HON ABDULBAKI OLADIMEJI BOLOGUN
Honorable oladimeji is a fromer member of the Lagos state house of Assembly currently the chairman of Lagos ferry a company that takes care of water transportation in Lagos he shared his experience in politics and the coperate world
Witten and interviewed by Sam fadipe publisher spring news international magazine
MY EXPERIENCE IN THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY ?
I was just thirty four years old when I became an honourable member representing the good people or talented people of Ajeromi Ifelodun popularly known as Ajegunle. I was in the house to represent my people so I performed the job of the legislator. What is the job of the legislator? You are to represent your people, perform the representative function, perform the function of making law that is legislating itself and the third one is to over sight on other arms of the government; the executive and the judiciary. Those were the roles I was expected to play and I think I discharged my responsibility very well according to my people.
RANKING IN POLITICS
You know there is convention everywhere and in terms of legislature there is this convention they call ranking. So, whenever you get to the House of Assembly or any parliament for instance of course you are going to meet some people there who are older or not necessarily older but in terms of legislative experience, they are older than you. You have to Accord them their respect and you have to learn under them as well. It is a basic thing in life b cause one day some people will come under you too and you would become ranking because of your legislative experience so they will come under and they would start as beginners. So it is like that anywhere you are. You learn the ropes, you get to know about it, about the institutions then you perform your role. So everything depends on th upbringing and the kind of tutelage you have as a politician and I thank God that I come from the school of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu school of politics so I learnt the elementary of politics from him such that I was able to imbibe a lot of discipline when it comes to political dispensation in the House of Assembly. I discharged my duty honourably and I think my people gave me a good, above average performance in the House.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH ASIWAJU
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He is my role model. He is my mentor. He is my teacher and he is my leader and inshallah he is going to be my next president of this republic.
For every human being, there is going to be a positive side and a negative side. There is no way I’m going to be in the public space from the year 2011 till date and I will not have one person or the other I offended or have not satisfied. So, no matter the people that are praising my efforts or commending my roles in the local government or within my constituency, we are still going to have some people who are saying he has to do this, he hasn’t done that. So, you just have to do what you can but you can never satisfy everybody. Do what you can, take what you know that I going to be impactful on he people, you touch lives and that is what matters at the end of the day. How many people you were able to bring up, how many people were you able to change their lives economically, educationally even politically. Were you able to bring up some people that have become politicians of note today? Were you able to produce councillors? You know just like Asiwaju has done for us and made us honourable members from nowhere. We became honourable members, we became known politically. You know, it’s just to help people like that. So who are you tutoring? Who are you mentoring? Who are you turning into the next star? Who are you turning to be the next economic powerhouse of his or her family? Those are the things that matter at the end of the day and that is what counts. The legacies you are leaving behind. We’ve been able to do ours. I would not be here to beat my drum. I think I would be going down to my constituency people have been silent in 2011 in the public space but I hold on to the fact that before I became honourable member of the House of Assembly in Lagos State, in my private capacity in the private sector, I’ve been able to do a lot to my people and for my community and I think that is what transcend into my representing them because it was a popular Clarion call by my people that oh we want you to represent us. Those people linning up, we don’t believe them, we can’t be deceived again. You have done it even with your private means so you can do it as a public servant. That was the baton that was handed over to me and I think I took the gauntlet and I went for it and since then, there is no looking back. I have devoted and dedicated my life to serving. Selfless service to my people and to humanity.
WHAT IS POLITICS?
Politics is not difficult. It depends on your definition of politics. Politics to me Abdulbakir Oladimeji Balogun means offering services to the people and bringing development to your people and to your society. That is politics to me. So do I have the resources to get that done, to execute these, to make sure that I offer services and I render development to the people? yes. Have I been trusted with the position to discharge the responsibility very well the way I am supposed to do? Yes. Am I in competition with anyone? No. That is where some people get it wrong. I’m not in competition with anybody. I am in my own lane. I look up to God and I look up to people like Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Governor Sanwo-Olu who are also in the line of offering themselves for the people and for the service of the common people. Those are the templates I set for myself. I don’t see any competition. I don’t see politics as a bad game. I see it as a means of developing the society and the means of offering selfless services to the people. Sometimes when you are supposed to be with your family, you have to be with the society. As a politician, sometimes when you have to be with your family, you’re at the heart of society. You are there. So politics to me is not a bad game. It depends on how you play it. I am in politics for God and for humanity.
