Son of the former Oyo State governor, late Alhaji Lamidi Onoolapo Adesina, Adedapo Lam Adesina, represents Ibadan Southeast / Northeast federal constituency in the House of Representatives. In this interview with ADEBIYI ADEDAPO, Dapo-Lam, as he is fondly called, shares his views on the polity and contest for his state’s gubernatorial seat in 2019.
So far, how would you rate the performance of the 8th Assembly?
It is my first time in the National Assembly, I was not here during the previous assemblies, but from the information we have gathered, it is obvious that the 8th Assembly has performed very well, particularly in terms of the number of bills sponsored and passed, as well as motions adopted.
Do you believe that the National Assembly, particularly the House of Representatives, has met the expectations of Nigerians, especially with regards to the ongoing constitution review and the quest for restructuring ?
For me, I think it is a Yes and a No situation, considering the fact that a lot of us did support restructuring. When you talk about devolution of power, there are couple of hindrances there and some felt it was not necessary, but that is in their own wisdom. But for some of us, we are 100 per cent in support of restructuring.
You worked very hard in support of the #NotTooYoungToRun bill, what was your motivation?
Every member represents a particular constituency. While I represent Ibadan South-east/North-east, I also represent another constituency, which is the youth. So anything that has to do with the development and progress of the youths, I must be at the fore front of it.
That is why, if you notice, I stood a few days ago to speak on the motions sponsored by the Leader of the House, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, which has to do with young Nigerians who are doing very well in their chosen fields and careers. So, for me, it is one of the reasons why I am here, that is why I was in the forefront of supporting the #NotTooYoungToRun bill.
I believe that lots of Nigerians out there who when given the opportunity to serve in different capabilities will be able to do a lot to ensure the progress of Nigeria. I know a lot of young Nigerians out there who are not in position of authority yet, but they are doing very well for the country where they found themselves, so if such people are given the opportunity to be in positions, it will be putting the round peg in the round hole.
So that bill is very key, especially now that Nigeria is searching for more vibrant leadership. But in discussing this, I always note that it is not about being a youth, it is about realising that governance is service to the people, it is not about going into government to continue the norm or maintain the status quo, it is about going there to make a change and a big difference and many people that young people in Nigeria can do it.
What is your view of the implementation of the 2017 budget and the proposed 2018 budget, particularly as regards an attempted protest by PDP lawmakers over poor implementation?
I am not of the opinion that because the 2017 budget which we are still implementing has not been able to perform very well, that means that we should halt the country, and we should therefore not look at the 2018 budget proposal.
What it tells us is that we must quickly sit down and look at what went wrong with the 2017 budget, because when we came here, we swore to an oath that at every point in time, Nigeria will be first. The reason why the 2017 budget has not performed very well is very obvious to us, it has to do with funding, it is about the fact that there were not much revenue and the government was unable to really fund the budget. I don’t think it is sensible for anybody in government to have so much money and keep it somewhere without funding the budget.
For me, I believe that the challenge facing the 2017 budget is funding and if that is the case, we should sit down with the Executive arm of government and that is why we have different committees, they should invite the ministers and find out what exactly the problem is, they should invite the Ministry of Finance to tell us what went wrong, but that does not mean that we should stop looking at the 2018 budget.
Also, now that we are looking at passing the budget early enough for us to start running it in the new year, which is the right step in the right direction, I don’t think we should politicise this. We should continue to be patriots, put Nigeria first in our mind and in everything we do. We should review the 2017 budget, understand the problem and ensure that it doesn’t happen with the 2018 budget.
It is believed that the 8th Assembly members have no money to share, and some lawmakers are saying they don’t wish to be re-elected, are you also disappointed? And will you seek re-election?
I am not disappointed, and I don’t mind to return, as long as it is about service to the people. Let me say this, 90 per cent of everything I get here, I spend it in my constituency, I make bold to say it anywhere, you can find out. So for me, it is not about coming here to look for money, it is about coming here to fight for the right of my people, it’s about coming here to ensure that I get things to take back home to them.
I am always very happy when I organise a programme or commission a project in my constituency, when it is over a month and it’s getting to two months and I didn’t do anything in my constituency, it looks like I have failed, so almost every month, there is one thing or the other to commission. Recently, we had the free health mission whereby about 2000 constituents benefited, it wasn’t the regular free health mission that we hear about, here lots of drugs and dispensed freely, it wasn’t about coming with the APC card, it was for everybody.
The only thing we did was to ensure the beneficiaries come with their voters card, because a lot of us complain about people not doing the right thing in government and that our leaders are disappointing us, yet we don’t get involved in who becomes what.
So we must challenge our people to ensure that they get their voters card and make sure that they vote for the right people, that is the only way we can change this system, a surgery was even conducted for one young boy and it was done successfully, so I will say I am not here to make money, I am just here to make a name, just like I did when I was commissioner it wasn’t about money, and I am rest assured that when you do very well for the people, they will push you ahead.
