By Lubem Gena
From 2012-2015, I was privileged to work with Representative Bamidele Salam in the office of then Senior Special Assistant to former President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe. Our office was situated at number 70 Kwame Nkrumah crescent in the highbrow Asokoro district of Abuja.
While there, Mr. Bamidele Salam, the Head of Media of the team, as he then was, demonstrated a rare commitment to duty, professional competence and an uncommon zeal for his job. This endeared him to our Principal who at the point was widely adjudged to be the “Attack Dog”. In the team which was made up of many top-notch guys in the media industry, he soon after resuming responsibility in this capacity initiated actions and programmes that aimed at bringing visibility to every activity of government to the doorstep of each and every Nigerian.
With another guru, Mr. Femi Adefila, the founder of Rave Fm Osogbo, they pioneered efforts towards information dissemination in a manner that was never before done in the annals of executive relations with the masses. It was in this direction that a programme known as “Insight”, aired on the Nigerian Television Authority birthed.
Ordinarily, it was at a period he needed not to have ventured into such outing in view of the overwhelming demands of his office and the studies he was undergoing at the Nigerian Law School, Bwari-Abuja. It is of immense importance to announce that, the office was established to permanently erase the negative perception that the opposition elements in what is today known as All People’s Congress (APC) drilled into the minds of Nigerians. But this is an issue for another day!
While I had the singular honor and privilege of been the youngest of all the staff in the office, it behoves me to carefully and religiously try to strictly adhere to the professional direction and work ethics instilled into me by my superiors especially Rep. Salam whose wise counsel propelled me to some level of excellence and successes in my subsequent life.
It is instructive to note that, apart from Dr. Okupe himself who was the head of the team, the next person that received the largest cache of guests was Rep. Salam. I soon took note that most of such guests were coming to request for one form of favour or the other. And he never for once felt the demands were too much. How he was able to attend to all of such needs has remained a mystery to me. I do not intend to bow you down with unnecessary or inconsequential narrative but permit me to mention just but two instances.
One, the widow in Karimo. On a Monday morning, Rep. Salam called me into his office and his characteristic polite manner asked me to be on standby as he wanted to take permission from our Principal to ask for me to be released to double check an issue for him. After he secured that permission, he gave me the name of a school and two pupils in Karimo to check if they are really schooling there. The story was that, a widow, whose name I cannot recall at the moment, had a difficulty in entering a church vehicle after a programme in Wuse 2. This widow attended the activity with 3 of her kids, the last of which was still being breast fed. Fast and strong members of the church disadvantaged them from entering the vehicle. She had no dime on her and decided to trek to a point around Wuse market.
He stumbled on them and sought to know while they were so stranded at that time of the night. Long story short, the woman who was of Igbo extraction narrated the situation and piteous circumstances of her existence (after losing her husband to the cold hands of death). I was to confirm the authenticity of the story around the education needs of the two kids who were about 3 and 5 years or so. I found out that the woman’s story was factual. That was how, he paid the school fees of the two kids directly to the school account for two terms of that session.
Two. The case one Michael (surname withheld) who lived with his father around Kurudu or so. One evening, Rep. Salam was just stepping out of the office and this teenager approached him, soliciting for a job to do and pay the fee for his Junior School Certificate Examinations (JSCE). Again, I came handy and did the required due diligence. He summoned Michael’s father for interaction after which he undertook to support the family with the boys’ school fees and other issues related thereto.
Something however happened to our office in 2015. It was dismantled immediately President Muhammadu Buhari was declared as the winner of that years presidential election by then Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega. And his wish in this regard wasn’t made realistic. But am aware that when he became a federal lawmaker, he touched Michael’s life positively.
Let’s fast forward to 2019. Rep. Salam was declared the winner of the House Representatives seat to represent the great people of Ede north, Ede south, Egbedore and Ejigbo federal constituency of Osun state. This was really not his first shot at elective positions since leaving the presidency. He tried on several but was not able to secure any of them. God was preparing, nurturing, nourishing, and depositing a vast reservoir of the required experience, unparalleled contact with the people and also building him with the right frame of mind to effectively navigate around the task of effective representation, lawmaking and over-sighting those institutions of government that are supposed to authoritatively allocate values to the society.
Even though there was a little wedge on the momentum by the pronouncement of the election petition tribunal which temporarily sacked him, he never felt forsaken by God and in the end, he triumphed in the appeal court. He effectively settled down to embark on a visionary journey which sought to redeem the people he always refer to as “fantastic” from the shackles of poverty, illiteracy, disease conditions, infrastructural deficit, bring governance close to them as well as harness all available and legitimate opportunities to improve their lot.
