Exclusive Interview with Hon (Barr) Adebowale Ojuri- House Committee Chairman on Justice, Ethics and Public Petitions. He speaks on his ambition, intricases of merger of Tasued and OOU, Approval of 65billion, 10-lane project at the capital and many more
Amebo; As a formal Executive Member of this administration and now a legislator what will you classify as change in the work ethics of both state position?
Ojuri; Laughs. The first thing is the work ethics, the work ethics as an executive member is more stressful to that of the legislative, you are more involved in the day to day runnings of the government. In the legislative, we do more of brain work, longer meetings hence all decisions is an important decision, every meetings and events are not jokes rather serious business. In a nutshell, the executive assignment is a little bit strenuous to ours.
Amebo; You having been reveiving accolades, awards and even chieftaincy title for giving back to your constituents whereas some of your colleagues both interstate and intra state will rather say their is recession thus making it a bit difficult for optimum performance especially giving back to the people that voted them in, what’s the secret behind yours?
Ojuri; the secret is the team! We understood what the community needs because we live with them. It isn’t the monetary value you place on these projects but the impact it will have. Their is no money to line up maruwas, grinders or okadas for you media people to cover but in honesty that’s not really empowerment because you won’t have a way of following it up. The evaluation and feedback is very much important if one is embarking on this. Virtually all what I give out I monitor to ensure it satisfies the need its meant for and that the beneficiaries apply them accordingly. I embarked on a scheme where I gave a guy Okada to be transporting himself and apprentices to sites,(a bricklayer) he now later comeback to tell me he wants to use it for commercial purpose, I had to educate him on the pitfalls, if I needed to give it for commercialization, I will do that through AMORAN. So also a scheme I did with the barbers association where I was giving out generators(I better pass my neighbour)even before I was elected.
It is important to remain local. When they don’t see you as a unique figure, you spend less. You must empathize with the people not sympathize with them. Though the downside of being local is that you spend more per person than the the august visitor; but in honesty the people aren’t asking too much. You attend maudane things, naming, burial etc, they appreciate you for that and you reap it as a politician in the long run.
Amebo; The back to farm programme, whose initiative is it and what’s the motive behind it?
Ojuri; It is not my initiative but I’m involved. Odogbolu is a semi-rural area,all we can offer is land. Most administration don’t add to what they met but will rather sought to change hands of those who champions the task, that won’t move anything. For instance what Sen. Ibikunle Amosun FCA did to drive the IGR from 700million monthly to about 6.5 billion was to block all leakages then tap into the spill over from Lagos, Lagos State is to Ogun State what New Jersey is to New York , this if adopted as a Chairman will make you get closer to the money especially now that the local government is split. So it was the Chairman of Ifesowapo LCDA Hon Onakoya having met with his counterpart Hon Okuneye who educated him on how partnership can be reached with foreign organizations to bring in seeds which he also is into.
We are also working on the aggregation of the fish farmers in Ifesowapo LCDA which will attract funding from the likes of Bank of Industry. This is the more reason we had the first Odogbolu summit and with the expansion of the capital road from the Sagamu interchange, then the spill over must benefit Odogbolu local government looking at it from the proximity of Odogbolu to Lagos. I must commend Adegboruwa for coming back home to establish that factory hence this is a special appeal to all Ijebu sons and daughters especially that of Odogbolu to come back home and get something done for our collective development. Our tomatoes will get to mile 12 before that of the North, so also Odogbolu’s cucumber. Funny enough these Northerners buys ours to mix with theres because ours will be fresher at least 5days interval. The little we have done is with the support of the state government and and a special appreciation to the commissioner for agricultural and the Governor Sen Ibikunle Amosun FCA.
Amebo; Picking from your statement on the opening and expanding of the interchange cum the construction of a 10-lane has received condemnation in some quarters most especially when there are loads of uncompleted construction scattered all over the state. What’s your position on this?
