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Thursday, 20 June 2013

Interview: The New Face Of Labour Senator Oluremi Tinubu Speaks On Her appointment


Oluremi Tinubu
…Says she is not in the race to succeed Fashola
Senator Oluremi Tinubu made history in 2011 when she became the first woman to follow her husband into the Senate. Her advent into the Senate followed her remarkable stint as First Lady in Lagos State between 1999 and 2007 during which time she used her New Era Foundation to advocate many good causes, one of the most enduring today, being the One Day Governor.
Now senator representing Lagos Central, Mrs. Tinubu in an interview said she is now using the legislative platform for her advocacy against societal injustice.  Senator Tinubu who spoke following the presentation of her mid term report to constituents, was careful to assert that the fa├žade of grandeur and gentility around her should not erode her long history of activism in the public cause.
Having entered the Senate, would you say you were prepared to serve?

I am from a political family. There is no time that we are not ready to serve. We have been serving at the state and at the national levels for a long time now, so we have been in the process trying to bring succour to the people and I don’t know how more ready you want me to be? For one, my husband has been a very visible active player, but if he hadn’t gotten the support from home and the understanding, I don’t think he would have been able to go this far.
Is it a familiar or an unfamiliar terrain?
It is a familiar terrain for a long time now. We have paid the price to even be here today. I will tell you it’s like maybe this battery that they used to have in the U.S., that is Eveready, where you want to be and what capacity you want to serve. So, I am always ready.
What is your primary concern in the senate?
This wasn’t the Nigeria that I grew up to love. I keep saying it that I was not from a very wealthy family, but we were comfortable, we were the then middle class, we could aspire, we could dream to be whatever we want to be. I am here today because that dream kept me, but when I look at what we have today, I look at the young people and my concern is for the young, not for the old.
Oluremi Tinubu
What kind of Nigeria do we want to leave for them? A good parent would leave an inheritance for the children but what inheritance, what legacy do we want to leave for the upcoming generation? What they see is corruption. We see our children doing a lot of this yahoo-yahoo business, a lot of kidnapping, cultism and I am worried.
If we go wrong we should be honest enough to say that we have done wrong. The German Chancellor was saying yesterday (Friday) that her generation had done wrong to the young generation. But look at Nigeria if Europe is saying they have sinned by accepting that they didn’t create jobs for the young people and we Nigerians are still lying under SURE-P, we are still lying under Sovereign Wealth Fund. I am concerned. My greatest challenge in the senate is that out of the 56 committees, opposition, ACN only has three chairmanships.
I am the vice-chairman of the Senate Committee on Labour, Employment and Productivity and some people would say, O do labour people who are in the struggle dress the way I am? But I say, this is the new face of labour, and it is in my blood.  If you fight for the common good for the people you don’t have to dress in towels and deceive them, but they know who are theirs and you can see me with the rapport I have with the common man and my heart is saying, who is going to give them justice?
Who is going to fight their cause? So I want to see that social security is directed to the young person. I want to see them have access to free health care, to go to school, to have three square meals on the table. So my request is very simple. My request is that people can live like very decent human beings. They don’t have to keep begging for food, they don’t have to sleep under the bridge. That is my concern.
What is your stance on the bill for a special status for Lagos?
You know the senate turned it down they said it cannot be included in the constitution amendment but by the Grace of God we will have it. When we have the right government for Nigeria, they will know the need why Lagos should be given that special status as General Murtala Muhammed recommended years ago for Lagos, Port-Harcourt and Kano.
What is the fate of the 2013 budget?
What can I say? Being in opposition whatever your views are, they are not even respected. To me, that is the way they want to see it because one day, Senate will be crying foul, the next minute you don’t understand what is going on. So, they go and forth with the budget. And the budget that is passed, does it translate into anything? At the end of the day they ended up declaring state of emergency, so I am just as confused.
If just one man could transform Dubai it doesn’t take a lot of people to…and that is why Nigerians must look critically on Jonathan in 2015 or whoever PDP chooses. Lagos is Lagos today because somebody sacrificed. You all know what Lagos looked like after military government, but we tend to forget. We see the bridge that Fashola has just commissioned and we think that is how Lagos used to be. No, it wasn’t.
You almost talk like a comrade?
I am a comrade. I said that this is the new face of labour, it is in the blood. I also came from the trenches.
Juicy committee
I never talk about June 12. Everybody would give themselves all the accolade and I will just look. I paid dearly!
Why are opposition senators always desirous of getting juicy committee positions in the senate instead of remaining in the opposition?
If I wanted a juicy committee I wouldn’t be in the Labour, Employment and Productivity committee. I can only speak for myself and I have been a rookie in the Senate and I didn’t know about the juiciness of the committees until I learn. For me, I am quite satisfied wherever the Senate President has put me, but ACN we want to work. You were absent when the Senate endorsed the president’s proclamation of emergency rule in three Northeast states. I would like to know how you would have voted if you were present given your party’s opposition to the proclamation?
The state of emergency came rather too late, after security votes had been wasted and could not be accounted for. To me, I look and see the pretence, and these are not the things you would want to say. It is still the more you look, the less you see and I just pray that a lot of innocent lives are not lost. So, it is still chasing shadows. The problem with Nigeria and terrorism is the level of poverty.  Until it is addressed, people are still going to be aggrieved, they are still going to be angry. So, my view on state of emergency? I never supported it and I still don’t. I don’t believe in it.
Are you running for the office of governor?
Even to run for this office, it is this press that started it.
So can the press start it again?
No don’t start it oh! Truly and truly speaking it is never my ambition to run for governor of Lagos State. Remember, my husband did it for eight years and I was not an outsider to it. It is not a place for the tender hearted, it is a lot of work to govern Lagos and I am not the type that don’t put hard work into whatever I do. I don’t think I have the strength to say that I want to govern the present state of Lagos. There is still a lot of work to be done in Lagos, a lot of work.