5th November, 2010
Hon. Bashir Omolaja Bolarinwa is a grassroots politician and serving member, HouseÂ of Representatives. Today, he is among the strongest contenders for the governorshipÂ of Kwara State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In thisÂ interview,Â heÂ reveals his agenda for the state. Excerpts:
You just declared your interest to run for the governorship election in Kwara State;Â how do you intend to go about it?
Well, it will be just like I did in previous elections in which I had participatedÂ and won. And since I arrived in Kwara, I have been contacting people; I have visitedÂ the 16 local government areas in the state and I can tell you that people actuallyÂ want me as their governor come 2011 and by the grace of God, I will emerge as theÂ PDPâ€™s candidate, and eventually governor of the state.
But you are new in Kwara politics and besides, you know it is a peculiar terrainÂ because of the Saraki factorâ€¦
Well, I think we should talk less about the issue of Saraki or godfatherism becauseÂ there is nowhere without a godfather in politics and there is nothing bad in thatÂ with regards to Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki. He is my leader, but he is not theÂ ultimate factor in winning an election in Kwara politics. However, I respect him.Â His anointment of his daughter as the next governor doesnâ€™t bother me because as aÂ Moslem; I believe in Allah above any man and I can say it boldly that I am not aÂ pushover in politics. I had my secondary and university education in Kwara. So, I amÂ very familiar with Kwara politics and by the grace of God, I am not going to beÂ disappointed.
Why did you join the PDP and why did you decide to shift your political base toÂ Kwara to contest for the governorship?
I believe that politics or getting to a position in a place like Lagos is moreÂ difficult than in Kwara simply because they play communal politics. You get theÂ blessing of Dr. Olusola Saraki, you are there, but I can boldly tell you that itÂ will no longer be business as usual. The reason is simply because I was drafted intoÂ the race by my people, some of whom are based in Lagos, while some are in Kwara.Â They have been following my political journey with keen interest and they are happyÂ with my progress in politics; so, they called me and requested me to come to KwaraÂ because of what I have done in Lagos â€” a non-Lagosian for that matter, to be aÂ two-term councillor, three-term council chairman and so on.
This made them happy and they so decided that I would be useful for properÂ transformation of Kwara State. Those are the reasons behind my coming to Kwara andÂ they also suggested that the platform we can use to achieve the goal is PDP, so IÂ had no choice and that was why I left AC, now ACN.
But some people are saying that you are being planted in PDP by the former governorÂ of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubuâ€¦
What is the sense in that? How can Asiwaju plant me in PDP? I donâ€™t think it isÂ reasonable because if Asiwaju planted me in PDP, it will be a minus for him becauseÂ he wants his party, the ACN to continue growing and spread across the country andÂ mind you, ACN will also have a candidate for the election in Kwara.
You said some people drafted you into the race; how will you make a difference then,Â given your preparedness for the job?
We must say the truth; how many governors can equate themselves with GovernorÂ Babatunde Fashola in terms of performance? That is what I am saying. It was myÂ performance in my previous offices in Lagos that prompted the people of Kwara StateÂ to invite me to make Kwara better. BOB is a name synonymous with performance andÂ delivery. People of Lagos supported me during my stay in Lagos, not because I amÂ most educated, not because I am the richest, but because they know that I am a manÂ that attaches importance to service.
And for them to ask me to serve in a higher capacity is a big challenge for me to doÂ more. The likesÂ of Okonjo Iweala was invited by the then President OlusegunÂ Obasanjo from the World Bank because of her performance. So the intention of thoseÂ who invited me is to showcase me as one of those God blessed Kwara with. And I amÂ also happy and prepared for the challenge and Allah will see me through theÂ elections into victory.
To what extent have you reached out to the 16 local governments in preaching yourÂ gospel of better Kwara and solicit support for your political ambition?
I am glad to inform you that I have representatives in all the 193 wards in theÂ state. My network is solid and you will discover that fact during the primaryÂ elections by the grace of God.
With endorsement of Senator Gbemisola Saraki by her father, do you think that KwaraÂ PDP executive can provide a level-playing ground for the aspirants during theÂ primary?
So far, the party executive committee is still playing an open card, more so whenÂ they have come out openly to distance the party from the endorsement of SenatorÂ Gbemisola Saraki. I have confidence in the party exco and I believe they will beÂ fair to all. However, recently when I declared my intention at my Agunji Ward, theÂ party exco decided to punish some party elders who attended the event, and I see noÂ reason for such action because we belong to the same political party.
Why should they punish a party member simply because he attended a political eventÂ organised by his political associate? To me personally, it is wrong. But my messageÂ to Kwarans is that they should rise up because we have no other state than Kwara. WeÂ should learn from what is happening in other states. Kwara has been in existenceÂ since 1967 and sadly, we cannot show anything to justify the age. We must ensureÂ that come 2011, we install a government that will bring total transformation to theÂ state so that we can move with others of our age group.