HON. Mudashiru Ajayi Obasa is one of the high ranking members of Lagos House of Assembly. He has been a member of the legislative body since 2003. Presently, he is the Chairman, House Committee on Economic Planning and Budget. The law graduate turned 42 on Tuesday, November 11, 2014.
ENCOMIUM Weekly interviewed the young man on his birthday and many other issues, including why he wants to return to the Assembly for the fourth time.
How do you feel turning 42?
I don’t feel any different from when I was 32. I still believe I am young physically, mentally and at heart. I feel this same normal way that I have been feeling since I became an adult. I owe thanks to Almighty Allah for taking me this far.
Yes, of course. But because of my position now, there are certain things I cannot do anymore. But physically and otherwise, I still do the same things.
What will you say you are grateful to God for turning 42?
As a Muslim, it is incumbent on us to always give thanks to Almighty Allah because our waking up every day is a favour from Allah, which deserves your appreciation. If one also looks at one’s background and where one is today, it is also an opportunity for you to glorify His name. All in all, one must continue to thank the Almighty Allah for everything He has done in your life.
Apart from Almighty Allah, I am also very grateful to my parents who did not only give birth to me but guided me aright till I reached adulthood.
What was growing up like for you?
It was not a privileged one, no doubt about that but a peaceful one. I attended public primary school such as St. Thomas Auquinas, Surulere, Mushin from where I joined LGA Orile Agege Primary School. I started my secondary school in Saka Tinubu Memorial High School, Orile Agege and finished at Archbishop Aggrey Memorial Secondary School, Mushin, because I was booted out of Saka Tinubu Memorial High School, Orile Agege, for indiscipline.
I thank God that when I passed out from Archbishop Aggrey, It was in flying colours. I had a break in my education between the time I left secondary school and when I gained admission into Lagos State University, Ojo to study Law.
When will you say was the happiest moment of your life?
I won’t lie to you, each time I contest an election and I win has always been a moment of joy and happiness for me. I started in 1999 when I contested as a councilor in Agege Local Government Council to 2003 when I contested an election into the House of Assembly and to 2011, when I contested for the third time into the House of Assembly.
Each time I help people in distress or put smile on people’s faces, I feel happy that I am touching people’s lives. There was an instance someone told another person to seek assistance from me and that person turned out to be an old colleague in one of the places I worked before going back to school. My joy knew no bounds that day when the old colleague turned up in my office and told me someone had recommended me to him. I felt happy because the little assistance one is providing to people is not going unnoticed.
Another moment of happiness was when I had my first son. There are so many happy moments in one’s life particularly if Allah has been kind to you like He has done to me.
When would you say is your saddest moment?
I think when I lost my mom.
When was that?
That was in 1989. I was still in Archbishop Aggrey. A cousin of mine who was in University of Benin just walked into my classroom. When I saw him, I knew something terrible had happened.
Are you the only son she had?
But you were very close to her?
Not really, but sometimes you don’t know how close you are to someone until you lose that person.
When did your path and that of partisan politics cross?
It all started during the zero party option of General Babangida, when we as youngsters were canvassing votes for a particular candidate in Agege. We were also deeply involved in the Babangida SDP/NRC two party structure at the local government level. Although our candidate didn’t win the LG election. Again, during late General Sani Abacha’s era, I was in UNCP where I emerged the party’s chairman for Alagba, Agege. I was also a member of the Ward exco when it was created. When (Enoch) Ajiboso was contesting for the LG chairman on the platform of UNCP, I was his campaign chairman in our ward. When we started the AD (Alliance for Democracy), I contested as a councilor and I won. That certainly was the turning point in my political career. In 2003, I contested for the House of Assembly primary and I won. From then, the second, third term also joined.
And the fourth term is about to come?
Insha Allah, it will come.
Since 2003 that you have been a member of the House of Assembly, how will you describe your experience, so far?
It has been enormous and I don’t look forward to be any other thing than a legislator. I started as a councilor, now I am in the House of Assembly, I look forward to the House of Representatives and the Senate. By that time, I would have completed the whole legislative structure in Nigeria.
The power of any government lies with the legislative arm. The governor cannot spend money without the approval of the legislators. The legislators can remove the governor. The legislators have the power to summon anybody. That is why the issue of experience comes in. If the legislators are not experienced, they can set the whole state on fire because you need to tread carefully atimes. If a government succeeds it is the legislators that made it work.
Not too far ago, we witnessed what happened in Ogun State where there was crisis. They couldn’t move forward. In Oyo Stat, the same thing happened.
So, it is all about the parliament. When you talk about governance, it happens in the parliament. There is no place you cannot walk into as a legislator, most especially in your constituency. I have come to love the parliament so much. It opens your eyes into so many areas of governance except you are the lazy type. Thank God I am also part of House of Assembly that has been adjudged the most vibrant in the country.
When would be considered your best moment in the House of Assembly in the last 11 years plus?
That is very difficult for me to answer but I will say I enjoy my time as the Chairman, House Committee on Economic Planning and Budget. It gives one the opportunity to have in-depth knowledge of the financial activities of the state.
When would you say was the saddest moment in the House of Assembly?
I don’t think I have had any sad moment. I am a team player and very cool headed person. All members are my friends. I have never had any problem with any member. Nobody has ever written any petition against me so that I can be investigated. I have not overstepped my bound.
For a young man like you who has been in position of power and influence for sometime now, how have you been coping with the opposite sex who are likely to be throwing themselves at you?
I have a family and I enjoy my family very well. So, there is no cause for me to look elsewhere.
Talking about family, we are aware that you are married to two women?
Yes, I have two wives and everything has been going on very well.
What would you say is the attraction of marrying two women?
Is there any attraction? I wouldn’t know. Let me just say that he who will have two wives, will surely have two. He who will have one, will surely not have the second one because I cannot say this is the reason. I think it is just the kind of life that has been destined to be. When you are destined to pass through certain things, it is always difficult to avoid them.
Will you say you are enjoying it?
I am not regretting it either. I thank Almighty Allah for my family.
Two women, how many children?
Yoruba ni won ki ka omo fun olomo (The Yoruba says you don’t count your children).
After three terms in the House of Assembly, where do you plan to go next?
I am coming back to the House of Assembly.
For the fourth term?
Yes, for the fourth term.
Is it also true that you are doing this because you want to be the next Speaker of the House of Assembly?
I have become so experienced in the parliament to understand the fact that selecting a Speaker is not about the people from your constituency. It is all about your peers, your colleagues and your party leaders. They are the people that determine what will happen. That does not mean I am not qualified to be the Speaker. I have acquired enough experience and education to be a Speaker. If I am chosen there is no problem about that, it is not out of radar. If it is possible, why not? But it is not the main reason I want to come back to the House for the fourth time.
That one is selected as the Speaker does not make you the leader of the House. There are some leaders already in the House that you will need to work hand in hand with to ensure stability and progress of the House. For me, I would have loved to go to the House of Representatives. I have all it takes to be in the House of Representatives but the leadership of the House said some of us should stay. That is why I am coming back for the fourth time. Not necessarily to be the Speaker.