Hon. Adeola Olamilekan Solomon aka Yayi certainly has the most colourful campaign in this part of the country since the electioneering process began. Everywhere you go, the name on the lips of the people is ‘Yayi, Yayi.’ Indeed Hon. Solomon, who is the Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts in the Federal House of Representatives, has done well for the people since he began his journey in the legislative arm of the government 12 years ago at the Lagos State House of Assembly.
Yayi is currently vying for a seat in the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from Lagos West Senatorial District. Nobody is in doubt of his ability and experience as an accomplished politician, accountants and a professional, whose experience is needed for the success of our nascent democracy.
Recently, Hon. Olamilekan Solomon was a guest of League of Soft Sell Publishers, where he spoke about his political journey, his experience in the legislature and revealed some hidden truth about public funds, budgeting and running of government.
Our publisher, Mr. Dayo Asaju, who happens to be the President of the League, was part of the panel that interviewed the amiable lawmaker.
You have been in the Lagos State House of Assembly, you are in the Federal House of Reps, now you want to go to the Senate, what is your own view of our democracy since 1999?
As you are all aware, Nigeria’s new democratic process started in 1999, everyone of us was skeptical, we were scared that would it be or not. I was a victim of the struggle for the validation of the June 12, 1993 Presidential Election presumably won by the late Chief MKO Abiola, I lost my younger brother to a stray bullet during the bonfire exercise. That was when the freest and fairest election in Nigeria was eventually annulled. Since the military succeeded in canceling the election, we felt we should continue with military rule until 1998, when Chief MKO Abiola died, there were lots of issues in the country, the idea that Nigeria would break up then came up. A month later, the former military head of state, the late Gen. Sanni Abacha died. People believed that these two personalities were the cause of the problems we were having in Nigeria then. Later, Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar got to power and he promised to hand over power to the civilian in 1999 and we all felt he wanted to sell a dummy to us. But, a democratically elected president of Nigeria was sworn-in on May 29, 1999 in person of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. It has been the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), they have been in power since then, if they had fixed our electricity, for instance, may be there would be no issue of changing over to generator. Obasanjo came on board and we were hopeful and as the saying goes, the worst democracy is better than the best military rule. In the democratic process, you are governed by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, though it was given to us by the military. We made do with what we have and we began the process. After, 1999, there was need for another four years, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo still contested and there was this fear that would the military still come back or not. Then, I decided to seek for an elective office, I was doing my private business and I was doing very well, I felt that I was leaving certainty for uncertainty, what would become of me. I think I should have even stayed back doing that business. If I were still doing the business I was doing, may be you would have known about me from a different platform. But, I chose the service to humanity at the expense of personal interest. I vied for a seat in the Lagos State House of Assembly to represent the people of Alimosho Constituency 02, and by the grace of God, my efforts were crowned and I was voted to represent the good people of Alimosho Constituency 02 as a member of the House. Now, from my own view, talking about our democracy from 1999 to date, my dear publishers of soft sell magazines, I would say Nigerian democracy has not been fair to Nigerians as a whole. If you look at the following indices and data that I would read out, you would agree with me that Nigeria deserves better than what we are getting now.
