Says his success in politics is traced to his wife, Tinubu
Hon. Abiru Rotimi Lateef is the Chief Whip of the Lagos State House of Assembly, a lover of people and an experienced politicians. He commented on the plan of the state Government to attract more foreign Investors to the state. He also spoke about the strong relationship between the Executive and the legislature in this interview with Publisher of Pleasures magazine, Ola Babatunde. Excerpts.
We know you are the Chief Whip at the Lagos State House of Assembly, but for the benefit of our readers on line and all over, Can we get to know you, who is Hon. Abiru Rotimi Latteef?
Thank you Pleasures Magazine, Hon. Rotimi Lateef is the Chief Whip at the Lagos State House of Assembly, and elected member from Somolu II to represent my people, I attended all my schools from elementary to tertiary. I attended Lagos State University for my First Degree and University of Lagos for my Master’s Degree. I have been in politics for some time, this is my third time in the House representing my people, I was a supervisory Councilor from 2003 to 2007 before I was elected a member of the House in 2007.
What exactly does your work entail as the Chief Whip of the House?
All members in the House play the same role which is to give quality representation to their people. We have about 32 different committees and I am in one of the committees. I am fully involved in the administration of the House, and as the Chief Whip I have the responsibilities to ensure discipline, decorum, order and respect for one another and the rules that govern the Assembly. I am also the Chairman of Committee on Ethics, Protocol and Privileges. We ensure that all members use the fund available to them judiciously.
So, how has the experience been since you were elected into this leadership post?
I must first thank the people of Bariga for trusting me with their mandate, because without their trust I will not be here. As a legislator, we are here to represent our people, and experience is gathered in the job and the longer the better. You cannot compare my experience of three term with someone who is here for the first time. I must also say that my influence to Executive cannot be compared to a fresher because I know what and how to go about things in a better way. We also know how to relate to the people in a better way.
To what extent have you affected your constituency?
To the glory of God I have represented my people very well, I have I have influenced Executive decisions in many ways to attract projects to my constituency. I hope you know my duty is to be their mouth piece which I have done very well. And I’m still doing it. Because of the environment we find ourselves, we made some promises during our campaign and you have to fulfill what you promised, though those promises are outside our jurisdiction but you have to keep them. I have sank some boreholes, I have assisted some in securing jobs, some in admission to state owned tertiary institution, skill acquisition for many and personal support to the people. Attracted the attention of the Government to embark on projects within the constituency and as I speak, we have carried out projects worth Billions of Naira in the constituency.
No constituency allowance for the members of Lagos State Assembly but we the elders in the House came up with idea of Stake Holders Meeting, this was initiated by the speaker himself and the idea is to hold meetings at various town halls across our constituencies in the state. We involve all people within the constituencies to come and make known their various concerns and what they expect from Government, from there we develop a working paper and give to the Executive. We cannot force it but as I speak with you those ideas formed part of the major projects of the government. And we have through that achieved a lot in the state.
This to me is a great achievement. And we are still doing more. People see the Executive as performing but it is the House that is giving the support, you know if we fail to give necessary support the Executive will be handicapped and the society will be at the receiving end. So our |Governors have been receiving the right support from the legislature. This is an amazing governance.
Good ones , but how about the people in terms of Job and their welfare because we have seen a government in West Africa who did a lot in terms of infrastructure yet people voted him out because the development did not reflect in their pocket, what will you say to that?
First let me say our that concepts about Politics and leadership in Africa need to be re addressed, we put so much pressure on our so called leaders, Instead of presenting issues that will affect the entire society, we only make request for our personal interest, I have experienced so many of that where people will come and talk about their children school fees, House rent, feeding money and many more, hardly will you see someone coming to ask on how to develop schools in their area, markets in their area, and this affect development. Infrastructure brings development and not your child’s school fees and the rest of it. It is a great challenge.
But in Lagos, the government has created online jobs application, you don’t have to know anybody all you do is to apply online and if you are good the government invite you. Though very limited, Government has also created Ministry of Poverty Alleviation and Job creation, this ministry set up Lagos State Employment Fund, which is to raise about N25 Billion within four years, the idea here is to assist young entrepreneurs and small and medium scale business. The government will give soft loan with only 5% interest, this is the best anyone can get anywhere.
Within the short time of this administration, the government has employed 5,000 teachers. Some people were engaged by Lagos State Transport Monitoring Authority (LASTMA) to ease traffic in the state. The Government is also trying to improve on the tourism in the state. We are partnering with Kebbi State government on Rice plantation and when we harvest, the government will ensure that the price is affordable for people. There will not be unnecessary high price of the commodity. This is to ensure food provision and also create jobs for many people. I guess we are doing well to fight poverty and unemployment in the state.
You must also know that our Federal allocation is meagre, we work more on the internally generated revenue and the government is doing all these, such government deserves kudos.
How is the relationship in the House Like?
Very cordial, we are one family and we agree on many issue, what we have is ranking. Some members have being in the House for long and we have to respect them, I think we have about three of them and as the Chief Whip, I ensure we give them our respect. We ensure we all abide by the rules of the House and to freshers we organize trainings so they will are abreast with the procedure in the House. But I must say we all enjoy ourselves.
How many Bills have you succeeded in passing since you are the Chief Whip?
Most Bills emanate from the Executive. What we do is to deliberate on it and pass it. We have done so many and I have contributed immensely to the passage of many Bill. The recent one is the Bill to encourage foreign Investors in Lagos. We have set up an agency which will be one stop Shop for the investors. They will get all the necessary support and information from this agency and whatever they need to succeed is provided. I am sure Lagos will soon experience a great investment turn around. I must say that this government is working.
How do you feel serving your people?
I feel great, fulfilled and with heart of gratitude to God and to my people. I am indeed grateful to my people for giving me their mandate. I want to specially thank my wife who has always supported me, if not for her support I will not be where I am today, I started as a young man. At the age of 36 and since then till date she is been very phenomenal. I also appreciate my Political mentor, Asiwaju Bola Hammed Tinubu I see him as a book that many of us are reading. He is a leader of leaders, a political giant not only in Nigeria but in the rest of Africa, I am sure you people in Ghana can feel his contributions to politics in the continent, he is a goal getter and I am grateful for having him as my boss, father, mentor, Pastor and Political Imam. AS at today there is no way they will write the story of Lagos that my name will not be there, I thank God for that.
What would you say about the president of The Gambia who says he will not let go?
I want to appeal to Jammeh to give peace a chance, he should respect the law and the mandate of the people by handing over to the opposition, he is not the first to lose and he shouldn’t be the problem in the continent. He should go after all he has been there for 22 years. Jammeh please go.
Message to Africa, Lagosians and your people?
To Africa, we should learn to accept people’s mandate, let us maintain peace and allow our leaders to focus on the primary assignment and not personal issues. To our people in Lagos, let us give the government a little more time both at the federal and State levels, we are about to witness great change but it will take time. We inherited a very bad system and to wash it clean we need time. To my people in Bariga, please whatever you feel is not right should be addressed legally and lawfully. Let us not take laws into our hands.
Finally to my family I thank you and to you from Ghana, Pleasures Magazine, thank you.
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