Professor Robert Ajayi Borroffice is the Asiwaju of Akokoland, a scientist of no mean repute, Chairman Senate Committee on Science and Technology, a former Director General of National Space Research and Development Agency, Abuja and chieftain of All Progressive Congress (APC). In an exclusive Interview with National WAVES General Editor, Tola Bakare and Coker Ekyobade, he bares his mind on both state and national Issues.
When we talk of vibrant senators, you are one of the few Senators who are effective, how did this evolve?
Well I want to thank you first of all, for coming to see me, asking me to make some comment on a number of Issues. The question you have raised depends on who is asking and who is depends on who is giving the question and who is giving the answer. This is because of the way people judge effectiveness senate varies from individual to individual. There are some people who believe on the numbers of bills and sponsorship of motions, before you are said to be effective.
First of all in the senate we don’t believe in it. I can tell you that. Infact, I have a colleague, last week alone, he sponsored five bills, and he knew that those bills will not see the light of the day. But there is politics of it. It will be on record that he had sponsored five bills. So if I want to sponsor 20 bills I can do that within two weeks, I will present several bills even though, I know that they will not pass the first reading. That is one of it, so that you cannot even access the effectiveness of such a senator, from the numbers of bills, or from the numbers of the motions, I think the effectiveness could depend on how he conducts himself, how he participate in the debate. How is he an absenteeism or is it the type of senator who is very effective in terms of attendance. And I think, I have had at least nothing less than 99 percent attendance in the senate.
The only time that I was not in the Senate was during the time of election in Ondo state, when I was in Ondo state for the campaign. Besides that, I have tried as much as possible not to absent myself in any reason.
Secondly, I don’t absent myself from my oversight function, because the budget is funded from the people’s money which was committed to projects, and as the chairman of Senate Committee on Science and Technology conducting oversight function, I always ensure that project that are listed and funded from the budget are carried out in the interest of people. I think that is very important. And apart from that, I am in three other committees Air Force and special duties and in all these committees I have been very effective. Attendance in terms of oversight functions. And of course in budget, as the chairman of the senate committee, I always make tremendous contributions to the budget of Science and Technology and also the budget of other committee. These areas, I think I have been very active in the functions of the National Assembly. These I think I have been effective and I am satisfied with my performance. How it evolve? That’s has always been part of me. I always want to put up my best wherever I find myself.
Majority of the people of Ondo state who voted for you as a senator, for improved standard of living, holistically felt that they have not seen any benefits fromthe dividends of Democracy. What is your take?
The preoccupation of the National Assembly is to Legislate we are not to execute. It is the Executive that will execute if there is poverty in the land, then it is the fault of the federal governments, and the state government and that there is nothing we can do about it. We may even pass the budget but if the federal government may not do anything about it, then there is nothing we can do. So it is unfortunate that we still find ourselves in this situation. God has endowed us with so much resources and oil.Other countries have used these resources, to better the lots of their people, to provide services that make it easier for their people, but the money is being stolen through corruption.We hear of oil theft today. We hear of oil subsidy, tomorrow is waiver. You know, import duty I wish the wealth of this country is geared towards the development of the people of this country. But you know there is not much I can do. This year alone, we had a serious look at the budget, since December last year, but this is September; the budget implementation is less forty percent and there are excuses that the revenue has fallen, that is not true, oil is still the benchmark of the 2013 budget which is $79 dollars per barrel. Oil is still selling at about $110 per barrel. The numbers of barrels we are producing per day is still the same. What is wrong, where is the shortfall In the revenue generated through the Inland Revenue,sowhere is the money going?yet we cannot fund the budget.Now, I am telling you, the budget performance is below 40percent, So, how will people not eat from dustbin, How wouldn’t they eat on the road – side?
It is not the function of the legislative to provide 100percent solutions, we can make laws, we can even provide solutions to assist government but we cannot implement. Those of us here, that is why we are struggling to make sure that our constituency project are funded. And instead of the people supporting us, they are blaming us. They are telling us that our salary is about N900,000, which is even far below what I was earning as a Director General of the space Agency. But the way we are trying to help our people is through the constituency project. The contracts are given by the ministry, not by us. What we are insisting on is that they should release the constituency project to us so that we could implement the area of street lights health centre, secondary schools, and libraries. Each senator is given is an amount of money not physically in any of the agencies the MDA’S where you think they have these projects. We usually put pressure on the minister of finance to release the money, to even get the contract implemented. A project in my town for instance, If I dont know the contractor, If he is somebody from south – east or north central and disappear, How do I follow up. If you give it to somebody that I know, we know the family, we know his traditional ruler, if he defaults, we know his traditional ruler, if he defaults, we go and report him to his traditional ruler that this man is depriving my people of the benefits of dividends of democracy. We don’t even know whom they awarded the contracts to. And that is the struggle we have been having here on a daily basis. People don’t understand. They said we receive jombo salary, what is jombo salary, N900,000 a month. So these are the problems, so on my own, I believe that Ihave utilized my state allocation very well. I have many streets solar power lights digging boreholes, building some classrooms, by God grace by the end of this year it will be apparent that some of us have done well as we are committed and have a passion of our people.
