At the Lagos State House of Assembly, there aren’t too many Lawmakers who are quite as unassuming as Hon. Abiodun Tobun. Without a doubt, he is one of the most down-to-earth politicians you will possibly ever meet. Highly respected and loved by his peers, Honourable Abiodun Tobun is a ranking member of the LSHA in his 3rd term and one politician who simply does not know how to go about carrying airs around him. He is a very accessible person and his uncanny ability to mix well with people, no matter how highly or lowly placed, stands him out from his contemporaries. And of course, his performances too, over the years have been nothing short of impressive. No wonder why his people in Epe Constituency 1 adore him so much so they returned him to serve them for a third consecutive term. This didn’t come as a surprise to those who know this very tenacious and compassionate politician, his passion to serve and elevate his people has been well documented. City People’s Senior Editor, WALE LAWAL (08037209290), was a guest of this tested and trusted grass root politician weeks ago and he spoke freely to us about his background, his family’s political pedigree and his aspiration to serve his people even better in years to come. Enjoy the excerpts.
You’re one of the popular figures here at the Lagos state House of Assembly, but I’m sure not many really know about your background and your growing up years, please share a bit of these with us.
Well, Tobun Abiodun is my name and I represent Epe Constituency 1, Lagos State House of Assembly. My parents are both late now. I’m presently the Chairman, House Committee on Works and Infrastructure. I was born in the early 60s to the Tobun family in Epe. I was born in Lagos Island but grew up in Epe. I attended St. Michael’s Anglican Primary school, then later went to a modern school before proceeding to Epe Grammar School and then to Lagos State Polytechnic for an HND program in Agric Economics and Extension Management. Later, I got a Masters Degree in Business Administration at the Lagos State University and I had another Masters in Legal studies from the same university. I worked as a Community Development Officer for about 21 years with Lagos State Local Government Service Commission and I rose to become the Head of Department, Community and Social Development. I retired from service voluntarily in 2011 to join active politics and became a member of the House in 2011 and till date, I’m still in the House. I was also a trade unionist too. I have always been passionate about fighting for people and representing their interests. When I was in school, I was a unionist. When I joined the Local Government System, I joined NULGE. There was a time I was a trustee of the union, then, later became the General Secretary for two terms and then the Chairman for two terms and then a term as Caretaker Committee Chairman. Having become a HOD for close to ten years, I realized that we were just doing the same thing every day and was just basically marking time. It was about this time that my people asked me to come and contest. I contested in 2003, that didn’t work out, and I returned to my office and was asked again to contest in 2006 and was told clearly that it wasn’t my time until I was given the mandate in 2011.
From the background you just gave us, sir, it’s obvious you could’ve chosen to remain comfortable in civil service, why did you opt for politics?
The truth of the matter is that, for me, politics is inborn. And it runs in my family. Like I told you, in the late 50s before independence, my father was a member of the Federal Parliament that brought independence to this country and that was where I got my passion for politics. The Tobun family is known generally to be a politically inclined family. And because of the politics running in my blood, I have been involved in one political struggle or the other since my school days. I joined NULGE as I told you earlier, and its still politics. I was a NULGE man till the last day that I dropped the pen. Let me also tell you that when I was in school in Ikorodu, in 1979, I was an active member of the People’s Redemption Party (PRP) I was the organizing secretary for our local government. In 1983, we joined the Liberal Convention, I was a member of the party. Then, we advanced to join the NRC, the National Republican Convention, and later, with the advent of party politics in 1999, we joined the progressive team starting with the AD, the AC, the ACN, then, the APC. So, before contesting, I had been involving myself in active politics. In the 80s, I was a state delegate to the state convention that ushered in Sir Michael Abolade Otedola. I was one of the three people voted for, as a student then, to represent members of the public. So, my family has been known to be a politically inclined family, but more than anything else, my passion to represent the people and serve them, my passion to impact positively in the lives of the people made me leave civil service and joined public service with a view to answering a higher calling. At the time I left service, I still had close to 15 years left before retirement, but I decided to leave and allow the younger ones come on board and grow because I felt I’d reached the peak of my career and I was still less than 50. So that means I would be there simply marking time because I was already a Head of Department and a level 15 officer and I realized that, among my cadre, it’s only one person that would be on level 16. At the local government level, you can’t get to level 16 and neither can you get promoted to the position of Permanent Secretary, so I asked myself, why wasting my time here? And that was how I decided to follow my passion for a higher calling.
At the time of the elections, sir, what do you think was your selling point? What stood you out from the others?
I think my family background helped a great deal. I’m from a politically inclined family and our dad then was like the leading light in our community and because of the fact that he represented them well, brought the dividends of democracy to them, they fell in love with him. So, when I came, they said this family has a history of performance, history of service delivery, this guy would do it and we will vote for him. So, everybody, including the Obas, were behind me. But the leadership of my party called me and said I should allow the then Rt. Hon. Speaker Ikuforiji to come back to the House and I had to follow the instructions of the leaders and elders of the party. So, it was because of the antecedents of my family, the good record of my father and my involvements in a lot of community activities that made them have a lot of confidence in me because I had been tested in several areas and I was contributing majorly to community activities in Epe. That was what stood me out.