Tinubu deserves respect, should be given a chance to serve fatherland, says Razak

Razaq

Chief Lanre Razak is a stalwart of the All Progressives Congress, APC from the Epe Local Government Area of Lagos State. A one-time commissioner for public transportation in the state, the politician in this interview with our reporter, advocates a speedy resolution of the current face-off between close aides of President Muhammadu Buhari and the Senate for the administration to face issues of governance more seriously, showers encomiums on the national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who clocks 65 on Thursday and speaks on other developments in the polity.

What is your take on the cold war between the Senate and some of President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointees namely Messrs Babachir Lawal, Ibrahim Magu and retired Col. Hameed Ali?
Two things are not too clear to me. They have overriding duties to screen and confirm whoever is becoming the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and in the process of carrying out these duties there are moral and even legal issues they should consider. Also in the case of the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Ali, is it the uniform or the man that will answer questions relating to the Customs? They are aware that the man appointed by Mr. President is a retired Colonel in the Nigerian Army; are they asking him now to put on uniform of Colonel or to put on uniform of a customs officer? These issues are not clear to me as a person but we expect certain cordial relationship between the executive and the legislature in the overall interest of the nation. Whatever action the National Assembly is taking, is it in the best interest of ordinary Nigerians? And if the answer is yes, is it being conducted in a way and manner that they will not be seen as being unnecessarily misusing the power inherent in the statutes of the Senate and the National Assembly? So they need to tally a while and let’s not try to politicize or drum beat certain things that are not necessary.

I cannot reconcile a situation where the Department of State Services, DSS under the Presidency and its officials are writing a report in respect of a nominee of Mr. President will it not be doing it right to let the Presidency have a copy of that report that makes it good enough for that person to serve in the capacity the President wants him or her to serve? Another issue is that when the Senate or National Assembly is exercising their powers, who is the liaison officer of the President and NASS whether he is performing his duties? A lot of things are not being coordinated between the two arms of government that I am not too comfortable with at the moment that the President needs to correct very quickly. But we are in a democracy and the NASS is just exercising its powers as a statutory body as an organ of government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria but let the legislators search their conscience. And the question is : Are they protecting their vested interest or the interest of Nigerians? Again, I am not too comfortable with the way and manner relationship between the NASS and Presidency is being handled. We need to show more maturity in our political behavior in this country, we are not having the best of time right now and it is very unfortunate.

What is the way out of the current impasse since President Buhari is in charge?
If Mr. President believes strongly in Mr. Magu and he knows he is the best man for the job to get the best result, he should insist that he remains in the EFCC. Unless they can provide credible information beyond any shadow of doubt that the man is not good enough for the job, that is the only time Magu should go but I don’t think Mr. President should drop him because somebody is saying no. The buck stops on Mr. President’s table. As a president of Nigeria all eyes are on him to do it right and if believes that these are the people who will get the job done properly, so be it. I don’t believe that Mr. President should run away from his responsibilities by removing Magu because some people have alleged that he is not doing it right. So my own take is that the president should allow Magu to continue with his job.

Do you support recent calls on the national leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC to intervene in the face off?
Yes. The party has responsibility to its members and the nation and I can assure you the APC has very strong crisis management mechanism which will be deplored to handle the matter very soon. I can assure you.

The National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu will clock 65 on March 29th, how will you assess his contribution to the nation’s democracy?
The man Asiwaju Tinubu is someone who is specially gifted and has made tremendous contribution to our democracy. Before now, we complained that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP government which held power at the federal level for 16 years, 1999-2015 has not been fair to Nigerians and that we were helpless. But except Tinubu coming to intervene the way he did, and ensured that the merger between the then Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN; Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP and a faction of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA worked out, we will not have been lucky to have Muhammadu Buhari as president today and nobody can fault that fact. We nay not appreciate what has happened because the rot in the deterioration did not continue, the decay didn’t continue so we may not be able to appreciate what Tinubu and his team as well as the incumbent federal administration have done to save Nigeria from imminent collapse.

So I see Tinubu as a man who has done wonderful things in this country who should be respected by all, who should be given the opportunity to guide this nation further because he is a man of the people. And he is very brilliant, talented person and he understands Nigeria very well. That is why he has been able to achieve great things so far both for the country and Lagos in particular. Look at the prevailing situation when he assumed office as governor of Lagos state on May 29th 1999, recall the many innovative steps he took especially in financial management. He raised the state budget to a high level without imposing additional tax burden on tax payers, he just plugged the leakages in revenue sources and made Lagos economy the biggest and fastest growing among the 36 states in the federation.

Also in 2007, he brought Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN and the people voted him governor and he achieved so much in the state. He also ensured the emergence of Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode in 2015 as governor and he has been performing very well, delivering democracy dividends to Lagosians and we are very pleased with him. So I believe that Asiwaju Tinubu is a man we should give respect always, appreciate and give support so that he could be in good stead to contribute further to the social, economic and political development of this nation. I believe that he still has a big role to play, I believe that those he had trained and mentored are doing very well and contributing their best quota to the development of this country. Mr. Babatunde Fowler, the chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS is another good example of his talent hunt. Tinubu as governor appointed him chairman of the State Board of Internal Revenue or Revenue Service and Fowler’s achievements are unbeatable. Take a look at his current performance so far as chairman of FIRS. He has increased the tax base of the country with the inclusion of hundreds of tax payers into the tax net and we expect substantial revenue from taxes henceforth. Don’t forget that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun state and the Minister of Information and Culture are among other notable Nigerians who have worked very closely with Tinubu in Lagos state in the past.

What specific measures should governments adopt to alleviate the current suffering of the masses who are fast losing faith in public leaders?
My appeal is that Nigerians should not lose faith in the present administration. It is easy to destroy, but very difficult to rebuild. There is no country that has fought corruption to the present level we have attained that corruption doesn’t fight back. The combined forces of corruption fighting back and the level of decay that we had before the current administration came on board are the challenges we are experiencing now.

I believe that the situation will be turned around for the better shortly because I know that a lot of socio-economic measures are being implemented to alleviate the suffering of the people. It may not get to the level of the public noticing it now but I know sooner than later say before the end of 2017, Nigerians will be smiling and our condition will be better. We just need to exercise some patience, endurance, support the government and we will be out of the mess and I can assure you on this because of what I know that is going on. I want to appeal to the mass media to appeal to Nigerians to exercise some patience and pray that this federal government will succeed. Certainly we can’t afford this government to fail so we must work hard, we must support and pray for President Buhari and his team.

There are no signs of things getting better soon but rather we see crisis in the ruling party and even in the opposition PDP. How would you react to this?
I disagree with you. The federal government is doing a lot even though such efforts have not translated into life abundance for now. Political parties are formed not only to acquire power but to render service to the people. But you can’t have graveyard silence in a democracy such as ours because we have 250 ethnic nationalities making up Nigeria and we have diverse interest and diverse opinion. So you won’t have a situation whereby everything will be smooth sailing but be rest assured that what you consider as rumblings in the APC have got nothing to do in the running of the government. The party leaders are up and doing what is expected of them to resolve whatever disagreement that may exist and I can assure you that the incumbent administration is getting it right and within a short time you will see a better economy.



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