Member, House of Representatives for Oshodi-Isolo Federal Constituency 11, Ganiyu Abiodun Johnson has said that big states are disadvantaged in Nigeria.
In this interview, he spoke on various issues.
At the just concluded Eid-El Kabir, you had what I may call a non-partisan celebration, what informed that?
Well, the lesson from Eid-El-Kabir is that of love and peace and there cannot be love when you are discriminating against one another. Electioneering is over and by the grace of God, I now have the mandate of my constituency. It is true that I contested under the All Progressives Congress but right now I am representing everybody in Oshodi-Isolo federal constituency two, whether they are in APC, PDP, Accord or the other political parties. That is why I decided to extend my widows mite to them so that all of us would celebrate together. I am an advocate for progress and development. But you know that there cannot be progress and development if there is no peace and if the people are not united. Since the election is over, I believe in inclusiveness representation. If I am able to bring a road project in my constituency, you cannot say that somebody in another party will not drive on it because he or she did not vote for APC. It cannot happen. My mission in the National Assembly is to help to attract development to Oshodi-Isolo, to make Oshodi Isolo a better place.
What are the major challenges in your constituency?
Oshodi-Isolo is in the heart of Lagos mega city but the level of development in the area is not what it is supposed to be. The constituency has suffered from inadequate representation in the past. That is why we have not had meaningful and impactful development in the federal constituency. NNPC has a depot at Ejigbo and over 50 trucks come there on a daily basis. The road needs to be upgraded. The Okota road that was built by the Petroleum Trust Fund is in need of urgent attention. The Kpako-Cele road from Okota is also in very bad shape. The canal in my constituency is supposed to be a very big asset to us but today, it is a dead trap. This is because, once there is heavy rain, everywhere would be flooded. I am pushing for the canal to be dredged. If this is done, we can have water transport from Ejigbo to Lagos. The airport that is in our backyard, like the canal is also supposed to be an asset to us but the reverse has become the case because all that we are getting from the airport is noise pollution. A lot of our children are getting hearing problem because of the noise. So, it will not be asking for too much if FAAN begins to recruit a certain percentage of our youths as a way of compensating us. They must not wait until we become militants or begin to carry placards before they would know that people in Oshodi-Isolo need compensation because that can be termed our own crude oil.
As the former Commissioner for Works in Lagos State, what do you have to say about the Lagos –Badagry Expressway?
Well, the road is ECOWAS road and that makes it a federal project. There were rumours that it was abandoned. The truth is that it was never abandoned. What happened was that the company scaled down their staff because of lack of money. The road started from Eric Moore and from there to mile two has been completed. Originally, the road project was given to two companies, Julius Berger for the road and CCECC for the rail line. So, there was problem of interface. For instance, there was a time that Julius Berger had to stop work to enable CCECC to put the railway stations. It was the problems that were arising from these interfaces that made government to hand it over to one construction company. An adage says that when two elephants fight, the grass suffers. So, while the interface was going on, it was Lagosians that were bearing the brunt, that is suffering the consequences of the interface. Therefore, as a responsible government, Lagos State government decided to intervene so as to ameliorate the suffering. It decided to build the road from Mile two to Agbara so that the Federal Government will continue from there to Seme. This is also what the Lagos State government did with the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Road. When we noticed that the Federal Government was dilly dallying with the road, we had to take it up because it is Lagos State that the road is giving bad image and not the Federal Government. The Murtala Muhammed Airport road is the first thing that foreigners see when they land in Lagos and as you know, there is no second chance to make first impression.
Oshodi-Isolo is a non-Yoruba indigenes’ dominated area, how were you able to win?
Well, I don’t live in Ikoyi or Lekki. I am living in my constituency with my people. So, I feel what they feel. If there is reason to cry, we all cry together and if there is reason to celebrate, we all celebrate together. So, I have relationship with most of the electorate in the constituency because I am a home boy. I have an NGO which I have used over the years to put smile on their faces. We buy GCE forms, we empower the widows, we give soft loans. That is why they have no problem giving me their mandate to represent them at the National Assembly
Why are we not seeing much of constituency projects upon all the billions of naira we hear during budget?
Let me tell you the truth. It is not as if the honourable members don’t want to do constituency projects. The issue is that the way the constituency funds are allocated is disadvantageous to the big states. For instance, some states have more than 30 local governments areas while some have less than 20. But in allocating funds for constituency projects, all the states are given the same amount of money. For example, Oyo State has 33 local government areas while Bayelsa has only seven. If N200 million is given, Oyo and Bayelsa would be given the same amount of money. You can see that if the money for Oyo State is shared to their honourable members, it would amount to peanuts. That is why, the most that they can do is holding seminars, workshop and doing little empowerment. That is the challenge that the lawmakers from the big states have with regard to constituency projects. You know that this is a constitutional issue. But I feel that we can come together and change this narrative.