INTERVIEW: Youth empowerment, roads, care of the elderly will be my priorities- Amuwo Odofin LG Chairmanship Aspirant

A former Lawmaker who represented Amuwo Odofin 1 in the Lagos State House of Assembly between 2015 and 2019, Hon. Dipo Olorunrinu, has thrown his hat into the ring to contest for Chairmanship seat of Amuwo Odofin local government under the governing All Progressives Congress (APC).
Olorunrinu , popularly called ‘Talk and Do’ , believes his leadership would reinvent the lost glory of Amuwo Odofin local government as centre stage of creative arts and entertainment in Lagos. In this interview with OKUNADE ADEKUNLE, the Chairmanship Aspirant said if elected, he would focus more on road infrastructure, youth empowerment, sustainable health care for the elders and education. Excerpts

How is life after leaving office?

First and foremost , I want to appreciate the opportunity given to me to be interviewed by your media house because I know your platform to be transparent, credible and factual in their reportage. I am ardent reader of your Western Post online.

It is from onset I believe there is life after serving the people as a public officer. When my tenure expired as a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, people I have helped felt I should come down to Canada to continue my life journey and add value by engaging in teaching. I know you rarely hear people tell you what they do to survive in abroad when they travelled. When you call people abroad, they will only say they are going to work but won’t tell you what job they do. Of course, there is dignity in labour in the western world. Every kind of skills is needed. It is very rare for persons who have held public office and later travel to abroad to tell you what job they do as I am telling you right now. But I am proud to let people know that while I am outside Nigeria, I do legitimate job because I am mentor to many youths within and outside Nigeria.
I am a lover of children and that is why I went into teaching profession in Canada. I love impacting in them and that is why on Children’s day in Nigeria, I keep in touch with the Children. In Canada, I work as Assistant Teacher and a basketball coach in a school.

As a former lawmaker, what aspect of the responsibilities you would want current lawmakers to look into?

I will advise the current crop of lawmakers to remain focus. Of course, I want to believe everyone of them has plans and agenda for their constituents. They should stay focus on those plans and ensure that the plans are properly carried out for the benefit of their constituents.
They should have constantly relate with their constituents and keep the relationship with them. They must have listening ears to their constituents. Everything is not money. They should have good listening ears and the ability to answer questions from them and address their needs within their capacity.
Some constituents just need a voice, some only want to hear you talk while some people want you to encourage them. They want to see you and give them hope. So, my personal advice would be that the lawmakers should have genuine relationship with their people. And this means, they should have regular interface with their constituents no matter how difficult or challenging the economy might be.

There is rumour that you are vying for Amuwo Odofin local government chairmanship seat, is that true and why?

First and foremost, I was born in Festac town and a Lagosian from Ita-faaji area of Lagos Island. I have a very strong family name in Ita-Faaji. And if you look at my lineage and family, we have been in leadership both in business, politics and education. As I told you earlier, i mentor the young ones most especially the children being a teacher.

We Lagosians are highly cosmopolitan people. We love to live and bring people together in our environment and that is why you will find a lot of Southeast and South South people in Amuwo Odofin. We are accommodating in nature and character.

I will fill the gap of acceptability which is missing in the current Amuwo Odofin. People needs to feel what leadership is all about. The people must not feel discriminated in where they live or do business. They should feel the sense of belonging to the community. I remember the last time I contest for Chairmanship in 2021, I picked my running mate who was an Igbo from the Southeast extraction. Although, the election still turned out the way it was because the ticket was taken away from me. But I have to respect and honour the party’s decision as a loyal party man even as I went to court to withdraw the legal suit against the action. The fact is that the Igbos were not happy with such decision but because I have had smooth relationship with them since my time as a lawmaker in the House of Assembly between 2015 and 2019, they see reason in following me wherever I go and I appreciate it a lot. So, when the ticket was taken away from me, I have to respect the party’s decision and also manage the people that gave me the opportunity and support. They actually approached the court to challenge the decision but I was the face in the court. How many people would one explain this to but the fact is that it is about human management and abiding by the party decision.

If you could recollect that in the 2023 general elections, All Progressives Congress (APC) had setback in Amuwo Odofin in the first set of elections (Presidential and National Assembly). But in the second set of elections (Governorship and House of Assembly ) there was 75 percent difference. I stepped in and ensure that our party, APC, do better than the first elections. I went through rigorous campaign to explain and educate the electorates on what Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has done in terms of achievements for the people to re-elect him.

