AMBODE PRESENTS YEAR 2016 BUDGET PROPOSAL OF N665.588BN

…Earmarks 56% To Capital Expenditure, 44% for Recurrent
… To Commence A-Meal-a-Day Programme in Public Schools Next Year
…Urges FG To Speed Up Special Status For Lagos

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Thursday presented the Year 2016 Budget proposal of N665.588billion to the House of Assembly, with a pledge that his administration will not only implement the budget faithfully, but also ensure that it works in the best interest of Lagosians.

The Governor who christened the 2016 budget “The Peoples Budget” said it is an improvement of 26 percent over the budgets of 2014 and 2015 respectively which stood at N489.6 Billion individually.

“The increase will enable our government to focus on the present challenges of security, traffic gridlock resolution including physical and social infrastructural development which has thrown up new challenges quite different from what we used to experience and have always known”, he said.

He said the 2016 budget which is the first full budget of the present administration will promote massive investment in Security, Transport and Traffic management, Physical and Social Infrastructural development and enhance job creation.

He said the intention of his government is to use the 2016 budget to strategically build new infrastructure, as well as maintain existing ones, adding that wealth and employment creation will also receive adequate attention in the course of the year.

Giving a breakdown of the budget figures, Governor Ambode put the Recurrent Expenditure at N278,909bn while Capital Expenditure stands at N383,678bn, explaining that the Capital to Recurrent ratio is 58:42 as against 51:49 in 2014 and 2015.

Governor Ambode also put the total revenue estimate for 2016 fiscal year at N542.873Billion saying the balance of N119.714billion will be funded through deficit financing constituting 0.41 percent of the state GDP based on 2016 budget alone and a cumulative debt to GDP ratio of about 3 percent.

On the size of the budget, the Governor earmarked N120,508,571,598 for General Public Services representing 18.19 percent, N28,559,021,841 to Public Order and Safety, representing 4.31 percent while Economic Affairs received a lion share of N211,043,408,183 representing 31.85 percent.

In other sectors, Environment got 8.1 percent of the budget totally N53,043,599,505, Housing and Community Amenities, got N62,713,091,867 representing 9.46 percent, Health got N64,677,679,096 representing 9.76 percent while Recreation, Culture and Religion has N4,636,917,054 which is 0.70 percent of the budget.

Education sector also received N113,379,337,664 representing 17.11 percent of the budget while Social Protection got N4,025,980,116, which is 0.61 of the budget.

Governor Ambode said that due to the falling oil prices, the budget is pegged on $38 dollar per barrel saying it was in line to maintain a conservative approach in estimating the Federal allocation for 2016.

“Fiscal Federalism and according Lagos a Special Status will benefit the State as we implore the Federal Government to look into this as soon as possible. As you are aware, the Federal Government still owes Lagos State over N50billion expended on federal roads in Lagos state. We look forward to an early refund to enable us utilize the fund on other infrastructure that require attention”, the Governor said.

Explaining some of the highlights of the Budget, Governor Ambode said the state government will commence the A-Meal- a-Day Programme in the state Public Primary Schools will from next year, adding that it will be done in collaboration with the Federal Government who will provide 60 percent of the funding, while the State Government will match it with 40 percent.

“This programme promises not only to improve the daily nutrition of our children, it will also create an economy of its own, with opportunities for job creation, income generation, poverty alleviation, and so on”.

“I am happy to inform you that in 2016 we will develop our e-Curriculum, leading to the distribution of Ibile Tablets to students in our public schools. This revolution, at the Secondary School level, will set a new standard in our educational system, and further enhance the knowledge of our children to enable them compete effectively with their peers in developed countries”, the Governor said.

On security, Governor Ambode while acknowledging that it was a major challenge that confronted the state within the first few months of his administration said the government adopted a multifaceted approach at tackling this challenge, just as he pledged to continue to support the security agencies in 2016.

