He is young. He is vibrant. He is the chairman of Somolu local government, but he doesn’t cut the look of the regular politician. Do not be fooled. Hon. Abdul Hamed Salawu better known as Dullar is a man wise beyond his age. He is streetwise and has native intelligence in abundance. And he is unbelievably humble too. This probably explains why he enjoys so much support and affection from the elderly, within and outside the party. Indeed, Hon. Abdul Hamed knows how to properly wash his hands, so he is eligible to wine and dine with the elders. But beyond his humility and ability to relate well with the young and old, this dynamic young man has done incredibly well in just three and half years for the people of Somolu, raising the bar as council chairman by bringing to the people the dividends of democracy in a way they have never quite seen before. In this chat with City People’s Senior Editor, WALE LAWAL (08037209290) and LEKAN AMUSA, Dullar, in company of some of his party’s apex leaders, took us through some of his achievements in the last couple of years and why he is confident of returning for 2nd term in the coming elections. Enjoy.
Take us through your background, sir. Where were you born and raised?
My name is Abdul Hamed Salawu, but most people know me as Dullar. I was born here in Somolu local government. I am the son of Alhaja Olusola popularly known as Equal Right. My father was a military officer. I attended Army Children School, at some point my father was transferred to Kogi State. For my secondary school, I attended Abdul Azeez Atta Memorial School, Okene, and after my secondary school education, I returned to Lagos. My mother, by the way, did not go to Kogi State with us. Shortly after, I traveled to abroad and in 2008, I returned to Nigeria and that’s when the journey into politics began.
Did you immediately set out to become chairman of Somolu local government?
No, not really. At first, I actually aspired to go for Federal House of Reps, 2011 but I was asked to step down by our great leader, that we should let late Alhaji Lateef Jakande’s son represent the party. I was told he would prefer to have me as council chairman. But again, somewhere along the line, I was asked to step down for the immediate past Chairman, Hon. Gbolahan Bagostowe and let him go for second term. Asiwaju is our national leader, a great leader for that matter, whatever he says is what we follow. After the expiration of Bagostowe’s second term, the Executive Secretary told me not to worry, that my turn was coming. And here we are, my time has arrived.
What about the popular name Dullar, that people call you, how did you get the name?
There was this young girl called Bisola way back then. She was a very beautiful girl. I just returned from the United States that year and when she saw me, she just looked at me and called me Uncle Dullar. That was what she started calling me. And that was how the name stuck. Even my mum calls me Uncle Dullar.
So, for someone who hadn’t played politics before, how was it for you coming into politics straight after your return to the country from the United States?
I actually did not spend that much time in the United States, I spent most of my years outside the country in Canada. And I played politics first in 2008 but I became the chairman in 2017, that’s about nine years difference. Funny enough, I had actually thought that when I get into government I would turn Somolu around in no time, but it’s not been easy at all. Governance is far more difficult than it seems on the outside.
Share with us your immediate challenges, those things you met on ground and you were like, no, we must do something about this right away?
(Hon. Ladipo joins us) The first thing that got our attention was the issue of massive flooding and the heaps of refuse that were everywhere and the flooding was a huge problem as well. There was this particular place around the Isaac John area, it was serious. People were already moving out of that area owing to the problem of flooding.
(The chairman cuts in) Whenever it rained, the place was always terribly flooded. No car could move. So, I called the council engineer and said to him, what can we do to solve this problem once and for all? We now returned to the council, and sat down with the engineers and then took this huge decision that we should cut the road and expand the drainage. And we embarked on it. During that period, the road was shut down for about 38 days. By the time we were done, the problem was solved and that was it.
What was the reaction of the residents when they saw that the problem had been solved?
Yeah, as soon as we cut the road in two, people started grumbling and saying all kinds of stuff. But now, they are all grateful for what we did to that road and the lasting solution we came up with.
