Without a doubt, one of the finest female Lawmakers at the Lagos State House of Assembly is Honourable Mojisola Lasbat Meranda. She is the Lawmaker representing Apapa constituency 1. She is by nature an extremely simple woman. She is not loud. She keeps her things simple. And this includes her dress sense which she likes to keep as modest as possible too. But still, you cannot miss the touch of quality in anything she wears. From the fabrics she wears to her shoes and the bags she carries, they all ooze nothing but high quality. But Hon. Mojisola will be quick to tell you that’s not what she is all about. She is more concerned about her performance as a legislator and the dividends of democracy that she has been able to bring to her people who have voted for her for two straight terms now.
One of the things that would immediately strike you about this soft spoken woman is first, her calmness, her simple nature, then her sense of humility. She does not know how to carry herself with chips on her shoulders. She is down to earth and a very good listener too. This explains why members of her constituency adore her to no end. She keeps her doors open to them and shows as much empathy as she can towards their personal needs and demands. But make no mistake about it, beneath this humble and gorgeous looking woman lies one of the brightest politicians you can ever come across. It will shock many to know she has been in politics since the age of 18. She has a very rich pedigree. Not many know Hon. Mojisola Lasbat comes from a royal background. She is often quiet about this, only those who know her closely know about her rich pedigree.
Popularly called ‘MJ’ by her friends and close associates, this beautiful woman was born into the popular Akapo family in Lagos. Her father was late Chief Taoreed Akanni Lawal Akapo. He was also a Legislator at the local level before he became the Ojora of Lagos, while her mum is from the popular Oniru family in Lagos. She is a grounded politician and an accomplished one at that, although she doesn’t show it one bit. She’s a very quiet and private person who likes to operate without the usual crowd and noise that accompany most politicians. She started her political career with Dr. Olumuyiwa Gbadegesin, he was with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu during his tenure. He was the SSA on Information Technology and it was with him that she started her career professionally. She worked with him and they were together before Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu moved him to the Land Information System Support Unit where he served as the Director under the office of the Surveyor-General. After working briefly with a private organization, she worked as the SSA on Intergovernmental Relations to the then Chairman of Apapa Local Government, Hon. Ayodeji Joseph, before her elevation as Supervisory Councilor for Health in Apapa where she did exceedingly well. Hon. Mojisola stunned everyone when she contested and won the mandate to represent her people in Apapa Constituency 1 as a Lawmaker at the Lagos state House of Assembly. But those who know this very focused and strong-willed woman would tell you they were not the least surprised about her achievements because she has earned the right to be where she is today. City People Senior Editor, WALE LAWAL (08037209290), engaged the very warm and easy-to-talk-to Lawmaker two weeks ago and she opened up on her thoughts on the clamour for Asiwaju to contest for president come 2023. Her desire and commitment to the Tinubu 2023 project was evident all through the duration of the interview. Enjoy the excerpts.
Before you got to meet and know Asiwaju closely, what were your initial impressions of him?
Thank you. Before I got to meet Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, I have always admired him from afar. I also knew one or two people that were and are still close to him, so through them, I got to know a lot more about Asiwaju, even as far back as the NADECO period. And from the bits and pieces I was able to learn about him, one thing stood out, and that’s the fact that this man is for the masses. All he ever wanted was for democracy to thrive and succeed in Nigeria, even if it meant he would have to pay the ultimate sacrifice for it.
Meeting him one on one, what did you discover about the man that really struck you?
We have not had that opportunity to sit down and talk one on one but I have been around him with other people. But you know, when you’re around someone and you see the kind of people surrounding him, how he has invested so much in people, not minding their tribe or religion, it speaks volumes about him. And that’s also one of the things I admire about Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He does not discriminate. He is not a religious bigot. He draws everyone to himself, regardless of the tribe you’re from or the religion you practice.
Though he has not formally declared his intentions to contest for presidency come 2023, what are your thoughts about the prospect of Asiwaju becoming president? How does this excite you?
Well, I am so excited, really excited at the prospect of seeing our national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu becoming the president of Nigeria and I pray that God Almighty makes this dream come true. Believe me, he is a very rare being and not many people know this. He can sacrifice his own personal gains for other people to rise. It’s very rare to see someone like that. For most politicians, it’s usually about themselves first before anyone else. But when you now have someone who is saying let my ambitions or aspirations sit down first. It’s very rare to come by such people in this part of the world. I can only pray that God grants his heart’s desire. Asiwaju has invested so much in building people who have become top and distinguished personalities today and are grateful to him for all he’s done for them. So, this clamour for Asiwaju to be president is like a payback time for him from people who have benefitted immensely from his large heart.
