Engineer Adekunle Olayinka popularly referred to as KOPI is one of the strongest contenders for the House of Representatives seat for Ifako-Ijaye Federal Constituency under the ruling party, All Progressives Congress, APC. Having served the party at both the state and cabinet( executive) levels, he has in no doubt contributed immensely to the progressives’ ideals, which has continuously made Lagos State an envy of other states. Olayinka who has not been too pleased with the development of his local government area decided to enter the race for the House of Representatives ticket.
He speaks to our correspondent, Tunde Bello, on why and what of his mission. Excerpts below:
BRIEF US ON HOW YOU VENTURE INTO POLITICS?
I started my working career with Siemens ICT and later MTN. I was one of the pioneer engineers at the telecom. I worked with Territory Sweden. I was recruited for Asia market. I also worked with TaTa/Nokia telecoms and later Nigeria MTN. I worked for Ericson in Tanzania and Ghana on Mobitel before returning to my family in South-Africa. I was in South Africa with Erickson but working for MTN, South -Africa. While there, I got involved in party activities.
I was the Secretary General of Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, after meeting the leadership of the party at a conference in South-Africa. The leaders at the conference include Chief Bisi Akande, Chief Dele Ajomale, Late Toun Adediran, Joe Igbokwe and Asiwaju. I was asked about my mission in South-Africa. I responded that I was working with a consultant. However, they told me, “With this your enthusiasm for politics, you should come home (to Nigeria).” I left all the comforts over there and returned home.
Upon my return, I was asked to work with the party as a special adviser and Chief of Staff to Otunba Dele Ajomale for nine years. Later, I got an appointment with the former governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, as a Special Assistant on political matters, and was reappointed as Special Adviser to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Development Agenda for Western Nigeria, DAWN. I am in charge of south-west affairs and a lot of other areas.
Why am I contesting? The work of a legislator is so clear. Firstly, he or she is elected to pass bills, to further enhance the well-being of the populace. However, what concerns me most is the telecom sector. I notice this day that there is a lot of conjecture on telecom networks and infrastructures. When you make a call, the responses are poor, and monies are wasted. As an expert in telecom sector, I will bring my experience to bear and strike a balance, bringing sanity into the industry for both the operators and the millions of users to enjoy good services. Secondly, oversight function and budget performance. This is to ensure proper monitoring of execution of projects appropriated in the budget and projects implementation, to meet specified standard in accordance with the executive’s presentation to the National Assembly. Thirdly, on the federal appointments, it is to see how the appointees meet the requirements, the specifications, and to ensure that those screened are the right persons for the jobs. With this, you would have helped the nation to get good hands for the jobs. Fourthly, coming back to the constituency now, I will embark on projects that take care of the constituents’ needs through direct engagements with them and ensuring appropriate feedback to the people on my activities through Town-Hall meetings. This is because I don’t believe that I should go through a system without giving back to the society. There is a lot of things that we can do such as sinking boreholes or attracting investment or development like drainages, enlightenment on climate change and other things of benefit to the constituency. The ICT is there for the schools to enhance education and learning. So, in the budget, everything would have been allocated. As a person from Ifako-Ijaye federal constituency, you flip through to know what projects are provided in the budget otherwise you will deny the passage of this bill because nothing is provided for the constituency. So, you can tell your constituents what to expect in the next budget, and when the budget is finally passed, signed and assented to, you will now monitor it to ensure that those projects have been appropriated and budgeted for. All these things are the reasons for my interest to go to the national assembly. Thank God, we have a new development that is existing in the whole of Ifako-Ijaye federal constituency, among the newly elected people. They are doing their best. And I know we can do more.
Someone like me with corporate experience, party experience, executive experience and the connection with elected and appointed officers and proximity to those at the top of party ladder will enjoy an easy at getting things done for the constituency. To me, it is all based on contact and connection to lobby advantageously, big money per se. These are the kind of things I am bringing to bear when I eventually emerged as a member of the House of Representatives for Ifako-Ijaye federal constituency.
HAVING MENTIONED THAT THERE IS A NEW ORDER IN IFAKO-IJAYE WITH THE NEWLY ELECTED PEOPLE; WHY DO YOU THINK YOU ARE BETTER THAN THE CURRENT OCCUPIER OF THE FEDERAL SEAT BASED ON YOUR PRAISES TO THE NEW ORDER?
Well, it is true I said that. However, I won’t say because I want to contest then I should rubbish achievements of others in office. In Ifako-Ijaye constituency 01, the council chairman with the State House of Assembly member are working together for the progress of the council. They have mutual respect for each other. And the advantage of this is development for Ifako-Ijaye. So, I am not really speaking entirely for the federal constituency. But, if you have that mutual respect, you would have taken a lot of things off you, then you can concentrate on where you have less developments for appropriate take-off. I expect more from my representatives in the National Assembly because there are lots of things that are embedded for the constituents to enjoy, which I think they must get. For example, see what the Speaker has been doing in Surulere, and it got me worried if it is not the same allocation other members are getting. The Representative of Ikorodu is also doing well, and that got me thinking if our facilities are diverted somewhere else.
