One issue that is paramount to many Nigerians is that of the girls of the Federal Government Girls College, Chibok, Borno State now known as the Chibok Girls, who were kidnapped from their hostels by suspected members of the dreaded Boko Haram sect in April, 2014.
For Hon. Oluyinka Ogundimu, who is representing Agege Constituency 02 in the Lagos State House of Assembly, President Muhammadu Buhari should go ahead to negotiate with the leaders of Boko Haram to get the girls released.
Ogundimu, who is now running a second term of office, also sees the recent visit of Buhari to the United States of America as a welcome development, and made it clear that those who have stole Nigerian money should be brought to book.
He speaks on these and some other issues in this interview he granted us recently.
What is your opinion about the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to the United States of America recently?
The whole world has become a global village and I think nobody can operate in isolation, you need to work with other countries of the world to eliminate all the boundaries and limitations. Coming to the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to the United States of America, it is a welcome development, it would aid whatever he is doing, he needs to let the world know his plans, how he wants to go about them and he needs their co-operation, especially on fighting corruption and there is no way he could get the stolen money back into the system unless he has a relationship with the rest of the world, and that is what he has done with the visit.
People have a lot of reservations about the United States as they believe they have a hidden agenda, when they offer aids, where do you think we can draw the line in this relationship?
It is a simple case, human beings could be devils, but out of the devils, you can still find your angels. You will still see some good policies of the U.S that are acceptable. You can define the extent you want to go with them, where do you want to collaborate with them, when do you want to work with them. So, our President, who is a trained general, would still bring his experience into bear and he would bring out the good relationship with them.
How far do you think the President would go on probing the administration of former president Goodluck Jonathan, would it not look like witchunting of the PDP?
I think for every government, you need money to operate and he has said he would not witch-hunt anybody, but he needs to get the stolen money back. He has records, and other things that he could use to track people down. If he goes about it in a democratic manner, I don’t think there is anything wrong in that, in any part of the world, you must account for whatever you owe. If he has started that and he calls people to come and explain what they have done, I think it is right. It is different from, when he was a military man that he clamped people into prison. Now, he is just doing interrogation, the second one is to do investigation, the third one is to take them to court. He said they should pay back the money back and go about their normal businesses.
Would you agree that the Federal Government should negotiate with the terrorists to bring back the Chibok Girls?
I feel that if anyone of us has our child or children among the girls, we would want the government to go to any length to bring them back safely. So, whatever they could do to bring the girls back should be done. If Boko Haram members are visible for negotiation, we should go for it regardless of what the government has done in the past and limit the shedding of blood.
We have few women in the Lagos State House of Assembly, will you support those that are saying that more women should be appointed into the cabinet of the state government?
I really love the idea of having women in some many areas of our endeavours in Lagos State. But, I will not want us to compromise the aspect of standard and compromise in Lagos State. So, whether it is a man or woman that is qualified, we should use them. However, talking about gender sensitivity is necessary in democracy, but there is no way you can subsidise the whole thing. You can see that women vote for men once they trust him and they have also used women to vote out men. We can use women if we have capable hands amongst them. It has to do with competence.
What do you want to do differently in your second coming to the Assembly?
I have sat down and assessed my first four years and I discovered that I was robbed of some things in my first term, but I am better prepared now, better trained, exposed and the experience is there to handle things in a better way. My oversight functions now would benefit Lagosians, if you are able to do more oversight functions, we will conform with the budget and in our performances, we will do better. If we commence our works and assess the work of the executive and bring them back on track, we can then clap for ourselves. We are not witch-hunting or bringing people to book so that we can perform as a government.
So, what do you want to do for your constituents?
What they want from us is the dividends of democracy. There are a lot of things that are not our functions, but we must work on certain things that concern security, work on our laws to bring more development to our people. Also, I would influence infrastructural development to my constituency, also the issue of unemployment is critical. The little the government can do is not enough, we just need to stabilise the economy for investors to come in and the employment these people would generate is more than what the government can do. These areas would go a long way to help the people, other areas like poverty alleviation programmes are cosmetic things that are just meant for politicians to make noise. We will do it to cushion the effect of poverty, I am a grassroots politician, I live amongst them and I would continue to do that to help my people, but I think more could be done for our people.
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