Honourable Seyi Adisa, a member of the Oyo State House of Assembly representing Afijio Constituency, served as principal secretary to former Governor Abiola Ajimobi, for eight years. In this interview by SEGUN ADEBAYO, Adisa speaks on his experience as legislator and being in the opposition party.
What is your take on the recent security initiative, Operation Amotekun?
I think Nigerians have been clamouring for restructuring for a while now. If Nigeria is truly a federal state, regions must be able to add values to themselves. It is not unexpected that there are skepticisms to the initiative. There is an argument that if they are not properly maintained they can become a militia group. I think that the South-West governors have done intelligently by keeping them within the purview of the police but outside the police. I see it to be a unique system that must be given a trial to see how it works. I appreciate how particularly they have been restricted to black spots. These are areas that the police may not have had enough personnel to take on, especially villages and other rural areas. Police can’t be everywhere; so, Operation Amotekun might handle some of those issues.
As a legislator, how do you balance the responsibilities of making laws and meeting demands from your constituency?
First, let me address the point of being a legislator. There is a non-profit organisation called Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Advancement (YIAGA). They sponsored the Not Too Young to Runbill. A research they conducted recently showed that only 12 per cent of people expect us to make laws, 78 per cent (78%) actually expect us to represent them i.e., get them jobs, among other things. Even though we are legislators and our primary assignment is to make laws, we’ve come to realise that the needs of the people are so compelling that we must do more. It is not a function of title; it is a function of how much value you can add. The biggest request, then, is to create job opportunities because this affects both parents and children. A graduate who has left school is looking for a job until he gets his job, he is dependent on the same parents who had raised him for 25 to 30 years. An area I’m seeking partnerships is ICT because digital skills are getting increasingly relevant, especially in the global market as youths will not be restricted to these borders for relevance. They will be able to use their skills internationally.
How have you been coping in the house being a member of the opposition party?
First, whenever we get into the house, we drop parties. I think the main concern is the development of Oyo State and thank God the Right Honourable Speaker has been very balanced and mature in handling legislative issues. He has been fair to all and makes it clear that partisanship should not be brought into the house. When we are outside the house, then everybody can belong to their caucus and what not. In the house, however, it is about development and that’s what drives all of us even as members of opposition party who check the sitting party.
Would you not be seen as a clog in the wheel of progress of the House if you are not always in agreement with what others want?
No, there is no clog anywhere. Let me give you an example. If we are talking about water production, I know water production alone is not what will bring water to the taps of the people, one need to ensure pipes are laid and that there is the water metering system for distribution. If people now leave other aspects and keep on hammering only the source of production, I should be able to say something or else I would not be helping. Consider the fact that I’m a lawyer, if certain propositions are made in the house and are not in accordance with the law, people would ask that: “don’t you have a lawyer in the house?” It then becomes my responsibility to bring out as much information as I can. Providing information doesn’t mean I’m giving decision. It is just helping the decision making process to be well-rounded. Even in situations that what I say is not eventually considered, it will at least be on record that I made a rounded contribution. The decisions we make is based on what the majority want.
What is your assessment of the budget that was passed into law being a member of the sub-committee that worked on it?
I was part of the sub-committee and we did our exercises judiciously. When the budget came, we saw some areas we thought our people needed more and we amended as such and there were some areas we thought shouldn’t be priority at this time and we made amendments as well. Now, obviously, that is just at the level of our committee. By the time it went to the appropriation committee that did the collation of the final budget, much scrutiny had gone into it and it was a good exercise. And going back to the issue of rubberstamping, the House is not a rubberstamp because we stamped it, we did more than that. The House treated it, considered the plight of the people and added where we felt more was needed and vice versa where they thought this should not be priority. I thought it was a good exercise and it showed the principle of checks and balances we constantly talk about.
Some are of the opinion that you remain a loyalist of Senator Abiola Ajimobi because of your constant friction with members of the ruling party in the House whenever issues that concern the former governor are raised. How do you respond to this?
Now, don’t get me wrong. When you are in the house and it is not your first time being part of a government, you tend to have experience over some issues. As someone who worked in the last administration, it behooves me to bring out information that may not be known to other members of the house. Having worked in the executive, it is natural to shed light on a matter especially if it is being taken from an angle that had been explored before. Decision making is best done when comprehensive details are considered as we make decisions based on information available to one. When I sit in the house and the details are not holistic, it then becomes my duty to provide an alternate perspective so that we can make together the best decision.
How would you describe the experience working under your former principal Senator Abiola Ajimobi whom you served as his principal secretary for eight years?
I enjoyed the eight years of working with him. People don’t like change and whether we like it or not Governor Abiola Ajimobi is the father of modern Oyo State. When you have to change things, people will not like it and anybody that talks about Abiola Ajimobi will not dispute that he worked. Look at the roads, you can’t deny these things. Is it the Mokola flyover, Onireke road, the one that links to Challenge, or Iseyin road? We can see them and these are things that had not been done before. One of the things I am most graceful for is that, that was such of person that trained me. Working under him developed my mentality and capacity for success, especially in the political arena
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