Everyone is still talking about him. His loss at the recent Lagos House of Assembly elections sent shock waves that reverberated through the length and breadth of the Lagos Political Landscape. Hon. Dipo Olorunrinu was not just the only PDP member of the Lagos House of Assembly (after his seven other colleagues defected from the PDP to the APC), he was clearly one of the most outstanding lawmakers of the 8th Assembly. This is because he did remarkably well as the lawmaker representing Amuwo-Odofin Constituency 1. Everywhere you turn to within the constituency you will find his footprints there. With the limited recourses available to him, he ensured his constituents enjoyed some measure of the dividends of democracy. There is nobody within the local governments under his watch that is not familiar with ‘Talk and Do’, the alias given to Hon. Dipo Olorunrinu because of his impeccable track record of always delivering to his people whatever he promises to deliver. The man fondly called ‘The Last Man Standing’, had a special bond with his constituents that many of his contemporaries envied. His people could go to any length to show their love and support for him. This explains why everyone is still in shock at his loss. But the ever warm and brilliant politician has put all that behind him. He has moved on. He has since defected to the ruling party, APC. Two weeks ago, City People’s Senior Editor, WALE LAWAL, spent some chunk of time engaging the hugely loved legislator and he shared with us the reasons why he decided to move to the APC, a move many had expected would come long before now.
A lot has happened since the last time we spoke with you. Let us start with the recent House of Assembly elections. Many people found your loss at the polls quite shocking, did you see this coming?
Frankly speaking, I must say I didn’t see it coming. If I did, of course I would’ve prevented it from happening. I would say that when it comes to positions like this its God ordained. I guess that’s the reason why the margin was only 278 votes. And then again, basically, the kind of politics I played in Amuwo Odofin was not the party politics. I played more of community politics where I related with the community leaders and the people directly. I related with the old, young, rich, average, poor, it was a government for everybody. So, basically, I practiced more of community politics. The results came the way it came. I won three wards out of four. There was just one particular ward that I didn’t win and that was where everything went wrong.
One of the reasons why your loss shocked many is because if people were asked to rate lawmakers according to how much they contributed to their constituency, you will be….
(Cuts in) Yeah, I know, but for me, I really do not want to dwell on the past. I am in a new party now, but my focus remains on the people. The APC as it were is a progressive party and I’m a progressive minded person. So, I think that’s more of my focus now, which is moving forward and seeing how my people can partake in the progress of the ruling party and enjoy the dividends of democracy. That’s what concerns me now.
Kindly take us through what informed your decision to move camp. What was that turning point for you?
Okay, well, to begin with, I’m a young man, if not the youngest lawmaker here at the Lagos State House of Assembly. I have always had the mindset to set good examples. The fact is that the continuity of all that I’ve been able to put in my local government matters a lot to me. After losing the elections, many people were even willing to sponsor my going to court, litigating the issue. But I insisted I didn’t want to because, for me, it was all about ensuring the people were carried along and not about going to court. I thought to myself, having worked with the APC for up to four years, and then losing the elections, do I want to start fighting or concentrate on the progress of my people? Going to court, for me, was a distraction. So, I chose to move forward. Truth is, the APC is a great party. Even while I was a lone member in the House after my seven colleagues defected, I was never antagonistic towards the party. Nevertheless, I still admired their approach of governance and their delivery system.
Some school of thought felt that you had been put under tremendous pressure by your APC counterparts being the only PDP member in the House and that once you get the opportunity to jump ship you would grab it with both hands…
(Cuts in) You see, that’s the irony about life. If I was under any pressure did I get any help from those that felt concerned? Did I get any help from my people, I mean the PDP leadership in Lagos state? I am telling you boldly, I never got any help, not even from the party. Not even from the national, let alone the state. I didn’t get a single assistance. In fact, that is one of the major reasons why I decided it was best I leave the party. I was spearheading things financially for the PDP in Lagos state. We had twenty local governments and most of them were dependent on my humble self. I wasn’t a noise maker talking about things he couldn’t do, there’s no local government that will say they don’t know ‘Talk and Do.’ I was always at the helm of affairs of the party at the state.The only reason I stayed for as long as I did in the party before I finally left was because I needed to show integrity and then continuity of my own personal ambition. I just felt it was more of integrity and loyalty to respect those that put me there. I wanted to prove loyalty and I think I was able to do that until I lost the election. I felt it was more honourable to just leave and continue my progressive mindset by joining the progressive team. I’m a young man, I needed to move on with my life and be part of those that will take Nigeria to its promised land. Trust me, the ruling party has done very well. They might have their own short comings like everybody else, but they have done very well.
