By Cornell Udofia
LAGOS: The Abule Ado Fire incident is one that should never be forgotten in a hurry. It is one incident that has changed the lives of residents of Amuwo-Odofin Local Government.
Coupled with the Covid-19 pandemic and its disruption of everyday life, Trek Africa Newspaper’s Oki Samson, Amb. Cornell Udofia of CMC GLADIATORS Magazine, Mazi Sidney Nwachukwu of Creed Reporters alongside other Journalists paid a visit to the Chairman of the local government, Comrade Engr. Valentine Buraimoh to knowhow residents of the council area are coping since the terrible occurrence.
The Amuwo-Odofin LG Chairman who is also an ardent follower of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubuin this interview with The GLADIATORS Magazine explained that his government never neglected Abule-Ado victims, and why the former Governor of Lagos State is better qualified as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, come 2023 in this interview. Excerpts!
Not much is been heard about the incident at Abule Ado, why?
No. That’s not true. Recently, the Deputy Governor on behalf of the Lagos state government presented cheques to the family of the deceased. I and the committee have met and deliberated with the people. We have asked them to give details of their properties, including pictures so that damages will be repaired by the state government through the committee from funds given to us by the government, Governors Forum and well meaning Nigerians.
Also, we have been having meetings with the Deputy Governor and the residents on how the people can be taken care of and those taken to the Igando IDP Centre. The state government and the Lagos State Abula Bull Youth Forum Committee have paid for the hospital bills of the victims at all the hospitals they were taken to, particularly Navy Town Hospital and Golden Cross at Amuwo-Odofin.
My Vice chairman, Councillors and my humble self, frequently visit the victims in their respective hospital, and we even gave them cash.
How have you been taking care of these victims in this Covid-19 crisis?
We have taken care of them through many palliatives and food reliefs that we did. Considering the terrible incident that happened there, we have put them on the fromt burner. We have been carrying along, the community in Abula, Shoba and Oteyiin whatever we’re doing. Like I said, the Deputy Governor has given us money, and we have paid families of those who lost their lives in the incident. Also, effort is going on with the Eko District to return electricity light back to the community in tandem with NNPC.
NEPA people are working in conjunction with the NNPC as regards the relocation of pipeline so that we don’t pray for anything of that nature in the future.
As regards testing of the buildings, whether they will collapse or renovate the damaged part of the building. That’s what the Ministry of Town Planning is working on as we speak now. They are compiling the results of those buildings so that anyone that will stay will stay and anyone that will go will go, but those buildings were affected shall be compensated.
In other words, your administration is on top of the game?
Very much on top of it.
How are you educating your people on the ease of lockdown?
You know, it’s not total opening of normal life, but in terms of business, buying andselling is going as usual. Human movement will still be restricted. It’s not all companies that will open, but the ones that do will open up the economy up a little and gradually it will be expanding as time goes on.
We are educating people of the local government area on to observe the use of masks, physical and social distancing, cleaning and sanitizing their hands. All those measures will keep on so that we will reduce the further spread of Covid19 pandemic.
So what’s your government up to in the mean time?
Well, as government, we are trying our best to cut across all sectors, like keep on fixing the roads and schools until they are reopened by the government, including hospitals. Renovations are going on gradually in the council area.
What plans do you have for the students?
Well, Lagos State has taken very good measures for that, particularly the Junior Secondary Schools through the Radio and Television programme which is ongoing. Primary schools too have also emulated that system, through Whatsapp group they send assignment to the pupils and the parents will snap the result and send to the teacher.
So there is a symbiotic relationship between pupils, teachers and parents during this lockdown. They are taking them through social media, giving them educational assignment which is being submitted through Whatsapp. This is being done to keep the students and pupils abreast of their academic career.
You seem to be well accepted across your council area, what’s your selling point?
Well, as a man of peace, the man that brought peace to a community renowned for violence, since my inception, there has been absolute peace in Amuwo-Odofin local government. Also in the area of social development, infrastructural development, economic development, everything has been ongoing smoothly.
To that extent, the people have felt the effect of the government directly and indirectly; we make sure everybody in the community is kept abreast on the going-on in government. If not for Covid-19, we would be seeing many activities going on for the development of the local government. We are working in tandem with the CDC and CDA, with CAN, league of Imams, residents, and media. Everybody knows what is going on in their community as the government is concerned.