Due to lack of insincerity on the part of the government and with their inability to give opportunity to the people that would have changed the country for good, what we have today is a mere nascent democracy and not a democracy that we all had been craving for, when there was military intervention. Let us ask ourselves, from 1999, how much has accrued to the Federal Government from the resources that we all rely on, which is oil. Outside the oil industry, I don’t know any resource that we depend on, let us look at the corresponding expenditure and marry the two. How have we feared under a democratic rule, ordinarily, democracy ought to be government of the people, for the people and by the people. Not until now, a lot of us were not interested in the process, which is what has led us to where we found ourselves. Now, there is a lot of awareness in town, everybody is interested for the future of this country to be secured, for its well being to be guaranteed and for us to change this country for good, everybody is interested in the process. It is a welcome development because until we begin to elect good leaders with our thumbs and sending out bad leaders with our thumbs, Nigeria will not change. Let us assume that from 1999 to date, the resolution is that we wanted to fix only the power sector because if we are able to fix the power sector, 60% of the challenges facing us as a nation will disappear, it is a statement of fact. But because we have an insincere government in power, government that is not interested in the overall well being of the people, you can see what is happening. During the tenure of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as President, there was a claim that he expended about $8.7 Billion on electricity; it is no longer news that the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan has equally released their own figure, $8.271 Billion, added together; it is almost $17 Billion that have been spent on the power sector. As we speak, in a nation of over 170 million people with over 250 ethnic groups and over 261 languages, the biggest country in Africa what we generate as power everyday is still under 4000 megawatts, while South Africa, as at the last count, generates 160,000 megawatts. By that alone, measuring the level of development, you will know we are not there. Of recent, there was this news in town that Nigeria’s economy is the biggest in Africa, if we are sincere with ourselves, every one of us would be taken aback by this. The Chief Executive of the National Bureau of Statistics, the man who did that job, said to the whole world what almost caused crisis, he was invited everywhere; to the United Nations, United States of America and other places to come and speak and justify how he came about the biggest economy in Africa that we have ascribed to ourselves. To my own understanding, we have only ascribed it to ourselves, but it doesn’t really reflect. I told him and called him to my office as the Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts and I said “DG, you know I am an accountant though I am not an economist, these facts and figures you have released, I need to hear more from you.’ It was not a committee thing, it was one on one. You know what he told me, he said ‘my dear brother, all that were put together to get us this status were not physical things or things that are actually on ground.’ Ordinarily, there are some indices that when you put them together they could give us what he has said. For example, if the Federal Government says they want to build this hotel for N100 Billion and the contract was awarded and they mobilized the contractor with N5 Billion, when they are writing the report, they would take the N100 Billion and if the contractor refuses to do that job or does not complete the job, the issue is N100 has been taken and invested into our economy.
I said, ‘so all the abandoned contracts are part of it,’ he said, ‘hen, the abandoned contracts is built into it.’ I said, DG, he said yes, he said that contracts awarded since the days of Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida and Obasanjos of this world that are abandoned, all of these put together is what forms Nigeria’s GDP and make it the biggest economy in Nigeria. Are you not taken aback? I asked him one question that if we say we have the biggest economy in Africa, what is the per capita income of an average Nigerian, and he said, ‘we know now, that an average Nigerian is living under $3 dollars par day.’ I now said, for the last 10 years, can you say if this reflects in the lives of the upper, middle and lower classes of Nigerians, he said no. I said then these figures are not realistic figures, why are you saying it and you would continue to see that if care is not taken and we are not doing the right thing in the right direction, we would only be living in a deceitful world. Don’t let us forget, United Nations, in one of their reports said that 70% of Nigerians are living below the poverty line. To my judgment, we don’t have that 30%, we have just 10%, the true statistics is 10% because we don’t have the middle class again; we only have the upper and the lower classes. I believe that this is not Nigeria of our dream, the cost of everything, either in naira or dollars, compared with the salary of an average Nigerian is high, you cannot relate the two. How can you say of a man, who earns a salary of N18,000; he has children, those children have to go to school, he has to do other expenses, he has to feed, he has to pay his house rents and at the end of the month you want that man to be a normal human being, and he is working so hard so that he could guarantee this N18,000. Once we cannot relate what we earn to what we buy, then we cannot say our democracy has feared better, rather it is nothing to write home about. If you ask me, I would say we are still under military rule, but this time around, we are not wearing uniforms because that is the way our economy is being run and that is the way we are going about this. So, I want to believe that the Nigerian democracy has not feared better, it has not improved, and it has not impacted on the nation’s development. All these indices and data are pointers to the fact that we still have a long way to go to build our own democracy.
How did you become the candidate of the Lagos West Senatorial District because we know that a lot of people vied for the slot during the primaries? We even learnt that the Deputy Governor of the State had to step down for you. What did you do to get the slot?
