An exclusive interview with Hon Bowale Solaja,Member OGHA representing Ijebu North-1 cum House of Assembly Committee Chairman on Commerce and Industry. He bore his mind on his relationship with the Governor, Speaker, Kashamu, his stewardship so far and many more
Amebo: What prompted your decision to venture into political contest at a young age especially not starting from Local Level?
Solaja: In honesty politics was the last thing on my mind as at the time I started. I followed my sibling whose name had been pencilled down to be the candidate of the PDP of my Constituency, Ijebu North 1, on getting to the meeting I think Prince Kashamu had a change of mind about her for me. It was my mum that came later to tell me and my sibling that Kashamu prefers me as the candidate. I felt so reluctant not even because of my sibling’s feelings per say but because politics to me was a very dirty vocation sort of, but was later convinced and advised to accept the offer after necessary consideration. Thank God that my sibling is presently a Special Adviser to Oyo State Governor.
Amebo: You had a contest with one of the popular candidate during your first attempt minding that that person “SLY” had been contesting for that seat, how did feel winning such a keen contest?
Solaja: Who knows me at that time, the only opportunity I had close to Ijebu Igbo was when I came for my Degree at Olabisi Onabanjo University. The good thing is my parent and grandparent had built a robust name that I climbed on. I felt so lucky and fortunate and till date I’m still. On SLY, to be candid, he didn’t take my contest serious, we met couple of time, and he will just like ” alaye how far, so n roll”, he felt I just came to know how politics is; but when God is at work, miracle happens, I’m a living testimony
Amebo: what are the various bills you have sponsored and cosponsored?
Solaja: the bills I av sponsored and cosponsored include;
Be rest assured my S.A on media will pass it across to you, you know this is not my office, i sponsored bills and many cosponsored ones, apart from the bills, I am proud to inform you that I stood against the wish of the Governor to close down and merge the Abraham Adesanya Polytechnic, Ijebu Igbo. People will keep.saying this people are rubber stamp that we dance to the time of the Executive, but I will never sell my town for peanut, I can’t open my eyes and allow the poly to be merged with MAPOLY at that time it shows I have my voice and so I’m happy to have stood against the Governor Ibikunle Amosun at that tim, when I know how many families depend on the survival of the school. Today the school is there and doing well.
Amebo: People don’t see legislative activities as the responsibilities of a legislator, therefore what are the various projects you have embarked upon since you were elected till date?
Solaja: Samsudeen N/P school building, a standard industrial borehole at Obada station with a generating set, Oke Agbo area, a borehole at Ajibandele Ogunye, Togunberu village I contructed a borehole, also a borehole at Akinlade Obisesan, Agboro their is a borehole, abonyin Atikori,their is a borehole, araromi adekanmbi borehole , at amutebu Ojowo their is a borehole, a deep well at Kajola, after topon a borehole, Dagbolu in Atikori, Araromi i constructed a borehole too, renovated the borehole at ItaAje Ojowo, Free Health Empowerment was done, a mini shed was buit for the pupils of St Mark Primary School, Facilitated a transformer at Oke Alafia Atikori, Atikori Primary School three classroom block and staff room, I cleared a major refuse dump that we cleared. We also constructed drainage system there, along tinjata road ojowo there was this fall that we had to construct a barricade to safe lives of motorists and people who walk at night but falls there sustaining degrees of injuries. Empowering people I gave out Vulganizing air pumps to the association, gave hairdressers dryers, grinding machine. I bought wheel chairs to disables and organises theit annual christmas party; The gap left unpatched at that time is that I didn’t publicise it and its not my fault, I don’t subscribe to such because of the economic wastages I try to curb, my believe was that the amount I’ll inject into media will empower another set of people. My colleague here Hon Job would rightly say when you want to give 100naira spend 3naira for publicity because if you fail people will say you have done nothing, that’s the resoning I think some people had about me. Presently, I’m constructing 12 rooms of toilet at Obada Market, I’m planning on starting up my construction of three classroom building at Abatuntun in ward 4, in Dagbolu Atikori, their is an ongoing classrooms which will soon be completed, I’m also about to organise a youth reorientation program about agriculture and the benefits of going back to the farm which at the end of the program participatory stipend will be given. I’m sure amebo will not just cover but the publisher will be a guest speaker as well on Social Media as panacea agro-marketing profitability. So I’m informing you Amebo… Laughs.
