My political journey started on September 3, 2020, after I had spent about thirty (30) years of successful career in banking with accomplishments such as: Executive Director in First Bank (2013 – 16), Managing Director – Polaris Bank (2018 -2020), Group Managing Director – Skyebank (2016-2018), Commissioner of Finance, Lagos State Government (2011-13).
So, precisely on Thursday September 3, 2020, we made a critical decision across the length and breadth of Lagos East Senatorial District. On that day, leaders and members of our great party, All Progressives Congress (APC) voted overwhelmingly in our direct primary election to affirm my nomination as our party’s candidate for the Lagos East Senatorial bye-election for October 31, 2020, which was later postponed to December 5, 2020 due to the #EndSARS challenge.
The elections eventually took place on December 5, 2020, with a resounding victory for us as we polled 89% of total votes cast. I was thereafter sworn in as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on December 15, 2020.
This is an opportunity once again to thank all our leaders and members across Epe, Ibeju-Lekki, Ikorodu, Kosofe and Somolu for their invaluable contributions to the victory. This honor remains the highest honor I have received as a public citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
I must also thank our dear Governor, His Excellency, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu for upholding the lofty and admirable tradition of excellence in our State. Well meaning Lagosians and Nigerians are proud of his achievements in various sector of our economy: infrastructure, healthcare, transportation, education etc.
Most importantly, I pay homage to our National Leader, a Leader of all leaders, and our 2023 Presidential hopeful – Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. His leadership vision and political astuteness remains unparalled in the development of progressives politics in Nigeria, and in building our great party, the APC. I pray that our collective support for his 2023 presidential aspiration will be fulfilled in order to re-set Nigeria for true greatness. Amen.
At this point, it is instructive that I recall my priorities and commitment to you all my leaders and constituents when I became Senator:
I promised to be loyal to the party, our great leaders and the members of the party who have unanimously and overwhelmingly entrusted me with their confidence and mandate.
I also promised to use my position as Senator, my energy and resources to further the well-being, welfare , prosperity and empowerment of my constituents.
High quality representation: I promised to represent our party and good people of Lagos East with integrity, passion and commitment, leveraging all the experience, competent, knowledge and relationships that I have acquired over three (3) decades as an economist, chartered accountant, banker and CEO.
Trust and Character – All my career, I have striven to uphold the highest ethical standards, character, professionalism, and the principles of noble upbringing.
I also promised to honour and improve the legacy of my predecessors including Late Senator (The Honourable Justice) M.A.O Abiru; Late Senator Ogidan; Senator Anthony Adefuye; Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe;Olorunibe Mamora; Gbenga Ashafa and Late Adebayo Osinowo .
So, from day one in office, I was preoccupied with the assignment you have saddled me with so that I can give a good stewardship of the sacred mandate you gave me. With all sense of humility and to the best of my ability I have strived up to the standards set above in the last 16 months or thereabout that I have been in office.
My focus remains around Legislative duties, Empowerment and facilitation and Endowment.
Legislation: I have sponsored about thirteen (13) private member bills and co-sponsor about three (3) others. All the bills have scaled first reading. It is important to note that two (2) of the bills are of particular interest to our entrepreneurs (MSME) and the youth.
They are: Copyright bill 2021(Repeal and Re-enactment) which has gone through first and second readings, public hearing and third reading and has been passed in the Senate. The second bill is Franchise Regulation Bill 2022 which has gone through first and second readings and now awaiting public hearing.
Motions: I have also moved two motions, namely; motion on the ban of cryptocurrency in Nigeria and motion on the urgent need for the rehabilitation of the Ikorodu-Shagamu and Ikorodu-Itoikin-Epe roads to further bridge the infrastructural gap and enhance economic growth in the corridor of our district.
The Ikorodu/Sagamu Road, the efforts I made through legislative interventions has led to the virement of the funding of the road to Sukuk Financing Scheme, yield desired results.