Number one it is God, ‘by strength shall no man prevail, but by my grace, says the Lord of hosts.’ In terms of experience, I have 12 years cognate experience in the business of legislature, and if at the end of the day I am elected to represent Lagos West at the Senate, I would be the first lawmaker in Lagos to move from the state house of assembly to the Federal House of Representatives, and now to the senate of the Federal Republic. Initially, ordinarily, once you are voted into office, I am of the firm believe that representation is about the people and it is a rare opportunity, the seat, which I am sitting on in the green chambers belongs to all the people in my constituency, which is over 3 or 4 million people in Alimosho Area of the state. But I have been chosen just to represent them, so whenever I am sitting on that chair, I am sitting on behalf of the 4 million people. Whenever I am standing up to address the House, I am speaking on behalf of over 4 million people. So, that is what I have put at the back of my mind, which has guided me since the last 12 years. When the issue of the senatorial seat came up, as you all know in Lagos, we don’t contest for senatorial seats at the primaries; it could be a fallout of the governorship primaries. As you have rightly said, heavyweights; a former minister in Nigeria, Mr. Demola Seriki, my own sister, the Deputy Governor, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, my local government chairman, and a host of others, wonderful people vied for the seat. I believe that if any of them is given the ticket of the party, they would equally do well; they have also demonstrated to the best of their ability what they could do for this senatorial district. But, you see, in this our challenging democracy, we need experienced people, and people who are tested and trusted and who can really deliver. As I said, I was packing my bags and baggage, I was preparing to return to the Federal House of Reps, but there was this public outcry, most especially from my constituents that my next point of call should be the senate, but I did not answer because I believed the seat is not always vacant. But as events started unfolding, the incumbent senator was not returning, all the people that I thought should be interested said they were not interested in the seat and people encouraged me to throw my hat into the ring and see if I could be lucky. So, as they say that charity begins at home, I had to go to my constituents, seek for their support, and I said I would love to go to the senate to represent them and I had their supports, 100% at all levels, which was how we started. By the grace of God and the supports of the leaders of the party, who gave their blessings, I stand before you as the Senatorial Candidate of the All Progressives Congress for Lagos West Senatorial District.
There was this confusion that you were going to contest from Ogun State, can you throw more light on this?
I knew you would go there; I was just waiting for who would ask that question. Yes, I am a system person, as I have said earlier on, I believe so much in the system and I am a party man to the core. Irrespective of what whosoever or whatsoever anybody wants to offer me or ask me to do, my party comes first, every other thing follows. It is true that I made a political journey to Ogun State, I am from the state. That is where I am from and I cannot lie. I am from a place that since February 1976, when Ogun State was created, that part of the state has never produced the Governor of Ogun State. But, the usual question and answer is that we don’t have anybody there, I said how can you say we don’t have anybody. Though I am in Lagos State and I am doing well, ordinarily, nobody would take such risk, they would dissociate themselves from the people, but I am not like that. Yes, it is true I wanted to run for this office from Ogun State, sometimes man proposes, God approves, I made an incursion into the state to a large extent. Everywhere in the length and breadth of Ogun State, everybody was shouting ‘Yayi, Yayi’ but God said it was not yet time. When I was called to return to Lagos State, I said ‘okay’ and I was asked to return to the House of Reps, I said ‘okay,’ but may be God has stamped it that either here or there, you must go to the senate. So, it is true, but I must say this, it is good for us, for our party and for Nigeria. Now, in that part of the state, nobody can say that they don’t have somebody there. That is much I can say I have achieved with that aim and purpose.
What are those things that you can say has given you joy to be in politics and how would you rate the activities of our politicians?
