•LAGOS Lawmaker, Hon. OLAWALE SOBUR
He has quietly emerged as one of the biggest political forces in Lagos APC. Honourable Abdulsobur Olawale is the Lawmaker representing Mushin Constituency 2. Though he is in his first term, he has been in active politics for over two decades and has held various significant public offices including serving as Special Assistant to former Lagos state governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Transportation. The soft-spoken, easy going gentleman who enjoys tremendous love and support from his constituents on account of his impressive performance, is seeking re-election for a second term. And it is almost certain he will win. This is because Hon. Olawale is hugely popular in Mushin. In his constituency 2, he commands respect and enjoys the unwavering support of his people, including top party leaders. Indeed, he has done remarkably well to earn their trust and love, which explains why they are all throwing their weight behind him again to ensure nothing disrupts his victory at the polls. Last week, City People’s Senior Editor, WALE LAWAL, spent quite some time chatting with Hon. Olawale in his office and got him to share with us his preparedness for his second term aspirations and his thoughts on the chances of PDP in Lagos state in the coming elections. Here are excerpts.
You’ve been in office for over three years now, sir, can you give us an overview of your experience in office so far?
I would say that the over three years plus that I’ve spent in the Lagos House of Assembly have been an extremely humbling period for me. Many waters have passed under the bridge since the last time you and I spoke. We have really entrenched ourselves and gotten a firmer grip on our constituency. Unlike before when we were just learning the ropes, now I can tell you that I have learnt a great deal within the last three years. I have moved a handful of motions on the floor of the house. Some of the motions have to do with the completion of the road in Mushin to Daleko axis of my constituency. I also remember that I moved a motion that has to do with Awolowo market. The road was in pretty bad condition then. Twice, I moved the motion and the governor responded and effected the rehabilitation of the road. I also moved a motion on the invasion of Akala area by policemen. The police had a clash with the people of Akala and they moved down to my constituency and several innocent people were arrested. People were arrested in Ilasa, Ijesha, Itire, Sadiku and some parts of my constituency. And I waded in, and with the intervention of the Attorney General, those who were arrested were released. I also moved a motion to condemn the act. I can also tell you that when it comes to quality representation, I have really represented my people very well and as regards the oversight functions, we have been doing that very effectively.
Quickly, sir, take us through some of the things you have done for your people in the past few years.
We have done quite a lot. Let me start with health. We understand the importance of a healthy environment, so in conjunction with Rotary International of Agege chapter, we sensitized our people and gave them materials to enable them kick malaria out of my constituency. I gave out uniforms to students of Igbo-Owu Secondary school. I gave out uniforms to students of Community Grammar school and same with students of Euba Secondary School and Community Secondary School. Every year, I gave out 200 GCE forms to my constituents and that has been our tradition. The fourth edition was held last year. Apart from giving out forms, we ensure they are well tutored and we guide them as well. We also buy JAMB forms for them. There is also the OMITITI Unity Cup competition that gets the youth in my constituency actively engaged in sports. There is a free computer training institute where I teach our students how to become computer literate. During the festive periods, we usually take care of our constituents too. It’s on record that I’ve always been consistently giving out nothing less than 250 bags of rice every festive period, whether it is Ileya or Xmas. We do this because we appreciate our people and we believe they are very important to us.
Let’s talk about the recent primaries, sir, how was your experience at the primaries? What sort of opposition did you have to contend with and how tough was the whole exercise for you before you emerged victorious?
Well, I will give glory to God because the experience I had just proved to me again that it is good to be good. At every point in our life, when you’re doing good or otherwise, you must have it at the back of your mind that there’s someone somewhere watching you. And you really cannot tell the exact time when your good job will count for you. And this was what happened during the elections. Everybody, the electorates, and especially party leaders, showed me love and support and I triumphed. And here I am today.
What does that mean to you? How does it inspire you as a politician?
It inspires me a lot because I believe that the reward for good work is more work. So, what this translates to is that I should continue to work hard and be good to my people and I trust that they will continue to support me. I need to let you know that, sincerely speaking, I love serving people. Even before I became a Law maker, people around me know that I place their personal issues above my own and this has helped me a great deal. While I was Special Adviser to former Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Transportation, I know what I did for the people of Mushin. I know the sort of sacrifices I made to make sure that majority of the youths became educated. I just mentioned the free computer training program, I started the program in year 2002, that’s close to seventeen years now, and it has produced many brilliant young people. When it comes to employment, I vigorously pursue it so that my people are employed. Serving people, helping people in one little way or the other, has been in my blood. It is like a way of life for me.
