Hon Atinuke Bello representing Odogbolu state constituency also doubles as the Chief Whip, Ogun State House of Assembly. In this interview with The ISSUES, the topnotch lawmaker speaks on various topical issues touching on one year eventful goverment of Prince Dapo Abiodun, the 9th Assembly as well as the need to have stiffer penalty for rapists among others; Excerpts
* Can you please tell us more on the significance of arms of government, that is, legislature, executive and judiciary?
You know that in any organization, no matter how it is, for effectiveness and efficiency of any work to be done, we have to actually imbibe the spirit of division of labour. This is what gives birth to having the three arms of goverment, that is the legislative, the judiciary and the executive. Each of this arm of government has their structure and constitutional roles that they play to move the country forward. The legislative, where I belong makes law, the executive coordinated by the governor implement the law while the judiciary interprete the law. Nigeria, a progressive country cannot be in the arm of just one person, we need to balance things, so this three arms of government have to work hand in hand, like form a kind of synergy to advance the progress of the country.
* In the last one year, is it safe to say that the 9th Assembly that you are part of has substantially impacted the lives of the residents of the state?
The Ogun State 9th assembly is a blessed assembly because of the combination of brains that are sent there by their people to represent them. It is a vibrant house. How do I mean by saying vibrant? , you know it’s a rainbow house, we have the ADC, PDP, APC, we have people in the APM. But the truth of the matter is, these people are vibrant being mostly youths in the house, we have a large number of youths in the 9th assembly, which has actually made the house a vibrant one. We have impacted so much in the economy of Ogun State because of the laws and bills that have been passed for the betterment of our people. We have passed so many resolutions, about 12 or 13 and I think we must have passed like 20 laws if I’m not mistaken in the last one year. So we have a lot of things that we have done to actually support the good government of Prince Dapo Abiodun to deliver on his electoral promises. The 9th assembly has actually looked at the people to enact laws to also help the government to achieve more. So I knew it is a very good and vibrant house. We even did one on ease of doing business, that in the Ogun State, instead of going to here and there for lands, or go to commerce to get approval of land, we did a kind of bill that states that if you want to do business in the state, it can be done within a limited time frame and within a ministry, so you don’t have to start going around. It is one stop shop thing to ensure that those who want to establish business in the state are attended to at one place rather than going all around from one ministry to the other.
* How has it been in the last one year representing Odogbolu state constituency in the state Assembly?
Last year, I took the oath of office to represent the people of Odogbolu State Constituency at the Ogun State House of Assembly. I consider this mandate I was entrusted with as sacred and a privilege granted by God through the people, and it is one for which I will forever be grateful. Thank you so much, great people of Odogbolu. Before I took the oath of office as a member of the parliament to represent my people, the mandate given by the people to me was challenged at the Tribunal Court. Despite the court processes with its accompanied negative politicking on media and various platforms, we were determined to protect and preserve the people’s choice promised on efficient representation, strong legislation, quality leadership, active participation at plenary, and continuous social and welfare programmes for the people. For accountability and records sake, below is the summary of my activities in the last 365 days, that is, from June 10, 2019 at the Ogun State House of Assembly.
Some of my one year achievements in office achievements are sponsoring of resolution on 35percent inclusion of women in the government, sponsoring a resolution of 10% minimum inclusion of youths and people with disabilities to be given a favorable percentage, engagement of youths across my constituency under the Youth Empowerment Scheme.
Others are distribution of thousands of customized 60 leaves note books to student, assisting our admission seekers into various tetiary institutions, distribution of COVID-19 palliatives and materials at different stages to the residents of my constituency, distribution of pairs of school uniforms to both primary and secondary school students.
My other achievements are payment of tuition fees and acceptance fee of Odogbolu constituent students into tetiary institutions, constant visit and support to school of peoples with special needs in Odogbolu constituency, facilitation of jobs placement for the youths as well as selection of women for empowerment. I have also distributed JAMB forms to some students seeking to admission into higher institutions, supported six WAEC students with phones to aid e-learning, facilitated government support for victims of rainstorm disaster at Ibefun.
I was also instrumental to rehabilitation of Odogbolu road as well as the electrification of Odogbolu General Hospital among others.
As we forge ahead in the coming months and years, I am more determined than ever to continue to serve my people. Such a position as this that I am privileged to occupy is a great opportunity to serve. There are still many challenges ahead in our state and nation such as unemployment, insecurity, and poverty amongst others that we need to fight collectively regardless of our political affiliation, religion, or ethnicity. I want to deeply appreciate the leaders of my party in Odogbolu Local Government and members of my party. I also appreciate everyone that has ever represented Odogbolu State Constituency in the Ogun State House of Assembly, thank you for your quantum effort in the development of our constituency. I appreciate my minority colleagues in the House and the leadership of the House ably led by Rt. Honourable Olakunle Oluomo for all the support and encouragement we have received from him in the last one year. I particularly want to appreciate the Speaker for his commitment towards the advancement of the 9th Assembly and our dear state through quality legislation and support for the people-oriented bills I have submitted through him to the Assembly. This he has continually assured will receive the necessary attention.
As a lawmaker, how do you view the rising incident of rape cases?
