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Ajegunle’s diverse culture is enough to sell Lagos and Nigeria’s tourism at world stage -Taiwo

Hon Kolawole Taiwo, popularly called HKT is a former Deputy Speakerof the Lagos House of Assembly and currently the Chairman, Ibile Microfinance Bank. He is also the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for Ajeromi Ifelodun federal constituency for the House of Representatives seat in the 2019 election. In this interview, Taiwo frowned at the wrong impression created about Ajegunle, saying on the contrary Ajegunle remains the best constituency to portray Nigeria’s rich culture and tourism potentials to the World; he also spoke on his ambition among other issues. PATRICK OKOHUE reports.
What is your attraction about Ajegunle
I represent a local government that has a lot to be talked about and we want people to say it as it is, so we need somebody that comes from that place that can say it as it is. I have represented them for quite some time and know their do’s and don’ts, in the last four years I have been in the local government, played their politics even the social aspect of it, trying to see how I can bring people closer than even when I was in the House of assembly.
I feel that it is one local government in Lagos State being misjudged and misrepresented because it represents the entire nation, even beyond there is practically no tribe in Nigeria that you cannot find one of their relative in my local government, therefore it suppose to be a Nigeria local government.
They need a big voice, somebody that can come out and say this is the way to do it. That is why I felt I should go to the National Assembly.
All these while, people we have been sending to National Assembly are individuals who did not rise through the ranks in legislative business, for the first time if you have a person that has risen from being an ordinary floor member to lead the house of forty members as a majority leader and also rise to be the deputy speaker, I am going there to do some things; for instance I was talking about a law that would affect the entire citizenry of my local government, talking about the antitrust act, we need antitrust commission in Nigeria, we need an act that would be like police of the corporate people.
Something like that is what I am going to fight for, they need it now than before because one, it is easier now to bring people together through this our social media, therefore the government needs to be doing things the right way, because the whole world is moving away from quality control, to quality assurance. We must assure the people that this thing we are doing is in line with standard and the only way you can do that is to have some agency that would be like a check.
You intend to represent the Ajegunle people, but that is the same area you were defeated last time, is power of incumbency of APC an avenue you plan to explore?
You know the last time I lost election in an area I felt I can never lose election. When you become complacent, when you are not serious with the campaign and feel everybody will need to vote for HKT because HKT is an household name even till today, I was out of elective position for close to three years but people still come to me. If they need something they still channel it through me, but I am a professional statistician and I make use of all those things that I have been taught in school and I am not an average student of statistics, I hold a masters degree with PhD in process, and even in undergraduate class I was second class upper, so I am not an average student. I also know the tools I am having to check some things, I told some of the people few minutes ago that the reason why we loss was not because of any individual, they are just one small group of people they are about fifty, I met with them in 2015 they are group of people who are seriously against our party. I tried to beg them they said no, so I just felt fifty people, let them go jaree, it cannot affect us but later, I realised that they are controlling a huge number of people in some parts of our local government and that in my own local government they have eight booths and that their community was divided by just one connector with just one plank made bridge to get to the other constituency and unfortunately for me that other part of the local government belongs to my constituency, they have influence on the other side too, that particular area has four booths, we lost in all the ones with eight booths. We lost badly in that particular ward, it was the only one I lost in my local government, therefore when you are saying I lost election, I lost only one ward in the local government and I lost one ward in the other local government and that put paid to it. The side they came from the result was so bad that it affected the second one because it has 27 wards, but when you come the second one where it is just 20 it affected it because of that long stretch of ward and I lost by only 1700 votes and I was given an analysis of it all.
I was defeated with 1000 votes which means they would add that 1000 to my vote and remove it from that of PDP the difference is 2000, therefore this time around we are not taking anything for granted, I have been meeting people, I was with some people yesterday, naturally we would not go to those people we would say let’s leave them alone, but I was with them and they were happy that they said for my coming alone I would see what would happen in this election and yes we have members as my opponent I know even in her backyard now she is afraid of HKT, because they started attacking me even before I picked the nomination, they say so many things HKT will carry thugs but my campaign has been devoid of thugs because I told my people if I hear a sound of gunshot once I will just drop the race, that was two days to the primaries, I thank them and throughout our campaign there was no acrimony.
What are you doing to ensure you reconcile the aggrieved contenders in your constituency?
That is at the primary level because within the party too when people see you rise they will not feel comfortable. Since I was given the nomination I have been trying to reach out and we have been talking and even something that they would naturally do and I would complain before, I no longer complain now, rather I would just tell you this thing you did was somehow and we just laugh it off, you know it is always very difficult to mend fence but we have been trying, I have met with one of the people I contested with twice and we have had meaningful discussions and his people have started calling me and asking when am I coming to meet them. Kalejaiye felt so bad because he is the establishment candidate and we fought establishment and we won, because I was also part of the establishment and in a way or the other our paths have crossed and done one or two things together positively, I called him I think two days ago and he picked my calls, prior to which I have called over eleven times that he did not pick until I had to confront him over it, he was just laughing, he returned my missed calls now, we have started talking. How do you plan to tackle cultism especially among the youths that is prevalent in Ajegunle?