I am sure we can all testify to the rapid work and great relief to commuters, motorists and businesses along the Ikorodu/Sagamu corridor.
The Ikorodu-Itoikin-Epe road which was constructed in 1975 by the General Gowon regime will also experience major rehabilitation.
Petition : I presented a petition from the Magodo Residents Association on the illegal invasion and occupation of Magodo Estate by armed policemen purportedly acting on the order of the Attorney General of the Federation and Inspector-General of Police.
THE NEEDS ASSESSMENT
Shortly after my inauguration on 15 December, 2020, I commissioned an extensive NEEDS ASSESSMENTS across the 98 wards in the 16 Local Governments and Local Council Development Areas(LCDAs) of the Lagos East Senatorial District. The empirical findings formed the basis of my interventions across communities. Schools, Hospitals, Transformers, Educational Materials are provided on the respective pressing needs of our people.
In Ikorodu Central, Aga Primary School which was overstretched due to high enrolment of pupils has been salvaged. I facilitated four blocks of 24 classrooms equipped with complements of furniture and 16 toilets and Solar-Powered Borehole. The infrastructure has greatly improved learning outcomes in the school.
In Ibeju-Lekki, I facilitated two blocks of 6 classrooms at RCM Primary School Iwerekun, a coastal community in Ibeju-Lekki.
In Agboyi-Ketu LCDA, I facilitated 1 block of 3 classrooms at Ajelogo Primary School.
Also, in Ikosi-Isheri LCDA, I facilitated two blocks of classrooms at Isheri Primary School.
I facilitated a fully equipped computer laboratory at the Igbobi Junior High School, Somolu Lagos.
In the heat of COVID-19 pandemic, I donated 150,000 nose masks to primary schools across the Lagos East Senatorial District through LASUBEB.
I facilitated a 200-solar-powered street lights at Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH), Ikorodu campus.
As shown in the findings of the NEEDS ASSESSMENT I commissioned, the yearnings for health facilities by our esteemed constituents were pronounced. I responded to their concerns by facilitating a 40-bed Health facility and Dental Centre at the Ikorodu Campus of the Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH), now known as the Lagos State University of Science and Technology.
In a similar manner, I facilitated another 30-Bed Health Facility Centre at Mascara Health Centre, Agboyi Ketu LCDA.
Likewise for the people of Isiu and the adjourning communities in Ikorodu North LCDA, I facilitated a 40-bed Health Centre.
In ancient town of Epe, I facilitated a 960-spectator capacity mini stadium for benefit of our people, especially the youth. The two-pavilion sport facility is equipped with Basketball and Volleyball courts, and is ready for commissioning.
Equally, the popular Oluwo Fish Market in Epe has also been completely rebuilt. I facilitated the remodelling of the entire market and increased the number of shops from 259 to 319 comprising of lock-up shops, open sheds and 48 toilets.
Power, being a critical infrastructure for businesses to thrive , I facilitated the supply and installation of transformers in sixteen (16) communities across the Senatorial District including:
Every month since January 2021, over 2,500 vulnerable people including; aged, persons with physical disabilities, unemployed youth, women and widows have been receiving direct credits under my COVID-19 Relief Assistance Scheme.
Also, in order to bring our constituency services closer to our esteemed constituents, I opened four liaising offices in Epe, Ibeju-Lekki, Somolu and Kosofe to complement the main constituency office at Ikorodu.
Through these outlets, many constituents who are in dire need receive financial assistance on monthly basis.
BUSINESS CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT FOR ENTREPRENEURS
In a deliberate move at spreading prosperity across the Lagos East Senatorial District, my office in partnership with The Fate Foundation and Chartered Standard Foundation organised a Business Workshop/Clinic for 1000 MSMEs across the Senatorial district.
The training which attracted Executive Leadership of business-related regulatory agencies and partners like; BOI, SMEDAN, CAC, LIRS, NAFDAC and LSETF greatly enhanced the capacity of MSMEs in the district.
