Lagos APC must have reward system to assuage aggrieved members, says Abiru
Honorable Rotimi Lateef Abiru, a member of Lagos State House of Assembly, representing Shomolu Constituency 2, in this interview with KEHINDE OLATUNJI spoke on how to pacify aggrieved members of All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state and how 1999 Constitution undermines Lagos
You have been in House of Assembly for 16 years, what has been the experience?
Well I am indeed, a fourth term member of House of Assembly and by 2023 I would have completed 16 years of service to my state. For the fact that I have been here for quite a while, I have had the opportunity to serve under two speakers and three governors.
In the House of Assembly we are guided by our rule book and this is what we operated in my first three tenures in the House of Assembly. But towards the end of former Governor Akinwumi Ambode’s tenure, Speakers of the Southwest came together and felt there was a need for us to have a unified business rule and standing order for the entire region. Right now, we have a unified business rule and standing order for Southwest legislatures.
What has been your impact to the people of your constituency?
The role of a legislator is to make laws and carry out oversight functions. I owe people in my constituency a duty to represent their interests, so basically this is the work of a lawmaker. And for me to have had the opportunity of having to come a second, third and fourth term, something must suggest to you that this person must probably have something that he is doing for his people that is endearing him to them.
It’s no news that APC is currently in the eye of the storm especially in Lagos State, as some are agitating that they are not allowed to fulfill their political ambitions?
This is the period for politicking, so you hear all sorts of things, but it is common knowledge that the party has its guiding principles and as members of the party we are meant to conform to the rules of the party.
I am a member of APC and I cannot but wish that our party continues to rule in Lagos forever. The reasons for the agitations and discontentment in the party are because virtually all members want to aspire for a position. It is not enough for us to relax; we need to connect with the people because it is very clear that the voting population is much more than the population of party members. So it is very important that we in APC do not take things for granted.
The state of the economy as it is right now is quite challenging, if Lagos was a country on its own I am sure we would have abundance. But Lagos is a sub-national and the document that binds us together as a country is faulty. It has put Lagos in a position of disadvantage.
Lagos contributes as much as 60 per cent of revenue to the Federal Government. Just imagine if Lagos were a country on its own, the revenue would be spent on development. This hasn’t been too palatable for us in Lagos State because the effect of the activities that generate these resources remain in Lagos. The busiest airport, seaports are in Lagos, but the money is taken to the Federal Government while the pollution arising from these activities doesn’t go to Federal Government.
There are aggrieved APC members in the state, what can be done to assuage their feelings and ensure a united front ahead of 2023 general elections?
We cannot but continue to appeal to aggrieved members to have faith in the party and its leadership.
Clearly, in the last few months there have been agitations and struggles for tickets. But, there is a need to understand that only one person will emerge as the candidate of the party.
So, when eight people for instance, jostle for a particular position, it is clear that it is only one person that will win the ticket. Seven others are likely not to be happy, particularly when they don’t see the process as free and fair. I would urge my party to have a reward system for members of the party that lost out in the cause of the struggle so as to allow everyone to have sense of belonging.
Also, I appeal to winners to be magnanimous in victory. Apart from securing the party’s ticket you are still going to meet the electorate for vote and votes count now. Every aggrieved party member should be pacified and winners should not go to elections with arrogance.
Do you subscribe to the idea of zoning to allow all tendencies have sense of belonging?
When it’s time for electioneering, it is the party that will decide the process. If the party says for instance, the cost of nomination form is a certain amount and you can’t afford it, who do you blame for that? But, I appeal to the party to provide a level playing field anytime there is need for party activities, nominations and other things. As we speak, the process for the wards, local government and state has been completed but in some states we still have agitations. But we have to understand that everybody cannot win at the same time.
What is your take on the decision of Asiwaju Tinubu to give presidency a shot in 2023?
I believe Asiwaju Tinubu has all it takes to be the president of Nigeria. He has the intellectual capability and the pool of resources. Don’t forget that the platform that he set in motion during his tenure as governor of the state is what the subsequent governors are using till today. He is a visionary leader, who understands problems inherent in Nigeria. I stand with him. Within APC members, I believe he is one of the best, if not the very best. But it is obvious that there is need for support from across the five geo-political zones to actualise the ambition of his presidency.
Do you think it is going to be a smooth ride for him, given that many said he brought the country to where it is today by supporting present President?
Well, President Muhammad Buhari contested under the platform of our great party, APC and Asiwaju Tinubu was the National Leader. The party chose President Buhari and it is the responsibility of all members to ensure that they campaign, mobilise and support him to win the election.
I don’t think Asiwaju has committed any crime or offence by supporting the candidate of his party to emerge victorious in the elections. But as it is, the performance of the present administration is not as bad as people project it. We may have our challenges as a people.