As Minister, Fashola Will Step On Toes – Lawmaker

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The chairman of the committee on Public Accounts (State) in the Lagos state House of Assembly, Moshood Oshun, speaks about what he thinks of some ministers in the cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari. He also speaks on other issues.

Q: Let’s know how you would describe the legislative journey so far.

It’s been wonderful, nice, but you should know that the legislative arm of government is an arm where you don’t have a master. You have to keep learning. All over the world, new things emerge daily. So no matter how long you are here, you must come across things to learn.

Moshood

Moshood Oshun

A former deputy speaker was here for 16 years, but he would say he was still learning. This is to tell you how it goes. It is a learning curve but the legislative arm is the only arm of government that suffers. I will give you example; when we were under the military rule in Nigeria, it was the legislative arm that was missing.

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The executive was there, maybe in another name, the judiciary was there, maybe in another name, but there was no legislative arm. But even as it suffers, we must not forget that the legislative arm is the most powerful. And that’s why it must get it right.

For the success or failure of any government, the legislative arm must be ready to work and do things the right way. Like you know, I have been here for eight wonderful years of learning, eight years of contributing my quota to the development of Lagos State, eight years of contributing my quota to the development of Nigeria, eight years of being a good representative to the people of Lagos Mainland Constituency 2.

I can tell you that it has been nice, but the learning curve is unending.

Q: Talking about being a good representative, what has been the feedback from the people concerning relationships and what you have been able to do for them?

Talking about relationships, I have one of the best relationships with my people. I’m always among them, always with them. I have two constituency offices and I go there. It is not like going there once or twice in a week, most times, I go there four to five times in a week.

I can confirm that the relationship has been very cordial. Talking about feedbacks, these come in different ways: there are people that never see anything right in whatever you do.

To them, whatever you do, you never do it right, no matter how much you try to satisfy them. And there are people who that are really objective in their assessment of whatever you do. These set tell you where you have tried and what you need to still focus on.

There are those who feel less concerned with anything. They are apolitical and feel it has got nothing to do with them. But I can confirm that the feedbacks I get have been very positive even though there is always room for improvement.

Through feedbacks, people come with suggestions on things that should be done, they come up with suggestions of how to move the constituency forward, they come up with recommendations and appreciation for things I do personally and the ones I lobby to have done in the constituency.

And they tell me where there should be improvement. It’s been a very good relationship with the people and I really appreciate them for trusting in me because it is as a result of the trust they voted me to return to the House. In the history of Lagos Mainland, I am the first person the people would be voting for to return for a third term.

It has never happened. And this is why I have never and would never let them down. I would, by the grace of God, make sure I continue to represent them the way they would be proud of me.

Q: In your two previous terms, you were under a Speaker and now we have a new Speaker. I know this present one is close to you considering that you nominated him for the position. How will you compare the experience then and the one now?

I wouldn’t want to compare because even though they are two different people, there unique qualities and human approaches to life and existence. Also, you must realise that style of leadership is different. One thing I can tell you for free is that the present Speaker has been wonderful.

You can see things, evidence to show how good he has been doing. He initiated the constituency engagement programme, the first of its kind in the history of Nigeria. It had not happened before. When he came up with the idea, some people were skeptical.

We argued and discussed at length, but believe me, it ended up a marvelous idea which success was unbelievable. That was one.

When we were going to do the confirmation of commissioners, he came up with another idea of a committee thoroughly screening them before they come to the general House.

It is now an idea that has been sold to others. We have now seen other Houses of Assembly coming to us to say they want to do it and want to learn from us. This is because it was wonderful. So in the spate of six months, he has initiated two ideas that are world class.

Again, we cannot turn our eyes away from his relationship with other lawmakers. The relationship has been wonderful. The last Speaker did what he could do and I know he has done well. He was here for 10 years; if he wasn’t good, he won’t be here for 10 years as Speaker. He has his style of leadership.

The current Speaker has only spent six months and he has shown he knows and has what it takes to carry on. I won’t compare but can only talk on what each of them has achieved.

