By Vera Sam Anyagafu
Honorable Remy Shittu Remy is the Councilor representing Apena Ward in Isolo Local Council Development Area, Lagos.
In this interview with Newsbeats, Remi, who also double as Leader of the Council (Speaker) of Isolo LCDA Legislative Council, and Deputy Chairman, Lagos State Councilors Forum, spoke on his greatest strength and the various community development programs to his credit.
The Master degree holder of Business Administration from the prestigious University of Lagos, and alumni of the US Department of State International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP), also disclosed his level of volunteerism and commitment, which also includes free JAMB and GCE forms to indigent students, free health checks and much more to his community, work place, others, while expressing his bitterness over criminality in the country.
What specifically would you say is contributing to rise in criminality in the country and how best can it be addressed?
Get rich quick of the youth is primarily the major contributor to rise in criminality in the country.
Unfortunately for so long since the advent of democracy corruption has been our way of life. Electorates are not really interested in candidate/party manifesto. They prefer stomach infrastructure rather than building infrastructure. At this point the candidates may be left with no options than to go borrowing. After winning election he may have to refund such money. Then looting starts and there’s little or nothing to show for his/her tenure in office.
Electorates should be willing to sacrifice and decline vote selling. Law enforcement agents should work so very hard to discourage both buying and selling of votes. Candidates should be accountable for campaign funds.
Students should be mentored early enough so as to put the round peg in the round hole. By so doing students would have discovered their talents and may not need to indulge in criminality.
Factors outside of a leader’s control may lead to failures such as unavailable resources, time constraints, situation of the economy and so on. Could you in simple words explain how a leader can win in the face of such hiccups?
This is one of the greatest challenges being faced. People tend not to show understanding that resources are limited. They see elected officials as ATM. Even the ATM machine runs out of cash and will definitely need to be reloaded with cash.
Due to the economic situation of the country, more people tend to place their financial responsibilities on elected officials. These may include house rent, school fees, ceremonies, medical bills and what have you. Most do not even understand the roles of a legislator. They tend to see both Executives and legislators as the same.
There are certain powers the Legislators do not have, like execution of projects.
A legislator may only be able to make laws and carry out oversight functions on the executive.
How socially responsible are you to your society?
If being socially responsible means giving back to the society, then, I can conveniently state that I have given back and will continuously give back to my society.
Till date, indigent students get free JAMB and GCE forms from me and from time to time I organise free tutorials for indigent students sitting for JAMB, GCE and professional exams in addition to free health checks, empowerment programs for the elderly, widows, physically challenged and the less privileged in the soceity.
Also, I organise vocational trainings, mentoring programs for Secondary School students, job opportunities for graduates and many more.
What is your greatest weakness and how effectively have you managed to overcome it?
Well everyone has weaknesses but who wants to admit them most especially in the public.
One of my weaknesses is trying to please everyone. People have abused it severally and when I am unable to assist at some points, some pick offense. Claiming that they equally voted like the other people I have assisted in the past.
People may have to understand that not everyone will benefit from a particular government. The reality is that some may benefit and others may not. However, I would not want to give anything for my greatest strength, which includes enthusiasm, trustworthiness, creativity, discipline, patience, and respectfulness, in addition to determination, dedication, honesty, versatility and selflessness.
Do you believe in developing interpersonal skills and how impactful are you in this regard? I so much believe in interpersonal skills. This I try to achieve in a number of ways.
I practice active listening with my colleagues and subordinates. I do this by maintaining eye contact with the speaker, nodding my head, and repeating what he or she says in my own words. The speaker feels respected and I am likely to be able to recall the conversation more easily afterwards.
I also practice empathy. This has always helped me to gain a well-rounded view of things by putting myself in other people’s shoes. This helped me develop empathy for others, which in turn goes a long way in finding solutions that work for all involved.
Another thing I try to do is cultivate a positive outlook. I taught myself to be positive by reminding myself every day of the good things about my life and my job. If I’m upset about a personal matter, I set those feelings aside until after work. If I’m stressed about a work issue, I look for the positive in the situation and try to build on that.
Do you have any reservation on campaign for gender equality in Nigeria?
No. I believe everyone should be given equal right to vote and be voted for regardless of the gender.
You recently ended a mentoring program in several schools of learning within your local council area. Could you tell us what informed this and the success rate?
This is the true passion of my heart. I have been doing this since 2006. I visit schools for mentoring programs. This is one of the best things we can give back to the society and country at large. We are talking about tomorrow’s leaders. Once they get it right at this age, automatically the nation and the world at large has gotten it right. Teaching young mind values and self worth is the best thing that can happen to a society. It’s been very successful. Students have shown so much enthusiasm as mentees.
What has been your major challenge as leader and speaker, Isolo LCDA?
My major challenge is lack of autonomy for Local Governments. Whatever resolution reached by The Council still has to go to the House of Assembly. Autonomy will hasten development in the Local Government.
Is there any advice and or observation you may want to communicate to Nigerians?
My advice goes first to the National Assembly. They should please remove the clause of not being able to create more local governments and grant autonomy to local governments. This will enhance development as the LGs are the closest to the grassroots. The Electoral Process should be holistic, meaning; preparation for the next election should start from the last day of the last election. This may include voter’s registration. Again electorates should not sell their voters. By so doing they are selling their birth rights and the future of born and unborn children. They should not mount unnecessarily pressure on candidates to bring money. Candidates may not have to go borrowing excessively thereby looting the treasury after elections to pay back debts. Law enforcement agencies must compel candidates to account for campaign funds. By so doing there’ll not be excess funds for vote buying or thugs sponsoring.
INEC should allow would be 18 year olds on the day of next elections to register. They should bring voters registration closer to the people.
People should be encouraged to come out en masse on election with the provision of adequate security against electoral violence.
Most importantly after elections when winners have emerged, they should be magnanimous in victory. Losers should also display the spirit of sportsmanship.
Elected officials should work hard at improving the economy and create jobs, provide security of lives and properties, health facilities, free education, good roads and build infrastructure.
Law makers should put the interest before personal interests.
The judiciary must be seen to give justice.
Law enforcement agencies must be up and doing.
In conclusion, all hands must be on deck and citizens must be courageous followers.