On road infrastructure, the Governor said one of the assignments that his administration had embarked upon is to regularly inspect the state of the roads to ascertain their conditions and ensure that they are motorable, assuring that while ongoing projects will be given priority in the course of the year, new roads will be constructed across the length and breadth of the state.

Receiving the budget, Speaker of the House, Rt Hon. Mudashiru Obasa commended the governor for procuring security equipment to combat insecurity in the state, just as he assured that the budget proposal would be meticulously looked into by the House.

Dignitaries present at the event include former speakers of the House of Assembly including Rt Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, Jokotola Pelumi, National Assembly members, members of the State Executive Council, traditional rulers, religious leaders, among others.

In his speech after the budget presentation by the governor, Speaker Mudashiru Obasa noted that Lagos has continued to be seen both within and outside the country as the very place where good governance is the norm and that this readily explains why the state is home to all Nigerians, having attained the enviable status of a mega city.

He also referred to the confirmation of the Civil Resource Development Documentation Centre, CIRDDOC, an independent, non-governmental organisation, which recently declared Lagos State as the third most transparent state in Nigeria in the area of budget performance and transparency.

“Here in Lagos State, the three tiers of government: the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary have always been striving to put our people first in all that we do.

“Despite their distinct status, these government institutions have continued to regularly collaborate to deliver the dividend of democracy and the very best for our dear state and the people.

“It is however pertinent to note that the very cordial relationship existing between this legislative House and the executive has not stopped us from performing our constitutionally assigned roles of exercising control over the state’s purse.

“This has obviously resulted in the First Class position that our dear state has attained in our country today, which makes Lagos the symbol of good governance.

“You will all agree with me that the responsiveness and readiness of this honourable House to pass pro-people and pro-development legislations is rightly on the course in giving Mr. Governor the much needed enabling environment to perform creditably well to the admiration of our people.

“This indeed is the confirmation that ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’, which in this case can be rewritten as: ‘behind every performing Governor there is a pro-active, pro-people and pro-development House of Assembly’.

While commending the governor for procuring security equipment to combat insecurity in the state, Obasa promised that the budget proposal would be meticulously looked into by the House.

“In treating this budget, we will not forget that we are trustees for the people. A lot has indeed been done in the area of job creation and economic empowerment of Lagosians. But there is a dire need to create more opportunities for our people; more jobs will definitely lead to greater economic growth.

“We need not be reminded that easy movement of people and goods is essential and important to the economy of a state. Therefore, we must continue to forge ahead,” the Speaker said urging the governor to continue to help the people of the state resolve gridlocks on the roads.

WEALTH CREATION REACHES COMMITTEE STAGE

The Lagos State House of Assembly has committed the Bill on Wealth Creation to the House Committees on Finance and Wealth Creation, with a mandate to scrutinize the document for subsequent passage.

The motion for the second reading of the Bill was moved by the Majority Leader, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade and seconded by another member, Hon. Bisi Yusuff.

Leading the debate, Chairman, House Committee on Finance, Hon. Oluyinka Ogundimu said objectives of the Bill were embedded in Section 2, explaining that “It was meant to provide financial support for residents of the state on job creation.”

The Fund, according to him would be headed by a Chairman and Executive Secretary and managed by the Commissioner for Wealth Creation and his counterpart from Finance or their representatives.

The lawmaker also pointed out that for the 2016 budget to perform optimally, it would require proper implementation of the Bill if eventually passed into law, saying 60 percent of the budget would be financed through Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).

He further explained that to get enough IGR to finance 2016 budget, job creation would be paramount in order to have more people that would pay taxes.

Also speaking, Chairman House Committee on Wealth Creation, Hon. Sola Giwa said the essence of the Bill was to open up entrepreneurial skills of the people.

The Lagos Island Constituency II representative also hinted that large chunk of the money would be provided through collaboration with the private sector.

On his part, Hon. Rotimi Olowo said another important aspect of the Bill was that interest rate on the loans only attract 3 percent for administrative purposes.