My brother we have been campaigning, that is why I said we want people that would tell our story the way it is, we want to tell our story ourselves, during this campaign I have told them I am going to give them a youth centre and part of which would be an Ajegunle radio, because we want to be telling our story ourselves, let me tell you something, when they were talking about new Lagos and were premising it on culture and tourism, I said that they are saying Ajegunle is the new Lagos, because our diverse culture is enough to sell Lagos to the world. Our diversity is supposed to be our strength not the weakness, that is why you see in some of my posters, it says HKT is coming to represent all the tribes not Yoruba, Ibo or Hausa alone, I am representing the Ibibios, the South-South, everybody, they have been discussing with me, they know me and my effect while in the House of Assembly, they know what I was able to bring to the local government and that since I left nothing is happening in the local government again, the only happening now is to drink ‘shepe’, alomo’ and scuches and start making trouble, but I know those boys and they know me.
How are you trying to curb substance abuse prevalent amongst the youths in Ajegunle? We have started campaigning against drug abuse, making them to see the reason why they should stop drug abuse, because even we that did not take drugs we are not as strong as we were 20 years ago, not to talk of somebody that have drenched himself in drugs ten years later, there would be problem in our local government and we don’t have more than one general hospital, it cannot contain everybody now doing drugs, we are campaigning seriously against illicit drugs and violence and I am trying to direct their attention to the youth centre, where we will be bringing people that are topmost of the industries that are from Ajegunle to do talk shows and secondly there is also one thing that is trending in Ajegunle that people don’t know, most of our people that goes to do business on internet are 419, and I want to engage them to know that there are clean money available in online business therefore we say even the youth centre will contain a computer unit where they would be taught how to make clean money from internet, how to be a good citizens and represent us anywhere they find themselves. There was a time I was in London at a business round table and they are talking about Ajegunle, I was moved and fascinated because they are talking about the positive side, but they were now afraid of the negative side, I have to come in and at that point I told them to come to Ajegunle, it is not like you are seeing it, people like us as important and popular as we are still move around Ajegunle as late as 1,2,3am without any problems.
Traffic gridlock is a daily affair in the area what are you going to do to resolve the recurring congestion? My brother I have something I am planning, you know I am an experienced legislator and I know the Federal Government would pay for it, you know why, yes they are correcting the mistakes of the past, for the first time since our port was created they are carrying out major rehabilitation, it would disturb the environment and all the people living there will not find it easy, because we are talking of wholesale rehabilitation, but that doesn’t mean that those things are not affecting our roads and they must pay for it, they must come and repair most of our roads, I know immediately they finish that work those gridlocks would disappear because those tankers and trucks have their packs, that are also under reconstruction, immediately they finish that they would leave the road, but the Federal Government would come and do the job for us that is why they must send HKT that knows how to tell them the way they must do it. What are your plans for mentorship of youths in your area?
This particular race of mine is youth driven, some days ago we were looking for the daughter’s of Ajegunle support HKT for House Of Reps, if you look at our own media it is full of young guys who are coming into politics newly because I am aware I am getting old and someone was telling me are you going to spend another 15years in the house? I said no it is not possible, my children are now grown ups they are men too, I don’t have a baby in my house, they are grown men and I also need to create time to guide them on what they want and try to encourage them to stay on the positive line, therefore I cannot spend all my life as a public officer, I would still spend some time with them, because I still feel I am young, I’m under 60, immediately I cross that 60 I will start thinking of retirement, because I know that retirement year is 60 in Nigeria. That is why I have been addressing it since 2006, my next line of action as a public officer is to be able to leave people that can take over from us and reason like us, having the interest of our local government at heart, not people that are thinking of going to make money, because it is not until when I got out of government that people get to know that I don’t have money, they feel I have alot of money. This because I spend money, I want to satisfy everybody, but not until when I left government, that I got to know I don’t have much and had to run around to fend for my family, that is the kind of culture I want to leave behind, the culture of service, trying to do things for the people, when I was talking of doing three high streets for our local government, we were to deliver one, people don’t know how, I said go to Lagos State and check you will not see it inside their budget, I was not a speaker but while I was a majority leader I did something, as the chairman of intervention fund I took money from there and that was the beginning of development in our area, when you enter Badia now compare its present state with what it used to be in those days, you will not know you are in Badia until you get to Badagry Expressway, we are turning our area around, we are now doing it in conjunction with them, we have the same community, if you are not careful you will not know the difference between Badia and Amukoko, Badia is in Apapa and Amukoko is Ajegunle. Those are the things I want my young one to have in mind; I told them do you need to ask for what is yours? Because my first election I was 37 years old, also a young man you don’t need to ask for it but strive and ensure you achieve it. Quote
During this campaign I have told them I am going to give them a youth centre and part of which would be an Ajegunle radio, because we want to be telling our story ourselves, let me tell you something, when they were talking about new Lagos and were premising it on culture and tourism, I said that they are saying Ajegunle is the new Lagos, because our diverse culture is enough to sell Lagos to the world. Our diversity is supposed to be our strength not the weakness

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