In an interview with selected media outfits in Ikorodu division, Hon. Adebimpe Akinsola, former acting Commissioner for Tourism, Arts & Culture, bore her mind on A+ Disciples, a group she formed to support the re-election bid as well as programmes and activities of the administration of Gov. Ambode, exit from Lagos State Cabinet, relationship with other members of Lagos State Executive Council and her contributions to tourism development in Lagos State and Ikorodu division in particular. She spoke with the journalists in Igbogbo in the presence of Honourable Titilayo Adegboyega, Vice Chairman of Igbogbo/Baiyeku, Honourable Jimoh Ogunmuyiwa, State Chairman of A+ Disciples and former Chairman, Igbogbo/Bayeku LCDA, and Hon. Rotimi Olowonisaye, former Vice Chairman and Supervisory Councilor, Igbogbo/Baiyeku LCDA. Kunle ADELABU, the Publisher/Reporter-in-Chief of THE IMPACT Newspaper was among the invited reporters. Excerpts:
Impact : Can we meet you ma?
Hon. Akinsola: My name is Honourable Adebimpe Akinsola, a former member of the Lagos State House of Assembly representing Ikorodu Constituency II, a former acting Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture in Lagos State, and a former Special Adviser to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode on Housing.
IMPACT: As the Convener of A+ Disciples, what can you say are the motives behind the creation of the group?
Hon. Akinsola: The motive is very simple, the English man says “to whom much is given; much is expected”. Also, in the Bible, Jesus Christ appointed twelve disciples and as a leader, he preached the gospel to the people so that they would not perish but have everlasting life, but at a point, he couldn’t do the work all alone,so, his disciples went out to tell people about his good works and also to spread the gospels. Ours, as Disciples of Governor Ambode, is to spread the good news of what he is doing to accomplish his vision, his mission and his promises to the electorate in Lagos State.
IMPACT: In Ikorodu division and Lagos State as whole, your group is the first to endorse Governor Ambode for a second term in office, what made you believe so much in him and how do you finance the group now that you are presently not in service?
Hon. Akinsola: Thank you very much. Many people who know me well know that I’ve been a grassroots person for a very long time. More so, I have been a community person even before I became anything. Myself and a lot of people in the group raise funds for the operations of the group. I have a strong believe in Ambode. He gave me the opportunity to serve in his cabinet. For that, don’t you think I should appreciate him for the opportunity he gave me to serve in many capacities in his cabinet and also for the fact that he has lofty dreams for Lagos? Also, we can all see the good works he’s doing. As a result of these, I believe that it is my duty to propagate him.
IMPACT: What is the strength and spread of A+ Disciples in Lagos State?
Hon. Akinsola: A+ Disciples are everywhere. We have the group in Ojokoro, Kosofe, Isolo, Ipaja, Abule Egba and other parts of Lagos State. We have our members in all these places propagating the work of Ambode and we are still spreading to other parts of the State.
IMPACT: Since there are many other groups propagating the governor’s re-election ambition, is there any relationship between A+ disciples and other groups?
Hon. Akinsola: ‘The more, the merrier’, that’s what the English man says. We are friends with other groups because as much and as long as we are all promoting Akinwunmi Ambode and working for his second term bid, we are all friends and one indivisible entity.
IMPACT: You founded A+ Disciples while in office but now that you are no longer in office, one begin to wonder what is responsible for your decision and motivation to keep the group going?
Hon. Akinsola: What keeps me going is my passion. Coming out of office is not a crime neither is it a thing that has never happened before. Government Cabinet reshuffle happens everywhere all over the world, so it cannot deter me from doing what I’m supposed to do. For instance, in 2015, this group was the only independent group that was doing road show for Akinwunmi Ambode and other APC candidates. We did it in Igbogbo and at that time, I was just a member of APC. So, my being in the cabinet and out of it should not deter me from doing what needs to be done.
IMPACT: Before we talk about your exit from the cabinet, what are the achievements of Tourism, Arts and Culture under your leadership?
Hon. Akinsola: Thank you very much. I’m not going to say much on that, I thank God for using me for positive developments. Before my appointment into the Ministry, I don’t think we heard much of it in Lagos State. Governor Ambode believes in the Ministry to achieve excellence in the State. The sector wasn’t fully explored or tapped into to change the economy of the State. So, it was the vision of His Excellency to use Tourism to turn around the fortune of Lagos State and so while I was there, I keyed into that vision.
IMPACT: When you were in that position, how did you leverage on it to engender cultural development in Ikorodu Division?
