Says Hon. SULEIMAN LASUN, Deputy Speaker, House Of Reps
Recounts His 30 Year Experience In POLITICS
Honourable Yusuf Sulaimon Lasun is the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. He represents Irepodun,Olurunda, Osogbo, Orolu Federal Constituency. He was born 56 years ago at Ilobu in Irepodun Local Government Area, Osun State. He emerged the 1st Nigerian to become the Deputy Speaker of the 4th ECOWAS Legislative Parliament, which was inaugurated in Abuja. Hon. Yusuf will serve in that capacity for a-year term. His journey into politics started in 1983. Having occupied various political positions at the state and party level. He ran for a legislative seat in the 7th National Assembly as the representative of the Irepodun/Olurunda/Osogbo/Orolu Federal Constituency in 2011. He won on the then platform of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), which metamophosed into the All Progressives Congress (APC) with other parties in the run-up to the 2015 general elections in Nigeria. He was appointed Deputy Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Water Resources by the then Speaker, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal. He was also a member of the Constitutional Review Committee. In the 2015 elections, he contested again for the same legislative seat under the Platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and won to represent his constituency at the Lower Chamber of the National Assembly. He is not the media friendly type and since he became the Deputy Speaker running to two years now, he hardly grants interviews. But last week Tuesday, he spoke with City People’s Adeola Shittu, on his life, political journey and 2018 governorship ambition.
Your name is a popular one. But who is Rt. Hon Yusuf Sulaimon Lasun?
Rt. Hon Yusuf Sulaimon Lasun is a native of Ilobu, in Irepodun Local Government Area, Osun State in the South-Western part of Nigeria. I was born October 4th, 1960. I started my formal education at the Local Authority Primary School in Ilobu, Osun State before I proceeded to Ansar-Ud-Deen Secondary School, Erin, and later moved to Ifon/Erin Community High School, Ifon, both in Osun State, from 1973 to 1979. I gained admission into Obafemi Awolowo University, former University of Ife,Osun State where I studied Mechanical Engineering , and bagged a Bachelor of Science (Hons) degree. I’m a Chartered Engineer and holds a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.
How was growing up like for you?
I will say growing up was fun despite the fact that my parents are not educated in the western sense but my maternal grandfather was an Islamic cleric and Chief Imam of my hometown. While growing up I was told that he was the first person to perform the holy pilgrimage to Mecca in that environment and he actual built the existing Central mosque in Ilubo. For the first 6 to 7 years of my early life the old man trained me before his death. So, I will say the first contact I had with an educated person was my maternal grandfather, who took over me from my parents bcause they didn’t believe in the western education. So, like every other children, I started early by going for the Islamic study and at the same time going to school. So, I will say, my education was smooth during my primary school days, until I gained admission into secondary school. don’t forget that my father didn’t see the importance of western education, but I finished my primary education at age 12 which was the standard age for children then. I will say growing up was like a 3 course meal for me, in the sense that I will go to school in the morning, in the afternoon I attended Arabic class and play football and I went to farm at weekends.
How did you get into Politics?
I grew up to know my father was a politician and I also have passion for politics. It will interest you to know that through out my university days, I didn’t part take in any student unionism, due to my own personal reason. I never saw it as a platform for me. So, not getting involved in student unionism gave me that opportunity to differentiate what Politics and Student unionism is all about. When I was in 300 levels at the University in 1983, I started taking part in active politics of the then Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN). Like I said early that my father was not educated in the western way but he was a great politician in the state of Osun, as he was a member caretaker committee of Irepodun Local Government then. So, my involvement in the 1983 primaries between Chief S. M. Afolabi and Chief Bola Ige both of blessed memory was my starting point in politics because I took part in the primaries. 1983 was my starting point in Nigeria politics but again I’m not a regular politician, as I find time for my private life, which is not limited to my family alone. So, I will say I have been an active politician since 1983 till date.
Between 1983 and 2011 when you became a Honourable member, House of Reps, did you occupy any political office?
