Sixty-three today, the Lagos East Senator, Gbenga Ashafa, is a worthy example of effective representation, writes Shola Oyeyipo

Coming from the civil service obscurity to an active political engagement, the Senator representing Lagos East, Gbenga Ashafa isn’t just a household name, he has equally found for himself, an enviable place in the state’s body polity.

Never shy to discuss his tottering start, he speaks today with such authority that presents a man, who has grown from a place of learning to one who now boasts knowledge in his new calling. From delivering on the rudimentary functions of a lawmaker to paying attention to other life-changing essentials, Ashafa has built sufficient trust in the people of Lagos East.

This is why apart from being a senator with cognate experience; he is also a member of the National Executive Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC), combined with his role as the Vice Chairman (South-west) of the Southern Senators Forum.

He has seized the opportunity of his time in the Senate to leverage opportunities for his people, in addition to developing the capacities of his people in a sense that agrees with the notion that the future belongs to the knowledge economy.

This, of course, explains why he has paid attention to critical infrastructure as prerequisite to the capacity development of his people. As chairman of the Senate Committee on Land Transport, Ashafa has been of great help in terms of lending legislative support to the executive to achieve a complete turnaround of the Railway Sector.

This is evidenced by the overhauling of some of the legislations surrounding the Nigerian Railway Sector by repealing the Nigerian Railway Corporation Act 1955 and replacing it with the Nigerian Railway bill 2016, which was passed by the senate on July 21, 2016.
This new law represents a radical departure from the norm as it has effectively broken down the railway sector into the regulatory and operations components in line with international best practices, thereby creating a level playing field for private and state sector participation.

In identifying the issues of regulation as a major challenge facing the Nigerian Transport system, his committee is currently working on the passage of the National Transport Commission Bill, which seeks to create a multi-modal transport sector economy and safety regulator.

He is also pursuing a Bill for an Act to provide for the Transportation, Protection and Facilities of Employees and other matters connected therewith (2016). The purpose of the Bill is to protect and enforce the safety and dignity of Nigerian workers by ensuring that employers make provision for safe and convenient means of transportation for their workers.
These have not however inhibited other legislative engagements. For example, Ashafa has so far sponsored six bills, including The Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act Amendment Bill 2016; The Chartered institute of Logistics and Transport Bill 2016; The City University of Technology Bill 2016; Sporting Tax Holiday Bill 2016; The Nigerian Postal Bill 2017 and The Nigerian French Language Village Establishment Bill 2017.

Further to these, he has also sponsored nine motions as well as co-sponsored and contributed many more. Some of them are the recent fuel tanker tragedies on Nigeria’s highways; Nigerians involvement in Illicit global drugs trade and increase in domestic drug abuse by Nigerian youth; motion on the rising incidence of jungle justice among Nigerians; motion on urgent need for the Nigerian police force and other security agencies to intervene in the increased rate of kidnapping in the Lagos east senatorial district and securing the waterways.

There were others like the motion on the outbreak of meningitis. Urgent need to curb the spread and stop further deaths; motion on inadequate releases in the 2017 budget and the need to expedite releases in order to stimulate the economy; motion on the preventable economic loss and national embarrassment accruing from the failure of the federal government to complete the national library after 11 Years.

His motion on the need to minimize the possibility of air mishaps and near fatalities in Nigeria; motion on the need to enforce stricter driving regulations against petrol tankers, trailers and other articulated vehicles across Nigeria have combined to show a man desirous of a promising future for his people.

When these are put together with his unceasing empowerment and capacity building initiatives, Ashafa easily comes to mind as a quintessential example of what the characters of effective representation should be especially, at the level of the senate. What more, there is no better time to shed light on the qualities of a man, who stands tall amongst his peers than the occasion of his 63rd birthday.

Born in the Luther/Bamgbose/Campos area of Lagos Island on July 22, 1955, Ashafa is the second child of a commodity merchant, Lawal Kakanfo Ashafa, and a textile and gold merchant, Tesmot Ojuolape Elemoro.
With his foundation education firmly rooted at Christ Church Cathedral Primary School, Broad Street, Lagos in 1961, he grew to run the full course of resounding education, both at home and abroad, before venturing into the Lagos civil service, where life began for him in full circle.

There is no debating the fact that life has been kind to him, which of course, does not mean he hasn’t had his fair share of its many curves. But his ability to stay above the fray and embrace his challenges as rather stepping stone is the reason life might have smiled at him. He obviously has reasons to clink glasses on the occasion of his 63rd birthday.