Pastor Kehinde Agboola is a member of the House of Representatives currently representing Ikole/Oye Federal Constituency. In this interview with Victor Sodeinde, the Federal lawmaker bares his mind on some national issues, including corruption, planned sale of national assets by the Federal Government and other matters. Excerpts:
How has your antecedent in politics prepared you for the current position you’ve found yourself?
It has made me to understand the needs of our people better. Every home in our Federal constituency and in Ekiti always place high value on the future of their children and what they give to them in this respect is quality education. An average Ekiti parent is happy when his child does well in school, and I believe with that, we can go far.
Could you tell us the motive behind your recent donation of educational materials to SS 3 students?
I suddenly discovered that once you have made WAEC or SSCE once in your life, you cannot go back to it, even when you go for PhD. As it’s the foundation of all academic success which once got, the future is bright. So I chose to empower the boys and girls in our secondary schools with school materials, especially now that there is widespread economic hardship and morale is very low. I arranged for three summers of teaching for them, where I engaged teachers and paid them far more than they earn and they concentrate on English, Math, Economics, Physics, Accounts and Chemistry, which I know would help them go far in both WAEC and JAMB. I also distributed to each of the students past questions on these subjects dating from 1988 to 2016.
Please, expatriate on your earlier opinion that the TSA has been responsible for recession?
It is money that works, idle money will not work. You see, it is true that the banks make money from government deposits with them, but that investment also generate employment for our people. You don’t just look at profit alone. Now, the government in the name of Single Treasury Account withdrew these monies from the banks and the banks are retrenching because they can’t make profits. The stock environment is now bad as nobody is putting money there again. If the stock is still okay, we can then say people should buy more shares but none would do that now, since the ones already bought in those days ended up going down the drain. Now, government wants to buy the National Assembly to see how this money can translate to activity; there wouldn’t have been any need for that. In each of the universities before now, the management usually generated alternative means of getting internal funding such as production of water for students, ICT and all that. But now everything would go away because of TSA. Our money would just be there idle in the CBN and not being useful to boost business transaction.
Mr. President is eating free food, travelling around in free plane. He doesn’t know how bad our roads are. He doesn’t even know much about the overwhelming kidnapping that has been on our roads. These are things those of us who represent our people knoW
What do you think is a solution to the present economic recession?
I agree that it is good to fight corruption, but what led to corruption in the first instance is the fear of the unknown. They are corrupt because they feel their future is not secure. Their community would still demand from them even ten years after leaving office; so they want to secure their future. Today, Mr. President is not always around. He’s busy traveling up and down. We are at a function now and my people would expect me to donate money. They cannot invite the President to such a function, even if they invited him, he won’t come. Mr. President is eating free food, travelling around in free plane. He doesn’t know how bad our roads are. He doesn’t even know much about the overwhelming kidnapping that has been on our roads. These are things those of us who represent our people know. Even if you want to see Mr. President, you won’t be able to see him because he is very busy. During the former president’s time, the APC was criticising him for traveling around; now that they are there, have you seen any change?
What I’m saying is that let’s take the life of a counselor, a local government chairman or a lawmaker; let’s appraise them and find out how they spend money every day on their people. Nobody wants to know. The people in the civil service are rising, nobody cares to know what the allowance of a permanent secretary is or that of a director or a minister looks like. But once they appoint you as a minister, if your own brother doesn’t want to disturb you, his friends and associates will make him do and also bother you for one help or the other. And when they start to invite you to one occasion or the other, you become the face of government. All these are part of the cause, and whatever you do there is government and if you perform woefully, it is government. How I wish Mr. President is young so that he can contest the next election and see how terrible it would be. Let them bring soldiers, they won’t win because there is hunger in the land. And it is simply because they are fighting corruption without human face.
What can you say about the recent faceoff between Buhari and his wife?
I sympathize with Mr. President and his wife. But the truth the President should realize is that madam is his very sincere supporter because she is the one who has been able to echo the mind of the masses who might have reached out to her and intimate her with their plight. There is no office for the first lady. Agreed! But people would come to her for help. She can only assist by probably getting employment for them to secure their lives. Nobody is listening to madam and truly we all face that challenge. The people mount a lot of pressure on us. Family members mount pressure on us. Most politicians’ homes have been scattered because of the pressure from the society, because many are not employed and there is widespread poverty.
How I wish Mr. President had employed maturity and avoided the question requesting his response to madam’s outburst, instead of him saying that madam belonged to the kitchen. That clearly shows that he is still thinking in the era of 1983. Madam can now agree that the President is old.
What is your reaction on the proposed sale of some national assets?
If truly the government wants to fight corruption, they should not sell our national assets. It cannot be the order of the day that every government should sell our assets. They want to sell to some individuals, who have always benefitted from this arrangement. Two, if we are in a mess, let those who have always benefitted from Nigeria come back and bail us out. In fact, they should give us soft loans. They told us that when we had manufacturers of cement on our own soil, cement price would drop. But that is not the case now. It’s skyrocketing. How are we sure that if the same people build a refinery, it would bring down the price of fuel? We should watch it. Let us also take note of this, if we sell our assets now to finance one year out of four years, what would we sell to finance bugdets of the subsequent years? What is the guarantee that the sale of the assets would bring us out of the woods?
Sometimes ago, they said it was Jonathan’s government that was corrupt; they told us that they had recovered so much money, let’s then use this money They say they have to go through some process, may be they didn’t know before these are issues. I want to advise the FG that it should not sell our national assets. They talked about selling the National Assembly and I said okay, after all, they sold our houses. But we want them to start with the Presidential villa. Often times, we personalise issues, we don’t know that when we also get there, we would goof. Before they got power, they criticised government for having many aircraft in the presidential fleet. Now they are there, what have they done to the fleet? When the pressure was much, they said they gave it to the AirForce; indirectly they will still budget for the maintenance of the two jets for the Airforce and the same Presidency will still come back to hire them free of charge from the Airforce. So, nobody has sold any of the jets. The meaning of that is that we actually need these things, let nobody deceive us. We cannot sell them, we should rather keep maintaining them for our continued use. God help us.
Governor Ayo Fayose has spent two years in office. What’s your opinion about his administration?
About Governor Fayose, we can only continue to pray for him. Even his enemies agree that he is performing. I want to advise Ekiti people that we need patience, times are hard now. We should remember in 2005, Fayose gave 13th month salary bonus to civil servants in Ekiti. That was the first and only time it would happen in Nigeria. When he was chased out in 2006, he left N10 billion in the coffers of the state. Today, you can see the difference. Thank God we have him again as governor in this era of economic crisis, our case would have been worse. I want to encourage Ekiti people to keep supporting the governor to remain focused and not be bothered by the lies of his detractors. His love for the people, his forgiveness and his idea of bringing all on board. He should continue. I also pray for his family, his wife and children for supporting him. God will be with them. APC should stay away from Ekiti. It is Fayose that we know in Ekiti, not any party. This is not Edo. They should remember 1983. They should remember the problem of Nigeria at the time of the Wild Wild West and stay away from trouble. When they were incumbent, we gave them 16: 0. This time around, you can also see that nobody will vote them. If a governor can be going all about town at 8pm putting up street lights while huge crowd of people follow him, you can see that he’s performing. If he is not performing, he would have been afraid to go from one town to the other in the night and putting up street lights in all communities he has constructed dual carriageways for the people.