You see what makes you an active politician is the role you play at the party in local, state and federal levels. So, in my own case I had lots of political office I occupied. After my role in UPN then, in 1987, when political parties were formed, I was the Public Relations Officer (PRO), the then PSP which was not registered and that was my first major step in political office before the party went down. In 1996 I successfully concluded a campaign that would have made me the chairman of my local government council but I couldn’t tell what my father observed at that time but he insisted he didn’t want me to contest and he made sure he put much pressure on me through my mother and her friend. Believe me, that was one of the very painful moments of my politics career because I had to dismantle all I worked for, knowing well I was going to win the election but my father insisted that I shouldn’t.
In 1998, when new political dispensation came on board, my party called me that I should come and contest as party candidate for the sole administrator of my local government in my party, Alliance for Democracy (AD) and my old man insisted I should not contest, and on these two occasions my father gave me his reason, which was personal to both of us.
I believe he knows more than I do. So, after we won the governorship election in 1999 in Osun, which I was the secretary logistic committee of that election that brought Chief Bisi Akande to power, so shortly after we were sworn-in, I was first and foremost the caretaker secretary of Alliance for Democracy (AD) in Osun State, September 1999 and by December same year, I became the publicity Secretary of our party in Osun State and I was also appointed member Osun state water cooperation.
In 2003, against all odds chief Bisi Akande whom I will describe as one of the best governors Nigeria had produced. You see in Osun state today, in 50 years time. no building will be erected or constructed by the sitting governor. I was the chairman Osun State Capital Territory Development Authority, during my tenure I brought the place back to recovery and till date the place is still existing. I made my first shot in 2007 when I contested for House of Reps and its on record that I have one of the longest case of election petition in Nigeria because my election was in court for 3 years and 8 months ( July 2007 to Feb 2011).
So, I have been in politics since 1983 and I have occupied positions of authority at the party level. I was first floor member and in 2015 I became the Deputy Speaker House of Reps.
How did you feel emerging the Deputy Speaker of the 8th assembly in 2015?
If you were to be in my shoe how would you feel? I feel great and honoured for my colleagues to contribute their votes for me and make me the Deputy Speaker, that is a great achievement on my part and I am thankful to them and at the same time proud of myself.
How will you then assess the leadership of Hon Dogara as the Speaker of the House of Reps?
He is a fantastic, humble, intelligent young man, who portrays the leadership quality. He understands legislative work very well and has a full knowledge of the Job itself. He has done well since he took the leadership step in 2015. Going by his leadership style and the way he handles crisis, the man must be given credit and that explains everthing. Going by the way he emerged the speaker, we need to give him credit. Under similar situation a lot of people will have gone their way but he carried us along in a great manner, which shows he had the tremenous leadership ability and he demostrate it over time.
Come 2018, Osun state will be having its governorship election. Are you contesting?
Yes, I’m contesting and by the special grace of God I will be the next Osun state Governor. You see, I am not just in the race because I want to be among the crowd but I’m in the race because I know the problems of Osun state in and out. Don’t forget that I was born and bred in Osun state. I had all my education in Osun. I am one of the few people who have high stakes of investment in the state. I have been in Osun state politics since 1983 and I played an active part, so I know I have the capacity to give them what they need in terms of good goverance, so that we can develop the state in the year to come. In fact, with all modesty, I don’t think anyone is contesting the race with me in our party and I mean it. You see, it has not been easy spending the 56 years of my life in the state and stay in the environment for that long. I have my parents, my siblings, lots of friends, my education, my investment and among others in the state. I know what they want and I know by the special grace of God, I will be the next governor of Osun state come 2018.
Despite your tight schedule, how do you find time to relax?
For now, there is no time for relaxation until I attain the age of 63 or 64 years when I’m fully done with the public life and am attending to my private life. You see,, Nigeria system for now is not fully organized in a manner that you can target a time of retirement, if you do that, one may end up being a begger . The truth is that there is no point relaxing now, we don’t need to pretend we are living in a developed country. The real developed countries are so organised that they have provision for those working and those who run their private businesses but here in Nigeria, their of nothing of such. So am yet to relax but I have passion for reading, I started reading newspaper when I was 14 years old in 1974. I read books also while I love watching television at my leisure time. I was also once into altheletics and I played football and table tennis but I take breeze walk sometimes in the morning. These are things I do at my leisure time.