Setonji Koshoedo, a grassrot politician and former House of Representatives member as well as the former Chairman of PDP, Lagos State in this interview expressed serious concern about the state of insecurity in the country as well as many other salient issues of national interest. Excerpt
By Ovie Edomi
Looking at the security situation of the country, do you feel worried and frightened?
I feel very worried. Indeed, no right minded person will not feel frightened about the security situation in the country. It has never been this bad. And it becomes more frightening that this government has no clue of how to rescue the situation despite the big funds this government is sinking into it.
What do you make out of the likes of Ametekun in the South-West?
Sincerely, I think it’s the way to go. But provided it is well handled. This has been existing in different forms in our various communities in the past. It’s the indigenous way of providing security that is being taken further. Good idea I think. But the management is key.
It has been speculated that Boko Haram operates from Chad republic and Cameroun and that they just cross into Nigeria operate and return. What is the best way to defeat Boko Haram and is amnesty to Boko Haram members, the answer?
Boko Haram to the best of my knowledge is a network. You can only fight a network with a stronger network. The government needs to create a secret network with broader scope than Boko Haram network in Nigeria to subdue them. The issue of international invasion will be a thing of the past because that combating network will be able to match them skill for skill, weapon for weapon. But this depends on the creativity of the government of the day.
Well, though amnesty worked in the Niger Delta. This situation is different because it’s across the borders. Are you going to be paying amnesty to foreigners?
Criminality and kidnap are on the increase. What does this portend and how do we collectively address this?
It simply shows that the social progress index of our country has gone so low. It’s part of the vices of a failing government. So much gap between the rich and the poor. An average citizen can’t afford minimal simple life, whereas neighbors live in abundance.
The government can no longer take care of the well-being of the people. They will sure look for ways to bridge the gap. Whether good or bad.
Do you support state policing as a solution?
State policing is like Amotekun. I support it. But that is, if it won’t be politicized.
The National Assembly instead of patronizing locally made Jeep in Nigeria ordered 400 new vehicles from abroad with over N5billion spent at a time we are experiencing economic downturn. Is it right?
Hmm ! I always like to look at issues deeper than they look. Who are the National Assembly Members that you want to use Nigerian made cars? How safe are the cars you’re talking about? Nigerians elected former Governors and money bags to the National Assembly and you want them to ride cars they believe are unsafe for them. I guess the best way is not to buy any car at all for NASS Members. But you also know that contracts nowadays are money for the boys. So we also need to query where the idea is coming from.
Some people are of the opinion that 2023 Presidency should move to the North. What do you think especially since some Northerners are already insisting on it come 2023?
This is another sensitive area. Presidency to the north again in 2023! ( pulsed for a while) I think the north is just being smart and playing on the weakness of the south. That’s possible in politics, but again, that is when it is allowed. But there is a better side of politics that calls for justice. Justice and fairness bring peace. I don’t think it’s fair enough for the north to want to be president again in 2023.
The Federal Government recently said it will create 250,000 jobs and generate over 500billion Dollars annually from gold mining. What is your stake on this?
Well, it’s possible. But how strategic are they to achieve that? Nigerians are now tired of promise and fail.
Lets look at the 774,000 jobs that the Ministry of labour, employment and productivity under the National Directorate of employment, NDE. Do you think the Freud between the National Assembly and the Minister of state is necessary?
Sincerely, there should not have been any issue about this. The National Assembly Members complaining are politicians, and they know what that means to politicians. So, the fight is not about the rightness of the policy, but for the politics of it. For me, the age of creating jobs is over. Let’s begin to create wealth. That’s my take on it.
The NDDC is under forensic audit and now so many revelations are coming out of the probe. As a former lawmaker. what do you expect from the Executive and the legislators?
Its so unfortunate. Nigeria is witnessing a system breakdown. Government institutions are failing. Law and order are no more. No shame. Both the Executive and legislators need to rise up to their responsibilities of providing a corrupt free system to Nigerians. It’s a clear indication that the anti corruption policy of the government is not working.
Governor Wike had to come to recently rescue a former ex-NDDC boss when Police storm her residence. What does this portend?
It simply portends a system breakdown, which is one of the indications of a failed state.
The Presidency recently warned Ministers, Directors and Federal Government appointees against disrespect for the National Assembly. What do you make of this order of Mr President?
(Laughs) Ha ha ha! This is laughable. Which order? Where did the disrespect start from? Who are the ones protecting the ministers and agencies?
Covid 19 has drastically affected the economies of nations globally. What is the way out of the quagmire for Nigeria?
We need to rethink. Covid-19 has opened our eyes to new ways of doing things. Nigeria must adjust to these new ways to revamp her economy. It’s not enough to just make budgets and run it through Federal Allocations anymore. Our budget needs to be self revolving. It takes thinking outside the box to achieve this. And that’s what we need to do.
