Apostle Oloruntoba Oke was recently re-elected as Chairman, Ifako-Ijaiye Local Government Area of Lagos State. In this interview with ESTHER TAIWO, Oke speaks about his agenda for the second term in office, current affairs in the nation’s polity and other sundry issues.
What can you say saw to your emergence as the executive chairman for the second time?
Well I owe it all to God, then our national leader, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, our amiable governor Akinwunmi Ambode and the good people of Ifako-Ijaye because even where any democratic rule is made that is returning me and the people refuse to vote for me I will not still be on this seat, but the good people decided to support me to still be here, I am really grateful to them.
What can you say were your previous achievements that may have endeared you to the electorates’ heart?
I can’t begin to relay the achievements now because they are many, but I can only say the six point agenda which we went round to campaign with during the last election
were what we implemented, starting from youth empowerment, trade improvement scheme for our women, care for the elderly, sport’s regeneration, general infrastructural upgrade and
comprehensive primary health care, all these were given attention during our first term even though we cannot say we were able to achieve 100 percent of what we set out to achieve in the area of implementing some of those things
and that is why during our electioneering campaign we used the slogan continuity project, it’s an opportunity for us to continue from where we stopped so that we can complete some of the projects that were ongoing,
fortunately for us some of the projects we left are still there so we are going back to them, it’s just a continuation of what we were doing before we left.
What major challenge is the community facing?
Generally we want to tackle the problem of youths unemployment, that is the greatest problem we are facing, though not peculiar to Ifako Ijaiye alone, it is throughout the state,
even the governor is doing a lot to battle youth unemployment by establishing a lot of agencies almost on a weekly basis to tackle the challenge of youths’ unemployment
and I want to complement that by organising a lot of skill acquisition programmes for our youths and channeling our resources towards getting them to become self-employed adults.
Lagos is striving towards becoming a mega city, what do you think can be the bane of achieving this?
Two things can actually impede the process of Lagos becoming a mega city, first is funding and happily our governor is a man of vigour, an accountant of no mean repute, an accomplished administrator with great experience,
somebody who has been in the system for quite some time and I believe whatever resources available to him he will manage it in such a way that he will still have whatever project that will drive the process towards making Lagos become one of the mega cities in the world.
The other challenge that the project could face is that of loss of focus, that is if the governor that is occupying the drivers’ seat in our effort and bid towards actualising the goal loses focus and I believe he cannot because right from day one he has made his intentions known,
even during the electioneering campaign, he did not leave anyone in doubt that he’s going to resolutely commit himself towards making Lagos become a mega city,
he’s a committed patriot, a consummate administrator and a patriotic progressive, the focus is there and he has set that goal for himself that Lagos must become a mega city.
The clamour for local government autonomy has been on for long, what do you think will be the gains to local government areas in Lagos State?
Local government autonomy, I really don’t like discussing the issue in the sense that in Lagos State, I have been saying it and will continue to say it,
what obtains here may not be the practice in other states of the Federation, because in Lagos State local government chairmen enjoy some degree of autonomy,
there is no interference with the local government chairmen, Lagos councils have autonomy like I am doing my second term and throughout my first term there was no interference,
everything I did was done on my own not because somebody somewhere was mounting pressure on me, although we hear stories of some state governors not releasing monies meant for local governments,
but in Lagos it is not so, I only want to urge all our chairmen that whatever resources made available to any local government chairman should be judiciously used for the development of the council and we must all be accountable, as
I am on this seat nobody dictates to me as to what policy to formulate or programme to implement, so, I would say that the Lagos State council enjoy a degree of autonomy, we operate independently.
Advocacy has been on for the country to go through restructuring, some believe it should go back to the regional system of government to decentralise power from the Federal Government, what is your own view on the issue of restructuring?
Restructuring at this stage of our national life is the most desirable thing to do, the country should be restructured in such a way that
all the ethnic nationalities should be allowed to move at their own pace, a situation where there is command structure from Abuja is a unitary system that we are operating, we only call it presidential system but it is not,
the US practice presidential system just like we also claim but in the US there is devolution of power, but here there is no devolution of power, what we have is acquireship presidential system and it should be discarded and
the country restructured with a view to putting in place a structure that will make it possible for every ethnic nationality to move at its own pace, for instance there are things that are culturally alien to us in Yoruba land,
for example in Yoruba land we believe in service, we are progressives, we believe in democratic socialism, but any structure that will not allow us to move at our own pace in order for us to achieve our aspiration and
our goal as a nation should be discarded and be replaced with a more meaningful structure that will make it possible for us to attain our height as a nation and as a region.