Ojuri; With no apology the government sold this project in a wrong way to the public. Information is power and life and withholding information will definitely cause brouhaha in the polity. The government is talking about 10- lane,Nope!!! This project is specially designed to fit in to the expansion plan that will stand for 50-60years. See our road here, Ikangba-Itele road, it is inadequate at present and over stretched this is because it has a shallow designed by those who did it.
This 10-lane people are talking about is not really 10-lane and that’s the mix up. This project will have a lane each for rail, another concrete road which is meant only for trucks to ply and heavy vehicles and the 3lanes each for cars. It should have been spelt out and that’s where it is mixed up and again, this project was redesigned by the world bank. When they saw the government proposal they amended it to cover that of rail and that of concrete laying for trucks alone,Infact we thought of tolling the road when completed but the the world bank said no that if they assist on any road their must be no tolling.
This loan is simply a one-digit interest. Can you believe that gateway hotels built during the previous administration of Otunba Gbenga Daniel is just been paid by this government. So what Governor Amosun did was, he said he won’t have a moratorium which means paying back the loan after the first 20years. All the projects you see in Lagos State are mostly world bank assisted , thus this is free money and somebody is saying don’t acesss it, I disagree. Those who oppose it are just been myopic about the whole thing,Ogun is conducive for investment and we do hope their is continuity in Ogun State administration just like we have had it in Lagos State.
Amebo; there was a blue print submitted during the first administration headed by the former Deputy Governor for the merger of TASUED with OOU and just yesterday the assembly passed the bill for the upgrade of Mapoly to University and a bill for the establishment of a new polytechnic at Ipokia when then the government at that time in the blue print said their is paucity of fund to run the huge number of higher institution and of course some are saying why can’t the government just leave MAPOLY and start that new university, what’s your take especially that people even regard the Assembly as rubber stamp?
Ojuri; thank you amebo, most views that we are rubber stamps are incorrect. Assembly is not a floor to fight the Executive. When two elephants fights the grass suffers so also when the assembly and executive are at loggerheads, development suffers.
My job is to understand the proposal the executive brought, approve and oversight to ensure it is well implemented; I don’t formulate policies or construct project.
Now to your question, I’m a late convert of supporting the none merger of TASUED with OOU, though those who fought the fight have not benefited but what I thought is an economic decision had a political undertone. The courses at Tasued then was not inline with the vision, the vision was to produce teachers for West Africa, developing the pedagogy and research but it was however turned to an IGR factory with irrelevant course such as petroleum engineering education, transport education etc. The NUC frowned at it and was concluding plans to withdrew the licence of the school. When we came on board, we saw the need to correct the maladministration and poor startegic planning. So the proposal of merger came in but because of the political undertone that a school will be merged or scrapped in Ogun East, the listening Governor change gear.
Now since the government shut the tap on subvention no school has collapsed the only school with issue is TASCE which by now their is a fresh breeze because we had to diagnose the problem and come out with the solution we are right now. I visited the school with Prof Omotayo to see the Provost Dr Kiadese and I tell you their is a reason. We are looking at the possibility of affiliating with a University in Northampton in United Kingdom and a University in Ghana. Most of the students in Tasued are not Ogun indigenes so in Tasce we are working towards attracting students outside Ogun state which will inturn boost the school IGR. When you have the right VC and Governing Council, the progress is in no far distance.
Amebo; The government publicize the Paris Club Fund meant for the payment of severance and pensioners and till date beneficiaries are crying foul. At the arcade ground the Governor mentioned those that were included to benefit while excluded some especially the SUSACO and of course during the Governor’s media chat same day that this same queation came in, the Governor was very diplomatic in answering saying those who the law covers to be paid will be paid and of course the Majority leader Hon (Asiwaju) Yinka Mafe was claiming innocence on this law, as the House committee chairman on Justice, how do you react to this?