Don’t forget that I am a professional in politics, I am a professional accountant and I am also a member of the Federal Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, a chartered member. I am of the belief that our own involvement in politics should make the difference. To start with, what gives me that joy to be part of this political process is because I have the rare opportunity to display my professional involvement in the business. For instance, while I was serving as a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, I was the Chairman House Committee on Finance, and that of House Committee on Appropriation. I have served as committee chairman and handled more than eight different budgets under two different Governors; that of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), and I remain one of the very few that would stand up to any issue that I believe is not in the interest of the state and Nigeria as a whole. I could remember vividly how I argued about the budget of the Lagos State University (LASU) before the Governor. I said ‘sir, can we justify LASU that generates several billions of naira and the utilization of this fund is solely by the Governing Board of LASU without any recourse to the Governor may be by way of paying certain amount of money into the state’s consolidated fund. Despite that fact, the state would make provision under subvention for the institution.’ I challenged the Governor, and he was taken aback and I said ‘yes because I am going to recommend on the floor of the House the reason we should remove LASU as an institution from the subvention we give to the school monthly.’ It took a lot of efforts from the governor to say because it is our institution we need to continue to support the institution. I said I was not talking about the support, what I am saying is that what are they using the funds they are generating for since the Lagos State Government is paying the salaries of the lecturers. If you could notice that about once or twice, the Vice Chancellors of LASU have been involved in crises bothering on finance that led to their exit. These are some of the challenges that we have. Again, if you look into the budget of Lagos State in the area of the cost of running the government and providing facilities, we are the first in Nigeria that has 45% cost of running the government and 55% is spent on providing what I would tag dividends of democracy for the people. At a point in the life of this state, construction was going on in every part of the state and that was what earned Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola his automatic ticket for second term of office. At the Federal level as we speak, the cost of running the government is 78%, while cost of providing infrastructure for the people or dividends of democracy is a mere 22%. The Federal Government of Nigeria has a total of 601 agencies, so money spent on buying ruler, water, or money spent on governance generally is 78%. The N4.3 or N4.9 Trillion Budget you year in, year out since the last four or five years, 78% of it is the cost of running the 601 agencies, while the remaining 22% comes under capital expenditure. It was in the news; they have gone round to financial institutions to borrow money to finance some projects. While in Lagos, I could remember when we approached the World Bank to access funds because external loans are given at single digit rate and we needed it badly, it is a fund that has a moratorium of seven to eight years. When we approached the World Bank, they said there were certain things we needed to put in place for us to access the funds as a state; the public procurement act, the physical responsibility act and the audit act. I could remember that this took me to far away Washington in the United States of America, then Mrs. Okonjo Iweala was the Vice President of the World Bank, while Obiageli Ezekwesili was the Vice President, African Region of the bank. After that bill which was passed into law, I can tell you for once that this has changed the status of Lagos both within and outside this country. I chaired that committee, and things like that would give me joy. Coming back to the Federal level, I chaired one of the most important committees in the House, which is the only constitutionally recognized committee, the Public Accounts Committee. If that committee had been put into proper use over the years, by now the issue of corruption in this country should have become a thing of the past. Can you imagine, just recently, the authorities of the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Project appeared before my committee and we asked them, ‘you have been in existence for a particular number of years, can you please make available to us your records to show the amount of money you have generated over the years, the amount of money that has been paid to you by the Federal Government of Nigeria and they made it known to us that ‘Mr. Chairman sir, we are not 100% owned by the Federal Government, the share of the FG in LNG is 51%, while the remaining 49% is owned by Shell and other companies.’ They said ‘what we have given to the Federal Government has been in form of dividends, to these banks and to these accounts and what we have remitted is $14.9 dollars to the Federal Government between 2004 to date.’ Ordinarily, this is one side of the story, as a responsible committee, we needed to verify from the NNPC if this claim by LNG is true, and we wrote to the NNPC on our findings and the position of LNG. We have been given the account numbers and the banks, we didn’t want to go beyond our purview, so we said let us route the whole thing through the necessary agencies. That was the end of the whole story, the next thing we received from the NNPC was a letter from their lawyers, Mr. Mike Ozekome & Co, I asked the secretariat that was there any problem here. I ought to ask questions that they should show that they collected the money, the expenditure, the loans they received on behalf of LNG or any transaction from the Federal Government and all that, which were direct questions. We know that from 2004 to date, this kind of money cannot be there, but because this money has not been put to proper use for the sake of the people of the country, they contacted their lawyer to write to us as a committee. They fired the first salvo; we had no choice than to go ahead, made it public, moved a motion on the floor asking the house to direct the NNPC to forward this record to the National Assembly because we cannot continue