Kemi Olaitan has a discussion with Hon. Abiodun Muhammed Fadeyi, Vice President of the Oyo State Assembly on the N22.5 billion loan approved by the Chamber of Governor Seyi Makinde, the activities of the Chamber and the Executive Order signed by President Muhammadu Buhari on financial autonomy for the state legislature and the judiciary
What are the activities of the Oyo State Assembly in the last year?
The activities of the government's legislative branch in Oyo state since the inauguration have been hectic. Agitated in the sense that we are trying to ensure that we do our job as we should as legislators. I am sure you are aware that the main thing we must do is create laws for good governance of the state, in addition to our oversight functions. That's what we've been doing for the past year. We are committed to ensuring that accounts presented by executives or private individuals are treated in such a way that we can tap into the chest to say that we did a good job at the end of the day. The house's activities have been very hectic, despite the recent COVID-19 pandemic. We've been working.
The House of the Assembly recently approved a loan sum of N22.5 billion for the executive branch of the government. Many people see the rush to approve the loan as a sign that the House has become a rubber stamp for the government's executive branch. What is your opinion on this?
Since the beginning of democratic government in 1999 to date, Nigerians have referred to the state legislature as a rubber stamp. I'm not surprised if they say that. The most important thing is that when the executive sends a letter asking for a loan, what we usually do is examine it. We analyzed the essence of the loan. In governance, there are two things: some loans are for consumption, others are for government policy development, whether in the health sector or infrastructure development or in the energy sector, it could be in the area of agriculture.
This particular loan you are talking about was linked to the state's infrastructure development. As the responsible House, when we examined the letter, we met and said: "why postpone?" We have never heard that when you put honey in someone's mouth, it spits. Have you heard of that? The government is trying to build new things in my state parks, the Iwo Road interchange bridge and many others, so there is no reason why I or the City Council should not give this request an accelerated approval. Are you aware that the only airlift we have in the state was built by the administration of Major General David Jemibewon (rtd), while the second was built by the administration of Senator Abiola Ajimobi in Mokola?
This new launch on Iwo Road, the interchange bridge and other infrastructure developments will attract investors to the state. Now, if you come from the North and approach Ibadan on Iwo Road, have you ever been stuck in a traffic jam there? One more reason why the new government said that we need to do something about it. This area has been redesigned and that's what the money is for.
And recently, as part of the celebration of his first year in office, Governor Seyi Makinde, signaled that if you go there now, you will see the sign. As a parliamentarian who represents my people in Ona Ara, and I hear something they want, then I will reject the executive that I will not allow, who does that? Come to think of it, even at the federal level, are they not approving loans for President Muhammadu Buhari? Therefore, we must be careful about what we say that the legislative arm is a rubber stamp. They did not say they want to use the money to build hotels for lawmakers.
President Muhammadu Buhari recently signed the Executive Order on financial autonomy for state legislatures and the judiciary. What impact do you think it will have for state assemblies?
The Executive Order that seeks financial autonomy for state assemblies is a beauty for democracy. It's a good thing in the right direction, in relation to what the legislative arm of the government has been called the "rubber stamp". We are truly not rubber stamp. If you come here and see what we are doing, you will appreciate us. The President has done well, whether the decision he has made at the moment to sign Executive Order 10 is political or not, he remains, but he has made his own as President and Chief Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The question is: is it implementable? That is why I ask the time. Is it political or not? The financial autonomy of state assemblies is beyond independence. Most of this is the financial aspect. If the president signed the autonomy for us, fine, we like it, but is it implementable?
Now, you know that the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) said it is not implementable. Why didn't the President sign when this nation's oil was growing or when all was well? Why is it now during COVID-19 that the President signs it? We salute you wholeheartedly as legislators. Politically, they know the game they are playing. It's like when you throw a ram at someone, you need to loosen the rope. If you want to give us autonomy, you better give it to us when the economy is good.
Let us be realistic with ourselves. It was signed, but don't forget that the National Assembly passed the law during the term of the last National Assembly, but the President refused to sign. So why is he presenting an Executive Order? I have a copy of this project that was approved by the National Assembly. There is a contradiction somewhere. Whoever advised the President to sign autonomy is something he knows best.
But for us at the state level, we thank the President. We appreciate it because, like it or not, what you can get in Lagos can be different from what you get in Oyo or Zamfara. I want us to look at it from that angle.
The Oyo State House recently passed a vote of confidence over Governor Seyi Makinde. What is the essence of this vote of confidence?
As my father will say, will you pass a vote of confidence on your enemy or an opposition? Why wouldn't we pass a vote of confidence in our governor when we find out he's doing well? We thank him for being in office for a year and we like his governance style. I don't know why people understand the meaning of this. It is rumored that they stayed at a hotel; This and that. I am a media practitioner; I didn't join them in selling rumors. What we did was tell the whole world that our governor and his deputy are doing well.
Someone who pays salaries every month, does that person not deserve a vote of confidence? Others are struggling to pay wages. The governor is paying salaries on the 25th of each month. So, shouldn't we say, thank you, so that the person can do more?
How many accounts has the Chamber approved in the last year?
If we get it together now, we look at about 90 notes and motions. Motions and accounts combined; accounts of executive and private members. When we arrived, the first bill we worked on was a bill sponsored by the speaker and me – the anti-grazing bill, which was approved by the governor. Another is the West Nigeria Security Network, code-named Amotekun Bill.
There was the appropriation bill. We also had to revise the budget. There were bills for the creation of some government ministries and parastatals, which led to the renaming of some ministries. We have never heard of the Ministry of Energy. I recently sponsored a bill on eradicating open defecation in the state. Whenever it becomes a law, if you openly defecate and get caught, there will be a penalty.
I also made a motion on the need to curb the shepherds' incursion, which was when a teacher was killed on the Ife-Ibadan expressway last year. We did very well, with about 100 proposals and bills.
How are you impacting the lives of your voters?
What I do is create awareness, being the vice president of the Oyo State Assembly, there is currently a lot of awareness. This is selling the Ona Ara constituency, in my own way, but I was able to bring dividends of democracy to my people. It is not for me to blow my trumpet, I prefer to ask you to go to my constituency and ask the people themselves, who will help me better. All I know is that the office I occupy now has a positive impact on my people.
What remedies were you able to give your constituents during this coronavirus period?
As a politician, even without the Coronavirus, you cannot enter your constituency without giving something to the people. In my own way, I gave palliative care to people in my constituency. We did this twice. I understand the nature of the area. I am from a rural area of the state. We need to continue supporting them, even financially, however small. In one month, we were able to distribute food such as pasta, rice, beans, Semovita, oil and money to more than 4,000 people. That this can cushion the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. We certainly can't feed everyone, that's the truth.