OrderPaperToday – Mr. Taiwo Micheal Akintola, represented Egbeda Ona-Ara federal constituency of Oyo State in the now rested 8th House of Representatives under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the African Democratic Congress (ADC) which he defected to in 2018. Although he failed to secure reelection for a second tenure, Mr. Akintola told Lizzy Chirkpi in this interview that he delivered on his legislative agenda and has no regrets in the four years of his stewardship. Excerpts:
What has been your experience these past four years in the House as a legislator?
Well, this is my first public office as a politician and it makes me realize that there is a wide difference between what you believe as a person and what you find when you get into the office; the dynamics are totally different. You meet people of different shapes and opinions, people that may not be in line with whatever thing you are thinking, and you know every transformation, everything and agenda of every human being needs people for it to be actualized, so it depends on which side your opinion falls either the popular side or the minority side. So I would say that for me, it has been a wonderful experience. I will say that some dreams (were) met and some not met. I will say that Nigeria, which is the goal of everybody, is work in progress and I know that Nigeria is going to get better.
Do you have any regrets that you are exiting the House at this point?
Are there events in these four years you would have love to reverse and what do you think was the reason for your losing the election?
No. Like I said politics is dynamic; it is about the people, your dreams and aspirations might be different from the goals of the people; you will want to build a castle for the people they will need a shopping complex so if you don’t read them very well you may at the end of the day get it wrong. Though in all honesty, I believe that the transformation I had in mind for my people has been largely achieved. And if it is personal gains and the stomach infrastructure which I think largely account for the result of the elections, I don’t think I’m privileged with resources to match their own desire but so far so good. I don’t have any regrets because I did the best I could. No regrets!
Was there any time your constituents told you they preferred physical cash instead of projects?
Well, you know that is the practice everywhere in Nigeria; there are some who would want you to feed them and at the same time ask you what you have done for them in terms of projects. My constituency is not any different, yes some people in my constituency have approached me for financial assistance but don’t forget that the mouth you feed today would definitely be hungry tomorrow. However, when you do something that is lasting, the generation yet unborn might still have the opportunity of enjoying such projects. For instance, in my constituency alone I built ten blocks of classroom in different wards and in fact, I have changed the face of education in my constituency. I also made available generating sets to supply power and fans as well so that the pupils can study under conducive atmosphere. So by doing this you are impacting in the future of the pupils. But it is unbelievable that some persons have come to meet me that ‘you did well but you would have invested in six classrooms blocks and given us the remaining money to feed ourselves.’ For me I don’t believe in feeding the stomach but rather embarking on projects that would benefit the people.
Did you have any agenda before coming into the House and did you achieve it?
Thank you very much. The thing is you kind of want to listen to the yearnings and aspirations of your people and if you believe that you can sort them out then go for it. The general yearnings then was that the people they have sent in the past are not bringing the dividends of democracy in terms of development. In fact, nobody said they were not being fed but because I was naive in politics then I just jumped into it with my ‘church mind’ thinking I would be able to bring the kind of dividends they want. But unfortunately, they want you to decide the dividends. Politics in my believe is about learning but if I’m given another opportunity today I will still do it the way I thought.
Do you have any intention of returning to the House some day?
Like I said, I would not see myself that I lost this election; I can only say the game changed. Let’s see what happens in the next four years: if the people deem it fit for me to return to the House, why not? It is not cast in iron because I’m a person who believe in what I can deliver and what you can use in service for your people. Before coming into politics, I have invested so much in my people so even without politics I can still go ahead and do what I want to do for them. I can state without fear or favor that in this four years my predecessors cannot match what I have done.
Do you feel bad loosing this election and are you affected in any way?
I’m not affected by any way; like I said you cannot be here forever. Even from the beginning I had it at the back of my mind that I stand a chance of my tenure as a member being renewed or the other way round so I’m not perturbed. The moment I lost, my peace was not affected.
How will you rate the 8th national assembly under the leadership of Speaker Dogara?
In all honesty, Speaker Yakubu Dogara has performed excellently well. In fact, he has done a very good job. He has been a dynamic leader. He has been fair enough by my own expectations. I’m also impressed about the quality of leadership he has displayed. In the last four years my one-on-one interaction with Dogara has not been more than five times but in all honesty that doesn’t form my yardstick of judging him.
How would you rate the performance of the Buhari administration?
In all honesty, you cannot compare the Buhari of 2015 to the Buhari of 1983 so definitely Nigerians must have been affected by the output of his administration but I think the person of Buhari has not changed. I will agree with anybody that the performance of Mr. President must have been negatively affected by his strength and promptness over issues of governance but the discipline in him has put a lot of things in check. However, we have not made any significant progress under this administration. Where Nigeria is today is not my projection of where Nigeria ought to be and that is largely affected by the content of Mr. President. Also, the President has been indisposed for onward of one year all through out his first tenure and if you put it together it is less than 25%. And this has rather retrogressed us as a nation. If in the process of his illness he has been indisposed does that mean we are not going to have another president? To the eyes of many Nigerians President Buhari is still the only person who can achieve all things especially to the people who brought him into power in 2015 and that is why they still imposed him on us again. For me, I believe there are one million and one people who can still do better than Buhari. That is my assessment of him but I still stand to be corrected.
How would you rate the executive/legislature relationship in the 8th assembly?
The executive believe that they have it all, they don’t believe in the legislature or the judiciary and unfortunately those who benefit from the government has refused to point out the truth to them. They are the ones who have caused all these problems between the executive and the legislature. This unpleasant relationship has greatly affected governance. I will give you a clear example of what I’m talking about: under the watch of President Buhari, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki was dragged to the court for mere allegation of bread of code of conduct and was tried for over three years. After they lost at the tribunal, they went to appeal court and then they proceeded to supreme court where they finally lost. All these put together, if you have immunity and the Senate President doesn’t have does not mean you have to drag him on the mud. If they would have been a proper room for respect for everyone, I think this government would have worked better. But that’s the way they chose it and they have seen how it ended in the eight assembly. Well, let’s see how it goes in the 9th assembly.
In your opinion, can you figure out why the legislature is always at the receiving end in any fight with the executive?
It is all about cash. If you have the money you can buy the people. The legislature is not the one in charge of cash. They are not the ones that will give you job or contract. It’s the executive that also fund the economy. So definitely if you want to see the perspective of a lay man, anything that is not making money to flow easily then it is an enemy of the people. However, I can see a lot of maturity from the legislature from the onset of this administration. I see a lot of tarnishing and image painting going on and the legislature actually absorbed it in order not to over heat the polity because anything counter productive would have caused division but thank God the legislature was matured about it. But whether we like it or not until the people themselves begin to understand the role of the different arms of government we would continue in this mess.
Now that your tenure has come to an end what are you going to be engaged in?
My earlier 30 years, I have been involved in engineering and consultancy so I’m very excited that I would be going back to what I know how to do best. There’s no regret at all.
When you’re not working what else do you do?
I do a lot of meditation; I also work out and hang out with friends that’s basically how I relax. But I love meditation a lot.