The representative of Apapa Federal Constituency in Lagos in the House of Representatives, Hon. Mufutau Egberongbe wants Nigeria to go back to the 1963 independent constitution, which he says would ensure true federalism. In this interview with OLADIPUPO AWOJOBI, Egberongbe speaks on why electronic transfer of election results would not work in Nigeria among other issues. Excerpts…
Let us start with electronic voting, why did your party, APC, vote against it at the National Assembly?
Electronic voting involves technology. When we got to the floor, we wanted to vote for it. It became a rowdy session between the North and South and some individuals and the speaker later asked us to still meet on it the next day, which was a Friday. They invited the National Communication Commission (NCC) and they said that they could only cover between 50 and 52% of the Nigerian land mass. That means that electronic transmission of election results is not possible. That was why we jettisoned it. Even if it were 90%, we would still not have gone ahead. Nobody should be disenfranchised.
Talking about elections in Nigeria, we discovered that there was voter apathy in Lagos State during the last LG election in the state and one wonders why this happened?
Yes, it is believed that any party in power usually wins all the local government seats in any given state. But for Lagos State, the APC won all the 40 seats in the state House of assembly in 2019, it should be taken for granted that the party would win all the local government seats in the state as nobody wants to identify with a loser.
We have issues of insecurity, economic problems and others, whereas your party said that they would change the country for the better and they also promised next level before they got to power in 2015. Would you say your party has done well?
There is a relationship between the economy and insurgency because when there is hunger you will see agitations and banditry and all sorts of vices. A hungry man is an angry man. The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari came and met the economy comatose.
He wanted to beef it up, we know the number of agitations we had in the Niger Delta and bomb blasts all over the place before we came in, but all these have stopped, but, people are quick to forget. What we have now is banditry and I think our soldiers and the security agencies are fighting that seriously. I think what the next government should face is the economy. They should try to jack it up. If we have a bouyant economy, those who are engaging in banditry will stop and if our education curriculum is made in such a way that our graduates become employers of labour, the issue of insecurity would reduce drastically. That is why I am an apostle of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to be the next President of Nigeria having seen the model of what he did in Lagos State as governor. He moved the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of Lagos State from about N600 million to between six and seven billion naira monthly, you will see that he is an expert, when it comes to economy. Every administration has its hallmark, when the Buhari administration came on board, there was bombing everywhere, but t h a t has subsided. The next administration should shore up the economy. It takes someone that is versed in economy to make that happen.
The likes of Sunday Igboho and Nnamdi Kanu are fighting for their people and they have now been arrested and people feel that some Fulani herdsmen are left to go scot-free, what is your take on this?
Fighting for secession would not solve our problem. If you are canvassing for Oduduwa Nation and withing the conglomerate an Ijebu man would not agree with an Egba man, an Ekiti man would not agree with an Ondo man, how can this work. So, to how many units do we want to divide ourselves. I think what is most important is to bring the issues that affect us to the table, identify the problems with a view to solving them. In my own opinion, we should have true federalism with a weak centre and very dynamic states that are independent. You can generate your revenue, you have right to your mining and bring something to the centre. In other words, let us go back to the 1963 Constitution.
Your government promised restructuring they did not do it and the 2014 Constitutional Conference is lying fallow and nothing is being done about it
The 2014 Constitutional Conference was organised by the PDP government, the present government is thinking of true federalism, which is why members of the National Assembly has been going round to review the constitution. We should give the government some time. We are always in a hurry in Nigeria and this will not take us anywhere. Let us be part of what is happening, let us send in our memoranda and be part of the effort to review the constitution.
What do you think President Buhari should address quickly within the next two years?
He should focus on security; the primary responsibility of the government is security of lives and property and any government that jettisons that would fail. We can use social mechanism to solve that, ensure there is food on the table and give palliatives to the weak in the society. They would not join bad gangs if they are given palliatives, it could be monetary inducement and it could be in kind. He should dwell more on that.
Would you say our democracy has met the yearnings of the people in the last 22 years?
It is relative; before now we know how many people were behind bars for speaking against the government. Now, anybody can even speak against the president and nobody would arrest him or her. But there is no government that would allow secessionist to thrive. Relatively, there is freedom of speech, however, there is no absolute freedom anywhere in the world. Nobody in the media has been clamped down. I think we are still on course.
You were in the state House of Assembly and now you are in the National Assembly, what is the difference between the two and what have you done for your people so far?
When we legislate in the state assembly, we legislate on issues affecting the state, but in the National Assembly people of different ethnic groups and culture are brought into one roof. In my constituency, the traffic situation there is still a problem. They should help us complete the Coconut Road axis of the area.
What of the tank farms in Apapa that you always talk about…
Yes, they should be relocated to Lekki axis of the state. That is where they should be.