Editor's editor: As the debate on the executive order on financial autonomy for state legislature and judiciary signed by President Muhammadu Buhari continues to gather momentum, Legit.ng's regional reporter in Ibadan, Ridwan Kolawole, in an exclusive interview with the deputy speaker, Oyo state House of Assembly, Abiodun Muhammed Fadeyi.
The lawmaker, who represents Ona-Ara state constituency, bares his mind on the criticisms and counter-criticisms that greeted the president's order, why Oyo Assembly approved N22.5 loans for Governor Seyi Makinde, activities of the Assembly in the last one year and other sundry issues.
On June 10, 2019, the Oyo state House of Assembly (OYHA) was inaugurated. What specific activities have the house carried out?
The activities of the legislative arm of government in Oyo state since inauguration has been hectic. Hectic in the sense that we have been trying to ensure that we do our work as we should do it as lawmakers. The major thing we are here to do is to make laws for the good governance of the state apart from our oversight functions. That is what we have been doing in the last one year.
We have been up and doing to ensure that bills brought in by the executive or private members' bills are treated in such a way that we can beat our chest to say that we have done a good job at the end of the day. So, to answer your question, the activities of the house, the house has been very busy in spite of the recent COVID-19 pandemic. We have been up and doing.
Recently, the House of Assembly approved the sum of N22.5 billion loan for the executive arm of government, many people are querying the hastened way of approving the loan, complaining that the house is a rubber stamp of the executive arm of government, what is your reaction to this?
My take on that is simple and very straight forward. Since the inception of democratic rule in 1999 till date, Nigerians have been referring to the state legislature as a rubber stamp, so I am not going to be surprised if they say that.
But the most important is that when the executive sent in a letter requesting a loan, what we usually do is to scrutinize such a letter and what do I mean by that? We look at the essence of the loan.
Now in governance, there are two things to it: some loans are meant for consumption, some are meant for the development of government policies, be it in the health sector or infrastructural development or energy sector, it could be in the area of agriculture. This particular loan that you are talking about was tied to the infrastructural development of the state.
As a responsible house, when we went through the letter, we came together and (rhetorically asked) said why delaying it? We never heard of when you put honey in somebody’s mouth and the person spits it away. Have you heard of it?
The government is trying to build new things in my state, they are trying to build motor parks. The Iwo road interchange bridge, are you aware that the only overhead bridge we have in Oyo state was built by Jemibewon, a military administrator, the second one was built by Ajimobi at Mokola.
Are you aware that the new one is coming out in Iwo Road, the interchange bridge and other infrastructural development that will attract investors into the state?
Now, you are coming from the north and you are approaching Ibadan through Iwo road, have you ever been held in hold-up there? The new government said we need to do something on it, we need to redesign and that is what the money is meant for.
And just recently in the cause of celebration of his one year in office, the governor flagged it off, if you go there now, you will see the signboard, so as a lawmaker representing my people in Ona-Ara (state constituency), and I heard of such thing that they want to do. So, will I turn the executive down that I am not going to allow it, who does that?
Even at the federal level, are they not approving loans for President Buhari? So, we should be careful of what we say that the legislative arm is a rubber stamp. They did not say that they want to use the money to build hotels for the lawmakers.
President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the Executive Order on financial autonomy for state legislature and judiciary. Of what impact will that be to state House of assembles?
When you came in, you referred to us as a rubber stamp, is it not? The executive order seeking financial autonomy for state Houses of Assembly is a beauty for democracy.
It is a good thing in the right direction; vis-à-vis what the legislative arm of government has been turned to a rubber stamp. But, truly, we are not a rubber stamp. If you come here and see what we have been doing, you will appreciate us.
Back to your question, the president has done well. Whether the decision he took at this point in time to sign the executive order 10 is political or otherwise is left for him, but, he has done his own as President and commander in chief of the Armed Forces of the federal republic of Nigeria.