However, the Chief Whip, Hon. Rotimi Abiru observed that “it is not expressly stated in the Bill the method of disbursement and the way to recoup the loans.”

Hon. David Setonji said membership of the Board should be spread. According to him, “we should not limit it to metropolis. I think ‘IBILE’ should be spelt out.”

Hon. Gbolahan Yishawu canvassed for insurance on the loans, saying the loans must be insured in case beneficiaries were unable to pay back.

Hon. Bayo Osinowo explained that the tenure of the chairman of the Board would have to be reviewed. He argued that since it would be a fund of N26bn over a period of four years, four year-tenure should be looked into.
It would be recalled that the State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode had forwarded the Bill on Wealth Creation to the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa with a view to stem the alarming rate of unemployment in the State.

After much deliberations, the bill was committed to Committees on Finance and Wealth Creation for careful scrutiny and they are expected to submit reports on 31st December.

REMARKS BY THE SPEAKER OF LAGOS STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY…

REMARKS BY THE SPEAKER OF LAGOS STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY, RT. HON. MUDASHIRU OBASA AFTER 2016 BUDGET PRESENTATION BY HIS EXCELLENCY, MR. AKINWUMI AMBODE, GOVERNOR, LAGOS STATE, ON THURSDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2015

Before anything at all, we give praise and adoration to the almighty Allah, the giver and taker of life, the One who reverses the irreversible; for giving us the opportunity to witness this significant budget presentation.

I am delighted to welcome you to this 8th Assembly, His Excellency Mr Akinwumi Ambode, the Governor of Lagos State and his amiable wife; His Excellency Alhaji Lateeef Kayode Jakande; Former Speakers of our House here present; distinguished members of the National Assembly; Members of the State Executive Council; the Head of Service and through him to all members of the body of Permanent Secretaries here present; Spouses of Members of Lagos State House of Assembly; Chairman and Members of LAHASCOM; our Traditional Rulers; Obas and Chiefs; our Spiritual Leaders; our highly esteemed royal fathers here present; Captains of Industry; Leaders of our pace-setting party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Elders; members of Diplomatic Communities; Community Leaders, market men and women, our energetic youths, all Lagosians and members of the 4th Estate of the Realm. I thank you all.

Ladies and Gentlemen, on behalf of my colleagues and our highly dedicated staff, it gives me a great pleasure to heartily welcome you all to this occasion of the formal presentation of the year 2016 budget to your House of Assembly, Nigeria’s leading legislative House, by His Excellency, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, the Governor of Lagos State.

As you all know, our state of Lagos, the Centre of Excellence, has continued to be seen both within and outside our country as the very place where good governance is the norm, which readily explains why our state is home to all Nigerians, having attained the enviable status of a mega city.

It is for instance on the record today that even leading members of opposition parties in our country readily attest to the fact that our dear State remains the positive response point when good governance is being discussed.

This assertion was even recently confirmed by the Civil Resource Development Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC), an independent, non-governmental and not-for-profit organisation, whose launching of the 2015 National Budget Transparency Survey declared Lagos State as the third most transparent state in Nigeria in the area of budget performance and transparency. The reason, however, is not far to seek.

Here in Lagos State, the three tiers of government: the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary have always been striving to put our people first in all that we do. This House of Assembly comprises industrious, brilliant and diligent men and women who are making a difference in their various constituencies.

Despite their distinct status, these government institutions have continued to regularly collaborate to deliver the dividend of democracy and the very best for our dear state and the people.

It is however pertinent to note that the very cordial relationship existing between this Legislative House and the Executive has not stopped us from performing our constitutionally assigned roles of exercising control over the state’s purse.

This has obviously resulted in the First Class position that our dear state has attained in our country today, which makes Lagos the symbol of good governance.

You will all agree with me that the responsiveness and readiness of this honourable House to pass pro-people and pro-development legislations is rightly on the course in giving Mr. Governor the much needed enabling environment to perform creditably well to the admiration of our people. This indeed is the confirmation that ‘‘behind every successful man there is a woman;’’ which in this case can be rewritten as: behind every performing Governor there is a pro-active, pro-people and pro-development House of Assembly.

