Until the last days of the 8th Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Dipo Olorunrinu, who represented Amuwo Odofin Constituency 1 in the Assembly, was a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), having refused to join seven others who he was elected into the Assembly with on the platform of the PDP when they opted to join the APC earlier.
But, in the last days of the Assembly sitting, at the valedictory session, Hon. Dipo Olorunrinu announced his defection to the APC. In this interview he speaks on how the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa influenced his last minutes decision to join the APC among other issues. Patrick Okohue met him.
How will you describe your four year experience in the Lagos State House of Assembly?
I would like to appreciate the leadership of Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, he is a great man and politician. I have been able to gain some level of experience on the workings of the legislature from Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, the experience is there for him. You cannot rule out the experience. I must commend him for the impact he had on me and I would want to emulate his style of leadership.
This later led me to defect to the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) one month to the end of the 8th Assembly.
He has been a great mentor. He is highly distinct. What we are looking for in Lagos State and in Nigeria is change. Speaker Obasa has been able to rise to the standard. The best thing for me is to align myself with his style of leadership.
What informed your movement from the PDP to the APC, just a month to the end of your four year tenure, some people felt your decision came very late?
First and foremost, you must understand that the PDP gave me the opportunity, but it doesn’t end there. The people that elected me, I sincerely give them kudos, they should know that people impact you, educate you to be able to impact them.
The Speaker impacted me to impact on the people. I get a lot of applause today, but these did not just come like that or by my doing. It came because an experienced person was able to impact me.
If I was a real opposition, I would have been antagonising them, but you never saw me antagonising the APC, the legislature or the government on the floor of the House throughout the period I was in the PDP because they were doing the right thing and there was no need being a nuisance, antagonising them.
Well, this has also shown that I can be loyal to the government and to its cause. If I can be loyal like that then that tells you that I am a loyal person to the core.
Would you have defected to the APC if you had won the 2019 election under the PDP?
Even if I had won the election I would still have crossed to the APC and it would not caused any crisis, because I have been able to showcase my level of loyalty in the PDP, I can exercise it as well in the APC.
While in government, I was in government for everybody; I was there for the APC, PDP and even APGA in my constituency and on the floor of the House. My first priority is Lagos State.
I was there for everybody. It wasn’t as if I lost, because if you look at the margin, it was close, you just have to accept your fate.
You didn’t think that the APC rigged the election or something?
Even if it was rigged, God allowed it. I came into the Assembly then because God allowed it.
What is the feeling amongst your supporters back in Amuwo Odofin?
Obviously, they feel terrible, they are equally expectant. They felt like we wanted Dipo there. I have to respect their feelings; they suggested that I should join the ruling party, APC.
The people are more concerned about development. I was born and raised in FESTAC, in Amuwo Odofin.
I understand what my people need, I understand what they want. I didn’t just go there. I know what they need and what they want.
Even the non-indigenes, I know what they need and what they want. My joining APC would not make them leave me. They finally encouraged me to join the APC.
So, you didn’t leave the PDP because of some perceived crisis or something?
Let me be honest with you, even the PDP members know that they are an unstructured party. The crises there have not been managed at all.
They did not support me for both the first and second elections. That was why I decided to leave, when I did. I am where I am now by the grace of God.
Were you not pressurised by your colleagues when they joined the APC from the PDP then?
As a young man, you want to prove your loyalty. You want to tell the people that you can be loyal wherever you are and make amendment. The crisis in the PDP would have been solved, but the party is very unstructured.
Like how many people followed you to the APC from the PDP in your constituency?
I will be honest with you, I cannot count the numerous number of people that followed me to the APC in Amuwo Odofin. I was never playing party politics, I was playing community politics.
I worked with community artisans, community leaders, students, market women and everybody. I used to buy pepper and grind it from the people, while growing up.
It was a lot of trauma for them, but they are getting over it. There is a way God structures everything. You can come in through the opposition party and move to the ruling party.
Our hopes are high because the government has to do with structure. I always build that confidence in the hearts of the people. I was born inside FESTAC and I grew up there and I even married there.
People were expecting that somebody like you would be compensated with a position in the cabinet of Lagos State, but it was not so, how do you feel about that?
I am new in the government and I am getting to understand their ways of doing things on how they compensate people. I am someone that respects party hierarchy. I am not the only good person in the local government. Others are there, I could be knowledgeable and conversant with issues, but others are also there. We are all in the race of expectations.
Do you have any expectation from the APC now?
I am a young man and I will take anything good that comes my way. Anything that will make Lagos State grow, I am ready. I am not a politician that would say I am not ready. I am ready to serve in any capacity and I want to be part of the success story of Lagos State.
We have professional politicians and professionals in politics, which one are you?
I got into politics as a professional in politics, I am a developer before I joined politics. But getting into the administration, I can now call myself a professional politician. Everybody has interest and profession one way or the other and you have to respect this.
What is your advice for Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State and how would you assess his government so far?
He is a fantastic governor. He is working excellently with the State House of Assembly. The legislative and the executive arms of government should work hand in hand. He didn’t influence the screening of commissioners and special advisers.
Even when some of the nominees were dropped, he didn’t interfere with the process. That is the kind of people we need, someone that respects the rule of law.
The South African Government recently sent an envoy to beg Nigeria over the attack on Nigerians in their country, would you advise the government to listen to them?
I am quite disappointed that an African country could do that to fellow Africans. When people offend you you have to forgive them. We have to look ahead. But xenophobia is highly disheartening.
If they sent an envoy, let us see if there are evidences that it would not re-occur. How would they compensate the victims and how would they treat the culprits, all these are very important.
Quote; I have been able to gain some level of experience on the workings of the legislature from Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, the experience is there for him. You cannot rule out the experience. I must commend him for the impact he had on me and I would want to emulate his style of leadership. This later led me to defect to the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) one month to the end of the 8th Assembly. He has been a great mentor. He is highly distinct.