Federal government insist on not opening schools yet but some state governments say they are ready to commence academic session from September and to allow students write WAEC. As a former federal law maker what do you make of this?
I feel it’s a wrong decision to close schools down for too long. Afterall, the coronavirus figures kept going higher and higher. I guess the government should find better ways of protecting students rather than keep schools closed. More so that such closure has severe impact on the future economy of the nation.
Looking at the politics of Edo and Ondo states, do you think PDP will spring up surprises?
Well, in a normal situation and electoral system, one can say PDP has won already, especially with the performance of APC government so far. However, no one can predict. Remember what happened in Kogi. and the usual cases of Lagos. Let’s just hope for the best.
As a senior citizen from Lagos state, does the state of the Mile 2 to Seme road, an international route to other West Africa countries for that matter, not worry you?
Hmm ! There is no other way to describe the case of Badagry Express Road, it is just pure wickedness and lack of concern for fellow human beings. It is also lack of economic insight by a government that has promised Nigerians heaven on earth. But is it not the same thing all over the nation? Abeokuta express road is the same. Those roads are enough proofs that this government is a failure.
Apapa grid lock appears to be one problem that has lingered on for years. Does it lack solution?
I guess it does appear as though it lack solution to a government that is clueless. But there are proofs all over the world that no problem is unsolvable. All that it requires is to put the right managers of such issues as road construction, flood control, and traffic management and they will gather other human and technical resources together to solve the problem. Anyway, you don’t expect that to happen, when the basis of taking over power is wrong from the beginning.
Oil was discovered in Badagry where you come from some years back. We hear that exploration has began. Does that translate to better life for the indigenes or hope is still kept alive for a better tomorrow?
(laughs). Yes, exploration has started. And the explorer and the government have started mismanaging the opportunity to the detriment of the people. I can’t see any hope yet, I’m even afraid they don’t create another set of militants by the way they are exploiting the host community. Anyway, let’s keep hope alive as you suggested.
Water transportation is gaining ground in Badagry and some parts of Lagos. Why are your people not harnessing the opportunities in water transportation?
Quit a number of them have started harnessing the opportunity, but you know that it’s an expensive venture. There is need for government support which is not coming. You can imagine that Lagos State could not allocate a single boat to that route in its last distribution of boats. Which route can be more important? In fact, there was a boat mishap few days ago. It claimed about 18 lives. So sad. Another thing is the presence of checkpoints even our waterway just as you have several security check-points as on the roads. These are frustrating the opportunities especially in water transportation.
Tourism is another area that Badagry can generate money from, giving your experience with the Iworo Ajido island resort, how best can we harness Badagry and of course Lagos tourism potentials?
I based my degree project on tourism in Badagry, so I have some knowledge about its economic potentials for Badagry, Lagos State and Nigeria at large. But I must confess I can not see any frantic effort by the government to make Badagry a tourist’s haven. All I see are attempts to acquire the community’s land for their selfish interest. They are even saying they want to destroy all the historical sites now. Badagry is a virgin land with rich history that any government should focus on to achieve great tourism feat, but nothing serious has been done yet.
You redirected ASCON as Board Chairman on the part of self-sustenance and academic reform. Looking at ASCON now under the present management,what would you say the federal government should do to make it the best management institution in Africa?
ASCON has great potentials, and that’s what we tried to explore when I was there. We had a retreat that produced a Strategic Plan for ASCON, but I doubt if it’s being followed. The institution is capable of sustaining itself ordinarily. What is affecting all other government institutions under this dispensation is the same thing affecting ASCON now. Managers of ASCON need to rethink just as managers think in top organisations.
What do you think this government needs to do to further make ASCON a bride institution for training of top civil servants and public officers at directorate levels?
I wish the government can upgrade ASCON to an Administrative University to make it what it should be to Nigeria and the world at large.
As a lawmaker you contributed to the move against building collapse which resulted to the review of Nigerian Building code. Do you think we need to further review the nation’s code because collapse building still dot our landscape?
Yes. This came out of occurrence of frequent building collapses. A review of the Nigerian Building Code was initiated and done. But it’s one thing to promulgate a law, it’s another thing to implement it. I doubt if the provisions are being adhered to.
As 2023 is approaching, so much politicking is on-going. What should we be expecting from you and your party the PDP especially as a former Lagos state PDP Chairman?
Lagos PDP is gearing up to put up a gallant appearance this time around. We’ve learnt our lessons and we know those disturbing us. Some of them have even left the party. I hope they won’t start coming back soon. Lagosians should expect better outing whether from me or other party members.