Access Bank PLC

Buhari’s Constant Travelling Will Benefit Nigeria -Lagos Lawmaker, Abiodun Tobun

First Bank Nigeria

A lawmaker in the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Abiodun Tobun has thrown his weight behind the constant travelling of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Speaking in an interview with’s Ayodele Oyekunle, Hon. Tobun, who is representing Epe Constituency 1 in the Assembly, scores the president high in the area of fighting corruption.
He also spoke about the achievements of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State and what he has done for the people of his constituency over the years.

What can you say about the government of President Muhammadu Buhari?

I would say he is doing well, he has started well and he is going to end well. The house is half demolished and when the house is demolished, it is difficult to build. The President has been able to assert himself as a fearless person. He is trying to prove to Nigerians that he means well. The country cannot move if we fail to fight the cankerworm in the system, which is corruption. President Muhammadu Buhari is determined to fight corruption at all cost. He is equally ready to put the Nigerian economy on a sound footing. As far as I am concerned, he is doing well.

Many people have accused the President of fighting corruption to the detriment of the economy and that the fight is one sided. What are your views on these?

The people, who have ruled the country for the past 16 years were in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members, they cannot probe the members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who did not serve at the national level. When we say corruption, it has been the PDP and their admirers, it is only after this that you can probe APC members. If they are now probing those, who served in the last government, it is not that the government is after anybody or that they want to pull anybody down. When we are talking of security fund, do we now start probing someone that has not worked as the National Security Adviser or who did not work closely with the NSA or share any booty with him. Afterall, they indicted Chief Olu Falae, who is not a PDP man, but a member of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). He was close to former president Goodluck Jonathan. Jonathan won in Lagos State in 2011 and nobody was questioned that they collected money from him or that he shared money to anybody. Till now, they have not called Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State or mentioned his name despite the fact that he is in the PDP. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was arraigned by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) by the government of former president Jonathan and he was discharged and acquitted because he was not found guilty. They did not invite Chief Edwin Clark and some other top notchers of the PDP to answer questions on corruption. It was not that President Buhari came up with names, it was the former National Security Adviser (NSA) that was mentioning the people he gave money. So, they are now calling them to return the money. He could not give his enemies money or people of other political parties.
If they feel it is one-sided, they should mention APC members that are corrupt so that they could be probed.

Some people are complaining that the President travels all the time rather than staying back at home to rule the country. Do you think they are right?

The Nigerian image had been destroyed to a large extent and the international world wants to see the seriousness in the President to move this country forward, so they need to see him physically. He cannot send the Vice President to represent him in such instances. Talking about security, is it the Chief of Army Staff, the Chief of Defence Staff or the Minister of Defence that would represent him. They can take care of the homefront, he has Ministers of Finance, Economic Planning, Health, Power and all that to take care of the home front, while he goes outside the country to seek for their co-operation, assistance and waivers on some of the loans the country took in the past. Some of these people are complaining because the heads of those countries are telling Buhari about the money some Nigerians took to those countries and how the monies could be recovered. It is becoming difficult for people to move money outside the country or move money around the country anyhow. People, who take money outside the country feel Buhari should stay back at home permanently and the question is at what cost does he move round. Is he going round with retinue of delegation, no. When former president Jonathan was there, he used to travel with about 200 people. But President Buhari travels with few people, they sleep in normal hotels and come back home. As he went on leave, he handed over to his vice, it is not out of place for him to travel out, afterall the President of Canada was in Nigeria to see the Governor of Lagos State. They are to assist us and partner with us, we need them more than they need us.

Lagos State is facing a lot of challenges in the areas of works and infrastructure, what do you think can be done to overcome these challenges?

The Governor is going all out and he is introducing some innovations that are magical. For instance, the vision 20:20 roads across the 20 local governments and 37 LCDAs in the state in wonderful. He has started with two roads in each local council and he has started the construction of 114 roads in all the local governments simultaneously. No local government or LCDA is being pushed aside. Also, you can see operation no pothole that the Public Works Corporation (PWC) has embarked upon. Look at how WEMPCO road was fixed, Oke-Afa in Isolo that used to cause terrible hold-ups has been fixed, same goes for many roads across the state. You would be impressed with the quality of works being done across the state now. Go and look at what would have been abandoned projects such as the road from Ejigbo to Idimu, Jakande Road to Ijegun, they have been completed. Okota to Festac Road has been completed, Ago Palace Way, Lagos Abeokuta Expressway, Lagos Island, Ikorodu, Epe and the rest are being done. They are building fly overs in Abule Egba and Ajah, they are also planning to do something about Pen Cinema area of Agege. All these have been taken care of in the 2016 Budget. The budget ratio is 58:42 for capital and recurrent expenditure, it has never been like that before, but the Governor is determined to work. Ikorodu Road has been completed, it has been commissioned. The BRT lane there has been reconstructed. Within the next one year, Lagos residents would be happy. Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has been doing so many roads; whether federal or state. He is also embarking on operation light up Lagos so that people can go out anytime of the day. Those problems are being solved by the state government.