Hon. Akinsola: I saw a lot of deficits in terms of heritage sites and other areas in Ikorodu division. I took the matter up so passionately. The first thing I did was to call a meeting of heritage site owners for which the Ayangburen of Ikorodu sent representatives. After the meeting, I came to the meeting of Councils of Obas and Chiefs in Ikorodu division to tell them what I discovered and what we should do and the Ayangburen set up a committee to that effect. While that was going on, a son of the soil in person of Honourable S.O.B Agunbiade did something wonderful in the division. He came up with ASA festival. The festival had been in existence before in the division and was being celebrated by individual communities a lull. But the keen interest shown by Hon. Agunbiade brought about the coming together of nine Asa communities to revive the dying culture. The festival was staged in November 2017. I made sure that the festival was registered with the Lagos State Council for Arts and Culture and this has ensured that it will now be an annual celebration in Ikorodu division.
IMPACT: Shortly after your exit, there were rumors about the politics that surrounded your exit from office. In fact, a Community Newspaper (not THE IMPACT) recently did a story on some of the things that happened, where it was alleged that you did not have good relationship with some of your colleagues in the Exco which the governor frowned at. The Publisher of the newspaper also stated that he called you severally to have a word with you over some of these issues but you ignored his calls. Can you please clarify these issues?
Hon. Akinsola: I read the publication and as far as I’m concerned, I believe journalists are trained to be objective in their reports. But for me, the Publisher of Oriwu Sun did a paid advert as far as that report is concerned. The Publisher is an indigene of Ikorodu yet, he is writing negative things about Ikorodu. They are trying to silent me but unfortunately for them, they are making me stronger. Although, this is not the first time the Publisher will be doing that. How is it possible for someone to have issue with 40 Exco members.
IMPACT: The Publiser mentioned your former colleague, Honourable Rotimi Ogunleye, whom he alleged that you always had issues with concerning projects coming to Ikorodu and also that you always argued with him over where to site such projects… (cuts in)
Hon. Akinsola: Was he (Oriwu Sun publisher) there? He has to substantiate his claims. A journalist should not work on hearsay. Here is a man that always comes to my office. There was no week he would not come to my office. He’s always going around. I know him, so it doesn’t mean anything to me. And talking about Rotimi Ogunleye, I don’t have any issue with him.
IMPACT: Another issue we want you to address is the movement of One Lagos Fiesta from Ikorodu Town Hall to Government College which according to the newspaper’s report too, was what led to your eventual exit from the Lagos State Cabinet. What were the things that played out around that time?
Hon. Akinsola: If I have the opportunity again to make decision on the change of venue for One Lagos Fiesta, I will take the same decision again and again because the safety of the people should be paramount. There is a petrol station behind the place we do fireworks and when you do fireworks close to a petrol station, we all know what could happen. And also, that place is becoming too small for the crowd and we have to be mindful of stampede. We were looking at so many things and our consideration was where can we have this event that people will not be stampeded.
IMPACT: Still on the allegations and misconceptions, the purpose of this interview is to avail you the opportunity to say/air your own side of the stories which is the objective of Journalism. During the build up to the 2017 One Lagos Fiesta, some people in Ikorodu alleged that you have hatred for Ikorodu dominance in the division which was the reason you wanted to use your position in the government to corner developmental projects and other benefits to Igbogbo.What is your response to this?
Hon. Akinsola: I will want you to go and find out about that, at least you’ve heard little of what I have said? Now, go and do your own research. I’m not going to defend that and I’m not going to say anything about it.
IMPACT: Beyond all these accusations , you are a political and an opinion leader in Ikorodu division; where do you see Ikorodu in the political arrangement of Lagos State in 2019 and what do you think should be done to place Ikorodu at an advantageous position for 2019?
Hon. Akinsola: To place Ikorodu at an advantageous position, all hands must be on deck. We need to work as a family. For instance, an Ikorodu journalist is tearing an Ikorodu person apart. I think the moment we stop that and speak with one voice, things will fall into there right places. The reason we are having issue in Ikorodu division is because we don’t love ourselves. We suspect ourselves too much. But as far as I am concerned, time will tell, especially on those that are working as an entity for the progress of the Ikorodu division.
IMPACT: Lastly, you were a Member of the House of Assembly, a classroom teacher, well travelled in and out of the country, a Cultural Ambassador, acting Commissioner, Special Adviser, what is next for Chief Mrs Adebimpe Akinsola? What should your people be expecting from you?
Hon. Akinsola: I commit everything into the hands of God Almighty.
Impact: Thank you very much ma.
Hon. Akinsola: You are welcome.