BARRISTER Olayinka David Sanni is no doubt an enigma, bestriding the mien of a colossus in his chosen career. Aside being a success story in his over two decades of law practice, De Law as he is popularly called by his friends and acquaintances; is a humanitarian extra-ordinaire. This tall, dark complexioned Ogun State born lawyer-turned politician who threads the ground with the gentle striding of a lion, knows what it feels not to have and so, he gives liberally out of the little he has. Little wonder, he is a household name in all the nook and crannies of Alimosho community, a densely populated locality in Lagos metropolis where he has lived substantial part of his life. His is currently the flag bearer of the Alliance for Democracy AD, seeking the people’s nod into the Lagos State House of Assembly to represent Alimosho Constituency 1. In this no holds barred interview with our Editor-in-chief, Albert Uba, the erudite property lawyer bares it all especially, his incursion into politics and his experiences so far, what he has in stock for his compatriots in Alimosho and how he intends to demystify the jinx of godfatherism if voted into office. Excerpts.
Let us meet you
My name is Olayinka David Sanni, I am a legal practitioner and by His grace, I have been in legal practice now for about two decades. I am a Muslim by birth but I am Christian now and it will surprise you that I am also a Parish Pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God RCCG, Mount Olive; Oluwaga in Alimosho here.
From the look of things, you are successful and fulfilled as a lawyer, why go into politics?
Well, going into politics for me was a coincident; I never knew my worth in the community I lived in until an incident happened and somebody talked me into it. I can say I am a man of many parts, as a lawyer; I am into property law as well as a transporter. I run transport business and that made me so popular in Alimosho. The popularity in question is how I relate with my drivers. I was never talked into transport business, so the more people tend to talk me down, the more I got encouraged. I am one person that does not take a no for an answer; whatever, you tell me, I would want to know why such happened. That is my person. Whenever the drivers come to deliver, I showed love to them; except you are told that I own the vehicles, you may not know because of the way we related. In most cases, when drivers come to deliver, they stay outside while the Oga, would come out and collect the money and leave. But it was not the case with me and my drivers; they come inside my house, sit down and at times especially, during the yuletide my wife cooks and we all eat and make merry. And as they are going, they get gifts of bag of rice, chicken, and of course, groundnut oil. So all manners of people were coming to drive my buses; because then I had several buses. I am one person that believes in adding value to humanity. For instance when I built this house, I discovered that the problem of residents was water, I sunk a borehole and connected the pipe and put a tapoutside for everybody to have access to water and everybody was coming at any time of the day chiefly because I have a cordial relationship with the local police here and the people always feel secured. So, at one point there was this fuel scarcity, I want to tell you how I got into politics now, the scarcity was so severe that I and about five Redeemed Pastors were in the locality looking for fuel and eventually we got to a filing station at Pako; the place was so rowdy that the Area-boys were doing what they know how to do best, throwing people’s jerry cans away. The moment one of them sighted me he started screaming, “That is the De law, that is De law”; and that was how they made way for me as if I was the President of the country. We bought fuel, filled our tanks and naturally, I won’t just go, I tucked my hands in my pocket as usual and doled out the little I had for them and they cheered. As this was going on, some of the Pastors were like, Pastor Sanni, what is going on? I only smile and told them we should leave. So while on our way home, Pastor Seyi Taylor to be précised, called me to say, Pastor Sanni, do you know if you go into politics, you would make it there, look how they were beating and pushing people away for you as if you are governor of the state. As a matter of fact, when they were screaming De law De law, beating people and pushing them aside to pave way for me, I became ashamed because everybody was looking to see who is this man that Area-boys so respect. When I got home, I gave it a thought because to tell you the truth, I was scared; how do I mix politics with the gospel, to me it doesn’t correlate. I had often heard that politics is dirty so I was scared and confused altogether. So one day, I was taking my bath when the Lord spoke to me; He gave me a scripture about Absalom and David, how Absalom used deceit to win the hearts of Israel and they rebelled against King David and they were chasing David out as of that time. One of David’s men Hushai, came at that time and said he would follow David, but David said no, go and join yourself with the government of Absalom; per adventure, God will use you to upturn the counsel of Ahithophel , so Hushai went back and joined himself with Ahithophel. Ahithophel is somebody that when he gives counsel is like an oracle speaking. He ordered his men to go after David and kill him now that he, David is very weak before he regains himself. Hushai has not been speaking, but when they asked Hushai’s opinion, he counseled against and said David is very bitter now, if anybody dares him now he would tear the person into shreds. The long and short of it all is that, Ahithophel went and committed suicide. Then I was asking God what are you trying to tell me and God answered and said, if Hushai had gone with the government outside, how would he have been able to effect a change; that for you to be able to effect a change, you need to be inside. And I now found out that any dynamic change starts from the inside. You can all be shouting about bad governance and nobody will listen to you; but if you want a change, stop criticizing and participate. Start from your neighbors, your LCDAs and move forward to national level. I tell people who say they want to take over the world and I say, you cannot take over the world you cannot just take over the world like that. Start with your cubicle, your neighbor and bring your policies to bear; that way you will be able to take over the world.
