By Henry Odeh
SPEAKER OF THE OYO STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY RIGHT HONOURABLE DEBO OGUNDOYIN’S LIVE INTERVIEW WITH MAYOR ISAAC BROWN ON FRESH 105.9 FM IBADAN’S POLITICAL CIRCUIT PROGRAMME (10 AM, JUNE 13, 2020)
Mayor: still at the south west political headquarters, where we report you decide, the Right Honourable Speaker of the Oyo state house of assembly, the ninth assembly, Honourable Debo Ogundoyin is already live with us. Good morning Mr. Speaker.
Speaker cuts in, Mr. Isaac, I’m glad to be here and I greet the people of Oyo state and beyond, Good Morning and it is my pleasure to be here.
Mayor: I must also acknowledge and appreciate your commitment, you’ve always demonstrated that you’re a gentleman; immediately you were sworn in, you said you’ll be coming here live for your first major interview, you did. You also gave your word that once you clock a year in office, the first radio station you will be coming to, to give record of your stewardship will be Fresh FM, that you’ve also honoured this morning, we thank you on behalf of the chairman, Dr. Yinka Ayefele, MON and entire members of staff of Fresh FM, we appreciate your ability to respond anytime we call upon you.
Speaker cuts in, Thank you so much, it is my pleasure to be here as always.
Mayor: Would you say it was nothing but fake, because, in the last couple of weeks, the Oyo state house of assembly has been agog with a lot of stories that a faction is supporting the deputy governor and a faction wants to remove the deputy governor, we know in power play, you can’t rule out such, would you really say that all those media skirmishes we are hearing about instability in the ninth house of assembly are power play or mischief on the part of some folks and how would you describe the unity in the ninth assembly?
Speaker: To be honest within the assembly because there are separate arms of government, the legislative and the executive, it is obvious and clear that in the executive, there is no power play because there is one power and that is the executive governor. In terms of whatever happens in the executive, I’m sure according to my own knowledge everything is 100 percent under control. On the other hand, you can never rule out mischief makers within every government because in democracy there will always be an opposition and the beauty of democracy is the freedom of speech, movement and the freedom to think whatever you choose to, so we can never rule that out, but we have to deal with it and make sure we don’t get distracted by it. So, what we’ve decided to do as a government is to make sure all our plans and visions going into this tenure is achieved and that shall be achieved by God’s grace without getting distracted. Also, in the house of assembly, either in the national or in the state level, because it is a situation whereby everybody is representing his own constituency and the position like the speaker or position of principal offices within the assembly, is a situation of the first among equals so with the way that my principal officers treat the members of the house and also the way honourable members respond, it shows that there is togetherness and unity within the house of assembly which further prove that this house of assembly as coined by the people of the state and even some sections of the media is a house of innovation. We are new and forward thinking; by all means we shall avoid the mistakes of the previous assemblies.
MAYOR: Sincerely speaking, was there any time in the last 365 days that you felt your position as the speaker, Oyo state house of assembly was threatened?
SPEAKER: Let me be sincere and honest, what I’ve noticed or learnt in my one year as speaker is that not just Oyo state house of assembly or state houses of assembly even nationally, the position of the house when it comes to the leadership of the house, you always have to be on your toes and deliver not just for the honourable members in the house but most importantly for the people of the state because as a house of assembly, we are saddled with responsibility to be the voice of the people within the house, we are saddled with responsibility of checking and check mating the executive arm of government to make sure that we do not fall into a dictatorship kind of rule and we are also saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that the promise of the state governor is kept for the people, so, combining all these responsibilities at once, sometime, for somebody who is not trained, it could be overwhelming but I thank God for my background, I thank God for the support I’ve gotten from honourable members within the house and also for the support I’ve gotten from people generally all over the state and beyond and to be honest, I will say that, so far, so good, I’ve been able to stabilise the house with the help of God and with the help of the members we’ve decided on a legislative agenda moving forward so the people can benefit because we can’t always be thinking about our own personal gains and achievements, we also have to think about what is in it for the people of the state, we have to change the narrative of politics and politicians from the old to the new, we are here to serve and to protect lives and properties and we are here to represent the people to the best of our abilities and in so doing, we have shed away our ambition, wants and needs. And as we’ve put in, in this position, we’ve to deliver to the people, so when tomorrow comes, the people will realise that we’ve set a new trend and we can be regarded as the best house of assembly that has ever been.
