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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Bayo Osinowo Is “Tested”, “Trusted” & “Proven”, Which Is Why No-One Could Have Forced Him On Us, We Choose Him, He Is Our Candidate ---Kosofe LG Chair, Afolabi Sofola.

Hon. Bayo Osinowo.
APC's Lagos East Senatorial Candidate.
Honourable Afolabi Babatunde Sofola is the Executive Chairman of Kosofe Local Government Area, one whose contributions to the development of the people at the grassroot through programmes and policies derived from the policy document of the All Progressives Congress, APC in Lagos cannot be denied.

A two-term Chairman, very vibrant, a quality individual, with a enviable and humane personality, a supporter of what is right and friends to everyone.

He took time out to speak with the crew of “Precious Eze’s Blog” on alof of issues bothering on politics and on what the role of a Local Government Chairman is, including the choice of Member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Bayo Osinowo to represent the Lagos East Senatorial District in the Senate come 2019.

Bayo Osinowo & Afolabi Sofola.

Q: May We Meet You Sir?

A: I am Honourable Afolabi Sofola, Executive Chairman of Kosofe Local Government Area, one of the most successful Local Government Areas in Lagos.

Q: How would you rate the performance of Government in the Lagos East District, as Chair of one of the LGA’s in the zone?

A: Well, there are three tiers of government, the Federal, the State and the Local Government, and so if you’re asking me to comment on the one that concerns me which is the Local and State Governments, I’ll say that in regards to provision of basic amenities, a lot has been done, a lot still needs to be done. With regards to impact of government policies, there is synergy between the two tiers of government, so, we work hand in hand towards bringing the dividends of Democracy to the people.

Q: What would you say you have done for the people who pushed you into office through the polls?

A: I’m happy you used the word, “PUSHED” because if you had asked me ten years ago if I would be in politics today, I would have told you no. You see, Yoruba people say that “GOD ACTS IN MYSTERIOUS WAYS”. My first Degree is, B.Sc Honours in Political Science, but I realized, from when I started cutting my political tooth as Ward Chairman in Anthony, from there I proceeded to becoming a permanent board member of the Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB for 5 years plus and from there I began to see a lot of the challenges people are facing at the grassroots. I began to understand the need for service to humanity, it’s not all about, I’m comfortable, my children are comfortable, one needs to look at his environment, you must be concerned about the plight of the people you live with, your neighborhood, the communities, because if you fail to be concerned about the lives of people in your community, you and your family is not save at all. So yes, I was pushed into politics as a Ward Chairman and since then, I have been learning the ropes of political governance.

In my first tenure, we emphasized in Education, Health, Infrastructure, we did roads, we did drainages, we provided services to the people through the health centres, we provided drugs at subsidized rates, on security, we provided security vehicles to the various Police Commands in our Local Government, on environment which is a very critical area, we cleared the drainages especially before the raining seasons and during raining seasons as well, and most of the actions we took in my first tenure, we are back to consolidate on those same areas of importance for the betterment of the people here.

Ofcourse in Environment you’ll see that Refuse has become a major area of concern, because of all these black spots all over, refuse being dumped by the people indiscriminately everywhere and I pray to God that we don’t have the case of Cholera returning, we don’t have a case of Lassa fever, because these are some of the dangerous health issues that can arise from uncollected refuse over a length of time. We work with the State Government in this area, infact, in Kosofe in particular, we clear refuse at nights. As a Mega city that Lagos is, the moment you clear refuse, the next 2 to 3 hours, the refuse is back there, as though the people will be waiting for you to clear and they dump more there again, but with the PSP operators now back, THANK GOD, sanity is returning gradually to Lagos with regards to refuse collection.

In infrastructure, a lot of roads in this Local Government are bad. In my first tenure, we inherited a lot of bad roads, these roads are mostly situated in Oworonshoki and Ifako and a lot of them are categorized into three, you have Federal Roads, State Roads and you have the Local Government Roads. A lot of the roads that have problems here are state roads, infact, the road in front of my Local Government here, Ogudu road is a state road, but because of its proximity to the council, when it gets very bad, we must fix it because majority of people who live here do not know which is State and which is Local Government roads. As I talk to you, it’s becoming very bad again, and I’m sure that in the next two weeks, we will fix the bad spots.