to live like this in this country. I say this, a government of President Goodluck Jonathan would bring more money to the hand of selected few to the detriment of the general masses of this country, but a government of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari of the APC would bring little or no money to the hands of the selected few, but to the benefit of the generality of this country, it is a matter of choice. This N4.9 Trillion Budget you see is a budget within budget, you know why, Nigerian budget as it currently stands, is not the figure that you celebrate, the budget of this country is about N20.4 Trillion every year. There are statutory bodies that have their own budgets, which should form part of the N4.3 or N4.9 Trillion Budget the Federal Government would submit to the National Assembly, the budget of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), NNPC, NCC, and the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria. These are agencies of the government that generate several billions of naira, and President Jonathan would not spend from this N4.3 Trillion, he would spend from the extra ministerial departments. Either you like it or not, these statutory bodies are answerable to him, so the budget is actually about N20.4Trillion. This N4.9 Trillion is not the real money; I wonder when the people say it is the National Assembly that is delaying the budget, which budget, the budget that about 80% is used as cost of running the government? Is that what we call the budget, where more than half of it is being spent by the President, Minister of Finance and the Director General of Budget? Today, we are talking about N4.3 Trillion Budget, it is divided into two; one is for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the second arm of the budget is Service right votes budget. While the MDAs, would have revenue and expenditure is divided into overhead cost and capital, the same thing is applicable to the other one, where you have both recurrent and capital expenditure. At the end of the day, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Okonjo Iweala would address the nation and say the budget has performed 60%. The performance of MDAs every year is not more than 45%, but the second leg of the budget, which is spent by the President, the Minister of Finance and the Director General of Budget would perform about 100%. By the time you add 45 and 100, which is 145, you have a budget of 70% performance. At the end of the day, this is what they would be telling Nigerians. In Nigeria, where you have professors, I expect people to say ‘madam, can you please give us a break down of this budget.’ As I speak to you, the last time funds were paid to many of the Federal Government agencies was in August last year; both recurrent and capital. The business of government is grounded now until after the general elections. You would begin to wonder why we have not granted the request of the President on the issue of the emergency rule in the North East for the third time; it is because the meaning of emergency rule is very simple. You would find out that all the activities of the government in terms of finances would be hidden under the emergency rule. All funds accruing to the government would be towards the emergency rule. We are fighting, we are buying ammunition, at the end of the day, we would not have access to their financial recordings. How can you measure what has been spent for this or for that, by so doing, we believe there is no need for that and we are not getting results. We are losing heavy sum of money, which is why we decided that we would not grant them emergency rule for the third time unless one, they change their strategy, two, you are ready to appear before the House on the amount expended on the war. If not, you can go to Section 218 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that allows and permits the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to maintain peace and order. Go there and maintain the peace and order, but for us to grant him an emergency rule again, we would not be a party to that. We must know that there are a lot of problems confronting us as a nation and I want all of us to stand up so that our country can be a better place.
What is the business relationship between you and Asiwjau Bola Ahmed Tinubu?
There is no business relationship between us, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is my father and he is my godfather. For me, Adeola Solomon Olamilekan, he is my father and godfather. He is a wonderful man; he is a man you would love to be with. I don’t know some people’s perception of his person, I would want to beg and appeal to you to go and see him. He is a wonderful person, he has done extremely well for this country, and he has been able to show to the whole world what he stands for. He discovered Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola of Lagos; you would agree with me that Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola has done very well. The foundation upon which he built his achievements started from Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu through a 10-point agenda for the state. It is that 10-point agenda that brought about LAGBUS, LAMATA, KAI, LASTMA, LASAA and the revenue generation drive of the state. When Asiwaju Bola Tinubu came on board as Governor of the state in 1999, the revenue generation of Lagos State was a paltry N600 Million per month, but by the time he was leaving office in 2007, it has jumped from N600 Million to about N7.5 Billion monthly. For anybody that was coming on board, he was coming on a solid foundation. The average revenue of Lagos State is now about N20 Billion, if there was no foundation upon which these were built, may be we would have been seeing a Lagos of about 20 years back. But for the ingenuity of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, he discovered Babatunde Raji Fashola and a lot of people are even saying Fashola should come and contest the Presidency of Nigeria or even Vice Presidency. Again, he has discovered Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode for the continuity if the legacy that Babatunde Raji Fashola is leaving behind as Governor. He also discovered the Vice-Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Yemi Osinbajo that is giving our friends headache, they are telling all sorts of lies all over the place. May be he discovered Adeola Solomon Olamilekan the same way he discovered them. He is a wonderful man, my father and godfather.
