•LAGOS Lawmaker, Hon. SETONJI DEVID
When you mention the name Setonji, among Egun people in Badagry, the image of Hon. Setonji Devid Samuel comes to mind. The Honourable member of the Lagos House of Assembly, representing Badagry/Awori Constituency II, has proved to be a robust voice for his people at the Lagos House of Assembly. He has been representing his people for two terms. Not tired, he wants to be given another term. Serving his people has been his number one priority and his aims and objectives are to ensure that his Egun people live well. The last seven and half years have been memorable for the people of Badagry/Awori Constituency II. Hon. Setonji still wants to do more with the kind permission of his people. He recently spoke to City People’s NIFE KAZEEM. Excerpts.
What is the meaning of your name, Setonji?
My name is Setonji Devid. It simply means the will of God.
To the best of my knowledge, the Badagry I know is a part of Yorubaland. Is yours any different?
I represent the people of my community, made up of Aworis and Egun predominantly.
What were your previous achievements and what have the people of your constituency benefited from you since you have been representing them?
A lot of things have been done so far, when I came on board, we had three functions as lawmakers. First, to represent the people, to make laws for the good of the people of the state, and also to carry out oversight functions. Of course, we are not the executive, but the expectations of our people are very high. If they have any problem, they always come to us because they voted for us. We are in the best position to assist them in our own little ways. We do assist. In my constituency for example, we have a number of things that I have done. When I first came into the house, of course, this is my second term, which is going to end in the next couple of months and I pray by the grace of God, I will emerge the winner in the coming election. What I am saying is, I’m really passionate about my people and have done many things that I will put on a photopage soon. When I came in, I did boreholes for all the wards in my constituency and I also bought new generators to provide power supply to the area as at when needed. I have also renovated many schools and I provided them with palliatives such as modern blackboards, writing materials, and educational materials. To crown it all, I have constructed a block of six modern classrooms which I donated to one of the schools in my constituency. It was commissioned by the Lagos State House of Assembly Speaker, Rt. Mudashiru Ajayi Obasa in February this year. I was happy to construct the block of classrooms which was funded from my little allowances that I was saving to achieve some of those things that were yet to be provided in my constituency.
Can you share with us what your experience in politics has been?
Well, I’m passionate about my people and that’s what drove me into politics and I don’t have any regrets. I have been able to facilitate one or two things, but when you look at the situation of the country, it is not really encouraging. We pray that things will get better because the challenges we have are not peculiar to Nigeria. They are global economic challenges. We believe in doing our best for our people. Engage them and let them know the challenges we are facing, but by and large, I have no regrets participating in politics because I have been able to positively affect my constituents, one way or the other. Though I’ve not gotten to the level that I desire, I believe we are putting in our best.
How did you find your way into politics?
I love politics as I said because I want things to be better for my people and that was what drove me into politics. At first, the desire to effect positive change, to eradicate poverty, to make life more meaningful to my people through law-making were my driving forces.
What are the upcoming improvements now that you’ve been representing the people of Badagry/Awori Constituency II and what challenges are you facing?
The challenges in Nigeria are nationwide. The issue of security has given the government a serious challenge and it’s a fallout of the constitution we practice. That constitution is not the best and that is why people have been clamouring for a change in the constitution, to enable governors who are the Chief Security Officers of their states to have control over the Police. The governor should have control over the Police. They are Chief Security Officers in name in their various states. Instead of governors dealing directly with the Police when they have issues, they have to consult the Inspector-General of Police who gives directives to the Commissioner of Police. This is not good. There are many things in the constitution that are supposed to be changed. They are there in especially, exclusive list and concurrent legislative list. The exclusive is loaded with the things that states should do. Those things are for proper development in the states. That is why we believe that this constitution should be amended.
When it comes to our economy, there are so many things that Lagos State could benefit from, which are under the control of the federal government.
How have you been able to manage the challenges, knowing that your constituency is surrounded by water?
The Lagos State Government is trying to work on the Lagoon to boost the water transportation system. We’ve also made it possible for our people to always ride in boats with life jackets on them. Today, if you’re riding on a boat without life jackets, you could be arrested. We’ve regulated usage of boat on water.
Let’s talk about your background, how did you grow up?
I’m from Badagry Ajara-Medo, I schooled there, I went to Badagry Grammar School, I was in Lagos State Polytechnic. Later, I went to University of Lagos, I also went to Lasu, I’m a Civil Engineer by training, I’m a fellow of Nigeria Civil Engineers, I’m a fellow of Nigerian Institute of Management, and I have worked with government for many years before joining politics.
What is your own take on the Muslim/Muslim ticket?
Our presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is a man who embraces Muslims, Christians, and everybody. He is the best. Most people don’t even know whether he is a Muslim because he has so many Christians working with him and that’s not our concern. We want a better government, a good country that’s well focused, well governed and Asiwaju is the best of the candidates we have today. We want somebody who can perform. That’s what matters to us. We have Christians and Muslim governments who have been so terrible, so, it’s not a matter of religion. People are just using that one to divide us. We want a good leader and we’ve found that in Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He is the best person who could help us, and I can assure you that if he is given the mandate, it would be better for all of us.
How can you describe Lagos of today, are we moving forward?
Of course, the safest state in Nigeria today is Lagos, there’s no state like Lagos. The governor is doing well and we have been lucky to have good governors. Most Nigerians want to live in Lagos. It’s so unfortunate the federal government has not helped us. You don’t leave a former capital of the country to itself. Above all, we are happy in Lagos. It is regrettable that we don’t control our immigration. We cannot stop everybody moving into Lagos, today, the population in Lagos is over 20 million close to 25 million, and it is telling on the infrastructure. Let me also tell you that, today, if you take away the economy of Lagos from Nigeria, Lagos will still be the 4th or 5th largest economy in Africa, that is to tell you how special Lagos is.
Do you think banning bikes in Lagos will affect our economy?
Since the day the federal capital moved away from Lagos to Abuja, the federal government should have made special provision for the masses and people who kept coming to Lagos everyday; this is biting hard on the infrastructures. Our roads are bad, that’s why the Government said we should regulate the movement of bikes. Motorbikes on the roads are creating lawlessness.
We just want a society that is governed by the law. The Okada rider most obey the law of the land, so that things can move on well for everybody. That’s the instruction and before government insisted on that, they’ve looked into the constitution that autobikes are restricted in some areas.
You are the lawmaker representing Badagry/Awori Constituency II. What are the steps you’ve taken on the Lagos-Badagry Express Road?
Well, we can only plead with the government to do something because that road has been abandoned for more than seven years now. While construction is going on there, there’s progress, but unfortunately, recently, the contractors have abandoned site because of lack of payment. The Badagry Expressway is the road to other countries in West Africa. It is a disgrace to Lagos State and Nigeria that immediately you enter another neighbouring country, you will be surprised that their roads are well tarred, they have expressroads, but Nigeria, which is the giant of Africa, has roads that are in a terrible shape. I am just pleading with the federal government to come and complete that road because that’s the only road that leads to Badagry.