Within a record time of just about 3 years on the saddle, Rep. Salam has covered much grounds than any other representative from that extraction. His activities are pro-people, outrightly selfless, meant to aggregate the interest of the constituency and place it on the pedestal of sustainable development.
Instructively, he pioneered genuine efforts to ensure that his legislative agenda encompass self improvement, economic development, education, expansion of access to and learning of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), access to justice, community development, volunteerism, leadership with values and basic understanding of the rights and privileges of the citizens, network building amongst others.
Through the instrumentality of the Bamidele Salam initiative for the four local government he is privileged to represent which are tagged as BS-E4, he mooted and sustained the ideas of nurturing the establishment and sustainability of 40 businesses each year. This has produced amazing results as divergent and array of testimonies have dotted the nooks and crannies of the constituency. The driver of this process is the BS-E4 Business and Leadership Bootcamp. This laudable initiative has become a reference point hence it a beacon of hope for the teeming youths who were hitherto impoverished, used and dumped, deliberately sidelined in the scheme of affairs, oppressed, marginalized, forgotten and left to fend for themselves.
Now, the major responsibility of a federal lawmaker is to: represent the people; make laws for order, peace and good governance of the nation (not only his constituency) and oversight function.
In all these, Rep. Salam, even though a newbie in the House, has performed excellently well. He has to his record 13 bills on several topical issues to his credit. These range from health related, infrastructure, strengthening capacity of institutions, education, enforcement of fundamental human rights, commerce/industry/trading, elimination of certain incoherent practices against the child amongst other special considerations. They are at various stages of legislative processes.
On the other hand, Rep. Salam has moved powerful motions and raised his insurmountable voice on topical issues. Through such legislative instruments, he caused the House to mandate appropriate Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to immediately turn around situations on regulatory issues, environment, need to enhance the sanctity of the nations’ legal tender (the Naira), vaccination against cervical cancer, transportation, compliance with already enacted laws such as the Universal Basic Education Act 2004, resuscitation of ailing industries in addition to a need to ensure that Nigerian citizens are never harassed or oppressed by the powerful or evil-minded members of the society.
Spectacularly, women and the People Living With Disability (PLWD), the aged and pensioners have felt a huge sense of relief and positively touched by this parliamentarian. He has routinely extended medical, financial, material and training support to them appropriately as a deliberate support mechanism and assurance of livelihood. The Ajoje micro grant to women traders is one of its kind in the history of the constituency if not the entire state of Osun.
Victims of disasters such as those of the Sekona market fire disaster were promptly supported with financial and material needs to bounce back to life. This has gone down in history as the most proactive effort to cushion the monstrous effect of a disaster of that magnitude.
Worthy of mention is the provision, rehabilitation and reconstruction of infrastructure throughout the constituency. No one is left in doubt that he has galvanized all efforts to ensure that no stone is left unturned in this regard. Cheerfully, he secured the undertaking of no other than the person of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to commit to working closely with him to develop the area. A specific reference is the road linking ancient towns of Awo-Iragberi-Aato-Ejigbo which was abandoned for over 50 years and constituted a death trap.
Evidently, almost all areas of basic human needs have received the Midas touch of Rep. Salam, to the glory God. Be it in education, water supply, electricity, scholarships, trainings, empowerment, stimulation of youths participation in productive ventures, regular interface etc etc, he has faithfully stamped his indelible footprint on the sand of time. This has underscored his avowed commitment to take the people of the constituency encapsulated in the idea of not only taking them to where they want to be, but where they ought to be.
He has demonstrated a rare legislative prowess and sagacity. Consequently, it is right to emphasize that the fantastic people of Ede north, Ede south, Egbedore and Ejigbo federal constituency made no mistake in recognizing the huge reservoir of knowledge, tenacity of purpose, a thorough bred, dedicated pro-people parliamentarian whose one and only concern is to drastically change the situation of things on ground for the better. If one term is this good and has given the constituency a lot to point to, no one else deserves this seat and even more chances than the erudite lawmaker who is popularly referred to as BS by his colleagues.
Post script: In subsequent writings, searchlight will beam on effects of the bills, motions, empowerment programmes, projects, employment facilitation and community development efforts by Rep. BS. Watch out for subsequent materials.
Lubem who writes from Abuja is a Legislative and Media Assistant to Rep. Bamidele Salam and can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org