Hon. Abiodun Tobun represents Epe Constituency 1 in the Lagos State House of Assembly. In 2015, he was returned to the House unopposed on the platform of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in appreciation for his love for them through giving and people-oriented programmes. Now, Tobun, the Chairman, House AdHoc Committee on Works and Infrastructure, is seeking a third term in office in the 2019 election. He told PATRICK OKOHUE in this interview why he wants to return to the Assembly and why the state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode may return in 2019 unopposed.
This is your second term, almost seven years as a lawmaker in the Lagos State House of Assembly; I want you to look at the past years, with regards to your previous experience in the public service, what unique things have you learnt in the Assembly?
My experience as a civil servant is incomparable to what I have learnt in the assembly, because in the assembly, you need to be up and doing, you need to be reading on a regular basis, you need to update yourself, you need to know what you are doing.
You need to know that what you are doing concerns the whole state and by extension, your job is to think for the people, to reason for them and make laws to govern them, so it is a different ball game entirely and politics is full of intrigues. So you must be wary of your environment.
It is based on the laws that you make that will enhance the formulation of policies that will govern the people. But as a civil servant, you are to implement the policies made by the executives; you are implementing policies as a civil servant.
In the Assembly here, we make laws that would lay the foundation for formulation of policies that civil servants would go and implement. One requires analytical thinking, the other requires procedural approach.
While that of the Assembly requires analytical thinking, you must be able to see things from a broader perspective, look at the merits and demerits, look at the implications of the laws, how it affects the people. But in the civil service you are to carry out the directives given to you by the executive.
You got to the Assembly unopposed in your second term in your party, but prior to the era of former speaker of the assembly, Rt. Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, nobody ever came from Epe to the House twice. Now, what lessons did you learn from your being returned into the House unopposed and what burden did that put on you?
Well, I feel humbled with that singular honour given to me by my people to return to the House unopposed; it shows they are pleased with what we are doing in the House.
That now gives me a burden that I must not fail, I must not go below expectation. The people are expecting much from me, one now knows that the people repose absolute confidence in you, you must not fall short of their expectations else that would bring you down in totality.
I feel humbled for their honour and I feel challenged because with that opportunity, I must be ready to do more for that thing which earned me my ticket at my party level unopposed, so that the people would not regret putting me here.
I am challenged to do more, I am challenged to put in my best and to give them a good representation in the House. I must put in all my heart to do the job, because to whom much is given much is expected. So, I feel humbled and honoured and I appreciate my people for their belief in me.
Don’t you think you would be asking them for too much by seeking for a third term in office?
I must be honest with you, I am not the one asking them for a third term, they are the ones that are saying that ‘Tobun, you have to go back.’
They feel I am doing what is expected of me, they said I am collaborating and working with Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of the state, who, fortunately, is from my constituency, to develop Epe on all fronts.
My people told me what they want, what they want is the development of the community, dividends of democracy and they are seeing that in multitude.
Before then, I was the one lobbying here and there, striving to get things done, and they were getting results. Now all I have to do is to push a little and they see the result and it is the people that are now saying you have to go back.
It is coming from across the board, the people that really matter in the community; the traditional rulers, the party leaders, the religious leaders, the market men and women as well as the community development associations, everybody want me back into the state House of Assembly.
They said that they are aware that some people have come here third time, fourth time and fifth and that if you are doing well, you have to go back to the House and continue what you are doing. I feel honoured and humbled and I feel that they want me to do more.
What do I mean by that, I must be able to think outside the box for the people, to attract dividends of democracy the more to the constituency, you must ensure you do not absent yourself from office or do anything that would bring the constituency to disrepute, either in the larger society or in the House and that is exactly what I am doing.
If what you are saying is true, how come one of the leaders in the community is said to be propping up his son to challenge you for the office in 2019?
I don’t think any leader would do that, the leader in question is just trying to tell his son to start going through the tutelage of political rudiments, it is not really a serious business.
