•Reveals His Plans To City People
Seasoned banker, Mr. Tokunbo Abiru is the APC Candidate for the forthcoming elections for the Lagos East Senatorial seat. He is a cool and calm gentleman and a brilliant banker who is very knowledgeable about Public Policy and the political game he has found himself in today.
But many people don’t know the kind of person he is. Against the perception of the opposition of this APC senatorial candidate that he is naive Politically and that he was imposed by the APC party leadership, the newly elected candidate for the forthcoming senatorial bye-election has cleared the air on his Senatorial ambition and how he got his ticket as the Consensus party representative.
Last Saturday, Tokunbo Ashiru told City People his story. Between now and October 31, when the By-election will be conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), he is most likely going to be the main issue in Lagos East Senatorial politics
Recall that the seat of Lagos East Senate became vacant when Kosofe power broker, Senator, Adebayo Osinowo passed on in June 15, 2020. Mr Abiru, by coincidence, was also at the peak of his profession as a corporate banker who is retiring to serve his people.
Having served Lagos meritoriously as a member of the State Executive Council before returning to the banking sector, he is held in esteem as a key player in the economy of the state and a major technical adviser to the government. Across the pre-existing five local governments constituting the East Zone-Ikorodu, Kosofe, Somolu, Ibeju-Lekki, and Epe, there is no dissenting voice against his candidature among critical stakeholders.
He had a chat with the Media last Saturday, September 12, 2020, to give a hint of what most people do not know about his ambition and why he’s the right man for the job. City People was there and was able to grill him on why he is coming out of his comfort zone to join politics, and here are our findings.
ABIRU’S FATHER WAS A SENATOR
Many don’t know, that Tokunbo Abiru is taking after his illustrious father, 2-time Senator Mudashiru Akanbi Abiru, a stalwart of the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), who later became a judge after the 1983 military coup drew the curtains on his tenure in the National Assembly. He was also a senator representing Lagos East during the truncated second republic.
WHY HE RESIGNED AS COMMISSIONER UNDER GOVERNOR FASHOLA TO RETURN TO THE BANKING HALL
In 2011, the 56-year old Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) was appointed Finance Commissioner by former Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN). In that capacity, he initiated tax reforms, which enlarged the internally generated revenue, following the discovery of over five million tax evaders. However, Abiru resigned in 2013 to become an executive director of the First Bank.
Speaking exclusively with City People, Abiru cleared the air on why he had to resign from his commissioner appointment barely 2 years in office. He stated the main focus for any corporate executive is to reach the peak of his profession.
“ As at the time, I left First Bank, I was a Deputy General Manager, and that was the peak of the office as First Bank do not have a General Manager. You can only be promoted to an Executive Director. I left as a DGM and while I was serving as a commissioner, I got the opportunity to hit the peak of my career at First Bank and I had to discuss with the then Governor Fashola, who also reasoned with me. You will agree with me that not many people will resign as a commissioner for banking, but I felt have not satisfied my desired mission as a banker. So I went back and became an Executive Director”.
I believe I have now fulfilled all my required expectation, as a banker especially at this time when we have successfully implemented cost management initiatives which have enhanced liquidity and efficient service delivery to the bank’s customers.
Through aggressive recovery initiatives, Polaris Bank has been able to recover over N200 billion outstanding bad loans within the shortest period. The bank also reached settlement and restructuring agreements with many chronic bad debtors, resulting in substantially improved payments and prospects of future recoveries.
Other initiatives included branch rationalization, review of service contracts and cash management operations, which have resulted in huge financial savings. The bank was also able to successfully settle many mature trade and bilateral obligations and restructured outstanding balances with the relevant institutions. The bank also divested from four local subsidiaries, realizing the total cash value of N6.2b. he said.
Note that it was during Abiru’s tenure as Commissioner for Finance that Lagos State successfully floated an N80 billion bond, earning it the EMEA Finance’s Best Local Currency Bond Award for 2012.
But, his tax reforms underscored his financial creativity. He made the state’s tax efforts cohesive, and the discovery of over 5.5 million tax evaders in 2013 make the state to enlarge its tax coat.
His former colleagues in the State Executive Council attested to his efforts to increase state revenue to the tune of N6.2b through the Land Use Charge without controversy.
I AM NOT AFTER SANWOOLU’S JOB
Senator Abiru, when asked whether he intends to be Governor sometimes after the Senate, he answered, “Governor Sanwoolu is doing great in Lagos and we must commend him for that. Not many people know I have been very close with the governor since the year 2000, at First Atlantic. We are still close and I must confess, he has done well. Everyone can see how he has been front lining the cause of COVID-19 in Lagos and how his team has been working assiduously to control the spread in Lagos. I am not after his job.
HOW I BECAME THE CONSENSUS CANDIDATE
Speaking at the Medial parley, Mr Abiru debunked the misconceptions going round that he was singlehandedly picked against his wish to contest, as other prospective aspirants were forced to withdraw their candidacy.
He stated: I did not just emerge as a candidate, I want to assure you that I actually consulted all the aspirant in the APC and discussed with them. I consulted and discussed with them individually and I called all of them together in a meeting before we all had a resolve. They all can confirm this. I want to clear the air that nobody influenced the election and as far as the party is concerned, there is provision for consensus. And that shows the depth of unity and oneness that exists in the party.
ABIRU’S SILENCE PROJECTS IN IKORODU
Long before Abiru began to nurse his ambition to run for Lagos East, he had been investing in the lives of people within his Constituency and was actively involved in social activities in Ikorodu, just like his late father.
It is also worthy of note that Abiru had silently supported the political leadership of the constituency in kind, and also disbursed palliatives to no fewer than 8,000 residents of Ikorodu, anonymously, even while Senator Bayo Osinowo was still alive. Hon. Seye Oladejo described Abiru as a silent achiever whose major humanitarian works are done behind the camera.