It’s been over four weeks now that the whole of Lagos was shaken to its foundation when the peaceful #EndSARS protest turned catastrophic. Unharmed protesters were shot at. Government Institutions were torched and billions of naira worth of properties were destroyed. Upscale shops of private individuals with multimillion-naira investments were looted to the scratch. Violence broke out in many parts of Lagos all in one day and dozens of lives were lost. The carnage was unprecedented. The arson was of frightening proportions. Even Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s investments were not spared. The APC national leader had been alleged to be behind the phenomenal #Endsars protest. He was also said to have been responsible for the Lekki Tollgate Shooting. It didn’t make sense to the unwise that if Asiwaju was responsible for all he was being accused for, why were his investments, TVC Continental and The Nation also burnt down? Only the discerming could see that there’s a lot more to these attacks than meets the eye.
One man who has also been disenchanted by these unfortunate incidents is Hon. Olayiwola Olawale Sobur, the Lawmaker representing Mushin Constituency II. He and other leaders of the APC in Mushin had their hands full as violence erupted in parts of Mushin between the Police and the youths. These clashes left in their wake monumental destruction of lives and properties. In this interview with City People’s Senior Editor, WALE LAWAL (08037209290) Hon. Olayiwola expressed concern at the wanton destruction of lives and properties that erupted in several parts of Lagos, but was particularly pained by the baseless accusations levelled at his mentor and leader, Asiwaju Tinubu and the destruction of his investments by unknown persons. He is also miffed at the spate of social media onslaught directed at the Speaker of the Lagos Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa. But the very calm, soft-spoken and politically grounded Lawmaker who is hugely adored by his constituents believes that in a short while from now, the truth will prevail and every one of the individuals behind these dastardly acts would be unmasked for everybody to see.
Following the aftermath of the EndSars protest, there was a breakdown of Law and order in Mushin. Lives were lost, properties were destroyed. We heard different stories regarding the violence that erupted in Mushin, your constituency. Share with us what really transpired.
For the past few weeks, we can say that Mushin has not really enjoyed the sort of peace it was enjoying before now, and this is as a result of what happened on the 20th of October, 2020. For the people of my constituency, this was indeed a sad day for everyone. While things were getting heated up at the Lekki Toll gate, and there were reported cases of shooting, simultaneously, hoodlums were also hijacking the protests in my constituency. Things got out of hand when the Police got involved and unfortunately, from the findings we made, they did not handle the situation professionally. According to the Police, they came out enmasse to protect their station and in the process, many of the protesters along with the hoodlums were shot. It was a sad day for all of us. You saw the videos of how policemen were shooting at my constituents. Truth is, in other climes, there are other ways, more humane approaches to solving this kind of problem. For instance, instead of using live bullets, the use of rubber bullets, tear gas, hot water, would’ve dispersed every one of the hoodlums and protesters and no single life would’ve been lost. I commiserate with all of the people who have been affected by this unfortunate situation, especially those who lost loved ones, I commiserate with my constituent and empathise with those who lost their goods and properties in the mayhem and also those who were fatally injured. I also sympathise with Mr. Governor on the loss of lives and properties in Lagos State and I pray that may we never witness such in Lagos State ever again.
What sort of pressure did this put on you as the Lawmaker representing the constituency?
Well the pressure it puts on me is that people expect me to come to their aid individually as their representative, which I have been doing to the best of my capacity. The first thing I did was to console them. I placed paid advertorials on radio and some online platforms, as well as on WhatsApp, commiserating and appealing to my people to sheath their swords and let peace reign. I particularly pleaded with them that, given the tense situation at the time, they do not need to retaliate. There were several other things that we did that one cannot disclose openly. My people are law abiding, they heeded to our call, the leaders have risen to the occasion and I assure that everything has been brought under control. And by the special grace of God, such terrible incident will not happen in our constituency again.
I must commend you and other leaders for doing a good job of handling the situation, but most essentially for having the usually restive Mushin youths engaged and calm for many years now until this unfortunate incident occurred. But can you safely say there won’t be any reprisal attack on the police and how sure are you that the youths have forgotten about the matter and have moved on?
Well, one thing I know is that my people may never be able to forget, but they have forgiven the perpetrators of this evil act. And we should give kudos to our leaders who have been going round to pacify them, especially the council Chairmen, they have done a fantastic job. They ensured that the medical bills of those who were undergoing treatment were paid for, I’m talking about the chairmen of Mushin local government and Odi-Olowo LCDA. They went round and did a good job in pacifying our people. And we the leaders too did not leave them to do this alone, we rallied round them. That is why we have the peaceful atmosphere we have now and by the grace of God, there won’t be any reprisal attack from both ends.
While you were busy trying to bring things under control in your constituent, unprecedented carnage and arson of massive proportions were also going on in different parts of Lagos, how shocked were you by all these?
No right-thinking person would support what they have done. Unfortunately for our youths, they did a great job of conducting a peaceful protest but allowed the situation get out of control till the hoodlums now hijacked it and turned it into something else. You will recall that they first came to the Lagos State House of Assembly on the 7th of October in the night and the Rt. Honourable Speaker received them around 12 midnight and he summoned us to look into their 5 points demand. We had to have an emergency plenary, you know we don’t usually sit on Fridays, but because of the urgency of the matter at hand, he summoned us and we assembled. At the end of the day, all their 5 point demands were taken as a resolution which was expressly passed on to the president and the president, in turn, acceded to all these 5 points. The Inspector-General of Police, shortly after, announced the disbandment of the SARS unit. I read somewhere too that even the initiator of the protest said to them, guys, let’s go back to the negotiation table, but as everyone can see, the protest was hijacked by some third forces that they had no control over. And what happened afterward is that the genuine intention of the protesters had been thrown out of the window. There were people that had their own political and ulterior motives behind the protest. There were some hoodlums that believe they should use the protest to loot and make money. There were also some social media influencers too who joined the protest for their own personal gains and the resultant effect of all of these was what we saw. The protesters had a genuine cause which we all supported, but perhaps if they also listened to wise counseling, their noble protests would’ve been far more successful than this.