So, our consolidation efforts are continuing unabated, we have renovated some schools, only about two-weeks ago, we reopened Anglican School on Ogudu Road after fully renovating it, the bus services to the pupils are back, we pick them from a spot close home with the buses and drop them close home after school, not just here alone, but in Oworonshoki, the same is going on and in the next year, I’ll ensure we have two more smaller buses that can go into the nukes and crannies which the big bus cannot enter.

Local Government governance is service to the people, we want to take government very close to the people, which is why I ask why a pregnant woman in a Local Government will go to the General Hospital when we have qualified staff at the Health Centres in the Local Government that can deliver that pregnant woman of her child. Why must you go to the General Hospital because you have Malaria and Typhoid, it is only complex cases that we refer to the General Hospitals.

You will find out that the affluent and wealthy living here in Kosofe patronize our health Centres a lot. You go there you’ll see very exotic cars parked, Jeeps of all sorts, all there to use our Local facilities, meaning that the awareness is getting down to everybody and they are patronizing the facilities made available by the Local Government here. That’s enough testimony to the services we are providing, especially with the qualified staff we have at our Health Centres.

Essentially, government is set up to relief somethings from the masses. To do an averagely sized road, to totally resurface it, as you are aware must be in the region of between N20Million and N30Million Naira, our concern is that when we collect money from allocation, we do not concentrate only on roads, there are other sectors to be covered, so, definitely, Local Governments will do more with better funding.

Q: I used to live in Oworonshoki and I’m sure you are aware too sir that the security situation in that community is very porous, the bad boys, the miscreants, killings. What have you done or doing as the Chairman here to help salvage that community security-wise?

A: One good thing about Oworonshoki is that the second access route in that area has been opened, initially it was just one way in, one way out, Oworonshoki is a very highly populated area, densely populated, one house links the other and that links another. Cases of fire outbreaks just goes, razing down houses, you have a lot of miscreants as you call them living in Oworonshoki, we’re trying to address that problem by working hand in hand with the CDA’s, the Kabiesi’s and the Baale’s at ensuring that we educate our youths in that community, engaging them in other productive areas, like skills acquisition, we have just finished one about a month and half ago, not everybody have the aptitude for academic work, so, when you have skill acquisition centres, you see the areas they have interest in, whether hair dressing, fashion designing, shoe making, plumbing and we get them to utilize the skills acquisition centres, after-which we empowered them with the tools to start-off in our bid to shift their mindsets from crime and criminality which are everywhere.

The economy of the country is also responsible for what we are talking about, a Nation that is unable to provide welfare to it’s citizens, the Nation has failed in that regard, the family has also failed and I’ll tell you why.  Family planning is no longer on the table of families, we are now reintroducing it, about less than a week ago, Her Excellency, the wife of the Governor chaired a program through a representative held at Emmanuel High School and that program dealt extensively on Maternal and Child Mortality. We invited the different arms of the society, the youths were there, the women and the men too were invited, infact, it was a whole family affair, just to educate them and I’m sure there will be a remarkable improvement in the way and manner my people treat Maternal and Child Mortality case forthwith.

Q: Why Hold or Host Such an event in the urban areas of the Local Government when the people you should be talking to live in the suburbs like Oworonshoki, Sawmill-Ifako and so on?

A: You see, the location of that program was not determined by the Local Government, but by the State Government, we only made sure that the different strata of individuals in the wards were represented. You must understand that every community has a CDA, you know the youths in your CDA, you know the miscreants in the CDA, so, by organizing the CDA’s, discussing with them and getting them to find means of getting in touch with those in their immediate environments, goes a long way. Where employment opportunities arise, we include them without looking back, because if you don’t engage the youths properly, they become idle and the idle mind will always find something to occupy him.

Where we have our major issue is the fact that the youths want to get rich quick, nobody want to climb through the ladders anymore, they see you drive pass and they want to drive your kind of car without bothering to ask how you bought the car, but we are trying to, you see, the journey of a thousand miles starts with one step, I cannot say that my administration will fix all the problems that has been generated over years, but atleast, that journey towards repairing what had been damaged has started and it must be continued even after I’ve left office because, Government is a continuum.

Q: A lot of people who live in the Local Governments Areas do not understand what the Local Administration is all about, same way people want a Member of the House of Assembly to build roads and so on. What really is the role of the Local Government Chairman?

A: Let me start by saying that a lot of people think that Members of the House of Assembly must provide this and that, build this road, build that road, primarily, their role is simply Law Making and nothing more.

