Honourable Fatai Adesina is a member of the Oyo State House of Assembly. He speaks with DARE ADEKANMBI on the perceived poor quality of political leadership in the country, the creation of Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs), among others.
ON the floor of the House of Assembly, you were one of those who kicked against the allocation of the newly created 35 LCDAs. Did you do this because you are an opposition lawmaker?
The summary of my argument is that it is not a bad idea to create LCDAs because if you look at other South-West states, there are LCDAs. We are in politics because of development. But what we are saying is that the exercise should not be a political jamboree. The state government should think first about the funding of the LCDAs so that by the time they are properly set up, they won’t come across as a political game or a ploy to postpone the much-advertised local government election or even a popularity stunt. The argument of the state government on the issue has been fantastic. It said it was done to prepare for likely state creation or local government creation and such councils will have been on ground as LCDAs. But what we are saying is that government should provide funding and look at infrastructural requirement of the exercise.
Like I did mention on the floor, the current 33 councils in the state have gone comatose. What you see when you visit most of these councils are abandoned vehicles, lack of organisation, dilapidated infrastructure and other ugly things. The councils have been run by caretaker committees for over five years now. We can’t continue like this and that is why as a member of the opposition party, I had to raise it on the floor. Funding is an essential requirement in any programme one sets out to do.
The constitution gives the state houses of assembly supervisory function on local government. Why then do you complain that the councils are being run with caretaker committees the names of whose members are forwarded to you lawmakers for approval and which you have graciously been approving?
There are so many factors surrounding most of these functions. First, you need to look at what is going on in the councils at the moment. What we have therein are caretaker committees. The assembly has its own internal mechanism for supervising the councils. Politics is dynamic. The era when opposition lawmakers go to the press to shout or raise the alarm is gone for good. There is what we call the rule of engagement. We call officials of the executive arm to the House and the various House committees engage them. One thing the state government keeps saying is that it is ready to conduct council election, which we believe will be done soon. So, by the time we have in the councils, elected chairmen who have the mandate of the people the councils, there will be a change and the lawmakers will fully carry out these constitutional duties on the councils.
My appeal is that every politician at every level should always make their word their bond because a time will come when politicians will give account of their stewardship. Those who are not able to practise what they preach will be voted out when another election comes. If the government fails to hold council election, it will have serious consequences for it in 2019. Look at the bye-election in Oorelope Local Government. Despite the ruling party’s campaigns which were graced by the governor, his deputy and their wives, the people of Oorelope still kept faith with Labour Party. That is a lesson. Edo State governorship election was postponed for reasons known to the security agencies which claimed there was a security threat.
The state Labour Party chairman you the opposition lawmakers as being rubber stamp legislators, including members from his own party. Did this strike you?
I read that interview too wherein he indicted himself unknowingly. Accord performs regular oversight functions on those of us who are its lawmakers in the House. If he as the chairman doesn’t perform that role on LP members, it means he is failing in his duty as well. We in Accord give periodic report of happenings in the House to our leader. I will recommend to LP chairman to employ such approach too so that he will know we are not rubber stamp lawmakers.
We are not ragamuffins. I joined politics after a successful banking career which saw me serve as a branch manager of one of the prominent banks in Nigeria. Do the people expect me to be fighting in the House and in the ensuing melee. I am thrown out through the window and have a broken arm or leg in the process? I mentioned the rule of engagement earlier, which is more important to us as an approach to solving issues. There are different routes to a market. It is the mechanism we deploy that is different from one person to another.
The poor quality of political leadership is one thing people identified as part of the reasons the country has not developed at the pace it ought to. What do you see to this?
I agree with you that so many misfits are today calling the shots in our political ecology and this ought not to be so. The problem we have is that the elite, especially of the finest quality, have refused to join politics. During the First and Second Republics, the leaders that were on the scene were high quality people who were deep in knowledge and versed in administration. They were well grounded in almost all fields. The quality of education they received, the training they got made them to be outstanding and matchless. But what do we have today? A lot of people who don’t know their left from right have been let loose on the system. To develop at a faster rate, Nigeria needs a replica of heroes past to be in charge of its political and economic affairs. If I am not in politics today, will I be able to do all that I am doing for my people? There is a limit to what I can do from personal resources.
Will Accord continue to exist as an opposition party or is it going to fuse into the planned mega third force party?
The purpose of setting up a political party is for the party to win election and form government so that it can affect the lives of the people positively. So, Accord, maybe, will have to merge with other opposition parties to make it have a better national outlook. We can’t keep operating at the local level any longer. The decision as to which way to go rests with the national leader, Senator Rashidi Ladoja.
There will be congresses later this month to usher in a new set of executives for Accord. Do you envisage any possibility of violence from those who may not get what they want?
The beauty of democracy is that people are allowed to decide and elect who their leaders will be. If you look at the PDP, for instance, after the demise of Chief Lamidi Adedibu and Senator Ladoja left the party, almost every one remaining in the party turned themselves into leaders. But in Accord, our leader is Senator Ladoja in whom resides the ultimate decision in the party. Accord is a family party that does not believe in violence as an instrument to achieve political ends. I can assure you that we shall conduct the best congress in the state and it will be rancour-free and worthy of emulation by other parties. Why should people kill their fellow human beings in the name of politics? It is absolute madness.
What is the motivation for your frequent empower programmes and constituency projects? Is it for you to be able to get something bigger from the people at the next election?
The motivation for me is based on the fact that I made so many promises while seeking the votes of the people. I thank Allah that I was given the mandate. The essence of the mandate is that the people who won the mandate expect me to fulfill the promises made, which is a must for me to do. I am doing all these empowerments and constituency projects so that when I come back to the people either to seek re-election or aspire for something higher or to even bring another candidate in the next election, my party and I will be rated based on what I have been able to accomplish for the constituency and how well I have represented them in the state parliament. One thing I am confident about is that I have been able to gain the trust of my people in me and I will continue to build on that. There is no crime in my having a higher aspiration because it is within my constitutional rights. If I aim higher, I will do more for my people.