Hon. Tunde Braimoh, a member of Lagos House of Assembly and former Chairman of Kosofe Local Government Council turned 55 on September 30, 2015 just few hours short of sharing his birthday with Nigeria’s independence celebration.
ENCOMIUM Weekly met with the lawyer turned politician in his office at Lagos House of Assembly, Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja, where he told us the story of his 55 years of existence and why he left law for politics.
How do you feel turning 55?
I feel good and thank God. Glory be to God for keeping me well, healthy, in good spirit and making progress in my endeavours. I think I have every cause to thank God for His mercies.
Are you sure you can still do some of the things you did in your 20s, 30s and 40s?
There is nothing I have been doing that I will not be able to do. Honestly, except something that I curb may be, out of appropriateness or decency or religious inclination that is growing more these days. Other than that, there is nothing that I wish to do that I cannot do.
When will you considered the happiest moment of your 55 years existence?
I like to take every day as my happiest moment irrespective of whatever it brings. There is no spectacular day or moment that I treat as the happiest moment of my life. Happiness is not all about what you exhibit or exude, it is what you feel inside of you. It is an inborn spirit to me.
But isn’t there something that happened in your life that made you extremely happy?
I thank God for everything that He has done in my life. Probably, I would have been bigger or better than what I am today, but I am still very grateful to God for existence and for what He has done in my life. I think the only thing that makes me very happy is my believe and outlook. It may be self confidence and people may mistake it for conceit or arrogance. It’s a kind of belief in myself, a kind of unputdownable spirit that I have. I think it is my belief or my innate. The innate Tunde Braimoh is that I don’t get intimidated or get scared by anybody’s status or whatever or whoever you think you are. So, the self confidence, belief in myself to express myself, to do my things my own way. God has been kind, I have the wherewithal to manage my little life the way I want. I don’t go about begging or borrowing. I think that is what makes me happy most.
What then will you consider the saddest moment of your life?
There have been many sadness in my life but there has never been an extreme case. Because, I believe that everything has been preordained. As a Muslim, if something happens to you and you are not careful about the way you react to it, you will incur more wrath from God. Because when the good things happen to you it is not because you are smart or you know how to do it better than other people, it is because God has favoured you at that time of your life. So, when bad things or misfortunes happen, don’t blame anybody or be sad. Take it in your stride. I hate it when people say why me, when something sad happens to them. Who should it have been? You cannot question God. What is the special thing about you? Whatever happens to you, you should not stop praising God.
I have lost money. A bank had once collapsed -Fortune Bank, taken all money. I thought I was going to die. I didn’t have any money any more. That was my life savings, including proceeds from a sale of landed property. I was trying to put money together to go into a venture and everything went like that. The amount was so big that time. But today I have made about five or six times of that amount. So, you will just get back.
Unfortunately, when I have such problems, I hardly have people that can stand by me and I like to play that role for other people. I like to be friendliest when the person is at his lowest ebb. But most of the time, most of the friends that knew I had that problem ran away, believing that I will start begging them for money. Thank God I didn’t have to beg for money. God is kind. Though some people too helped me one way or the other to get back because I didn’t have anything on me. The bank just went down with all my savings. I was into quarry business that time. God has said that is not my own way. Since then I always ask God to show me the way. Because we don’t know where the pitfalls are in life. The sadness and joys of life are mixed together . Life is not a complete bed of thorns nor is it complete bed of roses either.
As a politician, when I lose election or lose attempts to elevate myself into political office and I fail, I feel very sad. Because most of the time such things bruise your ego, apart from the money you have spent. It makes people who are ordinarily behind you to become your boss. That is why I thank God for the innate confidence that He has given me.
You were born on September 30, 1960, just a day before Nigeria’s independence. Will you say you missed sharing your birthday with Nigeria?
It’s about the same time. I like my own day (September 30) because, there is always a holiday the following day. So, those who come to my house to felicitate with me can eat, drink and enjoy themselves to any length because there is a holiday the following day.
Apart from being a politician you are also a lawyer. Did you ever practise as a lawyer?
Yes, I did. From 1989 to 1999, I did not do any other work except court room litigation. For those 10 years, I was doing nothing but actual court room litigation. By the time I was six months at the bar, my former boss had confidence in me that I was already handling cases in court. I was already doing substantive things like trial at six months and by the time I was two years, I was doing cases at the Appeal Courts. God bless my former boss wherever he is. What he taught me then and the opportunities he gave me, made me who I am today. I practised for 10 years before I joined politics and became chairman of a local government in 1999. After I left local government chairmanship, I practised law again before I came back to full stream politics again.
Have you now left law for good to face politics?
No, no, my chamber is there and I have people there too.
You’ve been a lawyer and a politician, given the choice, which one will you prefer most?
Naturally, I will still prefer my law but God says I will be a politician. Politics is wider than law. Politics is humanity. It’s not a subject. It is life itself. You see politics everywhere, in your matrimonial home, with your wife and children, with your friends, etc. It’s just that Nigerian politicians made it worse because Nigerian politics is too pecuniary. It’s all about money, not about principle, not about love, appropriateness and capacity to serve. But I think that we are getting there. Buhari is there today not because of his money but because of the confidence and trust that people repose in him. A lot of things are changing. It’s no longer business as usual anymore. Now merit is coming in. Some appointments are taking natural turns. Before now some appointments are reserved for politicians, but right now appointments are being made outside the box.
So, what will you say you like about politics?
It is the flamboyance. Naturally, I am a flamboyant person. That is one of the reason I chose to be a lawyer. I like the way lawyers always dress. Always in suit, tie and wig. I like to be decently dressed. I have always liked it. I will not feel complete if I don’t dress well. Politics also offers me that opportunity to dress the way I like. I can wear anything I like, be it agbada or aso oke or Kente. I can use a swagger stick to create a style for myself in politics. I also like the comradeship that politics offers too. Politicians could be comrade like if they want to be as long as their interest is not tampered with. Most of the time when you are contesting an election, you make little efforts and people make most of the efforts. That is politics for you. Some people do posters for you. Some people bring money for you. Some go out of their way to do things for you. When you are sleeping they are working when they believe in that interest. Those things are lovable in politics.
What is it you don’t like about politics?
The subterfuge, the deceit, the chicanery, the shenanigan, a lot of it, especially in Nigeria politics.
How will you describe your experience in the last four months as a member of Lagos House of Assembly?
The experience has been intriguing and challenging because, it is a new thing entirely. You know, I have an executive background and I am just turning to be a legislator. Legislature is a different ball game from the executive. As an executive chairman, I was used to swift and quick decision. Although I was being checkmated by the legislature, the truth is that the bulk stopped on my table. But this is different.
One, I am just an ordinary member here. Two, this is a 40-member house where you have to lobby other members before they key into your idea. No matter how good your idea is, if you cannot persuade your colleagues to buy into it, it will fail big time. You have to have this camaraderie and understanding with your colleagues. It’s a mutual respect. So far so good, I’m enjoying it. It’s another phase. Here responsibility is collective. Decisions are collective too. When I was chairman (of a LG), I was always worrying that, if anything goes wrong, the whole blame will be put on me. Right now, it’s a collective thing. The glory here is shared and the blame is shared too.
- TOLANI ABATTI