By: Kayode Odunaro
For a renewed four years mandate that kicked off on June 11th, 2019 with the election of Senator Ahmad Lawan as the President of the Senate and Chairman of the National Assembly, June 11, 2021 marked yet another important milestone for elected legislators of the 9th National Assembly. A mid-term assessment of tenure for legislators is therefore appropriate for any legislators to know if they are living up to expectation of their constituents even in the face of huge challenges facing government at all levels
As a ranking senator and legislator, Senator Adeola set out quite early to ensure he deliver on the core mandate that had seen him win popularly contested elections consecutively for five times from state legislature to the national parliament. Predictably he was equally involved in the intrigues resulting in the setting up of the leadership of the 9th Senate and the constitution of its 70 Standing Committees. He was made the chairman of the important Senate Committee on Finance as well as member of the Appropriation, Local Content, Science and Technology, Banking, Insurance and Financial Institution, Health (Primary and Tertiary), Aviation and Inter- Parliamentary Affairs Committees. This was quite unlike his first term in the 8th Senate when even as a ranking legislator, he was only giving a Vice Chairman of a Committee on account of his principled stand for his party, APC. The anomaly was only remedied towards the end of the 8th Senate when he was made the pioneer Chairman of the newly formed Senate Committee on Local Content.
With the 9th Senate fully constituted late in 2019, Senator Adeola directed his focus on the defining aspect of his work which is law making and sponsored and 10 Bills, two of which has been passed by the Senate while a third awaits Senate passage having successfully gone through all legislative stage including public hearing. They are: 1. “A Bill to Provide for the Establishment of Federal University of Technology, Yaba and other matters, 2020” (SB.63) Passed; 2. “Federal University of Technology, Ilaro (Est, etc), 2019” (SB. 84) Passed; 3. “A Bill for an Act to Provide for the Establishment of Nigeria French Language Village as an Inter University Centre for French Studies and other matters Connected therewith, 2020(SB.483) (Awaiting Passage after public hearing); 4. “Niger Delta Development Commission Act No. 6, 2000 (Amendment) Bill 2019” (SB.273); 5. “Medical Rehabilitation Therapist (Reg, etc) 2020” (SB. 352); 6. “A Bill for an Act to Alter the Provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to give Recognition to the Six Geo-Political Zones and other matters,2020” (SB. 274). 7. “A Bill for an Act to Amend the Human Right Commission Act, CAP N46, LFN, 2004 by Vesting Power to Investigate and Prosecute Allegation of Extra Judicial Killing by Armed Officers of Organs of FGN in National Human Right Commission and her Agents,2020” (SB.526); Three other drafted bills have been presented for first reading but are waiting scheduling to be so read. Among these are: “A Bill for an Act to Alter the Constitutions of FRN,1999 to Provide for Uniform Pension Rights for Judicial Officers in Nigeria and Other matters Connected therewith,2020” among others. No doubt these bills that dwell on educational development, constitutional and institutional development and human rights issues will be passed in due course. In the last two years, Senator Adeola has been instrumental to the passage of two Executive Bill that have been assented to by President Mohammadu Buhari namely the landmark Finance Bill 2019 upon which the 2020 Appropriation Act funding is mostly predicated on and Finance Bill 2020. It took sleepless nights in the office for the senator and his staff to pull off the passage of this important bills into law in record time. From all indication the laws are regarded as revolutionary as it foresaw and took into account the shock that COVID-19 and similar brought to Nigerian economy in terms of what is now stimulus to the economy following the devastation of COVID-19 pandemic.
Related to the above and pursuant of the passage of the 2020 Appropriation Act was the passage of the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) and that of 2021-2023 upon which passage of any federal budget is predicated being determinants of such thing as the Crude Oil Benchmark and other projected revenue sources. It was the Senator Adeola’s Finance Committee that worked tirelessly to get it passed in time after a public hearing which ultimately ensured that our budget reverted to the January-December time line after almost two decades of disruption of the normal January-December budget cycle. With the disruption of COVID-19 and the introduction of a revised 2020 Appropriation bill by the Executive as 2020 Appropriation Act (Amendment) Bill, Senator Adeola’s Finance Committee has quickly held an interactive session on a revised MTEF and FSP document and its report has been approved by the Senate preparatory to passage of the revised 2020 Budget. So in two years Senator Adeola’s committee had worked on three MTEF and FSP document instead of two!
In the area of oversight Senator Adeola has successfully 7 moved motions that resulted in Senate Resolutions for which action was taken. These are the motion on Ijegun Pipeline Explosion; the motion for Investigation of Non Repairs of Lagos-Ota -Abeokuta Express Road; the motion on Abule-Ado, Amuwo-Odofin Explosion, the motion on Ifako- Ijaiye, Ile Epo Ga Tanker Explosion, the motion to reduce the disparities between lending rates and deposit rates charged by commercial banks and other financial institutions; a commiseration motion for Senate to honour late Senator Munir Muse and commiseration motion for the Senate to honour late Senator Adebayo Osinowo. Equally, the senator has co-sponsored no less than 30 other motions that resulted in Senate Resolutions. And for 8 years since 2012, the Federal Inland Revenue Service, (FIRS) that has operated without a board now have one courtesy the successful screening of the Chairman of the FIRS and members of the Board as nominated by President Buhari. The Fiscal Responsibility Commission, FRC and the Accountant General Office(AGO) and the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority under the purview of Senate Committee of Finance had been oversighted to make them more effective through queries into their operations, budgetary support as well as visit to parts of the AGO that got burnt recently.