What is your relationship with the Nigerian media?
I believe in the press, when I was in the university, I trained a number of scientists into journalism. And they became science Editor, Correspondents; but unfortunately, I could see that the media they have their own learning. When it comes to reporting and analyzing issues.In such a case there is not much we can do, because the media is supposed to publish the truth. That is why I like the motto of the Guardian “the conscience nurtured by truth” It should be applicable to all practitioners of Journalism. They say where in doubt, leave out, but now, when people are in doubt, they still publish. So when you find yourself in such a situation and they said pen is mightier than the sword. Why do I have to confront the pen when I don’t even have the sword? Best thing is that when a person is infected by virus, and apply any treatment you can apply to the virus, it will run its course and die. So instead of confronting the media, it should be allowed to carry out its welfare on me and when it is tired we shall become one again, that is my own attitude. I know quite number of my friends in the media. They actually know that they are not doing the right thing. It is unfortunate that It happened like that and I hope that in your meetings, you should be able to talk to yourself, when you know that even the politician themselves are politicians themselves are cleaver. There are no permanent friends in politics and there are no permanent enemies.howcould the press make people permanent enemy. Because the man you say you are supporting today, against me, can become my friend tomorrow, so I do you now face me. My surpose enemy that you are surporting, will beward my friend, then you become a laughing staff. We have to be very carefull, we should not leave for today alone, but for future in anything we do, we must know that we do it with integrity, so that we have a good Legacy, that our own children will be very proud of, I think it is very important. On the assessment of the media in a democracy, well most of the paper in the media houses have proprietors, they have no, choice than to hear the view of their proprietors, so that is why some of us buy four five different news papers, so that one could have a balanced stuff of what is happening, and we tend to listen to BBC, CCTV, AAlyasaraetc, to be able to have a foreign perception of what is going on. The papers itself is going through a period of trials in the sense that we have not gotten to a stage you can can tell your sponsore and say look, I am not going to publish this, if you Ready to resign. Everybody wants to feed his family, they want to leave a confortable life. If you down the consequence of not agreement with your proprietor, then you loose your Job, in other not loose your job, you will need to compromise your professionalism to that of your proprietor, so that is what is happening. On the death of Late former Governor of Ondo state, Governor OlusegunAgagu, we have known each other as far back as 1960. When we were recruited as an uncertificate as far back as 1967, when we recruited as an uncertificated teachers in old western Region. We were All gathered in Oshogbo, that was were I met him, for the first time. Like the late Alex Adedope. He was very sociable. He distinguished himself as a leader, fortunately for us, we both moved to the university of Ibadan, we both study Geology, we were together graduated in 1971. Went abroad to his phd. I remained in the university of Ibadan for my Phd, after our phd we came back to Lecture at the faculty of Science. We both finished and also continue with our Post – graduate education. He was a very dedicated teacher and a very competent researcher follow. In 1988 petroleum Geology. When politics came on board, he was with the social Democratic Party (SDP) he became the dupty Governor of Ondo state. He was minister of Aviation, He was Minister of Power & Steal, and later Governor of Ondo State. Between 2003, we are both members of the Ondo state consultative forum we invited him to be governor of Ondo State. As the governor of Ondo State, he was very effective. He started the olokolaproject, he entered politics as a progressive. He was Deputy Governor of Governor Olomilua He carried his people along. But that period was shortlived. He went back to his business when politics came, he joined PDP. He was actually responsible for invitiating the reforms in the power sector. He did not stay long to concise the power sector, we then in ondo state Consultative forum, dragged him out for come and run the Governor of Ondo state. I was a member of the Consultative forum with late Rufus Giwa Admiral Aduwo, He did very well as the Governor of Ondo State. Within One year, he was able to raise the internally Generated Revenue by 300 percent, which is Ok. Also he was able to fight that Ondo state should be given a status of Od producing state. It was not done during the Adefarati, we actually assume that the state became and old Producing state. Most Importantly, he started the Olokola Project. He consided the Olokola Project. And that would have been a catalyst for people of Ondo state people. May God grant him eternal rest. On his future political Ambition in Ondostate, I always pray to God to guide me and direct me. My future political Ambition is not a matter of Jos, it is a matter of Possible. I cannot impose myself on the people of Ondo state. I appreciate the interest my people have shown, I am really prepared to provide effective Leadership. I am not running away from my People. I am fully prepared. If God says I will be governor in Ondostate I will before God will work it out. It will be in the interest of Ondo state. I am looking up to God to guid me in my future political agenda. It is not a matter of must, but a matter of if possible. I appreciated the interest my people have shown in me. I am happy, I am exited. I will provide effective and productive leadership .
I am qualified constitutionally, I have the experience now as a lawmaker I have everything to be