“Until we allow for true federal system the problem may continue to arise, therefore, the only way out is restructuring.”
Ademola Olatunji and Zainab Magaji
Lagos State Assembly lawmaker, Setonji David, has said that the state would not succeed in reaching its full potentials if there is no restructuring. Though he admitted that the progress and development of the state has been hampered due to the lack of fiscal federalism, he expressed confidence that the All Progressives Congress (APC) will sweep the elections across the country. He also assured that if elected, the APC will do better.
Before 2015, Lagosians were told that if APC wins the presidential election, the infrastructure in the state would improve significantly. But almost four years later, there doesn’t seem to have been much improvement. Why should Lagosians support your party again?
The system was destroyed over a period of 16 years by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led administration, so when another party had the opportunity to govern, we should not expect it to cover all the areas that the PDP abandoned for a long period of time, over night. Our opponents are just looking for excuses to tarnish the image of the ruling party. We have done lots of things to make the country better; our rail lines are under improvement, even Lagos-Ibadan expressway has been touched, the East and the West roads which were in bad shape are being rehabilitated. We should not deceive ourselves; the difference between the APC and the PDP is very obvious. Our party has performed excellently well throughout the country, much better than the previous administration. Citizens should understand that a country that has been destroyed for 16 years needs more patience and full attention before it can amend the damages caused by previous government.
Considering the huge resources Lagos gets from IGR, would you say it has been commensurate with the level of development in the state?
All over the world where a federal capital exists, the Federal Government does not just abandon the capital. Lagos State was the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria for many years before it was moved to Abuja but the FG didn’t do much. The population of Lagos State is increasing every day; we have over 20 million people living in the state but thank God for the type of government given to us by APC in Lagos. They have been doing great for the people. The problem is that the money generated has not been commensurate with the demand. Though, the Federal Government is trying its best, the federal roads should be maintained by the FG. It shouldn’t leave it for the state government.
You have been a lawmaker for a while now, what bills have you sponsored and what has been your achievement?
The process of sponsoring a bill is very cumbersome but I have a numbers of bills that I have been able to sponsor with my colleagues and we are working on them.
Critics of this administration have accused the Assembly of being a lame duck. What is your response?
The most dynamic, efficient and hard working lawmakers in Nigeria are the Lagos lawmakers. We have been working so hard and tirelessly to build the state to the envy of every other state. The speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, is the Chairman of the Assembly of Speakers and he is the number one speaker in Nigeria. Other lawmakers in across the country come to emulate and duplicate our laws. Everybody knows that we are at the top and we are the best parliament. We have been commended for our achievements so many times.
What plans does your party have to tackle the congestion at the ports and the traffic caused by truck drivers across the state?
The issue of port congestion has become a huge problem for this nation. The Federal Government has been trying to build sea port in Badagry but they are yet to start working on it. The ports are in the exclusive list of the Federal Government and it makes lots of money from Lagos State. However, they don’t even give us funds that is commensurate and the impact of the all activities is been borne by the state government. Lots of money is generated from Lagos ports and Tin Can, yet we don’t have anything to show for it despite the negative effect it has on our roads; that is one of the reasons we are clamouring for the restructuring of the country. The type of structural arrangement we have is not what a true federation should have. What we have is more like a unitary structure. I believe we have to restructure the country to have a better nation. What we have in Nigeria now is more like a unitary government. Even though we call it a federation, it is not true federalism because they are so many things that the Federal Government should be bothered about but they don’t bother about them. The Federal Government has to be bothered about how federal schools would be maintained properly and other federal duties. There are many things that are in the exclusive list which are not supposed to be like that; this country has to be restructured so we can have the best form of what federalism should be.
In the Economist Intelligence Unit 2018 ranking of the world’s most habitable cities, Lagos ranked 138 out of 140 to emerge third worst city to live in. It scored 38.5, just a little above war-torn Syria. Does such a report bother your party?
We are bothered, that is why we are shouting for restructuring. The things that Lagos State should be doing cannot be done because our hands are tied. If we restructure, Lagos will be greater than what it is now. There are so many places in Lagos that are under the Federal Government; for example, the inland waterways. Why should the inland waterways be governed by the Federal law? These are the things that are harming our development in Lagos. Until we allow for true federal system the problem may continue to arise, therefore, the only way out is restructuring.