So talking about touching lives, to what extent have you been able to impact lives in this Alimosho?
Now when I delved into politics and joined PDP, I remember similar question was asked and I told them to go to the community, meet the artisans, meet the mechanics and ask them about lawyer Sanni and I was so bold and said what any of these tells you about me, that is who I am. I do things a lot on pro bono free of charge and for the good of the people; using my profession to help people. For example, one of the things I do is that, I don’t spend Christmas at home with my family; I spend Christmas with the less privileged, the inmates in the prisons, making them feel a sense of belonging. Most times, I spend close to N3million naira doing this. It was in one this instance that I ran into one suspect called Nosiru, an awaiting trial inmate who had spent 5 years in prison for an offence that does not exist in Nigerian law. There is s no offence known as wandering but Police still arrest people today for an offence of wandering; there is no offence that one has no means of livelihood, it the country that makes one not to have no means of livelihood. Nosiru Bello was incarcerated for five whole years for wandering. Take 5 years from a human being’s life, you have literally killed that person; how does he integrate into the society. Even his family thought he was dead. This was a man that was sleeping and eventually, NEPA took light as usual, he stood up with his towel strapped around his waist, to go and buy mosquito coil and the Police came bundled him into their van and left. And because he could not provide what they called ‘sorting’, he was arraigned the following morning for wandering and lack of means of livelihood. He was thrown into prison and forgotten. So when we came into the matter and he was eventually brought to court, the Judge was openly weeping when reading the charge for which Nosiru Bello had spent 5 years in jail. So I go to prisons to help people as part of my calling. I was in prison one day and ran into a woman who was owing N75,000.00 and because she could not pay she was thrown into jail. What happened was that her mother died and she borrowed N72, 000.00 which increased to N75,000.00 from a friend to bury her mother but because she could not pay on time, that her friend said she would not collect the money from her again but that she would ‘show’ her. And how did she intends to show her, she happens to have a boyfriend who is a Policeman, that woman was arrested and the following day she was charged to court for fraud and before you know it, she was in prison for N72,000.00. I brought her out and told the Judge that, this is pure civil transaction and that there was nothing criminal here. She was eventually set free. I can go on and on. There was even another case, that man is a Pastor in RCCG today; he too was a case of unlawful arrest and detention. So that had been my modest contributions in that area. And when I came to this community and built this house, I sunk a borehole and put a tap outside for people to have access to water. People come from far and near to fetch water and each time, they pray for me saying God will bless this man for us; you see, I get elated when people pray for me; that is my food.
Why the choice of AD when you could have channeled your strength to popular parties like PDP and APC?