The Local Government Chairman is elected in office to provide amenities to the local populace, to make meaningful impact in their lives through the basic areas we know, Health, Education, Roads, Security, and Employment Opportunities in the local area. You seat over an EXCO where each of the ward is represented through the Peace and Security Committee. I chair the Peace and Security meetings which is held on a monthly basis, where all the stakeholders are represented, the Area Commander is there, the DPO’s are there, the religious fathers are there, the traditional rulers are there, it’s a large gathering of up to 30 members where we seat and nip in the board issues of concern to the various member communities. The minutes of such meetings are usually sent to the State Government, so they can see areas where problems exist and solve them immediately.

The Local Government Chairman sees to the welfare of the people. For instance, we have Christmas and the Ileya celebrations every year and we see to it that we are part of that celebration with our people at the grassroots, which the State Government can never achieve, we have issues arising from personal needs, all are dumped on the Local Government, you lost your father, you lost your mother, house rent issues, school fees, any matter under the sun, it is the Local Government they come to. During my first tenure, it was the rule of the day for people to gather waiting for me and their problems starts from food, somebody can walk all the way from Oworonshoki to my house in Anthony and get there at past 6am and I may not have come down, they just simply lay their wrappers on the road and sleep there till I am out just to collect food items. It was a constant affair all the time.

But you see, giving a man fish all the time is worsening the situation for him, teach him how to fish by himself, which is why I am so much in support of the Skills Acquisition programs. If you look through my window, there is a “car wash”, over there, he is a party man, all we did was to give approval for the location, assisted to get him some equipments, he starts and will employ other youths to work with him, so he is spreading welfare through the Local Government, that is, helping him to empower himself and empower other people. This is what Whitemen call, TRAIN THE TRAINER. It is this type of one steps that will cumulatively reduce the number of our youths who are on the streets. We try as much as we can within limited resources, we would love to do more, but we have to work under the limits of what we have to touch as much lives as possible. If we have a thousand times what we have today, we’ll go a lot more deep in solving their problems.

Q: How has the creation of two more Local Developmental Areas from Kosofe improved the reach of government to the grassroots?   

A: Let me tell you straight away that the creation of 37 Local Council Development Area, LCDA’s in Lagos, the brain-child of our Oga, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has taken government deep down to the people, because as Chairman of Kosofe Local Government, I will not be able to reach the nooks and crannies Agboyi-Ketu and Ikosi-Isheri LCDA’s the way my brothers there are doing, and similarly you are creating employment. Imagine what would have happened if concentrated in Kosofe alone, all these people who have risen to the positions of Supervisors, Counselors, Chairmen and those that have obtained other employments under them will still be in the labour market and will continue to add to the menace you are talking about.

There was a time in Lagos Island, if you walk down Marina, some of these boys, rough looking, will start hailing you with words, Americana, Londona, my this, my that, they will praise you, and if you don’t answer them, they will attack you and take whatever you have on you and NOTHING WILL HAPPEN.

This was how Lagos was before Asiwaju had the vision, created LASMA, which he used to remove many of them out of our roads, they are now working, gainfully employed, you can now walk down Marina peacefully.

These are the things we are trying to replicate at the Local Government level, what can we do to take these boys off the streets. In Kosofe here, we decided to coordinate the menace of “AREA BOY MENTALITY”, and so we came up with this concept of “TEAM KOSOFE” and these are good boys from all the wards, they now have a mission to reduce violence in the Local Government, unlike before when you see them everywhere attacking people, now, all of them are together, they have structure, a Chairman, they have regular meetings, keeping peace and security in our Local Government, assisting government and the Police to fight violence. Other Local Governments are copying from us now, they are part of government, brought closely because if you don’t do that, they revolt and then, a bigger problem starts.

We just had to have crisis management and in our own approach to crisis management, we’re coordinating them and we’re reducing violence. We are taking care of their needs, in our desire to make them very comfortable.

Kosofe is relatively a very peaceful Local Government; you don’t see people stabbing themselves on the roads. So, the work of the Local Government Chairman revolves around the above mentioned areas. You are the Chief Accounting Officer, the DPO’s, Oba’s, Religious Leaders, are all under you, making sure there is synergy in moving the Local Government forward.

Q: The Primary election that produced Quintessential Bayo Osinowo as the Candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC in the Lagos East Senatorial District was very tensed as the incumbent felt aggrieved over what happened to him. Why do you as a stakeholder in the zone think that we needed a change in representation in Abuja?