Politics has done a lot for you, what have you done for politics?
That is a good one, politics has given me fame, politics has shown me to the whole world, politics has made everybody who didn’t know about me ordinarily know about me, now what have I done for politics. Yes, I have been in politics for a while and in the last 12 years of my life, I have been in the legislative arm of the government. As you are all aware, the primary function of the legislature is one, the business of lawmaking for the good performance of our land, two, the performance of oversight function, which is monitoring of the day to day activities of the government, most especially the budget as passed by either the state or National Assembly. These are the two primary functions as contained in that document that we all swore to, when we assumed office, which is the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. To a large extent, I have done this, but concerning the other contributions I have made towards bringing back the dividends of democracy to my people or alleviating the suffering of my people, fighting for projects for my constituency, I have done that excellently well, concerning my personal contributions in that documents before you, I have done my best. It only shows my contributions for the last three and a half years in the Federal House of Representatives, by the time I would add the ones I did at the LSHA, it would be a big volume. The biggest local government in Alimosho is Agbado/Oke Odo LCDA and I could remember that during campaign in 2011, a community said I should build a block of classrooms for them. I didn’t know that the public school was staying in a rented apartment, and the landlord had ejected them. I then decided to do it on my own because if I say I wanted to go to the Federal Government or the state government, the fund might not come early, I had to invest my own money, over N25 Million, to construct a block of classrooms, two big staff rooms and a borehole for that community in Ikola. That is one out of the numerous projects that I have done across my constituency. JAMB and GCE forms are almost free of charge in my constituency, all you need to do is to go to my office and pick up the form free of charge. It is not that I am trying to do that to bring people to my side to support me. It is just my own way of promoting education in my Federal Constituency and I believe that those who have benefited one way or the other, it would not be a case of I would have been a graduate if I had someone to buy GCE or JAMB forms for me, these and more are what I have been able to do for my people. So, politics has been good to me, I have been good to politics and those who elected me into office.
With your experience in politics, what is the greatest lesson you have learnt in politics?
It has been a wonderful experience; it has taught me that I should learn to appreciate people. Like I said, I am not the best candidate for this position neither am I the best man for the position, and by the grace of God the fact that the people have given me the mandate to represent them in this office only shows to me that I should learn to appreciate people for all their support and to also be there for people whenever I am called upon because having been in the office consistently for 12 years shows that there must be something I am doing that people somewhere appreciate and for me not to derail, I think I should not change my style and adhere to it strictly. As I have said, I am a professional in politics and so far so good, we have been able to have a wonderful experience combined with the professional experience and exposure that I have. On the general scene, what life has taught me since the last 12 years is to appreciate people for what you can do for people and for what people can do for you.
Let us go to the name, Yayi, what does it mean and your campaign has been massive and colourful, how did you come about the concept?
The people that gave me the name are here, From Yoruba angle, when you say somebody is ‘Yayi,’ he must be a very good and responsible person. Yorubas would say ‘omo to yayi, omo dada, omo gidi.’ In Hausa Language, it means it is okay, somebody who is made already, who is responsible. I came about it six years ago, while I was attending to my constituents, the way I was going about it made them to say “eleyi yayi ooo, omo to yayi ni eleyi.” The man that gave me the name is the state organizing secretary of the APC, and when he mentioned that name that day I looked at him and I said ‘thank you.’ The next thing I started to hear was ‘Yayi,’ it now turned to be a name that everybody calls me. The slogan is ‘Yayi Ni joo, Yayi ni jare,’ and I said if it is a name from God, who am I to change it. People are even saying that it should be part of my name for the election, and I have agreed to make it Adeola Olamilekan Solomon Yayi so that it would be part of my name because Yayi is part of my name, even in the office, they call me Yayi. I want to thank God and bless Him because I have worked so hard to maintain that name and I thank all the people, who ensured that the name remains Yayi.