When you mentioned the word grateful, it now reminded me of one of the questions I said I was going to ask you, which is, we hear of people betraying him, working against him and all sorts, how do you see all of these playing out? How badly do you think this could affect his success in 2023?
Well, its normal, we are human. Once you have it at the back of your mind that if you do good to ten people and about six out of those ten are paying you back as a mark of gratitude, then that’s fair enough because you are never going to get all ten of them pay you back in gratitude. Rather, you will have some that will be ungrateful, and those that will be extremely envious and would be willing to do anything to pull you down despite all that you have done for them. This is almost like a normal experience when you’re dealing with people. One thing I believe is that, when you’re in a position or office and you rise through someone with the help of God and the people that supported you, then when it is time for you to pay back you decide to do otherwise, no problems. But I guarantee you that God will pick somebody else and uplift the person to play the role you’re supposed to play and the person will play it better. So, for the backstabbers, that’s their cup of tea, their moment of reckoning will come soon. I believe strongly that whatever God has destined to happen to Asiwaju will definitely happen by the special grace of God. If he has been destined to be president, no man can change it, he will be president. And let me tell you, in politics, things are never static. The person that is your opposition today might become your ally tomorrow. Mark my words, many of those who stand against him today will still return to him. They will realize their mistakes and retrace their steps. Because apart from the fact that he made them who they are today, they also know they still need him. I believe he will reach out to some of them and speak to them and see how they can work things out to achieve a common goal. But if they still insist they would rather remain the enemy’s camp, then I’m not going to wish them any good luck.
People who know a bit about politics will say, yes, the issue of betrayal is a regular occurrence in politics. Is it something that you have personally experienced before in your journey to getting here?
Of course, I have and it’s not going to stop. Like my mum will always say, if you have a dog and the dog is happy with you, it will begin to dance up and down, wiggling its tail once it sees you, and once its upset with you, it will recoil back into its cage or stay in one corner and be looking at you from a distance. But human beings, they have left you since 2015 but they are still the first you’re seeing beside you in 2021. So, that’s politics for you. I have had my own share of betrayals, it’s all part of politics. You put them in a corner and you move on.
Everyone knows that Asiwaju is a Master strategist when it comes to overcoming political obstacles, how confident are you that he will indeed overcome all of the stumbling blocks before him come 2023?
To be honest, I’m very confident about him becoming the next president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria come 2023. Let’s be honest with ourselves, this man has paid his dues. He more than deserves to occupy the highest office in the land. Let me even ask, those that are antagonizing him, how many people have they invested in? How many people have they been able to pull out of poverty? How many people have they sacrificed for? Apart from members of their families, and perhaps their kinsmen in the village, how many lives have they touched and turned around for good? This man has paid his dues across Nigeria, not only in Lagos, not only in the South-west, he has touched lives in every region of the country. And then, again, he has the structure and the human capacity to become whatever he wants to become in Nigeria. Many of those people you hear saying nonsense about him cannot even win local government elections in their villages if they give them the opportunity. Some cannot even win their polling booths. And these are the people running their mouths? What are we talking about? Asiwaju that those that have not even met him are also clamouring for him to run. Clearly, that shows the kind of person he is. Remember the man left governance over twenty years ago and he’s still very relevant. Where are most of the people with whom he started? That shows a whole lot about the man, that he is unique, different from the rest and far and above all the others who are also jostling for the presidency come 2023. I am very confident that if he declares to run for president, no one can stop him.
What do you admire the most about Asiwaju?
His doggedness. He is a very determined person once he makes up his mind to do something. I also love the fact that he operates an open door policy. Once you can find your way to his residence, and you get to meet with him, then be rest assured you will come out with a solution to your problem. That’s a guarantee. And even if you don’t meet him, part of the problem will still be solved.
What do you think is Asiwaju’s greatest strength going into the 2023 presidential elections, if and when he declares?
It’s people. He has an enormous amount of people around him. With the structure he has built across board and even beyond the shores of this country, that is where his strength lies. He has tremendous amount of people who are ready to go all out to support him. People, structure, massive structure all across the country, that is his strength.
We have heard stories and speculations about the likes of VP Osinbajo, Babatunde Fashola, not aligning with Asiwaju as closely as they should, do you think this might work against him come 2023?
Without mentioning names, how many of these people can come out in their various communities and have multitude of people lining up behind them? How many of them will people associate freely with? It’s a free world, everyone has their right to associate with whoever pleases them. But the fact remains that, no matter how much they try to gang up against him or betray him, they can’t stop him from achieving anything he sets his mind to do. They can not stop him in 2023, Asiwaju is unstoppable. And like I said earlier, many of them will soon realize they are nothing without him and can never be strong enough to stand against him so, they will have no choice but to return to his camp, mark my word.