Honourable Adewale Ojuri representing Odogbolu Constituency in Ogun State House of Assembly has down play criticism the opposition are throwing at the Governor Ibikunle Amosun led government over the fresh 10billion Loan request the House approved for infrastructural development. In this interview, he expantiate more on what the money is meant for, how it will be repay as well his plans for people of his constituency
Q Share with us, some of the experiences you learnt during the election.
ANS It was quite interesting, it wasnt easy at all.The election tells you not to take anything for granted, the strategy developed for the election changed after it was shifted for 6weeks, it changed again after the Presidential election because we noticed people have become more aware with issues on ground and there was a wind of change. So the pressure to vote based on external influence was drastically reduced. The other issue was that the introduction of PVC made it very technical and reduced electoral fraud. It was also a funny election in the area because if your party wins in the House of Representative it does not automatically count that you will win the House of Assembly, hence we need to adjust and read the pulse of the people. It shows we must always keep abreast of what our constituency needs, gone are the days when there will be a blanket that the Party will do the work and you the candidate can relax. I am sure some of the re-runs that will take place in the area will go our way because we have learnt some new lesson from the election.
Q Do you have prior mindset that the election was going to be tough and how were you able to sail through?
ANS Yes I knew it was going to be different, tougher than 2011 because prior to the general elections, there were some elections in some states and it went either ways . There were lots of pressure on the then government to sack the former INEC Boss, the deployment of Army issue, and so many other issues on to the run-up which create lots of tension in the country. The introduction of Card Reader was another thing, we were not sure they were going to use it even until the day of election but which ever way, we were prepared. What I will say is that, the pressure from abroad, Statesmen, international communities, intellectuals were reason why they eventually allowed the election to hold. But we were still not sure that if we win the election, the government let it go. All those shenanigans made the 2015 general elections very tough.
Q. Considering how strong PDP were in Ogun East during the election, how were you able to make it?
ANS. Yes they were strong in the area but we didn't underrate them, this first election was not an indication of the second one. In the first election in Remo side, PDP won almost all the units but later on, APC won 3 out of the 4 seats during the Assembly election. In Ijebu, people made up their mind that they were going to vote for Buhari, so generally we had to change tactics after the Presidential election by telling candidates to present themselves well to their people, we dont have to rely on anybody personality.
Q. Now that you are at the Assembly, how has it been so far?
ANS. I will say it's been a good learning process, I happen to be the APC whip in the House, which makes me a Principal officer, I was also made Chairman of a Committee. The leadership position has made my learning process very fast. Because being a Principal officer, you have some certain responsibilities and some priviledges, it's been a really eye-opener in the last few months. But the whole environment has been unfair because of the situation the Federal government met the financial state of the country. Of course, the President has said he met empty treasury, oil price has gone down, there is need for restructuring, many states are finding it difficult to pay salaries, we are not owing salaries but just deductions. Its really serious when a new government comes into power and what you meet is paying backlog of salaries instead of focusing on things you can do to improve the states as it is in some states now. In our State now, we have a loan that we have applied for specifically meant for infrastructural development. The job of the Assembly in the last few months has been to create the enabling environment for the executive to work.
Q. There have been some uproar against the Governor wanting to get another 10Billion naira Loan, with arguement that the state debt is continually increasing. What's your take on this?
ANS. There is a misconception and exageration about those sayings. When we came in, people were saying Amosun is owing over 100billion, when Federal Government said go and present all your outstanding debt, we presented 48billion, not even all of that is own by Amosun, we actually inherited some, ofcourse we know government is continous, If you do personal assessment of development of infrastructure we have witnessed in the state in the past 4years it worth about 200billion in asset. How can you say the government is amassing debt with 48billion debt and 200billion asset in roads, bridges, schools and many more? Every financial re-engineering that has been going on has been at the instance of Federal Government, its not the quatum of the debt that matters it is the ability to repay and the Federal Government knows the state is healthy in that regard. On this 10billion naira some people do not understand where the money is coming from, what the money will be used for, criteria that has been met in order for you to get the money. It is only five states that met the criteria and we are one of them. One of the criteria is the ability to repay, giving that your allocation is going to be reduced based on your consolation bond and bail out fund. It's again because they new your IGR is going up as we are experiencing in the state, so we are in a very sound economic position to move the state forward.
Q. One of the very many issues raised in the state is the new school being built by the Governor. People have said the school were built at the expense of existing one even some of them at the outskirt of the city.
ANS. The Governor has said it that he's on a mission to rebuild and the administration has what it called Ogun Standard, just like the roads he's building now, he said there must be a minimum of 3-lanes and walk-ways, some of those roads might not meet the requirement of now but definitely in the longrun. If you are going to expand the economy for businesses and investors, you need such roads. For the schools, if you understand the concept of building such schools, building a Housing Estate close to it and building structures that are going to be around in 50years time, then you will know this is not a case of renovating inadequate structures. It is good to renovate, but for somebody who is looking at the future, what you do is to complete the new structures move the student there so that you can renovate the old structures.
Q. Do you think the Governor can complete some of these projects before he leaves?
ANS. Yes he will. Some are completed already and why we are taking this loan again is for some of these infrastructural development. So we are convinced he will complete them.
Q. What are some of the plans you have for people in your constituency apart from legislating for their improvement?
ANS. I think the major thing is to see improvement in their lots, employment, business and vision. I need to put in place programmes that can help farmers, small scale buinesses, cottage businesses and so on. I need to look at small loans, corperatives. My constituency is a mixture of rural and urban, their needs might be a bit differ from people in Abeokuta. In terms of technology, we are looking at Solar lighting for streets to change the face of the community, that is why I said most of the programmes will be community oriented.
Q. If you visualize yourself in politics in the next 10years, where would you like to see yourself?
ANS. I was just thinking of that days back that many of the nominees, where were they 10years ago? I believe none of them would have thoughts of being a Minister by now. In politics, a day, week or year is a very long time. It is only unwise man that will be planning for that. I just want to keep representing my people in any capacity by having direct