I believe that because I did well as commissioner that was why people voted for me, after all I contested for this same position and lost, people were surprised because my father was a former governor and he was alive at that time.
But that is not the way it is, people didn’t believe in me, and they voted against me, but when I had the opportunity and I did very well, people believed in me but funny enough, my father was no more at the time I won.
So I think people should be encouraged with my story and understand that we can vote out politicians who are not doing very well and we can also vote in people who have done very well for us. It is an encouragement for me to know that when you do very well, you won’t have to run after money, the money will come.
How would you respond to the defection of former vice-president Atiku Abubakar from your party to the PDP?
Well, Mr President has spoken, he commiserated with the party, I also commiserate with the party and I believe there must be something wrong somewhere for that to have happen. Having said that, I believe Waziri Adamawa knows what is best for him, and he considered that decision appropriate, I can only wish him the best in his political career. I remain a committed member of the APC and as the saying goes, there is no permanent friend or permanent enemy in politics, the most important thing is anywhere we find ourselves, we must think Nigeria first everyone has the right to play politics on any platform.
The political empire you inherited is purely progressive, your late father was a progressive throughout his career, will you defect to another political fold, if the offer is right?
We were not brought-up to go for offers, we were brought up to make sure that we serve the people anywhere we find ourselves, and that is why you’ll realise that when I joined politics in 1998, I started with AD with my father, we moved to AC, we moved to ACN and now I found myself in the APC, all my life, my politics has been under the progressive fold, and I believe that there is no option to progressive politics in Nigeria. So for me, it is not about offer, it is about service to the people all the time, that is how I was brought up and by the grace of God, that is what I will be committed to all my life, until I leave this simple world.
What is your view of the agitation by oke-ogun people to produce the next governor of Oyo State?
Every zone is entitled to produce the governor, whether you’re from Oke-ogun, Oyo, Ogbomosho or Ibadan. The most important thing is the progress for the state, it shouldn’t be about where anyone comes from but what the people will get when anybody is serving the state. So I believe that the agitation is right, and there will always be agitation in politics, and it’s because we all want Nigeria to be better, there are agitations from the South-east and South-south.
When you even leave the radius, you will find out that the youths are also agitating for inclusion in decision making and creation of jobs, even the women are agitating for more percentage of affirmative action. So the Oke-ogun people have the right to agitate, but there are dynamics in politics, when we get to the bridge, we will cross it. But whoever becomes the governor must realise that whether from Oke-ogun or Oyo, the person must know that Oyo State must be developed.
Ideally so, but does it happen in political reality ?
But that is how it’s supposed to be and It is a gradual process, we should gradually move from what it is to what it’s supposed to be.
There is a gang-up by the opposition figures against the ruling APC, is your party jittery?
Politics in Oyo State is very peculiar and it is not like it is in other parts of the country. Yes, the opposition is ganging up, but it doesn’t mean that we will enter 2019 with the gang-up. We have seen different gang-ups in the past and it crumbled, and people align and realign.
For instance, you can see that the former Senate Leader, Teslim Folarin is in the fold of the APC the former governor of the state, Adebayo Alao-Akala is also in the fold of the APC, so in politics, like I said, there is no permanent friend or permanent enemy, especially in Oyo State, a lot would have happened between 2017 and 2018, that will determine what will happen in 2019.
Who tells you that even the gang-up will not collapse, as I speak to you, our fathers in the opposition who are ganging-up have issues within, one of our fathers, a former deputy governor in the opposition recently complained that a former governor also a father has hijacked the system. So there are meant to be issues and disagreement and some of them will still come back to our fold, so I believe that our party the APC will make it by the special grace of God.
How much development have you attracted to your constituency?
You will notice that BudgiT, a civic society accountability organisation, in its last report, analysed Ibadan South-east / North-east federal constituency and confirmed that the three projects under the name of Ibadan South-east/North-east federal constituency were completed 100 percent.
As at June when we clocked two years in office, I had done 21 water projects, and I am sure that no House of Representatives members has done 21 water projects in two years, even in four years, in that federal constituency.
I am constructing a mini football pitch at Oke-Ibadan High School, though it is very slow, due to challenges of funding. In two years, we have sustained bursary for over 400 students in tertiary institutions under the constituency educational support scheme, and the quiz and debate competition during the children’s day celebrations in the last two years and winners get awards of scholarships.
Also, I have provided financial grants to about 600 traders in the constituency, this is not a loan but a grant, and I support sports and sporting activities, provide equipment etc. And about 40 constituents were employed in my constituency office and are being paid salary up till date for about two years now.
We also did the stomach infrastructure, i.e empowerment for our people. During campaigns we visited various trade unions and organisations and did promised that we were going to support them, so we have been able to do that and as I speak to you, we have spent about N100m to provide poverty alleviation materials. We have also started what we call ‘Omo oloore’ food bank.
I visit my constituency every weekend and I usually don’t to to my house but stay at my father’s house in Felele to attend to constituents and go around the constituency.