Hon. Olajide Jimoh is a member of House of Representatives representing Lagos Mainland Federal Constituency. Prior to moving to National Assembly, Abuja, he was two time. Chairman of Yaba Local Council Development Area and 2-term member of Lagos House of Assembly.
In this interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly, he told us about his experience in the National Assembly and his opinions on some national issues…
How has it been in two years that you have been a member of House of Representatives?
I want to give thanks to the Almighty God, the King and the Ruler of heaven and earth, who has given me the opportunity to serve my people at the federal level. I also want to appreciate my people of Lagos Mainland Federal constituency, who have been supportive all along in electing me to represent them there. I promise to do my best with utmost sincerity.
It has not been so tough as expected. As a former member of Lagos State House of Assembly, who has the experience of legislative business and activities, I found it very easy. I have been moving motions and resolutions at the National Assembly. I have also sponsored a bill that has been passed the third reading from where it will go to committee level after which it will go to the president for his assent. I thank God.
Will you say there is any difference between being a member of House of Assembly and House of Representatives?
Legislative business is almost the same all over the world. Aside the size and number of members of the House of Representatives, 360, there is no other difference. Legislative process is still about first reading, second reading and third reading.
Your party, APC, has the majority in the House of Representatives, yet it lacks cohesion among its members. You hardly agree on anything. Why is this so?
Human beings are the most difficult animals to control by virtue of the fact that we are differently endowed intellectually by God and we come from different cultural and religious background. So, it will always be difficult to arrive at any consensus among such set of people. But with understanding and compromise here and there, I think we are getting it.
There is this impression that members of the National Assembly are far away from the realities of their constituencies and constituents. What is your take on this?
I can only speak for myself. I am very close to the grassroots. I am not far away from my people. I am always with them. I move around my constituency a lot, sometimes on foot. Because this is what I told them when I was campaigning that, they should regard me as their messenger, who is ready to take their messages to appropriate quarters and come back to give them the feedback. That is exactly what I have been doing. Because of the costs and danger of travelling every week, I make sure I come to my constituency at least once or twice in a month.
As at today, I have held six stakeholders meetings where I engaged constructively with the people. My next plan is to meet with all the various communities within my constituency. It is going to be tagged Face to Face With The Honourable Member.
Aside these meetings, I have distributed so many things to the people. I have embarked on personal projects, brought in some projects from the Federal Government. Very soon, the fire service station at Apapa Road, Ebute Meta will be rehabilitated. That is part of what I have done. There are so many things I have done.
I have distributed security gadgets to all public primary and secondary schools in my constituency. Mosques, churches and residential estates within my constituency have also been beneficiaries of these security gadgets.
I have distributed empowerment tools and equipment such as tricycles, motorcycles, sewing machines and grinding machines, to assist women, downtrodden and youths.
Don’t you think this empowerment schemes has put so much financial pressure on you lawmakers to the extent that you look for money by all means in order fulfill these obligations?
Culturally and religiously, we are supposed to be cheerful givers. Once you have given. People expect that you should continue to give. You cannot give what you don’t have. Sometimes, the money may not come from your purse, but by virtue of your position and influence, you can facilitate assistance to many people.
God had blessed us to assist other people, particularly the less privileged.
There is this impression that you members of National Assembly from South West did not do enough to prevent the cutting of the budget meant for the Lagos – Ibadan Expressway. What is your take on this?
Let me correct one wrong impression that people have. The National Assembly appropriates accordingly. Where appropriation has been made and you did not expend the one made for last year, what do you expect the National Assembly to do? What the National Assembly is saying is that the Minister of Works should first expend the one that was given to him. If that is not enough then, come back again and ask for more.
We are also concerned because, I ply this road every time. But the point the National Assembly is making is that, the one that was appropriated, have you spent it? We don’t want a situation where the National Assembly will appropriate N20 million and you will only expend N7 million. What do you want to do with the N13 millon that is not expended? Use the money that has been appropriated first and come back for more if it is not enough. Nobody can stop the project. The project is of concern to all of us.
What is your reaction to the issue of constitutional amendment, particularly the issue of devolution of power to the state?
I am in support of devolution but when you support a motion on the floor of the House and you are in the minority, you can only have your say, you cannot have your way. If the majority are saying there should be no devolution, who are my to say there should be devolution.
I think the issue of devolution now lies with the masses who can now make their displeasure known through legitimate means. The people that elected us also have the responsibility of making us to know that we are not living up to their expectations. This is not the problem of the politicians or the government alone. It is the problem of all of us.
This is going to be about the 5th amendment on this 1999 constitution and if we don’t get it right now, l don’t know when we are going to get it right.
What is your take on the issue of local government autonomy?
I am not in support of autonomy for the local government. You cannot obstruct the power of the state house of Assembly. The state house of assembly has the power to create local governments. Every single state should be allowed to embark on creation of local governments as many as they deem fit to create for the purpose of development and spreading the dividend of democracy to the people. So, I don’t see the autonomy for local governments going through. It will fail. You know the National Assembly cannot amend the constitution alone. The houses of assembly also have an input into the amendment of the constitution. I do not see the states’ Houses agreeing to autonomy of the local governments.
Why has it been difficult for the National Assembly to disclose their remuneration?
The National Assembly is not in charge of the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC). This is the body that is responsible for that, constitutionally. That is the body that is supposed to take the bull by the horn.
As a former banker, apart from my salary l am entitled to some allowances. So, if l am working in the National Assembly am I not entitled to some allowances? You cannot join allowances with remunerations. People in both public and private sectors also collect allowances, why is it that when members of National Assembly collect the same allowances that it becomes an issue?
I think the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission should publish everything so that the public will know it.
But as I have told you, the National Assembly has the constitutional power to appropriate. So, whatever has been appropriated now and accented to by the president has become law. That means we are not taking anything that is illegal.
In the next two years where do you hope to see the National Assembly?
I expect the National Assembly to be resolutely committed to the progress of this country by improving the welfare of the people.
What is most likely going to be your next line of action after the expiration of your tenure in the National Assembly?
I can’t determine that. Only Almighty God can determine that. I will follow whatever the Almighty God directs me to do.
- TOLANI ABATTI