The recent commissioning and handing over of patrol vehicles, motorcycles, Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), gunboats and helicopters to the Nigerian Police and the Rapid Response Squad (RRS), to combat crime in the state among other things is a pointer to this affirmation.

Without much ado, the commissioning, is believed, would attract more investors to the state, since a crime free state is expected to put the minds of the investors at rest as far as safety is concerned.

Your Excellency, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, I commend you for being astute, courageous, insightful, forthright, thorough, and determined. You have really displayed, during your few months in office, that you are capable to maintain a track record of resourceful consistency, which has been obvious for the last sixteen and a half years; you are truly a unique breed and first among equals.

Mr. Governor, on behalf of other Honourable members, myself and the staff, I appreciate you for always giving us all the necessary supports as most of our resolutions are treated with immediate positive response. We appreciate the promptness with which you execute our resolutions particularly the issue of the dissolution of the Judicial Service Commission, the recent purchase of security equipment and more importantly the proposed construction of a FLYOVER at PEN CINEMA in AGEGE. The immediate embedment of these projects in the reordering of 2015 budget is a testimony of your desire to give the people necessary infrastructure which will engender socio-economic growth.

Let me therefore assure all Lagosians that the Lagos State House of Assembly shall continue to promote the best practices in the governance of our dear state. You can rest assured that all Hon. Members of this Assembly shall continue to put you – our people – first in all that we do.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have all listened with rapt attention to how the wealth of our state will be utilized for our common good in year 2016; the responsibility is now on the members of this Honourable House to do the needful; and I assure you that we will meticulously perform our constitutional duty.

However, permit me to remind this gathering that the matter of budget presentation is essential. Beyond its constitutional stipulation, it requires the backing of law to make it implementable and executable; without which it becomes an offence punishable under law.

The above claim is stipulated in Section 121 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended in 2011, which states that, “The Governor shall cause to be prepared and laid before the House of Assembly at any time before the commencement of each financial year estimates of the revenues and expenditure of the State for the next following financial year”.

This, no doubt, is necessary to obtain Legislative consent or approval for the amount of money to be spent on specific items in the coming financial year.

The 2016 Appropriation Bill is significant in that it is the first budget proposal to be presented by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode; it is also the first I will be receiving as Speaker of this House, the foremost House of Assembly in Nigeria. For this singular reason, we are all hopeful and expectant that this coming year will witness more of democracy dividends for betterment of Lagos and Lagosians.

Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen, as the head of an institution that is closest to the grassroots; I must confess, some of our people still live in abject poverty.

In treating this budget, we will not forget that we are trustees for the people. A lot has indeed been done in the area of job creation and economic empowerment of Lagosians. But there is a dire need to create more opportunities for our people; more jobs will definitely lead to greater economic growth.

Be that as it may, we will like to call the attention of our governor to the situation of traffic jam in the state, which I believe the governor is so much aware of and has taken steps in managing since his resumption in office. Though this may not be our own doing, it is an inherited circumstance, we must continue to proffer lasting solutions to it. It is our thought that addressing the issue of traffic in this state will further simplify life for commuters and engender economic growth.

We need not be reminded that easy movement of people and goods is essential and important to the economy of a state. Therefore, we must continue to forge ahead.

Apparently, the establishment of BRT lane, LAGBUS was to boost economy of the state. BRT is a transport option, which relies on the use of dedicated ‘interference’ free segregated lanes to guarantee fast and reliable bus travel. It is a high performance public transport bus service which aims to combine bus lanes with high-quality bus stations.