I believe in the competency of the bearer, the flag bearers of APC. I believe in the capacity of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. I believe in the positive character of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Senator Kashim Shettima. I believe in what they have to offer and I believe in the track record they have been able to curate while they were in the private sector and in the public sector and we are beholding on them to bring those experiences which they have garnered in the private sector and public sector to bear on the nation at this time when we need the men of value and idea to take us forward in this country. So, I’m no seeing the religion, I’m not seeing the religion card at play. I am seeing Asiwaju as a competent person. I am seeing Asiwaju as somebody that has the capacity. I am seeing Asiwaju as somebody that has the right attitude and character to take Nigeria forward, to make our society better. I am seeing Asiwaju as a human resources developer. I am seeing somebody that is going to tar the road without regard to who is going to okay the road whether it is a Christian or a Muslim. I am seeing somebody who is going to be thinking about how he is going to provide three square meal for every family in Nigeria whether they are Christians or Muslims. I would want somebody who already has demonstrated this in several capacity. For instance, to make Lagos the eldorado and the envy of other states in Nigeria even outside Nigeria. Who are we talking about? In talking about Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. I didn’t see Asiwaju as a Muslim. I see Asiwaju as a Nigerian leader who has the capacity t turn things around. He has done it before. He can do it again and I am giving my word for it.
If I may ask you, what is the age of Joe Biden the United States President? Late seventies. Is he not doing well? Has he for one day collapsed in the course of being the US president? What you need from Asiwaju is not a kick boxer. It is not an athlete. It is not a footballer. You need Asiwaju the smart thinker, the honest doer and a workaholic visionary who is going to deliver for you and I so that we can be proud of the country called Nigeria. It has nothing to do with age. It has to do with experience. It has to do with competency, it has to do with character and it has to do with capacity coupl d with the vision of the drivers. We are saying that the drivers of modern Nigeria is the architect of Lagos we are witnessing today and that is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Let us trust him. He has done it before, he will do it again on a larger scale at the federal level.
Since 1999, let us forget about all the military intervention we have in our leadership system since 1979 that is the second republic which was Shagari till today, I want you to go and do your investigative journalism very well and come up with any administration that deliver on infrastructure the way Buhari delivered in the last seven years. He has not failed. I know you want to talk about security. He has not failed. You have to put it in a global context. What is happening in Ghana? What is happening in Sri-Lanka? What is happening in Venezuela? What is happening in UK? For the first time in seventeen years, the inflation rate of UK went to 10.1%. They have not gotten double digits inflation for the past seventeen years. 10.1% as at last week. There was a prot at recently in the UK by British citizens saying that the cost of living has gone spiral up and he are not finding things easy anymore. Our neighbour here in Ghana, there was a demonstration b cause of cost of living. In Sierra Leone, another West African country. So, you have to put it in a global context. It is happening everywhere. Don’t forget that the entire world just recovered from COVID-19. That was a set back for the company of the world. Now, after we came out from the global pandemic, the war between Ukraine and Russia started. Up till today we are still battling that. You know the implication of that on food security, arms and ammunition, on natural gas and petroleum resources. That’s why you see energy bill climbing up. That’s why you see food item prices going up. So, do you want to isolate Nigeria from other committee of nations? Is it not something that Ghana is battling, Sierra Leone is battling, UK is battling and the US is battling. Just last week, the US Congress pass the bill, inflation reduction act. The US Congress passed the bill. What is it all about, to bring down the cost of inflation in America, to make life easier for all American citizens by government intervention. Just last week it was passed and signed into law by President Joe Biden of the USA. so, how do you say Nigeria is not doing well economically when you put all these in context? It depends on you and I. I am wearing Ankara. My Ankara is made in kaduna. The fabric you are wearing us either made in India or Bangladesh. You are adding value to the economic value of Bangladesh or India and you are deflating the economy of Nigeria because it is an imported material. Mine is locally made. When British Airways or Virgin Atlantic is coming to Nigeria, it’s coming to Lagos or Abuja every morning, you receive some Nigerians importing pizza. They will buy pizza from UK and bring it to Nigeria to eat. Pizza that I readily available everywhere. These are the things that we are doing to ensure that we are helping the economy of other major economies abroad while we here are killing ours in Nigeria. These are simple things that we need to do and that is why Asiwaju is coming up with this agbado theory of agbado and cassava. What is he trying to tell us? He is trying to tell us that we need to key into what we produce. We need to produce what we eat locally in order to fix our economy. There are some things that we