Hon. Setonji David is the lawmaker representing Badagry Constituency 2 in the Lagos State House Of Assembly. In this interview, David, who is a two-term lawmaker, bears his mind on the major challenges facing his constituency, state of the nation and other salient issues. The lawmaker said Badagry has potentials yet untapped by the government. Excerpts
In the politics of Lagos, Badagry is strategically important but yet to produce either Governor or Deputy Governor. When would the division produce a Governor or Deputy?
That is a very interesting question. There is nothing we can do now. At the appropriate time someone from Badagry would be Governor of Lagos State. At a point in time God will use the people from our party, All Progressives Congress (APC) to place someone from the division in such positions.
Are you saying there is nothing like zoning in Lagos political arrangement?
I don’t want to talk about that. We have a system in the APC and at the appropriate time the party would do what it needs to do. We have credible people in the party in the state. Lagos is the centre of excellence, the fifth largest economy in Africa. If you take the economy of the state out of Nigeria, what would you have left. We want Lagos State to be like Dubai, we want the state to be like London. God has already endowed us in the state. So, we have to protect Lagos to continue to develop. We want to de-emphasise anything that would create animosity, and dichotomy in the state.
For Badagry to be carried along in the scheme of things in the state, what are the potentials it has to add value to Lagos?
Badagry is the most endowed part of Lagos. It is the only part where you see lagoons. If you go through the water from Lagos Island to Badagry you will see that there are still many islands that have not been explored. We have so many things that have not been touched even on the land. At the appropriate time attention will shift towards that side. Badagry is well endowed. We are very strategic because we are the gateway between Lagos and other parts of the world. From Badagry, you can go to Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast and other places. It is a very important place and you will be amazed at the level of development that will come to Badagry as soon as the Lagos-Badagry Expressway is completed. Badagry is the most peaceful part of Lagos State. We are a very peaceful set of people.
What is the major problem facing Badagry?
The challenge we have in Badagry is the bad road that leads to the town. Some years ago, from Mile 2 to Badagry, when the road was very good, you would not spend more than 30 or 40 minutes to get there. From Friday, people would be moving towards Badagry, the beaches would be busy all through Saturday and Sunday. You go through the road within 30 minutes and the road was good then and you come back quickly. When the road is back, you would see the people going towards the area. We have so many beaches there, not two or three.
What are you doing about the Badagry-Agbara road?
One of my challenges is that we have held conferences and we have used many means to ventilate the issue surrounding that road. Its unfortunate that it is only in Nigeria that you would see such an international road being left undone. I am a civil engineer by training and I know that the road has failed completely. There is nothing to maintain there. The Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Works has been talking about the road. It is taking ages for them to do the road. They shouldn’t have left it to get to that level. They ought to get the contractors and mobilise them to site. They should expedite action on it. We are in dry season now, they should take advantage of the season and get something done on the road. The road is my greatest headache I believe that it would be done soon.
Land grabbing and insecurity seem to be on the high side in Agbara axis and some other areas, what are you doing about it?
The challenges in Nigeria is much, but I think what ought to be done is for the police to maintain law and order. But we have problem with the Nigeria Policing system. We are in the legislative arm of government. We have the legislature, executive and the judiciary. We make laws for the executive to implement and they are in control of the police. We don’t have enough policemen in Nigeria. In a country of 200 million of people, we have less than 500,000 policemen. There is a number of policemen to a number of people. Even some of the policemen that we have are attached to VIPs. Our challenge is not lack of law, but the implementation of the law. The laws can only be effective if we have policemen to implement them. That is why people are calling for state police. Police requires local people who know the area and who speak the local language of the people. You cannot take people from Badagry to go and police Sokoto State, it cannot work. We should change and decentralise the police system. When I was young in Badagry we had “Songbeto” local vigilante, who maintained law and order and it was effective. No matter how many laws we make if our system still persists then we will continue to have problems.
Do you support restructuring of the country?
Yes, I am am advocate of restructuring. We need to do this, but some people are not supporting because they are benefitting from it. We need to restructure this country to have peace. We have had it before like when we had the Eastern Region, Western Region and Northern Region. Then there was peace and there was no quarrel. There was cocoa in the South West, groundnut in the North, and coal in the South East. We were making progress then. It was the military that came and messed up the whole thing.
Many people believes that Badagry is dominated by uneducated residents, is this true?
There are no illiterates in Badagry. We have Phd holders and masters degrees holders. Our people are well educated but there are no jobs. Another problem is that we don’t have enough schools. Children trek almost three kilometers to schools everyday. You see a secondary school with about 9,000 students. So, we need more schools in Badagry. I went to all the primary schools in my area and I decided to build about six classrooms for them in Ajara Comprehensive High School in Badagry. We have started and it would soon be handed over to the school.
Recently, you invited the state Commissioner for Education to Badagry, can you tell us more on this?
Yes, I did that, I wanted her to see what was happening there and we have started two new schools through that. We are working on them. There was a school that was started in an area and the government has decided to support them. There is one very close to Oko Afo. We will start more schools in Badagry. I thank the Commissioner For Education, Mrs Folashade Adefisayo for the visit.
What is your charge to the government?
We want government to come and repair our schools. A journey of 40 minutes now take about five hours and it has affected our economy such that things are so expensive now. Now, we have so many checkpoints in Badagry, you would see a lot of policemen on our roads. It was worse when the borders were closed.
As the representative of your constituents, what have been your contributions to the area?
We do a lot of things such as the school I am building. I bought chairs and a lot of things for schools. I provided about eight boreholes for the people. We cannot be waiting for the government all the time.