In this interview with the Senator Elect for Kogi West Senatorial District, Hon. Sunday Karimi, the lawmaker analyzed the importance of the abandoned Aiyetoro-Egbe section of the Kabba-Ilorin road.
The 231km trunk A federal road was approved and awarded for reconstruction in 2014 and later 2016 but nothing had been done after flagoff except the 17km that was constructed from Kabba to Aiyetoro Gbede in Ijumu LGA of Kogi State
There’s no gainsaying the fact that the Lokoja-Kabba-Egbe-Ilorin is the most economically important federal road, as far as the people of Kogi west and Kwara south senatorial districts are concerned.
The failure of the road has rendered the people, mostly farmers who dwell along the road, poorer than they’ve ever been, as farm produce displayed by the roadside (and usually bought by travellers from Ilorin to Lokoja, Abuja, Makurdi, Onitsha, Aba, Port Harcourt, and vice versa) no longer have that guaranteed market.
Commuters now travel to and fro these places via Ekiti state, which further lengthens their travel time, in addition to taking away people’s livelihood.
A journey of 231 kilometres from Ilorin to Kabba, and 315 kilometres from Ilorin to Lokoja, which used to take a maximum of three hours and four hours travel-time, respectively — when it still had a modicum of motorability about two decades ago — now takes much more time than the usual. I wouldn’t know if the journey could be covered in two days nowadays.
What should we expect as a Senator and what will you do differently from the previous Senators?
I will pursue legislation, programs, senatorial intervention goals including community and constituency projects that will impact positively on our people. One of the major problems in our area that I have been brainstorming on even before the election is our road, (Kabba-Ilorin road).
I know the level of the achievement of my people is based on this road, the economic sustainability of the people of Kogi West especially the Okun People is based largely on Kabba-Ilorin road. You can see that the road between Aiyetoro Gbede to Egbe and to Kwara state is too bad. It was awarded in 2014, a part of it was approved and another one was approved in 2016 yet there is no work done.
All the communities I visited to campaign, they kept mentioning this road and I have been brainstorming on how to go about the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the said road.
If you look at my constituency fund for four years, it can not do anything on this road. We have to remember also that the contractor abandoned the road because they were not adequately funded in the budget.
I have been thinking about so many things about the road but we should also remember that the yearly budget alone can not do anything on this road, hence the reason I’m thinking out of the box to know what I can do differently to ensure that this road is fixed and we will do that by the grace of God.
More than 96% of communities in Yagba land felt your impact while you were a member of the House of Representatives, are we expecting the same order now that are elected as a Senator?
I will even want to do more than I did for Yagba Federal Constituency. It’s a wider scope now talking about the three Federal Constituencies and I will make sure that by God’s grace I impact positively on my people in those seven local governments.
I had the opportunity of visiting all the wards in the Senatorial District and I visited over 85% of the communities in the Senatorial District during my campaign. I know their problems because they pointed at their problems and I will make sure I bring solutions to the problems.
One of the major problems that is spread all over Kogi west is Water and we all know that water is life. In fact I promised some of them that before my inauguration I will start doing something, now I’ve been able to do some and I will continue to do more.
The increase in the number of Local governments I represent is not a burden but a challenge to me that I should do more, it’s a call to duty and by God’s grace, we are capable.
If you are opportuned to meet the President-elect, what will be your first request to him?
If I meet Asiwaju Bola Tinubu today, I know that I will meet him very soon because I will be meeting him with Hon. James Faleke who is from Kogi west, our first, second and third request will be the issue of this road.
As member of the National Assembly, how will you be able to create a synergy between the federal lawmakers and the state government?
First of all, you can not impact positively on your people without ensuring that your people benefits from our state. This is our state and this is where our people have their business and their abodes and the first government that will impact on the people is the local government and then the state government.
The first thing is that we will work hard to ensure that APC is reelected back to Lugard House. We will not give out our state to the opposition party. Once we are reelected, we will return to the Local government and bring dividends of democracy to our people and also work with the state without being antagonistic.
You can not get results if you are in the same government and you are antagonizing each other. Where we need to give suggestions we will do that and we will ensure that our state makes progress.
What is your take on local government autonomy?
I am one of the strongest believers of local government autonomy. You cannot do much without having a local government that works for the people. I don’t believe in the Joint Allocation that had been initiated since 1999 that brings the local government accounts together.
You can easily reach out to the people when the local government is working. All the security challenges we are faced with is because we don’t have a working local government system. The Local government should have funds to tackle challenges that will impact on the people and that is not happening now.
On the leadership of the 10th Assembly, what is the assurance that the interest of North Central geo-political zone will be adequately catered for?
The last time the APC senators and house of representatives members elect met with the National Officers of the party and the President Elect who was represented by the vice president elect, they asked us to be patient and that they will call us to a meeting after the State Assembly election, so I’m sure the party will come out with the sharing formula that will favour everyone.
What are your plans for the youths in your constituency?
Sometimes when I sit down and I look at the army of unemployed youths in the country, I come to realize that we have to do something. If not, it will be a major problem to solve for us in future.
We have to thank God for a person like Bola Tinubu who has a sound background in job creation and diversification of government and economy, I don’t believe it when we allow the government to be the major controller of the economy. Let us diversify the economy and make the government have little to do in business and economy.
I will ensure industrialization that will bring about job creation and we will set up an economic team to encourage small and medium scale enterprises.
We will ensure that young graduates don’t depend solely on the government’s engagement but self sustainability. Let our economy be private sector driven, that will help to create jobs.
There was a time the Central Bank of Nigeria created a fund for Small and Medium Enterprises, we need to make sure that all these things work well for our people and then you ensure our youths embrace this to turn out to a celebrated venture tomorrow.
Hon. Steve Sunday Karimi is the Senator Elect for Kogi West Senatorial District under the All Progressives Congress.