21st March, 2011
Hon. Muritala Atolagbe Animashaun, former Permanent Secretary at the New Towns Development Authority, and Peoplesâ€™ Democratic Party candidate for Lagos Central Senatorial District tells PAUL SANUSI why he is contesting for the seat, his plans and other issues.
How prepared are you for the election?
If INEC is prepared, I am also prepared.
What is your agenda to better the lot of the people of your Senatorial district?
The first major things on my agenda are youths, women and the aged. Also, I want to lobby for derivation from all revenue by all Federal Government agencies within this district. That is, my Senatorial District should get a share of all revenue generated by the Customs, NPA, NIMASA and the rest of them. That is one of the major reasons why I want to go to the Senate and lobby my fellow senators to do this for Lagos State. On the issue of the youths, I want to encourage legislation to make it compulsory for the Federal Government to put in place a situation where by some positions of work are reserved for Nigerians.
For example, government contractors must be made to operate a system where they would have Nigerian trainee graduates for all cadet positions in their employ. They should not engage foreigners for the positions that Nigerian graduates are readily available. That will help in creating jobs. On women, most of the Nigerian women are involved in petty trade, and that is the area the Lagos State government has punished them. Look at the Tejuosho, Gbaja, Oyingbo; they have chased out the pepper sellers, the plantain sellers and other petty traders, and these markets have been change to places where they asked prospective allottees to come and pay N7 million, for a stall; whereas the turnover of these people per year is not up to N500,000. This means that the Senate has to have an oversight functions over governors who pretend to be for the masses but are for the elite.
On the issue of the aged, Nigeria is a very rich country compared to some other African countries. Once person is 70, he or she has to be guaranteed free meal everyday and free medical services, and they can also be given a stipend to help look after themselves. Also, for women who have been displaced in those markets, I will organise soft loans for them, legislate to ensure that banks reserve some funds for them with very minimal interest rates.
How do you intend to win in a state dominated by ACN?
I am in the opposition in Lagos and I am running to represent Lagos at the centre. The centre is populated by the PDP, at the lower and upper houses. ACN is a minority; that is why it created 37 LCDAs and up till today, it has not been ratified by the National Assembly, why? Because they are in the minority. If I get there, I am going to be part of the majority, I am going to be at the centre, I am not going to be a member of a regional party. Whether we like it or not, ACN is a regional party and that is why this state has been suffering. Lagos is a cosmopolitan state, why are we not in the centre? Why are we not part of the country? Why are we living in isolation? A lot of people living in this state are tired of this party and government, come April, people will vote massively for PDP.
If you become the Senator of this district, what will you do about the 37 LCDAs?
You know, I am going to be in a friendly atmosphere. This is because PDP are the majority in the House, I will talk to my PDP members, politics is all about persuasion. I will let them know that these LCDAs must be given full fledged local government status.
Actually, we deserve more than 57 local governments in Lagos State, but this time around it will become easier for me to sit down with them, talk to them, persuade them and lobby them so that the bill can be passed.
You are contesting against Chief (Mrs.) Oluremi Tinubu, how do you intend to defeat her?
What I want you to understand is that you have to look at our background and experience. The only thing she has going for her is that she is a former governorâ€™s wife, but as for me I was born and bred in this district. I went to school here and I have lived in all five local governments that make up the district. I spent 27 years in the Lagos State Civil Service, and rose to the position of Permanent Secretary, I believe that Iâ€™m very qualified for the post.
What is your political pedigree?
I do not have any political pedigree except for the fact that I grew up in this district, I have had experiences in United States, I’ve never held a political office but I have been in the civil service, I have been part of policy-making in this state.
Do you think the April elections would be free and fair?
INEC has put a lot of things in place to checkmate and discourage rigging. I believe very strongly that it is going to be freer than the last election, because I believe that biometrics will work. Elections everywhere in the world are being operated by humans and this is to tell you that there may be human error. This I think, would be minimized, and as the year goes by and with the technology in place now, the error will not be too much. This year, we are talking about biometrics. I am encouraged by this and I am sure that the next election would be better. I believe strongly that with all INEC has put in place to checkmate double registration, the elections will be free and fair.