The screening of ministerial nominees by the Senate took a slight turn on Monday when Senator Remi Tinubu told Babatunde Fashola (a minister nominee) that her constituency was denied employment slots during his first tenure as Minister of Power, Works and Housing.
The Senator representing Lagos central said Fashola should remember her constituency this time around if appointed as Minister.
“My only addition is that during your first tenure, I remember I didn’t get any chance to give employment letter to my constituency.
“So, when you get there this time, just remember Senators here that have people back home. My constituents are asking us for employment slots. So, I want you to put that in your agenda for next tenure.
“We all need slot for employment for our constituents,” she said.
She was however quick to add that Fashola who was also a former governor of Lagos State is fit and competent to serve as a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria again.
Mr Fashola, however could not give a response to Senator Tinubu as he was asked to bow and go after almost two hours of engagement and questioning by the lawmakers.
The Minister of Works, Babatunde Raji Fashola, has stressed the need for the federal government to revisit tolls as a means of raising funds for the maintenance of Nigerian roads.
Fashola was speaking at the public hearing on a legislation seeking to scrap the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) and replace it with the Federal Roads Authority.
The minister asked the legislature not to set up a new agency but rather, strengthen the existing agency which has a similar mandate.
“We also welcome the idea of creating a maintenance agency, but we think that all of the recommendations that have been made for maintenance, should be embodied in the agency that the government has already created, FERMA, repeal the existing FERMA law, re-enact it and put all of the new things we want to create inside it,” Fashola advised.
The Minister of Works, Babatunde Raji Fashola, has called for caution in the setting up of a national roads fund.
This according to him, is especially as it has to do with collecting taxes for the proposed road fund.
The minister made this appeal during the public hearing on two bills that seek to establish the national roads fund, which will house funds for the development and maintenance of national roads.
The minister also called attention to the fact that local governments have the largest road networks and that there is need to ensure that local governments get more funds.
This follows a statement by House Of Representative member, Okechukwu, who on Sunday, said the objective of the National Roads Fund Bill include: to establish the National Roads Fund which will serve as repository for revenues accruing from road user related charges and other sources for financing the development, rehabilitation, maintenance and other activities related to the provision of national roads.
The bill is also to establish the national roads fund board , which would be responsible for the management of the roads fund, in accordance with the provisions of the act, while promoting sustainable development and operation of the road sector in Nigeria.
Another bill to be considered is the federal road fund bill, which seeks to establish the federal road fund to be a pool of dedicated funds that would finance the maintenance of federal roads in Nigeria and promote the sustainable development and operation of road networks across the country.
Also expected to be engaged by the committee on works, chaired by Rep. Toby Okechukwu, are the Ministers Of Budget And National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, Minister Of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu and the Attorney General of the Federation as well as Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami.
With various on-going re-habilitation projects, the federal government says it has so far spent over 73 billion Naira on road projects across the country.
Former presidential candidate of the NCP, Dele Momodu, believes that former Kwara State Governor, Senator Bukola Saraki, stands a better chance of becoming Nigeria’s Senate President.
He shared this view on Channels Television’s Politics Today during a conversation on the structure of the incoming government in Nigeria and setting its agenda.
While admitting that former Benue State Governor, George Akume is another top contender for the position, he said that Saraki is a much younger and vibrant politician who hails from one of the APC’s strongest holds, Kwara State.
“Saraki appeals to a lot of us younger folks because the next Senate is going to have maybe about 20 or more governors who are Senators. So we need a man who understands them very well.
“I remember when Saraki was Chairman of the Governors’ Forum, he was able to hold the forum very well, he was able to carry his colleagues along in policies and in so many other ways.
“He’s a man who has schooled at home and abroad and for me we are going to need a lot of that at this time.
“Nigeria has gone through so much in the past. So we need men who can hit the ground running. Not just politicians but people with extensive global networks and I think Saraki has that.”
He added that the incumbent Senate President, David Mark should not be ruled out of contention as he might be interested in retaining his position.
He, however, expressed doubts that the All Progressives Congress, APC would allow that when they have a majority in the Senate.
Mr Momodu also shared his views on the leadership of the House of Representatives.
“One name you cannot ignore today is Femi Gbajabiamila. Femi made his name in the House of Reps for being very vocal (and) very powerful. He rises up to the occasion, he does not shy away from doing what is expected of him as a legislator,” he said.
On the position of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Momodu expects this to be between the South-East and South-South region of the country.
“There may be two people that will come up. The first, of course, will be the Director-General of the Muhammadu Buhari Presidential Campaign Organisation, and that is the Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi.
