Senator Hosea Ayoola Agboola
Deputy Minority Whip, Senator Hosea Ayoola Agboola, is the only Senator elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the South-west. He spoke with newsmen on some of the topical national issues and the crisis in Oyo PDP. Tunde Sanni was there. Excerpts:
What’s the state of the budget implementation; has there been improvement?
Before we went on oversight functions, the performances on the capital projects were about 15-17% but as at now, there have been improvements to about 50% and if we can pass the 2013 budget in December, the executive should be able to implement it up to 80%.
If the National Assembly passes the 2013 budget before the end of the year as it appears set to do, don’t you think the budget could have loopholes with such hurried evaluation?
The National Assembly has devoted a month for the screening of the 2013 budget. For weeks, the two chambers of the National Assembly have been working on the budget. So, I believe if we have worked on the budget for about a month, then something tangible will be achieved. We are going to pass a budget that will meet the aspirations of Nigerians. We have put some things in the budget for the good of our constituents.
I don’t subscribe to the view that if the National Assembly passes the budget before the end of this year, it is doing so because it was rushed into it. Nobody can rush the National Assembly to work against the interest of Nigerians. So, whatever we are able to come up with in passing the budget will be in the interest of the country.
You spoke about some of the programmes you have put in the budget for the good of your constituents. Will they not be marred by irregular release of funds?
That is what the National Assembly is trying to avoid by passing the 2013 budget early. If we are able to pass the budget in December, then the implementation will start in January. If then the executive fails to implement as and when due, the National Assembly will be able to take them up. So, I believe if we pass the budget early, things will work out well.
As the highest ranking elected officer of the PDP in South-west, what do you make of the claims that the region is marginalised in terms of political appointments in this dispensation?
I agree that we have been marginalised.
So, what efforts have you made in the last one year to correct that?
But I am part of the marginalised people. I am also marginalised as the only elected officer of the party in the Senate. The issue is not about making claims of marginalisation or crying wolf, what the South-west must do is to ensure that in the next general election, it returns to the mainstream of the Nigerian politics. The region is too strategic in Nigerian politics to allow itself to be in the opposition. If we don’t want to be marginalized, then we should vote to be in the mainstream.
Do you subscribe to zoning the BoT chairmanship to South-west to correct the imbalance?
The PDP is a truly democratic party, so I am of the opinion that since the president is from the South, the BoT chairman should come from the North.
But the party chairman is already from the North.
That doesn’t mean that the BoT chairman cannot come from the North because it is the supreme organ of the party and the leadership of such organ should not be from the zone that already produced the president. When there are problems in the party, everyone moves to the BoT for settlement so there should be a sort of balance. The BoT chairmanship should be taken to either the North-west or North-central.
What efforts have you made to ensure that the PDP becomes stronger in the South-west?
The problem with some of the PDP members is that of indiscipline and Oyo State is a typical example. In the state, the congress was conducted in a venue accredited by the National Working Committee of the party, all the party members and leaders were there and then some people went ahead to conduct a parallel congress.
I believe that the PDP has no problem in the South-west region. Most of those saying that there is no party in Oyo State are those that are not disciplined. But I can assure you that we are working round the clock to strengthen the party. Everyone that is aggrieved will return to the fold and the party will rise to the occasion when it is time for election.
Is it true that there is no love lost between you and former governor Adebayo Alao-Akala over the 2015 senatorial ticket?
Those insinuations are not true. We are together. We are in the same party. He was my former boss as you have rightly said and I thank God that I am now in the Senate, so, what’s there to fight about? There is no iota of truth in such insinuations.
What’s your view on the Action Congress of Nigeria government in the state?
When I was in government as a Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, I remember that there was no lamentation over losses of means of livelihood; people were happy. Now, go out and see how many people have been rendered jobless and ‘shopless’ if I may use that word.
In Oyo State today, people are not suffering and smiling, they are purely suffering and crying which can only mean one thing—people are not enjoying the current government in the state. Based on what is happening and based on what people have been saying, I can say that people are not happy with the ACN government.