While some people are of the view that Nigeria has achieved much in 61 years, the lawmaker representing Ojo Constituency 1 in the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Victor Olusegun Akande thinks otherwise.
Speaking in an interview with the crew of Buzznews Magazine, led by the Publisher, Mrs. Olufunmilayo Olowosegun, the lawmaker also speaks on VAT and open grazing laws and some other critical issues.
As Nigeria is celebrating her 61st independence anniversary, do we have cause to celebrate?
Let us celebrate life that we at this period are alive. Aside that, I will ask you, what are we celebrating. Are we celebrating our downtrodden economy and inability to move our development to the next level and insecurity. The only thing we can celebrate is being alive. Many things are so bad that we never envisaged after independence. How could we imagine that Nigeria would be at comatose after over 61 years of Independence. We thought we would have been one of the world’s powers and one of the best countries in the world by now, but that is not so. It is a pity that we still find ourselves in this tragedy. I don’t think if the right word to use is ‘celebrate’ or we should just think about our numerous problems. We have to go back to the drawing board to see why we are still where we are at this moment, what has led to our present situation and look inward to see how we can get out of this situation and forge ahead. So we don’t have much cause to celebrate.
But we have consistently had democratic rule for 21 years and people expected the political class to have done much, what do you think is wrong?
How old is Nigeria, 61 years. Remove 21 from 61, what happened to the rest 40 years
To destroy does not take long time, but to build takes time. You can destroy a building within one hour, but do you know how many weeks and months it would take to rebuild the house. Our scenario is like that. The process of building and rebuilding takes a longer time. It might take a government few years to destroy a nation, but it will take many years to build the nation. Look at the #EndSARS saga that occurred in Nigeria last year, how many days did it take them to destroy those things and do you know how many months it has taken Lagos State Government to rebuild the structures that were destroyed in the state and the financial implications that run into trillions of naira. If what we know is how to destroy, but we don’t know how to build, then there is a problem.
So, what is the way forward now?
Like I say, the way forward is to know where we are, where we are coming from and where we are going. The way forward is to think, rebuild ourselves and have the culture of good governance and good citizenship. It is not only the people in power that are destroying the scantity of the state, it includes the general public, everybody is involved. You cannot sow cassava and reap corn, it is not possible. It is what you sow that you will reap. If all that we have done is to build the people that will destroy the economy of the state and we don’t build people that can build then there is problem. It is the people we raise that we will put in government. The time for rebuilding is now, it is good for us to study where we got it wrong and amend. We should be thinking of industrialization in Nigeria. Nations such as Malaysia, China, and Singapore started from somewhere, they did not start in a day, it was a gradual process, so rebuilding is a gradual process.
How do we solve insecurity problem in Nigeria?
We are the architects of our own problem. We have to sit down and talk. Who are those causing insecurity, are they not citizens of Nigeria, what led them to what they are doing, how do we solve what they are doing? Number one, we have to reorientate ourselves and tell ourselves the truth. Reorientate comes with restructuring. We have to discuss among ourselves about how we want to live together. What happened in 1914 was a marriage of inconvenience, it’s like marrying a wife that was recommended by your parents, when there is no love and when you enter the marriage, it’s not easy to pull out. But if you must pull out it’s going to be gradual and it will take a lot of talking. If you are looking at the way forward on how to solve our problems, we need to sit together, there must be a referendum, we must agree that we want to live together and where it is not possible, we should find amicable settlements or we go our separate ways.
But we had one constitutional conference in 2014 and the APC government appears not to be interested in implementing it and they have not organised another one
…When you say APC government, it means you are from another planet or country. God will give you the type of leaders that you deserve at every point in time. So, it is better everybody gets that into his or her head. God has a hand in everything, sometimes God will raise a bad leader to punish the people to change their ways. They are our government and leaders and they are not bad.
Don’t you think the report of the 2014 constitutional conference ought to have been implemented?
Even at that, the people that were there, were they not selected, were they elected? The participants were not elected to represent the people, they were selected by the people in power then.
There is a war going on now on Value Added Tax (VAT), do you think states should collect it directly or allow the Federal Government to collect it and help poor states from it?
Though it is prejudice to talk about a case that is in court, one way or the other, the court itself listens to the agitations of the people and feels their pulse before giving verdict in a matter. Again, we are dealing with an issue of law, we have to explore all the laws in the country where is it written that VAT is on the exclusive list. The state can legislate or work on anything that is not on the exclusive list. Consumption tax or VAT, according to the Constitution, is not on the exclusive list. It is another means of generating revenue for the state. Let’s come to reality, if your state says it does not want alcohol to be consumed in the state so why do you want to share from what you tag as evil money with the states that allow consumption of alcohol, it doesn’t make sense. That is sheer stupidity and madness it means you are calling me a fool. We are generating N46 Billion and they are generating N2.8 Billion and they take the whole money and from the N46 Billion they give us N9 Billion, it is not right. If you are not working and I am working tirelessly I should be allowed to make use of my money and spend the money on the people that pay the money. It is the duty of a state house of assembly to make laws for the good governance of the state. So, if the state assembly consideres it as a duty and prerogative to make a law on an issue, so be it. They should put up the necessary law on this because if there is no law the state can be sued. There is nothing like double taxation, if the state has made the law they can agree with the federal government on what they would give them and it should not be more than that of any other state to encourage other states to start thinking.