In the first set of elections, I was not given the opportunity to be involved rigorously but in the second one, I was given the chance and I went all out to educate our people on why they should continue to have faith in our Governor and see what he stands for.

With what you have said, it shows you have garnered more experience within and outside the country, how would this reflect in administering Amuwo Odofin, if elected?

While outside the country, I was not only working but building relationships with people across the Niger. I became a teacher because I want to be with people like the kids and their parents. And this has given me the avenue to make more friends. I also work with the government over there in part time and build more relationship and make more friends. I was very active during the electioneering period in my province in Canada and this has helped me in building relationships. And this resulted to have a Nigerian has the Deputy Premier of our province. Her position is like Deputy Governor. She covers United States, Mexico and Canada. I met alot of people while campaigning in Canada. Campaign over there is not about jingle, noise or music. They do door- knock campaign without noise. You will need to engage the people directly with your plans and programmes. For me, I see it as experience at the international scene. I also work with the electoral body in Canada on a part time and this exposed me to how their elections were organised and managed.

Amuwo Odofin is one of the local governments in Lagos with huge financial resources, what sectors do you intend concentrating on if elected as Council Chairman?

Because the local government is seriously suffering from road infrastructure deficit, I will concentrate on the construction of motorable roads and infrastructure. Road infrastructure is key to me in our local government. We need good roads and good ambience. We need people to believe in the government first of all. So, I will make people believe in my government. When I make people believe in the government, it will make it easy for the people to partner with the government on development. Development of Amuwo Odofin is possible, if people believe in the government and partner with it. With partnership, one can galvanise resourceful people in the local government for development. You can only put your money where your heart is.
Secondly, youth empowerment is very dear to my heart. Empowering and building the youths is equivalent to building the nation. The youths would be seriously and regularly engaged during my administration as Amuwo Odofin local government Chairman. Don’t forget that entertainment started from this local government, so i will explore the sector to empower the youths and grow local economy. I will move the mind of the residents to when entertainment starts in the local government. I want to believe you know this local government is known for Arts and Culture. I will partner with those who understand this to bring back the past glory. I will also focus on health, most especially, the health of the senior citizens. I was born in this local government, so I have every right to give back to the society that made me.

What is your take on President Bola Tinubu’s policies so far?

President Bola Tinubu has been highly innovative with the removal of the fuel subsidy and has been making efforts to correct the wrongs and damages made by previous governments. Things might be difficult presently but there is light at the end of the tunnel. The slogan of renewed hope was not a mistake. Of course, it was hope and now renewed hope. There is nothing in life we do not hope for in as much we are alive. Hope is the creation of the dream in your mind on what you want to establish to become reality. If you look at the economic policies of the government, you will know that certain things are coming to limelight. You will see that President Tinubu is leading the team as the Chief Marketer. He is not sending his Ministers but working it out himself. He is working hard in bringing into the country foreign investors. It is a matter of time, the moves will yield and things get better.

State Police has taken a centre stage in national discourse. Do you think creating State Police will address the spate of insecurity?

The creation of State Police has been a long time issue in our polity. It is something we have been clamouring for. I was a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly between 2015 and 2019, when Speaker Mudashiru Obasa came up with the idea and we all support it and legislate on it. It is a very fantastic one. It is at that time we came up with the Lagos State Neighbourhood Watch though which jobs were created. State Police is workable and will solve both big and small security challenges facing the country. You can only tackle insecurity with intelligence gathering and this can only be achieved if the community is involved. The people in the neighbourhood will help in intelligence gathering that could be used to tackle insecurity.

As a Chieftain of Lagos APC, what would you tell your party regarding candidate selection ?

This is an intelligent question that many may want to avoid. With all sense of humility, I will advise the party to remain what it has always been. Also, the leaders should not rule out the idea of including certain areas like Amuwo Odofin in their watch list because it is a critical and important local government. It is a local government that accommodate people with wrong perception about the APC. The party needs a Council Chairman that can correct such impression and perception. A candidate they can listen to and see as one of them. The residents are people who want a Council Chairman that understands their persons, attitude, character and that can make them feel among and give them sense of belonging. They are people from the Southeast and South-South extractions, who have affected our economy positively. All they need is a leader who understands their language and their kind of persons. And fortunately, I am the person that fits into who they want as their Council Chairman.

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