Ojuri; Smile! Let me start will the pensioners, a directive was given by the FG on how the States should utilize the Paris Club Fund, which is that the state should spend 50% of the fund on Pensions, 30% on Capital Expenditure and the remaining 20% on what ever the state deem fit. In his magnanimity, the Governor Sen Ibikunle Amosun FCA CON said look let us settle this our pensioners to satisfaction and also the severance of politicians, weighing his bill he realise the money will be insufficient hence he added an extra 2billion naira. I ask you amebo, is the Governor a bad man for doing that? Distributing such fund to beneficiaries requires time to ensure all logistics are in place and no one miss out. If you follow well which of course I saw one of your posting of a particular set of pensioners to go and collect their cheques. Yes, that’s the position, every one concerned will be taken care of but its going to be in batches. The Governor knows his bill and he is ready for the payment.
Now on the SUSACO, of course, Hon Mafe is right holistically! On the arcade ground the Governor mentioned those to benefit, its not just the SUSACO alone that were left out but also those who did not serve up to three years in the state cabinet. Yes the Governor said those the law covers will be paid. If the law covers SUSACO let them come forward with it. I can assure you that we will look into it and tell the authority the truth on it “Oga ewa o, awon eyan wa yii right o, let’s pay them what’s due and that settles it”. Amebo you too can help them get it,I know you have the resources at your disposal, come forward with it but for now their is no law that stipulates their payment.
Amebo; A whooping 65billion naira was ” hurriedly ” approved to the executive and most unfortunately the publication of the Sahara Reporters didn’t do much well for the Assembly on this issue claiming that the insufficient monetary inducement is the cause of the loggerheads that won’t make the assembly approve the money but almost the next day the money got approved, what magic happened?
Ojuri; Let me begin on this hilarious note, one of my boss said when he was in the opposition, all what he thinks about is throwing bombs on the Facebook. In essense opposition are out there always looking for bombs to throw and see to the damage it will do. What I will implore those who are peddling half truth is to read the letter sent to the legislators from the executive. The letter referred to the just approved appropriation bill of 2017 which mentioned specifically the capital receipts for 65billion naira which means the 65billion naira had already been stated in the appropriation bill meant for the execution of the capital projects for the year 2017. What we however gave was not the approval for money but approval to borrow. So in essence it is a money already budgeted for we only gave the go ahead. In layman’s term we call it counterpart funding, the FG recently did same when Amechi gave out 1billion dollars to China for the commencement of the rail construction. The global approval of the money is what is causing the uproar. What they are thinking is that the executive should come and say hey we need 5billion from the 65billion give us , we need 10billion tomorrow give us, like how many times are we going to be sitting on that, so since we know the money is already budgeted for we at once gave it an approval to borrow as the counterpart fund. That approval led to what we have today the “G-26” in the assembly.
Amebo; G-26? How did that happen considering having a number of opposition in the house.
Ojuri; yes we now have the G 26, their is no miracle to that, its the maturity of the house. Some of our colleagues were part of the G-15 and they understood the pitfalls. So we said and agreed we won’t allow any external force to penetrate us. We are not here to fight but here for development.
Amebo; LCDAs have slow pace in running and unfortunately we have a people that are not patients with the slow pace, questioning the essense of the LCDA when basic infrastructures are yet to be in place. Your take
Ojuri; I want to refer you to my interview on tribune, where I said the LCDA is a win win situation. Except for 5 new ones all LCDAs have their Secretariat which had been in place during the Osoba’s administration. Its only a chairman that is somehow lazy that will say things are not running. Their is no ragmatize that you are running a zero allocation administration thus thinking outside the box is essential. When I say zero allocation, its not that money won’t come but it’s going to be insufficient. What use to be for one person is now to be shared with three to four people and even the money from the federal has dropped to almost nothing. Regardless of what will happen each LCDAS will have its offices, some will have graders etc. It took Lagos a year plus to settle down. Yes we will make mistakes, we will learn and we will advance. The LCDAs that want to crawl should crawl, those that will learn to walk should, and those that will fly should. Everything can’t fly at the same time, no one is giving accolade for that.
Security vote has been cancelled since Buhari came on board and I say it Amosun hasn’t been collecting though it is not a right I must say, so also is constituency allowance by the legislators. We don’t execute project so why constituency allowance; out of the little you are collecting, spend that for what ever you think is necessary to give back to the people who votes you in. You can call it things, you can call it constituency project its you that will define the name. Permit me to ship in that this total cancellation of security vote also has its demerit which has been raising its ugly head but for the strategic Governor things might have gone wrong.