The general elections are just around the corner, how prepared are you for the elections? Apart from the things you have done for your people, are there other things you’re still looking to put in place before the elections come?
First and foremost, I want to appreciate my constituent for the confidence and trust they have reposed in me by giving me yet another opportunity to serve. The opportunity they have given me again really shows that they love and appreciate the things I have done. That’s just to tell you that I’m fully prepared. When you have people behind you, you can go places, and that’s what is happening in my own case. It’s not as if there was no opposition, but it wasn’t quite as strong as what obtained in other constituencies. And by the special grace of God, we will defeat them because the good works we have done in the past will speak for us. And the good job that my party has done over the years at the federal, state and local level has given us the assurance that we’ll win the race. Look at what we are doing here at the Lagos State House of Assembly, churning out good and qualitative legislative bills that have been propelling the economy of the state. For instance, let me talk about the education bill that has to do with succession in Lagos State University. Since the introduction of that succession plan of one person per term, there has been a decline in the agitation for a second term and strikes in the institution has reduced because you know that you have only five years after which another person will come in. When we talk of kidnapping too, our pro-activeness in combating the menace legislatively really nipped it in the bud. Surely, all of these will translate into more votes for all APC candidates at the polls.
If you were standing right in front of the voting public now, sir, how would you sell yourself to them? What will you tell them makes you the best candidate out of the lot to vote for?
First of all, I will let them know that you can’t buy experience. The close to four years of experience that I’ve garnered here can never be traded off. I will equally tell them about the accessibility that my constituents have had with me. I am one lawmaker that lives right in their midst, right in my constituency. This enables me feel their pulse, know their problems and know how to go about solving them. I will tell them about the good jobs I have done, so many of them that have touched the nooks and crannies of Mushin. I will also talk about the qualitative representation which I have given in abundance to my people.
How about the state of the party, APC, in Lagos, people are worried that the party did not handle most of its primaries properly, leaving so many members aggrieved and bitter. People expect these issues to be resolved before the elections come knocking but they are still there, don’t you think this could affect APC at the polls?
I am very optimistic that it won’t affect the party at the polls. I say this because the party has set up a reconciliatory committee that has been working round the clock to ensure that all the aggrieved members are assuaded. And it’s starting to show that they’re making progress. In any contest, there will be a winner and a loser. The winner should be magnanimous in victory and the loser should take it as an act of God, believing that if you don’t get what you’re aspiring for today, you will get it another time. I passed through that road before. I contested for this particular position three times and not once did I think of leaving the party each time I lost. Rather than feeling disgruntled, I worked for the candidate and that’s what I’m reaping now. I appeal to all aggrieved members of the party to sheath their swords.
Lastly, sir, don’t you think Jimi Agbaje could get sympathy votes at the elections following the sudden emergence of Babajide Sanwo-Olu as the APC guber candidate? What makes this more probable is when you consider that at the last elections, a large chunk of the Igbos lined up behind Jimi and the incumbent governor, Akinwunmi Ambode could only beat him by a slim margin?
I will speak like a politician and like someone who has been actively participating in Lagos politics for over 20 years. What happened in 2015 is different from the scenario playing out now. In year 2015, remember Jonathan was in power then and it worked for Jimi Agbaje that time. It worked because majority of the Igbos believed they were voting for their brother. The Igbo factor was there. And the PDP had money to throw around. You’ll recall that Jonathan had to spend close to one week in Lagos just to dish money out to its members. So, they had the money then, and they had the president. Another important reason why Jimi Agbaje cannot win Lagos state governorship elections is that the PDP structure in Lagos state has become extremely weak. The recent defection of PDP former party chairman in Lagos state, Hon. Salvadore, will go a long way in affecting their party structure. He didn’t come to APC alone, he came with thousands of PDP supporters. Former commissioner, Remi Adiekwu, too also joined APC from the PDP. Just a few weeks after, Alhaji Apena, their former deputy chairman, also decamped to the APC. And they all moved with their supporters. So, the whole structure of PDP now in Lagos is in shambles and he, Jimi, knows. You need to know how PDP campaigned last time and compare it to what we are witnessing today. The truth is that, PDP or Jimi can never win Lagos state. We politicians know ourselves and our capabilities and he too, knows that is the truth. They cannot win Lagos state.