Ganiyu Johnson, House of Representatives candidate for Oshodi/Isolo Constituency 2 on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC), former Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure in Lagos State, spoke with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI on his plans to improve the living standard of the constituents, among other issues. Excerpts:
You have interest to represent Oshodi/Isolo 2 at the House of Representatives. What would you bring to the table that will make the people vote for you?
I will bring good governance. When you talk about good governance, you are talking about improved infrastructure, improved health care delivery, improved environment and economic empowerment for our youth, women and the elderly. We are also talking about improved educational system and many other initiatives that we will bring on board to make life meaningful for our people.
The current representative of your constituency is said to have done some of these things. What specific things would you do if you are voted in?
He has done nothing. If he had done something, there won’t be need for change, even though it is another party. You can feel the pulse of the electorate. A lot of people are clamouring for change. The impact is not felt all. That is why my programme intends to improve on so many of social infrastructure. A legislator, you don’t have the power to execute projects or award contracts. But, you can have the capacity to influence, lobby for bills that will favour our people in the area of good governance, which is exactly what I am going to do. For example, the Mushin road, which is from Pako to the Polytechnic, you will discover that there is a perennial traffic gridlock there. So, there is need to have a dual carriage road or what the layman would call expansion, to take care of the anticipated traffic, just like what we did in Canoe, Ejigbo area. If we are able to achieve that, we will have the capacity to empower our people. Hon Ajata started it from NNPC to Pako. So, there is need for us to complete that network. Until the network is completed, the impact will not be felt. When you get to Pako, you can either make a right turn to Okota road, or you move straight to Mushin road. The traffic on Mushin road is always a bottle neck. You can only appreciate it if that area is expanded or a dual carriage constructed to open up the area to free traffic flow.
What would you do to change the impression that Ejigbo is neglected if you win the election?
I will not award contracts as a representative. Most of the roads in Ejigbo belong to the state and local government. I am passionate about Mushin road because it is a federal road, because there is an NNPC depot. You will always a see a lot of trucks from the depot. So, it will be easy to make a case that they (truck drivers) are the ones causing the nuisance in that neighbourhood. It is different from the internal network of roads in Ejigbo. As a representative, I will lobby or influence the governor, tell him that in my constituency, I have some challenges with the roads. Same with the local government chairman.
When I was a commissioner, we were able to do the Canoe road because I was in government. It is a major link road now between Ejigbo and Ajao estate. In this same vein, if you are familiar with Jakande, Isheri/Osun roads, the link road that has helped Ejigbo/ Ikotun road tremendously. It was during Fashola’s government when I was Special Adviser that we opened that place up. People were happy. Today, if you go there, the place has been opened up for commerce. Property value there has skyrocketed, because of that road. My target will be to expand the single carriage bridge on Okotun/Ejigbo road. Governance is being able to reach out to the people. Let them understand that you empathise with them, be accessible because you cannot be there in the first place if they have not chosen you to represent them.
How do you see the speculation that insecurity in the North East could affect the 2019 elections?
I don’t think so. If you consider what is happening now, you will discover that things are taking shape. Our government is reaching out to the people in terms of support, trying to rehabilitate some schools, renovate some hospitals and trying to take care of the needy. I can tell you that if care is not taken, the highest votes for Buhari will be from the North East, despite the fact that Atiku is from that region.
Boko Haram recently a large number of soldiers and warned that they would return. How do you think that government should handle the situation before the elections?
You heard Mr. President when he said that they should clear them. Mr. President was very clear with his message and I believe that security agencies are on top of that.
People feel that APC government has failed, especially at the national level. How could the people be convinced that Mr. President’s order that the Boko Haram should be cleared would be achievable?
When we came on board in 2015, we came up with three-point agenda, economic empowerment, which we have been doing very well, security and corruption. I can tell you that we are on course. When you don’t have something to benchmark us, you can first benchmark us on those three, and see if we have failed.
People view the Social Intervention Programme (SIP) of the Federal Government, especially the Social Intervention Fund (SIF), as having political undertone. Why did it wait till the election period to start its implementation?
I don’t know if you listened to the interview between Rotimi Amaech and Senator Dino Melaye. It took the National Assembly over eight months to pass the budget. What do you expect them to do within a window of four months? Of course, they will try to rush to possibly cover so many things within that short window. That is the problem. They actually refused to pass the budget. Passing the budget is just one aspect of it. There is a difference between budget and physical cash. It is not that the physical cash is there. Budget is just an estimate that will give you an idea. It takes time before each ministry, department and agency (MDA) will respond. You know that many MDAs are involved. It will also take time before they will prepare their memoranda to Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval, before they would raise vouchers and then it would be translated to money. It is a process and most people don’t know. That is why I am happy if people like you that are enlightened can pass the message to the electorate. It took them eight months to pass this year’s budget. We are just operating the budget.
What is the implication of President not signing the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law with just few weeks to the elections?
When did they pass the bill to him? Remember that the National Assembly went on recess when they should have been busy doing all these things. Because the election is now around the corner, they quickly rushed something that was with them for that long and they decided to go on recess. If they want to blackmail the president, that is not the way. The electorate did not cry out when they went on break. As soon as they resumed, they went on another break. It will also take him time to study. I will say that it is in the process.
What are your chances of getting into the National Assembly in 2019?
By the grace of God, I will win the election. I am trying to engage the people, I mean the various ethnic groups in this constituency. I know that I have my party’s support. But, the vote from my party usually cannot be more than 10 percent of the total votes. So, my target is the electorate, which takes about 90 percent. The electorate comprises of the ethnic groups, the Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, Efik etc. We also have the community development groups, the Agberos, the Okada group, the Maruwa group, artisans. I have to engage all these people because they are party of the 90 percent. I am in the process of engaging them. So far, I know that I am making good progress.