29th October, 2010
You have been in the House of Representatives since 2007, what have you been able toÂ do?
It has been a wonderful experience and amazing. I was Special Adviser on HousingÂ under Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. That was an experience but a token from this one. ThisÂ experience is more national than when I was Special Adviser. Legislating is aÂ different experience entirely.
How will you rate the standard of legislation in the House of Representatives whereÂ you are a member?
I believe we have done well. We passed over 10 bills this year. Although peopleÂ asked how many bills have been passed,Â I donâ€™t think it is the number of bills thatÂ matters but the quality of bills that we passed. IfÂ you look at the BritishÂ Parliament, they pass three bills in one year. There had been all sorts ofÂ allegations being levelled by our colleagues against other lawmakers. It has quiteÂ affected the image Nigerians have about the National Assembly. However, we canâ€™tÂ just write the National Assembly off. The fact remains that the basic function ofÂ the National Assembly under the constitution has to be carried out. I have a clearÂ conscience, I believe I have done what I am supposed to do there for my people and IÂ am sure, likewise some of my colleagues. The Assembly has done quite a lot but weÂ still need to do more. As I said earlier, it is necessary to correct the wrongÂ impression Nigerians have about the legislative arm. It is understandable that overÂ the years, the legislative arm had been battered and bruised. Whenever there was aÂ coup, the legislative arm was the first to be touched. I am optimistic that we willÂ get there. Generally, I will say the National Assembly has done well, even though weÂ have been found wanting in one or two areas.
Can we know what you have done for your constituency so far?
We have done quite a lot of things. We have improved on education. We have been ableÂ to bring books worth millions of naira to the constituency. We handed them over toÂ various schools in the local governments and local council development areas. WeÂ have built three schools, one in Oworonshoki, Agboyi Local Government which is 90Â percent complete. We are having issues with the contractor at expressway PrimaryÂ School, Ikosi, Isheri; he is nowhere to be found. I want to say he has absconded butÂ we will soon get back to that. We have supplied basic educational materials and textÂ books, furniture, which they lack because we are quite aware that some students haveÂ problem with furniture. We have helped students gain admission. We buy JAMB forms,Â GCE forms and we arranged for tutorial classes. We have been supporting with schoolÂ fees and in the area of infrastructure. We have been able to provide water. We haveÂ a N15 million water project in place at Oworonshoki, which is about 90 percentÂ Â completed. We have one at Yetunde Brown, which is 100 percent completed. We have oneÂ yet to be done, but we have got approval for it at Ojota. We have solved one of theÂ major problems in my constituency, which is lack of transformer. We have been ableÂ to secure 14 transformers. Some are already in place and some are yet to be put inÂ place, but work is already being done. What we do is go back to the constituency andÂ ask what they want done. We have bought drugs worth millions of naira. We just gotÂ approval to install solar street lights in some hot spots where crime takes place inÂ my area. One of the areas is Bush Street, linking Anthony Village and Maryland andÂ it is a very high traffic area.
What has been your contribution on the floor of the House so far?
One thing is that representation is quite important, the way you vote. I have neverÂ voted without consulting the people. We do this by consulting through text messages.Â We send out about 50,000 text messages anytime we are to vote and based on theÂ response we get, it determines how we vote, whether in support or against. It isÂ better we get the opinion of a larger group and that is why we decided to send outÂ about 50,000 text messages. A good example was when we wanted to vote on multi-partyÂ system and two-party system. I remember somebody told me to support multi-partyÂ system and I told him that I couldnâ€™t support it because 97 percent statistics weÂ brought back on the result tended to support two-party system. Even if I was inÂ support of multi-party system, I wouldnâ€™t have had a choice but to support two-partyÂ system. I voted accordingly. There were also many such issues. We have sponsored aÂ few motions. We have co-sponsored several motions. One of such was the motion onÂ swine flu, to help curb it, to make sure that certain measures were taken to curbÂ its spread. There was a case of a particular drug being sold, which was supposed toÂ have been controlled. We were instrumental in ensuring that it was stopped. It isÂ amazing to ask, how many bills have you sponsored? Like I said earlier, the BritishÂ parliament donâ€™t pass up to six or seven bills in one year. We have 360 members, areÂ we saying that every member must sponsor at least a bill in one year? It means thatÂ in a year, we will have 365 bills? We have enough laws already, what we need to doÂ is to focus on implementation rather than sponsoring more bills.
What are the challenges of your people and how do you think we can address it?
I have been an advocate of Kosofe having two members in the House ofÂ Representatives. One is just not enough. We are the second largest local governmentÂ and we just have one representative in the Federal Constituency. Is it in the sizeÂ or population we look at it? In any way you look at it, we are the second largest inÂ Lagos State today, yet, Surulere has two, Mushin has two, Isolo also has two and soÂ on. But the second largest, Kosofe still has one. For adequate representation, weÂ need a minimum of two in the House of Representatives. However, we do all what weÂ can, we go out to find out what the people want. There is this issue where aÂ function that we have is being mixed with that of the executive. Some say boreholes,Â building of schools, repairing of roads, execution of capital projects and othersÂ should be the function of the House of Representatives. No, it is in the hand of theÂ executive, which is the local government council, which is the closest government toÂ the grassroots. Some are of the opinion that we have been paid money to executeÂ constituency projects, which is not true. Our functions are purely to legislate,Â perform oversight functions. I am not a contractor or am I involved in such. What weÂ do is to identify what our people need and lobby to get such things done; that isÂ our job. That is a challenge we need to clarify for the people to understand thatÂ construction of roads, schools and so on are the functions of the executive but IÂ took it upon myself. You see, I was born and raised in Kosofe, I have lived all myÂ life in Kosofe and I still live here. I am very passionate about where I come from.Â This is the home town that I love, yet, both my parents are from Ogun State. I haveÂ never played politics there all my life or know the political terrain there. TheÂ town that I know is Kosofe and this is where I play my politics and it makes it easyÂ for me to mix with my constituents and understand what we need.
