Tougher Laws Against Environment Abuse Underway


Lagos lawmaker, Abiodun Tobun, may be seen as reserved, but he knows why he was elected by the people of Epe Constituency 1 to represent them at the State House of Assembly. Within one year, he has touched the constituents in several way as shown in this interview. He also backed each of his claims with proof, which he made available to Assembly Matters

It is about a year since your inauguration. How would you to summarise the progress so far?

Well, as a lawmaker, it’s been a worthwhile experience. It has been interesting finding ourselves in new terrain and trying to learn very fast. Ordinarily, what we see outside is not always what we discovered when we got in. There is a lot that has to do with manipulation and persuasion while finding yourself through acts of legislations and in the performance of oversight functions; and as well in trying to see how you can attract the dividends of democracy to your constituency, meeting with members of your constituency and the demands of the constituents. But in all these, it is a worthwhile and interesting experience.

You must have been facing some challenges with regards to your relationship with your constituents…

Yes, the challenges are enormous, but as a representative of the people, they must feel you are there for them and you must be ready to meet their needs and accede to their requests at all times. It has been demand, demand, demand from people. It’s been so enormous and has only taken the grace of God to meet as many of these demands as I can.

Coming to infrastructural demands, we have been striving as much as we can to meet up with the expectation of the people. As a result, I have been in contact with the appropriate government agencies and they have been responding positively to our requests.

Now, would you say your expectations of the House have been met within the last one year?

Reasonably, my expectations of the House of Assembly have been met. Sincerely and naturally, going to ministries and meeting Commissioners to tell them the demands of our people would not have been possible without being in the House as a lawmaker. Being here, I would say, has really given me the opportunity to give my people the representation they truly deserve. There are so many areas that we have been able to touch and the results are feasible. Some of these areas have to do with road construction and renovation. I can tell you confidently that all the nooks and crannies of my constituency have been touched because we have continued to write to the ministries and agencies concerned with some of our challenges. Presently, the Direct Labour Agency, the Public Works Bureau are in the community doing the job as expected. We have met with the Ministry of Works which is already handling the issue of road construction and rehabilitation.

We have been able to attract six transformers to our community to boost electrification of the constituency. Some of the transformers have already been energised by the Ministry of Rural Development. The transformers are located at the Mosalasi area CDA, Sade-Ikesan, Ebute-Afuye, Oloja Estate and Ajegunle and they have been energised. For Tiye community, the electrification project would commence in the next few weeks according to the Director, Rural Electrification in the State. Three other communities are expecting their own transformers.

For roads in Epe Constituency 1, I’m proud to tell you that Okeposun-Ojude Iga Road has been rehabilitated and completed, Sade Road linking Aiyetoro is undergoing some work now, General Hospital road has been completed, Lagos Road linking Arisko has been completed, Ita-Osugbo Road has been fully rehabilitated, Kalesanmi Road has been completed, the General Hospital surrounding is being done right now. They are there and verifiable, Oba Animashaun Road has been tarred. I am not the one who executed the projects, but I facilitated their execution through letters and follow ups.

The Committee I set up in the Constituency to look into our problems has just submitted another batch of roads to look at, and I am planning to start disturbing those concerned any moment from now.

Your efforts have been commended at different fora by your constituents. How have you been challenged by such commendations?

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I have also engaged in serious human relations. I also try as much as possible to meet some of their demands and those I can’t handle, I let them know. I am not one that can deceive them. Concerning the roads, we wrote a letter to the Ministry and followed it up and I can tell you that most of the roads in and out of Epe are better than what they used to be.

For health, we wrote to the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Jide Idris, pleading that he put our requests into consideration in the budgetary provision and he responded later with a letter that Governor Babatunde Fashola has graciously approved the construction of a Mother and Child Centre with accommodation for resident doctors in the area. I can also confirm that a 250KVA generator has been installed at the Epe General Hospital and this was as a result of our effort. The government has equally promised to renovate the doctors’ quarters, the theatre, the consulting room and the male and female wards at the hospital.

Before now, there was acute electricity problem in Epe and I had to write a strongly worded letter to the PHCN on the issue of the National Independent Power Project. As I am talking to you now, the State approved about 32 NIPP and the Executive Director has told me that they are working on the one in Epe.

Concerning education, most of the schools in the area are currently undergoing renovation. In my opinion, these and some others I can’t mention here are reasons for the love the constituents show me and I do these without necessarily seeking for any financial gains from any quarters. I have never collected contract from any agency or Ministry and this is deliberate, which is aimed at making them see me as a serious minded person and to create the ease of persuasion to get my people to benefit from the dividends of democracy.

Currently, I’m training 250 youths in Computer Appreciation and Operation, Fashion Designing, Catering and Hotel Management, Hat Making and Decorations. I have also constructed some boreholes because the water needs of my people is so high. I have sunk four now and before the year ends, I would have sunk another four with generators to power them.

I am also engaging in a programme I call Student Free Bus Programme and I have got a bus from Holland which I am putting in a perfect condition before the programme begins.

As the Chairman, House Committee on Environment, how would you describe your experience so far?

Well, it’s been a sweet experience. But one thing you must understand is that the environmental issues are what everyone must get involved in. We must live up to expectation. Lagos state is a cosmopolitan in nature and home to several people and because of this, we generate waste daily. I must say without fear or favour that LAWMA has been doing wonderfully well. The Ministry of the Environment too have been going out to ensure that drains and canals are cleared as the rains become heavier. On issues relating to environmental pollution, LASEPA has been doing well to reduce the level of nuisance being created through noise or other forms of pollution.

We have also engaged in environmental summits and workshops in this regard but there is still a lot of work to be done. One of this has to do with indiscriminate dumping of refuse in the gutters and drains which would always block free flow of water and get us to face the consequence. There is also the issue of patronising cart pushers and the residents not paying the PSP fee. The PSP is there to rid the state of filth, but most people are not willing to pay. Payment has been so low to the extent that some of the trucks are packing up. Just as I advise residents to discourage themselves from dumping refuse indiscriminately and that they should regularly pay their fees, I also urge LAWMA to make their emergency phone numbers public so that residents can easily get the officials when there is need to clear off garbage. We have also been at the forefront of the fight to eradicate or reduce the level of gasses and fumes in the air. I have also told people on a number of occasions that they should not wait for the Tree Planting Day before they plant any tree in their areas, because our living is dependent on plants.

Despite the level of campaign by the government, residents of the state have continued to dump refuse indiscriminately. Don’t you think a law should be enacted to criminalise such acts?

We are working on it. Punishment as a deterrent works, but we are also trying to look inwards, like a punishment that would be involving. We tried it when I was still in the Local Government system when we caught a man who left his house and was going for a party during environmental sanitation exercise. He was arrested and we made sure we used his vehicle to cart refuse for about a week. Now, he could not get to the party he was rushing to and his car, which was a luxury to him, was used to pack refuse. This was a good way to punish him. If we had fined him alone, he would have paid and continue to beat the exercise.

We are now looking at a situation where if you are caught dropping anything in drains, you would be made to clean up the drain, if you dump refuse along the road, you would be given a broom to sweep the road, if you are caught with your vehicle while environmental sanitation is on, your luxury car would be used to cart refuse. It would no longer be fine, money, jail, because jail is even full now and we are no longer interested in sending people to jail but to educate them so that Lagos and, indeed, Nigeria would be a better place to live.

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