How would the House of Assembly ensure that what the government plans to do is done properly?

There is no other major role that we will play than to approve the budget and look at the books of the ministries during our oversight functions. We will ensure that the things budgeted for are properly done, we will go round and see their books. Even the roads in Alausa here are being done, we will encourage them to do more and ensure that the ministry does not derail. If there is anything they are doing that is wrong, we will call them to order and raise an alarm.

How will the state cope with the economic situation in the country?

Lagos State has never depended so much on Federal Government allocations, we all saw what Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu did as governor of Lagos State. He moved the monthly Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state from N600 Million to almost N20 Billion. This has kept the state moving, even when the Federal Government withheld the local government allocations of the state for about three years, the state was moving. It was when former president Olusegun Obasanjo left that the money was paid. So, we have looked for strategies to increase our IGR and the people are ready to pay. They pay willingly.

What have you done so far for the people of Epe, and what are your new programmes for them?

In the past, we have touched our constituency in so many ways. The general hospital has been upgraded with a new theatre, mortuary, main ward, MCC, administrative office at the hospital, 250KVA generator, ambulance and a maternity centre. I have conducted free test on diabetes, hypertension, eye test and provided eye glasses for about 1,000 people and sponsored eye surgery for the residents. On education, we have attracted schools, classrooms, furniture and what we call 17+1, which is two storey building that accomodates offices and laboratory to the area. We have provided classrooms to many primary schools, we gave exercise books and writing materials to many pupils. We have been able to solve the electricity problem in Epe area. The community did not have light for so many years, we had to solve the problem and change their old transformers. People used to complain on radio and other media that Epe did not have electricity. Now light is regular in Epe, people that did not have light for several years now have light. We gave transformers to places such as Ajegunle in Epe, Moshalashi and so many of them. I did some of these personally such as extending wires and poles from the transformers and repair some electricity items that were vandalised in Papa, Moshalashi and other places. Also, most of our potholes have been fixed. I did mega-empowerment about four times, we spent tens of millions of naira on that. We trained people on hair dressing and bought equipment for them, we trained people in fashion designing, carpentry and others. For fishermen, we bought boat, net and boat engines for some of them. My vision now is to give scholarship to 25 indigenes of Epe and I didn’t know the recipients till today. I just called on the leader of the youth council to look for qualified youths. I would send them to Government Technical School, Epe. I would pay their three years fees directly to the school and give the recipients some money to maintain themselves. I discovered during a meeting of the National Youth Council that I attended that the way the country is going, our youths must be technically oriented and also know about other skills. Alhaji Aliko Dangote is moving closer to us at the Lekki Free Trade Zone. We have to attract our youth to technical education so that they can benefit from that job opportunity Dangote is providing in four years time. I have started telling them to take up technical education or read engineering courses in the university. Dangote promised to employ 4,000 to 5,000 indigenous youths, which is why we are encouraging them now. For widows, we have programmes for them. One other programme I want to do is to work with the artisans and know those who have learnt trades for three or four years, but could not start their own businesses due to financial problems. They would be more committed because they have suffered to learn the trade. I would do another mega-empowerment where those who have learnt iron bending, carpentry, welding, tailoring or hair dressing would be empowered. We will buy equipment for them and hand them over to their former bosses to monitor them. It is better than the people you just train for three months and give them equipment, which they would sell on the long run.
On infrastructure, I would work with the Governor, who is also from Epe, on how to develop the area though he is not for us alone.

What do you think is the problem with our judiciary?

That is the problem with our people, if the judgment favours them, they would praise the judiciary, but if it is the opposite, they would condemn the judiciary. The judiciary has succeeded in telling us that they are impartial arbiters. It is the Nigerian factor. You can see what happened to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who ran to the court that the CCT could not probe him and the Supreme Court said that he should go back there. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was probed by the CCB and he was put in the box, but he was cleared. The court is independent just like the legislature. When we passed the 2016 budget, people said that it was too fast, do we need to delay it and allow the people to suffer. We did not rest throughout December 2015 to ensure that we do a thorough job and pass the budget. The state government bought many security equipment such as gun boats, APCs, operational vehicles for the police, and this has reduced crime in the state. Our helicopter discovered the crashed Bristow Helicopter in the lagoon and saved many lives. The 2016 budget is the people’s budget because the government would clear all the liabilities and the contractors that are being owed, those on-going projects would be completed since they are meant to serve the people. All the contractors were told to go back to site and they are paid, the third one is that the state government would embark on new projects that would benefit the people.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button