2023: Nigeria needs best man for the job — Lanre Rasak
Chief Lanre Rasak, a member of Lagos State Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC), in this chat with SEYE OLUMIDE, spoke on the state’s debt profile and presidential ambition of party’s National Leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Do you agree that Lagos is under the firm grip of Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the GAC members are mere stooges?
We have a lot of armchair critics who doesn’t see anything good in whatever Tinubu does. Mention any state that has stable governance and continuous development like Lagos. This is because Tinubu has been playing the role of a leader, such that after his tenure as governor, he laid a standard structure for the state to continue to grow and develop. He is a wonderful man that is naturally gifted in human capital development. Look at the political terrain in Nigeria today, you will hardly find the likes of Tinubu around. Those he worked hard to develop are now giving back to the country.
Those who know what Tinubu means for Nigeria have continued to defend him, letting others understand that Tinubu is naturally gifted and he is impacting knowledge and ability on others.
Ahead of the 2023 presidential election, do you see Tinubu as the best material the Southwest can produce, if he declares to contest?
What Nigeria needs is the best material for the job and for the best material to succeed Buhari, Tinubu still stands shoulder tall than most of the people we are canvassing. With due regard and respect to our brother, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, he is a lawyer of fine reputation, but nobody would have known him in the political circle if Tinubu had not found and built him. What Nigerians often say is that leadership is the bane of our development, if we then found a good leader with all the quality to deliver, then let’s put religion out of it. We need to talk of how we can have a country where there is peace, development and appropriate infrastructure.
Tinubu is a tested person at the state level, in business circles and he is a man that has the capacity and rigour of running a state. That is my candidate and we are appealing to him to please come out and serve his country, and I am sure he will accept the offer.
How can the Southwest harmonise ahead of next general election?
There is no region all over the world that does not have crisis. We are talking of acquisition of power; it is never served as food in the restaurant. People struggle and work to get what they need. We are aware of what you are saying and I can assure you that we have sufficient crisis management mechanisms that the leadership of the party will deploy at the appropriate time. What you considered as crisis may be our strength to get the things done.
Why is it difficult for Lagos to get the special status under an All Progressives Congress (APC) administration?
The situation is very clear. Lagos as an APC state has achieved a lot. One, the Federal Government House at Marina has been transferred to Lagos State. All the outstanding bills for roads repaired on behalf of the Federal Government had been paid, except the new ones embarked on in recent time. In the last 10 years, Lagos State has appealed for FG’s support and approval of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to continue the deep sea projects at Lagos Free Trade Zone in Ibeju Lekki and Badagry, which was not given, but under this administration, we are doing fine and our developmental efforts are being fast-tracked. And they will do more.
Don’t you think denying the immediate past governor, Akinwunmi Ambode a second term is why the state is currently experiencing gaps in the area of traffic, among other challenges?
People say a lot, but I don’t know of the gaps. Are we saying that Sanwo-Olu has not done anything since he came into power? Or, he has not worked. People don’t just come into government without critically studying the situation on ground. And they do this with the aim of applying sufficient experience to get the best for the people.
For instance, people are saying the roads are bad, but this is so because Lagos has never had the quantum of rain it experienced this year in the last 25 years. And Sanwo-Olu should not waste taxpayers’ money to repair roads, which will get washed away almost immediately after being fixed. We have to bear the pains and now that the dry season is here, you will see that Lagos roads are being fixed. In the next two to three months, things will be better. We appeal to our people to exercise some patience and pay their taxes to support the government.
Some argue that Lagos’ huge IGR and federal allocation should be enough to address the issues, instead of borrowing?
It is very easy to cross the river on the map. Those saying so do not know what the money is being used for and the exact amount the state is spending. I can tell you authoritatively that the people in government today are very prudent with public fund and are applying it to the best interest of Lagosians. So, we don’t need to worry and no need for anybody to be crying than the bereaved. We have given the mandate to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and we know him too well before we did that. He and his team are doing very serious financial re-engineering of funds and resources available to the state.
What is your take on Lagos’ rising debt profile, especially the recently approved N250 billion loan for the executive by lawmakers?
Lagosians need to understand that those who extend credit to Lagos and the state government strongly believe in the state’s ability to repay. Another good thing to consider is the economic benefit of the projects that would be executed with the loan. If we don’t borrow today, the cost may be twice, when the projects are to be executed in later years. So, it is logical, reasonable and economical to borrow and it is good for the state.
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