Let’s us talk about open grazing that was made by southern states,that some people said the states cannot implement the law since they don’t have state police, what is your view on this?
Like I said, every state has a right to make laws for good governance as well as protection of lives and property. The law on open grazing has come to stay in the states where they made it. Let’s go to the rural areas, the people there go to farms and grow cassava and other crops. They supply foods to the city so that foods will be available, they produce the crops to generate money to send their children to school and do other things. Also, some of them engage in subsistence farming to take care of their families and somebody would now come and destroy the farmlands and you are saying that is normal. It is an abnormality of the highest order. You are making money from cattle rearing and I live my life on the farms and you are supporting someone to come and destroy my farms and pay nothing. How does it sound. If the states say they want to stop this, I am talking of what happens in the rural areas, so be it. The herders count cattle as their property and those in the rural areas live on farming. How can you allow another person to use his own property to destroy that of others. It in unheard of. So, how do we now marry these together, that is the concern of the states so that there won’t be marriage of inconvenience. They said those rearing animals should not use their property to destroy that of others. If the herders are helping some people to take care of their animals, let those people establish ranches for them to keep the animals. It is not only in Nigeria that they rear animals. Even what we rear here is rubbish, go to Burkina Faso and other countries and see how big their cattles are.
So how did you join politics?
Every human being is a politician one way or the other. I did not join politics, I was born into politics. Everybody practices politics, among your children you play politics. Politics is not what you join, we are born into politics. As I grew up I got more interested. It was when I got ready to exhibit it that I came out. Everybody is a politician, we weigh options on any issue and we go for the one that is the best. I started politics as a young man. It grew with me. Watch your children, the one that would be a politician you will know. I love to lead and it started from when I became a class captain and leader of groups. To be a class captain is politics because when they choose you, it is either you reject it or take it. Also, I don’t like seeing people being cheated and I always want to lead anywhere I am, I don’t want to play a second fiddle. Even if I am not the best and I have a better idea, I would impress it on you. We can now ask who are your role models, who do you want to follow. To be candid with you, I had always wanted to lead even when we were playing football, I want to score goals. When you do that you have the elements of politics in you. I have been in politics all my life. I have been a student union activist, I have been involved in many things. I was involved in campus politics and everybody knew me then. Whatever I do, even in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), they knew me even when I went to Law School in Abuja, they knew me.
So who are your mentors poitically?
Jesus Christ is my role model with the way he dealt with the people then. As a Catholic I studied him and the things he did then. Another person was my father. I saw him as a community leader, people brought their problems to him a solve, he was also a headmaster, I copied his good side and left the bad side. I am not perfect, I have my bad side too. Then I read so many books and watched so many people. When we were young, we watched the likes of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and I also admired Tunji Braitwhaite, I Iove the way he dressed then. I love him as he was the youngest then and also Professor Wole Soyinka. Moreso, you have to prepare yourself educationally, which was why I decided to read wide and ensured that I got the best of education.
So, who is Hon. Victor Akande?
I am Hon. Victor Olusegun Akande, son of Akande and Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, Public Petition, Human Rights and LASIEC. I have headed other committees in the past. I represent the good people of Ojo Constituency 1.
I was born in Badagry area of Lagos State, I went to OLA Primary School in Badagry, I did common entrance and I was the best or second best then. Later, I went to Oworo Ajido Grammar School. I left the place, it was close to Badagry and I later went to Badagry Grammar School, where I finished from. I then went for my A Levels and later I went to the School of Basic Studies, we were the first and the last set. I then went to the Lagos State University (LASU) to study Biological Science before going to the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) to study management studies. Then I did MBA, and Masters in Philosophy in OAU before I came back to LASU to study law. I did my second degree and in law and I have written so many professional exams and now I am rounding off my PhD programme in Law.
What are your guiding principles?
My guiding principle are to invest in yourself and do your best for yourself.
The National Leader of your party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu appears to be interested in becoming the president of Nigeria in 2023 despite his health challenges, what is your view on this?
By the grace of God, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu would become the president of Nigeria in 2023. He has built people, he has done a lot for the county, he has impacted and invested in people. Without Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu APC would not have come into being, we pray that they would reason quickly about this. Show me that man that after working so well would not get tired or need rest. Even engines need rest, if you don’t let a car engine rest, for instance, it would break down one day. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has worked so hard. All the problems of Nigeria, problems of Lagos State go to his table. Do you know how many people are in Lagos, over 25 million people and everybody wants to get across to him. Do you know how many people go to him from the South West, South East and even from the core North and he attends to everybody. Has he been so sick like some other people. Sometimes, we too get sick, but if it is him people would blow it. Your body also wants rest and you just have to rest. He needs to rest and think of how to solve all these problems in Nigeria. What the northern governors said recently cannot be the true position of all the governors. There would always be party agreement and when it is time they will know. How can they say it is unconstitutional now to zone presidency, was it not unconstitutional then, when it was zoned to the north and nobody came out against them from the South West. They should be very careful so that they won’t sent jitters on the fabric of the party so that we can continue to enjoy the peace we are enjoying.
How do you relax?
I love dancing and I was once a footballer. I love highlife and jazz music, I love Lagos highlife.