Life said to be in stages. Let’s look at yours as a case study.You want me to go into history but I will be very brief? My name is Senator Munirudeen Adekunle Muse. I was born in Lagos, precisely on the 7th of May 1939.
So, as at today, I am 71 years of age. I attended Olowogbowo Methodist School, Lagos, after which I entered Methodist Boys High School in 1956. On leaving school, I entered the service of Nigerian Ports Authority in 1961 as a Clerk. There I rose through the ranks before I retired in 1995 December.
How did you do that?
I encouraged myself to read a lot and through that I was able to get promotion from Clerical grade in such a way that it baffled me. Because it became, at a point, that two years, unless in some cases, I had promotion.
And I received a lot of training, on-the-job training, locally and internationally. By 1979, I was given a letter to go and serve as London Representative in England. I took over there in 1980 January and I was working in that capacity for four years, ten months before returning home.
All this while, I was doing some short courses, conferences, seminars abroad, and by the time I retired in 1995, I thanked my star—You know, looking back at those of us who entered the service together, looking back at the people I met in service and looking back at those who joined after me, I thank Allah.
How did your parents affect your growing up in life?
You know, generally, in the Muse family, we are very, very humble. We got that from our parents, from our uncles, our aunties and sisters. The children we are breeding are also taking to that humility. And you see, you get a lot of things from being a humble person.
If you are humble and you are very conscientious in your dealings, may be at work or among your mates, you will stand out. And that humility is what has given me the position in which I am today—humility, steadfastness, simplicity and hard work. If you have them, the sky will be your limit.
Is that why you don’t dress flamboyantly?
When I was young, I felt that certain dresses were not meant for me because there is a way in which you are influenced by the kind of dress you put on. And if you put on a flamboyant dress, people could see it in a different way. They could say you are a show-off person. So, simplicity comes in here.
What was that character in you when you were growing up?
The character that I can remember I had was that I always insisted I must be myself. I was focused in all cases. I can vividly remember that.
But humility took the centre stage because, like I said, if you are humble and you are hardworking, there is the tendency that those who are your bosses will look at you and say, ‘oh, this is somebody that should be encouraged’. And that kind of encouragement I received from my bosses when I grew into the working class.
Any particular event that shot you into the limelight?
There are so many events that I can remember but since you demand the mention of a particular one, I will abide by that.
In my place of work, where I served for 34 years eight months, I remember a time I got a promotion and that promotion was to the principal level. I was promoted as a Principal Traffic Officer in 1979 and in the whole of Apapa…. I was the only one promoted Principal Traffic Officer that year. And as a young man, I was working with elderly people.
So, how was the feeling?
As a young man, when I got the news that I was promoted to that rank, I got out of my office and stood on the balcony of the building and shed tears of joy that particular day.
That same year, I was appointed to go to London because if you were not a principal officer, you could not be appointed to go as far as London. So, I was appointed as London Representative in England.
Before you went to the Senate, you were Chairman, Apapa LGA. How was it administering at the grassroots level?
It was a great opportunity that I had to be elected to govern at the grassroots level as Chairman of Apapa LGA. Before I got there, Apapa Local Government was said to be a ‘golden council’, and when I got in there, I used to tell people that I could see nothing golden in the appellation given to the Local Government. So, I set to work to actually make it a truly golden council, which I did.
How did you do that?
To achieve that, I embarked on internal and even external restructuring and I made sure that not only Apapa but also that other Local Government Councils in Lagos State at that time were given the proper place by the state government.
Because when we came in, we were having regular monthly meetings with the then governor, our Asiwaju of Lagos, Senator Bola Tinubu. And that meeting assisted the government a lot as it was able to easily discover the problems of the grassroots and was easily guided on how to solve them.
In short, by the time I left Apapa Local Government, I knew what I had done to make it a ‘golden council’ and those who are there today are enjoying the fruit of that labour.
There were so many pieces of infrastructure that I did; not for myself but for posterity. I can mention but a few.
Behind my house is a developed property that was formerly used as a guest house for the council. Today, it has been developed to such a suitable apartment that will be yielding money for the Local Government. There is another one, former Excelesor Hotel. At that time, it was an empty land that people were using without authority.
You found people putting different types of shanties on that land that you hardly knew it was a big land. Today, there is a seven-storey solid building on the land. We gave it out on a long lease to yield a lot of income for Apapa Local Government.
There is another one in Ikoyi, which we did. All these are for long term investments for the Local Government, not to talk of the market that I did within that period of seven and a half years that I spent as Chairman, Apapa Local Government.
And I believe that, internally, people in the Local Government are enjoying some of the infrastructures that I made there.
Lagos State is yet to get the National Assembly nod for the LCDAs created by Tinubu government. What are you doing to get the approval?
What I will tell you today is that there is a bill already pending in the Senate, which the three of us that represent Lagos State have presented to the Senate for them to consider and approve the new 37 LCDAs that have been put in place by Lagos State Government.
Behind every successful man, they say, there is a woman. The woman behind your own success, how did you meet her?
It’s a long story but we met and God said, ‘yes this is the person that will live happily with you’. Let’s put it that way.
You said you met. What was the mode of the meeting?
There was no question of alarena (intermediary), I will not lie to you. It is a long story like I told you but I will just put it that we met and God said this will be the person that will live happily with you.
You look far younger than 71. How is your lifestyle?
Well, I think what you don’t know about my lifestyle is that it is God’s blessing that all these things happened to me. And behind that also I have mentioned to you my characteristics in life, characteristics of the family: humility, simplicity, hardwork.
These are some of the things I believe have given me that youthful appearance. And also, we do things in a moderate way. I make sure that I don’t do things that will weaken me, both in the soul and in the body. I take life so easy with myself and I don’t put my eyes on things that are too big for my soul to bear.
How about your food consumption?
I eat so many things but I don’t eat much. I eat food that the mouth can take. I like rice and dodo very, very much. And if I see amala and ewedu. I take them not heavily but minimally. In fact, my friends do complain and my household would say ‘daddy, you don’t eat’. I know that I eat.
I refuse to feel disappointed that you didn’t tell me what your favourite is, as a proper Lagosian?
(laughs) Oh, in those days, we ate Imooyo (soup, cooked with fresh fish). We still eat fresh fish and I still love it. I told you about beans, rice and dodo. I didn’t tell you of other things that go with them. Not many Lagosians today take Imooyo. Most people have forgotten about it.
If your food is prepared by somebody other than your wife, does that food taste differently?
Whatever food is prepared in the house, my wife must supervise it. She doesn’t necessarily have to prepare it by herself; she directs and supervises it.
What character would you allow or disallow for your children?
I don’t want my children to carry it in their heads the ego of a Senator’s children and say ‘oh, our Baba is a Senator’ such that they now have swollen heads. No.
My advice to them always is, concentrate on your studies. Read as much as possible because it is that reading habit, I must tell you, that made me what I am today. I read a lot of books, magazines.
The magazines that I’m so much interested in are Time and Newsweek. If I go up now, I can get you Time magazine of over 20 years. I buy them till today. I am so much interested in those magazines because they link me with happenings around the world.
So, it is that habit I am inculcating in my children.
Name: Munirudeen Adekunle Muse
Date of birth: May 7, 1939.
Place of birth: Lagos
Present position: Senator representing Lagos Central Senatorial District