Tunde Buraimoh is the member representing Kosofe constituency 2 in the Lagos State House of Assembly. The former Chairman of Kosofe Local Government Area and current Chairman House Committee on Information, is seeking re-election into the assembly on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). In this chat with Dare Odufowokan, Assistant Editor, he predicts victory for the APC during the 2019 general elections. Excerpts.
The 2019 general election is around the corner and the PDP says it is poised to displace your party APC from offices across the country. What is your reaction to this?
The biggest and most accepted party will win the election because it will be free and fair. We are big in terms of everything. APC is the party of the people today in Nigeria as well as the party with the widest spread. Our party is very large and the membership is very intimidating. This is why the opposition is intimidated to the point of always seeking undue advantages. They cannot match the APC and they know it.
A much as they try to hoodwink the people, the people are comfortable with APC. Everywhere we go, people troop out to welcome us. People are really, really receptive of our party going by the way they welcome us to their places. There is no doubt going by the warm receptions we have had so far during our campaign, we are going to win by a landslide. Not only in my constituency, but in the whole of Lagos State and by the grace of God, the whole of the country.
This time around, we are parading candidates with electoral values and enviable track records across board. President Buhari’s performance in the last four years as well as the gains of the current federal government in office will speak for APC at the polls. Nigerians don’t want to return to the dark days of the PDP; that I am very sure of. In Lagos, the candidacy of Babajide Sanwoolu is well received and the party is invigorated.
Here in Lagos East, we have Hon. Bayo Osinowo running for senate. Here is a man with a lot of experience garnered from years of representing Kosofe constituency 1 at the Lagos State House of Assembly. He is surely the best man for the job of representing us at the national assembly this time around. I don’t want to blow my own trumpet but with all modesty, my experience as a former council boss and a serving legislator is innumerable and I will use it for the best of my constituents always.
My constituency is very large. It consists of two LCDAs (Local Council Development Authority) and so many localities. There is Ikosi/Isheri North, Magodo Phase I and II, Ikosi, Olowoira, Ketu, Agboyi-Ketu, Ajegunle and so many other localities. But without being immodest and over confident, I do not nurse any fear at all about my party and my own victory at the poll. By the grace of God, we have no fear at all that with free and fair election, we will win the election with a very wide margin.
One of the contenders for the Lagos governor’s office in 2019 has said Lagosians are in bondage. How true is this?
That is not correct. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has answered him. It is mischievous to say we are in bondage. When you are not entitled to something, you call it a bad name. He is just appealing to sentiments. An average Lagosian will not agree with him. So many things that happened in Lagos, it would have been worse in other states. Lagos is one of the states that are functional. If he is in bondage, he comes out very four years and collects billions of naira, he won’t spend it.
He is just making money. He is the one putting himself in bondage. Even his pharmacy has one outlet for over these donkey years; he can’t spread out, so if he is in bondage he should let us know and not ascribe it to everyone. Lagos, as the home of progressive politics in Nigeria, is benefiting from the continuity in government of the progressive political party since we returned to democracy and the people are happy.
We know those few who are not happy. They are the ones seeking to truncate this continuity of good governance. These are the ones seeking to loot the wealth of Lagos which governments from the days of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Babatunde Fashola and now Akinwunmi Ambode and very soon, Babajide Sanwoolu, use to better the lives of the people and move the state forward. APC will win and the progress of Lagos win continue beyond 2019.
You moved from the executive arm of government to the legislature. Can you share your transition experience with us?
The two arms of government are not exactly the same, I must confess. Although I consulted regularly with my councillors at that time, but not on daily basis. But in parliament, you move with the tide. As a lawyer, I am used to procedure, so that helps too. As a legislator, there is a message and a messenger. You may have a good message but if you don’t present it well, it can be shot down.
So the job of the legislator demands a lot of tact and experience. There is always the fear of having your presentation shot down by your colleagues. The important thing is if you are shooting down someone’s idea or opinion as a legislator, do it in a way that the other party will not feel bad. By and large I have been able to cope. The transition from being an executive chairman to becoming a legislator is really fulfilling.
Can you recall how your journey into politics started?
