Senator Tokunbo Abiru Blurs the Line between His Campaign Promises and Results

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Senator Tokunbo Abiru Blurs the Line between His Campaign Promises and Results

Senator Tokunbo Abiru Blurs the Line between His Campaign Promises and Results
March 10
18:19 2022

Yes, since the emergence of Tokunbo Abiru as the Senator representing the Lagos East Senatorial District in December 2020, it has been a concatenation of life-changing goodies and democratic dividends. This is evident in the several interventions and initiatives of the former high-flying banker turned senator who has continued to blur the line between his campaign promises and evidential, pervasive results.

Like a burst of the rainbow through a very cloudy sky, Tokunbo Abiru, the Senator representing Lagos East Senatorial District, has continued to demonstrate his concern and compassion for everyday people. He is helping them look forward with hope and enthusiasm, not backward with flagging faith. Rather than stoking their fears, he is raising their spirits.

At the outset of his electioneering, Abiru, chairman of the Senate Committee on Industry, promised a new dawn in the history of legislative representation and to represent the people of Lagos East with commitment, integrity, and passion, leveraging all the political and social capital he had acquired over three decades as an economist, chartered accountant, commissioner for finance and bank CEO.

Abiru also promised to prioritise the welfare of his constituents in particular and Lagos State in general, adding, “I have assured the people of Lagos East, irrespective of their ethnic, political and religious affiliations, that I will use the office of Senator, and my energy and resources to further their well being, welfare, prosperity, empowerment, and security.

“I shall establish and institutionalise an endowment fund to, within my capacity and resources, support the aged; protect the vulnerable; sponsor youth employability schemes; support women empowerment programmes and cater for indigent but brilliant students in all parts of the Senatorial District.” Abiru’s promises were, indeed, lofty, but convincing and it was no surprise that he won the by-election to elect a replacement for Senator Bayo Osinowo, the previous occupant of the seat who passed on due to implications arising from contracting the COVID-19.

Abiru’s promises were encapsulated in his five-point agenda: Peace, by ensuring that residents of his senatorial district have a safe environment to live and work; Prosperity, by enabling his people to achieve financial freedom through encouraging entrepreneurship; Empowerment, by equipping the youths with the survival knowledge for the 21st Century while helping to nurture their innate talents; Employment, by using his vast corporate experience to create job opportunities; and Healthcare, by committing to pass a quality insurance bill for people living less than 2kilometres of a health centre.

One year after, the people of Lagos East are heaving and weaving in joy. Sworn in at a time the world was still battling with the COVID-19 pandemic and its adverse effects, Senator Abiru instituted a COVID-19 Financial Support Scheme, whereby the beneficiaries who are scheduled into two categories get the support bimonthly. The scheme was planned to terminate in December 2021, but because the economic headwinds occasioned by the pandemic are yet to fully abate, and due to Senator Abiru’s concern for the plight of the poor during the prevailing fuel scarcity and the record food inflation, the financial support to ease the hardship of the vulnerable at the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid continued.

Recently, the batch B beneficiaries in the 2500 pool of vulnerable constituents drawn across 98 wards in the 16 Local Governments and Local Council Development Areas that make up the senatorial district received direct credits in their bank accounts.

In fulfilment of his mantra; ‘Greater good to the larger number of people’, Senator Abiru initiated a scheme in January 2021 whereby people with physical disabilities, widows, the aged, unemployed youth, and women have been receiving financial support every month. At the annual ‘Senator Tokunbo Abiru Bursary endowment fund’ to support and encourage star students in their respective tertiary institutions last October, he disbursed N30million to 600 brilliant but indigent students at a ceremony held at the Lagos State Polytechnic with many dignitaries present. He said, “The objective of this scheme is to promote higher qualitative education by supporting brilliant students but who have challenges funding their education in furtherance of their academic pursuit.

In this maiden edition, 600 eligible students across the 98 wards in the 16 Local Governments and Local Council Development Areas in the Lagos East Senatorial District were shortlisted and screened by the TACT Bursary Advisory Board.”
At the ceremony, he also inaugurated four blocks of 24 classrooms with 16 toilet facilities at Aga Primary School in Ikorodu. The classrooms, a part of federal intervention projects he is attracting to his constituency, were equipped with chairs, tables and modern instructional tools to replace a distressed two blocks of four classrooms in the school. He noted that projects like these are ongoing in Kosofe, Epe, Ibeju-Lekki, Somolu, among others.