(Hon. Ladipo) That solution, even though it took about 38 days and consumed money, was the sensible thing to do. Already, there were forecasts that there was going to be massive rains in the next couple of years, and already, with the normal rains, the area was facing severe flooding issues. So, it was a pretty serious problem. I must also add here that that our programmes have always been carefully drawn out. We look essentially at the needs of the people. For instance, during the period when the recession was biting hard, a period when we knew the common man would bear the brunt heavily, he came up with the idea of feeding the aged because he knew they would bear the brunt the most. This was around 2015 shortly after President Buhari came into power. Every month, he feeds the aged, that programme has stayed till this day. In fact, we still had one yesterday. So, by the time Covid-19, its responsibilities didn’t overwhelm us. We were already offering support to the aged.
Give us an idea of the figure of the aged that you feed monthly.
Its usually between 2000 to 2500 people.
How were you able to interact and deal with the different kinds of people that you had to deal with everyday when you first came on board?
I told you my mum has this restaurant called Equal Rights restaurant. A lot of people come there. And I was always there back then. Back in the day, I was also supporting the business. I used to be the one collecting money from customers and from little experience back then, I learnt to deal with different kinds of people. Some people will come to you and tell you truthful things while others will come with bags of lies just that they can get some favours from you. This is normal in politics, people do that all the time. People have gone to the governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to tell him lies about me and what we’re doing here. The governor himself called me to confirm what he was told. I told him the honest truth and he now called our president, Hon. Kolade Alabi, to also check with him the things I told him and the man told him same thing. So, it happens, that’s the game of politics.
What would you say are the high points of your last three and half years that should put you in pole position to win your second term elections?
We did a lot of roads. Within three years, we did about 34 roads. I’m not talking about shabbily done roads, but standard roads and we did 34 of such roads. Some are Asphalt while some are interlocks. Like Efon-Alaye, Ajose, and several others.
(Hon. Ladipo) We are also breaking the records here at Somolu, setting the pace for fire service station. It will be unveiled very soon, a fire service station, Somolu local government. You know the state is projecting to be a mega city, a smart city, and when states improve, traffic increases. You can imagine when we had a fire outbreak how long it took the fire fighters to manoeuvre through the traffic and get here. By the time they got here, a lot of damage had been done. But when we have a fire station in our own local government, we’ll be able to access the location where the fire incident is taking place immediately. We know the roads to maneouvre within our community and deal with the problem immediately. The fire service trucks, two of them, are parked out there, waiting for commissioning. There is also the ultra modern health centre which will be commissioned within the next three weeks.
How much importance have you placed on health within the local government?
Health is very key. Even his Excellency the governor has been emphasizing on this repeatedly, he says health is priority. Just two weeks ago, he said to us, health and education must be paramount in our delivery to the people. And we want to make our governor proud of us because we know he likes us. He has a special interest in our progress. And because we know he’s been particular about health, and we also have placed a huge premium on the health of our people, we decided it was time to have a new ultra modern health centre. And we are naming the health centre after his lovely wife, the First Lady of Lagos state, Dr. (Mrs) Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu. It will be called Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu Primary Health Centre. And there’s a reason for this. Before she became the first lady, she used to work here in Somolu. She was very passionate about her job. The children, the women, they all loved her.
(Hon. Ladipo adds) Beyond health, after the outbreak of the EndSars protest, and Police vehicles were destroyed here in Somolu, in no time, we got them back their vehicles. We didn’t wait for the state to do it for us. Some markets were torched, including Alade market. We gave ten million naira to those who lost their goods and properties to the fire incidents, the Police got two brand new vehicles.
(Hon. Ladipo) As for education, our administration, in its bid to try and reduce the stress of the teachers and students, we got them school bus. This will enhance their movements and take away a lot of stress from their daily routines. We also have lot of synergies with NGOs who come over to do a lot of things for us. The government can’t do everything.
From all that’s been reeled out, it’s pretty obvious that you have done incredibly well. How confident are you that you will win the coming elections and return for second term as the Executive Chairman of Somolu local government?
I am very confident. As far as I’m concerned, the elections has been won and lost. It’s a done deal. Its not something I will lose sleep over because we have done a whole lot for the people and they are more than impressed with our performance. Who wants to come and contest with me? Where are they? There’s no PDP in Somolu, so what are we talking about?
(Hon. Ladipo) And I must quickly add that for the first time we have a Council Chairman that has a fantastic relationship with all the leaders of the party in Somolu. They all come to meet with him anytime they want and he listens to them.
(To Be Concluded)