The system also aims at encouraging motorists to park their vehicles at home and make use of public transport with the hope to free our roads from traffic congestion, which will reduce cost of transportation, pollution and wasted manpower on the road. Our focus, of course, is to make BRT/LAGBUS a convenient mode of transportation for the haves and have-nots as it is being witnessed most especially in the UK. It is one of the several options available for tackling the huge public transport predicaments of Lagos.
We believe that successful means of transportation not only benefits the people but also increases the state revenue, enhances employment opportunity, improves health system as well as helps standard of living.

Nevertheless, Mr. Governor, a lot still needs to be done in making sure all these projections are achieved. In line with this, we of the Lagos State House of Assembly are ready all the time to support and cooperate with you in the interest of our state to ensure infrastructural and economic development.

Good people of Lagos State, you will recall that some weeks ago, town hall meetings were organised by the House in all the forty constituencies in the state for all its lawmakers not only to update their constituents on their various achievements since June when the eighth assembly commenced, but also to feel their pulse, seek their suggestions and know their opinions on how they are being governed. The town hall meetings indeed gave us an opportunity to listen to the challenges of our constituents and make same available to the executive arm of government as areas of focus for the 2016 budget. This was one of our promises during electioneering and you can rest assured that all other promises will be addressed to the letter, while the issue raised during this exercise will be promptly addressed in the new fiscal year. The report of the town hall meeting will be presented to His Excellency before the closure of this ceremony.

However, I will like to congratulate our pace-setting party, APC, on the success recorded in the last general election. Indeed, it was a battle deservedly won on all fronts. The landslide victories recorded nationwide have proved to all and sundry that our great party has come to stay. Meanwhile, our manifestoes still remain the same, and the focus is still targeted at making life better for all. As such, we assure the good people of Lagos State that this current government will work assiduously in conjunction with the party by executing its manifestoes in ensuring that dividends of democracy are evenly and judiciously distributed.

Notwithstanding, dear colleagues, the recent victories achieved should not be taken for granted. As the saying goes: “to whom much is given, much is expected”. Our people expect much from us in this “change” era in return for the trust they already reposed in us. As such, I charge you to keep the vision aflame; we have set a standard, and it must be sustained. The wellbeing of Lagosians should always be our priority while the long-term prosperity of this state must remain our focus.

Besides, we should not forget that public office is a privilege. As lawmakers, our duties are well spelt out; it is our responsibility to represent those who do not have voices of their own and recognize the interests of others; we must always consider the consequences of our actions and also ensure that our work is geared towards bringing about positive CHANGE.

Let me particularly thank our party leadership starting from our Governor Emeritus, Asiwaju of Nigeria, His Excellency, ASIWAJU BOLA AHMED TINUBU, a discerning, financially ingenious, reliable and able leader who kept our state going even when the Federal Government deliberately and illegally starved our treasury then. His brilliance also has eventually made it possible for us to have a Federal Government that shares the same progressive mind with us in this side of the country.

In this same vein, I also congratulate members of the G16, all party leaders and most especially our party chairman, Chief Henry Oladele Ajomale whose penchant for winning hard-fought battles such as battle of “capture”, battle of “do-or-die”, and the last one which was battle of dollars orchestrated by various PDP administrations at the federal level, now gives him a new name of “Mr. Victor”.

However, in appreciating past deeds, posterity will not forgive me if I fail to mention the first Civilian Governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, the man who set the pace for all the governors that have emerged since he first governed Lagos. Indisputably, his foundation then has been what others have been building on, which gives us today an enviable Lagos as well as the light that glorifies Nigeria.

As I conclude, I implore us to give every support needed for this administration both at the state and federal levels. Our party preached “change” during electioneering. Nevertheless, to bring about this change, we have our roles to play.

In the words of President Barack Obama, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” Let’s make our diversity the strength of our federation.

As for me, I will never sit on the fence when the battle is to ensure that good governance works in the genuine interest of the people.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I will not relent in my agitation for quality education; because in this lies all the ingredients of developmental strides known to man.

Let me therefore at this juncture assure Mr. Governor and all our people that my colleagues and I shall promptly and diligently commence work on the year 2016 budget just presented to this Honourable House and will ensure that Lagos State occupies the enviable position that has always been reserved for us. We will work diligently for the early passage of the budget so that developmental work can start in earnest in the state.

