…Alarape, Minority Leader, Oyo Assembly
Former Speaker, Oyo State House of Assembly and currently the Minority Leader of the same House of Assembly, Asimiyu Alarape believes that the closure of Nigerian borders will have long ter positive effects on the economy.
The lawmaker who represents Atiba state constituency in the parliament after defecting to the APC with former senate leader, Teslim Fiolarin spoke on various issues in this interview.
President Mohammadu Buhari recently ordered the closure of all borders in the country and this has led to increase in the prices of foodstuff, especially rice. What is your take on this?
Honestly speaking, the president does not mean bad for the people of this country by closing Nigerian borders against the importation of some goods because he believes we can produce them locally within our country.
President Buhari to me, is only doing this to encourage local production which will in turn boost our economy. Our economy had gone so bad under the past administration to the extent that it only requires a disciplined leader like President Mohammadu Buhari to revive it. Reviving of economy in our country requires the sacrifice of all of us and part of that sacrifice is the closure of borders. I want to believe that with time, all the prices of foodstuffs that have gone up will come down by the time we have enough of local production in our country.
In fact, to be honest with you, in any good administrative set up, encouragement of local production and materials for enough consumption within the country and exportation of the remaining excess to other countries is one of the best ways to boost any country’s economy and that is exactly what president Buhari is trying to do. We should be a producing nation rather than being a consuming nation. Any nation that is a consumer of foreign products alone and not a producer can never grow economically.
They are usually referred to as a poor nation. So, we should encourage exportation rather than importation if we want to develop economically in Nigeria because there is no consuming nation that can ever rise economically in the world.
How would you assess the APC -led government in the last five years that your party has been in office?
The government of President Muhammadu Buhari is a success in all ramifications. One major area where President Buhari deserves kudos is in the area of corruption eradication. You see, before the advent of this administration, corruption, embezzlement and diversion of public funds into private pockets were the order of the day. By then, corruption became a canker worm that was eating deep into the fabric of our society.
In the area of security, despite the prevalent security problem we are having in the country, President Buhari has tried a lot more than the immediate past government in putting an end to security crisis that Nigeria is facing. For example, look at the effort the President made at ensuring that the abducted Chibok school girls were released which later led to the freedom of almost 200 of them from Boko Haram captives.
In the area of job creation, to me, Buhari stands out among all the leaders we’ve been having in this country since we gained independence in 1960.
Let’s for instance, look at a lot of youths he has employed into both the military and para-military forces and the Federal Government’s establishments is not also left behind as thousands of young graduates have been gainfully employed into all the ministries and parastatals. Also, in his efforts to co-opt youths into the governance of this nation and create jobs for them in the political circle, he signed into law the “Not too young to rule” bill which has now started yielding results because many of our youths have now been elected or appointed into various political positions in Nigeria. He introduced N-power programme in which many unemployed youths and adults have benefited greatly.
In the area of education, the president introduced free feeding for pupils of primary and secondary schools across the country so as to encourage them to go to school and learn well while several dilapidated school structures have been rebuilt. He made education compulsory for all the children from primary level to secondary school level while school fees in all schools are reduced drastically.
Also, the president has traveled to several countries of the world to woo foreign investors into Nigeria while economic ties were also cemented with several leaders of many foreign nations of the world. Buhari has also tried in the area of infrastructural provision for the good citizens of this nation; immediately on his assumption of office five years ago, he did not waste time at ensuring that all the bad roads that have become death traps were tarred while drainages were constructed for the free flow of water so as not to damage the roads.
He encouraged agricultural activities by giving money and farm implements to farmers, in order to boost food production. Presently, he has ensured the upward review of workers salary from #18,000 to #30,000 in which any moment from now, he will start to implement it.
As a leading opposition member in the state, how do you cope with the system?
I am not disturbed and I don’t disturb any individual whether at the House of Assembly or outside the House. I engage in my political activities without any intimidation from any quarter. I enjoy a good working relationship with all the members of the House of Assembly.
As a member from the minority party in your state, are you in any way being deprived of your rights and privileges?
My duties are to make laws and in this regard, I cannot be deprived of the roles that the constitution spells out for me as a lawmaker in Oyo
State. I have a duty to make laws and regardless of my political affiliation, no individual can deprive me of the right to carry out my constitutional responsibilities.
What have you been able to achieve since you assumed office as a lawmaker in the state?
Although, my major assignment is to make good laws for the benefit of our constituency and the entire people of Oyo State in general, but notwithstanding, within my few months in office so far, I have been able to do a lot for my people in many areas.
I assisted many of my constituents especially the unemployed youths to secure jobs, moving of reasonable motions on the floor of the house, sponsoring of bills that will have direct bearing on the good people of my constituency and the whole of the state, making several efforts to bring the state government’s presence down to my constituency.
Also in terms of physical projects, I pay constant visit to my constituency to brief my people on our activities in the House of Assembly and to also know their needs. I have assisted market men and women, farmers, artisans, and students financially. I am making efforts to introduce entrepreneurship skill programme where youths can learn one or two things and later establish businesses for themselves so as to further reduce unemployment rate among them.
Are your colleagues in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) not making efforts to draw you to the party?
I am a committed member of the APC and I am a leader of the party in the state. I remain a loyal party man to the core and I will not compromise my stand for any reason. I am not someone who can bend to pressure and people know me for my stand and position wherever I belong.