20 C002D5556 Sunday 08 April 2018 Politics 2019: Non-performing lawmakers must not return - Archibong Henry Archibong is a member of the House of Representatives, representing Itu/Ibiono Ibom federal constituency of Akwa Ibom State. He was elected on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015. A medical doctor and a first term lawmaker, in this interview with ANIEFIOK UDONQUAK, recounts his experience in the green chamber of the National Assembly, his plans for his constituents, his response to allegations that he had not empowered his people and why he should be re-elected. He spoke after an interactive session with his constituents. Excerpts: How would you respond to allegations made by your constituents that you have not empowered them; that you have not been coming to interact with them as well as not implementing projects in the area? What you saw there is actually politics. I started by saying that among them there, none of them will be able to say what I have given to all of them. I can tell you that 70 percent of those that were seated there I had empowered them. For instance, even the man who sat next to me. I was the one who helped him to complete his PhD because politicians will never really tell you what you have done for them so that another person will not know. That is the reason I started by apologising to them and also that I have not been dealing with the media because I discovered that if you don’t blow you trumpet nobody will blow it for you. I discovered that if you give people money individually, as soon as they finish it, they take the money and you cannot do anything about it. For those who have been following me, between January this year and presently, I have given over 500 people about N25, 000 each but nobody mentioned it today. I was the first person that did empowerment programme. I brought 78 tricycles to this constituency. I went to the market myself to select very poor traders and I empowered them with N20,000 each to help them. Those traders am talking about are people if you go to their stalls, you see may be one or two items like maggi cubes and salts, just there and they were happy and I have also given a lot of sewing machines. Now, if I had known, I would have kept those things till today. But I am not a typical politician. I mentioned that I had done boreholes in Itu and Ibiono Local Government Areas of Akwa Ibom State. Currently, there are classroom blocks being constructed in Ibiono and there is an Information and Communication (ICT) Centre being constructed. I am the only person apart from Senator Bassey Albert that has built a constituency office. I have bought cars for people but when you buy car for one person and you don’t buy for others, those ones are not going to be happy with you. I have given some people jobs, I have given somebody a N15 million contract to be able to use it and empower others. But to my greatest shock, none of it was done. Currently, in my ward, I am building a two-bedroom flat for somebody. We have roofed the building. In Itu Local Government Area, I have had 10 people employed in federal appointments. None of them is coming to say all that. I have bought people cars in Ibiono, the other local government area that is part of the constituency and they are saying that I am only doing something for the people of Ibiono. How are they judging what I am doing? They are judging because I bought cars and I ask them and I said If I had given 10 people employment, a life time opportunity, which is better? Is it the car or what? So people tend to associate how much you give to them with performance. They ask you for money and you give them. I gave students educational support, about 100 of them; nobody is talking about it today. Henry Archibong I have two fibre boats and I have 10 other boats. I have 15 motorcycle pickups; I have mini buses that are also coming. Yes I have also sent people for social media training. For two years, I was throwing money at people who did not appreciate but now I have come back home and realise that in politics, you must tell people what you have done. And if you don’t tell them, at some point, I stopped giving individuals money because it did not make sense. So that is what I have learnt in politics, I can tell you that you can discountenance what they have said. I have heard a lot of advice they have given to me, which is okay which I am going to work with. But a lot of people will always tell you, you have not done anything as far as politics is concerned. You described the present National Assembly as one of the best; how is this so? Again talking about ranking membership, should we encourage a member to return to the National Assembly when such a member has nothing to show? And how many times should we allow our lawmakers to return? Constitutionally, there is no term limit for members of the National Assembly. I have just mentioned that some people have done fifth term and they are going for the sixth term, because they understand the politics of the National Assembly. Now if you send somebody for two terms and A particular project was in the budget worth N30 million, an ICT centre, but when they were coming to defend the budget, I did not see it as part of the things they will defend, either they have started or not or the contract awarded the person does not perform, there is no reason to send him there again. But when you say people have not performed, it is relative. For instance, some people would base performance on how much you give to people, some would base performance on what they have been able to attract to the people. But some people will not know the dynamics that affect your performance. For example, I could not have brought any project in 2017 when there was no budget release for capital projects. Now, part of the things I did which I forgot to mention is, there is power project that I promised the people of Oku Iboku in Itu Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State which they called me the other and said I should give them my contact person. I don’t even know the contractor. I went to the rural electrification agency to find out; they told me I had to go to the ministry of power. That means the project was