By Adetutu Audu

Adekunle Olayinka is Special Adviser on Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) to the Governor of Lagos state, Babajide Sanwoolu. He is also a former Senior Special Assistant on Political Matters to the Ex- Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode. 

He speaks with Adetutu Audu on the 2023 general elections and why he wants represent the Ifako-Ijaiye federal constituency at the House of Representatives.

 The Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwoolu, has been given the nod to contest for the second term by the GAC. Do you think it will be a smooth ride given that some of your party members under the aegis of Lagos 4 Lagos had recently defected to the opposition party?

How many are these defectors? 

They are in minority. Even when PDP had the federal might (former President Obasanjo and former President Goodluck Jonathan), they kept trying in Lagos; they could not win. Is it now that they want to win? Lagos4Lagos is a platform of incorrigible elements in the party. Of course, there would always be people who are not ready to go with the majority. Everyone knows that the group emerged from nowhere in recent times and they have never contributed anything to APC major victories since the advent of democracy in the state.

But would you say your party has done enough to go back to the electorate to demand their mandate again in 2023?

Our party, the APC has tried its possible best but the problem is the rot that has been created by the previous governments. It is too enormous.  The economy was on a free-fall before this administration came in. From 2015 to date, Nigeria has gone into economic recession thrice. But it is not only in Nigeria, it affects every economy of the world, even the United States. But the government is trying. I think they are trying their best to cope with the situation. So, the APC can go to the people and ask for votes based on the efforts put into saving the country and cleaning the rot so far.

You have worked closely with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu before now. He has also declared to run for the presidency of Nigeria come 2023 among other contenders. Do you think he can deliver?

The fact that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Otunba Henry Ajomale and Chief Bisi Akande met me working as an expatriate in South Africa and brought me back home showed the capacity of Asiwaju himself to hunt and identify talents that we need to build this nation back to what it used to be.

Asiwaju has that mental ability, strategy and economic knowledge to restore the economy of the country. When you look at what he did at Mobil as a treasurer, it’s on record that he turned around the fortune of the company. It is also on record that he raised the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of Lagos state when he was Governor. I have not seen anybody that will match Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the race. I have worked with him for many years and I know the type of person he is. I know how his brain works and his interest for this country.

He is a true Nigerian and whatever he does, he always puts Nigeria first. He wants Nigeria to be the best in Africa. And it is doable; it only depends on the person in the saddle. If he can be successful in Lagos which is mini-Nigeria, he can turn around the economy of Nigeria. It is the foundation he built when he was in the saddle that other Governors are building on in Lagos. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu had the convening power to put together alliances for causes and ultimately build a formidable vote-winning machine in the form of the All Progressives Congress, combining Muhammadu Buhari’s bloc of over eight million votes from the north with electorates of the south-west, his stronghold.

But there are worries about the ability of the APC candidate to garner the type of votes won by President Buhari?

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has what it takes to do more than that when he is given the ticket of the party. He is arguably one of the most experienced politicians in Nigeria today with vast political structures across the 36 states of the federation including Abuja. That is enough to win the election. He is a mobiliser and grassroots politician. He is also known as a master strategist with records of winning almost all political battles till date. With Asiwaju, the APC is assured of victory.

You are interested in a seat in the House of Reps. Why should the people trust you with their mandate?

The House of Representatives requires someone who is learned. I have that already. I am an engineer by profession, and I have practiced locally and internationally. I worked with Siemens ICN, MTN during their inception in Nigeria as one of their pioneers engineers. And from there, I got a job abroad with Ericsson international, Sweden that took me to different project sites in Asia, sub Saharan Africa, Southern Africa, East Africa, West Africa and I was based in South Africa then. I later became the Director, planning and strategy at the South African College of Business and Technology, Pretoria, South Africa.

So I have that cognate corporate experience in telecoms engineering coupled with sound political training. I have always been active in politics, even in Diaspora. When I was brought back home by APC presidential aspirant, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Chief Bisi Akande and Otunba Henry Ajomale, after a conference I organized for the party in South Africa, I thought I was to be appointed a Commissioner then, but I was asked to work in the state party secretariat. I was there for over 6 years working as Special Adviser and Chief of Staff to Otunba Henry Ajomale, who was the state Chairman of the party then.

I gathered useful political experiences at the party secretariat and was later appointed as the Ex-Governor Ambode’s Senior Special Assistant on political matters, the first person ever in Lagos to hold the position. I am grateful to the leadership of the current administration, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for deeming it good to incorporate me into his administration too. I am the Special Adviser on Development Agenda for Western Nigeria, (D.A.W.N) I am in charge of South West affairs.

 Why do you now want to leave party administration for an elective office?

Now that I am armed with all these experience in the corporate world, party administration and the executives experience that I had garnered from those I worked with, putting all these together, has given me a wider scope, more contacts that will make my job very easy to lobby things for my constituents, and It will make me to get things done with ease. For me the job of a legislator is clear, it is to sponsor bills and laws which essentially require you to lobby for support, another is oversight, which is budget performance.

Are we making sure the executive executes the budget as it has been proposed? Thirdly, the various government appointments, it is our duty to make sure we put the right person in the right position. As an engineer, I want to ensure that engineering organizations and agencies and engineers are well utilized to minimize wastage. As a telecom engineer, we need to also look at our telecoms laws and policies, to see areas we can amend to have a balance in terms of revenue generating and service rendered to the masses.In other words, I will ensure a robust representation, if elected.

Aside your brilliant resume, what are the plans you have for your immediate constituency?More importantly is my constituency. What are the projects that I have carefully lobbied to be put in the budget? How am I going to ensure that they are delivered? In few weeks I will be submitting my thesis for a Ph.D in Public Administration at Lagos State University,LASU. 

So the knowledge is there; the versatility and the energy are there for me. I also have the rare opportunity of working with the best. I have worked with our leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; presently I am working with a dynamic Governor, Babajide Sanwoolu. I have worked with the past outstanding governor. All these I want to put together to contribute my quota to development of my constituency and Nigeria as a whole.

A lot of people have fantastic resume and campaign promises, but once they get elected, the whole scenario change. How are we sure delivering on your campaign promises won’t be a problem if elected?

We need people that have human feelings. I have it. You will realize that I have built myself to certain level in life. I already have things that normally get people to be derailed when they get to office, because for someone who does not have a house, the first thing he will do is to get one. All those are not my own priority because i have gotten them before coming into politics. The people that are going to work with me are important too,so that they won’t be the causes of derailment. I will be careful in selecting them. They will be people, that believe in the cause as I as do.


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