Dr. Olusegun Osinkolu, is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was the Director General, Buhari/ Osinbajo campaign council in Ekiti in the 2019 elections. In this interview with YAQOUB POPOOLA, he sets agenda for Senator Ahmed Lawan-led Senate. Excerpts:
President Muhammadu Buhari has been sworn in for a second term tenure. What do you think can be done to consolidate democracy dividends to the people?
You could attest to the fact that President Buhari did well in three areas he promised to work to ensure sanity, that is fighting corruption, diversifying the economy and fighting insecurity. Before he came on board, insecurity had taken over virtually all the sections of the country, especially the north east and even part of the north central. Today, Boko Haram had been technically defeated. The activities of the terror group had been restricted to Sambisa forest and we now have occasional bombing or killing unlike under President Goodluck Jonathan when bombings were like everyday occurrences. Even the emerging banditry in Zamfara, Katsina and other states in the northwest was being addressed. Before the advent of Buhari’s government, Nigeria depended solely on oil. Over 90 percent of the revenues are coming from the oil, but with diversification agenda in the solid mineral sector and agriculture, Nigeria is gradually becoming self-sustaining.
Most of the rice being consumed in the country is grown locally. Also in the anti-graft war, Buhari’s government has done creditably well. Political office holders, even governors are now careful with expenditure. No more reckless spending like the past. So, he must consolidate on these gains by making sure that he appoints the ministers as soon as possible.
In the first term, it took the president almost six months to constitute his cabinet and this in a way constituted serious impediment and slowed down governance. So we expect him to constitute his cabinet within one or one and half months and then hit the ground running. He should also appoints the right people, I mean, putting square pegs in square holes . The President is also expected to bring in technocrats to help politicians in strategic positions to achieve the agenda of government and take the country to the next level.
The new leadership has emerged in the Senate with Senator Ahmed Lawan-elected as Senate President .What agenda would you like to set for the new senate ?
His emergence was a big boost to APC, because we didn’t get it right in 2015, when Senator Bukola Saraki won through the supports of some PDP lawmakers. But with Senator Lawan as Senate President, there would be more cordial relationship between the executive and the legislature and this should be the disposition of the current Senate. We could all bear witness to the fact that the last Senate was a little bit rancorous , owing to highly entrenched distrust and it affected governance because many times, the two arms disagreed on the passage of the budget over alleged padding of the budget.
Now that the choice of the party had emerged, we expect that the two arms will focus on those things that will promote unity and how best to work together to develop the nation through infrastructure, poverty eradication and generation of revenues for the nation. In achieving this, Senator Lawàn must carry everybody along. He should avoid segregation based on politics, ethnicity and religion. He should carry all the senators along and this is the only way the smooth relationship with the execute can be achieved and sustained.
The new House of Assembly has just been constituted in Ekiti State. What do you expect from them?
The expectations are very high from the people. Firstly, there must be a clear departure from the immediate past assembly, because it was principally populated by those who had little knowledge of legislation. But this time, we are having tested hands and those who are highly educated and exposed and Ekiti people expect a paradigm shift in terms of constructive engagements with the executive arm. They must strive hard to balance the equation between representing the people well and also not rocking the boat by with the executive arm.
We saw what happened in the fifth assembly where the House practically became an appendage of the governor’s office , so there must be some level of independence, though this should not be misinterpreted to mean that the lawmakers should see the executive as enemy. They must work in harmony and mutual respect.
Don’t you think that the fact that all the 26 lawmakers are members of APC could make them compromise?
I disagree with you. APC is a party of the masses. The masses are first on our agenda. That was why the APC dominated 8th national assembly could disagree with President Muhammadu Buhari. On many occasions, both chambers of the national assembly had cause to disagree with the President on many occasions and that is the beauty of democracy. No democracy can grow when the legislative arm is not active, so we look forward to having a robust, active and coherent assembly in Ekiti.
The new speaker, Hon Funminiyi Afuye is a tested hand. He had been Leader of APC during the 13-13 equal strength between the PDP and the then Action Congress of Nigeria between 2007 and 2011. So, he understands the rudiments of legislation and he knew that having a firm assembly is more dignifying, but just like I said the other time, this should not be taken too far, I mean , they should not be confrontational or take up the executive or drag it into any crisis in an attempt to assert themselves, it has to be by mutual understanding and respect.
Q: Governor Kayode Fayemi is now the chairman of the Nigeria’s governors’ forum. What innovations do you expect him to bring on board?
It was a well-deserved victory. My charge to Dr Kayode Fayemi is to deploy his energy as the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum to advance the development of the nation. I advise that Fayemi should use the highly influential status to fight on the side of Nigerians, by ensuring that there is equity and justice in the distribution of the country’s wealth.
I want to congratulate the good people of Ekiti state and the southwest, because the feat was a record broken event that will reshape the politics of the country. I urge Fayemi to bring his administrative ingenuity as well as shrewd and political wizardry to bare in ensuring that Nigerians feel the positive impact of the new position.
I want to congratulate Dr. Fayemi for reshaping the politics of our dear state with this new position. The image of Ekiti state had again been launched to higher pedestal with this new status, being the first time a governor from our state and region will occupy this position. We appeal to him to lead a cohesive forum and work hard to ward off enemies from returning the forum to old days when it was divided along party and personal interest lines occasioned by high wired political pursuits. I am confident that Governor Fayemi will surpass his predecessor, Alhaji Yari, who deployed the position to negotiate for the disbursement of Paris club refunds and other intervention funds to States while in crises over the payment of salaries . Posterity will continue to remember Zamfara Governor in this regard. Bearing this in mind, Governor Fayemi must be a vociferous voice against injustice in the land.