Amebo: As the House Committee Chairman on Commerce and Industry, what are the input you have injected into your committee and especially how many of the investors have you drive down to your constituency?
Solaja: We are here to enact laws and indeed we have made the laws suitable for investors and its because of this the Executive arm boast of massive investors coming into the state. The influx to my time is high but few had been able to get established and I’ll put that blame on our people. See, ijebu igbo is too blessed to be in the present predicament of joblessness among our youth. I give you instances what I am driving at; I brought in investors that bought 3hecters of land for rubber planting, Dangote is there now not that I brought Dangote but the laws we enacted favours their business. Now on ijebu igbo, I brought onntwo consecutive occasions investors who wanted to buys hecters of land but unfortunately the families started fighting because of the money involved, at the end the went back, they came from china. I can facilitate their coming but our people should have a reorientation about sales of their land. Another one was through Alhaji SAS from ago iwoye who brought in investors to ijebu igbo through me but same story happened. I have some ijebu igbo born that I have spoken with but they get scares of the security situation,this has really made me handicapped to some extent. The good news is I have a mother who deemed it fit to bring her business down to the local government at Oru express, rice mill. I can assure you 50% of staff will be ijebu igbo born. We need a major coy that will process all our produce. We are visiting major companies in Ogun to assess how the multinational companies are treating our people and the staff strength ratio to that of Ogun indigents and I sure Amebo will be part of the media to report back to the people.
Amebo: The status of ijebu Igbo fly over bridge is an eye-saw, what has been your contribution in ensuring a speedy completion?
Solaja: by the time they were planning the construction I was not carried along even as the representative perhaps because I was not in their party, if I had been there I would have queried the economic factor of the bridge to ijebu igbo. How many cats are plying the road, I would have told him we need more of internship road to be constructed, connecting street and towns. I stood up before Ileya in the halow chamber as the only means I can speak with the Governor appealing to him to fastrack the completion of the road and also to construct palliative measures for motorist. Unfortunately he didn’t do anything till a sheik that appealed to him during Alh Mustapha’s burial. All the same he did it and and hopeful that he will complete the bridge within the shortest period of time.
Amebo: the insecurity of your constituency drove out commercial institutions coupled with poor road network,what has been your role in ensuring their comeback since the state government has put on ground security apparatus?
Solaja: on getting them back, I spoke with the present Commissioner for Commerce and Industry Otunba Bimbo Asiri who is also from.the financial institution. He reminded me of the security situation of the town. I later had to join a club to get in touch with the son of Otunba Subomi Balogun who later told me they will reopen then because of the level of risk but till date, they haven’t. I won’t blame them because I can’t guarantee their security except the Chief security officer of the state. I’m also feeling the heat. I was traveling to Ibadan every two weeks during the last general election, imagine the risk. When we begin to have major functioning system such as good business structure, if that is in place they will be the one to run over to us. For now we have nothing to offer them as regards economic viability.
Amebo: another major problem affecting the constituency is leadership especially that of the Obaship tussle, what has been your contribution to ensure the settlement?
Solaja: I won’t lie to you, I have not been able to do anything, it’s political.
Amebo: but you are in the political setup?
Solaja: the power is beyond me and I don’t want to gamble into such.
Amebo: loans are been sorted for approval by the state executive arm, how has the assembly been able to ensure these loans doesn’t subject generations to come into payment of debt, considering that the assembly have been nomenclated as rubber stamping?
Solaja: I am not a friend of the Governor because he sees me as an opposition, which I don’t regret. People will not appreciate what we have done or what we are doing. On the issue of the controversial 10lanes counterpart funding, I would have love that the 10lanes is for my constituency, I’m not against Abeokuta but the timing for the project is wrong. The 65b is already in the budget years before now but the funds were not there. We have opportunity in the budget for excess in case of emergency (lay man talking),their is a provision for that, so it is there already. Whatvi don’t understand is why he is just thinking of it now, its not as if its in the present budget. Their is an approve amount for emergency need which the Governor is just tapping into. The Governor have is way, if for me I’m asked to comment, I’ll say NO! to it. That same amount if invested in agriculture, industries etc, would go along way. Life is difficult and somebody is constructing roads, the people won’t be happy. Like the bridge in Okelewo, I parked one day and was counting cars plying it, I was like this is not needed at that time. We have apoje farm in ijebu Igbo if it received just 1billion l, will feed thousands of people; at a time a kerg of palm oil sold for 20,000 what factor is processing its produce,none! Convert the bridge spendings into apoje project, do you know how many people will be employed? I’m not against road construction but the timing is wrong on that I will never be a rubber stamp. I don’t need any favour from the governor. I speak my mind either is is heeded or not. The 65b was not even debated because it had already been in the years budget, we were actually waiting for it until we realized that even most of my APC colleague frowned at it in honesty.
