MR Adeyemi Sabit Ikuforiji, is a former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, who was at the helm of affairs of the assembly between 2005 and 2015. In this interaction, Ikuforiji speaks on President Muhammadu Buhari’s first year, removal of fuel subsidy, governance in Lagos state and other burning national issues. Excerpts:
Not much has been heard from you since you left office as Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly. What have you been doing?
I have been very busy. Apart from being involved in political activities as a politician, I am a full time law student at the University of Lagos (UNILAG). The programme is demanding and time consuming. Presently, we are writing exams and I am preparing hard on a daily basis so as to have outstanding results. I am also overseeing my old businesses, trying to revive them after such a long time of being away on state duties.
You contested the Lagos APC governorship primaries with Governor Akinwunmi Ambode in 2014. How will you describe his performance so far?
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s performance has been wonderfully excellent. He has performed creditably well to the admiration of Lagosians and his party, the APC. In fact, if I am to assess him today, I will score him very high. The transformation he has carried out in Lagos has been extraordinary. The reason for this is very clear. It is because he is well prepared for the job. I don’t believe in average performance. I like achieving outstanding results and the honest truth is that, I personally did not foresee Governor Ambode doing as much as he has done in the last 11 months. He has really surprised me positively.
He is going into the nooks and cranny of this state to bring development closer to the people and he is tackling issues headlong like a true leader should do. The most surprising thing is that he is doing all this without making noise. He is not bragging, making empty noise or using the media to bamboozle the people about what he has done. Critics may say anything they like, but if you look around, can you count the number of local roads Ambode fixed in the last few months?
Just consider the electrification of Lagos through the Light Up Lagos Project. This has significantly reduced the crime rate and returned nightlife to Lagos. Also, look at the issue of security. Just before the last administration in Lagos wound up, we started seeing traces of security breaches here and there. But our governor came in and tackled the issue headlong by giving the necessary equipment to the security agents and everyone can see how relatively secure Lagos has become. And he is not resting on his oars. Look at the various projects commissioned by the Vice- President, especially the gadgets to be used by security agents for the safety of Lagosians.
How will you rate the current Lagos State House of Assembly?
I have never taken the time to go and measure the performance of the current lawmakers in the House but I want to believe that it is difficult for any institution to drop sharply from the standards we were able to set. I still believe that given the standards we set, it will be tough for any other legislative house to compete favourably with the Lagos State House of Assembly.
The local government election in Lagos State will be coming up soon. Given the events that transpired in the 2015 elections in Lagos state where the APC lost some seats to the opposition; do you see the same repeating itself at the council level?
Don’t forget that the general elections have their characteristics, while local elections also have their characteristics. When you are conducting elections at the national and state levels, the variables at play are quite different from the variables at play in the local government election. Yes, we lost a few seats both in the House of Assembly and the House of Reps to the opposition, majorly, the PDP, but some of the variables that made that happen are no longer there today. I am sure that without bias, every resident of Lagos will agree with me that Governor Ambode is a performing governor.
Inasmuch as we are able to get our acts together by electing the right candidates without allowing any form of internal wrangling to come in, the performance of our governor will win the local government election for us. We will retain the 57 councils for the APC. I have no doubt about that.
Corruption allegations were leveled against you during your tenure as Speaker. Though you eventually triumphed, do you think you could have done much more if not for these distractions?
The truth is, despite the distractions, I did all that was expected of me as the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly. I will continue to glorify God for all we were able to do within the period that I led the House. As for forgiveness, God is the all-forgiving.
There is nothing people have done that we cannot forgive. I leave the rest to God. In this life, no matter how much you try to bring a man down, if God sustains him, the best thing for such a man to do is to thank God and forge ahead. I bear no grudge against anyone and I don’t even think anyone is responsible for whatever happened to me. What I learnt from my scripture is that no leaf will fall from a tree without the knowledge of the Almighty. If people conspired against me and I eventually triumphed over their plot, what else can I do other than to be grateful to my God, forgive them and move on with my life?