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APC lawmakers-elect must respect party’s zoning arrangement –Osinkolu

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Dr Olusegun Osinkolu is the patron of Asiwaju BolaTinubu Vanguard. In this interview with ADEWUMI ADEMIJU, he speaks on the need for lawmakers elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) not to allow controversy trailing the choice of leadership of incoming National Assembly affect governance even as he sets agenda for the incoming administration.

Dr Olusegun Osinkolu is the patron of Asiwaju BolaTinubu Vanguard. In this interview with ADEWUMI ADEMIJU, he speaks on the need for lawmakers elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) not to allow controversy trailing the choice of leadership of incoming National Assembly affect governance even as he sets agenda for the incoming administration

What is your message to National Assembly members-elect on the raging controversy over the election of principal officers for the 10th NASS?

My message is very simple and clear, they shouldn’t allow scramble for leadership positions to divide the party or derail governance at the executive level. Again and most importantly, our members-elect, I mean those elect- ed on the platform of the APC must respect the voice of the party and how it feels about zoning policy in this game.

I found it so un- fathomable that some Muslim members-elect are complaining that the Senate presidency should be ceded to the North even when they know that the President-elect and his vice, Alhaji Kashim Shettima are Muslims. I found it so funny that this could be coming up in a country that is religiously sensitive and volatile. We all know how some opponents made spirited attempts to tag the APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket as an Islamic agenda even when they knew it was for po- litical expediency. Should any Muslim get the slot, then that will establish the fact that there was really an underground agenda to islamise Nigeria. So, our incoming lawmak- ers must respect and support the choice of Senator Godswill Akpabio from the South- South for the position. He is an experienced person, having been governor and Minority Leader of the Senate.

I am not saying that other contenders like Senator Orji Uzor Kalu are not fit for the position, but there will be only one Senate President at a time. After all, there are other strong positions like the Senate Leader that can go to the South-East to pacify the aggrieved. So, I appeal to our people to be wary of their actions and support the party.

Some have argued that the South-East or North Central should have been best for the position. What is your reaction to that?

I disagree with this position. Under no guise should the Senate presidency be ceded to the North. The Senate president has been in the North in President Muhammadu Buhari’s eight years in office, so it is just normal that the South should be allowed to enjoy such privilege. Under Buhari’s presidency, the Senate President was for the North-East and Senate Leader for the North-West until recently when it was moved to the North Central.

If we are to maintain fairness, then the two positions must come to the South, so that the South-East can be pacified with the position of Senate Leader.

How do you react to the insinuation that the APC was only punishing the South-East over its pattern of voting in the 2023 elections?

I don’t think so. This was an insinuation that was wrongly concocted to discredit the action taken by the party. The APC members had been raising dust over poor reward sys- tem in the party. It was on this basis that the party zoned the speakership and deputy Sen- ate presidency to the North-West because that was where the party had the highest number of votes in the presidential election.

This is to appreciate the party for its good showing in the area. Tinubu as a way of thanking the North Central people picked his Aide-De-Camp (ADC) from that zone, while the Secretary to the Government of the Federation will also emerge from there. The South- West and North-East had already produced the President-elect and Vice President-elect. What then should go to the South-South that gave APC over 720,000 votes across six states? Are they saying they should be sidelined? This is not good enough. They too must be compensated. For the APC to have got such huge votes shows that our lead- ers there worked hard to earn that feat and they have to be rewarded like other zones.

Are you saying the South-East shouldn’t be compensated with any position?

Sidelining them is not also good and that was why I said earlier that the position of Senate Leader can go to the South-East to pacify the aggrieved. Don’t forget that the party had adopted Hon. Benjamin Kalu from Abia State for the deputy speakership position.

This is also a powerful position in the House of Representatives. The APC will not sideline the South-East de- spite that the party had always been performing poorly in the area. We have even seen some leaders of the zone already adopt- ing Senator Akpabio. This shows that they believe the party will make them happy after the whole scenario. Tinubu will be sworn in a matter of days. As a party man, do you have that confidence that he will deliver? I am particularly happy that even the most terrific and most consistent critics of the Pres- ident-elect had always maintained that Nige- rians should vote for people with good track records. Tinubu remains the best among the presidential contenders in terms of good and enduring antecedents in the public service. As a governor in Lagos State, Tinubu turned around the economy by using the best brains available and across all the tribes of Nigeria to achieve this. Firstly, he raised the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) from a paltry sum of N600 million monthly to as high as N9 billion within a spate of eight years. It was during his time that the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) was created to ease traffic logjam in Lagos. He also established Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) to ensure cleanliness in Lagos by constantly packing the heaps of refuse and sewages that have made Lagos an epicentre of dirtiness before his assumption of office.