MAYOR: Prior to the approval by President Muhammadu Buhari of the new initiative on financial autonomy for the state house of assembly just like the judiciary, how well would you say you’ve represented the interest of members of Oyo state house of assembly, in terms of their welfare in the last one year?
SPEAKER: Let me put it this way, for we the state house of assembly, I would say for the position of my members and the staff, there is nothing that is our entitlement that we have not received, I can say that boldly and I’m sure that the other 31 members of assembly can also boldly say that and we give kudos to the Governor for taking care of the assembly members and we give kudos to the assembly members also for their patience because some of these things might not come in a twinkle of an eye because resources are scarce and limited and also considering the fact that we decided to make sacrifices for the benefit of the people of the state, for example, we decided to reduce the running cost of the house of assembly alongside our salary to ensure that state is not overburdened with financial responsibility in terms of COVID-19 pandemic, so, today we are living off a 30 percent reduction of our running cost and other allowances that we might be receiving. Another thing that I will also give kudos to the state government is for their transparency in terms of managing this whole situation, the various committees have had access to the finances and we’ve had access to the donation both financially and materials as well as how they have been distributed according to letters put forward to us by the state government.
MAYOR: The current house of assembly, the ninth assembly, you’re encouraging dictatorship, PDP controls almost 26 members including you and that every bill from the executive, you don’t even go through most them, the issue of various loans have been cited by most commentators and public affairs analysts, how are you ensuring that you and other members of the house are not lapdogs of the executive? How diligent are you in considering executive bills?
SPEAKER: When you go to the restaurant and you order food, you sit at the reception but you don’t know what happens in the kitchen, you just know your food is serve perfect and you enjoy your meal and leave, so, it is the same thing that is happening to bills like this or request from the executive, a lot things have gone on at the background, so we are just bringing the dish forward in the spirit of transparency so that we can all know exactly what is going on. For example, the loan, there are two things you can spend the loan on, on capital projects and on recurrent expenditures, I for one will never support loans being spent on recurrent expenditure because it does not translate to development and something you cannot account for, but, when money is spent on capital project or infrastructure, this gives us the opportunity to actually monitor the expenditure. It also gives the people the opportunity to benefit from government as well as give everybody to see actually where the money is going to, for example, some people got it wrong by saying the Agricultural Grant of 7.6 billion naira was from this our administration but the truth about that grant is that it was from the last administration. It was going to be used at the last administration to buy tractors but we put an injunction on it. So to develop our agribusiness, we’ve been able to set up Akufo farm settlement and Eruwa farm settlement from the grant. Our goal is to make Oyo state a module in Nigeria in the area of diversifying the economy.
MAYOR: There is a sublime argument to this, you’re for infrastructural development, but bus terminal who does it help? That is the question everybody is asking, your house approved it, tell me how it will benefit me and all in the long run.
SPEAKER: Let me you give an example, years back, the last administration, when you take interstate bus at the garage, you see a situation whereby it is not organised, you see a situation whereby there is extortion especially for the transporters and situation whereby the state government suffers in revenue that it’s supposed to generate, you see other underlying problems that we face. So, those are the problems the bus terminal will eradicate once and for all.
MAYOR: Does it really worth it to spend 15 billion naira to eradicate these problems you mentioned?
SPEAKER: You look at 15 billion naira like money being thrown away, no, the 15 billion naira will plough back into the coffers of the state, how? In the situation whereby NURTW are the go to guys in remitting of revenues to the state, that will be eradicated,
Mayor cuts in, Honourable speaker the PMS initiative is already making the money, so, then the bus terminal project does not add up.
SPEAKER: The bus terminal will add value to the state. In the next twenty years, the project will still stand and in the couple of years we’re going to make the money that has been expended back even more. If you look at where the bus terminal are positioned you will see that they are the hotspot of the state.
MAYOR: Could you tell us the number of bills that this current house under your leadership have been able to reel out in the last 365 days?
