23rd July, 2010
The chairman, Arewa United Group, a political group of northerners in the Lagos Action Congress, AC, Nigeria, Architect Kabir Ahmed has been speaking on why the group had always supported the Lagos State governmentâ€™s policies.
Born and raised in Agege area of the state, the Chairman,Â Lagos State Planning and Environmental Monitoring authority, LASPEMA, spoke on his groupâ€™s agenda and why the National Assembly should enlist the 37 LCDAs in Lagos, among other issues. Excerpts:
Whatâ€™s your political background in Lagos?
I started politics as far back as 1990. I contested for the position of vice chairman, Agege Local Government under the defunct National Republican Convention, NRC and lost. In 1996, I contested again under the umbrella of the defunct, UNCP as vice chairman to Hon. Enoch Ajiboso, the present Commissioner for Agriculture in Lagos State and we won.
In the advent of this fourth republic, I joined the Alliance for Democracy, AD, and I worked along with my kinsmen to ensure the election of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as governor then.
What elective post did you contest for then?
None. I played the role of a mobilizer and motivator of the Arewas in Lagos politics.
So, what was your role in Tinubuâ€™s government?
I was appointed the chairman of the Lagos State Planning and Environmental Monitoring Authority, LASPEMA, a position I hold till date. I was appointed in 2002.
What has been the role of your Arewa United Group in Lagos politics, especially when you tilt towards Action Congress?
We have actually been carrying out a lot of activities politically to support the government and good people of Lagos State. For example when the late President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua ordered that Governor Fashola should revert to 20 local governments and cancel the 37 LCDAS,Â we stood our ground against the decision at a press conference. We made the late President to know that we northerners in Lagos know better and we were aware of the enormous advantage of more local governments in Lagos.
Our stand was based on the fact that the newly created LCDAs have been able to stand the test of time and were duly constituted through the normal process in the State House of Assembly after referendum by the people. The president came out two days later to say that the state and the federal governmentÂ would dialogue over the issue, and that was the end of the issue.
We contribute meaningfully to the development of Lagos State because our grand fathers and fathers were born here, we and our children were equally born here, we pay our taxes here.
Whatâ€™s your present view on the Lagos Local government issue?
The 37 LCDAs have come to stay, all I will advise President Goodluck Jonathan to do is to tell the National Assembly to formalise them by listing them in Nigeria’s Constitution and empower them financially. Jonathan should toe the line of democracy.
How do you see the appointment of other tribes like Hausa, Igbo, etc into Lagos cabinet?
It is the policy of the Action Congress to detribalize governance by carrying everybody along, provided you can deliver. Moreso, we have a governor who is ready to carry everybody along regardless your religious or ethnic status. Even at local government level, Hausas and Igbos occupy councillorship, supervisory and Special Advisers positions. Thatâ€™s the beauty of politics, to us Lagos is home, we cast our votes here with our wives despite being in purdah and our children.
In recent times, we learnt that there was problem within your group, what happened?
Every organization making progress must fifth columnists, not forgetting that the 2011 elections isÂ around the corner, so they would do everything possible to destabilise you. Other parties are also prying on us, being the ruling party in the state, trying all tricks to wrest power from us. They can never succeed, Insha Allah.
I must ell you that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is trying to use some perennial motives to bring disunity among the Arewa group knowing that we give block votes to the Action Congress.
You can imagine them going to the extent of involving the Boko Haram group from Ketu-Mile 12 market to invade our meeting to create disharmony. Iâ€™m using this opportunity to implore the state government to keep serious watch in terms of security.
Are you saying Boko Haram people are in Lagos?
Yes, there are synopsis of such. These fifth columnists, I told you about have been discovered to be the ones behind the food scarcity in Lagos by instigating those in the trade to go on strike on flimsy excuses.
But they called off the strike?
Yes, it was due to the efforts of good Arewa leaders in the affected markets. People like Alhaji Dandama, Alhaji Mamuda and Alhaji Haruna in Ketu-Mile 12 Market; Alhaji Gagare Mohâ€™d in Ojo-Alaba and Alhajiâ€™s Sule Yaro and Rabiu Wagagu in Oko-Oba abattoir.
So who are the members of the Arewa group?
It comprises Hausas, Fulanis, Kanuris, Nupes, Tapas, Ibiras and other northerners based in Lagos.