A: We felt that the time had come to use or send a “Tested”, “Trusted” and “Proven Candidate” to deliver dividends of democracy to the people in the East Senatorial Zone from Abuja. The man that is there presently is not a stranger to me, I know him very well, a gentle man, a party member, but you see, when it comes to service to humanity, just like our fingers, they are not of the same sizes. A man that has gone beyond limits to see to the welfare on the people in all it’s ramifications, even at his own personal expense, at times I wonder how he manages to move around because I know his itinerary is very tight. Here is a man that will leave the House of Assembly at 3am, sometimes at 4am, attending to people mind you, apart from his own job as a Legislator, he’ll get home around 2, 3, 4am, sleep, wake up at 5am to pray and people are already there in the Mosque, “PLENTY PEOPLE”, waiting for him, day in, day out, same procedure.

I think God has ways of keeping people like Pepperito going, because if you remember, Asiwaju was also like that during his tenure as Governor and all of this is for the welfare of the people.

He makes it a point of duty to carry the burden of people, infact, you need to go in front of his house to see the crowd of people who converge there everyday, people who otherwise would have died or had horrible experiences, he has been able to water down their problems. And he has been doing this for many years.

Bayo Osinowo is a man who does not discriminate.

I will give you one example to suffice.

When we left office after our first term and we went home for what I’ll call, 3years of sabbatical, as a Former Chairman, because I was in office for 3years, I never sent myself to Hajj, I sent other people because I never got the calling, so while I was at home observing my Sabbatical, moments before the next election that brought us back, I went to him one day and I said, Pepper, as you know, we all call him Pepper, I said I would like to go for Lessa Hajj to go and pray to Almighty Allah so He may answer my prayers and bring me back to office and he said why I left it till so late, we’re leaving in a few days time, but let’s see what we can do.

He took my passport and the next 3 days, he called to inform me that my Visa was ready. He did not say “SHEBI YOU ARE A FORMER CHAIRMAN, ALL THE MONEY WEY YOU DON THIEF, GO THE PLACE WEY HIDE ALL THE MONEY, BRING AM GO HAJJ”, he is blessed with the ability to read characters very well and that’s why I said he doesn’t discriminate.

Not only did he fund my travel for Lessa Hajj, I went with Emirate, he also went with Emirate, his family too. There were other airlines that are not as expensive as Emirate, he could have said, go and take one of these smaller airlines, the same hotel he stayed in at Saudi Arabia, I stayed in it too, he paid for everything, every-time he goes for Hajj, he takes a lot of people who cannot afford it along, I was a former chairman then and I should be able to afford it, but he still took me and paid for it. When I got there, he gave me money to spend, not thinking for one second that I was once a former Chairman, as he would do for the poor, he would do for the not so poor.

These are qualities that are enviable in a human being. You serve not because of selfish interest, you serve because it is in-born.

I gave this example to let you know some of the qualities of this man we’re all supporting TOTALLY to go to the Senate and by the Grace of God, he is there already.

You look left, right and back, you’ll discover that his support base is immense, positively frightening and which is why I’m happy that the incumbent, Senator Gbenga Ashafa is putting up billboards in his support, because Pepperito is like 7up, The Difference Is Clear.

I will never rubbish a person because I’m supporting another, God forbid. I will just bring out all the good things in the person I’m supporting. So, yes, Bayo Osinowo is tested, trusted and proven with Warrantee. He has been in the Lagos State House of Assembly; he has successfully performed his duties in the house and therefore fully qualified to represent the East Senatorial in the Senate.

Q: A lot of people are of the opinion that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is the one forcing Bayo Osinowo into the throat of the people here, that ordinarily, he would not have defeated Senator Gbenga Ashafa in the contest for the ticket of the party. Do you agree with this opinion?

A: I TOTALLY DISAGREE. TOTALLY DISAGREE WITH THAT OPINION. Yes, the relationship between Honourable Bayo Osinowo and my National Leader, Jagaban, is very close, but as you know, in politics, the most important thing is loyalty, he has steadily, over the years, built a relationship with our National Leader based on loyalty in this day and age where people are back-biting, back-stabbing, political prostitutes jumping from one party to another party, Pepper is like the last man standing amongst those that has stood their grounds behind Asiwaju.

If you know some of the history of Osinowo, you will know that he was solidly behind MKO, went to prison for this man too, he is amongst those that helped to build this party we all are enjoying from today. He is part of the architects that helped to put this party on ground, and you know people, they say if you want to kill a dog, start by giving it a bad name.

