The Honorable member representing Badagry Constituency 01 at the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Olarewaju Ibrahim Layode (OIL), in a recent interview with Jennifer Nwosu, publisher SkyNews and Ayodeji Dedeigbo, publisher Townscriernews in his Ikeja office speaks on his 2023 political ambition, salient issues including his indelible marks as a state lawmaker.
Can we meet you sir?
Well, I think my sister here knows me, and my auto biography has not changed.
The only thing that has changed there is that the last time we met was during my second term in office. I have been in the House for the second, third and the fourth term, my name remains the same.
By the grace of God, I am Honorable Olanrewaju Ibrahim Layode. I am representing Badagry Constituency 1 in Lagos State House of Assembly. Going through my biography, I was born in Badagry in the early 70s into Layode’s family, I grew up in same place. I attended Nursery and Primary school in Badagry, from Badagry Muslim Primary School to Ansaru Deen Grammar School. Thereafter, I proceeded to Lagos State College of Education, now Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, where I obtained my NCE certificate. After that, because of my quest for good education, I did direct entry into Lagos State University, LASU, where I bagged First Degree in Education. Since then, I have been on my own as a business man.
Meanwhile, I have been into politics right from my secondary school days. I was involved in the Students Union politics and that gave me more courage to participate in Local Government political since 1999. When General Abubakar (Rtd) handed over to the civilian, I was one of the vibrant youths of our party, AD which transformed to AC, ACN and finally to APC. As at that then, we have about four Youth wing representing the party from 89 to 99 till around 2000 when Asiwaju Bola Tinubu emerged as the Governor, I make bold to say that I was an active member of the campaign team that ushered him in as Governor.
Furthermore, I represented Badagry Ward at the State level and consequently became the Chairman of BATCO (Bola Ahmed Tinubu Campaign Organisation), Badagry Chapter. In recognition of my political activities and in the progressive caucus, I was called upon to contest for House of Assembly in 2006. I thank the Leaders who stood by me till date. I am praying to God that in 2023, I will progress to the Federal House of Representatives to represent the good people of Badagry.
Looking inward to what you said that you have been a serving House of Assembly member for four consecutive terms, how did you manage to maintain that seat?
There is one thing about politics, it is not about you, it is about the people of your constituency. No matter the criticism you get from different angles, just remain focused. You can attest to this fact. You could flash back to 2007 at our block referred to as “Ile Pako” then when you came to House of Assembly, you made mention of my humility. Also, if you come to my constituency, they will tell you that I am humble.
To me, I don’t take my office as my own but for those people who sent me here. I always make sure that they are truly represented. So far, it is Almighty God who has given me the strength and grace to continue serving my people right. Also, I have been doing the little I can afford, which is simply “given back to the electorate”.
What has been your challenges?
In politics, challenges are many. During my birthday, someone called me on phone and said, “ Honourable, what is your challenge?” I said I don’t have challenge (Laughter). But in politics, there are challenges. Like I said, I have seen a lot of people criticizing me left and right.
A neutral person once rose up and challenged some critics and asked them if they actually wanted to contest and that they should tell us what they will do differently. You see, the problem of Badagry is pull-down syndrome. We don’t push ourselves forward. Let me give you an instance, Hon. Kolawole Taiwo in Badagry Division was pulled down, else, Badagry Division would have produced the Speaker of LAHA due to his experience. Do you know that what we did for Kolawole Taiwo is to our own detriment? Our slogan is “is he the only one”? Go to countries abroad, you will see a member of the House that has been serving for as long as 32 years.
Joe Biden was in the house for over thirty years. Obama was there long before he became the president. In UK, you will see lot of representatives and Honourable members who have been there for decades. It’s a pity that we are not emulating our colonies to foster political development. I pray we will get to that level soon because of the political mentality in our area. What I have done so far in the history of Badagry will stand a test of time.
How would you describe your experience?
The experience is not quantifiable, so far, it has been good although very challenging and cumbersome. For instance, someone woke me up this Monday morning requesting for what I promised to give him. Can you imagine! very early morning call without any form of greetings (Laughter). Some people will tell you that his wife gave birth with the believe that it’s OIL that must be responsible for all the expenses (Laughter).