“If you go to the South-East, you’re likely to be talking about Dr Chris Ngige, (who is) also a former governor and a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Momodu noted that he had written an article published in the dailies in which he stated his expectations and named persons he felt would be right to be in the cabinet of the new government.
According to him, there are major ministerial positions he also expects the new government to take seriously.
“APC, I believe is blessed with a lot of very great minds. Of course Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola of Lagos State will be available to serve that government because his tenure as Governor will be expiring on May 29.
“I don’t see how anybody is going to ignore such a man,” he said.
The publisher also advised President-elect Muhammadu Buhari to “look beyond APC” and pick Nigerians from any part of the world who have distinguished themselves.
“We need men of accomplishment, we need women of solid characters,” he said, adding that former Cross River State Governor, Donald Duke is one of such persons.
He also said that all geopolitical zones in the country must be represented in the new cabinet “whether they voted for you or not”.
Members and supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Saturday took to the streets in what they termed a one million man march.
From Maryland area to the Surulere area of Lagos mainland and stopping at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, party leaders sought more support at the polls.
Supporters of the party’s presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari and members of the APC chanted and gyrated to political songs in praise of the APC candidates.
As the marchers made a final stop at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, the leaders seized the opportunity to address the crowd on the forthcoming elections.
The march may be a form of exercise, nevertheless, it was largely a political statement; especially in a strategic state like Lagos where, not only number matters, but the commerce makes the decision of voters and leaders significant.
Among notable members who led the march were the APC National Leader, Bola Tinubu; the APC governorship candidate in the state, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode; and Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State, Lagos State House of Assembly Speaker, Mr. Adeyemi Ikuforiji and others.
In appreciation of his contributions to the improvement of education in the country, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) in the South West Zone, on Monday, honoured the Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, with a Certificate of Commendation.
Governor Fashola, who recently announced a reversal of the school fees in the Lagos State University (LASU) to its old structure, got the students’ applause for giving them a listening ear and allowing them the chance to contribute their quota to the growth of education by getting proposals from them, while they engaged the government during the recent students crisis.
The students, represented by their “Senators” from all the higher institutions in the South West Zone, said that the Governor struck them as the right leader to turn the country around through the creative way he recognized the import of their arguments that education could be run in a way as to encourage both the children of the rich and the poor to fulfill their gifts for education, without creating classes and division among them.
Governor Fashola received the recognition award at the Lagos House, Ikeja, and charged them to always reflect on how the quality of education can be improved. While making a commitment that the State Government would solve the problem of the issue of quality of education, he stated that the students also have a role to play in proffering solutions.
“I am also inquiring from you that how can we improve the quality of education? So that we can begin to plan how to produce our next sets of graduates that would produce our cars, give us electricity, perform heart and kidney surgeries here. It may look so far away but we are so closer to getting out and you are so close to taking over. We need to quickly fill that gap”, he stated.
On the Lagos State University (LASU) issue, Governor Fashola said, ”It was the students who asked for intervention in their school. All actions have consequences. When you sought the setting up of visitation panels, you don’t know what the result would be. What you did not realize is that you were asking outsiders to come. I hope the right lessons have been learnt. For us it is about making things better. You must ask yourself, is your method working? If they are not working, are you reflecting on changes?” he said.
Fashola expressed gladness that the school fees issue ended in the way it did, which exceeded the expectation of the students, adding that it was important to remind everyone of how it all started and that the State Government did not just wake up and decided to increase fees in LASU.
He said, “Part of the recommendation also was that there should be massive investment in infrastructure funding and part of it was that we should also increase school fees. It was not our initiative It was the consequence of the choice that you made.”
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Zone D Coordinator, Mr Sunday Ashefon, commended the Governor for surprising the students with his decision on the LASU fees because what the students were clamoring for was a reduction. He said, ”The fees payable in LASU now is not obtainable in any tertiary institution in Nigeria today.” He described Governor Fashola as another Awolowo of his generation.
Lagos Politician, Jimi Agbaje, has revealed that he joined the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, because of his belief in the party’s ability to provide better governance for the people.
The new People’s Democratic Party member admitted that his decision generated some “noise” from those who feel uncomfortable with it, and it was expected in politics for people to complain but added that what mattered more to him was having more people in support of the decision than those against it.
Mr Agbaje, during a conversation on Channels Television’s Politics Today, refused to categorically state if his movement into the PDP was an indication that he would be contesting for the governorship seat of Lagos State in the 2015 election but did not rule out the possibility.