Simply put, our intention is to make this budget a special New Year gift to the people of this great state.

I wish you all merry Christmas and happy new Year in advance.

Long live Nigeria. Long live our dear state of Lagos. Long live the Lagos State House of Assembly. Itesiwaju ilu Eko, lo je wa logun.

I thank you all for listening. It is time now to make a formal presentation of the report of the town hall meeting to His Excellency.

Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa
Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly
December 17, 2015

BISI YUSUF DONATES 1 MILLION DEWORMING TABLETS TO LAGOS

The representative of Alimosho Constituency 1 in the Assembly, Hon. Bisi Yusuf on Monday morning donated 2,000 bottles of Albendazole containing one million tablets to the state government through the Ministry of Information.

The tablets, according to the lawmaker, would help the state in the deworming of 5,000 children in the state.

Making the presentation to the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dr. Modele Osunkiyesi, who represented Dr. Jide Idris, the state Commissioner for Health, Yusuff, who noted that the drugs were donated by Vitamin Angels, a United States based company, added that the donation was done through his Prince of Hope Foundation.

The lawmaker, who chairs the Committee on Public Accounts for Local Government, said through the foundation, he had organised optical services for his constituents and had given out free medicated glasses.

Part of the task of the foundation, Hon. Yusuf said, is to raise the standard of living of his constituency though encouraging the people to save as well as assisting in giving free-interest loans.

He said the foundation had also distributed cartons of vitamin A to health centres throughout the constituency adding that the foundation decided to extend the gesture to the state government to augment its focus on the well-being of the residents.

“The journey started three years ago when I came in contact with Vitamin Angels and then they donated Vitamin A to my foundation which I in turn donated to all the public health centres in the four Local Council Development Areas in my constituency.

“Prince of Hope Foundation was born out of my passion for youths, children and mothers. Today, we have a co-operative society giving financial succour to my constituents, empowerment programmes and training for unemployed youths to give them hope and a sense of belonging.

“I am elated today as a legislator in the Lagos State House of Assembly to support the healthy living of over 500,000 children in Lagos State through this donation of 2,000 bottles of Albendazole. I am optimistic that this collaboration will be a continuous one.

“This memorable event of today will not have been possible if not for the tireless efforts of the Country Representative of Vitamin Angels, Ms. Abiola Akanni,” he said adding that the foundation would continue to collaborate with the state government and donor agencies both within and outside Nigeria.

“Also, for the past five years, I have organised free medical mission programme for my constituents featuring eye screening and distribution of free eye glasses, diabetes screening and provision of free drugs, malaria screening and drugs, dental screening, as well as HIV screening,” he said noting that the 2015 edition of the programme would commence Tuesday.

He pleaded with the government to ensure that the drugs actually get to those who need them.

While commending the Omu Aran prince for the gesture, Dr. Osunkiyesi reeled out startling statistics emphasising the danger children face in the country and in most parts of the world.

She said the donation was timely in view of the government’s focus on health and that the state had received accolade especially concerning its health reform.

Speaking at the event, the chairman,House Committee on Health, Segun Olulade, expressed excitement over the donation saying the tablets would assist the government reach out to some parts of the state.

“If there is any way to serve humanity, this is one major way. I want to use this opportunity to call on other political office holders to emulate what my brother has done today,” he said while promising that his own political structure, the Eleniyan Cares, would do same soon.

He also promised that the drugs would be channeled to the appropriate quarters so that children benefit from the scheme.

THE IMPLICATION OF RETRENCHING WORKERS – HON. AGUNBIADE

The situation of the country, especially as it concerns the current revelations of high-handed corrupt practices is a concern to the Majority Leader of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Sanai Agunbiade. He stresses that much in this interview.

Q: What is your opinion about the arms fund deal involving former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.) and others. What lessons do you think we have learnt from this?

