Text of speech presented by Senator Oluremi Tinubu, OON, during the Fourth Town Hall Meeting with constituents of Lagos Central Senatorial District at Eko Club, 1,EkoClub Close off Bode Thomas Street, Surulere, Lagos on Wednesday, 26 September , 2012.
I will like to start by thanking God for giving us all the grace to be here this morning. Your enthusiastic support ensured the marvellous success achieved at our last Town Hall Meeting on the 12th of June, 2012. You will recall that it was a twin-event of the presentation of my first year report and also the commissioning of our new constituency office at 293, Herbert Macaulay Way, Yaba.
Your identification with our party’s ideals, the values and vision of a great Nigeria marks you out as supporters whose interest in politics is guided by the progressive philosophy of our great party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
Evolving challenges in Nigeria clearly indicate that at this critical juncture in our history, we must collectively strive towards achieving genuine change. For progressives, including those who gave and those who accepted the mandate of representation, the concepts of change and development mean much to us in theACN.
Today, our country is grappling with the looming dangers of worsening crime rates, insecurity, unemployment and other indices of underdevelopment. More than ever before, we must strongly emphasize the need for all of us to collectively rise up and play our part in achieving positive change and development.
This brings us to the significance of the doctrine of collective responsibility. Our history, culture and even our holy books illustrate the significance of this. I am who I am today because of a lot of people, those who contributed to my life to get me here – my parents, siblings, husband, children, friends, associates, government. The list is endless.
The manifestations of underdevelopment in Nigeria today are visible in the areas of inadequate access to job opportunities, healthcare, power, drinkable water, food, education, housing etc. Its negative effects affect every member of society; that is part of the reasons why all citizens must shun apathy and get more involved. We must rally behind new efforts aimed at entrenching progressive principles and genuine development across the Nigerian Federation.
A. AT THE SENATE
Over the past one year as your Senator, I have continued to strive for our best interests as a member of the various committees I belong to. The reports from the activities in the past three months from the following committees are as follows:
1. EMPLOYMENT, LABOUR AND PRODUCTIVITY – VICE CHAIRMAN
Our members conducted oversight visits to the Ministry of Labour and its parastatals to discuss areas where improvement can be made towards boosting productivity and better labour relations. Issues were raised on upgrading the Skills Acquisition Centres in Lagos, Ibadan, Enugu and Kaduna.
On the 15th of December, 2011, we conducted a public hearing to look into the management of Nigeria’s Expatriate Quota System with a view towards ensuring that expatriates do not continue to arbitrarily take jobs that ought to belong to Nigerian citizens. This led to a stakeholder’s conference on Expatriate Quota held in Lagos from the 13th to the 14th of August 2012, by the Ministry of Interior, in collaboration with Anchor Dataware Solutions (ADS), to further look into this critical issue.
The Committee wrote the Ministry of Labour and its parastatals to demand for details of the 2012 Budget Performance, including revenue profiles, disbursements/expenditures and the extent to which capital projects have been executed under the 2012 national budget.
The committee also discussed with the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) on the need to train between 50 and 150 persons in each Senatorial District for skilful engagement.
From the 16th to the 17th of July, 2012, members of the committee conducted oversight visits to some parastatals and institutions under the Federal Ministry of Education. Institutions visited on the 16th of July, were the University of Lagos, Federal College of Education (Technical), FCE (T), Akoka, State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) Maryland, West African Examination Council (National) and West African Examination Council (International) at WAEC office, Yaba.
On the 17th of July, we visited Yaba College of Technology, Yaba, French Village, Badagry, Computer Professionals’ Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN) and the National Open University of Nigeria, Victoria Island.
Their problems were similar – challenges in the area of delayed funding from the federal budget and institutions’ huge expenditure on overheads such as power generating sets. The clear need for increased funding towards the upgrading of poor infrastructures was evident.
In August this year, the Federal Ministry of Education announced approval for the release of N25 billion to enable twelve tertiary institutions, including the University of Lagos, to upgrade and improve the teaching and learning environment, under the 2012 Special High Impact Programme Fund.
My membership of the Senate Education Committee has facilitated the release of N160 million from Technical Education Trust Fund for the development of our technical college in Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education. We are still expecting the release of additional resources for another institution in Ikorodu, Lagos State.
3. MARINE TRANSPORT
The Committee has jurisdiction over the Federal Ministry of Transport and its parastatals namely; Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, and Council for regulation of Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (CRFFN).