Now, if we want to ask, is it implementable, that is the question we need to ask, that is why I said, that the timing, is political or not. Giving financial autonomy to the state Houses of Assembly is beyond just being independent.
The major part of it is the financial aspect. So, what we are saying is that of the President signing the autonomy for us, it is okay. We like it, but, what we are saying is that, is it implementable?
Now, you know that the Nigerian Governors' Forum (NGF) did a press statement saying that it is not implementable. Why did the president not sign it (Executive Order) when the oil price was doing well and when things were okay? Why is that it is now during COVID-19 that the President is signing it now? We welcome it wholeheartedly as lawmakers.
But, politically they know the game they are playing. It is like when you dash somebody a ram, you release the rope. If you want to give us autonomy, you will give us when the economy is okay.
Let us be realistic with ourselves, yet it has been signed, so let us assume. And, don't forget that the National Assembly has passed it into law in 2017, but the President refused to sign it. So, why is he coming through an executive order? I have a copy of that bill that was passed by the National Assembly in 2017.
There is a contradiction somewhere. Whoever advised the president to sign the autonomy is up to something better known to him. But, for us at the state level, we will thank the President, we appreciate him, because whether we like it or not, what is obtainable in Lagos might be different from what is obtainable in Oyo or Zamfara. So, I want us to look at it from that angle.
Oyo Assembly recently passed a vote of confidence on Governor Seyi Makinde, what is in it for the state?
Like 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 on our Governor when we see that he is doing well? We appreciate him for being in office for one year and we like his style of government.
So, I don't know why people read meanings, though there are rumours that they lodge you in a hotel, this and that, I am a media practitioner, I don't join them in peddling rumour.
What we did was to tell the whole world that our Governor and the Deputy are doing well. Somebody is paying salaries every month when others are struggling to pay salaries.
Does that person not deserve a vote of confidence? The governor is paying salaries every 25th of every month. So, are we not to say thank you, they say, do well, do well, so that the person can do more.
In the last one year, how many bills has the house passed into law?
If we put it together now, we are looking at about 90 bills and motions. These are motions and bills, combined, executive and private members bills. When we came in, the first bill we worked on, it was a bill sponsored by the speaker and myself.
Anti-open grazing bill, which has been assented to by the Governor. Another one is the Western Nigeria Security Network codenamed Amotekun Bill. And apart from all the appropriation, we have to review the budget and some bills for the creation of some ministries and government parastatals.
The name and nomenclature of some ministries were changed. We never heard of the ministry of energy, now there is a ministry of energy, and just recently, I sponsored a bill on the eradication of open defecation in Oyo state. (I sponsored the bill) to make it a law that if you defecate openly and you are caught, there is a penalty.
I remember, I equally moved a motion on the need to curb the incursions of herdsmen, that was when a professor was killed on Ife-Ibadan expressway last year. We have done pretty well, close to about 100 motions and bills.
How are you impacting the lives of your constituents?
Well, what I do is to create awareness being the deputy speaker of the state, there is so much awareness. That one is selling Ona Ara constituency in my own little way. I have brought dividends of democracy to my people. it is not in my claim to blow my trumpet, I would rather ask that you go to my constituency and ask the people themselves, that will help me better, became I know that the office I occupy now has a positive impact on my people.
Have you gone to your constituency to give palliatives to your constituents in this era of coronavirus?
Even, you can't enter the constituency without giving them palliatives now. They would not allow you to enter. In my own little way, I have given palliatives to (my) people twice. Because, we understand the nature of the area, and I am from the rural area of the state because, we need to keep supporting them even, financially no matter how small.
Within a month, we are able to distribute over 4,000 materials, food items such as noodles, rice, beans, semovita, oil and cash. So that this can cushion the effects. We can't feed them totally. That is the truth.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had previously reported that the speaker of the Lagos House of Assembly, Mudasiru Obasa, on Tuesday, October 15, said that the next line of action against former governor Akinwunmi Ambode is to order his arrest through court process.
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