While underplaying the enormity and impact of the bursary on the beneficiaries, Abiru added that the minimum that leaders can do and in fidelity with their social contract with the esteemed constituents who majorly fall within this demography was to provide support for their dreams to have full and maximum expression.

He said further that one of the major agendas on his social contract with the people of Lagos East Senatorial District is youth development for global readiness. This, he has sought to achieve with multi-dimensional approaches including collaborations; co-creations; funding; infrastructural interventions, capacity building, etc. In partnership with Co-Creation Hub, CcHub, Africa’s leading innovation hub space, Senator Abiru has set up an eponymous Innovation Lab 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.
Already, about 5,000 youth across his constituency have applied for the SAIL programmes. According to the senator, over 150 students are participating in the five pilot programmes at the SAIL Centre in Ikorodu while over 1000 eligible applicants will be trained online.
Some of the programmes, which will run for between three and six months include; Tech Talent Development, Start-up Accelerator for Businesses, Lagos East Teachers’ Fellowship, Business 101 for Artisans and Creatives, and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
The ‘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 six months. At the end of the training programme, they will be fully qualified for an entry-level job or internship.

The Start-up 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, the plan is to help them with product-market fit and build their capacity to be able to attract funding and support for their businesses. For those who don’t yet have a prototype, the programme will support them to develop their ideas for the testing phase.

The Lagos East Teachers’ Fellowship is 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 for the benefit of their students.

On the other hand, Business 101 for Artisans and Creatives is designed for creative start-ups in the fashion, crafts, or design sector 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 while the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education for Senior Secondary School Students is a programme designed to introduce students between the ages of 13 and18 to the concept of physical computing. “Massive global opportunities and guaranteed job placements await successful participants who deeply applied themselves to the training and acquired the high-demand tech and digital skills,” Senator Abiru said.
In April 2021, the senator unveiled a N100 Million Constituency Intervention Revolving Loan at a low concessional interest rate of six percent per annum for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the district, which he said would be topped by an additional N100 million from the Bank of Industry (BOI). “We shall continuously look out and champion policies and legislative agenda that will be of benefit to the greatest number of our people”, the senator assured.

Among other legislative participation, Senator Abiru moved a motion calling on the Federal Government to urgently intervene in the Ikorodu/Sagamu Road and Ikorodu/Itoikin/Epe Epe Road, saying, “Our intervention, with necessary follow-up and leveraging on our network, has yielded positive outcomes as the Federal Government has included the funding of Ikorodu-Shagamu, in the SUKUK Financing program and the Ikorodu-Itoikin in the 2022 budget.”
Senator Abiru was born on March 25, 1964. He attended the Lagos State University, LASU, where he earned a B.Sc in Economics. He started his banking career at Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) and was there for 10 years before proceeding to First Bank PLC where he worked for 14 years serving in different capacities as the relationship Team Lead, Retail Banking and Business Development Manager, and Group Head, Corporate Banking. Abiru also served as a one-time Non-Executive director, Airtel Mobile Networks Limited, FBN Capital Limited (now FBN Merchant Bank Limited); and FBN Bank Sierra Leone Limited.
He was appointed by former Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola, SAN, in 2011 as Commissioner for Finance, during which the state successfully floated an N80 billion bond, earning it the EMEA Finance’s Best Local Currency Bond Award for 2012. He further instigated discussions on taxation in Lagos State after the discovery of over 5.5 million tax evaders in 2013. His painstaking efforts also led to increased Land Use Charge revenue generations.

A Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and an Honorary Senior Member of The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), Abiru resigned as a commissioner in 2013 to take up the role of the Executive Director, Corporate Banking, First Bank Nigeria Ltd and later retired from the role in 2016. He was appointed as the CEO of the defunct Skye Bank in July 2016 by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, essentially to try to salvage the bank which was in critical condition then. With the liquidation of Skye Bank, Abiru was retained as the CEO of Polaris Bank, the bridge bank created by the CBN. It was from this lofty position that he resigned to contest the Lagos East senatorial seat.

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