One Year of Senator Ajibola Basiru in the Red Chamber.
The journey of Dr. Surajudeen Ajibola Basiru to the Upper Legislative Chamber of the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria started formally on the 4th of December, 2018 after he had picked the ticket of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), as the Standard Bearer for Osun Central Senatorial District. On the 4th of December, 2018, the campaign started with a flag-off at a grand occasion at the Nelson Mandela Freedom Park, Osogbo, where Dr. Ajibola Basiru rolled out what he called, “My Pact with The People of Osun Central”.
From that day on, a very serious, intensive and comprehensive campaign kicked off. The campaign took Dr Ajibola Basiru to all the nooks and crannies of Osun Central comprising ten Local Governments and eleven Local Council Development Authorities (LCDA). Ajibola Basiru Campaign Organisation (ABCO) toured all the towns and villages and hamlets in Osun Central Senatorial District, speaking to monarchs, chiefs, market men and women, artisans, members of the NURTW and RTEAN and students. After listening to his Pact with the people, each group would vow its support for Ajibola Basiru’s ambition and success at the 2019 polls.
Elections into the Senate and House of Representatives was fixed for February 2019. As the day drew closer, it was clear that Dr. Basiru would win the contest. SRJ had become a household name in Osun. Despite all these, the Campaign Team did not leave anything to chance, as the Senatorial candidate was always saying, “I didn’t just want to win, I want to win with a wide margin.”
When voting was done with and ballots counted, the APC candidate did not just win, he won with a margin of over twenty thousand votes. In the elections that was conducted and collated same day, his votes of 132,821 against PDP’s 106,779 surpassed that of President Buhari who scored 129,696 to PDP’s 106,759. Subsequently, Dr Ajibola Basiru became a Senator-elect of Osun Central Senatorial District.
Senator Surajudeen Ajibola Basiru took the oath of office as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the 11th day of June, 2019, which climaxed a very daunting political voyage that saw him emerged as the Senator representing Osun Central Senatorial District. It was a rigorous but well executed campaign that is perhaps unprecedented in the annals of political campaigns in Osun State which was anchored on his pact with the people of Osun Central Senatorial District. He has been methodical in their representation at the Senate.
The first sign of the shape of things to come Senator Basiru’s way in the Red Chamber was gleaned when he was announced as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Diaspora, Non-Governmental Organisations and Civil Societies. To discerning minds, this is not an ordinary calling, because being a new entrant into the Senate and being made the Chairman of a very strategic Committee is a pointer to the validation of the astuteness and industry that the leadership of the Senate must have attributed to him.
While he held sway as the Chairman, Senate Committee on Diaspora, his first concern was how to enhance the capacity of the Diaspora Commission which his Committee has direct oversight function over. He immediately had the Law that established the Commission, the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (Establishment) Act, 2017 and for related matters critically dissected and an amendment was drafted in conjunction with the Legal Unit of the Diaspora Commission.
In his quest to properly harness the benefits accruable for Nigerians in the diaspora, Senator Ajibola Basiru also interfaced with several international bodies among which is the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisations (NIDO Europe). In his meeting with NIDO in particular, he was briefed on the efforts of the organisation on Diaspora registration and voting and he was beseeched to use his good offices to interface with INEC on how to fast track diaspora voting.
His interface with NIDO and his passion for change on the need for diaspora voting culminated in his meeting with the Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu and two National Commissioners of the Commission; Mrs. May Agbamuche-Mbu and Dr. Adekunle Ogunmola. At the meeting, Senator Ajibola Basiru specifically raised the issue of the possibility of diaspora voting, he stated that with about 15 million Nigerians in diaspora, diaspora voting will surely be a very big game changer for Nigeria. He also highlighted the challenges it portends and the legal constraints thereto. This were deliberated upon extensively and it was agreed that the Constitution has to be altered and other Laws amended in this regard. Some Sections of the Constitution were specifically penciled for possible alteration while the INEC establishment Act is agreed to be looked into.
Another critical area where Senator Ajibola Basiru tried to look into and which he was passionately pursuing before he was reassigned as the Chairman of another Committee is the Housing Initiative in Nigeria, through the collaboration of his Committee and NIDCOM to access the Housing Initiative funds.
Some of the Bills that have been sponsored by the Senator are:
‘A Bill for an Act to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to provide for the establishment of State Police and to ensure effective community policing in Nigeria and for matters connected thereto;
A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to provide for the establishment of Political Parties Registration and Regulation Commission and for related matters; and
A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to provide for the regulation of the jurisdiction of the supreme court and the court of appeal, creation of State court of appeal and for related matters.
All these bills have passed the second reading at Senate and have been referred to the Constitution Review Committee for further action.
Senator Ajibola Basiru’s uncommon passion for the growth of his constituency was brought to the fore when he laid a petition titled “Petition on the abandonment of the Osogbo Steel Rolling Company and the Nigeria Machine Tools Limited and an appeal for a drastic and immediate action to be taken on their rehabilitation”before the Senate for consideration on behalf of Egbe Osogbo Oroki Parapo and the people of Osun Central Senatorial District. In his ebullient best while laying the petition before the Senate, gave a highlight of the Petition which prays for an urgent consideration and intervention by the Senate for the reversal of the sordid fate that has befallen the Osogbo Steel Rolling Company and the Nigeria Machine Tools Ltd. located in Osogbo and the degeneration of the two hitherto foremost factories which are now in total states of neglect, disrepair and their inevitable obsolescence if the neglect continues in the hands of the new owners of the factories who came into their possession after the privatisation exercise carried out by the Federal Government through the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) several years ago.