Looking back at the past three years or so in the House when you were called The Last Man Standing for the PDP, how difficult were those years? What are the lessons you have learnt?
One of the big lessons I would say I have learnt is the fact that you need to be loyal to a proper structure. For instance, can you imagine that even when I went for this last election I wasn’t supported financially? If the leadership was really sincere about winning an election, they should’ve given that one person all the support. I didn’t get one. In fact, it was as though my being in the party was a threat to some people in the party. Unfortunately, followers of the party do not know all these. The followers need to know that they have to be realistic. Do the leaders of the party really want to win an election? They don’t. So, why don’t they just align with the ruling party that are desirous of winning elections and want to impact on the community and the general public? Why cast your votes for people who are only bothered about fighting themselves over issues?
How did your supporters take the news of your decision to defect to the APC?
First and foremost, I think I still have a lot of people to console for the loss. I didn’t know the great and mighty things God had done in my life until I lost the elections. Yes, a lot of people were angry I didn’t go to court, but I told them to forget about going to court so we can move on. I will be honest with you, when I told them I wanted to leave, the community was very happy. I was shocked because I was moving to APC based on my own personal decision. So, yes, they took it in good faith.
How about the APC, what sort of reception did you get from them when you joined them?
In fact, I thought I was going to be apologising to a lot of people but I discovered that I was highly accepted. Many of them were saying you should’ve done this long before now so that you would’ve remained in the House. But, like I said, its a position that God ordains and I believe the sky is the limit for everyone of us. In the first place when I came in, it wasn’t as if I was known. It was a privilege God gave me through the People’s Democratic Party. And I believe God still has a lot of privileges for me in the APC, He is the author and finisher of my fate.
So, now that you’re with the APC, how do you hope to keep the bond between you and your people going?
Okay, let me be frank with you, what they’ve been seeing, they’ll keep seeing. Even as minority at the Lagos House of Assembly, I was still doing a lot. We had free school buses attending to children, attending to our constituents through our constituency office, we were still doing things. You see, government is not just about depending on the party, you have to think out of the box. Engage with people and big organisations that are interested in developing the community around them. You have to be able to come up with the sort of proposals that will interest them. You see, let me be honest with you, there are several corporate bodies that are interested in growing Nigeria, so you have to look for these organisations and engage them. I was able to do lots of that, sincerely. Many people didn’t know this. They were all working hand in hand with me, and that’s why I said I played more of community politics. They gave me plenty of support and they got value for their money. They saw the dividends. Like I told you, I want to be part of the new Nigeria which I see Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu trying to achieve and I know that by the special grace of God he will achieve it..The man is a dogged, focused politician and goal-getter. So, while you’re trying to achieve a target or an ambition, you have to look at people who have gone ahead of you and set some level of standard. Asiwaju is a pace-setter. And I think that’s all I need now.
Now that you are with the APC, share with us your impressions of your national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu?
I do not want to sermonize here, I’m a practical politician. You heard me moments ago when I said, ‘give it to him.’ You also heard me when I said, while I was in office as a PDP member, you’ll never hear me antagonise the government because they’re doing good. Once upon a time, he was a lone party member among the 36 states. And that equates with my life as well because he was dogged and rugged, consistent and focused and he has been able to influence the APC at the national level till date. That is what consistency and focus can do. So, why antagonise such man? Why think of how to malign such people rather than thinking of how to connect my destiny and my life to such a person when he’s exactly the kind of life I want to achieve myself. He’s made a lot of people. He has a large heart. He’s forgiven lots of people. I have watched closely his style of leadership and I must say he’s simply amazing. I’ve not quite met him in person, but I really respect him. He’s someone you have no choice but to admire, respect and follow.