Mojisola Labat Lawal is the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for Apapa Constituency I seat in the Lagos House of Assembly on Saturday, April 11, 2015, Governor and House of Assembly election. The Computer Analyst, who is also the younger sister of Prince Gbolahan Lawal, the Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture and Cooperative, spoke to ENCOMIUM Weekly on her chances at the forthcoming elections and more…
We want to start by congratulating you for winning the primary election of your constituency (Apapa I).
How did it go?
It was a bit tough because I actually contested with an incumbent member of Lagos State House of Assembly, so it was not a child’s play.
To what would you attribute your victory over an incumbent?
May be because I am actually the very first female to aspire to such a position in my constituency. So, that may have given me the leverage. Also, being a young woman added to the whole picture.
How did the incumbent take your victory?
He accepted it in good spirit of sportsmanship.
He didn’t complain your brother, Prince Gbolahan Lawal, Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture and Cooperative probably influenced your victory?
You can’t rule that out. Of course, people will say all sorts of things but he was there and saw the whole process was very transparent.
Was he the only one you defeated?
No. There were three other aspirants. We were four.
But you were the only female?
No. Two females and two males.
How has it been on the electioneering campaign field?
It hasn’t been easy. This is my first time of contesting an elective position. So, it has not been easy. But, I thank God. God has been good. People have been supportive. It’s been quite interesting too.
How big is your constituency?
Like in most constituencies, there are five wards. So, I don’t think there is much difference from others.
Apapa is a combination of the elite and masses. How easy has it been convincing the elite to vote for you?
Before now, I was a Supervisor for Health, Apapa Local Government Council. Thank God for the good work of the immediate past council chairman. He did very well in terms of providing infrastructure within Apapa.
So, that was a platform for me to ride on. It was easy for me to connect and relate with the elite in Apapa. That is basically the GRA residents. We grew up together.
Which of the other contestants do you think will give you a tough time on election day?
I don’t see anyone of them giving me a tough time.
Not even the contestant from PDP?
Why do you think so?
Because he claimed to be an Apapa boy but what are his antecedents in Apapa before now? I started from the grassroots. I didn’t just come. I have been there. I relate with my people very well. I am not just coming from nowhere.
Don’t you nurse the fear that people could change their minds about him and he would emerge the winner?
It is not possible. I know the ground work I have done so far and I am still doing it.
Would you say the election postponement was a blessing or a curse?
To me, it was more or less a curse, because you end up spending more, more energy and what have you.
Like how much has it added to your expenditure?
Nobody can really account for that anyway. Before, we were spending in terms of empowering people, influencing people one way or the other.
Can you give us the conservative estimate of what you have spent so far on this electioneering campaign?
It is not possible because it is not something you pick up pen to start jotting. If you do that, it means you will be limiting yourself. There are so many expenses that were not recorded. I don’t think that is possible.
Or is it that you don’t want people to know how many millions of naira you have spent?
I have been spending for the people of Apapa on so many programmes and I am still doing that. Before election, I have been on ground doing one programme or the other.
Tell us more about yourself, your family background and so on…
I was born in Lagos. My father was the late Ojora of Lagos. I was born and bred in Ijora. I started life there. That is my village. I attended Randle Avenue Primary School, Surulere, Lagos; Anglican Girls Grammar School and Ansar-ur-Deen Secondary School, Surulere. I moved on to NIIT for a software engineering programme. I also attended LASU where I read Public Administration.
When were you born?
I was born on August 8, 1980.
Are you married?
Yes, legally married.
His name is John Paul Meranda.
What is he doing and does he support your political ambition?
He is a civil servant. Yes, he supports it.
When did you get married?
December 24, 2014.
Has the marriage been blessed with any issue?
What is your relationship with Prince Gbolahan Lawal, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Cooperative in Lagos State?
He is actually my elder brother.
Of the same father and mother?
Who are your other siblings?
I am from a very large family. I am the last child of my mom. I have a younger sister from my dad. The Ojora family is very large.
What has been your brother’s contribution to your political campaign?
He has been supportive in terms of encouragement and words of advice.
If you win, what would you say prepared you to be a lawmaker? Do you have any experience in legislative matters?
Not really. But I don’t think one needs experience to care for people or to feel what a commoner on the street feels because it is a normal life that I live every day. I know what is happening around me. So, I don’t think I need experience on that. All I want to do is to represent my people and I know I will not disappoint.
Do you actually feel what the common man on the street feels? You have a privileged background?
You are right. I would not paint a picture of someone who did not have shoes or deprived of basic things of life while growing up. The fact that I come from a privileged background does not mean I don’t know what goes on around me. Don’t forget that I told you I attended public schools and I related with a lot of people both within the school premises and outside. People come into my father’s palace to lodge one complain or the other.
If for one reason or the other the election is shifted, what will you do?
Nothing. We just talk to our people and supporters to be calm and continue as much as possible not to be violent. I know that one day the people’s voice will prevail.
– TOLANI ABATTI