He said, “I believe that the law does not allow you to campaign publicly until some time. I think we’ll keep that within the family.”
Speaking on the politics of the South-West region of Nigeria in recent months as displayed in the Osun and Ekiti state governorship election outcomes, Agbaje was of the belief that the citizens were beginning to have a strong say in who their leaders are.
He cited several elements and qualities that should make an ideal politician and stated that how well the politicians can blend these elements would determine what they would get from the people at the end of each election.
“You’ve got to get your politics right, you’ve got to get your policies right, you’ve got to get your propaganda right, and you’ve got to get your polity right.”
He expressed joy that the elections in both states, above all things, had large turn-out of voters and still did not result in violence, contrary to expectations especially in Osun State.
He noted that the security presence did not discourage the voters from coming out to vote and this meant that it would be hard to debunk the need for the security presence deployed in the states for the elections.
INEC and 2015
“I think INEC has given us hope from Osun and Ekiti” he also said, but added that these were “stand alone” elections.
He noted that the general election happening simultaneously across the country would pose a bigger challenge for the electoral commission and expressed hope that they would be able to handle the challenge when it comes.
The former Lagos governorship candidate warned that the quantity of security personnel deployed in each state for the “stand alone” elections would not be available during the general election and this would reduce the level of help INEC got which helped in the avoidance of violence.
He, however, added that this also meant that the pressure on the electoral commission would reduce, as all the party bigwigs who were moving into the election states to pull their weight would not be there as they would also be busy facing their own constituencies.
The distribution of the Permanent Voter’s Cards, according to Agbaje, has also been “so far so good” considering the level of complaints which he said has not been as bad as expected. While admitting that there were challenges that needed to be addressed, he believed the INEC had done well enough.
The South-West Battle
With the PDP and APC having won a state each in the recent elections, Mr Jimi Agbaje expressed confidence that the PDP would eventually win the battle for the South-West, reminding Nigerian politicians that how well they are able to make impact on the lives of the people would be the determining factor come 2015.
“I have every confidence that the PDP is going to win this game for the South-West”, he said, sticking to his earlier stance that the electorates were more aware.
“In the South-West, people are asking, how much has the Government done for me? What is the benefit of Government? If you cannot quantify in any quantum that Government has done well for you, it means that you are willing to look elsewhere.”
Agbaje also believes that the direction in which the South-West battle swings would affect the outcome of the presidential election in 2015. He added that the chances of President Goodluck Jonathan of being re-elected, if he contests, would also depend on the perception of the people about his leadership.
He noted that it would be important to let Nigerians know that many of the things they complain about are not problems of the Federal Government but that of the states.
“If you’re having problems with education it is not necessarily the fault of Abuja and if you’re having problems with your roads, it is not the problem of Abuja. The Federal Government’s role is very different, so the presidential role is different”, he said.
He cited the resuscitation of the railway system, industrial growth especially as regards foreign investment and job creation, power sector development as some of the achievements that the PDP would need to properly articulate to the Nigerian people.
He added that he would also be expecting President Jonathan to ask Nigerians, “Can you truly say that your power has not improved?”
Speaking about Lagos State in 2015, Jimi Agbaje said; “People are going to be asking themselves, how well has the Government provided an enabling environment for me to aspire to whatever it is (I want).
“The market women are gong to be asking; ‘are we comfortable with the way the ruling party has treated us?’ The students are going to have a say; ‘has this government been nice to us?’
“The private sector are going to be saying ‘how heavy-handed has this government been?’ If they feel comfortable, fine; and if they don’t feel comfortable, then they are not likely to go that way.”
Governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have started congratulating the winner of last Saturday’s governorship election in Osun State and the incumbent governor, Rauf Aregbesola, on his re-election for a second term in office.
Describing the outcome of the election as an expression of the will of the people, the Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, said that Governor Aregbesola’s victory was well deserved in view of the positive impact of his administration on the lives of the people of the state.
Governor Fayemi, who flayed the security clampdown on the state and unwarranted arrest and detention of APC leaders before and during the period of the election, said it was gratifying, however, seeing the people’s power triumph in spite of the ugly incidents.
He also commended the leadership of APC for increasing its vigilance ahead of the Osun election.
Also, the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, congratulated, Aregbsola, saying that his re-election was divine. He commended the people of Osun State for keeping faith with the party and for their unwavering support for the governor and the APC at the polls.
In a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mrs Olufunmilayo Wakama, the governor said that the electorate had shown clearly, through the resounding victory of Aregbesola, that they could make up their own minds, irrespective of pressures and persuasion, by voting massively for the APC and indeed Aregbesola at the just concluded election.