The former Speaker was able to lift the Assembly to another height and he did well on capital projects, but the new Speaker has proven he came to the seat with ideas. Yes, you can say I nominated him and this was because what I saw in him was unique and he has not disappointed me.

Q: What was the experience of the constituency engagement programme like in your constituency?

I can tell you it was wonderful. In as much as I used to hold my own town hall meetings where I engage people of the constituency privately, that experience was wonderful and, like I said, it was the first in Nigeria.

Imagine 40 lawmakers in their constituencies at the same time and on the same day. The outreach in my constituency was so interesting that the people were well represented.

They turned out en-masse, in large number. And while some people continued to say: “you have done well” and were giving me advice, others bluntly told me their needs and demands from the government.

Fortunately, the event was to ask them what they want so that we can come back to the House to make sure that their needs and yearnings are catered for. But like I said earlier, the experience was wonderful.

Honestly, I give kudos to the Speaker for initiating the idea and supporting it to fruition and for supporting every member to make sure it was a successful one because he supported everyone.

Q: What is that thing you are taking from your people and pushing into the incoming budget?

Like I said, my people have made their requests known and the requests have been submitted to the House for onward transmission to the governor. We are going to submit all the requests and it is now left for the governor pick the projects to execute for each constituency.

We can’t expect the governor to do everything in one year. We can’t. It is a three to four years programme. For example, if I have four things I requested for by the people of my constituency, the governor can decide to pick one now, pick another one for next year’s budget and we would go round it. But we are going to collate everything and submit to the governor.

But I know that in general, the requests of my people were not too different from those of other areas of the state. There are issues of roads, security,(which the governor is working on seriously across the state), and sundry other developmental issues as well as the need to recognise the people with special need.

Q: Not too recently, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed ministers. What are your expectations from them?

I want to commend Mr. President for a job well done. When he did not nominate his ministers on time, some Nigerians were agitated and angry. But with the names he finally came up with as ministers, it has shown that he did a good research on who he wants to work with.

We can’t ask for more on the ministers he has chosen. Let’s look at the South-west; Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, Mrs. Adeosun, and others. These are brains and beauty, if I should say so.

We know they would deliver. Babatunde Fashola was governor of Lagos State and you cannot ask for more. As governor, he happened to be the best among his peers. There was no governor that competed with him during his time.

And we must never forget to appreciate Asiwaju Bola Tinubu for giving him to Lagos because Tinubu actually saw in Fashola what many couldn’t see. As minister again, he would not fail Nigerians. Asiwaju has expressed that he is a political son who raises his pride. Asiwaju would not just praise you if you are not good.

I know Fashola will not fail Nigerians. Yes, he would step on toes, come up with laws you may not like, but at the long run, you would know what you are being punished for. The President has done well. To the ministers, Nigerians are anxiously waiting and I am sure they won’t fail.

Q: Are you not worried for Fashola because of the so many jobs he is now saddled with, after the burden of governing Lagos state? The three ministries were handled by three different people in the past and each of them is enough headache.

I am not worried. When Babatunde Fashola was governor of Lagos, he had a slogan: the reward for hardwork is more work. So for him, he was prepared and he knew because, honestly when the list was announced, the first thing that came to my mind was that this man knew what he was saying.

He just got the reward for what he did in Lagos State and believe me, I worked with him for eight years and I don’t see him failing.

He has the backing of the South-west, the National Leader, Tinubu, who would guide him. Honestly, I don’t see him failing. He has so many people who would guide him. They would keep pushing him and ensuring he does the right things. He has leaders in Lagos who would make sure he succeeds. Apart from that, as a man, I don’t doubt his ability to succeed.

Q: Some Nigerians are not happy because though the president has done well in the area of fighting corruption, he is believed to have neglected the economy.

How? In Nigeria, we are used to fire brigade approach. We just want everything to change in two seconds. That’s why we have a system that has been ruined in the last 16 years.

