APC Harbours No Fear On Local Government Election – Saheed | Independent Newspapers Limited
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APC Harbours No Fear On Local Government Election – Saheed

Posted: Jun 19, 2016 at 3:44 am   /   by   /   comments (0)
Saheed

Saheed

Hon. Femi Saheed, is the State Secretary of All Progressives Congress (APC), Lagos State chapter. In this interview with EJIKEME OMENAZU, he spoke on the forthcoming Local government election in the state. He also spoke  on the achievements of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and President Muhammadu Buhari administrations so far. Excerpts:

What is your view on the recent appointment of Sole Administrators by the Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode?

The recent appointment of Sole Administrators by His Excellency Akinwunmi Ambode in 20 Local Governments and 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDA) is another way of making sure that we improve on the Local Government system by ensuring that we make grassroots advancements and render service to the people. The government of Governor Ambode is still new. It has its agenda and ways to execute them. As a seasoned administrator with experience in Local Government Administration, we believe the governor has appointed the right people to do the biddings of the Lagos State government at the grassroots level.

Some opposition parties see the appointment of Sole Administrators as replacing one illegality with another as they claim that Local Government Caretaker Committees, Executive Secretaries and Sole Administrators are unknown to the nation’s constitution. What is your take on this?

The local government election in Lagos is a matter of legal tussles. If everything is settled, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) regulation requires an announcement giving notice of at least 90 days before the election. This will enable the parties to get ready. What Governor Ambode did is in preparation for the local government election. The Lagos State House of Assembly has already enacted new amendments of the Local Government Laws. A new Chairman of the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) has been sworn in. We as a party is getting ready for the election.

How determined would you say the APC government is really interested in the conduct of the Local Government election this year when some cases on the election are still pending in courts?

That is left for the judiciary to decide. If they find it necessary to expedite action on the cases, we are bound to abide by the constitution. Other parties took us to the courts. It is not a matter for the Lagos State government only. INEC is involved. They have to supply the voter register and cards. There has to be security involvement, etc. But, we as a party are determined to go into the election.

Notwithstanding your confidence, opposition parties say the APC and the Lagos State government are trying to delay the Local Government election due to the fear of imminent defeat. How would you react to this assertion?

Some of these opposition parties are not even on ground in Lagos. It is their own fear of APC that make them accuse the government of delaying the election due to the wrong notion that our party will lose. Accord Party, for instance, is it on ground? In the last general election, Accord managed to win only one House of Representatives seat. If parties are on ground and well spread, then they can talk. In our own case, you can see posters of our aspirants everywhere. We are anxious to go into the election. In the last election, our percentage was more than 90. Therefore, we have nothing to fear about the local government election.

What achievements would you say the current Lagos State administration has recorded in the area of Local Government administration in its one year in office?

So enormous. We have been able to review the Local Government Electoral Act. If what happened in Kogi happens here (where a governorship candidate died before the announcement of the election result), the law as it is now has taken care of it. The state government is building 144 roads in all the local governments. It is a big achievement considering the economic turn-around the roads will bring to the grassroots and the state. This has never happened anywhere except in Lagos. Under education, we can talk about school buildings; classroom blocks, books, etc. look at the Light-up project, security improvement. These are just a few. Apart from the 144 roads, Governor Ambode has promised more roads. These 144 roads are about 75 per cent completion. No government in this country can do this. Lagos has been the best in this area.

Lagosians are still complaining of extortion and collection of illegal levies by state and Local Government agents. What do you think the government should do to check this?

Local governments now have adopted a modern system of payment for toll collection. If people use electronic system to collect tolls, how will they be shortchanged? We do not deal on rumours, but on facts. All these are just rumours.

A cross section of politicians and opinion moulders are of the view that the APC may not survive as a party and contest the 2019 general elections. How would you react to this?

I cannot tell you that there is a crack in APC. As a state secretary of the party, I can tell you authoritatively that there is no crack in APC, both at the state and national levels. A party went into election and won seats from the states to the Presidency. There is no way a party may not have challenges. But that is not to say that there is a crack. The party is intact at both the state and national levels. The structure we used for the 2015 elections is still there and is waxing stronger on daily basis. The New PDP which people often refer to as crying for marginalisation does not exist in Lagos. In Lagos, we have former PDP members in our fold. But they have acclimatised with the party and we work as one. Now, we cannot even distinguish those former PDP from those who are original APC members. APC is a merger of several parties. Most of those from PDP won seats under the platform of APC and everyone is treated equally.

The new administration just marked its one year in office. How would you assess the performance of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode so far?

Governor Ambode has been doing fantastically well. This can be seen in areas of security, wealth creation, Light-up Lagos, job creation, schools rehabilitation, construction of flyovers, demarcation of Mile 12 Market to mention just a few. Look at the 4th Mainland Bridge project. Pensioners are getting their benefits on time. Salaries are paid as at when due. Also, the Light train project is another landmark. In area of food security, look at the partnership with Kebbi State government. It will create synergy between the two states in areas of food production. He has also introduced Lagos State into the Committee of Oodua Investments. Ambode is giving Lagos a befitting status. He is consolidation and will take Lagos to somewhere great.

Several politicians have been airing their views on President Muhammadu Buhari’s one year in office. What is your assessment of the federal administration under President Buhari?

My comment on President Muhammadu Buhari’s achievements so far is that we inherited a comatose economy at a time we also have dwindling oil revenue. But the administration has been coping fantastically. This can be seen from the N6.3 trillion budget, the infrastructural development that has been mapped out. The introduction of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) has saved a lot of money for the country. The Boko Haram has been tamed. The Nigerian military is prepared to tame any external aggression. He has also checked those things that take away money from this country illegally.

The President’s health issues and that of some members of his cabinet have recently become a matter of public discourse. How would react to his recent health trip to UK?

Before he came into power, President Buhari might have had some medical appointments that had to be honoured. I do not know to what extent our health institutions can handle issues as he inherited a dysfunctional health system. But, by the time he implements the budget, some of our hospitals will be of standard.