I tell you as an insider and a second term Chairman with the information at my disposal and on my honour, that the people from East Senatorial are fully behind Pepper and it has nothing at all to do with my National Leader.

I have attended rallies that has been held for him at CMD, even those held elsewhere where all the Chairmen of the Local Government Councils were there, not one was missing, including their Vices Chairmen and they all fully endorsed him, I was there, I took part in it, I witnessed it, so, what more evidence do you need. Asiwaju did not tell all these Chairmen to go all out to support him.

This is why they say, if you do good, you have your reward, you do the otherwise, you will receive your reward too, the evil that men do will be rewarded especially in this very bad political terrain called Nigeria.

So yes, resoundingly yes, Bayo Osinowo is the man we want and NO, Asiwaju did not push him down our throats, it is a lie from the pit of hell, peddled by people who do not wish this District well.

Q: What are your expectations of him Senator representing Lagos East in the upper legislative chamber, the Senate?

A: That he will replicate what he has done in the Lagos State House of Assembly at the Senate. He will do more because it is a higher office, he will lift more people from East Senatorial from levels of poverty, to levels of wealth, he will draw them out of their dunghills and poverty, he will bring a lot of services to the people from the Lagos East, we have seen him perform before and up until now, that’s why I said he is tested, trusted by the leadership, trusted by the people, and he has proven himself.

What more do you want in a candidate?

Q: Who is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to you?

A: This is a big question that will take hours and hours to answer, but I will give you a concise summary of who Asiwaju is to me,

Asiwaju is a man of many parts. He is humble to a fault, with all the wealth and power at his disposal. I’ve met those that doesn’t have half of his power and wealth and I’ve seen how they carry themselves around like gods. Asiwaju is a man with a forgiving heart, his heart is so wide that he has accommodated a lot of people, that if I were him, I would never allow into my house again for acts of disloyalty and he has embraced them, brought them back to his fold like the prodigal sons.

How many statesmen in Nigeria today have such a character. A lot of Nigerian politicians and statesmen are very vindictive, if you offend them, they write it in a small book and wait for the opportunity to deal with you restlessly and crush you financially, but Asiwaju has always embraced them when they come back and welcomed them back into the fold.

Tinubu never totally writes off a person. His belief is that you maybe disloyal to him today and tomorrow, maybe a plus, so like I said, Asiwaju is man of many parts.

Q: What are your expectations of the 2019 General elections?

A: I love this question, because money politics regrettably is becoming the order of the day in Nigeria. I was shocked when I read the article on Diesani Aliso-Madueke, the former Minister for Petroleum and the amount of money that woman made away with and I wondered what a human being will do with that much money. Her generations to her fourth will not finish spending that money. Somebody made an analysis and came to the conclusion that if you divide the whole money she took away amongst Nigerians, each person will get about N50million Naira.

My expectations of the elections and the next dispensation 2019 is that a lot of people would want to circumvent procedure, and I’m sure that INEC and our security agents are a step ahead to ensure that they reduce to the barest minimum, such acts of fraud and with God on our side, good things can still happen even at the end of it all. Powerful people have emerged contesting for the presidency and the question we need to ask is if our presidency is for sale, the man that is there now, not because he is in my party, is doing his best, our reserves have shoot up, he is bringing sanity back into government, into the polity, people ofcourse are not happy with that, people with drilling rights, those of them whose licenses have been withdrawn are not happy, a lot of people are also not happy with because he has taken it upon himself to redeem the image of this country.

Are those in his cabinet sharing his ideas and views, thats an area of concern to me, and Nigeria deserve better. God really loves this country, especially when we don’t suffer outbreaks that happen to other countries in the world, our potentials are so much in minerals that we have, both human and material.

Nigeria is blessed. Our problem is leadership. The orientation of Nigerians needs to change. Get rich quick syndrome needs to stop, meritocracy has to come back, short-cut has to stop, it’s getting better though, how many years did it take United States of America to get to where they are today, how many years did it take them in UK, we’re just 58 or thereabout, it took them much longer than that. We will get there, it’s just a matter of time, the matter with us is that we want to run before crawling, so, our orientation has to change.

Q: What is next for you after the expiration of your tenure as Chairman?

A: Laughs profusely with a song…………………My Future is in God’s hands even as I appreciate Him for where He has taken me to.

Thanks for talking to us sir…

A: It was my pleasure.

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