It was during his time that the first Public Private Power generation project started through partnership of the Lagos State government with private investors for electricity project in Lagos, which makes many areas of Lagos to be disconnected from the national grid, so that there will be regular sup- ply of power across the megacity. This particular policy saw Tinubu signing various Memoranda of Understanding abroad, so that industrial development policy of Lagos can be achieved. Similar effort was made in the rail sector. It was during his time that an MoU was signed with a Chinese company for the building of a light rail in Lagos and the project has commenced operation now. Tinubu was the brain behind the BRT project to ease transport policy in Lagos, which Governor Babatunde Fashola implemented and this is being studied by some states today. Most visionary was the way he prepared an enduring blueprint that serves as a guide for all governors in Lagos.

It was the blueprint that guided his ad- ministration and those that came after him and we could all see the gradual level of development of that state compared to others in Nigeria. So, I have no doubt that Tinubu will renew the hope of Nigerians in leader- ship within the next two years. Let Nigeria just give him two years to operate, you will see that change rising up for all Nigerians.

But some people claimed that other leaders before Tinubu and the federal government developed Lagos. What is your take on that?

I found this fallacious. We were all regular visitors in Lagos before Tinubu came on board. Nobody is underrating what the federal government did or leaders like Alhaji Lateef Jakande and others did to make Lagos develop, but that of Tinubu was phenomenal. The questions for those in this school of thought are; why was Lagos not leading in revenue before 1999 if truly it had been developed before Tinubu’s era? Why was it not making billions of naira as IGR despite enormous economic potentials available to it?

Do you think the incoming administration can overcome the challenges of insecurity, unemployment and poor economy?

Absolutely yes! I have lived abroad for over two decades and I know quite well that there is no nation without its challenges. What we need is good leadership to remove the barriers one after the other.

Tinubu inherited a highly insecure Lagos as governor, but with technological innovations and local efforts, he was able to tame the dreaded crisis. It was during his time that CCTV cameras were installed across Lagos and the Lagos neighbourhood security watch, comprising the locals, who understood the terrain, was established to complement what the conventional security men were doing. If you read his renewed hope manifesto, you will see how he promised to tackle inse- curity via employment generation, so that our restive youths can be engaged. He also promised to key into and make remarkable investments in technology to fight the in- surgency, kidnapping and banditry that we are facing. He knew that our military and paramilitary are overstretched and poorly motivated. He promised to recruit good num- bers of military and paramilitary personnel into the system while also paying them hand- somely, so that they can give their best to the service of the nation. Even when he has not been sworn-in, Tinubu has been meeting with investors in Europe and other African nations to invest in Nigeria. Virtually all great investors in Nigeria are his friends, who supported him while in Lagos as a governor. I see nothing difficult if we can have a leadership that is committed and ready to forge alliances with the right people and groups and make per- sonal sacrifices to develop our dear country.

How would you describe the 200 days of Governor Biodun Oyebanji’s administration in Ekiti State?

It has been remarkable. In fact, those of us who are members of APC are really happy to associate with the achievements he has made so far. We are happy about how the governor has been connecting with the people because governance is about the peo- ple and not individual. We have seen how he has been spending personal money running into millions to help the sick, pay tuition fees of poor students and helping others in need. I am also happy about the aggressive road infrastructure and dredging of flood-prone areas in Ado and Ikere Ekiti to prevent loss of lives. I am happy about prompt payment of salaries, pensions and workers’ deductions without delay. His response to payment of gratuities is interesting and putting smile on the faces of our retirees. The most interest- ing is the 1300 persons he employed as pri- mary school teachers. To me, this is his best achievement so far. He has also approved the recruitment of another 600 teachers into the secondary school by the Ekiti State Teaching Service Commission. Looking at all these and more, his administration is really keep- ing our hope alive that better days are com- ing for us in Ekiti.

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