The Committee conducted hearings in July 2012, on the 2011 budget performance and proposals. Other policy issues examined towards moving Nigeria’s maritime sector forward include a sound policy framework for the sector, role conflict amongst the parastatals in the ministry, domestication of treaties, budgetary and revenue generation matters and petitions. The committee also identified the need to review the extant laws establishing the parastatals and agencies in Nigeria’s marine transport Sub-sector with a view to streamlining their functions.
We recently conducted an oversight visit to London from 5th September – 6th September 2012, on the National Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) of NIMASA. This programme by NIMASA is to address the dearth of Nigerian Seafarers and ultimately curb the shortage of local manpower. Presently, we have the unacceptable situation where all the vessels operations from and within our maritime waters are foreign built and owned.
We visited the North Tyneside College and met about 31 Nigerian youths from Niger, Kaduna and Benue States undergoing various trainings. The programme is designed to train Seafarers – Officers and Ratings- in select overseas institutions, to enable them get the requisite training preparatory to International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Certification.
We will have to work hard to ensure that most of these youths, after graduation will have a job to come back to because we do not have our own vessels yet.
4. TRADE AND INVESTMENT
After the visit of the Committee, issues on the matters involving Lagos State Government’s demand for the return of ownership of Tafawa Balewa Square are yet to be resolved. The Committee has called for a review of the concession agreement entered into by the Bureau of Public Enterprise.
At another oversight visit, the Committee expressed the need for the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) to go into revenue-generation partnerships and facilitate improvement in the finishing/packaging of export products. The Bills sent to the Senate are as follows:
– A Bill for an Act to amend the Consumer Protection Council Act No. 66 of 1992, to modify its composition, which widens its functions and powers in order to provide for a more effective Council.
– A Bill for an Act to amend the Nigerian Export Promotion Council Act No. 41 of 1988, to improve its effectiveness.
– Nigerian Trade and Competition Bill 2012.
– A Bill to repeal the Nigerian Export Processing Zones Act and establish a more effective Commission and Administrative Structure.
– A Bill to amend the Nigerian Export-Import Bank Act No. 38 of 1991 by increasing the authorised share capital of the bank and other related matters.
5. MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS (MDG)
The Committee is facilitating arrangements on the establishment of the proposed Skills and Acquisition Centre, both conventional and solar street lightening, and a 500 KVA transformer. The establishment of the Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre is on course. Both projects will be located at Gedegede in Eti-Osa Local Government.
6. WOMEN AFFAIRS AND YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
Among other findings, the Committee realized that none of the 34 Youth Development Centres that the Ministry of Youth Development began to construct in 2008 has been completed. The Committee has also shown concern on the welfare of the members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
Official documents also indicated that the Ministry of Women Affairs is still struggling to complete 48 Skills Acquisition Centres and 5 cassava/rice processing mills in various parts of the country.
Concerted efforts are required by all stakeholders to ensure that the two Ministries under this Committee actualize goals that can yield positive impact on the lives of our women and youth.
7. CONSTITUTION REVIEW
Over the years, Nigerians from various sectors continue to clamour for a review of our Constitution. Some have called for a Sovereign National Conference while others said it should just be a national conference.
One thing is evident, the 1999 Constitution that our country operates today is still a legacy of the military, and it falls short of some democratic ideals.
The Senate Committee held its Retreat on Constitutional Review from 19th – 22nd July, 2012, in Asaba, Delta State. From various memoranda received, issues that received attention borders on the following areas:
– Judicial reforms
– Creation of states
– Establishment of state police
– Devolution of powers
– Gender and special groups
– Extraction of the land use Act
– Code of conduct and NYSC Act
– Removal of immunity clause
– Citizenship and boundary adjustment provisions
The critical issues affecting Lagos State including the need to exercise states’ authority in the creation of Local Government Councils were raised. Also, the need to declare a Special Status for Lagos in the Constitution was brought up. However, we need to define what benefits the Special Status should confer. A mere pronouncement is not enough.
The Constitution is a very important document that I believe should originate from the people whose rights it seeks to protect. ACN is a grassroots party, which believes that democracy can be deepened if there is collective participation. I welcome useful feedbacks and suggestions in this regard. I urge you all, as groups and individuals to take active interest in this issue and mobilise support for the pro-people and progressive changes being championed by our party. Kindly meditate on the words of one of the founding fathers of the United States of America, Thomas Jefferson, who said, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty”.