Amebo; There are some of your colleagues that have shown interest in contesting for higher seat and again with the enormous projects you having been embarking on, Ojuri always in the news for good projects, are you eyeing one too?
Ojuri; Laughssss. You see amebo I’m doing so many projects because there are many to be done. To whom much is given, much is expected. Aspiration is human but achievement is important. I can’t aspire for higher seat when I have not done anything with the trust they (my constituents) gave me presently, so in the account of my stewardship I must have done something before another trust can be given to me. If God says Ojuri see I want you on that higher seat, who am I to say no.
Amebo: In the days of Awolowo, the party executives dictates the modus-operandi of the party but in this 21st century its now the Governors cum Presidents that does that especially that now most leaders are not even financially empowered to stand on their feet to support the party without the Governor’s participation, how do you react to this?
Ojuri; with no apology, give the breast to a child, give the child the breast the end result is for the child to suck the breast. In honesty it is a fact that the Governors does what you say but even some of these leaders too will rather want to collect than spend. In the days of Awolowo you mentioned, even those leaders who spend spent it to the patronage of the Governor; when we came on board whatbwas discovered was that the IGR generated was moving from.one hand of a leader to another affecting the general development of the state. My advice herein is to go back to the constitution of our party where polling unit should be the most referred to. It is a strategy, 10excos per unit and at least each will be have a leader and also bring forth at least another 10set of people. We shouldn’t have Excos on paper; not everybody can go to state meetings, Local government meetings or ward meetings but everybody must attend the unit meetings. However the mistake some of the leaders does is to replicate what the Governor does in the units whenever he is giving out gifts, they ought to complement in another dimension. Worse is that some will rather want to share from the unit gifts. In a nutshell, either the Governor spends or the leaders what is important is for the party to move forward.
Amebo; How many bills have you sponsored and what’s the level of implementation.
Ojuri; I’m walking on two bills presently the first is the disability bill and the second is that of the JDPC bill to decongest our prison through rendering community services as punishment instead of prisons depending on the gravity of the offense. I have cosponsored about 7bills.
Amebo; their is a border tussle between Ogun State and the neighbouring state, Ondo. What’s the legal implication of this?
Ojuri; I’m not sure of the tussle but I knw that every dispute on boundary is been handled by the Deputy Governor but I’m sure no side will desire to go to court because of the cost involved.
Amebo: the election that brought you in, you won while the Governor lost and in most cases its always the Governor’s popularity and victory spilling over to the assembly candidate, how is yours different?
Ojuri; what you are accusing me of it what I term as the dividend of elections. What I think ee should border about is if a Governor wins and the assembly lost. See no Governor is to be popular than the assembly in an area. The Governor is a foreigner while the assembly is the son of the soil. It is however because of the dividend of election that turn up in my case but it would have been disastrous if the Governor wins and I lost, more so it was just a slim margin in the result of the Governor to that of the opposition.
Amebo; you have power and no.mater how meagre you have a financial mussle. How have you been coping with the advances from the opposite sex especially with you mesomorph stature.
Ojuri; naturally I’m not in that shoe yet may be because I’m not a fashionista or social to that extent,you know outing on blings, designer shoes, cars, watches and cloth. I simply wear my Ankara…laughs.
But one thing is this,one must understand power is transient, I am here today, someone else will be tomorrow and someone was there before me. If you are not capable of two wives why going for it. I’ll rather empower them in my little way than to flirt around. Thankfully we have a very matured assembly who are not into such frivolities.
Amebo; your distinguished, we appreciate your time and explicit response to all our questions and we do hope that by May 29 we will be given such a rare opportunity to have another chat wit you. From all of us at Amebohotnews we say thank you.
Ojuri; you are most welcome and I can assure you my doors are open for you amebo. You are doing a great job and we hope you continue to toe in that path.