LAGOS Lawmaker, Hon. JUBREEL ABDULKAREEM
Honourable Jubreel Abdulkareem is an erudite Islamic scholar and politician par excellence. He was the former Executive Chairman of Agege Local Government Area in Lagos State. During the 2023 General Election, he took a shot at the post of a Lawmaker in the hallowed chamber of the Lagos State House of Assembly under the platform of the ruling party, All Progressive Congress, APC. He won the people’s votes convincingly and he is presently representing Agege Constituency II in the 10th Assembly of the state’s legislative body. During an interview with City People Nifemi Kazeem and Jamiu Abubakar, the born and bred legislator, Hon. Abdulkareem took us down the lane where he narrated his humble beginning and how he grew to prominence. He also gave credence to Morkaz-ulum, the popular Arabic School, Agege for shaping him for good. Below are excerpts:
Can you tell us about your constituency and the areas it covers?
I represent the people of Agege Constituency II in the Lagos State House of Assembly. My constituency covers places like Keke, Ogunji area, Sango, we have Ajegunle, we have Atobaje, Pen Cinema area, Oko-Oba, Oke-Koto, Agbotikuyo right side, down to Amoo, to Orile Agege, Alagba right side, down to Abule Egba on the left side near Abattoir. Just to capture it briefly.
How have you been coping with the task of representing constituency?
We are trying, we are just about 5 months in office now. From June down the year, it’s about 5 months in office. So gradually we are managing it. I’ve been in this business before and this is not the first time of being in this position. I know how to take care of my people. The best way of taking care of people is to make yourself available for them. So if there’s anything they need, they get in touch with me through phone calls, by coming down, by writing.
What do you think are their major challenges?
Before getting to this position, the people of my constituency have been enjoying the dividends of democracy through proper representation. So, having been in the state house of assembly, they have been saying it. It now depends on what you believe to be dividends of democracy. When you are representing your people, it’s a great dividend that they can be proud of. When you have access to your people, you can easily call them if there is any problem and you will find solutions to the problem. Mind you, we are here as a spokesperson. We are here to make laws and we are here to represent our people.
As a former executive council boss of Agege Local Government, how would you compare your jobs now to that of a council boss?
It’s not a big thing because while I was the Chairman, I have legislators that I worked with and our working relationship then was so cordial. I know what it means to be a legislator. So, it’s not a new thing. I don’t find it difficult. The only area that can be a little bit difficult is from the aspect of the people. Some of them don’t know the difference between being a legislator and being an executive. They expect me as a legislator to carry out the tasks of an executive. The responsibility lies on me to educate them on the rightful ways and procedures of doing things. Not all their requests I can grant immediately. I need to reach out to the executive arm of the government to get it done for them. it’s totally different from when I was the chairman that I would just give a directive; go and get this done as an executive person. But this time around, I will need to liaise with the executive, get it done for them. So it’s a matter of explanation.
We learnt that your predecessor, Hon. Olayinka Ogudimmu did not support your candidacy during the election. How were you able to succeed, winning the people over to vote you in?
How do you expect somebody that is aspiring for the same position you are contesting to support you?
But I understand you are in the same party…
Yes, how can he support me? If you are the one, are you married now? If you are married and you see your husband marrying another person, will you support your husband marrying such a person? Okay. That’s it now.
My people know me, they know my antecedents and they believe in me. So I’m the kind of person that will tell you the way it is. I will not pretend. It is when we are not giving the people the right information, that’s why they are not trying to understand you. If you try to make yourself accessible to them, they will understand you. They will believe in you. Once you tell them something today and at the end of the day, they discovered that what you had told them was not genuine, next time, they will not take you seriously. But when they find out that what you told them was the truth, they will believe in you. So that has been the situation.
What’s your perception of the House of Assembly before being elected? Has that changed now that you are a member of the chamber?
It’s still the same thing because like I’ve told you, I knew about the operational system of the legislators. I have worked with them closely. I remember that even while I was the chairman, we did come to the house regularly. So being a legislator is not a new thing to me. I knew what I wanted to do before nursing the ambition of wanting to be a legislator.
The speaker of the house, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa is from Agege Constituency I, what’s your relationship with him like?
My relationship with my boss and my master is very, very cordial. If we don’t have a good relationship, it wouldn’t have been possible for me to be here because he played a greater role. He supported me in all ramifications. So that shows the level of our relationship and our commitment.
How would you describe the leadership of Rt. Hon. Obasa in the house?
He’s very fantastic. You just need to understand him. He’s a straightforward person. So once he gives you his support on a cause, you are rest assured to get it. That’s him for you.
Tell us a bit about your background and formative years
I was born and schooled in Agege. I was born in Sango, Keke area of Agege. That’s where I’m still living. I went to Bishop Oluwole Primary School, Iju. Later on, after leaving primary school, I went to the popular Arabic School called Marcas in Agege. It’s from there, I started my journey. When I left Morcas, I went into teaching line. I taught at Oke-Ira Grammar School for some years and I was later transferred to Agidingbi Grammar School. I left teaching and I started a business of my own. Before that I joined my mother line of business. My mother sells at the market then. She is late now. I did that before furthering my education pursuits. I went to Lagos State University, LASU for my diploma. I went to UNILAG for my advanced diploma. I went to Olabisi Onabanjo University for my BSc. So later, I went to LASU for my masters. I have two masters. Presently I’m still in school at Babcock University for my Ph.D.
Aside from being a politician, what else do you do? Are you still a businessman?
Yes, definitely. You know, like I told you, when I left teachin, I went into business. I was born into business. So, and after leaving office, I engage in business because I do assist my mom. 90% of my family members are into business. My wife is a business woman. My friends are into business. So, outside the office, I’ll be in business. When I return to the office, I resume my government job.
Being a proud product of Morcas in Agege, what would you say you learnt there that influenced the kind of person you have become today?
Morcas in Agege played a greater role in my life. One thing for me is that it gave me the foundation of being conscious of God. knowing Him to serve Him, and knowin Him as the Creator of everything. It’s shaped my life to believe in Him that whatever you are trying to do, if you are able to achieve it, appreciate God for that. If you are unable to believe that that’s how God wants to be. Those are the things we learnt. Then attending Marcas gave me the right orientation about Islam and how to relate well with your fellow human beings. Islam teaches you to do goodness to your neighbour. How can you prove to be a true believer when you are not doing good to your colleagues or your community? So all these are taught at Morcas as enshrined in Islam. It helped me realise that as a politician, you have to be dutiful to the people which I found it very easy for me to do.
What does the term, development mean to you sir?
Development is a relative question. Development to me might be different from development to you. But at the same time, generally what I can say is that it’s all-encompassing. It’s about making provision for change that the majority of people will enjoy. That is development. Then encouraging the people in pursuing their dreams and ambition. This is part of development. And at the same time, providing a conducive atmosphere for people to grow. That’s development. Because from there, individuals, will now determine their own way of lifting themselves, doing things the way and manner that will suit their own method of life. But as a government, the government is to provide a conducive atmosphere. We are agents of the government. We will ensure that anything we want to embark on, the people enjoy and make the best of it.
Give us an insight into your empowerment programmes for your constituency?
I have an empowerment program which is to educate and orientate my people. Once I educate them, they will now determine whatever they need. I’m not the type of person who gives a book to somebody who needs food. So it is what you need that I’m ready to provide for you. If I cannot provide it, I will strive to position you in a way that you can get it. I don’t just buy equipment and start distributing them. We have experienced that before and it didn’t solve the problem. Then we make sure that we engage youths in sporting activities so that they can show and develop their interest from that end. So those are the things that I am doing for people in my constituency.