can actually subsidise, that we can actually take over here without getting it from other places. Except in a sitter where that commodity is not available in Nigeria or the resources to make it is not available in Nigeria then you can import it. He’s telling us that e have substantial arable land to cultivate to produce all these things that we can eat here in Nigeria locally. So instead of resorting to buying it from abroad we can produce it here. Look at the balance of trade of Nigeria, you will see that what we are importing from the UK is ten times over what we are exporting to UK. The same thing for America and China and other places like that. It is a simple economy that we need to get right. We need to change our attitude. Look at my governor here in Lagos State, all the officials working with Lagos State government, you must be riding GAC motors, why? Because he went to China and said GAC do you want me to patronise you, they said yes. He said okay, I would not be buying this car from China. Bring your assembling plant to my country. I would create a conducive atmosphere for you to thrive and do your business and he created that for them. GAC came to Lagos, Nigeria and they established their factory in Ogba. All the rides you are seeing Ard products of this. All the officials of the state government are using this vehicle. What does that tell you? Revenue is being kept here in Lagos. Production is being done in Lagos. Manufacturing capacity is bring housed in Lagos. More money would be paid as taxes to the Lagos State government by these companies. That’s how a visionary thinks and that is what we need on the national scene. What we use locally, let us produce it locally. Except where there is no substitution for that product or commodity then you can resort to import. If every segment of our society do that, a dollar would be equal to ten naira. Do you know people import toothpicks to Nigeria? Go to supermarkets you will see imported toothpicks. It is as bad as that. A car manufacturing company is here in Lagos and we have Inosson in Anambra, why can’t we patronise ball these people? My car is GAC. It is made in Lagos. Assembled here in Lagos.
THE APC LEADER COLLOQUIUM
I didn’t because it involves life. I was there live and I saw the things happening and I saw the way the man was traumatized. The birthday boy was traumatized. It was a landmark occassion for him. He is supposed to be celebrated. All these things have been paid for. All the expenses made. For our to have committed a lot of resources to that kind of colloquium or birthday ceremony and you put it up because your citizens are not feeling safe. Do you remember what happened that day? It was the day the train coming from Abuja was hijacked by terrorists ad some people were taken away till today.
Now, had it been he had gone ahead, and he wanted to be the president, is he going to be the president of the dead bodies? Over the dead bodies? I’d he going to be the president of a ghost town, city or state? He demonstrated leadership. That is an example of a leader is supposed to be. He should b very very selfless. He should be thinking about others and he is so pragmatic to know that after he canceled the colloquium, the next day he went on the plane and went to commensurate with the government of Kaduna before anybody could think about it among the government functionaries. He is not a … leader. Asiwaju means his word. When he says he is going to do it, he is going to do it and this is a man that sa into the future. That is why we are enjoying Lagos today. Perhaps the safest state in Nigeria today is Lagos. Why is everybody coming here on daily basis trooping into Lagos. It is because it has b come a safe harbor for them. The template for security aggregator for Lagos state was laid by this man in year 2000 when he established RRS when he established Neighbourhood Watch. A lot of them. He was creative in thinking. I don’t own state police and I am not in charge of federal police, I a going to have a command that is committed to everything Lagos. That is how RRS came to be. Do you want to talk about the man in terms of employment generation? Creating opportunity for people? There are testaments about him everywhere. I became honourable member at the age of thirty-four. He made it possible. Before I went to the House of Assembly, House of Assembly was dominated by sixty, seventy years old people. Yes, my father’s age. Those were the people that were dominating the House of Assembly. Bit during my tenure I became an honourable member at the age of thirty-four. The youngest among us then was twenty-nine to thirty, honourable Sultan Adeniji Adele from Amuwo-Odofin and we have other people like that. It’s about who you are in your community. I just told you how my won happened. It is m people that called on me to come and serve them. I was working with Oando. O didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to leave certainty for uncertainty. I know what I was earning. I know how comfortable I was but my people called me for community service we want you to go and represent us here, please. All these people have deceived us in the past so we don’t trust them but we trust you because even without getting a public position, you have done this in your private capacity. You have done that in your private capacity, go for it and then, what was Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu looking for at that time, are you popular in your community? Do you have any source of influence in your community? That is what paved the way for me. There was a primary election in 2010. I won. In 2015, I won the primary election. Even if I don’t win as a party man, I have to be loyal to my party and I have to accept that my party is supreme. In 2019 and 2023 the primary election that we just did, my party told me you are going.
