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Why APC state chairmen are backing Oshiomhole

Published by The Nation on Wed, 04 Dec 2019

The chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State, Tunde Balogun, spoke with Deputy Editor EMMANUEL OLADESU on the Sanwo-Olu administration, defections from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the APC and the challenge of reconciliation in the ruling party.What is your assessment of the Sanwo-Olu administration, six months after'In the last six months, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has been implementing his laid down programmes.He has a plan, which he titled: Themes. T stands for transportation and traffic management. H stands for health and comprehensive health insurance. E stands for education and technology. M stands for making Lagos a 21st century state. E stands fir entertainment, and making Lagos the centrepiece of African tourism. S stands for security. The administration is centred on these.In the area of transportation, he has prepared ground, not only for the use of our roads, he has made efforts to ensure that Lagos makes use of the inland waterways. He has made arrangements for the procurement of some ferries. Some of the jetties in Lagos are being developed. The available ones have been enlarged, extended and consolidated upon for effective use.He has made appointments to ensure that the tight and innovative people manage these key areas. He has brought on board people who can think for the state and do things in a modern way. Of course, I give credence and commendation to him for the fact that, not only has he been able to tackle traffic gridlock, he identified at a point that we have 60 traffic gridlock points in Lagos and he has been making sure that the gridlock disappears. Of course, he has mended some roads. He has fixed roads where necessary to ensure smooth transportation and ease of movement on the roads. A lot of works has gone to mending roads, fixing roads, filling potholes where necessary. The interconnectivity of various areas in Lagos is being enhanced now.On the issue of health, he has done a lot in the various hospitals and the teaching hospital. Now, the effort in education is considerable. He had gone round to see schools that are in bad shape and he has commissioned committees to embark on renovation of schools across the three senatorial districts. That has been going on in the last six months. Kudos to him for the fact that a lot of things are coming on board.Yesterday, he said Lagos will have the Fourth Mainland Bridge within the period of his administration. That will be fantastic for Lagos, in terms of transportation of goods, in terms of commuting. A lot of things will still come on board. Lagosians will be better for it.It is gratifying that the governor will be paying the N35,000 minimum wage for workers in Lagos. This underscores his commitment to the welfare of workers. The workers will be motivated by this to increase effectiveness and productivity at work.Should Lagosians take the governor for his words that after the raining season, the state will be turned into a huge construction site'Yes, of course. Go to some of the areas where you notice bad roads, you will see work going on there.A lot of equipment which recused mainly in the night are there. The work is done in the night to avoid causing untold hardship to motorists and other people. Those areas and points where roads are to be mended, they are being mended on daily basis. Sometimes, in the day, a lot if works is going on in the state. I think that is just the beginning. A lot more will come as time goes on.There are vacant positions in the Lagos State executive Committee of the APC under your leadership. How and ehen are they likely to be filled'Yes, there are three vacant positions brought about by the appointment of three members of the committee as members of the State Executive Council by Governor Sanwo-Olu. Commissioner and special advisers are among the three. Those positions will be filled. We have procedures. That procedure must be our guide. It is not being delayed. We want to ensure that things are done properly and appropriately so as not to run foul of the procedure and the law. They would soon be filled.Some local governments and constituencies are complaining that they are not adequately represented in the Lagos State Executive Council. How are the party and the government mitigating their feelings'APC is a strong family in Lagos. The members see themselves as one family. We dont discriminate between one local government and the other. All local governments in Lagos State are having a sense of belonging. They will be represented as much as there are vacancies. We make all efforts to ensure that they are equally represented. Expediency comes in. Geographical location comes in. Some appointments are mainly and most of the times based on merit in Lagos State. Of course, the educational backgrounds of candidates are looked into. Their contributions to our elections and victories are put into consideration. I mentioned expediency. In past years, some local governments were not represented in the exco. Some of them may come in now while those who have been there in the past would have to wait. That is what is happening. Not all the local governments will be in the exco. It may not be possible. We have about 40 thereabout to represent about 20 million people. You have to consider a lot of things. The criteria are many. There are many factors to be considered. There is merit. There is also the need to consider the contributions of people to the party to ensure that nobody is short changed.Read Also:Lagosians sweat in heatwaveHow is the state government, which is the product of the party, carrying along the party in its activities'This is very apt. Only about 24 hours ago, we held a Community Day that brought together the communities in Lagos; rural as well as urban communities, were together with the governor and myself at the Ikeja Police College. We interacted in various ways. That is the kind of interaction you are talking about. There are interactive sessions between the governor and the people