SIR, IF YOU LOOK AT THE ISSUE OF THE SPEAKER AND FALEKE IN IKEJA, YOU WILL NOTICE THAT THEY HAVE BEEN IN THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY FOR THE PAST 20 OR 12 YEARS AND THEY WILL COUNT ON THAT EXPERIENCE TO EXPLORE MORE DIVIDENDS OF DEMOCRACY TO THEIR CONSTITUENCIES INSTEAD OF A NEW COMER? WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Thank you so much. What we are seeing is not a rocket science like I told you. These are physically witnessing. Besides, I am not talking of the number of years like those I have mentioned. It is about capacity and not the number of years that they had spent as member. I just mentioned those people as references. The representatives of Ikorodu, Hon. Jimi Johnson, who is a first timer is doing well. You will wonder how he has been able to carry his people along, his chamber’s performance, speaking on the floor, debating on bills and raising motions and other legislative duties are part of it. His performances cannot be compared to our own representative. Again, the mother local government, Ifako-Ijaye, has more or less been short-changed. If you calculate the number of years in the representation in the national assembly , Ojokoro, had an edge over the mother local government, Ifako-Ijaye, 16 years so far. Ojokoro is better favoured than the other wing.
Is that because of disunity within the leadership in the other wing? That disunity, is what I need to correct.
HOW WILL YOU NOW CORRECT THAT?
Well, it is about capacity development and collective bargaining. I have taken part in resolving some party issues in some local government areas. While in their midst, I noticed a lot of flaws. Politics is about “give and take”, not a winner takes it all. Such line of thinking can’t work because you alone or your group can’t win election alone, election is a collective work. So, when it is a winner takes it all, you are going to suffer for it when the general elections comes. So, you need a person that has a mind of unity, capacity, connection and who can relate with everybody. Go to the street and ask, ‘Who is Olayinka?’ More than 80 percent of the people will tell you he is a good man or he has done this for us. And above all, I’m somebody that has less enemy. In essence, I have all these good qualities to unite everybody together and bring understanding to all for the progress of Ifako-Ijaye.
IN ESSENCE, BY GOD GRACE I WISH YOU THE BEST OF LUCK IN YOUR AMBITION AND I BELIEVE THAT YOU WLL BRING MORE DEVELOPMENT TO IFAKO-IJAYE FEDERAL CONSTITUENCY. THEN YOU WILL USE THAT POSITION TO BRING HEALTHY SYNERGY TO BOTH THE EXECUTIVE AND LEGISLATURE, TO ENSURE UNITY IN IFAKO-IJAYE FEDERAL CONSTITUENCY. DON’T YOU THINK THAT THERE IS MORE UNITY IN OJOKORO THAT COULD WORK AGAINST YOUR AMBITION SINCE YOU ARE MORE DIVIDED IN THE MOTHER LOCAL GOVERNMENT?
Well, that unity I can guarantee that by the grace of God. If I get the party ticket it will be a thing of the past.
WE ARE IMPRESSED BY YOUR ACTIVITIES ESPECIALLY SPONSORING PEOPLE TO THE ELUMELU FOUNDATION(UBA) AS A MEANS TO EMPOWERING PARTY MEMBERS ON ENTREPENEURSHIP. BUT, THERE IS UNITY IN OJOKORO MORE THAN THE MOTHER LOCAL GOVERNMENT. WON’T THAT EFFORT THWART YOUR AMBITION TO GO TO FOR HOUSE OF REP?
No, I disagree with you. There is unity in Ifako-Ijaye more than Ojokoro. That is what I need to do with other well-meaning residents of our local government. Let us look at the last election that we had. Though, there is interference from outside causing disunity, but we are more united in Ifako-Ijaye now. We have a way of agreeing among ourselves. It happened during the last party primaries, even though we cannot prevent others from showcasing their strength. Majority won at the end of the day. Also, we had our congresses and there was no problem. No issue. Unlike Ojokoro, where they had a bit of problem. Some people wanted to override others; it is one of the cases we are trying to solve. To me, the present crop of leadership we are raising in ifako-Ijaye have some similarities in thinking and development focus. Like I told you before, synergy that exists between the house of assembly and the council chairman shows that we speak in one voice. This is not the case in Ojokoro. We are going to put our house together in constituency 01 and we want similar things to happens in constituency 02 too so that we can have a very peaceful and balanced federal constituency.