While some people see the creation of an anti-corruption committee initiated by the Federal Government as unnecessary, a lawmaker in the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Tobun Abiodun, has said that the committee is relevant at this point in time.
Tobun, who is representing Epe Constituency 1, also defended the LSHA for going on recess now as he said that this has not stopped the lawmakers from working.
The chieftain of the All Progressives Congress speaks on some other issues in this interview he granted us recently.
The APC won the presidential election and also won governorship elections in some states across the nation, what was the secret behind this?
People were clamouring for change, they felt they have tried the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for many years and the All Progressives Congress (APC) came with change agenda and they felt that they should key into that and see how far it can take them and I know they would not have any regret over that.
What is your legislative agenda for the people in your second term in office as a lawmaker?
We are trying to give them representation and their voices are heard and we will perform our legislative duties as expected as well as attract dividends of democracy to our constituents.
Someone said that as long as you live, you keep learning, what are those things you want to change in your second coming based on what you have learnt?
You learn parliamentary activities and language, you learn the procedure and how you get the dividends of democracy to your people as well as the process of making bills and moving motions. Even the courage to speak effectively on the floor of the House must be learned. You need to articulate yourself and ensure that what you have learnt for four years is improved upon. I would not say I have erred over the years. I am contributing systematically and developing on it.
The lawmakers are on recess and a lot of people are saying you have not done much since you resumed in the 8th Assembly. What can you say about the perception of people about this?
I think it is wrong, we did not go on recess before now, we only went on break for the festive period and we came back. So, the perception of the people is wrong, the constitution allows us to regulate our activities and that we must attend sittings 180 times in a year. I don’t think we have come short of expectation. We have moved so many motions on the floor of the House that would help Lagos State and its residents since we resumed. We are expected to perform oversight functions on the ministries, but the cabinet has not been constituted. We have started working on some laws and bills such as comprehensive environmental laws. I came to attend a meeting of an ad-hoc committee today. We are on recess, but that does not mean we are permanently on leave. A lot of our members are here attending to one committee duty or the other. I have been around since morning attending one committee meeting or the other. I just finished a meeting with the ad-hoc committee on illegal dredging reclamation and mining in Lagos State, which is causing environmental degradation in the state. These people that are complaining are not inside and they may not see clearly the way we are seeing it, but we know we are putting in our best to serve our people. I have not eaten or drink water since morning. I want to tell you that the 8th Assembly has started on a good note and we will continue to do our best.
Recently, Presidential Muhammadu Buhari set up an Anti-corruption Committee headed by Professor Itse Sagay, do you see this as being necessary, when we have the EFCC and ICPC that should probe corrupt people in the society?
We have EFCC and ICPC, a former chairman of the EFCC, Malam Nuhu Ribadu said recently that he was used by some people during his tenure of office. Who knows if the people there now are being used by some people. So, it is imperative on PMB to look at the best way he can handle issues for the betterment of this great country. Professor Itse Sagay is a credible person and someone with integrity, he is not there as a permanent solution, but let them go and review the activities of past public officers in the country and make suggestions to the president on how he can fight corruption in the country. May be they are going to recommend something we can work on. If the committee recommends some measures and send in a report that would reduce corruption to the barest minimum, the credit would go to the committee and this would help the president to make a bold decision on corruption. Let us allow them to do their work, it is a government of four years and we have not spent three months in office.
Recently, LASEPA had issues with some organisations and religious bodies and the agency said recently that some of its staff were attacked so much that some of them went blind. What is your reaction to this?
There is a law in place that prohibits noise pollution. Despite the fact that you are free and you enjoy some measure of freedom, you must not use your freedom to injure others. That is why there is government, the government says that noise pollution is inimical to our hearing and thinking faculty. There is environmental law in place and there is a resolution on it in place. The Lagos State House of Assembly has just passed a resolution giving LASEPA power to enforce the regulations on noise pollution. If by one way or the other, some government officials, in the cause of enforcing that regulation were attacked, it is the duty of the agency to ensure that those responsible for the attack are brought to book and charged to court for assault and for disturbing people from performing their lawful duties. If they are found guilty, they should jail or fine them. If it is a church or mosque, close it down, I don’t subscribe to anybody attacking government officials in the cause of discharging their duties.
Two months into the government of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, he is yet to appoint commissioners, what do you think is responsible for this?
Appointing commissioners to work with him would not be the solution to our problem. He would appoint commissioners, when he feels it is necessary. Technocrats are in place, the commissioner is just an individual, he would come to work with the technocrats. If the Governor feels he should continue to work with the technocrats for the main time to enable him streamline his projects, this is not bad. Three or five months from 48 months is not too much. So, there is still a lot of time for the commissioners to work. Those, who are clamouring for commissioners are those, who are clamouring for positions. How many states in the country have appointed commissioners? Let them give him time, what he is doing is re-organisation, he wants to take charge of governance the way he feels he can do it better. Let us allow him, let us give him a space.
Are you saying the Governor is waiting for the president to appoint ministers before he appoints commissioners?
I won’t say that, I don’t know what has delayed them, what I know is that we should give him time to plan himself on how best to run the state. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail, so we should allow him to plan. Presently, there is re-deployment of permanent secretaries across the ministries and agencies in the state. By doing that, he has succeeded in changing people rather than allowing someone to be the permanent secretary of a ministry or an agency for more than a decade. The permanent secretaries recently had a retreat. He is trying to see how best to use the technocrats to stabilise the state. By the time the commissioners would come, the permanent secretaries would have laid a good template to work with and there would be no going back. The state would then be better for it. I feel he is trying to lay a solid foundation for the state.
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