The first place I started was in PDP. I have been in politics now for about a decade, where I contested for the House of Representatives. I was the sole financier of PDP in Alimosho before the likes of Jawe Busari came, before Segun Adewale alias Aeroland came in, I was the sole financier of the party in Alimosho. But from nowhere, the ticket was snatched from me by those who assured me of the ticket. You see, I took God’s fearing into politics. People believed that one will be corrupted when one joins politics but I want to stand tall that I am an exception. I do not want to play politics the way others do it. I have spent lots of money, millions of money in politics. Like I said I was in PDP since 2007, I ran for the House of Representatives, ran for Local Government Chairmanship in Musan Okunola LCDA; that was in 2010, which I strongly believed I won. I defeated the APC candidate then. We were 3 in Alimosho that APC respects a lot; Otunba Segun Adewale alias Aeroland , Otunba Ayinde Busari also known as Jawe and my humble self known Olayinka David Sanni known as ODS, we were the 3 that gave APC the run of its life in Alimosho. In 2010/11, my local government was singled out, it was the only local government that was very popular; they distribute 50, 50 ballot papers to every polling booth, meanwhile the least polling booth in Musan Okunola was more than 1000, and they asked APC loyalists to come out as early as 5.00am to cast their votes in which case election ended as early as 10.00am and they refused to bring out more ballot papers. You know, the local government elections are conducted the state’s electoral Commission, so in the case of Lagos it was by LASIEC. That was how we were brazenly robbed. Again in 2015, I also contested for the Lagos Sate House of Assembly, I am very close to Jimi Agbeje, very close to Chief Bode George and Chief Bode George was wont to saying that if you want anybody to tell the truth about Alimosho, call Barrister Sanni; he knows the brand of my politics. This last dispensation I was not given the ticket because of my support for Jimi Agbeje. Leaders of PDP here in Alimosho do not believe in winning elections, rather they are out to steal money, collect money from candidates and milk everybody dry. I refused to bribe my way in, I would go into the primaries and be defeated. I did all I could to be given that ticket, if I had been given that ticket in 2015, I would not be here now, I would have defeated the incumbent, Bisi Yusuf. The whole people in Alomosho Constituency 01 felt downcast when I was denied the ticket in 2015. Because the person they eventually gave the ticket to has been contesting with the incumbent Bisi Yusuf and he had in every occasion defeated him. I was the one in charge of security in Alimosho and I was given a lot of money and for security reason I may not mention the amount; we have 11 Divisions and one Area Command in Alimosho I made sure that everyone gets what was allocated to them, not a dime was taken. And in doing that I made sure you signed that so, so amount of money was collected from me. I had opportunity of stealing out of the millions in my custody but I did not. Take this home, that singular act earned me a lot of respect and accolade till now. So in PDP in 2015 when we lost in Lagos, I never felt Jimi would lose because the whole Lagosians wanted PDP at that time. But when he lost out, and looking at the way PDP was going both in at the state level and national, I joined the APC; not knowing that I was moving from frying pan to fire. APC is like a cult. In Alimosho here, APC is being controlled by one man who is a Governor in far away Osun State where he is adjudged not have performed well. He decides what happens so if you are not in that clique, you don’t get anything. Even the APC national leader does not question what this man does in Alimosho; so every APC supporter in Alimosho is a puppet of this unquestionable man. In this dispensation that we are contesting in now and which again brought in the incumbent Bisi Yusuf as candidate of APC for the House, there was no primaries to that effect. The national leader of APC opted for a direct primary whereby everyone queues behind his candidate and party of choice but here in Alimosho, there was nothing like that; they never allowed it. Instead, they brought in canes and were beating those who queued against their instructions. Now, the incumbents know how to play their cards and this is, sharing the constituency allowances with their god fathers and they sit back doing nothing to the people who voted them in. Why they are doing this is to secure their coming back to power. Nobody in Alimosho, go round and do your findings, nobody wants the incumbent back to office. This is somebody who had done 8 years as Chairman as Ipaja/Ayobo, this is somebody who has done 8 years in the House of Assembly making 16 years in government and he wants to go for the third time again to make it 20 years. And he is so bold to write in his campaign posters what he calls ‘3 direct’; meaning that he has turned Alimosho people to this lottery they call Baba-Ijebu. In other words, what he is saying with that ‘3 direct’ is that with or without you, he has been returned unopposed. That is the extent to which they have reduced Alimosho to but I believe there is going to be amend. I see my sojourn in AD as one looking for an expression; just like water that is corked looking for a way to pour out. Therefore, my coming out under AD is for an expression. Now before AD came, PDP had again come to me apologized that they want to give me ticket, ADC came; several other parties about 6 political parties came to give me ticket. But after careful prayers and seeking the approval from God, I picked AD. Incidentally, if anybody asks me why I left APC, I would rightly say I didn’t leave APC rather I have gone to the mother party. AD gave birth to AC, to ACN, and then, APC; so AD is the mother of all these other parties. What I did was, leave the children and went back to the mother.
Please assess the performances of the member of Lagos State House of Assembly representing Alimosho Constituency 01 and tell what you are going to do different if voted into office.