Resuscitating that economy cannot take a day. It is like sickness that goes into a man’s body gradually and it is not something you can cure in a day. You have headache and use a drug does not mean that the headache would just disappear. It is a gradual process.

The economy has been ruined and the government is just trying to bring life back into the economy. We need to be patient with the President and his administration.

Q: The senate is working on a bill which they say is to curtail the excesses of the social media. But some think it has become a feature of the Senate President to fight back. When he had issues with the EFCC, he commenced a probe of the EFCC chairman. It is the same thing with the Code of Conduct Tribunal. Now he seems to be having problems with some people on social media and he wants to pass a law. How do you see this?

Talking personally as a Nigerian, not for the Lagos state House of Assembly, I don’t support the gagging of the social media. The Nigerian constitution is against defamation of character. We have a section of the constitution to battle this offence. You don’t need to make another law gagging people.

This is a democratic government and people should be free to say what they want to say as long as they can talk. If you decide to defame me, I can take you to court but if I have done something and you are publishing it, that’s different. For me, I think it is an unnecessary bill.

We are not under military rule when people are not allowed to talk or criticise. If you have political office holder who is not doing well, we should have the opportunity to say what we think. We should be able to also proffer solution. That is what we call democratic government.

I don’t think it is right for anybody to make a law that prohibits you on social media. Why do we have the court where one defames you?

Q: But do you see this war on corruption being fought to a logical conclusion?

This is a new government and I see Nigeria moving forward. One of the surest ways is cooperate with the government and ensure we all fight it together. There has been protests in some African countries recently against corruption. That is to tell you Africans are becoming tired of corruption. They are fed up. It is now a war that will be won.

Q: Nigeria is a country where good things are not sustained by successive governments. How do you think this can be resolved?

We all have a role to play. You see, anybody that becomes a governor or a political office holder started life from a home. And let’s face it; you don’t become a corrupt police officer or civil servant or politician immediately you assume a position.

You must have had the tendency before becoming whatever you became and this may have started when you were still a youth. We need to train our kids to know what is wrong and right. We need to make them know that stealing is wrong, corruption is wrong.

There is the tendency that if you do this, they won’t steal when they grow up. But where a have father who is a thief, what do you expect from the child? He would be a thief. There are some little things you do at home and outside that can affect your children.

For example, asking your child to lie for you and say you are not at home maybe when a friend or your landlord is at the door. You are indirectly telling him lying is good.

If you have a child and you are teaching violence, then he would end up being violent. There are some things we do subconsciously that we don’t know the implications. It is a project for everybody.

 

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When I was growing up, even when my father was not in town, I knew my neighbours were watching over me and would discipline me when I go wrong. We have lost these values. When I was growing up, I dare not leave school during school hours because even if your father is not around, someone must see you.

Now, you see children walking on the streets of Lagos by 12 noon and nobody cares. Growing up, you dare not come home with what does not belong to you; your parents would deal with you. Now, you see university students coming home with a car and nobody would ask questions.

Instead his parents would be celebrating without asking where he got the money. We need to go back to those values, be our brothers’ keepers. There is also the assumption that politicians are corrupt, but politicians cannot steal alone. That’s what we see currently at the national level. It is not only the politicians that are being indicted.

Q: You are holding a very sensitive committee now. How do you think you can bring the committee to bear on the state to ensure things work?

It is about doing the right thing. The Auditor-General is going to do his job and we are going to work on the Auditor-General’s report. So, it is just about making sure we follow the laid-down rules and principles for everyone to do the right thing.

Politics will not come to play here because governance is not about parties. We’ve been elected by Lagosians to make sure they enjoy the dividends of democracy and I can assure you that we will follow the laid-down rules. This committee is recognised by the constitution and we will follow it like that.

Q: Are you assuring Lagosians that you would bring sanity to the public sector?

I don’t have a choice because the House of Assembly where I represent my constituency is not one that takes nonsense. And I must be a good representative of that House. I can assure you.

 

The post As Minister, Fashola Will Step On Toes – Lawmaker appeared first on Nigeria News today & Breaking news | Read on NAIJ.COM.

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