Lagos Needs A Special Status


Mr. Akeem Abiodun Muniru is an Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, candidate for the Federal House of  Representatives under Oshodi-Isolo Constituency II.  In this interview with Kazeem Ugbodaga, he calls  for the need for a special status for Lagos State as a former Federal Capital Territory and other  issues

What is your vision for your people?
It is clear that at this stage of Nigeria’s democracy and with the trend the world over, it is  imperative that young men with ideas will be able to fast track the development of the nation.  After  a careful assessment of all the problems within my constituency, I have restricted myself to certain  projects that will benefit my constituency, apart from executing those in the party’s manifesto.   Paramount among what I want to achieve is youth empowerment.  In Nigeria, if you compare the number of  youths in school with those in vocational training, it is far less than the required number, so there  must be a clear cut policy which will guide the youths in attaining their goals to be self-reliant in  life and capital development.
There should be a clear cut policy from the Federal Government as regards the youth. Oshodi-Isolo  Federal Constituency II, especially from the last administration, has got a bit of federal presence;  there is still need for us to have more federal presence in the area.  We have the PHCN in our domain  which we don’t even enjoy; we have the NNPC depot which is one of the biggest in Nigeria; all the  roads in the constituency from Isolo all through to Ejigbo back to Ajao Estate and the rest need total  rehabilitation and need Federal Government’s presence so that we could upgrade them and enhance the  socio-economic impact of the area.
The Millennium Development Goals, MDGs within the community should be clear and pursued from the  various inter-ministerial agencies and make it achievable goals to impact on the people. Health, water  resources, education and all the targets of the MDGs should be achievable via a thorough and  deliberate planning by the agencies.

How are you going to contribute your quota to ensure that Lagos is granted a Special Status by the  Federal Government?
Paramount in the mind of the people living in Lagos State is the issue of infrastructure decay with  teeming population.  This is not as a result of negligence by the leaders of the state, but because  over a long period of time, Lagos was the capital of Nigeria.  The capital was moved to Abuja, leaving  Lagos with the attendant consequence of infrastructure decay.  This means that the infrastructure in  Lagos has to be stretched; the infrastructure decay was almost at a comatose state before the  administration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Governor Babatunde Fashola came into office by  re-inventing most of those infrastructure.  You will see the example of Ramat in Morroco; Cape Town in  South Africa; Frankfurt in Germany and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. These are former capitals and the  governments of those nations have created special status for them so that they could develop faster  and even move up.  You see the example of New York, which used to be the capital of the United States  before it was moved to Washington.. The government of the United States keeps pumping money into New  York because they know that the basis of it as a former federal capital territory will have its  infrastructure stretched.  If at least certain percentage is dedicated to Lagos, the better. We are  still pushing for true federalism in the area of revenue allocation and VAT issue. They should allow  us to handle the VAT so that we can maintain our infrastructure.  Lagos needs a special status whereby  the federal government can grant it maybe one or two percent or three. We will go in there and push it  from a logical angle.  Every Nigerian has one or two relations in Lagos State, yet all of have allowed  Lagos to decay until this government now came and fixed the entire infrastructure. We will still  clamour, lobby and beg if it will be good for us to attain the Lagos of our dream. By the United  Nations statistics, Lagos will be the 6th largest mega-city in the world, yet the government and the  people of Lagos cannot do it alone; we need collaboration; we need the help of the Federal Government  in terms of giving us things that are fundamental to us. They are taking money from Lagos and using it  to benefit others.

Looking at your constituency, how do you think you can help tackle the problems it is facing?
What we could see, especially in Ejigbo is infrastructure challenge.  When you go to Ejigbo, you will  discover truly that it deserves more than one local government. Ejigbo started from the old Ikeja  Local Government down to old Mushin Local Government and to old Oshodi Local Government to Ejigbo  Local Council Development Area.  You can now imagine somebody coming from Ikeja to do pipe borne  water.  Ejigbo now has over 600,000 people; Isolo is inhabited by over 800, 000 people.  These two  major towns among the several towns that constitute the constituency need government attention.   Ejigbo needs special intervention by the state government, by the Federal Government and even by the  local government. In Ejigbo, we have the PHCN substation, the NNPC, part of the Murtala Muhammed  International Airport, yet Ejigbo cannot boast of one solid Federal Government’s presence there,  except the NNPC road that has just been rehabilitated. Isolo has its own challenges in terms of  traffic gridlock from Iyana Isolo all the way to Jankande Estate.  Traffic is our major challenge,  LASTMA is doing its best, the state government has introduced LAGBUS in Ikotun, yet, all these cannot  still bring about giving us a special preference in the allocation of the resources of the state.  The  state government is doing quite a lot for us in terms of the MCC at Isolo General Hospital and others,  but the major thing we want government to do for us is the route leading into Ejigbo via the canal to  Ajao Estate and leads to international airport and then to Oshodi; this will decongest the traffic  situation that has defied all known solutions.

How will you assess the Fashola administration?
It is not Fashola’s administration, it is just a baby of the last administration of Asiwaju Bola  Tinubu, our leader and mentor.  He started the foundation and laid the foundation of virtually all the  projects you see in Lagos now.  As a result of political challenges, he was not able to accomplish all  and again, he has shown there is a direction, the 10-point agenda, the Ehingbeti 2001 has given a  clear cut direction on how the problems of Lagos could be tackled. With this, this government has been  able to build on the foundation laid by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. The government of Fashola has  tremendously improved the setting of Lagos and laid a model of governance, not only in Nigeria but in  the whole of sub-saharan Africa.  This government has done well.  In terms of road infrastructure, it  is superb, the quality of road, the ambience; increase in workers’ salaries, among others, this  government has scored ‘A’.  That is why you could see no opposition in Lagos, though you see some  people masquerading as opposition.  There is no viable opposition in Lagos and that is what is giving  the ACN the leverage to come out and say, give us a chance and we will change Nigeria.

What do you think are the chances of ACN in Lagos during the April polls?
I have not seen any opposition anywhere.  People have to come to a reality that this government has  come to stay in Lagos.  The masses, the elite, market women and the rest are with us. Even the youths  are praising this government, so where is the opposition? There is no opposition anywhere in Lagos.   Go to my constituency, Epe, Mushin, Badagry and the rest, there is one singular party in Lagos, the  ACN.

What advice do you have for Lagosians as par the coming election?
Lagosians should not be bamboozled by anybody; Lagosians should go out after voting on 2 April and 19  and cast their votes for the ACN. They should cast their votes, monitor them and ensure their votes  count and make sure that they stay there until the results are declared.  That is what they can do to  defend their votes.  First and foremost, is for them to go out and cast their votes.  Stay with this  party.  This party is ready for you, stay and work day and night so that you can benefit from the  dividends of democracy.