Rep. Yakub Abiodun Balogun, is a two-time member of the House of Representatives. He represents Lagos Island 11 Federal Constituency and against the norm decided not to seek re-election into the House in the February polls to make room for others to taste the allure of holding an elective office.
He spoke with journalists in Abuja, giving reasons why he took the hard decision, his experiences in the House, legislative agenda and his relationship with Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu. Our correspondent, Henry Omunu was there. Excerpts:
What informed your 2017 decision not to vie for a third tenure in the House of Representatives, considering the mentality of the average Nigerian to hang-on to power perpetually?
I took the decision in 2017 believing that an actor honourably quits the stage when the ovation is loudest.
I did so voluntarily in order to enable others climb the stage to give their performance by contributing their quota to national development.
The spirit to quit the stage when the ovation is loudest and allow others to make their contributions had always been with me even from my public service days.
I still had almost two years to serve as head of the Lagos state public service when I voluntarily retired to allow others come on hoard.
Is there any substance in the insinuations that there is a falling apart between you and the APC’s National Leader, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu and this is responsible for you not seeking a third tenure as a federal lawmaker?
No, there is nothing like that in my relationship with the Asiwaju and other party leaders in Lagos. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu remains an indefatigable and foresighted political leader.
He is compassionate, imbued with great vision, mission and character, and I have great respect for him and I believe the respect is mutual.
The only time we differed on opinion was when he penciled down my name as deputy governorship-candidate to run with the incumbent, Akinwunmi Ambode.
I declined, arguing that both the current governor and my own largely civil service background will not augur well for the smooth governance in Lagos state.
I expressed my conviction that it takes a combination of public and private oriented minds to effectively grapple with the challenges of the state; a state that is unique in status and orientation.
I indicated my preference to return to the House of Representatives as a member and the Asiwaju agreed with me and that was it.
This to me is not a disagreement. Before then, I had in my usual fashion made up my mind not to re-contest in 2019.
Can you relate your experiences as a two-time member of the House and you’re your legislative agenda was?
You know I represent Lagos Island 11 Federal Constituency, a largely urban one with little or no rural areas and as such my priority areas in terms of representation were different and this reflected in the content and quality of the motions and bills l sponsored.
My average constituent is cosmopolitan and urbane in nature and so are their needs and wants.
They are more likely to be concerned about the level of electricity tariffs, reducing accidents on the highways and the renewal of urban decay, rather than the construction of feeder roads, provision of agricultural inputs and other nature based demands typical of agricultural constituencies.
Based on the nature of my constituency, l busied myself with promoting legislations that sought to end the short-changing of the thousands who travel abroad periodically, using the bustling Lagos airport.
As l gained more experience in the art of lawmaking in the House, l was appointed during the 8th Assembly as chairman, House Committee on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements, a position that gave me the leeway to see to the domestication of many international instruments that the country had entered into for the good of our country.
In this position, l facilitated the domestication of the double taxation agreement between Nigeria and Sweden, Nigeria and Spain and Nigeria and South Korea.
Most importantly, l am of the firm belief, that what l will be most remembered for in my eight years a House of Representatives member are my well thought-out and constituency projects and my various constituent enhancement projects,
such as the monthly financial assistance for a six -month period to selected senior citizens within my constituency in batches of 50 -100, at the end of which another batch is selected for the same largesse.
A total of 1, 168 elders benefited from the package between 2011 – 2019, awarding bursaries to over 400 students in my constituency, the construction of a block of three classrooms at the Jamat-ul Islamiyya Primary School, Patey Street, Lagos as well as providing new classroom furniture and refurbishing old ones in schools across my constituency.
Similarly, l provided free summer holiday classes for an average of 500 students per batch. T
his is in addition to the free bus rides l introduced for pupils in my constituency, the construction and furnishing of a 250-seat ultra-modern community hall at Anikantamo Street, and the renovation a ward at the popular Lagos Island Maternity Hospital.
Also, l had capacity building programmes, including eye screening and treatment of patients with eye problems and my grant of N50, 000 to selected artisans.
What do you plan on doing after your tenure expires in June or is this the end of your political career?
I would want to devout greater attention to expanding and consolidating my private accountancy firm which is been run by my partner while l was busy politicking.
My desire is to open and put on a sound footing, the Abuja branch of the firm. This doesn’t signify the end of my political career. No, not at all. The urge to further serve the people is still very strong in me.
After a short and well deserved rest, I will be open to opportunities to further serve my motherland and Nigerians in relevant capacities.
When there is a vacancy in the Lagos Central senatorial seat, I would want to contest for that seat. Interestingly though, the Lagos Central senatorial seat is currently occupied by Senator Oluremi Tinubu.