Amosun enjoined Aregbesola to continue with the good work he had started and prayed that God would continue to grant him the wisdom and strength to steer the ship of the state aright.
Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola also congratulated the governor elect for a well-deserved victory, and appreciated the efforts of all members and supporters as well as the leadership of the APC nationwide for the well-deserved victory urging them to work harder towards the other tasks ahead.
Governor Fashola also stressed the need for Nigerians to protect the nation’s democracy against what he calls forces trying to destroy it.
He also urged the electoral commission to improve on the electoral process next year.
Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) on Saturday joined Former Governor and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, his wife, Senator Oluremi Tinubu and first civilian Governor, Alhaji Lateef Jakande to pay their last respects to a leader of the APC in Surulere, Alhaji Babatunde Odunsi.
The Governor who was one of the earliest callers at the Surulere residence of the deceased in the early hours of Saturday also joined others at the Janazah prayers held at the Wahab Folawiyo Central Mosque, Surulere later in the day.
The remains of the deceased were later interred at the Vaults and Gardens in Ikoyi after the traditional dust-to-dust rites was performed by the children and relatives of the deceased. They were supported by political associates of the late leader including Governor Fashola, Asiwaju Tinubu, lawmakers from the National and State House of Assemblies among others.
Governor Fashola described the departed leader as a foremost organizer and coordinator who would be sorely missed by all particularly in his Surulere constituency and Lagos State as a loyal party man and thorough grassroots mobiliser.
While condoling with members of Alhaji Odunsi’s family and the teeming party faithful on behalf of the Government and people of Lagos State, Governor Fashola prayed to Almighty Allah to admit the soul of the departed into Al-Jannah Firdaus.
Aged 82, the late Alhaji Lateef Babatunde Odunsi was a founding member of several progressive platforms having gone into politics since 1957 starting with the Action Congress to the Unity Party of Nigeria, the Action Congress of Nigeria and the APC.
Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) on Monday received the management of British American Tobacco Company on a courtesy visit, commending the company’s investment in Nigeria even as he urged the organization to do business with very strong conscience about what is right and what is safe for the consumers.
The Governor who spoke at the Lagos House, Ikeja when he received the team led by the Managing Director, Mr Keith Gretton said a company like the British American Tobacco Company should be thinking about how it can better prolong the lives of the people for whom it also make products.
“I think that an organization like yours should be able think of how they can better prolong the lives of the people for whom, you also make products and now, we are seeing a lot of diseases today as a result of lifestyle choices and lifestyle issues and they are getting much more complex with substance dependency and so on and so forth”, the Governor said.
According to Governor Fashola, “The organization should stand up to be counted in terms of advancing regulations pertaining to its products. These are places where I would strongly think that your organization put a strong foot forward in terms of full appreciation of the need to intervene in advance of regulation as it were because I know that the lifestyle choices that people make especially in the kind of products that you make can also have certain health consequences and I think that it is important to help people to promote the risk voluntarily and openly in a manner that people therefore know what choices they have”, he reiterated.
The Governor said it was refreshing to learn about investments being made in the Nigerian market and also the indicators of further commitments being made by the organisation, adding that the benefits in terms of employment to people also come comes clearly across, adding that the administration will also continue to play its part in terms of infrastructure support.
“We as a government remain committed to supporting businesses by filling in with the hardware end of the matter such as infrastructure, security and also continue to provide the environment in which your human capital can thrive and prosper”.
Governor Fashola said in the area of security, the State Government encourages institutions such as Foundations like that of the British American Tobacco Company to look at the bouquet of opportunities to support the State Security Trust Fund which is an entirely voluntary venture that helps the State to resource the security personnel in the state in terms of equipment, vests, boots, patrol vehicles and so on.
He reiterated that whatever support that is given is not only well received but is accounted for as the Trust Fund holds annual General Meetings and yearly publishes the list of the donors since 2008 without failing.
According to the Governor, the donations have helped in providing some structure around which the resource management and logistics of the federal controlled but state deployed Police is managed, saying it is something he will commend support for the Security Trust Fund to the company as a matter of sensible self interest.
Speaking earlier, the Managing Director, Mr Keith Gretton had commended the infrastructure regeneration work which the Governor Fashola led administration is doing in Lagos State as well as the widely acknowledged security sector in the state.
He added that over the years the British American Tobacco Company West Africa has become a vital business for BAT globally with Nigeria being one of the top ten globally out of 180 countries where BAT is present.