SPEAKER: I’ll be honest, I’m very proud of the situation that we’ve in the Oyo state house of assembly because my target initially is that if could pass 25 bills in the first year, but, I’m glad to announce that we passed 26 bills, although there are 34 bills that have passed through first and second reading and at the beginning I made sure that we are all on the same page with the staff of the assembly as well as members of the assembly not to pass bills for numbers but pass them because they are effective and they will change lives and I can assure you that the 26 bills passed are geared towards changing the lives of the people and the social fabric of the state. I’m also happy that the assembly is working with executive arm of government. However, there is always room for improvement and we listen to criticisms. Most of the executive bills concern the ministry they chose to set up, for example, the ministry of budget and planning taken away from the ministry of finance. Also, members sponsored some bills. The Amotekun bill, the names have been sent to assembly for approval, the committee on security is working on the names for approval, so soon Amotekun would take off. Amotekun is also tied to the Anti-Grazing law, so all the bills have to work together. To the current situation of rape, I’m very concerned because what I have noticed is that the conviction rate is the problem we’re having generally in Nigeria but we’re telling victims, they should not be frightened or threatened, they should come out, we will protect them. What the state government is doing is to come up with helpline domiciled in the ministry of women affairs and social inclusion which people that have been molested or raped can call in and the government will represent them in court.
MAYOR: I’m aware that yesterday (Friday) you were involved in some couple of commissioning, what have you actually been able to do for your people as a speaker aside lawmaking?
SPEAKER: What I did yesterday was I built a mosque, because I saw the need for it, I decided that out of my own little, I will personally build a mosque for them, I’m happy and I give God the glory that I was able to commission the mosque. In the same vein, I also visited a village, Lagaye situated in Eruwa and based on the villagers’ complaint of a woman who had a baby in transit; so, I decided to build a maternity centre to be converted to a primary health care centre.
BABALOLA: We are not in short supply of these bills, implementation is the major problem, and how are you making sure that the governor implements these bills for the good of the masses? Former governor Abiola Ajimobi constructed a number of motor parks; I remember one at Gbagi along Ife road, what will happen to that project now that the government is constructing another one at Iwo road? How are you reaching out to members of your constituencies to hear the problems they have on a daily basis?
SPEAKER: If you follow the trend of the house of assembly in terms of motion, you will see that the honourable members always go back to some issues especially when they’ve not been properly implemented, for example, we had the Amotekun motion urging the executive to speedily implement the Amotekun, the governor responded in the next two days and he also told us the challenge they had especially with COVID-19, if not it would have been implemented. We’re following up with all the activities of the executive to make sure they implement everything that will benefit the people. Secondly, about what would happen to the old motor parks built by the governor, you can’t compare the project at Gbagi to the current project we’re working on now, the primary project we’re working on now mainly helps the transit of commuters both in the state and those moving across states, so, that alone would boost the IGR of the state and also make the transport system more organised.
DARE: Listening to those who were condemning the house for approving 40.something billion thus far with a speed of light in just one year,we were shocked when the news came from abeokuta ,your colleagues from Ogun state were more audacious, 250 billion they approved for Gov Dapo Abiodun,250 billion, I think we should commend you .Rt hon speaker,Pres Muhammad Buhari did something did something a few weeks ago,he signed an executive order No 10 which makes it criminal for any Governor to deny the state house of assembly its financial autonomy, I recalled the Bukola Saraki led Assembly, there are two ways to amend the constitution, you either go through the normal statewide amendment or you alter a section of the constitution, during the Saraki led assembly, there were attempts to alter the constitution through the normal constitution amendment, it did not fly at the state assemblies,so the Saraki led national assembly now took a decision to alter section 121 to pave the way for what we now have as financial autonomy for the state house assemblies. Everybody is commending the President but the State governors are not happy about the financial autonomy order signed by President Buhari.
I also recalled there was a breakfast meeting May 26th that you and your colleagues held with the Gov in government house and there are rumours that this meeting is connected to this executive order by President Buhari, maybe its going to fly in Oyo state, maybe, the Gov is not happy, you have this opportunity now,with the biggest microphone to explain to doubting thomases carrying about this rumours and secondly,I was listening to Mayor and Dembab when they were talking about your first election, we cant talk about your speakership without talking about your first election and of course the role INEC played in that first election, would you say inec used that first election to send the message that oh in this state votes are being to count and what also happened in 2019 ,what’s your take on your election and the role played by inec, Thank You
Bisi Oladele, Thank you very much, let me also join my other colleagues to congratulate esteemed speaker rt hon adebo ogundoyin speaker Oyo state house of assembly, the house has been stable for 1yr that you became the speaker even though there will always be one or two skirmishes here and there but thank God that you are above them all by his Grace, so congratulations.