again. This is done regularly. Also, every month, he organises meetings so that people can bring to fore whatever they feel should be done, their needs, schools, infrastructure.Lagosians are complaining about service delivery by local governments. How can their capacities by strengthed to foster effective service delivery'I know the local governments have the capacity to work along the line of programmes laid down by the state government. The local governments need to complement the efforts of the state. They should work with the state to achieve the development of their areas; clearing drainages, making roads, doing all necessary things that are important to the people in their various local governments. We expect them to be working to complement the state government.How is reconciliation in the Lagos APC'It is going on fine. It is going on well. The party is also expanding. In few weeks time, we will invite you to come and see what is happening here. People are coming to the APC, not only the aggrieved members. A lot of PDP members are defecting to the APC. We are inviting you to come and see the positive growth of APC and the likelihood of the disintegration of the APC in Lagos. In few weeks time, you will see the formal reception for leaders and prominent members of the PDP who are coming to the APC.That means Lagos State will become a one party state'It doesnt follow. It depends on your programmes and how you are implementing it. See what is happening at the federal level. APC is implementing a lot of programmes. They are unprecedented in this country. I will mention some of it. Only five days ago, the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, told the world that in about five months, the end of April, there will be the commissioning of railway lines from Lagos to Ibadan. It is the first time that kind of thing will be coming up. It is a special railway connection. It has never happened since independence. With that kind of railway line; it is not going to stop there. There will be Ibadan to Kano. This thing will cut across the whole country. There will be massive construction under the Buhari administration for the next three and half years. It has never happened. It shows you what a progressive government can do and is capable of doing.This brings me also to what the APC government is doing about the closure of borders. It is unfortunate that the small countries around us were conducting international trade with us in a bad manner. It has been very awkward, unusual and it has not been real. Their names brings smuggling connotations. Go to these border towns, smuggling is a way of life for some of them. Their activities have led to the proliferation of arms. Their activities have fuelled the insurgency. It has affected our local producers. With the closure of borders now, you are able to see the gains. Not only have we been subsidising the oil to these countries through smuggling, their activities have been affecting our local producers. With the closure of borders, we discovered that we have people who can produce local items that we consume here. Poultry farmers are enjoying the closure now. We should encourage our local producers, instead of exposing them to smuggled rice. The poultry farmers should be encouraged to produce under favourable conditions for local demands. Our rice producers have been showing greater capacity for producing for local consumption. There should be an atmosphere where their trade will not be brought down by smuggled rice from China and Indonesia. For a long time, there have been smuggling through the borders. We support the closure of the borders. Our local producers should be given the opportunity to produce to feed the nation and thrive.How is the national APC faring'This brings me to the issue of wanting the leader of our party, the national chairman of our party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, to resign. The call is not only selfish; those people calling for his resignation are not only selfish, they are driven by the fact that they are elements of destabilisation. The call for his resignation was untimely as it was illogical. What do I mean by it was untimely' Oshiomhole was elected by the unanimous vote of APC members across the nation a year and few months ago. He was elected for four years. Why dont you give him a chance' Unless he has a gross misconduct, there is no reason for removing a leader who has been able to lead his party, not only to win a presidential election that returned APC to government, but also won in many states. Why dont you give him a chance to complete his term for which he was given mandate' He was given a mandate for four years. He should complete his mandate. It was illogical that these calls were made by some who saw that the NEC meeting was approaching. They felt it was an opportunity to throw a spanner in the wheel of progress of APC. It was illogical because it was after the party won two state elections in Kogi and Bayelsa. Somebody who has been able to lead us to such victories should be given a chance, if they are not driven by selfish tendencies. Oshiomhole is supported by many APC state chairmen for the reasons of survival of our party and stability of our party. Those people want to create confusion, who want to see our party stabilised were calling for his resignation. He will spend the four years for which he was elected because he is doing well. We support him. He is enjoying the support of majority of us who are in the Forum of APC State Chairmen.Why are these people fighting' In any democratic setting, if you want your party to stand the test of time or survive, you must uphold the tenets of party supremacy. Some feel that they are too big for the party, to accept the supremacy of the party. They will not have their way by the grace of God.The party is supreme. Any party that does not uphold the supremacy of the party stands to have elements of indiscipline. Elements of impunity will happen where there is no party supremacy and party discipline. To avoid all these, we stand by Oshiomhole. He should be given a chance to spend his four years.
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