Abiodun Muhammed Fadeyi is the Deputy Speaker, Oyo State House of Assembly.
He previously worked as a television producer at NTA Abuja after which he became the special adviser on legislative matters to the majority leader, House of Representatives, 2011 to 2015.
He was appointed in 2015 as the special adviser on public affairs to the Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives until he contested in 2019 elections to represent Ona Ara constituency.
Mr Fadeyi shares his thought on the executive order on financial autonomy for state legislature and judiciary recently signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, why Oyo Assembly approved multi-million naira loan for Governor Seyi Makinde, activities of the assembly in the last one year and other sundry issues in this interview with some select reporters.
PT: Can you tell us the activities of the Oyo House of Assembly in the last one year.
Fadeyi: The activities of the legislative arm of government in Oyo since inauguration has been hectic. Hectic in the sense that we have been trying to ensure that we do our work as we should do it as lawmakers.
I am sure that you are aware that major thing we are here to do is to make laws for the good governance of the state apart from our oversight functions. That is what we have been doing in the last one year.
We have been up and doing to ensure that bills brought in by the executive or private members bills are treated in such a way that we can beat our chest to say that we have done a good job at the end of the day.
So, to answer your question, the activities of the house, the house has been very busy inspite of the recent COVID-19 pandemic. We have been up and doing.
PT: Recently, the assembly approved N22.5 billion loan for the executive arm of government. Many people are querying the hasty way the loan was approved.
Fadeyi: My take on that is simple, and very straight forward. Since the inception of democratic rule in 1999 till date, Nigerians have been referring to state legislature as rubber stamp, so I am not going to be surprised they say that.
But the most important is that when the executive sent in a letter requesting for a loan, what we usually do is to scrutinise such letter and what do I mean by that, to look at the essence of the loan. Now in governance, there are two things to it, some loans are meant for consumption, some are meant for development of government polices, be it in health sector or infrastructural development or energy sector, it could be in area of agriculture.
This particular loan that you are talking about was tied to infrastructural development of the state. As a responsible house (assembly), when we went through the letter, we came together and said why delay it?
We never heard of when you put honey in somebody mouth and he put it away. Have you heard of it? They are trying to build new things in my state, they are trying to build motor parks, the Iwo Road interchange bridge. Are you aware that the only overhead bridge we have in Oyo state was build by Jemibewon, a military administrator, the second one was build by Ajimobi at Mokola.
Are you aware that the new one coming out in Iwo Road, the interchange bridge and other infrastructural development that will attract investors into the state. Now, you are coming from the north and you are approaching Ibadan through Iwo Road, have you ever been held in hold-up there? The new government said we need to do something on it, we need to redesign and that is what the money is meant for.
Just recently in the course of celebration of his one year in office, the Governor flagged it off, if you go there now, you will see the signboard. So as a lawmaker representing my people in Ona Ara, and I hear such thing that they want to do, so, I will turn the executive down that I am not going to allow it, who does that?
Even at the federal level, are they not approving loans for President Buhari? So, we should be careful of what we say that legislative arm is a rubber stamp. They did not say that they want to use the money to build hotels for the lawmakers.
PT: President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the executive order on financial autonomy for state legislature and judiciary. Of what impact will that be to state houses of assembly?
Fadeyi: When you came in, you referred to us as a rubber stamp, is it not? The executive order seeking financial autonomy for state assemblies is a beauty for democracy. It is a good thing in the right direction, vis-à-vis what the legislative arm of government has been turned to as rubber stamp.
But, truly, we are not rubber stamp. If you come here and see what we have been doing, you will appreciate us. Back to your question, the president has done well. Whether the decision he took at this point in time to sign the executive order 10 is political or otherwise is left for him, but, he done his own as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Now, if we want to ask, is it implementable? That is the question we need to ask, that is why I said, that the timing, is it political or not? The financial autonomy for the state house of assembles is beyond just being independent. The major part of it is the financial aspect of it. So, what we are saying is that the President signed the autonomy for us, it is okay, we like it, but, what we are saying is that, is it implementable?
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Now, you know that Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) did a press statement saying that it is not implementable. Why did the president not sign it when the oil of this nation was booming, when things were okay? Why is that it is now during COVID-19 that the President is signing it now? We welcome it wholehearted as lawmakers, but, politically they know the game they are playing. It is like when you dash somebody ram, you will release the rope. If you want to give us autonomy, you will give us when the economy is okay.
Let us be realistic with ourselves, yet it has been signed, so let us assume and don’t forget that the National Assembly has passed it into law in 2017, but the President refused to sign. So, why is he coming through an executive order? I have a copy of that bill that was passed by the National Assembly in 2017. There is a contradiction somewhere. Whoever advised the President to signed the autonomy is up to something better known to him.
But, for us at the state level, we will thank the President, we appreciate him, because whether we like it or not, what is obtainable in Lagos might be different from what is obtainable in Oyo or Zamfara. So, I want us to look at if from that angle.
PT: Oyo Assembly recently passed vote of confidence on Governor Seyi Makinde, what is the essence of this vote of confidence?
Fadeyi: Like my father will say, will you pass a vote of confidence on your enemy or an opposition? Why wouldn’t we pass a vote of confidence on our Governor when we see that he is doing well? We appreciate him for being in office for one year and we like his style of government.
So, I don’t know why people read meanings. Though there are rumours that they lodge us in hotel, this and that, I am media practitioner, I don’t join them in peddling rumour. What we did was to tell the whole world that our Governor and the Deputy are doing well.
PT: In the last one year, how many bills has the house passed?
Fadeyi: If we put it together now, we are looking at about 90 bills and motions. Motions and bills, combined, executive and private members bills. When we came in, the first bill we worked on, it was a bill sponsored by the Speaker and myself. Anti-open grazing bill, which has been assented to by the Governor. Another one is the Western Nigeria Security Network codenamed Amotekun Bill.
Apart from all the appropriation, we have to review the budget, and some bills for the creation of some ministries and government parastatals. The name and nomenclature of some ministries were changed. We never heard of ministry of energy, now there is a ministry of energy, and just recently, I sponsored a bill on eradication of open defecation in Oyo state. To make it a law that if you defecate openly and you are caught, there is a penalty.
I remember, I equally moved a motion on the need to curb the incursions of herders, that was when a professor was killed on Ife-Ibadan expressway last year. We have done pretty well, close to about 100 motions and bills.
PT: How are you impacting on the lives of your constituents?
Fadeyi: Well, what I do is to create awareness being the Deputy Speaker of the State, there is so much awareness. That is selling Ona Ara constituency, in my own little way. I bring dividends of democracy, it is not for me to blow my trumpet, I would rather ask that you go to my constituency and ask the people themselves.
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