How do you engage in capacity building and choice of staff?
You know Amuwo-Odofin is a cosmopolitan local government, that is, we have to pick from all nationalities-ethnicities – Hausas, Ibos, Yoruba and even South South. We have been relating very well and running our government led by Rev Henry and Mummy Origbi. They are responsible residents of Amuwo-Odofin LG and that’s why FESTAC alone is a cosmopolitan local government.
To the glory of God, we have been living in harmony, coexisting peacefully, no rancor, all different nationalities have been living as brothers and sisters, as a family, despite having everybody domiciled, particularly in FESTAC where this our council is located. And everything has been working perfectly for us because we carry everybody along, nobody is more important than the other, everybody is equal and we are seeing ourselves as one big nation and big family.
Amuwo-Odofin is an entertainment hub, what has been happening in recent years?
We have been doing our best in the entertainment industry, even in the last 10 years. This will be the 10th year we’ll be having FESTAC/Amuwo-Odofin Musical Fiesta that brings all the A-list artistes- the likes of 2Face and Faze. Many of them, they all came, they have been the people anchoring the Amuwo-Odofin Musical Fiesta, because they see the event as a way to give back to the community where they came from and this has been ongoing for the past 10 years.
What’s your take on 2023 elections?
Covid-19 will come and go, it has been written like that. But the next level of government after Buhari should be the Southwest and should be Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and I’ll give you the reason why I said that. To the glory of God and to the benefit of humanity, this my present administration was brought in place by one person – Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and this is a man that can bring all the resources, both human and natural that God has blessed this country together to put Nigeria in the front burner of Africa.
Asiwaju Tinubu is a rallying point, not even in Nigeria, all over Africa up to the US, UK, and globally. Even in Africa, I can tell you how many presidents he has installed, Ghana, Sierra Leone. He is a man that means well for this country, a man that has served his country with all he has, what God has blessed him with including his life and he has given the opportunity to everyone.
He has built a team that can turn this country around. Today most of them are in the present government of President Buhari, is it Fashola, Sunday Dare, Femi Ipaye, even Femi Adesina, Special Advisers To The President and Vice President Osinbajo – these are all products of this great man called – Asiwaju. Let’s forget tribal sentiments, this man cut across all the ethnic groups.
In fact you’ll be amazed by his aura, his influence in the North, how many people he has made Governor in Northern Nigeria. Is it the Western Nigeria, even the Eastern Nigeria? You can see the Imo Governor, so let’s just accept the reality, we are talking about development of this country, we are talking about taking this country to the next level. This is the man at this point in time that is ripe and right for the job. Let’s look at his qualities, his antecedents, let’s look at what God has used his hand to do for the great people of this country. The who-is-who in this country, the gladiators of this country, Asiwaju has affected their lives one way or the other which you cannot decline. So he’s the rallying point to the next level of government that Nigeria is waiting for and it’s only Asiwaju that can take us to that level.
How do you relax?
When you aspire for any position, you are not aspiring for your selfish interest and you are not applying for your family interest, but for overall general interest. When you are opportune to serve, you’re not to rule, you’re to serve, to lead, so it’s a sacrifice that one’s family must bear. It’s for a while, be it 8 or 10 years, you’ll still unite with your family. Even along the line you’re still more or less with your family to redirect your future. If you’re called to serve, you must leave everything to that service. Because even if you’re eating and you’re called upon that your attention is needed, you have to leave the food immediately and move out, you will not say when I finish eating I will come because that few minutes that you refused to move things can go bad.
You don’t have your own time. That’s why sometimes I will have appointments with people here, before I know it I’m in Alausa, Ikeja on state functions or assignment. I don’t dictate my movement, my movement is dictated by assignment given, be it at this level or at the state level which I must do. So any opportunity given to anyone to serve, it is that service that comes first before your own interest.
What is your personal assessment of the CMC GLADIATORS Movement in terms of its impact on humanity and society at large?
The group is made up of timbers and calibers in all sectors of our economy from Security to Media, ICT to Business, Entertainment and Tourism, Sports and Politics. I’m very proud of what my brother (Amb. Cornel Udofia) is doing with innovation and I must confessed, I enjoy every thing going on in the group. Kudos to my brother and friend @ Amb. Cornell Udofia, the president of the award winning group and the entire exco and patrons for supporting this great initiative.