You are one of the youngest speakers in Nigeria. How are you able to manage the House despite being a first term lawmaker yourself?
I have been handling the affairs of the House with the fear of God. I see myself as a first among equals. We relate as brothers, colleagues and compatriots who have a duty to the people of the state who have entrusted us with their mandates. In everything we do, I go for consensus building and we all look after one other. This has been the secret. I am always grateful that we place the interest of the state above group, sectional or personal interests. This has made us thick as a team. I don’t see myself as superior to any of my colleagues and I try to act as their chief servant. Many of them treat me as their little brother who must succeed. I cannot thank them enough.
What are the achievements of this House under your leadership?
This 9th Assembly is a unique one. It is unlike any other Assembly in the recent history of the state because of the peculiar nature of our emergence. We came through a political revolution called ‘Otoge’. What we have done is to ensure that we work with the executive and the judiciary to deliver on the mandates of our people. The Assembly has been a strategic partner for success with the executive. We cooperate without jettisoning legislative independence but engendering mutual respect and synergy. This House has passed
18 bills, 39 public spirited motions. Many of our bills have direct impact on the wellbeing of the masses and equitable distribution of wealth. An example is the Kwara State Social Investment Programme Bill, which we worked on. Today, our people are being lifted out of poverty in large numbers. Apart from this, we conduct adequate oversight functions to ensure judicious use of public resources. We have also worked on some bills that will really transform Kwara State. Take the Kwara State Education Trust Fund, which has also been assented to by the governor. By the time the Trust Fund becomes operational, public education will never be the same again. The Kwara State Sports Commission Bill is another milestone. Same for the Geographic Information Service (GIS) Bill which has also become law and will soon go into full implementation after some other preliminary works are done. Our members remain very close to the grassroots.
The ‘Otoge’ tsunami in Kwara was one of its kind in Nigeria in 2019. Would you say the APC administration has justified the confidence the people of Kwara State reposed in the party?
Except for those who want to play politics, there is no part of Kwara State where the programmes and activities of this government is not being felt. It has never been so before. There is no local government you won’t find one or two projects in various sectors. Currently now, there is massive rehabilitation or remodelling of schools across the state. This has never been so. This is coming just a few months after our people benefitted hugely from a very transparent, child-focused teachers’ recruitment process. It is the best we have ever seen in this state. Go and ask anyone. There is no ward where you will not find beneficiaries of the social safety programme of the administration. In Baruten where I come from, we have never had it so good. In the next few weeks or so, the government would have completed and possibly commission a brand new radio station. It is the first radio station in the whole of Kwara North senatorial district. Before now, we relied on radio from Benin Republic. The region has never benefitted from public water interventions as we have seen under this administration; it is the same for health facilities. The results are glaring. The popular 33km Ilesha Gwanara road is now undergoing construction up to asphalt level. This is a road that had been abandoned after over N1billion had been stolen under the last administration. I can go on and on. It is important to note however that the ‘Otoge’ revolution goes beyond the great things we are seeing in the area of basic amenities. It is also about the dignity of the human person. Kwarans are no longer subservient to anyone. We are no longer referred to as slaves to any political warlord. Every politician now knows that the people matter.
Your name came up in a recent interview by the governor and in the reply of the minister. The minister said he funded the whole election and that all of you who are beneficiaries of his sweat have been ungrateful to him. What exactly is happening?
I have been with the governor since 2010 as one of his foot soldiers. He has always been a front runner in the struggle to end political slavery in Kwara. He had always been in the trenches. As for the claims of Alhaji Lai Mohammed over election funding, I make bold to say that he did not fund my election. I am aware that the governor not only funded his own campaign, he spent his personal fortunes to support other candidates. Alhaji was nowhere to be found. We went to the farthest places in Kwara North during the campaign with the governor. Where was Alhaji Lai at that time? He was not a factor in our election as such. It is better to just ignore those outrageous claims because everyone knows them to be pure lies. How can somebody that we didn’t see before, during and after election claim to fund the same election?
How would you describe the developments in the Kwara APC?
For me, there is more noise than substance in the noise about so-called crisis. Some lousy minorities are the ones making so much noise because they want to be recognised. They are using all sorts of blackmail just to portray crisis. I will urge such persons to join hands with the governor and other sincere stakeholders to build the party to a greater height. For me, what I see is sheer blackmail and red herring to seek undeserved attention. I’m sure the national secretariat of the party has seen through the gimmick during the party registration. There is really nothing to fret about. All you hear are mostly contrived noise to seek attention.
Do you see all the warring parties coming together again?
Absolutely. Especially for those who seek development of the state and not selfish gains. Whatever our differences, which is normal in any human environment, we are stronger together if all we seek is development. Democracy itself encourages debate and I must commend the governor for his statesmanship and patience despite provocations. He has really done well to tolerate a lot of excesses. We know what happened elsewhere. He has been very accommodating, in spite of obvious disrespect to his person and office.
What are the chances of your party in 2023, given the infighting, the Saraki factor, and of course, some defections that may happen? As a matter of fact, a former minister from your local government has just returned to the PDP?
Whatever our differences, which I believe will be resolved in favour of party discipline and accommodation, the chances of our party are very bright. We have nothing to fret over. As for the former minister, he is just pursuing his personal gains. His defection has nothing to do with the collective good of our local government, Kwara North or the state.