By NBF News

Edward Ifeoluwa Fasoranti is the liaison officer between the legislative and executive arms of government in Ondo State. His main job as government lobbyist is to ensure that the relationship between the two arms of government is cordial. In this interview with TUNDE RAHEEM in Akure, Fasoranti defends the N30 billion bond being sourced by government to complete its going capital projects in the state. Excerpts.

Do you think your lobbyist role is necessary, since the State House of Assembly is dominated by members of the ruling Labour Party?

The essence of democratic representation is not for the purpose of fighting. We must understand that every member of the House represents a constituency whose people monitor their ability to influence government's performance towards their plight. There is nothing like rubber-stamping in this administration.

Before the passage of any Appropriation Bill, there is something we call pre-budget preview every member of the House gets to deliberate with the Executive on the proposed budget. What exists in Ondo State is diligent and appropriate representation. When the Labour Party as voted into power, there was electoral crisis and after two years legal battle, the court of law declared Dr Olusegun Mimiko winner of that election. We inherited a State House of Assembly that had 15 members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and nine members of the LP. Of course, we had problems pushing some things that will make development faster because the opposition party was poised to slow down the pace of activities of government.

Some bills like the Direct Labour Agency were supposed to be passed into law, which was supposed to be a tool for the reduction of bottlenecks in the execution and delivery of projects, but delayed. By the time there was a change in the configuration of the House members, which saw the LP in the majority, there was accelerated passage of bills and delivery of dividends of democracy to the electorate. The Auto mart and neighbourhood markets were constructed under that provision.

There are five arms of the Direct Labour Agency across the state today executing different projects. If that bill was not passed into law, it would have been difficult for Mr Governor to move on by spending money for the execution of these projects which have been bringing succor to our people. The normal contract system would have gulped at least N1.4 billion in the construction of that Auto mart, but with the Direct Labour Agency, government spent N400 million only.

Some of the neighbourhood markets were delivered within three months. The normal contract system would also have delayed delivery of these markets and government would have been perceived as a failure. The fact that there is only one member of the PDP in the House now gives him an opportunity to struggle and lobby his colleagues to put into consideration the feelings of his people.

The N30 billion bond
The perception of our people needs to be corrected. I quite agree that the state is anoil producing one, but one should also consider our take home from the Federal Government allocation. Lagos state earns an IGR of N18 billion every month, yet it receives N250 billion in form of bonds from the stock market. Neighbouring Ekiti State is applying for N20 billion while Osun State before the incoming of the man there eight months ago, former Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola collected bonds of over N25 billion for the development of that state. Edo State has done it. Other oil producing states of this country have collected bonds.

If we are collecting N4.8 billion, where we are talking of industrialization, infrastructure development, oil and gas pipeline and independent power project even as we will have to pay salaries and all overheads. Oluwa Glass died due to infrastructural decay. The cost of running it was higher than the income generated. If we must resuscitate our industries and industrialize Ondo State we cannot run on generators and expect foreign partners to patronize us.

The N30 billion loan is for the development of the people of this state. We are not the first to seek such grants. Some state governments have done nothing, though they have spent close to a year in office. They have not created as little as walkways yet they are applying for N20 billion. What Mr Governor is taking is not for his personal use. It is just part of his promise to work for the people. This is a justifiable step in the right direction.

Federalism as appropriate system of governance in Nigeria

In the days of the Western Region, when Chief Obafemi Awolowo was Premier it is on record that the region was paying higher salaries than the center. Due to the different federating units, there was no centralized system like this. Now that we have a centralized system, if you look at the structure of the Revenue Allocation, the Federal Government holds 52% while the states and their local governments hold the balance of 48%. Yet the security of the state is handled by these states.

What does the Federal Government do with the 52% when she cannot even feed federal prisoners? The state governments still give subventions. This is the bane of our so-called federalism. As far as I am concerned, what we are practicing is a unitary system of government, where instructions and authority blow down from the top and there is nothing you can do about it. There should be a reversal of the allocation. The Federal Government should only take, based on maintaining the military and a few settlements up there. What is the business of the federal government in Universal Basic Education or Primary Health Care?

Where there is a criminal invasion of a state the government of that state does not have control of the police. It is necessary to have police formations across the states in Nigeria. Community policing will help to reduce crime as more people will be employed and effective monitoring of movement within the communities will be enhanced. Strangers will be easily detected on our streets, and the Police can be alerted.

When you bring somebody from Sokoto State to come and be Commissioner of Police in Ondo State, does he know the Baale of Laje community for instance? We all know that any lunatic can wear beads and pretend to be a local chief. But a policeman resident in that state is bound to know people around him.