Hon. Setonji David is representing Badagry Constituency II in the Lagos State House of Assembly. In this interview, he speaks about infrastructural and education challenges in his constituency, among other issues. WALE ELEGDEDE reports
Some people have regarded Badagry, despite its historical important in Nigeria, as one of the undeveloped areas in Lagos State because government presence is not being felt in the area as expected. As representative of the Badagry State Constituency II in the Lagos State House of Assembly, what are those things you want from the government in Badagry?
There are several of them; the roads in Badagry are in shambles. Lagos-Badagry Expressway is the worst road in Lagos. We thank God that after so much appeal, the state government is doing something from Orile-Iganmu area. They call it Badagry Expressway but Lagos-Badagry Expressway starts from Ojo axis. When you tag a road from Orile as Badagry, it is not correct. The road from Ojo to Badagry is in bad shape, but we thank God that the Federal Government is now trying to work on it. My concern is that rain is about to start, but Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) and the Federal Ministry of Works should pay the contractors and work on it before rain starts. Our internal roads are worst. There is a road in my area, Yasi Road in Ajara, that was awarded 14 years ago and it is not completed yet. They abandoned it, mobilised another contractor and it was abandoned again. The village has been cut off from the rest of the area.
In terms of provision of infrastructure facilities for the schools in Lagos State, what advice do you have for the state government, especially as it relates to places such as Badagry, Epe, Ikorodu and other areas in the state?
The issue of education is germane to me because it is key to the development of any nation. Your progress is directly proportional to the education of your people, which is why I give special premium to education in my constituency. Unfortunately for me, we don’t have enough schools in my constituency in Badagry just as we don’t have enough schools in any part of Lagos State. But I am concerned about Badagry Constituency II and that was why I decided to embark on the construction of classrooms in one of the schools in the area. I discovered that they have about 150 to 200 students each in many of the classrooms and work is at an advanced stage there.
How do you want government to come in since the problem is much compared to what you have been able to do?
My gesture is symbolic to demonstrate my passion for the educational development of my area. Although it is not enough, I am only doing what I feel I could do in my own little way. But I want the state government to do more for my constituency on education. There are children that trek four to five kilometers before they get to their schools. We need more schools in our area and those that are existing, need more classrooms. The greatness of any nation depends on the students and if you don’t develop them, be rest assured that we are not bequeathing a good legacy on our children and so we need to treat the students right. We need to provide more schools, more classrooms in the state so that the children would not need to trek four kilometres before they get to schools. There are locations in my area with about 400,000 people with no schools and the children have to trek several kilometers and even cross the expressway to get to their schools.
Have you been able to discuss all the challenges you mention in respect to education in your constituency with the Lagos State Commissioner for Education and all those concerned on the matter?
I am trying my best, but it is not enough to have relationship with them. I have met with the Commissioner for Education. I have visited Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) and others to appeal to them on this. I know that the state governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu is up and doing to make the state better and we are giving him all the necessary supports to ensure that he succeeds. We believe that things are going to change for the better.
What of the private sectors, have you been able to relate with them on the need for possible assistance in term of addressing education challenges in Badagry?
Most times in this part of the world, we don’t do things right. Most of these private organisations pay taxes and they expect the government to use the money for developmental purposes and provide amenities for the people. That is why you see so many private schools in the country today. Education ought to be social services to the people because our greatness will depend on how educated our people are. That is why we are appealing to the government to provide education for our people and schools for the children because tomorrow belongs to them. The way we treat them is what we will reap in the future.