B. AT THE CONSTITUENCY
My beliefs and convictions have not changed. Our slogan “The Time to Build is Now”, still stands. I still believe strongly that there is no other time to start the building process of our nation than now. It is not tomorrow, it is now; we should never be discouraged, the time to strengthen the very fabric that holds us together is now. This is the time to mend, patch and do all it takes to get us all on the path to a prosperous and progressive economy.
The American Secretary of State, Mrs. Hilary Clinton gave us a very strong message during her recent visit to Nigeria, when she said “the future of Nigeria is limitless but the most important task is making sure that there are better opportunities for all Nigerians, every young boy and girl to have the chance to fulfil his God-given potential”.
I share her thoughts and that is why despite the fact that we are not given a budgetary allocation in order to carry out projects, I have dedicated my salary and allowances to uplifting the down trodden in the society.
Just as I have made my own sacrifice, I expect all of us to play our part; I am convinced that good will come to us if we all try in every capacity to do so. This involves telling the truth, caring for others and having compassion for one another, with sincerity, commitment and passionate involvement in our common cause of pursuing progress and development.
At the last Town Hall Meeting in Apapa, I appealed to members of our Constituency to come to the office to let us know the areas where they would like to learn a skill, especially our unemployed youth. I thank the proprietor of Lady Mechanics Initiative, Engr. Sandra Aguebor-Ekperuoh, who was there personally to offer training to 10 ladies free of charge. Unfortunately, no one has taken up the offer yet. Training is available in two Lagos State Skills Acquisition Centres in our Senatorial District both in Surulere, Iyun road, and Lagos Island, Adeniji-Adele road.
Training is available in the following areas:
– Catering and Hotel Management
– Hat and Beads Making
Our revered Mama Elegant Twins, Chief (Mrs.) Osisanya, has also graciously reduced the cost of training for me to N50,000 to train students in Hair Dressing and N30,000 for Cosmetology. I am still waiting for parents to encourage their children who are unemployed to acquire some skills other than just the paper qualification.
On the 9th of September, 2012, we had the 2nd Edition of Senator Muniru Muse Soccer Cup for under- 12 boys and under- 15 girls, sponsored by the Lagos Central Senatorial District Office. The event attracted various dignitaries from all walks of life. It was chaired by Sir MoladeOkoya-Thomas, the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, H.E. Hon. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire was the Special Guest of Honour while Senator Muniru Muse, the initiator of the event was present. It was a relaxing day out for families and friends in our constituency.
On the 13th of September 2012, we held a meeting with the 26 beneficiaries of the Post Secondary Scholarship Scheme (PSSS) programme in our constituency. They were given words of advice and encouragement, fees for their 2nd year in school was also credited to their accounts.
We have started making arrangements for our next Town Hall Meeting in December. Our focus will be the elderly. So we implore our fathers and mothers, 65 years old and above to register with the wives of the Chairmen of their Local Government Areas or Local Council Development Areas (LGAs and LCDAs). Only 100 participants will be accommodated, on a first come, first serve basis. It will be like a Christmas party celebration in their various LGAs and LCDAs.
The programme is under our Elderly Citizens Assistance Scheme (ECAS). A sum of N10,000 will be given to each of our 1,300 participants of the Scheme.
You may recall that in the Senate, I have sponsored a Bill for an Act to establish a National Social Security Scheme for elderly persons in Nigeria and I pray that God will give those in charge of bringing the Bill back for the 3rd reading, the grace to do so and that they will appreciate the necessity for its implementation. Humanitarian issues concerning our deserving elderly ones should not be sabotaged on the basis of politics because we are all going to be old and grey someday.
In closing, I want us all to keep in mind, the need for collective responsibility. According to Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, “Every person above the ordinary has a certain mission that they are called to fulfil”. Each one of us has been given the capacity to touch other lives and contribute to the progress of our society. I say it is a duty and the whole essence of our humanity.
I leave you also with this thought from Horace, a Roman Poet “Politics is not an end, but a means. It is not a product, but a process. It is the art of government. Like other values, it has its counterfeits. So much emphasis has been placed upon the false that the significance of the true has been obscured and politics has come to convey the meaning of crafty and cunning selfishness, instead of candid and sincere service”.
As progressives, let us all rise with commitment and the spirit of service to contribute to the progress of our community, state and nation at large. Through collective responsibility, we can beat the odds of underdevelopment.
Thank you for listening.
God bless ACN!
God bless Lagos Central Senatorial District!
God bless Lagos State!
God bless our dear country, Nigeria!
Eko ‘o ni baje o!