Mr Adetokunbo Abiru, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for the vacant Lagos East Senatorial seat at the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly, has assured the constituents that he has what is required to represent them and delivered on promises.
The technocrat turned politician, who stated that he is passionate about assisting vulnerable people and giving back to the society, also pledged to create a foundation to tackle poverty among his people.
He gave this assurance while responding to questions by Community based reporters across the Lagos East Senatorial District at an interactive session on Saturday, September 12, 2020.
Abiru stated that he can conveniently navigate the murky political terrain and make his marks as a lawmaker and representative of his people with his background in the banking sector and as a former Commissioner in Lagos State.
“Surviving in the National Assembly will not be a problem at all if you focus on my background. A journey of 30 years cannot just be straight forward. You can figure it out that you would have gone through all sorts of things”, he said.
“In particular, if you also recall the kind of places that I said that I had worked, Guarantee Trust Bank, Lagos State Government for 2 years, First Bank, which is referred to as mini Federal Ministry of Finance, for 13 solid years.
“To survive in all these places, you must be able to understand, within the confine of professionalism, how to continuously survive”, he added.
“Those are parts of disciplines and competences that I have acquired over time – dealing with people, being able to negotiate your way within the confines of professional conduct. There is no situation that you can find yourself without a way. You just need to reflect properly”.
While emphasising that he is a good manager of men and resources, Abiru said that his managerial competence and work ethics, which led to the revival of the then troubled Skye Bank (now Polaris bank), saved over 8000 jobs with multiple multiplying effects on the economy.
“While at the Skye/Polaris Bank, I had over 8000 staff directly that I needed to save their careers. If the bank had sunk, just imagine the implications on 8000 lives with average dependants between five and six people. That is 40, 000 lives.
“If I had been able to manage that and I had brought succor to them, surviving in any situation won’t be a problem”, he assured.
“I have corporate experience and within that, there is political balancing. It is just about understanding issues and policies so that navigation would not be difficult. It is also about negotiation and being professional to comport yourself like an ‘Omoluabi’ (decent person)”, he added while assuring that he has all that it takes to represent his people at the highest political level.
“We will do things properly in a manner that will represent all of us. You can’t put a value to an experience of 30 years. It is going to come very handy on this new journey.
“The unique selling point is that I have had the privilege of my background in terms of quality representation, understanding of issues, discipline and governance. Those are the qualities that l am going to bring into play”, the APC candidate said.
He said that his role as a Senator will compliment that of his predecessors and other representatives.
“My role will be complementary to what those before us had done and have been doing.
“I have finished my banking journey. The next journey is to serve my people and the one that I have at hand presently is Senatorial. My focus is clear.
The Senatorial candidate, whose father represented Lagos as a Senator on the platform of the Unity Party of Nigeria between 1979 and 1983, also spoke about unveiling his programme for the women, youths, old aged and other vulnerable people in the society.
“Before coming into the race, I am a man that is passionate about vulnerable people. When pandemic started, my children were around and our first conversation when the lockdown started was on how we are going to impact on the people because the situation will come with a lot of sufferings.
“I know that I have five Local Governments and 16 LCDAs. It is very clear in my mind that I will have a programme to alleviate poverty and another that will focus on the vulnerable – youths, women and older people. I will unveil the programme very soon.
“There are things that you have to really think about so that they can be sustainable. Those are the kinds of discipline that I am going to bring into this assignment. I can’t just start something that down the line will not be able to continue”, he said.
“It requires deep thinking but be rest assured that it would be done. We need to put structure in place and governance around it to make it sustainable”.
Abiru, who provided palliatives for 8000 families during the COVID – 19 pandemic lockdown, also assured that his representation will be for everybody.
“As young as they are, they contributed to the purse that we used in touching over 8000 lives in this community. You can go and find out. This started in the third week in April and it wasn’t under any political structure.
“I insisted on not giving it any colouration. It was done through a local association, IKODASS (Ikorodu – Oga Development Association). With that mindset and background, you can only imagine if you come into this. My consciousness will always be for the people.
“I am going to be for everybody. I will have a programme for poverty alleviation and also use my goodwill over the years to create a foundation. The full details I will unveil at the right time. This will be to support the vulnerable and the youths”, he said.
On the creation of additional council areas in Lagos State which are yet to be constitutionally recognized at the federal level, Abiru said:
“It is something that is very important for development. It is one area that must be thoroughly researched. It appears sturdy because for better parts of 2003 and 2015, the leadership of the country has been with the other side.
“What everybody is saying is that the pursuit to make LCDAs into full fledged Councils must be frontal again and it is noted”, he added.
Answering questions on Banking and other sectors’ reform, Abiru said that the country has achieved a lot in terms of running a credible and effective system while also acknowledging that there is always room for improvement.
“If we look at the state of the banking sector in Nigeria, honestly, we have to give ourselves pat on the back. There are many things that we have achieved today that even the developed society is yet to. A good example is how banking has been made very easy for all of us.
“Is it the ATM that we are overlooking, agency banking, financial inclusion is ongoing. Those things require major investments. Yes, I know your concern as per deduction and this is not because it is my constituency but gradually it is changing”, he said.
“Recall that before the pandemic started this year, the charges were reduced by 50%. We are all living witnesses to the fact that the deduction used to be N100 but it came down to N50. It is a gradual process. You can’t just get it done at a time. This is not to say that I am defending the banking sector which is my primary constituency.
“All the conveniences that banks are providing cost money. May we never see those days again when my dad issued me a cheque for my school fees and I had to go to the bank and would be issued a tally number and as a result, would ended up spending the whole day in the bank”, he recalled.
“In actual fact, you can transfer money without leaving where you are standing. It is convenient but there is cost to it. If from N100, we are now paying N50, some day we will get to N25. We will get there”.
While stating that things will change regarding complaints by the masses on the operations of telecommunications and cable companies, Abiru added that his focus will be to empower his people and assist them in having purchasing power.