Mr. Gretton stressed that the company is involved in some agriculture programme in Lagos and has about three to four ongoing projects at various stages helping women and the youth.
The Governor was joined by some members of the State Executive Council including the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mrs Sola Oworu, Finance, Mr Ayo Gbeleyi, Economic Planning and Budget, Mr Ben Akabueze, and Special Adviser on Revenue and Taxation, Mr Bola Shodipo while those on the entourage of the Managing Director of British American Tobacco Company include the Head, Corporate Regulatory Affairs (West Africa), Mr Freddy Mensahvi, and Legal Director (West Africa), Mrs Sade Morgan among others.
The Lagos State Chapter of the PDP on Sunday called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to probe the activities of the Fashola led Lagos State Government, alleging massive corruption in the administration.
“Recently, the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr Ikuforiji had disclosed plans by House Committees to begin probe of Ministries in the state. This move we learnt has been vehemently opposed to by Governor Fashola and the leadership of the ACN” he said.
Speaking to Newsmen this Sunday, after a Church Service to mark his birthday, Lagos State Chairman of the PDP, Chief Tunji Shelle alleged that the state was trying to hide the massive misappropriation of public funds by gagging its officials from speaking to the media.
Shelle said that there was need for Lagos state to give statistics on projects it is handling and allow the public to have access to such information to know if its claims were true or false.
“What Fashola, a so called progressive governor had done was to warn his commissioners never to speak to the media on the state projects as well as activities in their ministries” he said.
The PDP Chairman described as hypocrisy, the stand of a state government that pretends to be open yet was the worst dictatorship in democratic setting.
“Media personnel covering the government house including the deputy governor’s office are now forced to swear to an oath of silence.
“Media houses that have in the past tried to reveal happenings in the state house were banned from covering the governor/deputy and the ministries” Shelle said.
According to him, there is need for Governor Fashola to explain the utilisation of over N23B Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF) money.
“Lagos has now become a hub for armed robbers and kidnappers. In Festac, Lekki as in most other parts of the state, people no longer sleep conveniently because of daily robbery in their homes. They have recently denied security cameras in the State contrary to the claim by the LSSTF”
“Recently the Ejigbo local Council development Area Chairman, Mr Kehinde Bamgbetan was kidnapped. There has been over 20 kidnapping recently of foreigners and these incidents were kept away from the public by the state”.
“We are worried that the continued silence of the state government has become very dangerous and is unfair to the entire people of Lagos State.
“The security and peace for residents of Lagos must not be politicised because anyone can be affected” the PDP chairman said.
Shelle however expressed uncertainty in completion of the Light Rail project by June 2013 as promised by Governor Fashola inspite of the over N1trillion allegedly spent.
He advised Governor Fashola to give a human face to the purported Housing Estates of the state which he said was out of the reach of middle and Low income earners.
Shelle also challenged Fashola to tell the people of Lagos State why he had continued to be silent on the conversion of Lagos State Assets by his Predecessor. Such assets include: LASPOTECH premises in Ikosi, Ikoyi-Obalende Local Government Secretariat, the Nursing School building in Ikoyi, Part of Governor’s Land at Alausa and the Governors house in Ikoyi amongst others.
“Come 2015 when the PDP takes over, we will bring the present administration and its predecessor to book and expose a corruption never unheard of in the history of this nation” he added.
The Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, on Sunday informed displaced traders of the Ladipo auto spare parts market that the closed business arena would be re-opened after it is cleaned up and put in order.
During an inspection tour of the market in Mushin Local Government Area, Governor Fashola stated that the Government would reopen it for business once the traders spearhead a clean-up exercise and formally undertake that never again would trading take place on the road or the edges of the canal.
“It is a massive degradation of a section of Lagos and this is not acceptable. People should not carry on like this. But what is, perhaps, worthy of note is that those who are involved have seen the error of what they have done here and are ready to work with us to clean-up and I have said here that they must take the lead”, the Governor said.
The market had been was shut last week Monday following repeated warnings and visits by the Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello and the Chairman of the Taskforce on Environmental and Special Offences, CSP Bayo Sulaiman, which were not heeded.
Governor Fashola visited the environs following pleas by the traders and the leadership of the Igbo Council in Lagos State led by Professor Anya O. Anya.
Fashola told the traders the conditions they must meet before the market can be open for business activities.
“You will clean first and when you have done it, I will come back and I will bring members of your leadership who came to me and we will say this is the agreement now. We will sign a new agreement, nobody trades on the road, it must be behind the property line. Nobody trades on the pavement, it is for pedestrians”, the Governor said.