I want to thank and appreciate God for intervening in the affairs of this country. It was God’s intervention that agitated the mind of our National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who became revolutionary about our political process and had the confidence that the progressives could wrestle power from the conservative elements. He propounded the theory of amalgamation of all progressive elements, telling them it was possible for the progressives to come together and wrestle power. It was God’s intervention that touched the minds of those that came together and which allowed the convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to choose now President Muhammadu Buhari as their presidential candidate without the magnitude of the disagreement and rancour that was expected. The formation of the APC was God’s intervention, where different set of people buried their ego and resolved to work together. It was God’s intervention that sustained the APC despite all the efforts of the then Peoples Democratic Party-led government to scuttle the formation of the party. You remember another APC came up. And the election itself was God’s intervention and President Buhari won. It is God’s intervention in the political affairs of the country that PMB won; if not, by now Nigeria would be down in the mud. If you look at the impunity with which things had been done culminating in the deafening figures, billions of naira for very trivial things, biliions of naira for ridiculous things, dollars for criminal activities to fund aggression and revolt against the state, you will marvel. Some of the revelations shows that somebody was giving hard currencies to the insurgents. You can imagine a situation, where billions of naira was allocated for prayers, for advertisements, publicity, where the treasury was made available for a candidate of a party. You can hear a very provoking revelation. Imagine if government had returned into the hand of these people, the series of revelations now would have been buried forever and another round of economic sabotage would have commenced pushing Nigeria into a grave. That is why it beats my imagination, when some people still accuse President Buhari of non-performance. How can anybody perform with the kind of doldrum, which the Nigerian economy has been pushed into? You want the man to hit the ground running when the ground is not solid, but murky? So, the present revelation, prosecution, accusations and counter accusations are only telling Nigerians that they should be appreciative of God, who has changed the cause of events to allow people, who would expose the crime that have been committed against Nigerians in the last four years. I want to praise the dexterity, the commitment, the doggedness of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and that of the national officers of the APC and all individual members that participated in the revolution that ousted, through the ballot, the regime of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. I am sure in the corners of his room, Jonathan would now have realised that he was surrounded by people, who never wished him well, by people who were political scavengers feeding fat on his political disposition. That is to tell you that he who must lead should be a firm person, who has track record of managing men and resources. It is not enough for an academia to jump on the train of politics and aspiring to steer the wheel. Those who would surround him would want to drive the train aground. My own subsmission is that God is passing through Nigeria and at the end of the day, appreciative minds would see God’s grace in this.

Q: The PDP has said that in fighting corruption President Buhari must also probe the source of funding for his election campaign. What do you think about this?

A drowning man would look for the slightest object to hook up to. One thing at a time and that done well is a very good route to others. You cannot be a judge in your own case. They are two different things, there are some monies belonging to the Federal Government of Nigeria alleged to have been misappropriated by persons who possibly should not have been involved in the ways and manners the monies were spent. That is being carried out by the present government; let that process continue to a logical end. If the PDP have their proofs, let this be resolved and they can tell him: “Mr. President, you have successfully fought and won, this is a battle you should also fight, we have our fight.” Why is it that it is when the government started probing people, not on the basis of political affiliation, but base on certain fact emanating from certain revelations or people who are aware of such transactions that they are bringing this up or do they think that Buhari just dreamt about this? People started to talk, people that were disenchanted about the way things were being done, but could not talk. Any individual in whatever capacity that is opposed to what President Buhari is doing now should be seen as an enemy of Nigeria. When the monies are recovered, would it not be for the use of Nigeria and the common man?. Is it enough to say: “okay, we agree that we stole, didn’t you steal?” They should cover their eyes in shame and apologise to Nigerians that majority of the people being alleged now are members of their party, and they were in the corridors of power then.

Q: How can we avoid this kind of thing both at the federal and the state levels?

