Hon. Tunde Braimoh is the Chairman, Lagos State House of Assembly Committee on Information, Publicity, Security and Strategy, he represents Kosofe 11 constituency. Braimoh says those who feel that the Assembly would be a rubber stamp to the state governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu just because both arms of government belong to the All Progressives Congress (APC) are wrong. The lawmaker in an interview with some journalists shortly before the suspension of two members of the House and removal of two principal officers of the House also spoke on the activities of the 9th Assembly, the restrictions of the movement of commercial motorcycles and tricycles in the state and other matters of interest. PATRICK OKOHUE reports.
*********What have been the achievements of the 9th Assembly so far?
The rules and procedures are there, we have the standard there already and it is going to be difficult for anybody to come and set them aside. The standard and the rules are there and they are being observed religiously. So, once they are followed, the standard would be there. It is going to be difficult to drop the standard. There is a way we do things here and it is devoid of primordial sentiments and bickering or selfish interest. Things are done with care without being immodest or denigrating other assemblies. We adhere to the rules and embrace the best practices of the legislature.
***********People out there believe that the House of Assembly would be a rubber stamp because the Assembly members and the governor are from the same party; APC. How do you convince the people out there that that is not so?
It is mere mischief for anybody to perceive or remark or deduce that because the lawmakers here and the governor are from the APC, then we will be a rubber stamp. We all know that even two friends cannot share things equally. They cannot agree on all issues, for instance, when someone gives them money, they might not agree on the sharing formula. Where morality and justice are found wanting, people might not agree. It is just a figment of the imagination of the people that we will be rubber stamp to the governor. In politics, there is no permanent enemy or friend, but permanent interest. So tomorrow, there would be differences. It is a risk to participate in such an ignominy venture. I will not be part of that. It is ridiculous for anybody to think that people don’t have integrity. They can’t imagine, they can’t assume, but it is not so. It is frivolous, spurious, ridiculous and ludicrous for people to think like that. People even lobby for a lot of things, so we cannot have that kind of cohesion. People don’t know the undercurrent of democracy. We cannot play to the gallery and take to the streets all the time, when you are not street fighters. If you do that, the people would be disappointed and speak against it. You cannot grandstand just for the people to know that you are working. You cannot do that and start shouting at yourselves and throw caution to the wind and people would blame you that this is not honourable. Even if you have the right thing to say, you say it in a proper way. There are grievances and there are channels to pass them, not by going on the streets. You only go to the streets if you get to a point of no return. But nobody wants to get into trouble as people are familiar with the rules of their undertaking and rules of their establishment.
When I had engagement with my MDAs under my committee, I had issues with them as I insisted that they should bring documents to show that I have done my job. I told them I cannot let you go just because you are my friend. There are procedures, there are steps on this job. When you do anything as a committee you would still take it to the committee of the whole. So, why do you want to ridicule yourself? It doesn’t end with you. Anyone, who knows his onions, would not make a fool of himself.
************The ban on okada and tricycles by the state government is generating comments, both positive and negative among the residents, what is your take on this?
You cannot sacrifice justice on the altar of sentiments. Government is not run by sentiments, it is run by courage. What I should ask those people who are postulating primordial idea is to ask them what the law says. What does the Transport Reform Sector Law of 2017 say about where okada or tricycle should ply. Ignorance is not an excuse in law. We swore to uphold the laws of the country and the state on the day of inauguration. Whatever we do on that day revolves around that. Once we have sworn to that, if you fail, you can be taken up. You can even be sued for that. So, let us not deceive ourselves or trivialise serious issues. A society is predicated on laws and order. Any order at all. Let us say we are only two in a society, there must be an order or else we would just kill ourselves. We have had a case, where a state like Ogun decided to make a woman the Speaker of the House when the men could not agree amongst themselves. There must be order in a state or else, we would return to the stone age, where might was right, where there was no structure. When Cain killed Abel, people could do anything. That would be a society that is brutish, short and nasty. Those of us who are here, we are not the oldest, the richest or the most educated in the state and the same goes for the governor. Once someone is put there, we have to obey him and respect him. We must continue to obey him because the office is very important. The office of the governor is the image of Lagos, the face of Lagos. So, if we like ourselves we will respect the office for our own good.
What we did is the right thing. Those who have been at the receiving end would support it and those who think they are eating from it would be against it and must you eat at the detriment of others. Where your own right stops is where those of others begin. Every right is not absolute, even the power of the President is not absolute.