So many people cannot differentiate between the functions of the legislature and executives. Some will be asking what project have we done? How can I do a project when I don’t have executive power to do so? I don’t have that kind of power which will make me embark on any project.
The only thing I can do as an Honourable member is for me to facilitate projects. Go back to the records, since 2007, all the ministries that I have chaired their committees, I facilitated projects in communities of my Constituency. Records don’t lie. Transformers were even delivered to communities under our rural electrification projects including community halls in rural Communities.
On the youth empowerment for students, I started it. It has never happened in the history of Badagry prior to that. The Education support scheme is second to none, whereby we buy over 250 GCE forms for students annually? It started since 2007. Student who never thought can further his education was given my free GCE, passed with 5 credits and gained admission into university, today he is a bank staff. He recently sent me a message thanking me and to also inform me that he has traveled to America. It’s a joyful thing to me. These are the things that some of our people don’t know about the challenges we face and their intention is to run us down with their bad comments.
Someone came to me last week and told me that the prophets (Alfas) are angry with me, that I only supports the traditional worshippers, I responded that they approached me for support and I gave them, is that a crime? During Ramadan, I give them ram, clothes and other things but unfortunately, they don’t remember these gestures. There’s always rivalry between them just like the case of a polygamous man. But with Allah, I manage them all. These kinds of challenges can’t be taken as a big issue, but the majority of our people does not understand the difference between the legislative and the executive arm of government.
There is this rumour in your area that your constituency office is not always open or active. What can you say about that?
This happened in 2011 when some of my constituents refused to go to constituency office. They always enjoy coming to my home. It’s still happening till today. They come under the pretence of dropping letter. I always refer them to go to the constituency office and drop it. I have a constituency office and at the same time my business empire, remember I told you that I am a business tycoon and before I became an Honourable member, I had already registered my company and have employees working for me.
I can’t close my company because I’m an Honorable member. It will still continue booming. The company specializes in clearing and forwarding, auto sale and transportation services, and that is where people come to see me even before I became an Honourable. The mentality of my people is that once they say, ‘Honourable I want to see you’, the letter they want to submit which must follow protocols, they will prefer giving it to me directly. After checking the letter, I will discover that the letter is not official, rather, invitations for harvest, burial, birthday and stuffs like that. So, I usually tell them, if you want to see me, come to office in Ikeja and not in Badagry. The next thing they will say is “we got to the constituency office we did not see you”.
People are there now, but people don’t drop their letters there because of the notion that the letters will not be delivered and approved soon.
Every weekend, the letter must be treated because they will be copied and sent to me here in Alausa office. Some will sit in Badagry and request for reference letter based on the letter submitted. How can you get a reference letter from Badagry when you submitted the application letter in Lagos? In this kind of a situation, I expect them to call my P.A and he will explain better to them. Even a lot of people who are not from my constituency still manage to come to me because I operate my open-door policy.
mentioned giving out free GCE form, aside that, what have you impacted in the life of your people?
Right now, I am planning another second phase of our Rural Women Empowerment Scheme. I did one not too long ago where I selected 90 women across our constituency. I met a woman, she was crying, and I asked her what happened. She said some agencies were dragging her because she took microfinance loan popularly called LAPO. That was the first time I heard about LAPO. The woman collected ₦30,000 and the interest had accumulated to about ₦60,000 because she couldn’t pay on time. So, I helped her to pay off the money.
Somebody quickly brought the idea that why can’t we do something like that for petty traders at zero-interest rate. So, I did it for almost 90 of them. Widows were also beneficiaries. I gave out ₦4.5million for this empowerment. This is just about 2 or 3 months ago held at Awhajioh Town Hall, Badagry. I am planning another one for December to see if I can give out between the range of ₦5,000 to ₦50,000 to the petty traders to encourage and boost their small scale businesses.
