Senator Oluremi Tinubu in this interview speaks on various national issues including the frosty relationship between the executive and legislative arms of government. GABRIEL EMAMEH was there for LEADERSHIP
Gridlock Along Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, Lagos
You have seen that the minister of works recently flagged off the work which is being done in partnership with Dangote. I was honoured to have been invited for the ceremony. This was the aftermath of such motions and that is why for me to raise a motion in the Senate is something that should be thought out; it is not something that is to seek attention. We really look at what is affecting the district.
Actually that motion was supported by all the senators. It was something very, very sensitive and important for us and I believe that the resolutions were part of what we are witnessing even if it has taken some time.
Even if we raise a motion, that doesn’t mean that the Federal Government is not attending to it. At times motions can be political, but that of the gridlock I can tell you that as we speak Dangote is giving us a time frame of two years. So, we are hopeful. Alhaji Aliko Dangote is a credible man, he has the money to do it. We are quite hopeful and I particularly, I am quite excited at the move and I can tell you that it would have stemmed from the motion in the Senate.
Zonal intervention projects
On the zonal intervention projects, I cannot speak for my colleagues, but mine is for me to be true to what I have been given in the Senate and what has been my own allocation. I have even gone beyond what I receive from the Senate (appropriated for constituency) to assist in the work in my district and that is why whatever I do, I stay true to it and be God fearing in the process and even if the people don’t see me, God sees me. And as a Christian, I believe that He that sees in secret will reward us openly. I am not saying that I am perfect but I am striving for perfection.
Special Economic Assistance and Special Status for Lagos
These two concepts are different things. They are never the same. When I introduced the Special Economic Assistance, they twisted it out of context. When we are looking at the special status, we are talking of money being taken from the Federation Account and if you had followed what my colleagues did in the Senate, they gave the Northeast Zone, I think about 2-3 per cent from the Federation Account and this is like a special status given to the Northeast Zone because of the security situation.
Special Economic Assistance came from the point that Lagos State gives a lot through taxes, VAT to the Federal Government from Lagos. Special Economic Assistance is requesting that even if it is 1 per cent of money that is being taken to the Federation Account from Lagos State should be given back to Lagos State which can help things like the gridlock and the infrastructure damage that we are experiencing.
Therefore, these monies are supposed to be used to augment most of the projects in the state either; education, health sector or roads. That is what we are asking for. The National Assembly will determine the percentage to be channelled back to Lagos State and the State Assembly will appropriate for the money for state use.
However, my colleagues took it out of context; maybe because of the mood of the Senate. If you witnessed what happened, I had never seen such hatred for a bill in my life and I think that bill sparked very heated argument in the Senate. They were even telling me to bring it back, but I said no; that somebody else can take it up, that I am done because since 2011 I had been advocating for it.
On Zonal Intervention Programmes
I can tell you that the day that we were launching the compendium (compendium of her projects), we sent a copy to our party chairman and you know our party chairman is a dynamic man and he went through it and by the time he came; he actually gave a thumbs up to zonal intervention programmes.
One of my husband’s colleagues, Ambassador Kazaure, I gave a copy to him, he read it and he was really, really proud. He said you did these?
Immediately we get back by the grace of God if I am voted back to represent my people and even if I am not, I am going to be giving that book to every senator. And I believe that not all the senators are retuning and that has been the trend in the Senate. There is a lot of brain drain in the Senate, we lose a lot of people who are very cerebral men and women. But you see, politics is really a game of being able to inspire your people, inspire them in the sense for them to trust you enough for them to say, please represent us.
So, my message to my colleagues and people who are running for office is that you cannot take people for granted. Even if you win well, you want to go back to do well for your people, you can’t take them for granted.
Averting Leadership Crisis In The Senate
For the leadership (issue) in the Senate, I experienced it and I believe the president also learnt from what happened. We don’t have to say that we are preventing it, because most of the work he could have done, if we had the right leadership we wouldn’t have been going through what we are going through today.
Therefore, I believe that the president would have learnt one thing or two because when he came in, he said he doesn’t belong to anybody, but I know that by this time, he knows those people who belong to him. He will know that some people have his best interest at heart and some don’t!
New Minimum Wage Demand By Labour
My antecedents will tell you that I was in the trenches with my husband and I have been through a lot. I am with the people and relate well with the boys and girls on the streets. These are the people that will show you their voter’s cards. I owe them much. I speak their language. At times when they come home to tell my husband and he says my wife doesn’t talk like that, I just look!
Sometimes when I speak their language, they will say, why are you talking like us? Like yesterday. I will speak truth to them like a mum and they listen! I was there, I asked why are you all smoking weeds here?
The audacity with which crime is being perpetuated in our society is alarming. Am I scared? No! And that is the soul and heart of a comrade. Whatever I wear, they all trust me and believe that I am with their cause, I understand their pain and do the bit that I can for them.
On the minimum wage, I will say that I support people to be taken care of. Leadership is about sacrifice and I believe that the president too supports the minimum wage. If all of the big executives can cut down on their allowances, we can make it. You know Lagos does not have such problem, they will pay and that was why I said even my Work Experience Programme, I am going to pay even more than the monthly minimum wage and this will come through my salaries and allowances.
If I am going to take like 100 youths, I will look for good corporate organisations that can employ them, they don’t have to pay them, but they will just come in as interns and I could pay them about N40,000 for lunch and transport and to dress well to go. That could be my contribution. Like the boy we set up a barber shop for, somebody gave me a slot to go to Mecca, I gave it to him! So, I have to change one life at a time, it doesn’t have to be a lot, but if I am in the executive, maybe I can do more, but as a legislator, your hands are tied.
Encouraging More Women In Politics
This is one question I have tried to avoid without sounding very harsh. Most people will say because you are married to Asiwaju, you are so privileged and that. Yes, I am privileged to be married to him, but it has been the work of two, not one person! So, whatever I am enjoying being married to him, I have also worked for it. So, it wasn’t something that came cheap. I have always advocated for women to be in elective positions, but most women would rather opt for appointments. With appointments, you cannot really do much. You will see that there are people who get these appointments but they don’t impact other women.
How have they impacted other women? They select the women they impact. They impact women who are like them, they call the elites together and they even write books. I don’t have to write books. You can see the types of books I do.
I do books all the time and when I write, I talk about my struggles. I am very real to the people, I mentor young girls for the next generation. I don’t give up on girls. But you see the women we have, they have to have the proper orientation of service, they don’t have it and that is why when they fall, they fall on their paws, nobody to pick them up. You can see the case of Dino and myself, you can see how the women rose up. When you impact the life of other women, it will speak for you. In fact, some were calling me from the barracks, saying we want to join the protest! That is why I said if you do things in secret God sees you and it will help you one way or the other.
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