The Petition was later referred to the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions by the President of the Senate and prominent people from the Osun Central Senatorial District have been invited on two occasions by the Committee to shed more light on the petition. The Committee has also signified his willingness to pay working visits to Osogbo to see the actual state of affairs of the two hitherto foremost factories.
Senator Ajibola Basiru probably has been training for the position of a Senator, the dexterity and pragmatism he has been displaying on the floor of the Senate has endeared him to his colleagues. His analytical and pragmatic approach to issues is nothing but outstanding. This readily brings to mind his address at the Plenary when the “Bill for an Act to repeal the Federal Road Maintenance Agency Act 2002 (as amended), the Federal Highways Act 1971 and the control of Advertisement Act 1986 and to establish the Federal Road Authority to provide for the Ownership, Regulation, Management and Development of the Federal Roads Network and for other matters connected there with, 2019 (SB.89) was being considered. His contribution on the Bill was so profound and far reaching as he dissected the Bill and brought out all the salient points that were not even envisaged by the sponsors of the Bill.
On the 28th day of April, 2020 the Senate President announced the appointment of Senator Surajudeen Ajibola Basiru as the new Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs after about one year in the saddle as the Chairman, Senate Committee on Diaspora, Non-Governmental Organisations and Civil Societies. For Senator Ajibola, the saying that hard-work begets more work rings true.
Apart from being the representative of the Nigerian Senate at the Association of Senates, Shoora and equivalent Councils in Africa and the Arab World, Senator Basiru is also a member of the following select Committees of the Senate:
Constitution Review Committee.
Committee on Airforce.
Committee on Judiciary, Legal Matters and Judiciary.
Committee on States and Local Governments.
Committee on Downstream Petroleum Sector.
Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream).
Twelve months in the Senate, Dr Surajudeen Ajibola Basiru has impacted positively on his constituents, he has not disappointed his people. He has not taken the electorates for a ride and he doesn’t intend to do so.
Senator Basiru has proven that he is not “an Abuja Senator” as he comes home regularly to interface with his people. Until Covid-19 shut down the entire World, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs was coming home every other week to interact with and listen to his constituents through APC local and ward meetings. His regular homecoming has greatly mobilized for his party and strengthen the people’s resolve to remain with the APC.
Less than two weeks after being sworn in as a member of the 9th Senate, Senator Ajibola Basiru embarked on his first project which is provision of potable water for the people of his Senatorial District. This was at a time when the 2019 budget had been sealed. He spent his allowances on the project as he would not want to give any excuse of “no fund” to reach his people. He started with boreholes in Osogbo, Ikirun, Ila, Okuku and Ilobu. The boreholes were situated at strategic places particularly markets and there are plans to do more. Water is life.
Senator Basiru, being a town boy, felt the pains of market women who ply their trade at Oja Oba in Osogbo. The women were making do with local lamps which besides polluting the environment also exposes the marketers to bronchitis through inhalation of poisonous carbon monoxide. He provided solar powered streetlights at Oja Oba in Osogbo.
Rural communities depend largely on agrarian farming. To make farming attractive and profitable, farmers yearn for motorable roads to convey their produce to markets. Dr Ajibola Basiru picked up the gauntlet and started with grading of feeder roads in Ogangan, Gaafulani Lade, Elekunkun, Bosero Cooker and Ojaoba to Ahoyaya area, Obaagun and Oke Ila in Ifelodun North Local Council Development Area, totalling 4.8km.
Towards the end of 2019, Senator Ajibola Basiru commissioned his Senatorial office in Osogbo with liaison offices across Osun Central Senatorial District. The liaison offices serve as points of contact with his constituents. Through the offices, complaints, requests and information reach Senator Basiru and the same are used as Channels for feedback from the Senator. With the Senatorial Office and the liaison offices, Dr Basiru becomes closer to his people and feels their pulse from time to time.
Senate Spokesperson has also empowered about 80 youths in Osun Central with appointments as Special Advisers and Senior Special Assistants and Personal Assistants. These are youths who are breadwinners of their families and are also grassroots mobilisers for the All Progressive Congress. The appointees serve as contact officers in their respective liaison offices.
At the outset of lockdown as a result of Covid-19 pandemic, Dr Ajibola Basiru reached out to the indigents across his Senatorial District in terms of cash and food items. As the lockdown bit harder towards Ramadhan, Dr. Ajibola Basiru provided hundreds of bags of rice and beans and other food items to all communities and associations in the Senatorial District. This is besides sponsorship of programs and jingles on radio and TV stations to enlighten people and sensitize them about the dangers of Coronavirus and how to observe the safety and precautionary measures. Senator Basiru equally provided thousands of personal safety gears (face masks) for his constituents.
Senator Surajudeen Ajibola Basiru through his website ajibolabasiru.com has continued to interface with the people and attend to their needs as long as such are within his powers as a public officer.
One year on, Senator Ajibola Basiru’s pact with his people remains as solid as ever, he has begun to address issues within and outside the pact to show that he is not a politician with bogus, unrealistic and unrealisable promises. He has proved that he is a man of his words. He understands the gravity of holding people’s trust and he certainly has not let his constituents down.