Hon Gani Quadri is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in Lagos State and the immediate past Sole Administrator of Alimosho Local Government Area of the of the state. In this interview with INIOBONG IWOK, he speaks on the ongoing constitutional amendment which moves to grant local government autonomy, arguing that with the present structure of the country autonomy for local government will fail. He also speaks on other issues.
How was your experience in office and did you not feel like not leaving office?
It was challenging, but considering the cosmopolitan nature of Lagos State it is not always easy to serve here, but when you have the mindset to serve you would achieve. I came out as a fulfilled man. Some of my colleagues were not happy when we were leaving. But I told them it should not be, because there is always an end to everything. Even if I was to be the governor it would always end one day. But I want to advise that the people must see themselves as part of the government, they must be law abiding, governance is a two way thing.
What is your view of the recent amendment which grants autonomy to LGA?
We should not be biased in what we are doing. When a tree falls and you are removing it from the top, then there is problem, rather what you would naturally do is to remove from the bottom. What NASS is doing is be removing a tree from the surface, and thinking it would solve the problem. What we need in Nigeria is true federalism and naturally the local governments would have autonomy. Granting local government autonomy is not the first thing to do, it is for us to practice true federalism and devolve power to the states so that they can be in control of their resources, if that is done the 20 LGA and 37 LCDA in Lagos would have autonomy. But if you give local government autonomy with this present system how would the 57 LGA and LCDA in Lagos survive?
The Northern lawmakers being the majority in the National Assembly are always after their own interest and sometimes there is always conflict of interest in the National Assembly. What we need to have is true federalism, let each states decide what they want. But a layman on the street who does not understand that there is more to it, would say they are giving local government autonomy, it is the case of the more you look the less you see that is the problem. If we do not have true federalism, the Northerners would always feel that they are the superior.
What is responsible for the bad governance in the country among elected officials even when they know what to do?
The problem is with all of us, from the head to the bottom. For example: If you know me on my street, and I campaign for you to vote for me, instead you would demand for money, instead of you to take money and vote for the right candidate it is still that candidate you would vote for, even when it is obvious he would not perform.
Where do you expect me to get money and give you? Politicians see this as investment and how do you expect me to get my money back? That is the logic, so I want to recoup my investment and pay the bank and may be the god-father somewhere.
The people must see politics as service, they must see themselves as part of the process, we are all responsible for the way the country is run. Our problems are simple, ones we practice true federalism most of our problems would be solved.
How significant is the amendments on age and independent candidacy?
It would check god-fatherism and help the electoral process. If a party do not allow you to run on its platform, you can run on your own and as an independent candidate. It would help the process. I think we need to learn to start from the grassroots like councilor position and people would know you and you move on from there. The youths constitute about 70 percent of our population, we need to give them a chance to lead, if we don’t give them now when would they learn to rule themselves?
How do you react to the notion that local governments are is just another point of sharing money?
That notion is not correct. Here in Lagos State, LGAs are working, I can say that for Lagos State. I don’t know about Ogun, Oyo or any other state. Here the system is monitored and checked, so you have no choice than to perform.
What were your major achievements as a council boss?
We were able to carry out a total restructuring and modernisation of the council. Before we came on board, the secretariat had no toilet, staff use to go to nearby bank and eatery when they want to use the toilet. We built a toilet and carried out several infrastructural works in the council within the one year that I was in office. All the administrative offices have now been fixed with air-conditioners. We did many other things which made the people very happy.
Nigerians are not happy with the performance of your party, APC, and there is the feeling that the party may lose 2019 election?
Those that said the APC would fail are not true Nigerians. For how long have we been in office? The time is just too short to begin to judge us now. If you tell me we have been in office for 10 years and we have not delivered I would agree. You cannot correct the mistake of 16 years in just two years, the damages that was done to the country was much that it would take some time to heal.
We are lucky that the APC came to power, if the PDP had continued in government I am sure the country would have been for sale now. We need to be patient with this administration, Nigerians should realise that.
How do you react to the failure of the affirmative action bill?
True federalism is the solution to this issue. If you look at the composition of the National Assembly the Northerners are the majority and in the North women are not allowed to lead. So naturally that is why the Northern lawmakers being the majority they voted against the bill, I am not surprised that the bill did not see the light of the day.