Honourable Gbolahan Yishawu is one of those few politicians who do not exactly cut the picture of a conventional politician. For instance, he carries himself with as much humility as he possibly can and relates with people without airs or chips on his shoulder. He also does not go around with an entourage of hangers-on following him about. From the distance, he cuts the picture of a quiet and unassuming person. It is only when you get pretty close to him and he is comfortable with you that he lets down his guard and allows you a firsthand feel of the substance he’s made of.
He is an extremely intelligent man, little wonder he was appointed to head the Adhoc committee on Lagos state’s Year 2018 Budget, a committee that was saddled with the responsibility to scrutinize the budget by the Lagos State House of Assembly and make significant recommendations where necessary. But that is not the reason why this amiable honourable who represents Eti-Osa constituency II is hugely loved by his people and is already on his second term as the lawmaker representing his constituency.
It is his humility, the accessibility and quality representation he’s given his people that has, more than anything else, earned him their love and mandate. City People’s Senior Editor, WALE LAWAL, spent some time with this interesting gentleman weeks back and got him to share with us his background, his modest accomplishments as the Lawmaker representing the good people of Eti-Osa constituency II and his aspirations for the future.
The passion to reach out to the next person and bring succor to the people is not something you develop over night. Its either you have it or you don’t and you seem to do this effortlessly. What part of your background prepared you for this?
Well, I think I’ll lay that at the footsteps of my parents. I give them credit for that. Like you said, its either you have it or you don’t have it. But what is most important is the fear of God, whether you’re a Christian or you’re a Muslim, you’re supposed to be kind to your neighbor and that neigbourliness is something that’s enshrined in our religion.
So, if God is first in your life and you’re lucky to have good parents, who in our holy books are your god on earth and they’ve been able to guide you in the right path, then surely, the values you hold dear would be along compassionate lines of loving your neighbor and caring as much as you can for them as long as you’re alive and healthy on this earth.
What was the defining moment for you? What made you decide it was going to be politics for you because, you are well read and could’ve held onto any career of your choice?
Well, when you have mentors like the likes of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who equally is well read and chose to sacrifice for the people, you have no choice. That is one of the reasons why people will even respect you the more, knowing you have achieved tremendously in your career and still end up giving back. So, as a mentor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu mentored us well.
The best service to humanity is by representing them and ensuring that you’re able to bring the change. Change is constant. Don’t look at change as just a slogan of our party, it’s a continuous thing. So, at every point in time we’re able to bring that immediate change for the advancement and sustenance of our developing society.
If you look back, would you say you had direct influence from other political figures, apart from Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, that you looked up to at the time?
No, mine is strictly from Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, that’s where I got it from. If I tell you anything otherwise, I would only be saying what is not true. He is somebody that I look up to. He is somebody that I cherish. He is somebody that has taught me a lot. He is somebody that is very dogged and where there’s no way, he does find a way. If you look at his back ground and his antecedent up till today, you’ll know that if you’re under his tutelage, you can’t go wrong when it comes to service to the people. You just become an unrepentant giver. An unrepentant servant. And I hold onto all of that and I do admire him for it and for everything he’s done for me as our political leader and father.
Eti- Osa is a massive constituency and you have earned their love, their trust and their mandate for two terms running, what would you say is that special thing that you have with your people because, truth is they could’ve picked somebody else, but they chose you?
I represent Eti-Osa Constituency II, and not the entire Eti-Osa, somebody else represents Eti-Osa constituency I. I think the key to the success in representing people is having to connect with them and being down to earth and being available, and of course, having true love for them. If you’re available and you truly care about them in your words, in your deeds, you care about them in all ramification, they will continue to vote you. And that’s simply the truth. Be available, let their needs be utmost in your heart and in your activities and I can assure you they will support you.
What was the theme of your campaign at the time you were coming in as their representative for the first time?
My theme in my first time and my second time were the same; education, health, good representation. And in terms of education, we have done quite a lot, this is the health aspect that is on-going. In the educational line, we’re doing vocational training. We have trained over a thousand people in various professions. We have helped out in giving scholarships, we give out GCE forms , we give out free JAMB forms.
Last time, we gave out about 952 JAMB forms and we’re consistent in all the things we do, we don’t say what we can’t do. Integrity is key and when we speak, they know our word is our bond and they can rely on it. They know they’re dealing with a very credible person. For me, all the things we promised, we’ll continue to do them and we’ve been doing it.
Take us through a few other things that you’ve done in the last couple of years’
We organize sporting competitions, football in particular, for the youths in the constituency. Like I already mentioned, the vocational training is there. The health program is on-going, the education packages like the GCE, JAMB forms I mentioned earlier and the rest of them.
We do a free bus service taking kids from home to school and back. We’ve run that for over four years now. Under our vocational training scheme, we do training in fashion designing, catering, computing, wieldering, aluminum works, and when they finish, the best in each of those vocations get tools to work with, something to start them off. We also do town halls. We do them regularly, like two a year, most of the time.
And during those programs, we give largesse to widows, elders, artisans, etc. If you’re a vulcanizer, we give you the tools of your trade, if you’re a tailor we give you sewing machines, if you’re an already established hairdresser, we give you additional hair dryer, caterers get ovens with burners, all kinds of things we give out to them. We’ve done all these consistently, we’ve kept the flag flying and we’ll continue to do so.
We also give loans to petty traders, year in, year out, and we’ll continue to do that as well. We’re also doing water projects, bore holes across the constituency, the ones that have been done already we are rehabilitating them. We’ve also done transformers and given them out to various locations as well.
With the benefit of hindsight, if you weren’t doing politics, what would you have been doing?
Well, I chose to do this. I decided to do this. I left what I was doing to do this. This is what I want to do. This is the vision I see for myself. But more importantly, I would thank my people for giving me that opportunity to do what I’ve always wanted to do. And I thank God Almighty for giving me that strength and for blessing my stepping out. From day one, my people have supported me, so I don’t see myself doing any other thing. I thank the people of Eti-Osa constituency II for giving me the opportunity to do it.
Where were you born, sir? Where were you raised?
I was born in Lagos, I was raised in Lagos.
What are the things you’re still hoping to put in place for your people in the next couple of years?
The next couple of years is dependent on my people. You know the elections are coming in, in 2019, there about a year from now and I’m seeking a third term to represent my people. I pray and hope they give me that mandate. The mandate starts with my party, APC, I hope the leadership of the party would find me worthy enough to continue to represent the good people of Eti-Osa Constituency II, I’ll be very glad. After that, all the things we’re doing, we’ll continue to do, and we’ll do a lot more.
What’s your take on the leadership style of the Rt. Hon. Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa?
Honourable Obasa is a wonderful person, a wonderful leader. One thing I must give to him is that he allows us to be ourselves. And by allowing us to be ourselves, he gets the best from the Assembly. He doesn’t teleguide you, he’s a great listener. He leads from the front, and not from the rear. He’s a perfect gentleman. For me, I love his leadership. He is leading well and everyone can see he’s doing a fantastic job.