11th February, 2011
Mr. Akeem Abiodun Muniru is an Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, candidate for the Federal House ofÂ Representatives under Oshodi-Isolo Constituency II.Â In this interview with Kazeem Ugbodaga, he callsÂ for the need for a special status for Lagos State as a former Federal Capital Territory and otherÂ issues
What is your vision for your people?
It is clear that at this stage of Nigeriaâ€™s democracy and with the trend the world over, it isÂ imperative that young men with ideas will be able to fast track the development of the nation.Â AfterÂ a careful assessment of all the problems within my constituency, I have restricted myself to certainÂ projects that will benefit my constituency, apart from executing those in the partyâ€™s manifesto.Â Â Paramount among what I want to achieve is youth empowerment.Â In Nigeria, if you compare the number ofÂ youths in school with those in vocational training, it is far less than the required number, so thereÂ must be a clear cut policy which will guide the youths in attaining their goals to be self-reliant inÂ life and capital development.
There should be a clear cut policy from the Federal Government as regards the youth. Oshodi-IsoloÂ Federal Constituency II, especially from the last administration, has got a bit of federal presence;Â there is still need for us to have more federal presence in the area.Â We have the PHCN in our domainÂ which we donâ€™t even enjoy; we have the NNPC depot which is one of the biggest in Nigeria; all theÂ roads in the constituency from Isolo all through to Ejigbo back to Ajao Estate and the rest need totalÂ rehabilitation and need Federal Governmentâ€™s presence so that we could upgrade them and enhance theÂ socio-economic impact of the area.
The Millennium Development Goals, MDGs within the community should be clear and pursued from theÂ various inter-ministerial agencies and make it achievable goals to impact on the people. Health, waterÂ resources, education and all the targets of the MDGs should be achievable via a thorough andÂ deliberate planning by the agencies.
How are you going to contribute your quota to ensure that Lagos is granted a Special Status by theÂ Federal Government?
Paramount in the mind of the people living in Lagos State is the issue of infrastructure decay withÂ teeming population.Â This is not as a result of negligence by the leaders of the state, but becauseÂ over a long period of time, Lagos was the capital of Nigeria.Â The capital was moved to Abuja, leavingÂ Lagos with the attendant consequence of infrastructure decay.Â This means that the infrastructure inÂ Lagos has to be stretched; the infrastructure decay was almost at a comatose state before theÂ administration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Governor Babatunde Fashola came into office byÂ re-inventing most of those infrastructure.Â You will see the example of Ramat in Morroco; Cape Town inÂ South Africa; Frankfurt in Germany and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. These are former capitals and theÂ governments of those nations have created special status for them so that they could develop fasterÂ and even move up.Â You see the example of New York, which used to be the capital of the United StatesÂ before it was moved to Washington.. The government of the United States keeps pumping money into NewÂ York because they know that the basis of it as a former federal capital territory will have itsÂ infrastructure stretched.Â If at least certain percentage is dedicated to Lagos, the better. We areÂ still pushing for true federalism in the area of revenue allocation and VAT issue. They should allowÂ us to handle the VAT so that we can maintain our infrastructure.Â Lagos needs a special status wherebyÂ the federal government can grant it maybe one or two percent or three. We will go in there and push itÂ from a logical angle.Â Every Nigerian has one or two relations in Lagos State, yet all of have allowedÂ Lagos to decay until this government now came and fixed the entire infrastructure. We will stillÂ clamour, lobby and beg if it will be good for us to attain the Lagos of our dream. By the UnitedÂ Nations statistics, Lagos will be the 6th largest mega-city in the world, yet the government and theÂ people of Lagos cannot do it alone; we need collaboration; we need the help of the Federal GovernmentÂ in terms of giving us things that are fundamental to us. They are taking money from Lagos and using itÂ 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.Â When you go to Ejigbo, you willÂ discover truly that it deserves more than one local government. Ejigbo started from the old IkejaÂ Local Government down to old Mushin Local Government and to old Oshodi Local Government to EjigboÂ Local Council Development Area.Â You can now imagine somebody coming from Ikeja to do pipe borneÂ water.Â Ejigbo now has over 600,000 people; Isolo is inhabited by over 800, 000 people.Â These twoÂ major towns among the several towns that constitute the constituency need government attention.Â Â Ejigbo needs special intervention by the state government, by the Federal Government and even by theÂ local government. In Ejigbo, we have the PHCN substation, the NNPC, part of the Murtala MuhammedÂ International Airport, yet Ejigbo cannot boast of one solid Federal Governmentâ€™s presence there,Â except the NNPC road that has just been rehabilitated. Isolo has its own challenges in terms ofÂ traffic gridlock from Iyana Isolo all the way to Jankande Estate.Â Traffic is our major challenge,Â LASTMA is doing its best, the state government has introduced LAGBUS in Ikotun, yet, all these cannotÂ still bring about giving us a special preference in the allocation of the resources of the state.Â TheÂ state government is doing quite a lot for us in terms of the MCC at Isolo General Hospital and others,Â but the major thing we want government to do for us is the route leading into Ejigbo via the canal toÂ Ajao Estate and leads to international airport and then to Oshodi; this will decongest the trafficÂ situation that has defied all known solutions.
How will you assess the Fashola administration?
It is not Fasholaâ€™s administration, it is just a baby of the last administration of Asiwaju BolaÂ Tinubu, our leader and mentor.Â He started the foundation and laid the foundation of virtually all theÂ projects you see in Lagos now.Â As a result of political challenges, he was not able to accomplish allÂ and again, he has shown there is a direction, the 10-point agenda, the Ehingbeti 2001 has given aÂ clear cut direction on how the problems of Lagos could be tackled. With this, this government has beenÂ able to build on the foundation laid by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. The government of Fashola hasÂ tremendously improved the setting of Lagos and laid a model of governance, not only in Nigeria but inÂ the whole of sub-saharan Africa.Â This government has done well.Â In terms of road infrastructure, itÂ is superb, the quality of road, the ambience; increase in workersâ€™ salaries, among others, thisÂ government has scored â€˜Aâ€™.Â That is why you could see no opposition in Lagos, though you see someÂ people masquerading as opposition.Â There is no viable opposition in Lagos and that is what is givingÂ 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.Â People have to come to a reality that this government hasÂ come to stay in Lagos.Â The masses, the elite, market women and the rest are with us. Even the youthsÂ are praising this government, so where is the opposition? There is no opposition anywhere in Lagos.Â Â Go to my constituency, Epe, Mushin, Badagry and the rest, there is one singular party in Lagos, theÂ 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 19Â and cast their votes for the ACN. They should cast their votes, monitor them and ensure their votesÂ count and make sure that they stay there until the results are declared.Â That is what they can do toÂ defend their votes.Â First and foremost, is for them to go out and cast their votes.Â Stay with thisÂ party.Â This party is ready for you, stay and work day and night so that you can benefit from theÂ dividends of democracy.