LG CHAIRMEN/ASPIRANTS SPECIAL INTERVIEW
As the Local Government election draws nearer, the APC Chairmanship candidate in Isolo Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Hon. Shamsudeen Abiodun Olaleye, speaks with OKUNADE ADEKUNLE, on his emergence as the party’s candidate, the programmes and policies he intends to implement if re-elected and how he has been able to manage the post-primary election crisis in his local government…
Let me start this way, I learnt you almost lost the second term ticket of your party for the LG poll if not for Asiwaju Tinubu. Is that true?
I thank God for Asiwaju Tinubu’s life. He shows the true attribute of a leader who will say something and he will stand by it. He said it and he stood by it, despite all pressures coming from all quarters to change his stand. I thank God and I thank him most especially among the leaders.
What were the challenges you faced getting the ticket?
You know we are all human and we live in a society where people tend to remember what you do when you are still in power but the moment you leave political office, people tend to forget easily. They try to be adventurous wanting to try another person, so this played out during the struggle in virtually all the 18 local governments where there were automatic ticket for first termers because they have had enough of us and they wanted a change, forgetting that the convention of the party itself is to allow those that had one term to run a second term.
It was reported in a newspaper (not Western Post) that you and your colleagues mobilised yourselves to United States to meet with Tinubu when you noticed some leaders were agitating against first termers. Is it true?
It may not be correct and that does not mean we did not mount our own pressure on our leader but I won’t say our pressure played any significant role other than the fact that the leader was resolute that a promise made is a promise kept. We did not have the strength to really face our opposition to our coming back in the battle for Asiwaju’s mind because all those we are talking about are strong and powerful members and leaders of the party but they met strong resistance from Asiwaju. Asiwaju felt the hallmark of leadership is integrity and that he maintained to the last moment. I give thanks to Almighty God and I owe Asiwaju a lot of gratitude.
At the party stakeholders’ meeting held before the primaries, Tinubu spoke of some incumbents having issues with their local chapter leaders and directed them to reconcile with them. How have you been able to resolve this after getting the ticket?
It is about a month since the pronouncement was made. He believes that individuals who benefit from that decision to initiate and institute reconciliation machine in individual’s local government. As far as I am concerned I have reconciled with all leaders and oppositions in my second coming and I expect my other colleagues to have done so too. If you compare what we have as a challenge in terms of reconciliation with what people who are just coming in fresh, is more herculean to really sort out but I know that our APC family is one big family that has a re-conciliatory mechanism that is inbuilt in our system. It is just that everybody need to appease itself so that the mechanism and machinery could prepare the ground for the coming election.
You are no more a fresher, which area do you think you will use your second term to amend in terms of local government administration?
A term cannot finish all the infrastructural challenges that we are facing in this local government even two terms are not enough, one just have to do his best. For every passing day, one infrastructural demand and challenge comes up so one has to be really prepared.
The fact is there is already a template which only to improve upon in the area of infrastructural challenges. In the area of health, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has a standard and it is that each political ward must have at least one health centre. We know that Isolo LCDA is short of one in Alagbiji Ward. In our first tenure, we built two health centres which are still functioning till date, the health centres are in Apena ward and Okota ward but we have an outstanding in Alagbiji ward. This is important to me such that by the time I am leaving office I will be proud to say I meet the WHO standard for access to quality health services. In the area of education, we have noted that in the whole of Apena, Okota and Oke-ogbero axis where we have close to a million inhabitants, the place is lacking a public primary school. The parents in these areas are compelled to enroll their children in private schools either they are able to meet the cost or not because of non-availability of public primary school.
I will work with SUBEB and all other necessary stakeholders to ensure that by the end of my tenure there will be public primary school in the area serving the residents. We will also improve on the programmes we have earlier instituted like bursary award scheme, we will try to enrich it both quantity and quality. We will also supply more exercise books to our public primary schools this time around. We will look at the possibility of providing school uniforms for pupils in the primary schools and presently, we have 14 primary schools in the local government. We will complement the effort of the state government in road rehabilitation. We were into it in the last tenure and we will ensure that all our major roads are passable without shifting blame and also make our minor roads passable and ensure we improve on road network at the local government.
How do you intend to raise money aside the allocation to achieve all the projects you earlier mentioned and also how do you intend increasing your Internally Generated Revenue (IGR)?
That is where I always make a different. I have good experience backing me up in my first tenure. I have been in the system for almost ten years before I became the council chairman so the knowledge of how to improve IGR is already there and I brought it to bear in my last administration. When I was coming in 2011, the IGR was N63million and by the time I was leaving in 2014 it has been improved to N156million and as you know the road to excellence as no finishing point.
We left it at N156million I am not sure if successive governments have been able to keep to the figure but whether they are able to keep it or not I have what it takes to move it up from whatever figure it is. I am looking at N250million target for the local government. With such money and whatever we get from State and Federal government we will be able to take care of our development stride.
Few days ago, the House of Representatives began considering a bill to amend Section 162 of the 1999 Constitution in order to give local government autonomy, what is your take on local government autonomy?
My take on it, is that, my experience with Lagos State as a guide, local governments in Lagos State are autonomous. One of the cardinal programmes of Governor Ambode is to return governance back to the local government which he practicalised in the last two years, so with that I don’t have any problem with it. Amendment to that section of the constitution as regards local government autonomy is dead on arrival because there is need for concurrent two-third of all Houses of Assembly to make it a reality. Is that not a mirage! But my experience with Lagos State government particularly this current administration makes the call for autonomy a distraction because local governments in Lagos State are already autonomous.
What you find the state government doing is just ensuring there are checks and balances, monitoring what local governments are doing and that is better when you have the same political party ruling the State and the Local governments. There is need for conformity , the local governments must not be following direction A and State government following direction B so in order for us to have a unity of purpose there is need for state government to look into activities of local governments and guide their activities. And again, Governor Ambode has not been overbearing rather he has done a lot to assist local governments.
In the 2015 general elections in your local government, your party lost to PDP candidates who are from Igbo extraction. How are you preparing to avoid such an experience again in the coming local government election and how do you intend to incorporate them into your government if you emerge?
Your statement regarding the victory of PDP in the last 2015 general elections in our local government attributing to Igbos may not be totally correct because the Igbos did not just move into the local government newly there are other contributing factors which we have taken care of now. For instance, we have two councillorship candidates who are from the Igbo extraction, the Councillor from Ajao Estate and the one from Okota which is a good presence for the Igbos if we have seven councilors and they are having two out of it. This also shows clearly that the party recognise the presence of Igbos in this local government. Let me add to it that the man who won on the ticket of PDP is now with us, Hon Jude Idimogu, so it is wrong to say that as you speak PDP or any opposition party is in control. Hon. Jude Idimogu is in our fold now, he is in APC as we speak and he is doing beautiful work in the area of mobilization. The Igbos have seen clearly that belonging to PDP is belonging to opposition. They thought PDP will still remain at the centre. Now, they have found that a vote for PDP is a vote for opposition. APC is the only political party that can guarantee the straight line from the top to the bottom. APC is at the National level, State level and the people are yearning for APC at the local government level.
What message do you have for the electorate in Isolo LCDA?
We have done it before and they should give us the opportunity to do it again. One good term deserves another. We can stand on our feet and beat our chest that performance is our watchword in our first tenure and we will only have to say the electorate in Isolo have not seen anything yet in terms of development. We are ready to do more than what we did in our first term they should trust us as they have always done.