“For the leadership crisis in the Senate, I experienced it and I believe the president also learnt from what happened…”
Wife of former Lagos State governor and senator representing Lagos Central, Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu, speaks on 2019 elections, why she is seeking re-election the third time and her stewardship in the senate among other issues.
Despite moving a motion three years ago on the gridlock on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, the gridlock still persists. Don’t you see this as a negligence of the executive to Senate proposals including your zonal intervention projects?
You have seen that the minister of works recently flagged off the work which is being done in partnership with Dangote. I was honoured to have been invited for the ceremony. This was the aftermath of such motions. Actually that motion was supported by all the senators. It was something very, very sensitive and important and I believe that the resolutions were part of what we are witnessing even if it took some time.
If we raise a motion, and the executive does not take action immediately, it doesn’t mean that the government is not attending to it. At times motions can be political, but that of the gridlock I can tell you that as we speak Dangote is giving us a time frame of two years. So, we are hopeful. Alhaji Dangote is a credible man; he has the money to do it. So, we are quite hopeful and I particularly, I am quite excited at the move and I can tell you that it would have stemmed from the motion in the senate.
On the zonal intervention projects, I cannot speak for my colleagues, but mine is for me to be true to what I have been given in the senate and what has been my own al- location. I have even gone beyond what I receive from the senate to assist in the work in my district and that is why whatever I do, I stay true to it and be God fearing in the process and even if the people don’t see me, God sees me. And as a Christian, I believe that He that sees in secret will reward us openly. I am not saying that I am perfect, but I am striving for perfection.
We were able to do much through our zonal intervention projects because the executive cooperated. In my case, apart from the infrastructure, 13, 600 people have been helped through various intervention programmes in my senatorial district.
I can tell you that the day that we were launching the compendium of the projects I did in my senatorial district, we sent a copy to our party chairman and you know our party chairman is a dynamic man and he went through it and by the time he came; he actually gave a thumbs up to zonal intervention programmes.
One of my husband’s colleagues, Ambassador Kazaure, I gave a copy to him, he read it and he was really, really proud. He said you did these?
Immediately we get back by the grace of God if I am voted back to represent my people and even if I am not, I am going to be giving that book to every senator. Politics is really a game of being able to inspire your people, inspire them to the extent that they can trust you enough for them to say, ‘please represent us.’
So, my message to my colleagues and people who are running for office is that: you cannot take people for granted. Even if you mean well, you want to go back to do well for your people, you can’t take them for granted.
You have been pushing for a special Economic Assistance and Special Status for Lagos since 2011, why has it been difficult to get them through?
These two concepts are two different things. They are never the same. When I introduced the Special Economic Assistance, they twisted it out of context. When we are looking at the Special Status, we are talking of money being taken from the Federation Account and if you had followed what my colleagues did in the senate, they gave the North East Zone, I think about 2-3 percent from the Federation Account and this is like a special status given to the zone because of the security situation.
But Special Economic Assistance came from the point that Lagos State gives a lot through taxes and VAT to the Federal Government from Lagos. Special Economic Assistance is requesting that even if it is 1 percent of the money that is being taken to the Federation Account from Lagos State, it should be given back to Lagos State which can help things like the gridlock and the infrastructure damage that we are experiencing.
So, these monies are supposed to be used to augment most of the projects in the state; education, health sector or roads. That is what we are asking for. The National Assembly will determine the percentage to be channeled back to Lagos State and the state Assembly will appropriate for the money for state use.
However, my colleagues took it out of context; maybe because of the mood of the senate at the time. If you witnessed what happened on the day, you will appreciate what I am saying. I have never seen such hatred for a bill in my life before and I think that bill sparked very, heated argument in the senate. Later, they were even telling me to bring it back, after realising the point I was trying to make. But I said no; that somebody else can take it up, that I am done because since 2011 I had been advocating for it.
Many believed the way the APC leadership handled the election of the senate leadership in 2015, contributed its predicament in the National Assembly, how can the party prevent history from repeating itself in 2019?
For the leadership crisis in the Senate, I experienced it and I believe the president also learnt from what happened. We don’t have to say that we are preventing it, because most of the work he could have done, were frustrated. If we had the right leadership we wouldn’t have been going through what we are going through today.
So, I believe that the president would have learnt one thing or two lessons from what happened and I don’t he would want to go through that route again. When he came in, he said he doesn’t belong to anybody, but I know that by this time, he knows those people who belong to him. He will know that some people have the best interest of Nigeria at heart, while some don’t! Even God who created us knows those who are His. He is the God of all but He knows those who are his. It is in the Bible. The president by now should know those who are his.
Is there anything that the president can do, to smoothen the relations between the executive and the legislature between now and May 29, 2019?
I don’t think much can be done now. It will lead to blackmail. For me, we are going to run and walk with what we have and I don’t think a PDP administration has much to offer us. They are the ones who got us into this rot in the first place and we are trying to get out of it.
To me, there is hope returning back this nation to the path of prosperity and Nigerians should give the APC- led administration another four years and they can decide thereafter. Four years is not enough for any president to make meaningful impact. He is not a magician to just wave a wand and everything is back to normal. We didn’t get there overnight.
Executive and parliamentary parley, I think is gone. The president will still try and I think he is doing that, but that is why I said that it is going to be more of blackmail but politics is like blackmail and I think he would be able to handle it.
But I don’t see our president yielding to blackmail and I think Nigeria needs such people. And I pray that he would remain focused and continue to steer the ship so that we can have a safe landing.
What would be your message to critical stakeholders in the campaign ahead of the 2019 elections?
We can learn from best international practices. How do they run campaigns? We are starting with door-to-door campaigns in my own team. Door to door is how Obama got there. And we have gotten vehicles because we are not going to be making noise and we have foot soldiers that will be in uniform, and they are going to homes and whatever campaign materials we have, we share.
I am trying to see that we are still getting to the people but using different methods.
You see, those who resort to violence during campaign do so because they are people who are afraid of losing. When you are afraid of losing, you try to threaten people and I think we should go past that and play decent politics.
What are you doing to help ensure that more women come into politics in Nigeria?
This is one question I have tried to avoid without sounding very harsh. Most people will say because you are married to Asiwaju, you are so privileged and that. Yes, I am privileged to be married to him, but it has been the work of two, not one person! So, whatever I am enjoying being married to him, I have also worked for it. So, it wasn’t something that came cheap. I have always advocated for women to be in elective positions, but most women would rather opt for appointments. With appointments, you cannot really do much. You will see that there are people who get these appointments but they don’t impact other women.
How have they impacted other women? They select the women they impact. They impact women who are like them; they call the elites together and leave out the ordinary women. I am very real to the people; I mentor young girls for the next generation. I don’t give up on girls. But you see the women we have, they have to have the proper orientation of service, they don’t have it and that is why when they fall, they fall on their paws, nobody to pick them up.