We are bringing back defectors from Osun APC’
January 2, 2020
Chairman, Senate Committee on Diaspora, Non-Governmental Organisations and Civil Societies, Senator Ajibola Basiru, (Osun Central) spoke with Assistant Editor LEKE SALAUDEEN on his legislative activities.
You have spent six months in the Senate. How has it been?
We give thanks to Almighty Allah. Contrary to the wrong impression people have about the job content of the legislature, what I have discovered is that a lot of assignments are involved in being a senator.
After the inauguration, we commenced sitting and sat into the night to ensure ministerial nominees were screened promptly.
The Senate postponed the commencement of recess to ensure all heads of ministries, departments and agencies were present to defend their budget.
We worked round the clock to pass the budget in November to ensure the budget circle was reversed to January to December.
On October 8, 2019, the National Assembly set a very tight time table to ensure all works on the budget are ready by November 5, 2019. We worked hard to meet the target. Today, the appropriation bill has been signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.
It was a landmark achievement for the 9th National Assembly that has vowed to ensure that the usual log jam over the budget did not rear its ugly head again. Within a week, the current National Assembly passed into law the Off Shore and Profit Contract Act that had been abandoned for 15 years.
As a member of the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources, we had to work to the night every day to ensure the bill was ready. The new law has the potential of giving the country additional revenue of $1.5 billion which will take care of deficit in the budget.
Also the 2020 finance bill, which is very crucial to revenue projection of the 2020 budget was also passed. All this was done while oversight functions were still being carried out and plenary sessions being held regularly.
At the committee level, I’m the Chairman, Senate Committee on Diaspora, Non-Governmental Organisations and Civil Society Organisations. After the appointment and inauguration, I could not proceed on recess because of a few days after there was a xenophobic attack on Nigerians living in South Africa.
I had to interface with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, with a view to see what could be done to ameliorate the situation and finding permanent solutions to the problem.
The efforts put in place in this regard eventually led to South Africa-Nigeria bi- National Commission of which instruments were signed in South Africa by the presidents of the two countries. Thereafter, South Africa sent an emissary to apologise to the Nigerian government.
Can you really say you been fulfilling your promises to the constituents?
At the time when I was contesting for the Senate, I issued a document upon which my campaign was based and that has been my watchword after my inauguration in the National Assembly. As of December 21, 2019, three of these agreements were fulfilled.
They are setting up a constituency relation office, appointing aides that will serve as the constituency officers in the 10 local governments in the senatorial district and constant engagements with the constituents. Also, I promised effective representation.
Any cursory observer at the National Assembly would have noticed my contributions at the floor of the Senate on important national issues. Within six months, I have sponsored three bills as a first timer in the Senate. The bills that have a direct and pivotal bearing on people of Osun Central Senatorial District are a bill for an Act to provide for the establishment of the Federal College of Education, Ila Orangun, Osun State and other matters connected therewith.
The bill seeks to upgrade the Osun State College of Education, Ila Orangun to the status of a Federal College of Education. The reason for the introduction of this bill stems from the fact that there are Federal institutions already in the East and West Senatorial Districts of the State and, it is only charitable and utmost necessary that the Osun Central Senatorial District should have the presence of the Federal Government in the form of a Federal institution through the upgrade of the Osun State College of Education at Ila Orangun
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 concerned thereto to 2019. A bill for an Act to alter the Constitution to provide for the establishment of the Political Parties Registration and Regulation Commission.
The first two bills have passed first reading at the Senate and hopefully, legislative processes on the bills will be completed in due course. The following bills are also currently being worked on and they will soon be processed for further legislative action.
A bill for an Act to provide the legal framework to establish Federal Medical Centre Osogbo, Osun State and, a bill for an Act to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to regulate the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal.
I also 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” signed by Engineer Maruf Bolarinwa and Elder Adewale Adewumi for the Egbe Oroki Parapo and also on behalf of our constituents.
The petition borders on the privatisation of the Steel Rolling Mills and the Machine Tools in Osogbo which has foisted wanton waste and untold hardship on the people of the Osun Central Senatorial District.
Some constituents are saying you are not doing enough…
As part of my electioneering campaign, I promised to pursue vigorously the issue of food security and the provision of potable water to make life easier for the people of Osun Central.
I am happy to report that within six months of my tenure, we have completed six boreholes out of which three have been commissioned and are already dispensing water for the respective communities where they are constructed.
Further efforts are being put in place to achieve our promises and I want to assure you that we will not relent in any one of those promises. In the quest to deepen democratic inclusion, especially among the youths, we are in the process of setting up a Youth and Students’ Council to assist in political conscientization, engagement, education and mobilisation of our youths as active players in our governance and democratic process.
What prompted you to open senatorial office?
As a senator with my primary place of work at the National Assembly, Abuja, I do not require a prophet to explain that without a corresponding office located within Osun Central, I will almost be completely cut off from my constituents on whose wings I am flying.
In order to avoid any form of disconnect from my constituents, I deem it honourable and necessary to set up a constituency office where my constituents can easily reach me. It is my duty and it is thus incumbent on me to be accessible and available at all times to my constituents and assist in providing solutions to their challenges the best way I can.
Therefore, the Constituency Office is an eloquent way of bringing the Senate closer to the people. It will assist in improved representation of the people of Osun Central Senatorial District in the Senate as a liaison office; meeting with constituents regularly and provide service to individual constituents in their dealings with government ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs).
The Osun Central Senatorial District Office is designed along with its satellite offices in the 10 local government areas that make up the senatorial district as a one-stop-shop to handle constituents’ needs. Therefore constituents’ inquiries, questions, and even feedbacks can be adequately addressed at the senatorial office or in any of the offices in the 10 local government areas.
Also, we have engaged dedicated constituency staffs who have considerable political experience to address constituent concerns. The aim of this is to sustain the connection with the constituents on a professional level.
In your view, is former Governor Rauf Aregbesola still popular in Osun State, after he left office?
On Friday, December 20, 2019, when the former Governor Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola was turbaned as the Wazirin Mumini of Osun State by the Muslim community in the state capital, Osogbo was locked down by the people out of love they have for him.
The tumultuous crowd that cheered him at the unveiling of my senatorial office the following day proved that the former governor is still popular and lives in the heart of the people. At the time he assumed office as governor, he came to consolidate the agenda of development of Osun commenced by our leader Chief Bisi Akande, which was truncated by marauding PDP of the Obasanjo era.
As at the time Aregbesola came, there was no visible infrastructure on which the society could have been built. With a good team, including my humble self, members of the cabinet and Governor Gboyega Oyetola, who was then Chief of Staff to the governor, we were able to work massively to develop infrastructure.
Having impacted on the people and environment, there is no gainsaying the fact that he was loved by the people. Our party, APC had been seriously weakened by the PDP before the advent of Aregbesola’s administration. The party is now the party to beat. The love is reciprocal because he loves the people and the people love him as well.
What steps are being taken by APC Osun State chapter to bring aggrieved party members back to the fold?
That is almost settled. Our leader, Baba Akande, is actively involved. Whatever we are doing is under his guide and direction.