One of the very first issues that came up in this administration was this issue of 7.6b that the government chose to use for farm settlements, we have enough information on it already, surprisingly, the money came to Oyo state govt since 1yr ago and 1yr after we are yet yo see the implementations, the use of that fund,would you like to tell us reasons for the delay, I remember the hot controversy that greeted the selection of those 2 pilots projects at the house of assembly then and the answer giving by the government including your very respectable self was it was just going to be a pilot that others would follow, so if 1yr after,the pilot is yet to take off,so we need some explanations on that and secondly when you were giving an explanation to justify 15b loan to be used for bus terminals, they are lofty projects, I agree but I need some explanations if you are so sure,the project will pay for itself, why didn’t you and this government consider the option of PPP,why did it become a priority the level that the government went to borrow from a commercial bank which we know will normally charge higher interest rates, how is it a priority that this state at this point in time to spend 15b of a loan sourced from a commercial bank on such project, I think a lot of people will agree that if you are so confident that it would bring back the money so quickly, ppp would have been a better idea and that money would have been ploughed into other areas that would have helped the government and the people generally
SPEAKER:: Firstly, about the executive order and financial autonomy of the state house of assembly, it is true we had a meeting with his Excellency the executive governor of Oyo state on the 26th of last month May and in the meeting we also spoke about not just the financial autonomy but the state of the state.we have this breakfast meeting every month when the legislative meet with the executive to see we are in tandem and still on course to achieve our 4year plan and in this meeting the case of when the executive order came up,the position of our Governor, I don’t know the position of other governors on how they are feeling about it. the governor in our inauguration of our house of assembly I remember that day,which everybody too remember ,he also remind us is that he has already promised us that before his tenure is up, he will find a working module,a localized within our state as to give us our financial autonomy, this was even before the executive order on financial autonomy came up. So, what we are doing now is weve been working on a bill in the house of assembly, it’s one of the Bill’s that has not been passed yet because we are now taking about implementations of these bill as the most important thing ,Theres no point writing a bill that will not be implemented. So what we are doing carefully, working in tandem with the executive is to make sure whatever bill we are coming up with is the bill that will be passed and will be implemented by the executive armof government, so in so doing we have decided to do is in agreement with the Gov is that we are coming up with a committee, a 21-man committee, seven from each arm of government from the executive arm of government that is going to be headed by the SSG and from the legislative, its going to be headed by the Speaker, from the judiciary there is also going to be headed by the Chief Judge .So what we are trying to do in this aspect is to bring all the arms of government together for them to sit down with accountant-general and auditor-general, the commissioner for finance, the attorney general and commissioner of justice ,we are also going to be sitting down with the clerk of the house, DFA,director of finance in the state house of assembly, the chairman committee on Apporpriation ,so all the the tendencies will have to sit down to come up with a module on how we can actually implement our own financial autonomy within Oyo state not really regarding what any other state is doing. In Lagos state they’re practising financial autonomy, in Delta state they are practising financial autonomy and their own solution was brought by their own local agreement within their own state that will fit their own Situationand conditions,and dont let us forget that, lagos state IGR alone is a combination of six states including Oyo state is not even up to Lagos IGR…So we have to understand the difference in the IGR growth which now takes me to your question Mr Bisi Oladele whyThe issue of why not PPP for the bus terminal, we’re trying to increase our IGR.Left to me the target for our IGR could be audacious, we could say let’s even raise our IGR to say N5b per month, why not,we are only 120km away from Lagos state, we should be benefiting from lots of things Lagos state is benefiting from,the same way Ogun state is benefiting from Lagos state.Thats why Ogun state can be audacious enough to ask for a loan of N250b,and heaven has not fallen in Ogun state but in Oyo state here,we decided to go for a loan of N20b to improve our lives,to improve our infrastructure, to support and increase our IGR and all of a sudden, everybody is wondering like maybe this government is looking to syphon the money which is against our principle. The books are always open to the public, whatever we are doing is always open to the public and I can assure you there is going to be total transparency in executing any project