Honestly, it has been 16 years of failure, 16 years of total failure. If they had done anything tangle that is what of praise, there would have been no resentment against his imposition. People would have readily welcomed him. During elections he comes to Ipaja/Ayobo but after elections he moves to Lekki where he built his house. I challenge him to tell the people how many motions he has moved in the House, how many live he has touched in Alimosho; let him point to a far reaching project he has done in this last 16 years in the House. I also dare him to tell us what he has done with the constituency allowances and of course, how much is the constituency allowance. Lagos State is among those states that have not signed the FOIB for us to know what the quantum of the constituency allowance is. I want to be audacious; I want to do something that has never been done before in the annals of governance. My motto is simply one but from there, you get several other things. What is that I want to do different, that thing is transparency. I want people to see and feel what legislative governance is all about. By doing that I want ensure that constituency allowance ends up in constituency purse for constituency project that it was meant. In my own tenure by the grace of God, because I do not think of failure, we have 4 LCDAs that make up Constituency 01. You have Alimosho, Musan Okunola, Oke Agbado Odo, then you have Ipaja Ayobo; those are the four LCDAs. I am going to form leaders from these LCDAs, three from each CDA, get representatives from the Baales from these four LCDAs to be in that council. I will be the major signatory to the account for the Constituency project and these projects will be done and supervised by the people. Now what has the incumbent done? He would come around spend peanuts out of the Constituency allowance; he buys maybe, 10 clippers, 10 grinding machines, Baaja motorcycles which will be collected from the people shortly afterwards because he was among the law makers who signed the bill banning Okada riders from major Streets of Lagos State. And because they have so much weaponized poverty in the State, people come around cap in hands always begging for peanuts because they don’t know how much was meant for the welfare as members of the constituency. I don’t have a godfather that I will be reporting to but I have God as father upstairs that I report to. And to ensure that they are returned back to office is a presumption that is reputable by him or whoever is there; a certain percentage of that fund goes to his godfathers to ensure that he is retuned. Nobody in APC ever thought, that would come back because when he did his first four years term, they were against his second term; they were against it because he did nothing. Later on, it was like a plea that ok, since there was really nobody challenging him; allow hi do the second term and go back home because everybody thought that would be all for Baba, because he is over 70 years now, yet you want to come back again for another four years; at what age? What we are hearing is that he is going to do this as his retirement age. So if he had been there for two terms and did not do anything is it this time that he would do for his retirement benefits that he come to do something?
So my coming out is like a movement for the emancipation of Alimosho. I believe by God’s grace we shall surely win.
Are you in nutshell saying that Alimosho has not been fairly treated by this Representative?
Now let me break down for you: Alimosho has been more than well treated under the APC by the Governor. Nobody ever thought that Ambode will not been given a second term; it was during the era of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode that Alimsoho witnessed monumental development in terms of road infrastructure. He did lot of inter-roads that links. Before now, if I want to go to Agbado Oke-Odo, or Abule- Egba, I will have nightmares in going; in fact, I might even deicide not to go because the bad nature of the link roads. But now, I don’t think it twice with the roads he had done linking the inter-community roads together. The Governor has one marvelously well. But for the Legislator representing Alimosho constituency 01, he has done absolutely nothing; because we must separate the weed from the chaff.
Do you have confidence on INEC for a free and fair election?
Now, my slogan is Stand well, well. I don’t expect INEC to be fair because the body language of the President is showing it. I expected the IG of Police leave office on January 15 when he would have clocked 60 years but what we are hearing is that, the President wants to grant him an extension contrary to Police Acts and of course, civil service rule. There has been a lot of cry over the appointment of Hajia Zakari, the President’s relation as the alter-ego of INEC. So if you add all these together, would agree with me that we may not have a free and fair election. But I like the saying of the Jagaban; he said you can only rig where you are popular. APC is not on ground in Alimosho, they are not united; I can boldly say that. In fairness to other aspirants, I am the only alternative that the APC know that they are in for a big fight. I am part of them I was in PDP, was in APC before moving to AD now and so, there is nothing I have not seen. My records are there for anybody to see. I have therefore, told me teaming supporters that after voting, they should stay and wait until it is counted. We are going to have situation routes, we are going to monitor the elections; we are going to make it difficult for INEC to rig this election so much so that it will look stupid of them to want to rig because we already have the facts. And mind you, this is a revolution because the people want to put the godfathers to shame. What I am saying is that I am going to break the jinx of godfatherism by His grace not by me. God being behind me, He is the sole pillar in this project; this is going to be the end of godfatherism in Alimosho. And like I said, I am not seeking to take the world, I am only seeking to take my neighbourhood and as I do it, inch by inch we would take the power from them; the signs are there.
*Barr Olayinka David Sanni …during an interview session
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