You have been at the state house of assembly, you have been at the Federal House of Reps, what are the things you did not do at the lower house that you want to do at the senate?
The need for us to change this country is not the responsibility of those of us going to one elective office or the other alone, it is a collective responsibility, from my own point of view, we would try our best, since we are saddled with the responsibilities of representing the people, we should be there to do only the right things. You would agree with me that Lagos State remains the commercial capital of Nigeria, even with the federal presence in Abuja, within the last couple of days; President Goodluck Jonathan prefers to stay in Lagos. As at yesterday, he worshipped in Lagos in far away Marina. Within the last couple of days, the Federal Government has moved to Lagos, which is why we are feeling so much heat. We have approached the same government that Lagos needs federal status, 2% of what goes into the federation account goes to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, I refer to it as the administrative capital of Nigeria. We are saying let us give 1% of what goes into the federation account into Lagos so that we can continue to maintain, sustain the level of development in the state. If you look at the number of federal roads in Lagos State, it is the highest, if you look at the federal structure in Lagos State compared to other states, it is the highest. Federal ministries are scattered everywhere and we are saying 1% of what goes into the federal purse should come to Lagos, they refused. By March 28, if they allow the election to take place because there are a lot of intricacies and politicking going on, and I am voted into office, one Bill that I would sponsor is that which would give Lagos some benefits as the commercial capital of the Nigeria. Secondly, on the issue of revenue allocation formula, you would agree with me that for a country like ours that is practicing Federal system of government, where every state supposed to be a federating unit within the Federal Republic of Nigeria, what we have is the reverse. We are just practicing a kind of make shift federalism because the states are not truly independent. Many of our states cannot pay staff salaries. Budgets of ¾ of the 36 states of the federation are predicated on the Federal Budget. When you see many Governors presenting budgets at every financial year including Niger Delta States, they depend on the Federal Government. The only state that can operate without the Federal budget is Lagos State and probably the FCT, every other state, 90% of their budget is predicated on federal allocation. There is need for us to re-adjust the revenue allocation formula, where 52% of the revenue goes to the Federal Government and some go to the 36 states and 13% goes to oil-producing states. We have another 3% natural fund and 3% ecological fund, so we must have true federalism, where the revenue allocation formula would be structured. The Federal Government is biting more than it can chew. How can you have 601 agencies, when there was a report carried out by the former head of service tagged Orasanye Report that federal agencies should be reduced to 106 and up till now the government of the day believes that once that is done, it would expose them and give support to the state that have been calling on RAMFAC to re-adjust the revenue sharing formula. If given the opportunity to represent the biggest senatorial district in Nigeria, one particular area I would be looking at in addressing this injustice is to look at ways of reducing what goes into the Federal Government to about 30 or 35% and 50 to 56% should go to the state governments, where the actions are taking place. On the local government level, it is either we expunge it from the constitution of Nigeria or adhere to what is contained in the constitution. Section 7 sub Section 1A of the constitution says the power to create, administer and finance the local government rests solely with the state governments. We have 37 LCDAs in Lagos State and all the processes needed to form local governments were adhered to by the Lagos State House of Assembly, I was part of the process for the creation of the 37 LCDAs, and all we needed to do what to take them to the National Assembly that the people of the state approved the establishment of the councils. But because we are not part of the government at the centre, they did not support the creation. During the population census of 2006, though we are still contesting the results, it was claimed that Lagos State and Kano State are the two biggest states in Nigeria and Kano has 44 local governments that have been listed as part of the constitution, why would Lagos State has only 20 local governments listed in the constitution.
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