The vision of governor Babjide Olusola Sanwo-Olu to create an enduring, sustainable solution to multimodal transport system of Lagos state according to the strategic multimodal transport masterplan put in place in year 2000 put in place by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. It is that same template we are executing up till today and the man is so committed about it to ensure that for you to have a traffic less Lagos State, you need to have other mode of transportation working and functioning very effectively. We have the natural water base which we just need me or two infrastructure to put together and of course the water craft needs to be there. the man saw it that he was part of the system from the very beginning and he knew that this is the future of Lagos State. One third of Lagos State is covered by water. Almost fifteen local governments out of the twenty local governments can be accessed by waterways. So what are we talking about. He invested money there and he put some things on ground to deliver and we have the mandate which we are executing and that is just it. So what you are seeing us executing as an agency of Lagos state is the vision and the passion of the governor Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu.
It is very challenging but it is very very exciting at the same time because you have to look at the benefits you are bringing to the people. You have to look at the value you are creating and you have to look at the problem you are solving. Those are the things that count at the end of the day and you’re going to put together as your performance measurement. Are people coming in the waterways now? Are people doing a lot of stuff on the waterways now? Oh fine. Hitherto, this was a place you cannot go to. Now you are going there. People are now patronising. That’s what we needed and by the end of the year, when we have the train coming on board so that means you have three modes of Transportation working in Lagos. That is a smart city for you. You have the BRT system working on the roads, you have the waterways system functioning very well with the boats and ferry and you have the rail system. He smart city is Lagos.
Very very safe. You could see that we’ve not had any issue all the while. There are two arms. Lagos State ferry service is mainly the operator while Lagos State Waterways Authority is the regulator. So, we are not combining the two together. The LASWA is doing their own as the regulator, controller, safety enabler and also infrastructural provider for the waterways system. While Lag Ferry is owning the asset on behalf of Lagos State people running and operating on a daily basis the commuting of people moving from one place to the other and ensure you meet your target without any traffic on the other ways.
It is not anymore. The regulated time is between 6am in the morning till 6pm in the evening. And it is very good. It is a regulation out together by LASWA. It is very good for persons to comply with it because even on the roads on daily basis we have accidents. In case of any occurence of accidents on the waterways during the day, you can have people that can come for rescue and that is the most important thing because a life is very important to this administration of governor Babjide Olusola Sanwo-Olu. He is not ready to lose any life in Lagos State perhaps through avoidable incidents like this.
Team work. Discipline. Safety remains a priority to all of us and we are focused on our customers always. We are serving with integrity. What I jus told you now is the core of Lagos State Ferry Services. STECI. That is what is propelling us and bonding us together as a team. We work as a team. You don’t know it all. You don’t have Monopoly of knowledge. We tap from you, we tap from you, we tap from you and we come together to deliver value. That’s it.
As we are speaking, in the next couple of days, Mr Governor would be commissioning about eight jetties and terminals across Lagos State. With about other seven construction ongoing as we are talking. So, these are the things that are being put in place to enhance water transportation in Lagos State. The facilities are being upgraded. Some are newly constructed. So, everything that we are putting in place is going to be in a sustainable means because at the end of the day this administration will go but another administration that comes will meet it there and that is how you propel a very good economy. You keep building on what you met on ground and that is what we talked about having that strategic transportation master plan according to the development blueprint of the year 2000 put together by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Fortunately for us, that blueprint stretches to twenty-five years so by the time we get to year 2025, the blueprint would have served it’s purpose. Meanwhile in the next couple of weeks, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu is putting up another development plan for another thirty years propelling Lagos State further into the committee of nations. Currently, we are the fifth largest economy. We are targeting to be the third or second largest economy in the entire Africa. Remember, Lagos state is just a sub national. It is not a national government. It is a sub national government. A state within the federal republic of Nigeria and we are the fifth largest economy in Africa now.