in Oyo state. So our priority is to increase the IGR no matter what obstacle, no matter what hurdles we go through, why not increase our IGR,that’s the question we should be asking ourselves, how can we increase our IGR, we all have to work together in order to ensure that we increase the IGR that of Oyo state and then going back to the issue of Inec in my election, I give kudos to Inec,I give kudos to the people of my constituency and then in a lot of ways, this state is peculiar to itself, what stand in a state may not stand in another state. What happened in Kogi cannot happened in Oyo because the will of the people supersede other individual interest and the people of Oyo will be ready to fight for their mandate regardless of what happened because we are politically more advanced than most of other states we have in Nigeria. So Inec too understand the peculiarity of each state, so what I propose is that the youths of each of these states should start to stand by their mandate, should stand to change the political dynamics in each of their communities in order for them to fight for what they want, look at what is happening in America, everybody is standing, protesting against, we can breathe, everybody is protesting against that,if that happened in Nigeria, for Sowore,how many people went out,for other civil right activists, how many people went out,you just see handful of people but what we know how to do is to go behind our keyboard and start typing and expect the youths to come out,call me I’m available, let’s all engineer change we are looking for, lets be the agent for change within Nigeria, we cannot just sit down and expect our leaders to change lets us ,we have to make our leaders uncomfortable in their seats and that’s what I’m agitating for, I’m always available for support. In terms of going back to Mr Oladele on the issue of N27.6b for farm settlements, it took a while for the fund to be accessed, the money has been approved since last year, I stand to correct that impression, the money was just released in March of this year, the money has been delayed because from the past we had issues accessing that money and at a point, we lost it if not for the j will say the the political will of our Governor in other to make sure that money came to Oyo state back to Oyo state, we wouldn’t be even have any conversation about the farm settlements, So I give kudos to the Gov for fighting for the money, for ensuring that the people of Oyo state will benefit from that grant and I’m happy to announce that from July according to the executive, the project will start to be implemented in various farm settlements, so in terms of the N7.6b ,the bill had to be passed at first,the Oysada bill ,the Oyo state agricbusiness, it’s no more oysadep, it’s now oysada ,we are changing the narratives from the old to the new ,the new which is agricbusiness ,which the old was just agriculture and extension programmes.im very happy to be part of these whole discussions this morning
MAYOR: Was your position as the speaker of the house ever threatened?whose idea was it to pass vote of confidence on the Governor in a Presidential system of government
SPEAKER: The truth of the matter is, personally, I read that my position as the speaker was being threatened online, I had to call some of my members to ask maybe they know something I don’t know and we called a general meeting amongst ourselves and behind closed doors first among PDP caucus and then the whole house,we put a vote of confidence in the leadership of the house and since then we’ve not looked back on the issue of impeachment or no impeachment and on hon Akinajo it wasn’t punishment, What you don’t know is that in the next sitting of the whole house , a lot of reshuffling will be going on .What happened initially was that we are going to do a lot of reshuffle in order for the committees to be more effective because when you first get to school you do different aspects before you now settle in as some chairmen maybe performing while some may be below the par.
MAYOR: You’re one of the leaders of the PDP apart from your position as the speaker of the house .1 yr after, what will you say about the relationship between the governor and leadership of the coalition partners that brought him in,the ADC,ZLP, I know you are very close to Sen Adewolu Ladoja and are you doing anything to mend their relationship 1 yr After..
SPEAKER: All what we discussed this morning, we just scratched the surface of what my position entails, but I will say in order for me not to have grey hair in such an early age, let me even first finish the work at hand.Imagine what weve been discussing, we have not even talked about 10% of the job I’m doing and you now want me bring Political ZLP and Co ahhh, can’t over extend myself to the detriment of my job description as the speaker of the house.(Mayor Cuts in..when last did you speak with Sen Lanlehin and Alogun Sarafa Alli)..
During the fast,I extended my greetings to all of them, Barr Sarafa Alli ,Sen Lanlehin, I carry everybody along as much as possible but I can’t over extend myself to the detriment of my job description as Speaker of the house, so if you remember when the reconciliation and agreement were been made, I was in ibarapa running around for my campaign.
MAYOR: I must really thank you Right Honourable Adebo Ogundoyin, the speaker of the Oyo state house of assembly.