totaling N13.5 million. I even gave James Omolaja Odunmbaku a Toyota Camry (American Specs) and also empowered some other politicians with cars. Some people felt I should have brought the money to them to distribute on my behalf. At my level, I should bring what I intend to give my constituents to them?
Q: Who are they?
A: I donâ€™t want to join issues with them, they know themselves and the entire people of the constituency know them. I will not do that, instead of buying grinding machine, hair dressing equipment, business centre package among others, I decided to give them the money so that they can venture into any business they deemed fit and give accounts to themselves. I gave them as my widowâ€™s mite, I told them I was going to give about 400 people. As at now, I have given about 279 people in my constituency totaling N27.9 million. Iâ€™ve done so many other things for people because it is fair you share happiness with people.
Q: There was also this allegation that two days to elections in which you were contesting, you claimed to be sick and directed your electoral coordinators to get funds from the chairmen of Ikeja Local Government, Ojodu LCDA and Onigbongbo LCDA; how true is this?
A: Does that even make sense to you?Â Iâ€™ve gone through several elections, if at one time or the other I fell ill, am IÂ going to kill myself?Â But I won all those elections and whoever helped to win election is a member of the party, he is carrying out his responsibility.Â Other people went through elections, I took part in their elections too, I voted, I mobilized people.Â In the last local government election in the state, I participated going round to ensure that the partyâ€™s candidates won. The allegation is frivolous.
Q: Is it true that Honourables Odunlami, Obasa and Faleke financed your last election?
A: If Iâ€™ve gone through elections three times. Where was Faleke when I contested the first election?Â Where was Odunlami? We created the local governments that they occupy now, so what sense is in that?Â They are members of the party and every member of the party especially at the local government level would be given assignments, naturally, as members of the party, isnâ€™t it?Â If that person now says he sponsored somebodyâ€™s election does it make sense to you as a journalist? The question is: is it their individual money?Â Idowu Obasa would any day, any time, assist you. Honestly, Iâ€™ve dealt with Obasa, I know Obasa as a complete gentleman, very decent and straight forward, he is not recklessly ambitious. If somebody wants to be anything, it is allowed, you are free to be ambitious, but when you become reckless, then it is something else, because God knows who is going to be where at any time.
Q: Letâ€™s go to this issue of the Ojodu LCDA former Secretariat in Oke-Ira which you gave to the council with the belief that it was rent-free, but you were actually collecting rent for the seven years spent there. How would you want to explain this?
A: Were they not given rent allocation to secure accommodation for the new LCDA then? I am an individual who had worked for years to build that house. Did I tell them it would be free? Or is it a sin to assist them at their time of need? The place was to be used as a guest house with all the rooms ensuite and equipped with a generator, everything was set for take-off when we created the LCDA and I offered them the place without any precondition. When they settled down, I told them to go and decide how much they would be paying as rent annually, telling them to pay my agent, Oludare, who was also working with them. Up till now, I donâ€™t know exactly how much the local government was paying for the place.
Q: They claimed they were paying through their nose?
A: They should provide evidence that they were paying through their nose, they should let me see the cheques they issued and the receipts they collected from the agent. As far as I am concerned, Iâ€™ve not collected anything from the agent till date. Let them show evidence that Iâ€™ve been paid. They used the generator I installed in the house for six years and vandalized it, same with the building, it was totally vandalized. I have photographs and video clips of the place before they moved in and after they left. It is a pity that they are not grateful at all, they left the place in bad condition, leaving me to renovate it all by myself.
Q: Years back, you were known to be very close to Hon. Faleke, in fact most people see him as your political ally, but all of a sudden you people parted ways. What went wrong?
A: See, I want to try as much as possible not to join issues with Faleke, I donâ€™t want to discuss Faleke, because it will be an insult for me to be exchanging words with Faleke on the pages of a newspaper. I am telling you itâ€™s an emotional issue, I donâ€™t want to talk about him, but I want him to know that nothing happens behind God. If you bring up a boy and the boy decides to deep his hands into eyes, what do you do?
Q: What about Cardinal Odumbaku?
A: Somebody who is a political scavenger, when he wants to scavenge he goes all the way. Odunmbaku used to be very close to me, and at the time he was close to me, I was able to guide him to do that which is right. But because of his greed for money, he decided to be reckless, he thought I was being overbearing, whereas I was saving him from hell fire. He claims to be Celestial Church evangelist. Have you ever heard of any Celestial Church Sheperd bearing Cardinal? He just decided that the only way to acquire money is to fight me so that I will not be able to check his excesses, which is in form of advice.
Q: What is your ambition for 2011?
A: My ambition for 2011 is to go back to the House of Representatives and make use of the experience I have garnered over the years.Â I am an institution too, having been around for a while. What people cherish all over the world is experience and not noise making.