In addressing the dearth of knowledge which is one of the major reasons why MSMEs fail, a knowledge pack containing seven valuable books covering areas like; Financial Management, Human Capital, Legal, Strategy, Marketing and Communication, Digital Technology and Tax Management authored by reputable corporations including Deloitte, KPMG, Verraki among others were given free of charge to all trainees.
Participants also received Enterprise Development Certificates after the training.
I went further to announce a N100Million (One Hundred Million Naira) Constituency Intervention Revolving Loan at a very low concessional 6% interest rate per annum, which will be topped by additional N100 Million from the Bank of Industry (BOI) and the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund(LSETF) has also graciously pledged to add N100Million totaling N300Million.
The N300Million Constituency Intervention Revolving Loan Scheme will be unveiled soon for the benefit of MSMEs, Artisans and tradesmen in Lagos East.
YEARLY BURSARY 600
Through my Foundation, Tokunbo Abiru Constituency Team (TACT) Foundation, I established a bursary scheme for indigent residents in the Lagos East. Six hundred (600) beneficiaries received the bursaries at the maiden edition of the annual bursary held last October 2021. The selection process was supervised by independent advisory board comprising scholars with high integrity.
DIGITAL AND INNOVATION SKILLS FOR YOUTHS AND ENTREPRENEURS
In the same manner, I have set up a Community Innovation Space known as Senator Abiru Innovation Lab (SAIL) in partnership with a renowned technology and Social Enterprise company, The Co-creation Hub (Cc-HUB) in Lagos to train youths in the senatorial district on relevant digital and innovation skills, and build the best entrepreneurs that can compete in the ever-dynamic global economy.
The Centre is currently situated in Ikorodu within our district, starting from the constituency office but planning to move into a bigger permanent facility by July 2022. Five (5) pilot programmes have been put together with a view to proffer solutions to some of the challenges identified and many of our youths have started applying for opportunities to participate in the programmes.
Over Four Thousand (4,000) young people across the Lagos East Senatorial District applied for the SAIL programmes. Currently, over One Hundred Fifty (150) students are participating in the Five (5) Pilot Programmes at the SAIL Centre in Ikorodu while over One Thousand (1000) eligible applicants will be trained online.
The programmes are as follows:
Tech Talent Development – is aimed at identifying young people who are interested in a career in technology. Selected candidates will be taken through a learning plan that will transform them from complete novice to entry level software engineers in 6 months. At the end of the training programme, they will be fully qualified for an entry level job or internship.
Startup Accelerator for Businesses – is for young people who have business ideas that can be amplified by technology. The aim is to accelerate their growth with hands-on business support. For those who have a prototype, we will help them with product-market fit as well as build their capacity to be able to attract funding and support for their business. For those who don’t yet have a prototype, we will support them to develop their ideas for the testing phase.
Lagos East Teachers’ Fellowship – a programme aimed at equipping Educators with new skills that would lead to better learning outcomes. It is for Teachers who are interested in inquiry-based learning, and want to use technology in their classrooms to the benefit of their students.
Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education for Senior Secondary School Students – a programme designed to introduce students between the ages of 13-18 years to the concept of physical computing.
Business 101 for Artisans and Creatives – this programme is designed for creative startups in the fashion, crafts, or design sector in order to upscale the approach to business in a fast-evolving world. This training will help creatives better understand how to use technology to improve their businesses.
Dear party leaders, the above listed modest achievements are what I have been able to do in the last 16 months, but be rest assured that I have bigger plans ahead for our people.
It is on based on this that I am seeking a fresh mandate come 2023, boarding with our upcoming primary elections. I count on the support of all.
As we journey into the decisive year 2023, I urge us all to step up e VIC advocacy for our people to register with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) and also educate those who have earlier registered to check the validity of their PVCs.
This is important for all of us and our great party, APC, and our revered leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who will be on the ballot as the presidential candidate of our great party in 2023. Galvanizing and educating voters are the best support we can give for all these aspirations to come to fruition.