What are your plans for your people if you are elected for a second term?
Government is continuous. Continuity is important.Â It has been a great privilege toÂ serve them. I am glad that my constituency has helped to make my name a part ofÂ history. It will be a great privilege to continue to serve them for another fourÂ years. It has been three and half years and we have brought projects worth N300Â million across to greater Kosofe axis and the sky is the limit and the experience IÂ have acquired in three and half years can never be taken away. In legislaturesÂ continuity is important. America, Canada, England and others can attribute whereÂ they are today to continuity. This is a major problem we have in Nigeria whereÂ continuity is hard to come by. The most important thing is how do we impact on theÂ lives of the people.Â I once served as the sub committee chairman on EFCC and I knewÂ what corruption had done to this country. The people are quite upset with the kindÂ of government we have. The most important thing is that the will of the peopleÂ should prevail. Looking at what happened in Ekiti State, the will of the peopleÂ prevailed. When people are more involved in how their representatives do their jobs,Â it makes it easier for the person duly voted for. This person can be reached easily.Â He canâ€™t govern from Abuja, which is the major reason I am in Lagos every weekend.Â Right from the day I was elected, I have always been in Lagos at the weekends. IÂ think I only missed two or three weekends. But, outside of that, there are many moreÂ programmes we need to look into. We are not an executive arm, so it is important toÂ sit down with the people and find out their challenges. The challenges of today willÂ be different from those of tomorrow. So, periodically, it is important to meet withÂ the people, find out their challenges and see how to solve them. We are acting onÂ the will of the people.
How do you think we can tackle corruption?
If we are really serious about corruption, there isnâ€™t anything about it. There isÂ nowhere in the world where corruption can be eradicated 100 percent. The major thingÂ is just to put in place certain things to help deter people. For example, you seeÂ vehicles patrolling, they donâ€™t mount checkpoint. I have never seen anywhere inÂ England or Canada where checkpoints are mounted at will unless there is a case ofÂ manhunt. Normally, you see police vehicles patrolling up and down, this sends aÂ message about the presence of police; it sends a message that they can appear atÂ anytime. In Nigeria, we have police checkpoints, even when there are no checkpoints,Â the police vehicles are parked in one place. So you know that 100 metres away, youÂ can commit a crime and get away but in a case where they patrol, you cannot predictÂ when the police will appear. Look at what is happening in the banking sector, how aÂ person is said to have embezzled over N100 billion. One human being! How will thisÂ money be spent? These are the things I find amazing. Are we fighting corruptionÂ collectively?Â The fact is no. we have a lot of critics in Nigeria. The easiestÂ thing to do is to criticize but how involved are we? I wake up in the morning andÂ listen to morning shows and people are heard airing their opinions. Opinions areÂ aired but what has been done besides the opinions being aired? Those are the thingsÂ we need to look at.
Do you haveÂ faith in Jegaâ€™s INEC?
I have no choice but to have faith in it. When he was appointed, he was known as aÂ man of impeccable character. I was a bit disappointed when he said he could do theÂ election in January and later changed. I hope he will be more careful next time inÂ making such utterances. I have faith in him to conduct a free and fair election. ItÂ is left for him to prove me wrong. Letâ€™s see how transparent he will be to earnÂ Nigerians’ trust in him and whatever name he will like to leave behind.
Do you think other parties have a chance to win Lagos?
With what the governor is currently doing, there is a reason to celebrate. He isÂ doing a good job. No doubt about it, the state government has been wonderful. ThereÂ is no local government that has not felt its presence. We are encouraged. I have noÂ doubt in my mind and with what has been done, PDP has no chance in Lagos State.
What advice do you have for Nigerians and politicians regarding thuggery and riggingÂ of elections?
Some of the people being used for thuggery are graduates but that is the only wayÂ they know; to feed by going into thuggery. The question is, we keep condemning thoseÂ people, yes, I condemn the act, donâ€™t get me wrong, I completely condemn the act. IÂ have never been involved in such an act and I donâ€™t ever pray to be involved.Â ThereÂ was a time we had this area boys syndrome which is no more there. Government set upÂ training camps all around where you learn a trade and there is a micro credit schemeÂ to help you start off. But across the nation, how well has the Federal GovernmentÂ caredÂ for the citizens? We need to look at this. It is important we have theÂ National Orientation Agency, we have not heard from them for a good while. They haveÂ been silent and I wonder whether the agency really exists.
Right now, we need sensitisation, let the agency take care of this. Let them stepÂ up. We are in October and right now, we ought to see such sensitisation coming up onÂ how to discourage thuggery during elections. I remember at a time, people didnâ€™tÂ come out to vote, but things are changing. We have the ‘one man one vote’Â andÂ ‘protect your vote’ campaigns. These are sensitisation campaigns that are supposedÂ to be handled by the National Orientation Agency.