In fact, I have lost count on some people that got help to alleviate their business loses from me. I also encourage the drivers too. I helped some to get cars for Uber and Bolt driving. I usually don’t like mentioning names. But politics of today will not be complete if not documented. So, I have it in brochure here.
Lagos State Government has embarked on Badagry road and the work is going faster than expected. What do you have to say about that?
It’s not Lagos State alone but in partnership with the Federal Government. Lagos State construction started from Ericmoore to Okokomaiko. Lagosians are aware that we have been on it ahead of the Federal Government’s portion. During Governor Babajide Raji Fashola’s administration, late President Yar’adua approved it to 10 lanes. From mile 2, now you can see the beauty of the road.
Governor Sanwo-Olu also has been able to budget more money into this Badagry Expressway project, which consequently expedited the construction work, as we speak, it is almost at 80 or 85% completion stage. They are also working on the rail system. We want to build a rail system where you can board from Okoko to Apogbon, Marina side of Lagos State. I want to sincerely thank Mr. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for having it in mind to complete the it and not tag it as an abandoned project.
With the challenges of the state, the limited available fund is still channeled towards helping us to relieve hardship on the road. From Agbara to Badagry is very terrible. What we are facing is hectic. The journey of 30 minutes has become two hours, not only that, the stress is also killing. We have discussed this at the floor of the House. Today, they have heard and have come to our aid and work is speedily ongoing at the pace of 30 to 35%. We pray they should not stop. We extend our appreciation to the Federal Government for their kind gesture too. I want to use this medium to apologize to my good people on that axis especially Badagrians for the trauma of using that road, thank you for your support and patience all along.
If it were to be some places, they would have turned it to violence. I can assure you we are going to enjoy good road soon and good things will start coming to our land.
They should do more in supporting the government for good things to be actualized in our area. I know Badagry will be transformed soon because, we have a lot of tourist attraction centers there.
What is your relationship with your political leaders and your expectation from them come 2023?
We’re in good relationship, There’s no rancor of any sort so far.
The only rancor I see is the political interest of every individual. My own interest might be different from yours and yours from mine too. At the end of the day, what normally happens is that during the primaries, there might be clash of interests but at the end of the day, we will still resolve it and come back as one family. I am contesting for Federal House of Representatives in 2023. You can ask a leader and he will say he doesn’t want to key into that idea. That is why I said the interest might be different. I am appealing to them to support me, come 2023 to represent them at the Federal House of Representative. I promise to do more if elected.
When going through my Facebook page there is a guy called Labobo criticizing you unnecessarily, what relationship do you have with such fellow sir?
I will not say it is only Labobo or whatever he calls himself. At first, I’m not on Facebook because it is deviating from the purpose it is meant for, that was why I backed. I prefer WhatsApp. However, I have an official Facebook page managed by my media team but I don’t have the personal Facebook account.
Not only him, so many of them, that of La’bobo does not need any answer from me, lots of report about this Labobo, but I still tell people to forget about him.
This is someone who once raised his hands to beat his teacher. Then, who am I? Whoever that raises up his hand to beat his father and his mother is living under curse not to talk of the teacher that impacted knowledge into his life. Are you expecting me to reply such a person on Facebook? Labobo is like a younger brother to me as for me, I have forgiven him.
He edited the video information I gave at the House of Assembly, turned it upside down so as to make baseless and cheap recognition on Facebook, I care less.
Let me give an illustration. I went to a village; I saw a big river; I undressed to swim. Someone now came to pack my cloths. Do you expect me to start running after him? If I do, won’t people see me as a mad man?
I will rather remain in the river and put a call to my family to bring me another cloth. Meanwhile all his posts about me on Facebook are not real, please ignore his exuberance.
Lastly on my questions, what measures have you put in place to stop this menace on social media platform?
I think they need to checkmate it. Because the way and manner people are using it is not encouraging. I think there should be a law that will prosecute anyone who passes defamatory information about fellow citizen.
Please recall that anti-social Media Bill was introduced by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on 5 November 2019 to criminalize the use of the social media in peddling false or malicious information. The original title of the bill is Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill 2019. This should be of great concern to all us.