Still on its oversight responsibility, Senator Adeola’s Committee of Finance instituted an on-going “Investigation in IGR Remittances by Ministries, Departments and Agencies(MDAs) According to Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 and the 1999 Constitution and Remittances of 1% Stamp Duty on all Contracts Awarded by MDAs (2014-2018)”. Since the investigation began many MDAs have refunded hundreds of millions of Naira as fund illegally withheld or spent while lesser amounts in millions are being paid by contractors as Stamp Duty they refused to pay as required by law. The investigation had also led to some agencies opting out of the Federal Budget altogether with notable one being NAFDAC, NIGCOMSAT and NERC. This investigation championed by Senator Adeola is specifically targeted at reducing the yearly budget deficits that runs into trillions of naira annually.
In the area of representation Senator Adeola has in the last two years discharged his mandate most creditably to his constituents. As at the last count he has facilitated graduate federal employment for no less than 30 youths in some federal agencies in face of massive unemployment confronting the nation. When COVID-19 pandemic broke out in 2020 and Lagos became the epicenter with a federal lockdown, the issue of palliatives for indigent constituents became a task that must be done even in absence of any budgetary provision for same. In cognizance of the precautionary measures reeled out by Federal Government, Senator Adeola donated a whopping N50 million to indigent persons and groups in the largest senatorial district of 20 million across 10 Local Government areas of his district. Over 10,000 constituents, groups and leaders benefitted from the donation with sharing ranging from N2500 at the lowest for individuals to a maximum of N250, 000 for groups. As part of the palliative during ease of lockdown, Senator Adeola in conjunction with the Lagos State Government also distributed food items like rice, beans and garri for constituents while the lockdown lasted as well as token GSM recharge credits for communication purposes for constituents.
With the ease of lockdown, Senator Adeola held the 4th Edition of his Town Hall /Empowerment meeting on January 24, 2021 at Police College, Ikeja to brief constituent of his activities as well as officially hand over several units of 500KVA Transformers, Block Molding Machines and Tricycles. Other facilitated items distributed equitably among LGA/LCDAs, trades and ethnic groups are hundreds of sewing machines, grinding machines, deep freezers, vulcanizing machines, motorcycles, vehicles and saloon and beauty equipment. In addition to transformers the senator facilitated the provision of 150 poles solar panel street lights which was distributed to 20 major streets in Ojo, Badagry, Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Amuwo-Odofin, Ikeja, Alimosho, Mushin, Ifako Ijaiye, Oshodi-Isolo and Agege LGAs.
Under the kitty for Senator Adeola in the last two years are skills acquisition and entrepreneurship training for over 4000 women and youths across his ten LGAs. Still under human resources development the senator facilitated the training of hundreds of constituents in rural riverine communities of Lagos West in different aspects of Fish Production, Business, Feed Making and boat operation over a period of months. Each trained and certificated participant in a programme of “teach a man to fish” were equipped and giving grants to commence business and many of them are doing well in the business.
In addition, he facilitated the training of over 1500 constituents in phone repairs, hair dressing, make up artistry, soap/detergent making and sanitizer making skills with participants receiving start up equipment and cash grants.
Senator Adeola also facilitated construction of at least 40 boreholes for the provision of water with at least 10 having water treatment components and steel overhead tanks as well as being powered by solar panels. Still on projects that falls within executive functions but which legislators often weigh in to assist the executive the Senator Adeola facilitated the reconstruction and rehabilitation of 9 major roads in Lagos West namely: Oko-Afo Ilogbo Road in Olorunda, Badagry LGA, Akpata Street, Alfa Nla, Agege LGA, Adebimpe Street, Alimosho LGA, Ifelodun/ Tanimola Street, Ilasamaja, Oshodi Isolo LGA(Ongoing), Muyibi Street, Ajegunle, Ajeromi Ifelodun LGA (Ongoing), Nwafor Orizu/Lanre Mohamed/Olagoke/Bello Street, Shodipo Street, Olusosun, Off Kudirat Abiola Way, Ikeja(ongoing), Ojoowere/Shosanya Street(Ongoing), and Fajumobi/Ponle Street, Egbeda(ongoing).
In addition to pursuit of his educational legislative agenda which saw him sponsoring three tertiary education institution bills, two of which were passed by the Senate while a third is awaiting approval, Senator Adeola in two years facilitated a one-week training for teachers in the state where the rudiment of online teaching was taught to over 147 teachers with due certification. He further donated two (2) HP Computer laptops to the school authorities of 36 selected schools for the purpose of assisting in online teaching as well as empowered 60 selected best students from secondary schools in Lagos West Senatorial District with computer laptops to encourage excellence.
Still on educational infrastructure, Senator Adeola facilitated the supply of 750 prefabricated chairs and desks for 13 public nursery and primary schools spread across Lagos West at Ojo, Badagry, Oshodi-Isolo, Mushin and Alimosho as well as the construction and installation of a multi-million-naira Information, Communication and Technology(ICT) centres in two public secondary schools in his district namely Ikotun Senior High School, Ikotun and Muslim College, Egbe. This brings the number of such centres that he has facilitated as a Senator to six as four of such were done by him in the 8th Senate. Finally, he facilitated the construction of state of art Public Library at Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Ijanikin, Lagos State.
Finally, the senator has continued his usual goodwill gesture for constituents during festive period like Yuletide as well as Muslim festivities by reaching out to constituents in cash and kind across the senatorial district. No doubt Senator Adeola midterm score card is a shining example of effective representation and delivering of dividends of democracy for a senator representing the largest senatorial district in Nigeria in terms of population of some 12 million. All things being equal, the second half can only get better with many more constituents and communities being positively impacted.