The Lawmaker representing Badagry Constituency 2 in the Lagos State House of Assembly Hon. Engr. Setonji David, in this exclusive interview with Eniola Awokoya, speaks glowingly about the serenity, splendor and historical beauty of the ancient city of Badagry. The highly rated Lawmaker who is also the Chairman, House Committee on Physical Planning and Urban Development, insists that the All Progressives Congress is the party to beat come 2019. Enjoy the excerpts.
You represent a very historical part of Lagos state. Is there any plan to inculcate the cultural values and history of Badagry into the school curriculum, to ensure that the rich story behind Badagry is not lost on the new generation?
Badagry as a city is the cradle of civilization in Nigeria. It was a major port for slavery in West Africa, so anything about Badagry is very historical and that is why we believe strongly that if we are talking about tourism development in Lagos state, Badagry is a prime location. People come from all over the world to see Badagry, but unfortunately, some of the artifacts and facilities that will enhance tourism are not there again, example are bad roads but the state government is working on that.
To the question, there is only one curriculum being used in schools all over the state. It is now left to the government to incorporate the values Badagry represents into our educational system. Right now, it is impossible to isolate any part of the state to teach something different.
That beings said, we believe that our values, our cultural systems, conventions and customs are very unique and we always encourage people to come there and see for themselves because the environment is very unique and serene.
Also importantly, society and culture are quite dynamic . we have a unique language being spoken there which is Egun language and because of dynamism in the society, some of these cultures and languages could die of. That is why the government must ensure that there is continuity and these lofty ideals do not become extinct.
As the Chairman, House Committee on Physical planning and Urban Development, what is your reaction to allegations of the state government not compensating people whose buildings were demolished for road construction to take place.
The truth of the matter is that we encourage our people to be law abiding. You must get approval before you build. When you acquire a parcel of land, you need to cross check to be sure it is not a land that has previously been acquired by government for a purpose. You cannot build on the road and development now comes and the structure is removed because it is illegal and you now want government to compensate you for illegality? It doesn’t work that way.
However, if you have conformed to the laws of the land by getting your approval and titles before constructing, you will most definitely be compensated. I can assure you that the Lagos state government is a very lawful government that compensates every property that has titles, but if it’s an illegal structure, it cannot be compensated. That is why we encourage people to get their approval from government so that if there is any issue, it will be properly addressed and resolved.
Some of those affected argue that while they are still in the different stages of getting approvals and titles for their property(ies), the government’s bulldozers come in and start demolishing?
Before government starts demolishing illegal structures, the people in the affected areas are given notices. There are different stages of notices which are given to them. It is practically impossible for government to move in arbitrarily and start breaking down illegal structures. This is not a lawless society and we are in a democratic dispensation, so we always conform to lay down rules.
As a lawmaker, can you shed light on some of the laudable projects you have embarked on in the constituency that you represent?
Within the first six months of my assumption of office, I provided borehole water and generators to power them for each of the eight wards in my constituency, I have also graded a number of roads. It is also noteworthy that every year since I assumed office, I pay for the GCE examination of at least a hundred indigent students every year, I do that for our people.
There are also a number of roads that I am influencing their construction. No long ago, I also identified a primary school that was challenged in the area of furniture and stationery and I moved in and supplied all the necessary items. So, these are some of many more great projects being carried out in Badagry constituency 2 in Lagos state.
As a Hon. Member of the All Progressives Congress in Lagos state, how would you react to the position of former president Olusegun Obasanjo in his infamous letter, where he stated that neither the APC not the People Democratic Party, can give Nigerians the desired change.
Whoever wants to remove the fig from somebody else’s eyes should also, first of all, remove the log from his own eyes. With all due respect to Baba, I respect his views and he is entitled to it. However, the PDP destroyed this country for sixteen years, APC just came in and we want miracle in just three years, that is impossible.
You know it’s so easy to destroy but it takes a whole lot to build. The federal government is trying as much as possible tidy up the mess caused by the PDP. Consider the level of corruption we had in this country, power supply and the likes. One thing I have realized in this county is that we forget things too easily.
We have forgotten what we went through in the hand of the PDP for sixteen years and somebody has come now to tidy up things. Look at our external reserve which is building up gradually among a host of other things. Nigerians should not expect miracle.
I am not saying that we are doing the best but you can never compare APC with PDP in this country because we are all witnesses to what happened during those period. Everybody is entitled to his/her view but it is a fact that the APC is doing exceptionally well and Nigerians should give us eight years and you will see what will happen in this country.
We are not even asking for the sixteen years of the PDP, just eight years and we will see that this country will have recovered fully, that I can assure you. Nigerians are very wise people and they know that the APC is the best party for the country at this time.