Calls for Gbenga Ashafa to run for another term as Senator representing the Lagos East Senatorial District have continued and it is becoming a prove that loyalty is better earned than bought, writes Gbolahan Yusuf
As a lawmaker in Nigeria, Senator Gbenga Ashafa has earned the loyalty of his constituents through efficient representation at the Senate and the direct investment in the lives of the people. These are the reasons he should be rewarded by his party, the All Progressives Congress, (APC) with the ticket to serve a well-deserved third term in office.
One would be hard-pressed to find in the 8th Assembly another senator as well-mannered, eloquent, cultured and refined as Senator Ashafa. He carries, in every way, the type of progressive demeanor that the APC promised Nigerians when it took over power in 2015. Through self-discipline, he has distanced himself from scandals, whether political or personal. His soft-spoken nature has endeared him to senators on both sides of the aisle and his brilliance shines through each time he takes the floor to speak in the Red Chamber. The many bills he has sponsored or co-sponsored directly affect the lives of the common Nigerians, for whom he battles daily in Abuja.
During his two terms, Ashafa has demonstrated a visible mastery of the mixture of responsibilities, both as a legislator and a representative. He has been creative enough to devise new methods of reaching out to his constituents in various ways. For example, about 120 of his constituents in February 2018 acquired various skills ranging from catering to mechanical repairs in a training programme in conjunction with the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN). The Gbenga Ashafa Trust Endowment (G.A.T.E) is a Trust Fund set up by the Senator and it provides funds for projects covering ICT Training, Education, HealthCare, Micro-Finance, as well as Agricultural Development. Only recently, an ICT center/Town hall in Oreyo Grammar School, Ikorodu, which he sponsored as a constituency project, was commissioned for the benefit of his constituents. These various projects have touched and continue to touch thousands of constituents. This is outside of several infrastructural interventions carried out by the Senator in several sectors, but with particular focus on education, an area the Senator is deeply passionate about, due in part to his quality educational background, which includes a Master’s Degree in Public Health Administration from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Many of such projects include construction and renovation of classroom blocks in Epe; Odomola Primary School, Eredo in Epe, Elemoro Village; Salvation Army Primary School in Ibeju, Lekki Primary School, Ikosi-Isheri Grammar School, Magodo Community Primary School, Oke-Metta Primary School in Somolu, Ajelogo Primary School in Agboyi-Ketu, amidst several other structures ranging from boreholes to electricity transformers to link secluded areas to electricity or water. Medical outreach programmes have also been carried out for widows and widowers, with the Senator also taking steps to make Bank of Industry loans accessible to constituents.
The larger point is that while Senator Gbenga Ashafa saw to all these, he remained one of the highest contributing Senators in the hallowed chambers. Senator Ashafa has been the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Land Transport in the 8th Senate, and has, in his role, actively provided legislative support for the efforts of the APC-led Federal Government to implement reforms in the railway system of the country. In his tenure as Chairman of the Committee, he has witnessed the repealing of the Nigerian Railway Corporation Act 1955 and its replacement with the Nigerian Railway Bill 2016, which was passed by the Senate in July 2016 as well as the passage of the revolutionary National Transport Commission Bill. The Committee is also midwifing the Labour Transportation Bill to provide for the transportation needs of Nigerian workers. Senator Ashafa has also sponsored other bills in the Senate, including The Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act Amendment Bill 2016, The Charted Institute of Logistics and Transport Bill 2016, The City University of Technology Bill 2016, Sporting Tax Holiday Bill 2016, The Nigerian Postal Bill 2017, The Nigerian French Language Village Establishment Bill 2017, among others.
If the efficiency of Ashafa’s representation, just like his legislative prowess, cannot be questioned, it is really a waste of time and energy to be mooting any replacements for the Lagos-Island born politician. Trading a certain positive for uncertainty has never and will never be a sensible option.
It therefore comes without surprise that stakeholders in the Lagos East senatorial district continue to endorse the Senators’s re-election bid. Senator Ashafa himself once said, “I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve and proud of the work I have done and continue to do in the Senate. I will continue to provide legislative interventions and support towards policies and initiatives that will positively impact Nigerians and my dearest constituents in Lagos East.”
Gbolahan Yusuf lives in Lagos.