By Simeon Mpamugoh
Sokunle Hakeem is a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly. Elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Hakeem represents Oshodi/Isolo 1 Constituency. He is one of those who worked on the bill banning land grabbers in the State before it was approved. The governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, has since signed the bill into law. He speaks on the challenges of enforcement of laws and other issues in this chat with Daily Sun.
Gov. Ambode recently signed a bill into law banning land grabbers otherwise known as ‘Omonile.’ With the general problem of implementation of laws, how far reaching would this law be able to curb the menace of land grabbers in the state?
The law has been there before. What we did was to expand it. With the current governor in power, I think the law would go a long way in checkmating the excesses of land grabbers otherwise called, ‘Omoniles.’ We are going to achieve a lot of results now that the bill has been signed into law. Lagosians have been expecting the law. Again, I’m confident, it will go a long way. What we need to do is keep our fingers crossed and watch what the governor would do but I know, he is up to the task.
Many political watchers are of the view that the smooth relationship the House has with the executive arm is a sign they have been compromised. What are your views on this?
It is sad, we always want to assume the role of both the players and coaches in a football match. Today, spectators had assumed the place of coaches and players; it is no longer the role of the players. The smooth running of affairs between the executive and the legislature in the state has now turned a compromise of the legislature. For how long are we going to do this? What we are praying for is smooth operations among the Executive, Judiciary and the Legislative arms of government. If there are no problems, the constituents would not have any and the citizens wouldn’t either. It is better we have cordial relationship among the arms of government than rancor and acrimony. But if the executive should do otherwise and contrary to what the legislature lay down for them, one would definitely know that the Lagos State legislature has not been compromised. But now, Governor Ambode is ready to listen to us.
We have seen series of bickering among the leadership of the PDP with two factions between Senators Ahmed Makarfi and Ali Modu Sheriff joint committees. What are your views about this?
The bickering is healthy for the party but not democracy per se. In a war, it is either one is against the opposition and win, kill or be killed. So, it is a PDP crises and bickering. It is true we are having crisis in the party; it is equally possible we solve it or we don’t. And if there is need to merge with other political parties, I think the leadership of the party knows what to do and they will definitely do it at the right time. But for now, I don’t think we have crisis in the party. The crisis that exists in the party only appears in the imagination of the public.
What is one of the major executive orders that has been pronounced where some members of the Legislature felt differently?
So far, there are none except those for the public. I don’t think members would feel bad for orders that would be in the interest of the public. For now, there is no order or law that has been passed contrary to what members really want; we have been passing orders that would benefit the general public. The relationship between the governor and the legislature has been rancor free. This is because we understand the importance of separation of power. The governor doesn’t make laws, he executes whatever law is made by the legislature. For example, the controversial law that forbids using school premises for party came directly from the House not from the governor. The House only asked him to sign the bill passed into law; that nobody should use school premises for ceremonial activities and we gave him all the reasons for saying so. And if there is anything the governor really wants the House to do for him, he’ll send it to us detailing the reasons behind it and if it is something we can reason with him, we do that but if it wouldn’t see the light of the day, we tell him and it ends there.
Your constituency used to be a hotbed for political thuggery and mayhem, how was it curtailed?
What happened is that in the past we noticed there was a big gap among the boys. What we did was to assist in bridging the gap. We found out there were the supper rich and the supper poor. The only solution in this regard to bring peace to bear on the constituency was to try to bridge the gap with some forms of monetary palliatives to empower, encourage and advance the supper poor; not really to the level of the supper rich but to a certain level of comfort. So, we moved around, held talk shops, counseled and kept a tab with their activities and the experience has been peace and quiet atmosphere everyone is seeing within the constituency. We have done that in some areas and we still intend to do more; we have equipped some of them with tools to ply their trade. We equally have plans to set up a venture to boost their earnings. They would be contributing to the venture and if there is anyone with a need, such would be met through the venture. There are others who have been trained on skills. By and large, various forms of empowerment have been embarked upon and more are still in the pipeline. Truth is that our empowerment programmes are not only centered on the boys. It is not restricted to any age bracket. What we needed to do for the boys, we did and also for the women, widows and the aged because all of them voted for the party and me. Demographically, we covered various age brackets beginning with scholarship programme for some of the youths to be trained on computer programming. It is a continuous programme that lasts for three months per session. We started it since last year and we have had about three sets with the fourth one ongoing. It will last up to December. We have equally commissioned 10 boreholes within the wards, provided 60 generator sets as well as free lessons organized for Joint Admission and Matriculation Board Examinations (JAMB) students of the constituency.
The best 10 students received awards. We had our graduation of those we trained in computer skills recently. And the Director General and Permanent Secretary from the constituency were in attendance. In the area of sports, we have our Marathons in Oshodi as well as football competition which comes up in January next year, all in a bid to keep the youths engaged, and no sooner an event goes than new one is introduced to ensure there was no dull moment throughout our tenure. One will recall the saying that; “idle mind is the devil’s workshop.”