Whatever you want to do might affect others. A society is built on self restraint, modesty and consideration for others. Anybody coming to Lagos for the first time must not be confounded with an impression of poverty, unorganised and haphazard arrangement. Look at the motorbike with all their irregularities, they cannot take more than four people with the rider and tricycles cannot take more than five people. Can you compare that with a high capacity mass transit that can take about 90 people or the incoming light rail that would take about 1,000 people at a go? People should allow the government to do their work. Light rail would start working soon, we should not disturb the government, we should not allow these weapons of destruction. Don’t adopt temporary solution to a permanent problem, it cannot work. Let us discern the problem, and look at the solution. Okada and tricyles they are solutions, but they are not enduring solutions to the problem. They are solutions that can solve one problem and create ten others. You carry one or two people, and this will disturb the road, it is being used for robbery and it is prone to fatal accidents. It is not banned, there are places they can ply or operate. Will I say because I want to eat I will start calling cow brother, sheep aunty and call goat sister. We have to be realistic.
The law is there and it must be obeyed. I commend the governor for taking the bull by the horn and doing what is right. The governor loves the people, he was elected by the people. So he would feel pain if he sees people suffering. The governor went to the market and appealed to the people selling items on the road to stop doing so. It is not a new law, he ought to just start implementing it.
Majority of the people riding okada are not Nigerians, some came from Togo, Ghana, Niger, Chad and some other countries. We are not saying they should not come, but they cannot work without permit. When you go to any community, you must abide by the law of the community. We travel all over the world and we see what they do there. You cannot go to Abuja and start riding motorcycle, you cannot do so in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. People cannot come to Lagos to do just what they like. We have a governor and we have a parliament. I want to appeal to the people to co-operate with the government. Those who feel they want jobs should write their names and they will get them jobs. There are works everywhere. When I used to run business, people have asked me about the challenges of the work and someone said it is security, and I said yes, they said power, I said yes, but it is not the worse. When they asked me what is worse, I said it is personnel. All these things put them together, it is the personnel that would drive them. I have encountered difficult personnel in the past. People don’t want to work, they just want money. We must change our mentality. People who want jobs should go to the Ministry of Employment and Poverty Alleviation and we will do something about it. You can do some jobs and change it later. But everybody wants to be his own boss. They don’t want to work for anybody.
***********Do you support the call for the removal of Service Chiefs by President Buhari?
Security is a national concern; it is not something we can just discuss. The Service Chiefs were appointed by the President based on his power. We should not discuss such an issue in a heated manner that would send a wrong signal to those on the field as if they are not appreciated. We should appreciate them, while we look for a solution to the problem. Maybe the National Assembly should hand it over to a committee to handle in camera and they should give their recommendations to the executive in camera. We need to be careful in discussing anyhow. I have a family member, a senior officer, who was shot by Boko Haram. My son in the United States of America wanted to join the army, but I begged him not to do so. So we should be careful in handling the matter. It is not something we can just discuss anyhow, the National Assembly has the right to say what they have said.
***********What are your guiding principles as a lawmaker?
I want to appeal to our people to take out time to understand the tenets of the works of a legislator. They are saying why are we not working on a part time basis. But I tell you, 24 hours is not enough for a lawmaker that is assiduous. People should familiarise themselves with our work and even visit us to see the kind of work we are doing. They should see what is expected of us and how we are faring not just to make uninformed comments about us. Some people wanted to give me an award on education recently, but I politely declined it because I have not done anything on education to deserve the award. He didn’t like it, but I declined it all the same. People commercialise awards and take them round. When somebody has not done something why are you ascribing it to him.
I would want people to know that Rome was not built in a day. We have been independent for 59 years and we have had 31 years of democracy, with what we have had since 1999 to date, about 21 years being the longest. So, that is the most enduring democracy that we have had. It has its own teething problems and the worst form of democracy is better than the best military government. We should make it work. We have had elections that were free, they might not be so fair, but it will get better. In the last election, 60 million people registered, but how many people voted. Less than half of that voted in the election. Our democracy is tilted to the productive population, under 35 years and below. If there is no legislature, there would be totalitarian government. We are doing a lot of work. The fact that people are watching you will make you to be careful more. I will not want people to find me out and I start begging. What of if I beg and you don’t accept the begging. Some of us have integrity and we would not want it to be rubbished.