not awarded because the minister says he did not do any project in 2017. A particular project was in the budget worth N30 million, an ICT centre, but when they were coming to defend the budget, I did not see it as part of the things they will defend, either they have started or not or the contract awarded. I did not always see it as an ongoing project. If they have not awarded, but luckily for me I saw my senior colleague, senator Ita Enang, and I said please, this is the problem, I have this project in the budget and I don’t even know where it is, and I have done everything to get to the minister to know where my project is but I could not. What the senator did was to turn to the minister and said, ‘This is my brother, he is the one representing me’ and the minister said, minute it for me. So immediately I sent my secretary down, she just brought the duplicate and I signed on it and gave to the minister. To my greatest surprise, one week later, somebody was in my village to ask, can you show us the place for the ICT centre? Meaning that if Senator Ita Enang was not there, I would have lost that project, probably they could have taken it to somewhere else. Why was that possible because Ita Enang has been there and by his position he was able to influence that project for me. When we talk about sending people back, somebody may not be able to perform during his first term because he has not been able to learn his ropes but given his second term, he probably has learnt some lessons but performing members must return. I want to say that the National Assembly is all about lobbying. Let me tell you very simple thing I did that endeared me to people because sometimes you go to a particular office, you don’t see the people you are looking for. One day I came home and bought fish worth N400,000 and took them to Abuja and now parcel them into people’s offices. It was on that basis that people would call me to acknowledge that they have received what I brought. That was how I was able to be taken along for people that you cannot see. You need to lobby, the state has to lobby. For instance, we have been trying our best over the power project in Oku Iboku , because of funding problem, they have not even been able to come in and inspect the place. In terms of ranking, you must go back because if you go back, let us assume by June, the end of the legislative year, you will be able to know who is coming back, you would have been able to meet with the person even before the National Assembly starts, you would have been able to make friends, they would have known you. The other issue is that you may decide to support a particular candidate and if he loses, then you are in trouble. I know some ranking members who have no committees because of who they supported. So there are so many factors. How would you be sure that the people would vote for you to return to the National Assembly in 2019? I started by saying that the National Assembly is a very competitive place. It will take you upwards of two years to understand what happens there. One of the reasons probably I was not coming home very frequently was because you need to stabilise yourself and be able to know what to do. First of all, one of the strategies is to call meetings, I am going to call more meetings and I am going to talk to people. Like a lot of things people did not know happened. I am going to be able to explain to them because knowledge is key, information is very important. That is why I had to engage the media in Akwa Ibom because a lot of you, probably you see me on television, but you don’t know me. And I know that the media is important in terms of propagating what somebody has done. I have been doing what I have been doing and putting them inside my pocket. Nobody knows what I am doing. For example, the empowerment I did in 2016 was very unprecedented being the first ever in my constituency. Even the ones I have done between January and now, it is the first ever. But people don’t seem to get to know about it and so it looks like I am not performing. But am happy that even the leadership at the state level, they know what I have done. We are going to come closer to the people. Talking to the people and begging the people because politics is all about recognition and I can assure that I will return to the House of Representatives next year.
Sunday 08 April 2018 C002D5556 21 Politics Ambode’s Lagos in the eyes of corps members Our reporter sampled the views of some serving members of the National Youths Service Corps in Lagos State on the performance of the Akinwunmi Ambode administration and their expectations before the 2019 general election. Below are excerpts of their responses as presented by LANATU JOY SHELTON. He has tried, but... - Victoria Mokwunyi Well with what I am seeing, the governor is working but I think he has to put in more effort because whenever you are doing something in a society as a governor you need to listen to the people in terms of areas of need. Well, in the area of road infrastructure, he is doing well and the project going on at Oshodi is great. He must be commended on that. However, I discovered that house rent in the state is very expensive. I think there should be an interface between the state government and landlords on how to look into this serious matter. When people cannot find accommodation and they resort to sleeping under the bridge, they create a social problem for government. But I am also touched by the recent Land Use Charge Law which has become very controversial. With this, I doubt it so much if government can face the landlords to say anything about soaring house rent. Again, in the area of education, although the state government is really trying, it should do more through prompt payment of teachers’ salaries and rehabilitating more schools to provide a conducive environment for learning. I believe that when teachers are rightly motivated, they give their best and that will positively impact the society. Government must also as a matter of urgency, address the problem of filth in the state. Lagos environment is very dirty. There must be urgent step to address this environmental hazard. Government must establish a task force against act of