Otunba Ganiyu Olusagun Abiru, is the immediate past Clerk/Permanent Secretary of the Lagos State House of Assembly. The Ikorodu born retired civil servant is aspiring to represent the people of Lagos East Senatorial District in the National Assembly in 2019. In this interview with PATRICK OKOHUE, he speaks on his ambition and his plans for his people.
AS a senatorial aspirant for Lagos East, what are those things you know that your constituency needs that you want to pursue if given the opportunity?
When you look at the population of the youth generally, in every nation they constitute over and above 60-65% and that means that that segments of the population is a critical factor in the development of any nation.
There is wide unemployment, but then there is employment. More of our youths should look inwards. Most of them think that the only way they can make it is to partake in politics, because to them they think politics will afford you cheap money and cheap popularity and I can tell you for free that the in thing now which I think if elected is to aggressively encourage our youth into is ICT, software development is the in thing now.
There is still shortage of people in that area and how much does it cost to train one person? Less than N300,000 one person is trained. So when you look at all of these areas that are under Lagos East senatorial district, if on a yearly basis, you are able to train 30, or 40, or 50 people,
you would have done a lot of good for a lot of persons, because it’s a system that those persons you are training will also train some others and that person will also train others and by the time you know it, by the time you look at the four years of your tenure, you would have trained about 200, 300, 400 people.
Take 400 off the streets. Those 400 are the people who have direct links with you and you can imagine the ripple effect of that.
Like I told you, people say there’s no job, I always tell people, even selling fruits is a minor investment, but you have a greater output, barbing job, people will say can I do barbing, I know a guy in my area, he is doing this barbing job for quite some time and he’s doing a fantastic job.
He is doing wonderfully well. Infact there was a vagrant in my area, the guy always asks for money and I called him one day and I asked him why don’t you go and learn barbing.
He said he doesn’t have money. Well, some few people gathered together, sponsored him and he went through the barbing within six, seven months, he has perfected the art of barbing. He has gotten himself a shop now and he has also gotten apprentices.
So what I’m saying in essence is that most of our youths do not have mentors, do not have coaches, do not have guidance. By the time we will come onboard, these are the things we will do.
We will have offices in all the local governments which are under the Lagos East senatorial districts. We will have offices where these people will come and we will tell them what to do to make a living.
The second point is that when you look at this side, the Lagos East senatorial district, we have not really tapped our agricultural potentials. We have not really tapped it.
In Ikorodu here there is a place that crabs, we call it crab colony. It’s there. There is never a time that if you go there you will not see crab. The tourist attractions are numerous.
Government attention has not been attracted to that. We are going to do all of those things. In Ikorodu West, there is a lot of money.
So what we are saying is that by the time we do all of these things, we will use our influence in government to pressure government to come and look at what we are talking about and then through that process, employment can be generated, revenue to the state government, and also the community can be enhanced in terms of tourism.
So you know there are sights. There are sights which are historical that are within Lagos East senatorial district, but which of course we have not really looked into.
These are areas that we will look into and then ensure that we will do. There is nothing bad in empowerment or buying whatever, but what I see about that empowerment of buying machine or whatever for them is that immediately at that point where you are giving them those machines they sell them off.
I am not saying it’s not good. Out of the 100 people that are given such equipments probably you will see five or ten of them that will make use of it. Most of them would have sold it.
But the beauty of it is that those who buy it are still part of the citizens of the state and per adventure they are also gaining the dividends of democracy.
But I think that we should be looking at something that is long-lasting, something that will impact on them directly, something that they can also sit down and say yes God you have been wonderful to us.
But as beautiful as your ideas are, to get this kind of position requires some fact. Number one is the endorsement of the leadership of the party in the state. How confident are you that somebody like Asiwaju Tinubu will be favourably disposed to your aspiration?
Well, there is no doubt in the fact that the Jagaban of Africa is a great leader not only in Nigeria, but in Africa, but I think the situation is not as people make it to be. The person you are talking about is a man with intelligence.
He is a man with native intelligence. African native intelligence and definitely would have listened to people before he makes his choice, so I would think that Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu wouldn’t have made an endorsement on somebody, wouldn’t have opted for somebody without thinking of the capacity and ability of that individual.
And I want to say that Asiwaju is not the only person that calls the shot. The primary is going to be held and the primary is not going to be held in the dark.
It is going to be held in the open and everybody will know who comes first and last. And by so doing, I think we should de-emphasise the issue of Asiwaju will endorse.
We are presenting him as being undemocratic. I don’t see him as such, I see him as a democrat per excellence and I see him as a person who can read people. When he gave us Fashola, people complained and what did Fashola do? He did wonderfully well.
Now when he also opted for Ambode, at least everybody also knew that there were primaries for all of those also.
And Ambode also came and you would see the transformation that Ambode has made out of Lagos, which means also that like I said the man has native intelligence and he couldn’t have won against the will of the people.
If the will of the people say Mr. this, I am sure that Asiwaju will also dance along with the people.
But whatever happens in politics, the party is supreme. There is always the supremacy of party. If the party says this is where we are going, I have no choice but to follow the party because without the party,
I cannot contest and there is no way that I can be struggling or be fighting the party because the party knows best and the party knows why it has taken some actions, but I think that everyone that wants to contest will have a level playing field so that you can display whatever you have.
All the contestants that I know are going round consulting and seeing people to be helpful to them in their cause. Of course I am going round.
I have gone to Epe, Ikorodu and things like that. It’s a game and I believe that somebody will win, but I always say and that is where I am particularly interested.
We should, our politicians must play down the issue of money because when you overplay the issue of money you are likely to have problems. The good people may not want to come in, and you’ll have the bad people having the whole field to themselves.
You talked earlier about bring propelled from your constituency, your community. Who are those behind you in Ikorodu? Who are those big wigs that you are sure are behind you?
Well, I wouldn’t want to sing my song. I don’t want to exaggerate issues, but you can do your investigation and see that God is with us and our people are equally with us. Like I told you initially, I didn’t want to come out for senate.
I had my eyes on something else, but the pressure was so much to the extent that even the kabiyesis around and the elites and particularly the youths, you know have to come to me, pressure me.
I say well, what am I? If people could come to me and tell me that they want me to play a certain role. I have no choice than to come in and do the little I can do.
I’m not saying that I’m the best in Ikorodu. I am not saying that, but I can say for sure that I know what I am doing. And I know that if elected, we will change the face of politics in Lagos East senatorial district.
The dividends of democracy will be felt by the people in the place. Not in terms of monetary gifts, but in terms of what will impact their lives eternally.
How confident are you?
My confidence is in the lord. Whatever is mine will never miss me and whatever misses me surely is not mine. That has been my principle.
I’ve never been desperate about any position. I have never been desperate about anything in my life. When it comes, I believe it’s the will of Allah, and if it does not come, I also believe that this is how God wants it to be. And I also tell my children to also try, work hard, if you achieve, thank God.
If you don’t achieve, try again and if you try and try and you don’t achieve, then it means it’s not meant for you. This is my first time of contesting election and it is my belief and prayer to almighty God that with His support I’m going to represent the Lagos East senatorial district 2019 in Abuja.
I’m not saying that I’m the best in Ikorodu. I am not saying that, but I can say for sure that I know what I am doing. And I know that if elected, we will change the face of politics in Lagos East senatorial district. The dividends of democracy will be felt by the people in the place. Not in terms of monetary gifts, but in terms of what will impact their lives eternally.