I have always had leadership skills right from childhood. I love to organise people for collective causes. I always desire to articulate and ventilate what people say. As a youth, I had a football club,11 stars. I am not a fantastic footballer but I put together people who were more skilled than me and was controlling them. But when I went for my Higher School Certificate, the club collapsed.
That shows I was the propelling factor. It also encouraged me to always play leadership role and in no time, I found myself doing more for my community and my people. By way of indigene-ship I am from Ibadan in Oyo State. But by constitution, I am a Lagosian. I have declared that. But very soon I will establish my root there. My late father had tribal marks.
You are a lawyer, businessman and politician. How do you manage all these together?
Law is not very different from governance. All the arms of government deal with law. They make law, intepret and execute law. Lawyers execute the laws especially when they are in the judiciary. So, for me, if I have to leave politicking now, I will just pay my service fees if I have any outstanding and return to law. I don’t have to go back to any school. I am a qualified barrister and solicitor.
But if you are a banker and you leave, you may have to come back looking for a job. But in law, it is easy to go in and out. Same thing with the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and the late Chief Bola Ige. Constitutionally as a state or federal lawmaker you are not expected to do any other thing except farming. This to be able to track you. When we go in, we declare our asset. You can’t make more money. It is an offence that can take you to jail for several years.
You are a socialite, jolly good fellow and a good dancer. How has your incursion in politics affected these?
I want to correct the erroneous believe that I am a socialite. You see I have socialite friends and what they do is that they want to be everywhere at the same time. They call and ask; where is it happening? But in my case, I seize opportunities to make myself happy. Not at the detriment of my health and finances. The fact that I am a politician even makes me go out more.
Sometimes it is not about money, but people wanting your presence. When you don’t go, they see it as arrogance. I go to social functions sometimes to show loyalty. Part of loyalty is to always show solidarity. So, it is not very correct to now conclude I am a socialite in the mould of some of my friends who seek to know where the gigs are taking place in order to attend and socialise.
As a politician and statesman, what motivates you?
The need to make people happy. When I make people happy in my own little way, I am happy. But I tell you not everything is money. I met a food vendor who took a loan to start selling in a school premises. But after the school principal was changed, she was asked to leave. She came to me helpless and we looked into it and she was asked to return. At the end, she went home happy. Many don’t know our work as legislators; we are to represent you, make sure your allocation is not frittered away or cheated.
We are to stand by you. For instance, when you come to me and say you sat for an exam and you did well and someone who did not do well was taken ahead of you, I will take it to the plenary. People think everything is about money. When we think that way, we are encouraging corruption. Where do you expect the money to come from?
The policeman that killed a LASTMA officer at Iyana Ipaja would have suffered more if he wasn’t killed.
The family of the late LASTMA should get money from the Nigeria Police and we have announced in the parliament and we are working on it. The norms and standard of your people are also important. If you are good and your people are bad, you are still bad. That is why people said if you go abroad, it is the people that you stay with that shape your life. If you stay with fraudsters, you become one. Once you are in the system, if you know you cannot fit in, why are you there?
How do you manage women in politics?
You can’t rule out women in politics; they make it happen. Naturally, if a woman is standing with you, about ten others are standing with you because of her. Women are natural mobilisers and you must have respect for them. Wherever women are, you will see men. We have great women like Chief Mrs. Kemi Nelson, Chief Mrs. Teju Phillips, Jumoke Okoya-Thomas, Bola Alli, Kafilat Ogbara and our own Senator Oluremi Tinubu who has displayed exemplary leadership qualities.
What are your pains and gains?
I always think of the other side. There is no pain there without gain. If I wake up and see people waiting for me, I thank God because what if I wake up and see nobody again. One day, I was going out with a friend and he was saying people are greeting us too much and I said what if you don’t have anybody greeting you. Conduct your private life well. Whatever I cannot do publicly, I won’t do privately.
Many people have dual personalities. You can read me as a book. When I left office as a chairman, I lost many friends. But one thing I realised was that they were never my friends in the first place. They were friends of my office. I still drive myself sometimes, even outside Lagos. I must not forget the role of my normal life. There is no staying power more than self confidence.