Amebo: What is your relationship with Prince Buruji Kashamu of present, how did you meet him and why DIS he believe in you.
Solaja: before politics it was business relationship. He was importing cement and we were a major distributor but now it is more of Father to Son relationship. Coming to know me as a person was divine as I told you earlier. I had every opportunity to envy my sibling but I was very supportive and it was that, that led to driving her down for the meeting which made Buruji see me as a protem candidate at that time. Infact I don’t remember I greeted Prince Buruji Kashamu that day.
Amebo: the Makaffi faction at a time expelled you and Prince Buruji Kashamu out of the party, how did yountake it and now that your faction has been declared the authentic?
Solaja: in honesty I’m not happy either ways. Its sad to see friends becoming foes because of minor issues that later escalated. This has taught me a lesson; your enemy today can be your friend vis-à-vis. Its sad to see Hon Ladi Adebutu fighting Prince Kashamu who was the one that brought him to political limelight via the ticket. If they fail to come together, we won’t achieve anything. I have appealed to the followers of Adebutu to shreat the sword. Even if wants to govern the state, he needs the our faction to help make up for his vote. I’m not saying Prince can do it alone but I’m aware Kashamu has stretch a hand of fellowship many times. A while ago Sen Ben Murray Bruce set up a meeting at Baba Ijebu’s house in Lagos, Sen Buruji though reluctantly went there but he did and he pointed out why things are the way it is. On leaving the meeting the social media crusaders of Hon Adebutu put it everywhere that Kashamu has gone to Baba Ijebu to beg for money again, who will hear that and not go angry. Before the court judgement, they both agreed that whoever the case favour will accommodate the other and toe the same line. Now they say they are heading to Supreme court breaching their agreement. You can imagine that simply because it didn’t favour them. My personal view is that this faction tussle is between Sen Prince Buruji Kashamu and Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti not even Ladi Adebutu. If they can settle those two, I can guarantee that their will be peace in PDP.
Amebo: On the last note, do you think PDP will take over from.APC in Ogun State?
Solaja: with the present situation, I’ll say NO!
Amebo: 2019, who would you support between ijebu agenda and yewa agenda?
Solaja: for me o, I’ll Support Ijebu Agenda o.
Amebo: even if your party presents yewa Candidate?
Solaja: hmmm, party is supreme and must be obeyed but I’ll prefer an Ijebu Governorship Candidate.
Amebo: do you see SPBK contesting?
Solaja: he has told me No,but if Buruji decides to I will wholeheartedly support him fully. I have asked him this, that what is the reason for the empowerment here and there and wooing of politicians into the camp, he simply said he doing that because he loves empowering people not just Ogun State people alone. So if he says Yes today, believe me he has a good heart and will support him with every humanly possible means. If Sen Lekan Mustapha also wishes, I will support him even if it is Hon Commissioner Bimbo Ashiru, I will gladly do. That’s pointing of my live for Ijebu. In Yewa, if it is GNI good, if its Akinlade, bravo and even if it is YAYI, I will because nobody knows where the pendulum is swinging.
Amebo: what’s your relationship with the speaker and how do you feel about his governorship aspiration?
Solaja: I know the speaker,I know his ability, we are not all born to be loud or noisy but I’m sure he is preforming. He has one quality I always admire in him and I think we need that kind of person in our polity, no matter how bad a situation is or the crises at hand, he knows how to douse tension. He knows when to say sorry and applaud you when need be. It has been what has been has been sustaining the assembly. He is very young in his late 30s, and he has been in charge, believe me he is enviable and he is in charge.
Amebo: Distinguishe Honourable thank you for your timea and we do hope to have you when need arise.
Solaja: let me tell you my brother, you are doing a great job through your platform and I can assure you my doors are opened. Thank you too.