Interviews, Politics

‘Life has taught me so many things’ – HON. OLUMUYIWA WAHAB JIMOH @ 40

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HON. Olumuyiwa Wahab Jimoh is a member of Lagos House of Assembly representing Apapa constituency II.  He is certainly one of the most vibrant members of assembly going by his contributions to debates and issues on the floor of the hallow chamber .He is also one the youngest among the 40 member assembly. He turned 40 on Thursday, October 2, 2014. He spoke with Encomium Weekly on this milestone, the lessons that life has taught him and his experience in the hallow chamber of Lagos House of Assembly.

 

How do you feel turning 40?

I feel just the way I will feel about any other day though, it is a landmark in one’s life. I feel happy, I give glory to God for preserving me till now.

What would you say you are grateful to God for turning 40?

A lot of things, is it the fresh air that I breathe or the birds that flies around?  He made them all. It is sufficient for me to give glory to Almighty God for all these things. I am also grateful to Him for all vicissitude of life that I have passed through particularly, during my formative age till now.

What was growing up like for you?

I came from a humble and average family background.  I came from a community where people don’t expect anything good to come out from.  I grew up in that community and now I am representing that community. I need to give gratitude to God on that.

Which community are you referring to?

Badia-Ijora, Sari-Iganmu community. The way it is painted to the world you will think nothing good can come out of there. I am a good example of the products from that community.

Did you do all your schooling within the community?

Yes of course, except when I left for University of Ibadan, Ibadan to study.

Which schools did you attend there?

St. Theresa Primary School and Marine Beach Primary School. I also attended Tin Can Island High School, Tolu Schools Complex.

jimoh (1)Was it difficult for you growing up in such society?

It was not difficult for me, I also survived within the area. You know society is a contradiction of so many things. It was (Karl) Marx in the preface of his book, Contribution to Critique of Political Economy that said, “It is not your consciousness that determine your social existence but your social existence determine your consciousness.”  What Marx was saying in essence is that, there are circumstances that determine the person you are. Circumstances of birth, the environment in which you come from and the parental orientation. These are the three factors that will determine who you are -your consciousness, spirituality and the totality of your personality as a person. So within the confine of my own society I was able to go beyond the social contradictions that determine whatever the majority is doing that is what I will do.

How easy was it for you to do that?

Parental orientation, regular monitoring from the parents and relatives who are older than us.

When would you say was your happiest moment of your 40 years of existence?

That probably was the day I had my first child and the day I got the ticket to represent the party in the House of Assembly. I have been on it since 2007 and in 2011, my name was already on the list only for me to hear later that it has been removed. But as God would have it, the person who was given the ticket was elevated to the House of Representatives and my name was restored back on the list. It was certainly a happy day for me.

When would you say was your saddest moment of your life?

When my mother died on June 6, 1994 and she was buried immediately. I didn’t get to hear about it until June 13 or 14. I was in school then and was sitting for an exam. The family felt I should not be disturbed because of my exam but I felt they should have postponed the burial. Burying a Muslim immediately after death is not a Quranic injunction rather it is Sharia. Sharia is Islamic jurisprudence. I felt she should have been embalmed for those few days.

You must have been very close to your mother?

I was very close to her. The day I lost my dad too was another saddest day of my life. That was on January 15, 2001.

What lessons of life would you say you have learnt at 40?

Life has taught me so many things. Life has taught me to be patient, to be calm, to be tough with tough people and to be gentle with gentle people when it is necessary.

A lot of people take you for an intellectual from the way you debate on the floor of the House. When would you say your path and that of partisan politics crossed each other?

The reality on the ground shows that we need more intellectuals in government, otherwise, it is mediocres that will take over and whatever decision made by the mediocres would be binding on the intellectuals. Some people even say politics is a dirty game but as far I am concerned any game at all except of course, gambling is a good game. Politics to me is the only way through which society can be changed to satisfy the larger percentage of the people. That is utilitarianism, the theory of doing good to a larger portion of people.  If you are not in politics, if you are not part of the decision making organs of the polity to contribute your own quota, your view may be the best but it won’t carry much weight.

So, we need scholars to come into politics. Henry Kissinger was a scholar but he became one of the best American Secretary of State.  He told the Americans not to go to the Vietnam war, they did not listen to him and they paid dearly for it.

When did partisan politics start for you?

It started right from my student days at University of Ibadan. I was in the Central Working Committee of National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS). I served at University of Ibadan as the deputy speaker of the Student Union. I coordinated the CDHR in Oyo State as the Secretary General. All of these before I contested for House Assembly seat from my constituency (Apapa 2) in 2007, I did not win. In 2011, I tried again and I won.

How then will you describe the experience in the last three years and more?

It has been interesting and has enhanced my own understanding of the contradiction in the formation of a state. If you are an academic or a professor when you come to the House of Assembly you will have to start afresh. This is the reason why the Speaker deemed it fit to organise the seminars and workshops both at home and abroad for us. It afforded us to meet with people that have been in the legislature for more than two decades to share their experience with us.

Certainly, I have learnt and gained a lot in the short time that I have been here but I still want to learn more to be able to achieve my dream of contributing my own quota to the legislative growth of not only Lagos but Nigeria as whole.

What will you say you like about politics?

If you want to make any meaningful contribution to human development politics is the key. If you have an idea the best way to sell it is through politics.

What is it that you don’t like about politics?

Campaign of calumny. What does not come into existence they manufacture it.  When you are a politician and you are accused of anything a lot of people assume it is true.  I will cite the case of the Honourable Speaker at Federal High Court by Justice Buba.  If you look at the logical sequence, the premise of the argument down to the conclusion it was a celebrated judgement, a landmark judgement that need to be published not just in the dailies but as a booklet for law and social science students for consumption.  There are a lot of blackmailing going on in politics. I have had one or two direct experience.

When and where did you meet your wife?

We met in school.

Which school?

University of Ibadan. We met in 1996.

What did she study?

She read Economics.

What will you say attracted you to her?

She was pretty.

When did you eventually marry her?

That was in 2009.

That means you courted for 13 years, waoh!  That was a long courtship.

Yes.

How many children has the marriage been blessed with?

Two, a female and a male.

 

–               TOLANI ABATTI

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