Because I doubt if the boy in question has a membership card of our party, the APC. It is until recently that the Supreme Court ruled that civil servants can join political parties, before then civil servants were not allowed to be involved in partisan politics.
That is why I said I doubt if he is a member of the party. It is a recent judgment and it is expected that someone must have been a member of a party for a period of time before contesting for an election through the party.
However, the boy is coming up, he can come around after I must have served my time out and the people say ‘Tobun, you have tried your best, give another person a chance.’
I want to assure you that when the time comes, it will be the particular leader who is propping his son up that would be the one to raise my hands that ‘Tobun, we want you to go and serve again.’
Are you saying you don’t expect to have any opposition in the constituency again this time around?
I am not seeing any opposition for now, it is not as if people are not showing interest. You know any good thing would surely attract more people.
Good things are not meant for only one person, nobody would not want to be called an honourable member, but it is based on majority support.
The beauty of it is that the father of the young man you are talking about is my leader, no doubt about that. He would tell his son to go and relax, when the time comes.
The young man is coming up, they are the ones that would take over from us in the future. But not now, we are still agile, we are still active. The people want us and the voice of the people is the voice of God, nobody can change the will of God.
Epe is having a good time because Governor Ambode is from the area, how would you say the governorship seat has impacted on the area?
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has impacted so positively and so meaningfully too on Epe. The governor combines an approach.
In governance in Lagos State, there are two approaches that people are adopting, one is community based approach, that is developing the rural area, to decongest the urban areas, another is urban driven development, they concentrate on the urban and abandon the rural areas.
But, in the case of Governor Ambode, he combines the two; he is developing both the urban and rural areas at the same time, moving the state to the next level.
He is turning the state to a megacity. He has impacted not only on Epe or East Senatorial District, but all parts of the state are feeling his impact.
The governor is God sent and like I normally say, this man is hungry for development and he is striving hard to put his name in gold and he wants to do things that when he leaves the office it would be difficult for anybody to beat the standard that he has set, it will even make people to be afraid to want to contest for that position, because he would have taken governance to the next level.
That is why today, people are afraid to come out against him, and we have few months to primaries. Nobody has come out to indicate interest to contest against him in the party even from the other parties.
Everywhere across the country people are coming out to signify their interest, but in Lagos State I am seeing him as the sole candidate of our party and by extension a governor unopposed in the state,
because those who are supposed to challenge him in the other parties, especially in PDP are decamping to join him and that was what worked for me in the second term, when people were now saying why must we contest against Tobun,
what we feel we can do is what he is doing and he is even surpassing it, do we go and expose ourselves, that is what is working for him, he has done wonderfully well that everybody is now afraid to challenge him and it is not by his making, it is the way God wanted it, that is why I say he is God sent.
He has been doing wonderfully well and we can see it, we can feel it, we can touch it.
You go to any part of Lagos State; you will see his hand work. As we are sitting here look outside the window you will see what he has done, cross to any part of the state, he has done what nobody has done before.
At least no local government or LCDA can say that he never touched them. He has just approved the construction of 181 roads and has released money for one road in each of the local governments and LCDA across the state.
The last time it was two each of the councils and LCDA. Do you know how many bridges he has constructed, how many pedestrian bridges? The longest pedestrian bridge in West African sub region is that Ojudu/Berger Bridge.
They call it twin pedestrian bridge and you see pedestrian bridges all over, you see Flyover Bridge in Ajah, you see Flyover Bridge in Abule Egba, what people thought was not possible he is doing it, so the opposition crumbled, he is doing it because he loves to do it.
There has recently been an upsurge in the number of people falling over themselves to endorse Governor Ambode for second term, but some people are saying yes Ambode is doing well and deserves to have a second term, but that many of those doing the endorsement however are not doing it in the interest of the governor, but for self interest, sycophancy, do you agree?
I want to tell you that at this level, most people doing it are not known by the governor, but they are doing it because they can feel it, do you change a winning team?
When you have an ace striker, who scores at all times, do you go and change that striker and bring a dead wood that will bring your club down?
