Continuity Of Governance Has Paid Off In Lagos – Eshilokun- Sanni | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


Continuity Of Governance Has Paid Off In Lagos – Eshilokun- Sanni

Posted: May 29, 2016 at 7:44 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Hon. Wasiu Eshilokun Sanni  is the Deputy Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly. In this interview with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI, he speaks on one year of President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and other sundry issues. Excerpts:

Today marks exactly one year President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn-in, how will you describe the journey so far?

So far; so good.  I think the challenges are enormous but I don’t believe that it is overwhelming. The president was sworn-in at a time Nigeria was facing security challenges, especially insurgency, occasioned by Boko Haram in the North East, fuel scarcity and monumental corruption.  On the issue of insurgency in the North East, I think I will rate the president 90 percent. He has been able to liberate all the local government and cities captured by Boko Haram.  The security agencies are now more professional than they were before the coming in of this new administration. Remember, the first thing the president did when he came into office was to move the command structure of the military to Maiduguri, which is the stronghold of the insurgents. I believe this is one of the landmark decisions taken by the president. The morale of the soldiers became high unlike before when they were in the battlefield and their bosses were busy relaxing in Abuja. Also, their welfare is given priority by the president and as we can see, they are now fighting with their hearts and they have been achieving tremendous results. The issue of bomb blasts which was almost a daily reoccurrence before has drastically reduced and that can be attested to by everybody. On the issue of corruption, we have all seen what the president has been able to do so far in the area loot recovery from those who have corruptly enriched themselves at the expense of the nation.  Daily, we hear of mind-boggling revelations of how some individuals and groups abused their privileged position to pillage the resources of the nation.  At the last count, EFCC said that they have gotten about 140 convictions in six months. Under this administration, we are hearing of high profile corruption cases and the perpetrators being prosecuted.  Look at the issue of the $2.1b that was to be used for the prosecution of equipment for our military so that they can effectively defend the nation against internal and external aggression but this money was diverted by some people to fund elections. A lawyer recently said that his client is willing to voluntarily refund N400m to EFCC. So, for corrupt persons, they now know that it is no longer business as usual and I think we should give the president kudos on this.

But some Nigerians have said the anti- corruption war of the president is one- sided. What is your perspective on that?

Between the PDP and APC, who was in power for 16 years at the federal level? Do you expect the government to beam its searchlight on and prosecute those who were in opposition in the last 16 years? It was PDP that was in power at the federal level. They were the ones that mismanaged the resources of the nation and so they should be asked questions. I think we should all join hands in the fight against corruption and stop being sentimental because someone we know, or a party we have support for is involved. Corruption has been described as the bane of progress and development of the nation and now that we see a leader of integrity who is ready to fight it headlong, we should give him our full support.

What is your take on the removal of fuel subsidy which has led to an increase in price of petrol from N86 to N145?

On the removal of fuel subsidy or the increase in the price of petrol as it were, has to do with the happenings in the global oil market. We’ve never had it so low for crude oil to drop to as low as $28bpd compared to when the price was $140bpd.  That means what we are getting now is 1/7 of what we were generating during the tenure of former president Goodluck Jonathan. That presupposes that if we were unable to pay salaries as at then, I don’t know how President Buhari is managing to pay salaries as at now and even to give bail out to state governors.  On the issue of deregulation of the downstream sector, subsidy has three elements. It can be green, yellow or green.  When it is green, it is permissible but when it is red it is not permissible.  The issue itself is not the subsidy; it is the fact that the process is ridden with high level corruption. We have a system where we are paying for what we are not gaining anything from. We have a situation whereby we are paying as much as N2.1trn in 2014. Imagine what that huge sum of money can do in developmental projects in that year. The question we need to ask ourselves is ‘How much was used for development for capital projects in Nigeria? Instead of using such a money for developmental gain, it was used to feed some fat cows who were doing nothing but got paid in the name of subsidy. Now that we do not have the forex to pay, it becomes imperative for the government to face the reality, kill that corruption and see how far we can go. It is bitter pill that we must swallow but at least, it will free us from those sharks called petroleum exporters. For me, I don’t believe the money saved from the subsidy should be used like SURE-P was used; where the money was shared and we don’t see what they used the money for. My belief is that the money should be used for developmental and infrastructural projects that we can see, maybe for fixing the Lagos-Ibadan expressway or other tangible things. It must not be used for recurrent expenditure but solely for capital projects.   I am glad that now, the president has started releasing funds for developmental projects. So, let’s see what happens in the next three to six months. I know that things will change positively in the next one year.

What solution will you proffer to the poor power supply in the country despite increase in electricity tariff by the federal government?

 On the issue of electricity, I think NASS should gird their loins and do the needful. They should be able to investigate and check the activities of the DISCOs and GENCOs on what they are charging Nigerians. They should also be made to fix prepaid meters for everybody, either industries or private homes. The era of crazy billing should be gone. They shouldn’t tell us that it is impossible for industries to get prepaid meters. That is a lie because in other climes, they give industries meters.  People should be able to know the exact amount they are paying for what they consume. Also, Nigeria has to make tremendous investments in electricity either by the government or the private sector. We are not building new power stations and it is what we generate that we will distribute. Attention must be paid to electricity generation while we manage what we have now.

Lagosians voted for continuity of governance in 2015. One year after, do you think that decision has paid off?

Let me say that the continuity we voted for in Lagos is yielding positive dividends.  Our revered laeder, Asiwaju Bola  Tinubu started the building process in 1999 by laying a solid foundation for growth and development. That was consolidated upon by Mr. Babatunde Fashola and now, Governor  Ambode has taken it a notch higher.  I am amazed by the quantum of works being done by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode. I think he has done tremendously well.  We should all give him kudos and cooperate with him so that he can do more in the next three years. But as you know, we are in the same government and as the legislative arm, we are supposed to be the watchdog. So, what I can say is that though the governor has done very well, the reward for hardwork is more hardwork. He should continue to do us proud and do his best for the good people of Lagos.