I am a professional in politics. My first degree is in economics, my second degree is in chartered economics. I have in chartered marketing.
I see myself becoming governor but not in Lagos State. I would not claim what doesn’t belong to me.
It depends on how you diplomatically handle things. It depends on your manner of approach. Yeah, there is going to be tension between the federal and state agencies but at the same time we have the ruling party in Lagos State belonging t the ruling party at the federal level so everything that comes to the issues are put on the table. We have dialogue and it is being settled so there is no challenge as much between the federal and the state. There is no issue between the federal and state government when it comes to managing the waterways.
I cannot speak on behalf of the federal government but I can speak on behalf of Lagos State and I told you earlier that yes, Lagos State has seen that the future of Lagos State actually lie on water transportation and not just water transportation. Holistically, we call it blue economy. Blue economy involves all other things you have to do within the marine sector. It can be maritime, fishing aqua culture, water transportation, tourism, underwater a lot of things. We pioneer a lot of social activities on the waterways that you may not know about. We now celebrate valentine, independence, international women’s day, have parties, basketball on the waterways. Unlike before. You know, these are the things that we do to spice up tourism activities in Lagos State. There is hardly you’re going to find other states like Lagos when it comes to merging social events together with our economy. Economy on one side, social event on the other side. So, looking at water transportation on one aspect and looking at tourism potential of the waterways on the other aspect. Go to our beaches, go to all our coastal lines you would see a lot of improvement and a lot of economic and engagement on daily basis by our people unlike before that everybody would just relax and say that we have water here we can’t go out. It’s now having additional economic value to the lives of the people and the riverine community.
The most critical aspect of our operation is safety and what we prioritise most is safety. Safety does not even start on board. It starts from when you are coming into the jetty. The money you are in the jetty area or in the terminal area before you board your boat and when you are on the boat. So your alighting or disembark from the boat when you get to your destination. Everything that we think about and take care about throughout the journey is your safety. We have safety culture in place in Lagos State Ferry Services and it is if the standard you can think of anywhere. That is why we have zero accidents but for some exceptions because we prioritise safety.
I am comfortable with where my governor has placed me to serve the people of Lagos.
It depends on the leadership of the Party. Anywhere they want me to serve, I am ready.
What is your definition of godfatherism? I just told you that I have a teacher, a mentor in Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. So if you refer that to be a godfather, yes, he is my godfather and he tutor me to be where I am today. So, I don’t know your own definition of godfatherism. my definition of godfather is what I just painted to you and I am glad to be a godson to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
As a layman, you have thirty-six states in Nigeria, including the FCT that is thirty-seven altogether, and out of these thirty-seven states, you have twenty three being ruled or governed by your party, and you have 469 National Assembly members, out of this 469 members, your party is controlling more than 300, that is over 70%, now, you have to think about local assembly that is state assemblies the thirty-six of them, all these twenty three state governor’s are having the same party structure controlling their state assembly, we have 774 recognised local governments in the Constitution of Nigeria, out of this 774 local governments, we have chairmen presiding over them, twenty three of the states are controlling the structure of the local governments by the same ruling party APC, I am confident that with the structures in place by the ruling APC, by the grace of God and with th support of Nigerians, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu will be the next president of this country.
I am Abdulbakir Oladimeji Balogun. I was born forty seven years ago. I grew up in Ajegunle, Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government Area of Lagos State. I a a Chartered Economist. I am a Chartered Marketer. I went to Lagos State University. I went to Lagos State University for my Masters. I went to university of Lagos for another Masters I went to university of …., in United Kingdom for another Masters. I am married and I am blessed with kids by the grace of God. Today, I am serving the people of Lagos state as the Managing Director of Lagos State Ferry Services. I am from Kwara state.
Devoting my time to serving people from my early age.