The truth of the matter is that the trend we have right now on rape is so pathetic, it’s so scary. We use to have issues of rape but it has never been this bad but Ogun State House of Assembly has zero tolerance to anything called crime, not even rape but all manners of criminalities. We want a crime free state, you know this thing has to do with security personnel and it also has to do with people. People must be ready to speak up when they are violated, they must be encouraged to give information. The Governor just inaugurated Advisory Committee for community policing recently, that tells you the level of our preparedness to fight crime to standstill. Let me use this Covid-19 as an example, the geometric rate that the thing is expected to spread is 1-3 when you see one person that is infected, you are sure of other 3 people being affected. We actually prepared ourselves in Ogun State that instead of increasing, it is declining, and that is what the governor is currently doing now. He launched the patrol vehicles, motorcycles for the security agencies during his hundred days in office and now he has launched community policing to involve the people at the grassroots. So, with this type of security arrangement I think it will help a lot to curb crime because we know ourselves, it is a case of we living in a particular community policing ourselves. So, the 9th Assembly is prepared to stamp out crime likewise the governor too. During our recent sitting at the assembly chamber, a lawmaker actually raised the issue on the floor that this rape issue is becoming too rampant, the Speaker of the assembly told the Chairman on House Committee on Women Affairs to come up with a bill that will sanction rape in the State, so if anybody does anything like this, this is what will happen, irrespective of what is in the federal constitution. I know we have some measures of law against rape in our federal constitution. So the 9th assembly is up to the task, Governor Abiodun is up to the task so I know in Ogun State we are safe and secured.
Personally, what kind of punishment would you suggest for rapists?
To say the truth, I am getting scared when I heard all these things, it scares me alot. News broke that 25years man raped a 70 years old woman, let’s even say the mama is aged, what about a able man raping 6 month old baby?, so this thing is scary. If I am going to suggest any punishment, a rapist is like a murderer because for the rest of the life of that child, lady or woman the trauma will be there, they can not get over it and it will surely affect their way of lives, it will affect their thinking, it will affect their out put as a mother when they give birth, it will affect the out put as a wife if they actually get married and people like that will be nursing bitterness, the one that is even rampant now is rape and murder. It may not be a bad idea to treat rapists as murderers.
How do you think the problem of internet fraud among our youths could be addressed ?
I have said it, an idle mind is the devil’s workshop, most of all these things are happening because most of our youths are jobless, most of these things are actually happening because they don’t have the environment that will enable them to thrive and be successful, but this present government of Prince Dapo Abiodun is actually creating an enabling environment for every youth. Recently in the house of assembly, we passed a resolution that the industries that we have in the state should employ at least 30% of their workforce from their host communities. Our youths must also be ready to benefit from the ongoing projects in the state, so the only thing we can do now is to advise our youth, to go out there, there is an enabling environment for you people, there are so many things you can get involve into other than crime, we have Central Bank of Nigeria backed agricultural programme, Anchor Borrower, most people that are benefiting from it are youth.
Ogun State of today is actually the Nigeria or the southwest of many years ago where a youth will say if I read my book, I will get a scholarship; where a youth will say “if I read my book very well and graduated as the best graduating student of the year I might get employment; these are our driving force when we were in school then, you always wanted to be the best but what I have noticed now in Nigeria is this terrible trend, criminalities are acutally been celebrated more than people wanted to read their books. I am not condemning any show but you see some shows on TV where they will tell you when you kiss yourselves and seduce yourselves and at the end of the day you will earn 50million naira; whereas we have brilliant people in schools that have nobody to sponsor them, so it just normal when you see that this is the way, or line to be successful, you will want to follow that line. So, I think the government of Prince Dapo Abiodun is bringing back the respect for those values of hardwork, academic brilliance, integrity that have been lost, the value of saying my GP is 4.9 but I must have 4.95 so that I will be the best student and I will get automatic employment in Ogun State. These are little things but they go far more than we see it because it will encourage people to toe the right line, because every body believes if I must make it now, it will create a brighter future for me and my family.
* What is your assessment of one year in office of Gov Dapo Abiodun, is it true that the man never prepared for this office?
It is a pity the way people run their mouth, no wonder they say talk is cheap. Those with that kind of mindset should go to local government, go to wards and see the impact of Gov Dapo Abiodun on youths especially, it can be seen in the house of asseembly, go and ask people what Dapo Abiodun has done in their lives, my own local government is an example that I can talk of, he has taken so many youths off the street, they don’t even want to fight again, I am not saying some youth are lazy but there are few who don’t want to do anything, they want free money, they want everything to come to them freely and life itself is not free. There is price to pay even to be alive, you’ll have to keep yourself healthy, if you are not healthy, you’ll die, you have to make sure you eat well, you may decide to go for 40 days fasting but you can’t go without water, these are part of prices we pay to live.
So there is price for everything in life and one of the prices of being a successful youth, you have to work, you cannot say you want to have it all, you cannot say you want to have it good, if I open my mouth to say my story, despite the fact that I come from a family that are comfortable, I am the first child of my family but when I got espoused to my husband, I saw a different life entirely but I didn’t run back to my family. I was determined to make a living for myself and I struggled, infact may be because of my orientation, when I had my WAEC then, I think I had F9 in English and one other subject, so, on my own I kept on having GCE till I made my result, I was spending my money, I did not even tell my daddy, until when I had my result. When I had admission into Olabisi Onabanjo University to study Diploma in Data Processing, someone just came to me with a form and I filled, I didn’t even tell my parent, it’s until when I got admission that I called my parent that I had been given an admission in the university and my father eventually gave my mother money to pay my school fees. As youth as well, we need to be prepared, we need to channel our mind at what we want and work towards it and then you pray for God to bless it. There is a price to pay, if I had not aspired, people wouldn’t have rally round me. In a nutshell, it’s hard work. There is price to pay for everything and you must be ready to pay that price to get to where you want to be in life.
* How has life been as a woman in politics?
It is not easy, as a female in politics, you have a limitations, but we are trying our best. Women are mostly good managers, they are mostly more productive than male but being a woman in politics, being a woman in house of assembly is something sweet and nice because I am exposed to many things, I learn everyday, it’s a process that I am happy to be part of.
– Published in Nigeria by The Issues Magazine Vol 6 No 40