Politics

Ibeju Lekki’ll be biggest LGA in Nigeria in five years –Jaja

Sesan Jaja, 45, is a banker born in Epe Local Government of Lagos State. He attended the Lagos State University, where he studied Electronic and Computer Engineering and graduated with a Second Class Upper Division. In this interview with OLUWATOSIN OMONIYI, he speaks on why he wants to be the Chairman of Ibeju Lekki Local Government Area of the state

 

After graduation, what have you been doing?

 

I did my Youth service in Umuahia, Abia State at one of the distant learning centres of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri. After my one year compulsory service, I returned to Lagos to join Ernst and Young.

 

It is a global firm offshore account and one of top five in the world. I worked with Ernst and Young for 10 months before I moved into the banking industry, where I worked for almost 10 years, starting from an executive trainee to the level of deputy manager and I left to start up a company that is into manufacturing, importation, trading and merchandising.

 

I ran that as a pioneer general manager and rose to the level of executive director in that company. While I was doing all of these, I have always been part of politics.

 

Immediately, I left university, I joined the youth to form what we called Ibeju-Lekki Youths Forum, which has produced so many political leaders and local government even within the incumbent Member of the House of Representative. That platform was used to galvanise his ambition as at that time. I was a member of the state delegate to the state congress of the All Progressives Congress in 2017.

 

While I was in LASU, I was a member of the Student Union Government (SUG), I became the speaker of the SUG between 1998 and 1999. We understand you were part of those who produced Tinubu in 1999…

 

In 1999, when Nigeria returned to democracy, the entire youths in Lagos State supported the aspiration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and I was in Epe Campus.

 

Although, I was the speaker of the entire school but I was in Epe Campus and I mobilized all the students in Epe, not just in LASU because I was the number one student leader in whole of Epe division, I mobilized all the students in all higher institutions of learning to support Tinubu and it was successful.

 

While I was the speaker, the former chairman of Amuwo Odofin was the president of the Union. We served together in the same cabinet.

 

Why do you want to be chairman of Ibeju Lekki?

 

I am in this race because I am convinced that what we need now is the right kind of leadership. I am sure you are aware of the activities going on in our corridor. That corridor has become one of the fastest growing corridors in Lagos State and it is in line with the aspiration of Lagos State under the BRFM, Lagos State Development Master Plan. Ibeju-Lekki is considered as one of the growth corridors. This is why we are seeing all these infrastructural projects like the Lekki Free Trade Zone, Lekki Deep Sea Port. If all these are going on, we don’t need a mediocre leadership.

We need an enterprising leader; a leader that can understand the various opportunities and these opportunities can be connected to the people to generate wealth for them, to promote economic inclusion.

 

Having looked at all these, I asked myself some questions. I have acquired extensive training, I have quality experience in leadership and management and I believe the local government requires a modern leader who is enterprising and I fit into that. I am more like a fit-for-purpose kind of leader.

That is one. Politics is about service. If you lack the passion to serve, you shouldn’t come near politics.

Nigeria at this point needs a leader who has the passion to serve. So. I have the passion to serve. I have also been trained to be a service delivery person. I know that if I come into this position by my background and training, I will be able to offer the kind of service the people of Ibeju-Lekki require.

Thirdly, most of the time we hear of empowis  erment but I believe in the concept called empowered citizens; when citizens are empowered, it means you have given them the right kind of education.

I mean education that will fit the new normal. You need to have modern vocational skills; you need modern kind of education; not just any kind of education. We would work so our people can be empowered, improve on their skills.

 

They can take up a job. For example, we have the Dangote Refinery. It is largest single refinery in the world. That has the capacity of producing 500,000 barrel of crude per day.

 

That project has the capacity to employ thousands of people whether in engineering, law, banking and finance, economist, also vocational and brown-collar staff. So, if we don’t have our citizens who are well trained, we have the required education, they will not be able to tap into this opportunity. So, we are coming to work on that, not just for the white collar jobs but also for the brown collar jobs.

Fourthly, we need a government that is accountable. By training, I am a banker. If you take integrity out of a banker, it is as good as gone. I believe we need a government that  is accountable to the people and I have the skills and experience to be accountable. Finally, innovation: We live in world where technology passes everything.

Through our phones, we can do so much. Now, there is what we call mobile money agent. Some years back, the CBN came up with a policy to promote financial inclusion and that is why we have mobile money agent. Through this, you can open account, do transactions anywhere.

When you do that it encourages and promotes trade. For us, we use innovation to thrive our people and support them and also thrive the workings of government.

 

So far, you have garnered experiences…

 

One of the things we will do is to reform the financial management system of the local government. In 2010, the Lagos State Assembly passed a revenue law that recognizes about 15 different levies and taxes for local government to collect. These levies are there but because we do not have the structure to drive these collections, local government must drive its IGR and the Lagos State government has identified part of what we were asked at the screening was how do we intend to drive the IGR?

Any government, who is not prepared to grow its IGR will not be able to do so much. One of the things we are going to do is to grow our IGR, and to drive our IGR, we will put structures and processes in place. We increase advocacy. We have to make noise about it.

As at today, we do not have an existing tax register that has the names of all businesses in the local government area and categorise them based on their turnovers.

The first thing we will do is to do enumeration. When we do that, we can have a standard tax register. From our tax register, we will know how much we can collect in a whole year and that will be basis for developing our programmes and promises.

 

Immediately we do the enumeration and register in place, the next thing will be to put our processes and infrastructure to drive it in place. Then, we improve advocacy, enforcement and compliance.

 

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