indiscipline and indiscriminate dumping of refuse. People nowadays drop their refuse in unauthorised places and you wonder what has happened to people’s senses. I hear about the Cleaner Lagos Initiative that the state government is pursuing and the arrangement with a company called Visionscape; what I do not know is why, with all these the whole place is stinking. What is happening in Lagos can cause an epidemic. Some people attribute a lot of things happening in Lagos to huge population, but for me, I think that is even more of an advantage than otherwise. Yes the population is much but they can still make use of the population to their own advantage. You know human beings, I don’t understand; it’s like sometimes we need laws like strict laws in order for us to work accordingly. For me, the population does not matter; this population issue is not just in Lagos State; if you go to other states you still meet it there, so the population is not the problem. So, the major things I want the Ambo administration to address before the next election are the dirt in Lagos; high level indiscipline both in government and among the people; high cost of rent, etc. So, on whether Governor Ambode should come back or not in 2019, my take is that he should be returned provided he looks into the housing issue, environmental pollution and educational need of the people. He must check excesses of landlords - Kehinde Osas Interesting, am going to be making comparison of two different administrations in APC that I have seen- the Fashola era and the current Ambode’s. Now looking at the Fashola era there are some work that he did that majority of Lagosians are benefiting from today while there are some that he did that some of the people are crying and criticising him. For me, I would say that Fashola was probably one of the best governors that Lagos State has had, at least in this dispensation. He did so many things; he did some infrastructure work; he did well in cleaning up Lagos better than what I am seeing now. From my own point of view, during Fashola’s era Lagos was perfectly clean, if not all areas, most parts of Lagos was clean. I want Ambode to bring back LAWMA if the new people are not ready to work. I understand there are hitches here and there, but Lagos must not be allowed to sink before they are ready to deploy their expertise to give us the much-talked about cleaner Lagos. Sometimes, I wonder the sense in stopping the usual last Saturday of every month environmental sanitation exercise that used to be observed, which helped to keep Lagos clean. On the soaring house rent in Lagos, if Ambode himself cannot call out landlords to have meeting with them, he should set up a committee to do so on his behalf. Many Lagos residents are passing through hard times as a result of lost of jobs and general bad economy; there must be an urgent intervention by government in whatever form. The Fashola administration started a good job by rolling out Tenancy Law; the current administration can go a step further by insisting that agent and agreement fees which are contributing to the high cost of rents must be pruned. For instance, you will see an accommodation of say N120,000 (One hundred and twenty thousand Naira only) and agent and agreement fees will push it up to N200,000 (Two hundred thousand naira) and those agents liaise with the landlords, that’s why government should set up a committee with the landlords and have a talk with them. You see a two-bedroom flat of N350,000 and the agent and agreement fees is close to N500, 000 (Five hundred thousand naira); it does not make any sense. It is very absurd and disheartening. It’s wrong. Agent and agreement fees should be scraped. He has made some giant strides - Oche Anthony I want Ambode to come back in 2019 because of his commitment and the enormous job he has done so far in Lagos. He has touched every sector. Let me start with transportation; he has done a lot in the transport sector both in land and water. Many people who live in Ikorodu working in Victoria Island or Lekki can now resume work very early compared to what the case was in the past. So people in those areas can now reach their office early because Ambode has strengthened the water transportation. Going to Victoria Island, Ikorodu, Lekki you will see a lot of boats to convey workers from various places even down to Ekpe, Badagry and other places. There are quite other giant strides the Ambode administration has made in the last few years. Nigeria needs evidence-based policies - UI AKINREMI FEYISIPO, Ibadan The Federal Government of Nigeria has been urged to formulate researchdriven or evidence-based policies to solve problems facing the country. Ayodele Jegede, a professor and dean Faculty of the Social Sciences, University of Ibadan, who made the observation at a professional development workshop for Master of Research and Public Policy (MRPP) course facilitators held in the institution, said Nigerian leaders needed knowledge on research and policy formulation. While noting that imported policies may have failed in Nigeria because of their strangeness to the country’s situation, Jegede urged all Nigerian leaders to undertake course in Research and Public Policy to be able to understand how formulation of right policies based on evidence can solve identified problems. The University of Ibadan, University of Lagos and University of Jos are among 13 universities in Africa offering the course aimed at developing critical minds towards solving policy problems in Nigeria and Africa. According to him, “It is proper for executives, governors, and Nigerian policy makers to have knowledge about relationship between research and public policies in order to fast track homegrown solutions to myriad of problems facing Nigeria. The professor noted that advanced societies formulates policies based on evidence and research outcomes and not based on “importation of policies as being done in Nigeria”. “Problem of conceptualisation, lack of vital evidence and absence of research, leading to problem of implementation, and policy inconsistency. Our leaders must have this knowledge to be able to come up with right policies that can adequately solve our problems,” he further said.