Buhari’s Government Is Purpose-Driven – Ashafa | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Buhari’s Government Is Purpose-Driven – Ashafa

Posted: Jun 10, 2016 at 3:06 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


Senator Gbenga Bareehu Ashafa represents Lagos East Senatorial District in the National Assembly. In this telephone chat with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI, he speaks on President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, 8th Senate and governance in Lagos state. Excerpts:



It is over a year that President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn-in. How will you describe his performance so far?

I think it might be too early to judge the performance of this administration. While the government has been in the saddle for one year, it has only just been able to pass its first budget into law. This is a very important component in the ability of any government to deliver on its campaign promises.

However, having said that, certain things are clear to me. This government is clearly a purpose-driven government, not scared of taking the hardest and albeit, presently unpopular decisions. Luckily, Nigerians have demonstrated the highest level of understanding. However, there is a limit to human endeavours. So, the Federal Government should hit the ground running with the budget now in place.

This administration campaigned largely on three major fronts, which are the Economy, Security and Anti-Corruption. How has it fared in these three areas?

On the economy, we must all note that this is probably the most difficult time for any administration to take up the saddle of leadership in Nigeria. Considering our monolithic economy, which is completely dependent on crude oil, the existing challenges of the fall in international prices of crude oil and the present rise in the activities of economic terrorists in the Niger Delta, one can easily come to the conclusion that this administration is faced with both natural and manmade challenges in that sector alone.

As far as security is concerned, the issue of Boko Haram, which was the greatest threat to our collective security at the inception of this administration, has been handled very well. However, new threats have risen in the form of both the herdsmen and the Niger Delta Avengers. I am sure that why we haven’t seen so much action on this front is because the government needs to allow the security forces gather the requisite intelligence. Just as the government of Muhammadu Buhari decimated the Boko Haram terrorists, I am sure that the federal government will explore all necessary civil means to restore normalcy to the areas being ravaged by these groups. Military force should however be the last option.

Regarding the war against corruption, on my part, I will score the government very high. It is no longer business as usual even within the corridors of power. We can see it from the pages of the newspapers that this government is going after everyone that has stolen the commonwealth of Nigeria without fear or favour. I am therefore confident that the Buhari administration will ultimately deliver on its promises and aspirations in the areas of anti-corruption, diversification of the economy and security.

How will you rate the performance of Governor Ambode in the last one year?

Lagos State is the Centre of Excellence, and what you should therefore expect from Lagos should not be anything short of that. In the last twelve months, Lagosians have seen effective and people-centric leadership. One thing has remained constant, Lagos has had a succession of good leaders who have always consolidated upon the achievements of their predecessors and indeed increased the bar.

In one year, Lagos has seen lightening-up of almost all the major and commercial roads in Lagos. Also communities that were hitherto not connected to the grid, like my area in Ibeju-Lekki have been connected, road constructions and infrastructural projects everywhere, an employment trust fund has been launched, the security apparatus has been overhauled to the extent that Lagos is probably the safest state in the Country at the moment and we have also seen the commencement of the 4th Mainland Bridge. Of recent, the Emergency Response Unit was launched with sophisticated equipment and infrastructure with trained personnel. As a matter of fact, it was the Vice president that commissioned it on behalf of the President.

Lagos is in a good place economically. It remains the most economically viable state in the country, despite the prevailing economic circumstances. Ultimately, Lagos is in good hands, I commend His Excellency, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode for keeping his eyes on the ball and ensuring that he keeps on fulfilling his campaign promises as provided by our party’s (APC) manifesto.

What should Nigerians expect from the 8th Senate as it begins another year?

Legislative support. I think this is the most important function of any legislature and the 8thSenate is poised to deliver just that.

On my part as a Senator and the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Land Transport, I am passionate about ensuring that we get our rail sector back to life again. We must get our rolling stock roaring again. The only way this can be achieved is by ensuring private sector investment and participation in the rail sector. One of the main challenges that the sector has had that has stalled the development of the sector is that of legislation. The Nigerian Railway Corporation Act was promulgated in 1955 and amended slightly in 1990.

We have created a new legislative framework for that sector and consequently, my committee has concluded work on a bill called the Nigerian Railway (repeal and re-enactment) Bill 2016 which seeks to separate the operator from the Regulator and recommended same to the Senate at plenary. Currently, we are also working on the National Transport Commission Bill 2016.

Just as my committee is working assiduously to help this government open up the rail sector so that it can become more commercially viable, so are my colleagues in this 8th Senate working in the various committees to which they belong in ensuring that the economy is put back on track despite the global economic challenges.


 Will the budget be fully implemented now that we are in June because it appears nothing is on ground?

My concern here is not on the timing or when the budget was passed. My major concern now is the fact that new indices, which were hitherto not considered have come to play.

You see, our budget performance is also largely due to our capacity to meet our crude oil demand and supply quota on the international market. The activities of the Niger Delta avengers have significantly reduced our capacity to produce and supply crude oil. I sincerely hope that we would be able to make enough money to fund the budget.

Aside this, I think that we have a crop of leaders in the executive that have the capacity to deliver on the targets that have been set and as such largely ensure that we improve on the budget performance of the past years.

Hopefully we would have learned that there is a need for the executive to present the budget to the National Assembly early enough so that we can do our work in good time and ensure that the budget is passed accordingly. This will allow government deliver the dividends of democracy through implementation of the programs as a result of our renewed oversight function strategies. I am sure we have all learned our lessons from the hiccups that led to the delay and passage of the 2016 Budget Appropriations.

I need to mention that for us to free ourselves as a Nation from a monolithic economy and dependency on crude oil revenue alone, we must pursue vigorously the diversification agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government in sustainable agricultural development, exploration of our mineral resources sector and provision of infrastructure to support and encourage the rejuvenation of our real sector. With all these in place, our unemployment rate would be drastically reduced within the shortest possible time.