Hon. Victor Akande (PDP, Ojo Constituency 1) is a first time member of the Lagos State House of Assembly (LAHA). In this interview, he speaks on how the legislators work with state government and the controversies shaping the future of PDP in Lagos State. Excerpts:
How will you describe your legislative experience in the last one year in the Assembly?
The experience has been wonderful but tasking. People expect a lot from us as their representatives. However, the irony of the job is in the fact that people keep mixing it with that of the executive arm. They are not looking at the aspect of our works, which is to legislate, make good laws for the development of the country. Most people are expecting us to secure jobs for them or give them money to solve their personal problems. In fact, that is the biggest of the challenges. There are some who are expecting us to fix the roads in their domains among other expectations. And when you look back and see that most of the amenities that people in your communities enjoy are in disarray, and you are incapacitated in helping them, you feel sad.
Don’t you think such expectations are justified, after all politicians make bogus promises during campaign?
Well, we are all guilty of that. And the reason is not far-fetched. Anytime you are coming in to the office for the first time, we all do have impression that we can do these and that. But, when you are eventually elected, what you have is controlled power. For instance, you have the power to attract projects to your constituency through lobbying, but you lack the power to approve it on your own. Maybe, if they announce vacancy for 200 positions, you may only have the influence to get one or two slot for your people. This is because you are not the only one. Lagos is too big for one person. Your constituency is too big for just only you. There are some other bigwigs within the constituency, whom the governor himself cannot say no to, if they demand anything from him.
If you say you don’t have power to execute projects, what happens to your constituency allowances?
There is nothing like constituency allowance anymore. The little being added to our money now is just to pay the salaries of our aides. What you can do is to identify those projects within your constituency, which you feel need to be attended to, and when the executive brings budget proposal, we (lawmakers) put them together in form of packages, which will then be returned to the executive to include in their budget.
As a member of the opposition party, how far will you say you have been able to discharge your duty on the floor of the House?
Well, we thank God for the wisdom of the speaker. He has been using wisdom to carry everybody along. We don’t really have to be at each other’s throats when we are doing the right thing. He has listening ears. When you have such a person as a friend, why should there be quarrel?
Don’t you think the smooth relationship may mean you are being used as rubber stamps when by the governor?
You need to come to the floor of the House and see how we debate. There is no issue of rubber stamping the policies of the governor. Politicking has gone beyond fighting which at the end of the day you don’t attract anything to your constituency. You have to be proactive and objective. I am one of the vocal opposition voices in the House and people know that I don’t compromise. I do criticise where I think I should.
Your party, PDP, has just elected a new chairman in Lagos State. How will you describe the development?
There was nothing like that. Is it possible for my party to hold a its congress and, I, who represents the entire people of Ojo Constituency 1 at the Assembly will not be unaware? Whoever that is pulling such a joke should stop. How can people who cannot win a polling booth in front of their houses attempt to hijack the PDP from those that won in their own places? I’m not aware of any congress where a new chairman was elected. What I am aware of is the fact that there is an ongoing truce being midwifed by former Kano State Governor, Ibrahim Shekarau.