By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
Honourable Olajide Olatunbosun represents Atisbo/SakiEast/Saki West Federal Constituency of Oyo State in the House of Representatives on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC. In this interview, he says that he will not bribe his colleagues to be voted for the Speaker of the House. He also says that he will be a servant speaker and not a Lord of his colleagues if given the opportunity.
What motivated you to join the Speakership race in the House of Representatives?
I decided to run because our country has gotten to the point that men of goodwill must not hold back. We have to stand up to be counted. The National Assembly, most especially the House of Representatives where I belong, needs good quality leadership- a Nigerian that can unite members of the House across political divides and also unite Nigerians in general regardless of their ethnic and religious beliefs.
The House also needs a speaker who will ensure harmony between the executive and the legislature. I thank God for what the incumbent Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, has done and if by God’s grace I get elected as a speaker by my colleagues, I will ensure that those things he has done very well are consolidated. For instance, look at the issue of the passage of the budget, it’s been a source of concern to Nigerians that our budgets don’t get passed on time. I can assure that if I get elected the appropriation law will be passed in record time so that the government can run smoothly. I will also ensure that other bills coming from the executive and those coming from members are passed speedily.
Also, a source of concern to the people is that a lot of our youths are unemployed. How can we ensure that we come up with legislation that will drive the economy, the capital market, the investment environment to ensure that Nigerians invest in the country and attract foreign direct investments to Nigeria? One of the areas that give me a lot of concern is our public budgeting that is inefficient, at least I have been a member of the Appropriation Committee in the past three and a half years and it is an area of priority for me. How can we make it better so that we can get value for money from the public funds committed to projects in the budgeting process?
Above all, if I become the Speaker of the Ninth House of Representatives, I’ will ensure that day-in-day-out, we do things that meet the expectations of Nigerians.
How would your cordial relationship with the executive, if elected?
I am a member of the APC and a loyal party man. The President is our father, he is our leader. So this race is not about confrontation, it is about working with the President to ensure that we deliver democratic dividends to Nigerians. I am going to work with the party leadership and also with my colleagues across party lines whether in PDP, APGA, ADC, APC and all those fault lines. I will ensure that they are minimized considerably.
One of the major challenges facing the country now is insecurity. How do you intend to deploy the institution of the legislature to address this challenge?
You know that it is a work in progress. If you see this year’s budget we made ample provisions for security agencies. For instance, the Office of the National Security Adviser’s budget is almost what the National Assembly got. That means it as an area of priority. Zamfara also got an N10 billion intervention fund for security. So, I think going forward we need to re-jig our legislation. For instance, you do kidnapping and only get a slap on the wrist. The consequences must be very grave. We also need to encourage security agencies in terms of training and motivation so that they can do more. My job will be to mobilize my colleagues to support the President to ensure that Nigeria is secured because without that nothing else can be done.
Are you saying that you will set in motion processes for the review of the criminal laws?
Definitely. We have to look at the laws. Some of these laws have been there for decades where they will prescribe three years in jail or a fine of N200. So we need to look at all those shortcomings. The law itself is dynamic and as we evolve in the society law must be reviewed to ensure that before people commit any crime they must weigh the consequences. That alone can help to reduce crime unlike now when they reason that ‘if I do it worst case scenario is a jail term of three years or a fine if N10,000. We must look at all those things to ensure that the law stands as a deterrent for the criminals.
Do you intend to intensify oversight functions on the executive if you get elected?
Definitely. Oversight is like a legislative audit. You appropriate funds and you must ensure that those funds are used in public interest. You don’t just budget. If there are projects that can not be measured physically you must develop a strategy to do so. I was in a committee that oversights a ministry. When they came most of their capital projects are more of training, they have skills acquisition, programs that cannot be seen. So how do we develop metrics to measure such cases? Also for me, oversight and public budgeting process are issues that will be measurable so that if I give X fund this year and you come for budgeting next year, I need to see what you have achieved. So if it is going to be a long term project, we need to determine what we need to achieve in the immediate and short term projects. So oversight is key to my leadership.
Can you assess your opponents in this race and tell me what edge you think you have over them?
The edge is that I have a lot of friends among our colleagues who have bought into my speakership project. My interaction is across party and religious lines. Most of my friends are even from the northern parts of the country than from the South-West. I think that is very important because when you want to lead, you are just one of the 360 members and you must be prepared to serve. So, I am prepared to be a servant speaker that is here to serve the members not to lord it over them. People say I am very approachable, so definitely I will need to continue with that. Also, I think God’s favour is working for me above everything else.
There were rumours that some of your co-contestants have begun to influence your colleagues with money and other material things, do you have the financial strength to match them?
That is strange to me. But I don’t need to bribe my colleagues to get them to support me because this is a project that we jointly own. All hands will be on deck for us to achieve victory. We are not going to bribe anybody, we are not going to coerce anybody; we are not going to harass anybody or use any other untoward means to force them to vote for us. They are ready to support the project and I believe that we will win.