So, I think those doing Ambode for second time are doing it to send signal to whoever may have that ambition to kill it, because when the support is coming from all angles the message will be clear that if you come out you won’t have any supporter. This is unusual in political terrain.
Normally they want people to come out so that they will take money from them, but come out to support Ambode, but now they are living above their individual primordial sentiments or personal gain and taking the interest of the larger society into consideration, that is why you are seeing this.
How many people can he compensate, how many groups will he give money to, those people doing this are doing it for posterity sake, saying this man is doing it and also to encourage other people to do good.
Service delivery, so that when you are put in place of power you will do what you are supposed to do people will appreciate. I think what they are doing is to appreciate him.
Like the former governor of the state said, the reward for hard work is more work. So, by the time everybody now come together to say your Excellency sir, we give you this ticket unopposed he will feel humbled and he will do more.
Because he will want his record to soar higher than it is now, he will want to do more and I am sure he will do more and once he does that who says tomorrow he cannot be president of this country,
because Nigeria is moving away from this man know man government, we now want service delivery, we now want people who will move us out of this shackles of oppression and if you see people who are doing it with passion, with sincerity of purpose, with all their might and strength, we want to encourage such people to continue to do more.
So, I think what they are doing across the state and across the country is to appreciate him.
A leader of our party told us at a public gathering that the governor has succeeded in taking governance above the common standard of excellence, that is what is encouraging him to do more, I don’t think he can buy everybody over, but his work speaks volume and it is his work that we are seeing that is making people to endorse him.
How would you convince the people about why you want to contest for a third term?
I don’t need to convince them, they know where they are going. I am doing my best for them, I have attracted development to the constituency, and they see me regularly.
They discuss with me regularly and I embark on projects constantly. Seeking for a third term is not my bidding, it is the bidding of the community.
I would only tell them that I would do more and I am ready to do more, I am willing to do more. The records are there. I give them UTME Forms, I do a lot of education programmes, empowerment programmes, water projects, I give them transformers and I make myself available to them. They must see you regularly.
I go to my community regularly and they come here everyday. There is no day you come here that you would not see the people from my community here. That is what we call establishing a relationship with the people.
I don’t need to tell them who I am, they know me and they know what I can do. It is just to tell them I would do what I would do and even do more this time around.
What would be your advice to the state government on the issue of refuse clearing in the state despite the Cleaner Lagos Initiative?
There is always a problem if you start a new project.
When the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) was doing it alone, they were not doing it well. Also, the Private Sector Partnership (PSP) do not have the capacity to clean the state.
That gave opportunity for cat pushers to take over and they were creating problems for the state. That was why the state government contracted Visionscape for the Cleaner Lagos project, they are building scientific landfill sites all over the state, they are also bringing in their equipment gradually.
Don’t forget that the programme is new, they have been moving round, so it would take time for them to get it right. They work throughout the day to get the job done.
By the middle of the year, they would have gotten all their equipment on ground to work. Also, don’t trust saboteurs who dump wastes all over the state to sabotage the project.
Why can’t the officials of the Lagos State Neighborhood Corps (LSNC) be doing the job of monitoring the state on that?
Human beings are the most dangerous in the world. Somebody driving a car would just dump the waste and move away, how do you catch them.
Some people dump waste from moving vehicles, how do you catch them. I don’t think this is good enough. Why can’t people put their waste in the bag and dump it in the right place.
Everywhere across the country people are coming out to signify their interest, but in Lagos State I am seeing him as the sole candidate of our party and by extension a governor unopposed in the state, because those who are supposed to challenge him in the other parties, especially in PDP are decamping to join him and that was what worked for me in the second term, when people were now saying why must we contest against Tobun, what we feel we can do is what he is doing and he is even surpassing it
I am not the one asking them for a third term, they are the ones that are saying that ‘Tobun, you have to go back.’ They feel I am doing what is expected of me, they said I am collaborating and working with Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of the state, who, fortunately, is from my constituency, to develop Epe on all fronts. My people told me what they want, what they want is the development of the community, dividends of democracy and they are seeing that in multitude.