The only way is to carry this prosecution to conclusion. Whoever is found guilty should be dealt with according to the law.
Q: Recently, state governors said they could not continue with payment of N18,000 minimum wage and that it is either they reduce the amount or retrench workers. What is your take on this?

My opinion is that a very delicate situation requires a very a careful approach. We are all witnesses that the present situation is due to the way our economy had been managed. You could imagine if all these billions of naira are to remain within the economy, I am sure the economy would not be as bad as it is. So, in fixing Nigeria, we have to be careful not to create another problem. We are still talking about the creation of states. To create a state, we have to look at the viability of that state. We should look at the economic potentials of that state. We have created these ones, we have to sustain them. The Federal Government came out with bail-out funds for the state; one way or the other it has solved some problems. We need to look at our situations and come out with workable solutions. To retrench might not be a palatable option in the face of economic hardship in the country. To retrench is to throw more capable hands into hopelessness and to heighten the apprehension in the society and to increase the likelihood of the dangers that unemployment constitutes to the society. As much as it is difficult for the states or some states to pay the minimum wage, I am sure that for every problem, there is a solution and every problem comes with a solution. If you look deep into every problem, you would find a solution. I want to sympathise with the states that are not too viable to pay wages, but I would not subscribe to retrenchment because of the dangers it portends. So, in-between ability to pay and the danger of retrenchment, they should find a solution. It is sure that God that has been with Nigeria would open our eyes to a way out. But we need to look deeper to be able to come up with a strategy that would bring us out of the dangers of retrenchment and the ability to pay minimum wage.

Q: How do we get out of the economic doldrum you mentioned earlier, in the face of dwindling price of crude oil?

We will not be the only country that is affected, other countries are coping. When a problem befalls you, we should be able to cope and adjust, but when a problem befalls you and you are now generating another problem from within, then it would be catastrophic. If we can curtail the level of corruption within the system, I am sure we will be able to adjust to any economic hardship that is starring us in the face. Whatever happens, whatever global recession that happens, it would not affect only Nigeria. We should be able to mitigate any problem that might affect our development. Why are we not having electricity, constant electricity? Is it not from the mismanagment of our affairs? Due to lack of electricity, many companies have folded up and thrown people into the labour market. The young elements that are graduating from the universities can’t get work. Of course, the first law of nature is self survival. They would now look for any means which could be crime or any other negative way to survive. But, let us just fix electricity and have 24-hour light, you would see our economy bouncing back. That means our refineries would work, all these things about crude oil and refined oil would be eliminated. That means our industries and companies would produce at optimum capacity, and more people could be employed and the country would be safer to attract investors and Nigeria would be more creative because the beauty of Nigeria would show at night. Some people would work in the morning, others in the afternoon and at night. The society would be safer, more beautiful, more jobs and less crimes and our economy would be safer. Let us remove corruption and see our beautiful Nigeria is.

Q: What should your constituents expect in 2016?

The year 2016 will be a year of prosperity for Nigeria, Lagos State and Ikorodu Constituency 1. In 2016, I want to redouble my efforts in justifying the mandate of my people for the third term. It is a special privilege and I want to justify the trust they reposed in me to give me this mandate. I will continue to represent them with all commitments, dedication and good hearts. In 2016, I want them to expect more grace of God because there is nothing anybody can do unless it is from above and because God sees my heart, my intentions, I know He would strengthen me, embolden me and give me more grace to be able to represent them. I have not disappointed them, I would not disappoint them, I want to do more to attract more government presence to my constituency. On my own part, I want to continue to render humanitarian services and give back to my community for the mandate they have given me. I would do more of empowerment for my people, I would represent them and see how more people in my constituency would be empowered with employment, skill acquisition, how much I can collaborate with my people to restore peace and stability in my constituency. I want to assure them that by 2016, the incessant crisis of land grabbers (ajagungbales) that proliferate our society would be seriously addressed by the state government and brought to the barest minimum. By December 2016, I am sure a lot of people in my constituency would do thanksgiving to God for improved standard of living economic condition in the name of God.