How do you react to this theory that there were also stronger forces at play who wanted to weaken Lagos state, weaken the political base of Asiwaju, as well as his chances, come 2023, which was primarily why his investments were destroyed in the first place?
For me, I know and I’m absolutely sure Asiwaju knows nothing about the protest, contrary to false speculations that he knew something about it or that he was behind it. This is a man that’s been out of government for about thirteen years. He is not a minister. He holds no federal appointment. This is a man that has been empowering people and employing thousands of people. Asiwaju has nothing to do with the protest, this is all nothing but the ‘pull him down’ syndrome of our people. But like I said, there are many forces that are involved and we have been seeing the forces. And I can guarantee you that there are plans going on underground to uncover each and every one of these forces. We know them. Who are the ones saying that Tinubu’s daughter does not have a shop in Lagos State? How can anyone even conceive such nonsense? How can anyone, in an attempt to incite the people against the Speaker, say that the Honourable Speaker was selling pure water before he became Speaker of the Lagos Assembly? And you can see the kind of social media onslaught the speaker has been getting ever since. All this is tantamount to the fact we Nigerians don’t like ourselves. Someone that has done so much for Lagos state, someone that has provided employment for so many people, and you say you want to pull him down. If you insist you want to pull him down and Almighty Allah says he will continue to grow, what will you do? And he will continue to grow by the special grace of God. This is not the first time that Asiwaju will be having this kind of problem, so I can guarantee you that he will triumph over this. Everyone can see that this is an organized gang –up, an organ9sed conspiracy to pull down Lagos state and God will never allow them. These are the people fanning the embers of discord to ensure that when Lagos state is ungovernable, they will have their way. But Allah will not allow them have their way.
I’m sure you and your colleagues would be worried and concerned that Mr. Speaker is being put under a lot of pressure with constant attacks on his person and all sorts of hate contents flying all over the social media. Two of your colleagues too are under fire from different quarters. How is Mr. Speaker handling all of these?
First, let me speak on the attack on Mr. Speaker, you see, we all know that Mr. Speaker is being attacked by some people because they believe he has plans to aspire for another higher office, that’s the truth and nothing but the truth. They know he is a popular person and that there’s no way he will come out to contest and he will not defeat them. So, they believe that, before the 2023, they must pull him down, and they will not succeed. This is a Speaker that carries all of us along. He’s a man of the people, a team player that understands these legislative duties very well and we’ve learnt a lot from him. He is not the signatory to our account, he’s not the one who authourises the spending, so why all these hullabaloos? But we know where all the missiles are coming from and by the grace of God, we shall defeat all of them. And to my colleagues too, you can see they were quoted out of context. What Hon. Desmond said shouldn’t have been taken that way. He made such a fantastic contribution, but out of all he said, it’s the issue of children they are holding against him. That shouldn’t be so. To me, it smirks of envy. But we leave everything for God to judge, ditto to Hon. Mrs. Macauley too.
Do you have any fear that if things continue like this, this might affect APC’s chances in the 2023 elections across board?
You see, what people don’t understand is that APC has very solid structures not only in Lagos State but throughout Nigeria. This is why I always laugh when I hear political neophytes say, I want to become this, I want to become that. They forget that it is people that will vote you there. And the people that will vote you there are the grassroots. How many of them have the capacity to become local government chairmen and do it successfully? How many of them can bring out one hundred people from their local government? Because the truth has to be said here, let us call spade, a spade. How many of them can really come out and say, yes, I am a politician? When it comes to the nitty-gritty, we will let them know that we the real politicians know our foot soldiers, and they know us too. Politics is not about going on social media to speak and write all sorts of articles, when that time comes, we will show them how we play politics.
Let’s talk about you as we wrap up now, sir. I remember I first interviewed you shortly after your first year in office, now you’re in your second term. How has the journey been so far? How much of the expectations of your people would you say you have met?
Well, let me say the journey has been smooth. It has been rosy. It has been rosy because I understand the pains of my people. You see, he who takes it feels it. My people know that I am at home with them. I know their problems and they know I do all within my capacity to address those problems. It may interest you to know that I give the widows N5000 each, and am talking about two hundred widows across the wards in my constituency every month. To some people, this might seem very meager, but when you look at the total number of widows that benefit from this, then you will appreciate what we’re doing. And my constituents, most especially appreciate the gesture. I have been doing that since June 2nd, 2002. When it comes to empowering my people, they know that me, Hon. Olayiwola Olawale will do everything within his power for them. I also empower them by training nothing less than 50 graduates on how to do make-up head gear tying. As for education, I identify with both the teachers and students of my constituent. There are some we give free school uniforms to, there are some we give writing materials to. Just this second term, I have bought two school buses which are used to convey our students free of charge in the morning and afternoon. And a whole lot of other good things. I always ensure that give them feedbacks, using platforms like our stakeholder’s meeting to give a rundown of all that I’ve been able to do in the last couple of years.