Segun Olulade is a former member of the Lagos State House of Assembly from Epe Constituency 02 and a prominent figure in the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In this interview, he spoke on the state of the nation, the Bola Tinubu administration and frequent disagreements between state governors and their deputies. Iniobong Iwok brings the excerpts:
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu took over about six months ago; would you say the country is moving forward with his economic programmes?
President Bola Tinubu has taken some bold steps, he has made some decisions and came up with courageous attempts to recover our economy, and our security status.
We have seen his moves even in the appointments that he has made, in monetary and fiscal policies. We have seen changes and he is someone that is determined to run the manifestoes he campaigned with.
I have seen him as the number one marketer of the country. He has positively marketed the Nigeria project in a way that he is not leading from behind, he is leading from the front and that shows the kind of leadership that he has provided.
But some people look at the removal of fuel subsidy and floating of naira as a little bit tough, would you say that these are steps in the right direction?
We expected that all these things would happen; the man did not promise that he is a magician, he promised to take us through a process and that is the process we are passing through now.
He also has a timeline for all his projects and policies and we have seen them happening. When you talk of fuel subsidy removal, the policy was made before he got there and it was not in the budget from June, 2023.
That was what nearly all the presidential candidates that meant well for the country campaigned with because they all know that there was a huge fraud in the subsidy regime.
We knew that people were stealing money from it and a former governor once said that one of his friends that was benefitting from the subsidy regime was tired of money.
It showed you the level subsidy regime got to and it affected our economy. If the president has done the needful, we should not blame him for that.
He has also come up with the idea of floating naira. How can somebody become a multi-millionaire within a short period all because he buys dollars at official rates and sell in the black markets? Concerning foreign currencies, some people are still hoarding them and when they are tired they would release them into the system.
I also want to praise the National Assembly for saying that we should not dollarise our economy, whereby some people transact businesses in dollars. Some airlines collect dollars for airfares, it is used in some supermarkets and even some people collect dollars for house rents in the country.
I also want them to go further, it should be a criminal offence for anybody to have more than $10,000 with him or her just like you cannot have more than $10,000 when you travel out of the country. If that can be put in place, all these issues of scarcity of dollars would be a thing of the past and the naira would get stronger again.
It has not been easy for the masses since the fuel subsidy was removed, what do you think the government should do to ameliorate the hardship?
The government has started some policies, what they should do is to implement the policies so that we can get the expected results. I believe that if and when they are properly implemented, it would be better.
Do you support an increase in minimum wage and distribution of palliatives to the masses to cushion the effects?
I would say that the increase in minimum wage can increase the inflation rate, but I think it is necessary because that would be a kind of relief for the people. The government has also done a lot to cushion the effect of the hardship that the people are facing by coming up with plans to provide mass transit buses, Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) cars, and provision of funds for SMEs. These are necessary palliatives needed to cushion the effects of the removal.
Your party, the APC, has been in the forefront of restructuring and federalism, do we see this happening now under President Bola Tinubu?
We have not changed our view on federalism; we must have fiscal federalism in our system that is what we had in Nigeria before now. But a lot of people blame the president, forgetting that we have the councillors, local government chairmen, and state governors. Those who could not do well in their states are saying that the President must be removed and their states are dying.
I don’t know why they are coming forward with all sorts of things. The Lagos State they are saying is doing well is a state that the President once ruled as governor. That is the only state that is still working and we are seeing meaningful development there. This is a state that came up with rail transportation through which millions of people are moved daily. It shows the level of reasoning of the President and I think that is what other states should copy. Nigerians should ask questions about their governors, local government chairmen, and councillors.
We are having several petitions and court cases after the 2023 general election, and even the presidential election is still being challenged in court. Do you think we need electoral reform?
It is not about the electoral system, it is about the culture that we have imbibed and our reasoning. We are not good losers, once we win, the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), we will say our electoral system is okay, but when we lose, we will say INEC is corrupt.
Why should everybody go to court after elections, how could someone, who came third in an election say he won? Which election are they talking about? In recent past, the 2023 general elections remain the best because the BVAS worked, if iRev did not work, it doesn’t make it bad.
Even where iRev worked, people still went to court. At least, they said it worked for governorship elections, state assemblies’ elections and the National Assembly, yet they still went to court to challenge some of these elections.
It shows the culture and the mindset that we need to renew. One of the things the President should do is to renew our mindset, not just our hope. Our electoral system is improving by the day though we still need to look at the loopholes and amend them.
Talking about the certificate crisis of the President from Chicago State University (CSU), how would you comment on the issues around it?
It’s funny the way some people reason and how backward they are. They said President Bola Tinubu did not go to Chicago State University (CSU), the school said that he was there, they are now saying that the paper he got from the school was fake.
The school said that he was a first class student of the school and that he was the one that came to the school, yet they said that the certificate he presented was forged. It’s strange to me that people could say somebody who went to a school and was called the best student faked his result
They are feeding people lie. I went to Rutget University in New Jersey in the United States of America (USA) for a diploma course. If I want to get my certificate, I have to go through a third party agent, a vendor to get it.
The system that is obtainable in the United Kingdom is different from what is obtainable in the USA, what you need there is transcript.
The transcript showed that President Bola Tinubu is a super intelligent human being and people are saying all sorts of things. They said that he forged what he took to the INEC. We need a lot of mental health centres for people.
How do you think we can prevent this kind of distraction in the future?
I’m proud of President Tinubu, he is not distracted, he allows the noise makers to continue because the works before him are greater than all these. He is focused; he is concentrating on the works given to him by majority of Nigerians.
What’s your view about governors that stifle the activities of local governments through underfunding, which is why some people have called for local government autonomy?
In all of these, what are the views of the people, what are the residents saying about their Governors that are not giving money to local governments to perform. We must ask questions, what are the councillors doing? If things are not being done well, we should ask questions.
We can say deputy governors in Nigeria are endangered species with what is happening in Ondo State and Edo State lately, what is your view on this?
I think our constitution must do better to the vice president, deputy governors and local governments vice chairmen across board. They must be concretely spell out responsibilities for them so that they would not be seen as spare tyres. The National Assembly should work on that.
You have been an active politicians, you are still relevant after leaving office four years ago and you have been working for your party in the elections, what is your next move politically?
I am no longer interested in elective positions for now, though I don’t know what will happen in the future. I am interested in the youths, empowering the people around me, concentrating on my business and family as I am over 50 years of age now.
I have served my people and the entire country in different capacities. It is not for me to remain focused, I will serve my people and it might not be in an elective position. I will definitely be part of the team that will work for the success of the president.