Senator Solomon Adeola represents Lagos West in the National Assembly. In this interview, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance speaks on the need for the Federal Government to support the rebuilding of Lagos in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests and his legislative feat as a two-term senator, among other issues. WALE ELEGBEDE reports
The call for special status for Lagos came to the fore recently after the devastating effect of the #EndSARS protest in Lagos. What are you doing as a legislature to ensure that this is achieved?
The issue of special status for Lagos State has again been brought to the front burner following the fallouts of the protest against extra-judicial killings and police brutality. With the magnitude of the destruction of critical infrastructures in Lagos State, it is inconceivable that the Lagos government alone can handle the rebuilding of destroyed properties as result of the #EndSARS protest, most of which are for public good.
So, it is necessary at this time to state that when the Federal Government makes interventions to assist the state like the N1 billion per state to assist in efforts aimed at stemming COVID-19, Lagos State should be more favourably treated in view of its status.
Nigerians boarding all the burnt BRT Buses are not asked their state of origin when they board. With the cost of damage put at over N1 trillion by the Lagos State governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, I want to appeal to the Federal Government to come to the aid of the Lagos State government in rebuilding and replacing destroyed public facilities of all kinds during the attendant mayhem to the protest.
From what we saw during our sympathy and condolence visit to Lagos State governor and its people, it was clear that Lagos State government cannot handle the rebuilding of infrastructure and facilities destroyed alone as the destruction in Lagos State in all aspects expectedly dwarfed that of other states and the Federal Capital Territory put together as a result of the crisis.
Such a grant from the Federal Government at this time following the regrettable mayhem would ultimately be in the national interest as not only are all Nigerians of all parts of the country resident and doing business in Lagos State going to benefit but many revenue-generating agencies and other federal institutions are similarly located in Lagos State with the real possibility that their operations will be greatly impeded without urgent rebuilding and replacing some of the destroyed properties.
This is your second term in the Senate as senator representing Lagos West Senatorial District, what are those things you have been able to do for your constituents in the last six years?
With the 9th Senate fully constituted towards the end of 2019, I focused on the defining aspect of my work, which is law making. In quick succession, I sponsored and successfully introduced 11 bills; eight of them have undergone first reading, while three have been read for the second time and committed to committees for further legislative work. They are listed for record in the Programme booklet.
These bills dwell on educational development, constitutional and institutional development and human rights issues and hopefully will be passed into laws. I have also fully contributed to the passage of two critical and unprecedented executive bills namely, the Finance Acts 2019 and 2019, which forms a major aspect of funding the two appropriation acts of 2020 and 2021.
From all indications, the laws are regarded as revolutionary, as it foresaw and took into account the shocks that COVID-19 and similar brought to the Nigerian economy in terms of what is now a stimulus to the economy, following the devastation of COVID-19 pandemic. In the area of oversight, I have successfully moved six motions that resulted in Senate resolutions for which actions are being taken.
These are the motion on Ijegun pipeline explosion; the motion on Abule-Ado, Amuwo-Odofin explosion, the motion on frequent fire/explosions in Lagos West Senatorial District, the motion to reduce the disparities between lending and deposit rates charged by commercial banks and other financial institutions and a commiseration motion for Senate to honour late Senator Munir Muse and another for late Senator Osinowo Adebayo. I also co-sponsored no less than 25 other motions that resulted in Senate resolutions.
When you talk about lawmaking and representation in Nigeria, the issue of empowerment of constituents can never be shoved aside. In what ways have you been able to alleviate poverty through empowerment of your constituents?
While playing a critical role in the crucial lawmaking function of appropriation even under COVID-19, I have reached out to indigent and vulnerable constituents for sustenance in lockdown necessitated by the precautionary measures of the pandemic. At the peak of the lockdown of the COVID-19, I donated N50 million, which was shared among individuals, groups and communities during the extended period of lockdown. Given the dark cloud of 2020, I have since delivered many dividends of democracy for my constituents in some critical areas that will serve not only many people but will be useful for many years ahead.
In the area of provision of potable water, I facilitated six major water works in form of solar powered boreholes and water treatment plants in six local government areas namely; Ikeja, Ifako-Ijaiye, Agege, Oshodi-Isolo, Mushin and Alimosho. These self-sustaining water projects are located in population centres in the councils like markets and residential areas. I also personally constructed 12 boreholes in public places and a similar number of public toilets spread across the senatorial district.
Under human resources development, I facilitated the training of hundreds of constituents in rural riverine communities of Lagos West in different aspects of fish production, business, animal feed-making and boat operation over a period of months. Each trained and certified participant in a programme, tagged ‘Teach a Man to Fish’ was equipped and given a grant to commence business. In addition, I facilitated the training of 1,000 constituents in phone repairs, hair dressing, make-up artistry, soap/ detergent-making and sanitizer making skills with participants receiving start-up equipment and cash grants. For constituents desirous of establishment in the booming business of logistics and delivery, I gave out 185 motorcycles to constituents in each ward in the district.
You organised a town hall meeting and massive empowerment programme recently, where you gave out electricity transformers and several empowerment items. What informed this considering the fact that this is not part of your constitutional duties as a legislator?
Let me place it on record that this promised interaction was meant to come earlier than now as I stated during the 2019 electoral campaign but was delayed mostly due to the exigencies of the time, my personal involvement in national politics particularly as it relates to the struggle to enthrone a “Next Level” leadership for the two chambers of the National Assembly and regrettably, the emergence of COVID-19 global pandemic and its precautionary restrictive protocols.
As you are also aware, I won in the electoral petition filed at the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal against the mandate freely given to me by my people on February 23, 2019. So, what I did was to empower selected constituents with block molding machines, refrigerators, sewing machines, grinding machines, hair dryers, clipper sterilizers and generators, tricycles and vulcanizing machines.
I also used the period under consideration to address the issue of erratic power supply and other inefficiencies in the provision of light as it affects the senatorial district. I facilitated the procurement of 28 units of 500 KVA transformers, which are being distributed to communities across the 10 local government areas of the senatorial district. Similarly, I facilitated the provision of 130 poles solar panel streetlights, which was distributed to 20 major streets in Ojo, Badagry, Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Amuwo-Odofin, Ikeja, Alimosho, Mushin, Ifako Ijaiye, Oshodi-Isolo and Agege local government areas. Furthermore, I facilitated the construction and installation of multi-million-naira Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) centres in two public secondary schools in the district, namely Ikotun Senior High School, Ikotun and Muslim College, Egbe. This brings the number of such centres that I facilitated to six as four of such were done in the 8th Senate.
I also facilitated the ongoing construction of a state-of-the-art public Library at Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Ijanikin, which is nearing completion. I must also mention that in the course of last year, I facilitated employment in federal agencies to no less than 20 constituents and ensuring that over 100 constituents benefitted from CBN loans to cushion effects of the impact of COVID-19 on businesses from sums ranging from N250, 000 to N5 million.