If reintroducing the parliamentary system of government is what people are talking about then I am for it.
Youths are complaining about being disenfranchised because of sit tight leaders, thus the call for Not Too Young to Run Bill, is this true?
I don’t believe any youth is being disenfranchised in whatever we do, whether in politics, in management, in administration and even in football there is need for experience , experience counts,
we cannot mortgage experience on the altar of youthfulness, fine, we can blend the two, if you look round you will see youths in every level of government, my advice generally to the youths is to continue to be good,
prove themselves to be relevant in the scheme of things and prove themselves to be useful, they will always be carried around, my Vice Chairman is a youth and I am engaging a lot of them to work with me.
Nigerians generally are losing hope in the All Progressives Congress (APC) because the party is yet to deliver on its campaign promises, what is your take on this?
Anybody that expects delivery of promises within two years of APC’s four year tenure after the rot and damage that was done to our economy by the PDP over a period of 16 years, that person does not know what he is saying,
because the rebuilding of the economy must start from somewhere and how can a group of people destroy a nation for 16 years and somebody somewhere is expecting that the damage will be corrected within two years, it is not possible, people just have to be patient.
As a matter of fact, every right thinning Nigerian should know that the first four years should be seen as a period for laying the foundation to bring about the rebuilding of the economy and not that within two years it should be Eldorado and the economy should be back on track within two years.
Assets being seized from Diezani, a woman in charge of petroleum, stealing that much over N300 billion, none of them stole millions all of them stole in Billions of Naira,
but all that had stopped and then leakages through which some of the money are being siphoned are being blocked and people should be patient and allow the socio economic reconstruction of the country, it should come about through a gradual process.
How will your administration look into the issue of stomach infrastructure which has become the slogan of the other party?
Stomach infrastructure? I don’t think there is anything like stomach infrastructure in my programme and nothing like that in the manifesto of my party,
if what people mean by stomach infrastrucure is provision of welfare packages for Nigerians, for Lagosians or for people in our constituencies, we will not toy with their welfare package but,
it goes beyond sharing of rice, what type of rice are they distributing, is it two cups of rice or what? We must be pragmatic in our approach to issues, even in taking care of welfare of people we must be pragmatic ,
we need to do this through solid, meaningful and decent welfare packages and not distributing cups of rice to them, but we will do a lot in the area of welfare of our people.
How will you score the present administration of President Buhari in its fight against corruption, especially when no one has been prosecuted so far?
If we are saying no one has been prosecuted so far, which one do we want? Is it for people to return what they have stolen or to be prosecuted,
because in some cases it is negotiated arrangements we are having and the money stolen have been returned and the funds so returned will be channeled towards implementing programmes across the country,
it is not compulsory that people must be prosecuted, once they are caught and it is discovered that they have stolen this much and the fact has been established that they stole that much then they should be asked to refund the stolen funds or get jailed,
the person refunds the money but what we should guide against is not doing what is expected by way of doing what should serve as deterrent to prospective thiefs.
Having worked with the previous governor, Babatunde Fashola and now Akinwumi Ambode, what major difference do you notice between the two?
There is a world of difference between the style of previous administration at the state level, but I must tell you that I am more at home with Governor Ambode’s style, he’s not a noise maker,
he’s been performing wonders everywhere, if one moves round the state you see all kinds of developments that have taken place, it is not lopsided, this time it is an all round development, state wide transformation, physical and economic transformation,
so I am satisfied with his style of administration, not a lopsided one, one project is not waiting for the other, transformation is taking place simultaneously, everyone is feeling the developments, it is okay and a good style for me. I will want to embrace his style.
What legacy will Oloruntoba Oke want to leave for Ifako-Ijaiye?
I want to leave a legacy of service, I want the people of Ifako Ijaiye to look back and say the person that took Ifako Ijaiye to a greater height in an uncommon way is Oloruntoba Oke, that is what I want to be remembered for.
I want to leave a legacy of service, I want the people of Ifako Ijaiye to look back and say the person that took Ifako Ijaiye to a greater height in an uncommon way is Oloruntoba Oke, that is what I want to be remembered for