…Says Nigerians are hungry
Lagos State House of Assembly Constituency Stakeholders’ Meeting simultaneously held in all the constituencies of the state on October 29, 2020. Theme of this year’s meeting was Post Covid-19 Pandemic: The Challenges and Prospects. Ajeromi/Ifelodun was not exempted as Honourable Lukman Saad Olumoh gathered his people at Bola Tinubu Multipurpose Hall in the LGA. In this interview with CYRIACUS NNAJI, the lawmaker spoke on the EndSARS mayhem, reason for the Town Hall meeting and other burning national issues. Excerpts:
I am Honourable Lukman Saad Olumoh, member representing Ajeromi/Ifelodun Constituency 01, at the Lagos State House of Assembly.
How do you feel about the recent destruction of lives and property in your constituency especially and Lagos in general, resulting from the EndSARS protests?
No right thinking or responsible human being would feel happy about the event; it was a very very sad day for us in Lagos. That day, Tuesday 20th of October, was a very sad day for me. I wasn’t really happy about the event, because it came up spontaneously that we could not imagine the scale until we saw it happen when police stations, council, private properties, government establishments and properties were destroyed, burnt, it is a very very sad day for us.
What do you think government can do to forestall such occurrence in the future?
Well it is a fundamental issue, very very fundamental. As a parliamentarian I know too well that there are processes involved in making things a reality, of which legislation is one, and when you look at the Nigerian constitution, we have the exclusive list, the concurrent list and the residual list, and we think that everything can be done by the local government chairman, everything can be done by the state governor. Amongst all these items, we have more than 60 that are on the Federal Government list which is the exclusive list, of which police is one.
The state government can’t do anything; no state governor can act on excusive list of which police is one. And amongst all states in Nigeria that have done their best for policing especially the Nigerian police, Lagos State is one, because we have a Trust Fund that is established for clothing the police, for buying vehicles and gadgets for them, it is unfortunate that this kind of a thing can happen in Lagos.
So it is legislation, we have to look into our constitution, do amendments where necessary to ensure that we bring in peace and the protection of livelihood and property as enshrined in the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria.
What does the Town Hall meeting aim to achieve?
Now a town hall meeting is an annual event of the Lagos State House of Assembly and what is aimed at is discussing the burning issues on annual basis, what the constituents need in your various areas, because the 40 members of the Lagos House of Assembly, we have different people and needs in our various constituencies. Last year for example was basically about the issue of infrastructure. This year, what we are talking about is Pandemic, the Covid-19, its effects and what and how the people felt the government can come in and participate in bringing everlasting solution to them. So we discuss issue of paramount importance to us on yearly basis and whatever we are able to aggregate eventually ends up in the budget of the state, it is a guide for the formulation of the budget for Mr Governor.
Could you let us know some of your projects, those you have executed and those you intend to do?
Well I came to office like one and half years ago and my constituency can attest to what I have done, I have done a little but I know I will still do more. I can say I have been able to influence the rehabilitation of the roads, award of major roads within my constituency. I have been able to influence, for the first time in the history of Ajeromi/Ifelodun Local Government as a whole, we have a fire station on the Ojo Road axis. It has never happened. Aside from that I have gainfully given employment, a lot of my constituents are working with LAWMA, and various agencies in the state. Scholarships, I have given scholarships personally through my KOKO Scholars programme. I have the KOKO Traders Scheme where we have a lot of our constituents here, especially women, enjoying interest free loan, and they are doing quite well. I have so many students, through my influence, they were able to get admission to model colleges, Lagos polytechnic, Universities and the likes, and we have intervened also in health matters, we have done so much, I can’t count, I am sure the mood of the people today would tell you that the constituents are happy with us.
What are your challenges as a representative of your constituency?
Challenges basically, Nigerians are hungry, the masses are hungry, and we can see it written everywhere. Personally during the heat of the pandemic, I think, around this area I intervened with food items seven times, people can be encouraged to do that, we are not saying people are lazy, we are not saying people are not working, they are, but we need to meet those people that cannot fend for themselves. We need to assist people, bring intervention food to the table for the people, let them have something to eat. Once they say food is out of it the anger level reduces, so an angry man is a hungry man. We need to make the price of food at federal level come down, whatever intervention the federal government is going to do to make prices of food come down, the masses would want cheaper food on our table, so that we can think well, talk well and move forward.
What are you doing to lift up your constituency?
Our constituency is not down, what we have is just challenges; you can see that we are very resilient people in Ajeromi/Ifelodun. We don’t have police stations, but you can see that security is maintained because we are peace loving people, we have local vigilante now taking over security of lives and property. In some other climes, they won’t be able to achieve what we have achieved in Ifelodun and Ajeromi, so we are not down. We can always improve, we have risen and we will continue to rise. My prayer is just for God to continue to guide our leaders right and give them the strength to provide effective leadership for our country.
Now people are afraid to go about their various businesses, what message do you have for them in this trying period?
Well, basically one thing that is important is hope; if we all have hope, then we can continue with life. I will just preach the message of hope to everybody, we must be optimistic, we shouldn’t let situation bring us down, so let us continue to keep hope alive. With our hope I am very very sure that things will be better. Let’s keep hope alive, the government would always strive to provide security for us, provide support where it is needed. So hope is the message.
Giving the level of damage experienced in some local government, even at the state level, the state level amounts to N1trillion, Ajeromi/Ifelodun is saying the damage cost is amounting to about N1billion, because we have a case of 86 vehicle getting burnt and council secretariat looted and burnt, what steps is the state taking to ensure that compensation or assistance is giving to Local government to begin their repair and restructuring process?
First and foremost the governor has started in the right direction, he has visited the local government, he has seen the level of damage, enumeration has been done to these damaged properties, aside from that, they have done testing on some of these burnt materials, so we do enumeration, after enumeration exercise, then the next is how to get these things done. At the last sitting that we had on Monday, this was the discussion that we had, and it was a very serious one.
And the resolution of the House is for the government to provide funds to support both the government and private citizens so that these losses are not borne alone by the institution or private citizens that suffer these losses, so government will definitely come to support whosoever has made any loss in this mayhem.