Olaitan Akinwunmi was the APC candidate in the Bye-election of Saturday, December 3, 2016, in Ifako-Ijaiye local government area. The Bye-election was conducted to fill the vacant seat created by the sudden death of Hon. Elijah Adewale at the House of Representatives.
Mr. Akinwunmi, won the Bye-election by 7,652 votes to 1,736 by his PDP counterpart. There were insinuations that the low turnout at the poll on that day was because Mr. Akinwunmi was not the popular choice of the APC members in Ifako-Ijaiye federal constituency. That he was imposed by Governor Raufu Aregbesola of Osun state.
Hon. Akinwunmi who has since been sworn-in by Speaker, Yakubu Dogara denied such insinuation in this interview. He told ENCOMIUM Weekly more about himself…
What would you attribute your victory at the poll to?
First and foremost, I have to give thanks to the leaders of our party, starting from Jagaban of Africa, Asiwaju Tinubu, for the confidence imposed in me. He is followed by His Excellency, the resourceful, governor of Lagos State, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, our Senator Adeola Yayi ni joo, party chairman in Lagos State, Barrister Oladele Ajomale and all the party leaders at the state and local government levels with no exception, all those who came out to vote and those who did not vote. I am representing all the people of Ifako-Ijaiye Federal Constituency.
Are you not worried that the turnout during election was very low? Just 9,000 votes out of 300,000 plus registered voters in the local government?
I am not worried because it is a bye-election and a lot of people are not familiar with the concept of bye-election. We did a lot of job to get even those who came out to vote. Before they came out to vote, it was not easy. They were asking us what the election was all about. They were looking forward to 2019.
We would have recorded lower turn-out if not because of the hard work the APC did to convince the people to come out to vote.
Two, there was no restriction of movement. People were going about with their daily activities. Some people went to work while others went on with daily businesses and nobody could stop them from doing that. So, those two reasons are responsible for the low turnout.
Some people are of the opinion that the low turn-out was because of the fact that even members did not like your choice as the APC representative in the local government area. That sort of delayed the campaign of your party before the election. What is your take on this?
It was a bye-election. We had a very limited time to prepare. In general election, the gap between election day and campaign period is usually a year or more. But in this case, after our primary, we started our campaign. INEC time table was very tight.
We worked tirelessly every day after the primary to achieve what we achieved. That is basically the reason for the low turnout.
Some of your party members were of the opinion that you were imposed on them by Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State. That the turnout at the poll would have been higher if the party candidate had been one of popular aspirants in the LG. What do you say to this?
I don’t know whether those people saying that know the meaning of imposition. Can you talk of imposition when a primary election was conducted? There was a primary election, my dear brother. You can ask your colleagues who covered the primary election.
Primary election was duly held and INEC and other stakeholders were present. It was keenly contested primary election.
In what way do you think you will do better than the late Hon. Jah Adewale?
I have my own time. This is my own time. I intend to give the people of Ifako-Ijaiye Federal Constituency the best of my time.
Sir, can you tell us your political antecedent?
I was with Afenifere and started with Alliance for Democracy (AD) at inception. Later AD metamorphosed into Action Congress (AC), from AC to ACN and now to APC.
Between 1999 and 2002, I was the secretary to local government of Ifako-Ijaiye. I was also the Director Media and Publicity, Independent Campaign Group (ICG) (the campaign organization that brought Asiwaju Bola Tinubu for his second term in 2003) between 2008 and 2011, I was again appointed the secretary to the local government of Ifako-Ijaiye.
Can you tell us about your education background?
My primary education was at St. John’s, Molete, Ibadan. My secondary school was at Ibadan Grammar School, Molete, Ibadan. My university education was at University of Ife, where I bagged a 2nd class upper in Philosophy. My second degree was from University of Lagos, Akoka, where I bagged Msc degree in Industrial Relations and Personal Managements.
I also have a post graduate diploma in Public Relations/Advertising at NIJ, Ogba, Lagos.
- TOLANI ABATI