The Soft spoken former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Senator Adeleke Olorunnimbe Mamora who recently turned sixty year old, spoke to Adedayo Adejobi, at his Magodo, Lagos residence on life outside politics, the Nigerian legislature and the rise in insecurity as well as growing up and family
Few years ago he stepped down instead of contesting for a second term in office on the grounds of party supremacy in order to ensure peace and stability within the party. Mamora owes his decision to forget the past and has since moved on to the future. “Let’s forget and not brood over the past. The important thing is that I am a happy person and focusing on the present and the future.’’
Describing life outside active politics and the paraphernalia of office he once enjoyed: “Like I have always said, I am a professional in politics and not a professional politician, and so my medical practice is still very relevant. Politics remains engaging, though I am still into it. In addition to that, I have been privileged to be invited as guest speaker, keynote speaker or resource person on issues, which particularly have to deal with legislature and civil development, both within and outside the shores of Nigeria.’’
Assessing the present crop of the legislators, Mamora re-inflated his sizeable frame with a grunt before churning out these words: ‘‘well, the legislature is gradually getting to be what it ought to be. I am saying that in terms of the fact that there is still a small gap in terms of what people think the legislature should be, as opposed to what the legislature stands for and what it really is. I always say that the legislature is the least developed for obvious reasons. The years of military intervention, which negatively affected the growth of legislature along with the two other arms of government. Because each time the military came into the scene, that arm of government was put under lock and key. As a result of this, the legislature has remained the most misconstrued, most mis-represented and most misunderstood arm of government.”
Mamora continued: ‘‘but gradually, the legislature is beginning to assert itself because it’s beginning to let people know that it defines democracy. Yes, there is still much to be done, in terms of meeting the expectations of the people, in terms of the rules of legislation, which include representation, oversight, consensus building and lawmaking. So in terms of these, the expectations are still high, justifiably so. Again, we seem to do more in terms of the quality of legislators at the State and national levels. When you compare the National assembly and the state legislature, the National Assembly is far ahead especially in terms of winning its independence, focus more on what is expected of it as the National assembly.’’
Lamenting the travails of the lawmakers, Olorunimbe said: “Unfortunately the legislature at the state level is not exactly what it should be. They are still tied as it were to the apron strings of the respective Governors of the state. It is not the same at the state level. At the state level, you still have over-bearing attitude of Governors and Godfathers. To a large extent it’s been difficult for legislators at the state level to really assert it self and be independent as it is expected, that’s my assessment”.
He goes down memory lane citing an example: ‘‘For instance if you look at the last constitutional amendment to ensure the independence of the state assembly that was passed at the National level, but was rejected at the state level. If you ask me, that was a real disaster because of the overbearing attitude of the government.’’
Lashing at the Legislators in a rather subtle but convincing tone, especially on their role on what he terms a seeming disaster, Mamora said: ‘‘Don’t forget that the quality of legislators still leaves much to be desired. With due respect, if you still have the legislature at the state level populated by “yes men”, people who don’t have that independence of mind, it would be difficult. They have been so subjugated that they cannot show that independence of mind as to query some certain things in the interest of the people.
“The primary purpose of the legislature is proper representation. The legislature is ear and eye of the people, and must be seen to give effect to their yearnings and aspiration. I can’t see that happening particularly at the state level,” he stressed.
Reacting to a purported rift between him and Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, Mamora said, “He is my Leader. Beyond that, we are friends. I appreciate his friendship and leadership. As a matter of fact, the day I turned sixty, he was here with his wife to congratulate me. So we get on well. There is no rift between Asiwaju Tinubu and I. They are just spurious allegations”
Fielding question on the present insecurity in the country, Mamora said “It is rather unfortunate that we have found ourselves in this kind of situation. If you look at Section 14 of the 1999 Constitution, it is clear that security and welfare shall be the primary purpose of government. What it means is that a government that cannot provide security and welfare for the people is not worth being called a government. These things did not just start in one day, as the insecurity that we now suffer in the land started gradually, but we failed to nip it in the bud.
“And before our own eyes, it has become a monster now threatening to consume us all. Everybody is worried because of the effect on the polity, business and the economy. Nigeria cannot have meaningful progress under an atmosphere of panic and insecurity, as investors cannot invest. So it is the primary responsibility of government to provide security and welfare for the people. It is the primary and not absolute responsibility of the government, so every Nigerian also has a duty to come up with information that will help the security agencies to apprehend culprits or nip the activities in the bud, as security is everybody’s business.
“The Nigerian citizen has a responsibility to come up with information that will help the security agencies apprehend culprits or nip the activities in the bud. But to be able to achieve that, the people have to repose confidence in the security agencies. When people are afraid and unsafe going to the security agencies to make useful reports, more so when his or her identity will be revealed, they’ll rather keep quiet.’’ There has to be confidence building between the security agencies and the citizenry,” he added.
“We need to increase our security surveillance and intelligence gathering. There is need to fund the security agencies more in terms of gadgets and security equipments. There is also need for training and re-training of security personnel, Inter-agency Corporation, collaboration with national regional and international bodies. They all need to exchange information. We also need to look at the justice administration system, not too long the National assembly came in to look at existing look as regards terrorism act, with a view to possibly repealing and/or amending, because the society is dynamic and in the same manner laws are dynamic.”
He was born to late Chief F.A Mamora and Deaconess Mamora, both, who were prominent teachers, Christians and community leaders. “I had my early education at the Baptist Day School, Ijebu-ode while my secondary education was at the Ijebu-ode Grammar School. I spent one year at the Federal School of Science Lagos before proceeding to the University of Ife to train a s a medical doctor in 1974. I graduated in 1981 with the Bachelor of Science, health sciences, Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS).’’
Following his houseman ship, at the State Hospital, Abeoukuta, Mamora was posted to Lagos for NYSC, which he completed in 1983. He then worked with May Clinics Groups as a Medical Officer for four years and thereafter established his private medical firm, Nimbus Medical Centre. He also served as the Company Medical Adviser to Cadbury Plc Lagos from 1988 till 1992.
“However, my political activism started in my medical school days when I was elected the financial secretary of the University of Ife Students Union in 1976. I also served as a member of the University’s student representative council along (now) Governor Olusegun Mimiko and Mr Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN. On leaving school, I continued my political activism until 1999 when I was elected into the Lagos State House of Assembly under the platform of the Alliance for Democracy, representing Kosofe constituency and was later subsequently elected the Speaker at the inauguration of the House.’’