Olorunimbe Mamora: Medicine Remains My First Love Despite Foray Into Politics

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 Senator Olorunimbe Mamora was Speaker of Lagos State Assembly before he moved to the National Assembly where he served in the upper chamber for two terms. A medical doctor by profession, Mamora had been decorated with several honours both at state and national levels by the Nigerian Medical Association. In this interview with Adedayo Adejobi, the former parliamentarian who recently turned 61, talks about life outside public office, politics, the Nigerian legislature, medical profession and the rise in insecurity as well as growing up and family

Growing up and background …
Olorunimbe Mamora was born to late Chief F.A Mamora and Deaconess Mamora.  Both who were prominent teachers, Christians and community leaders. He had his early education at the Baptist Day School, Ijebu-Ode while his secondary education was at the Ijebu-Ode Grammar School, both in Ogun State. “I spent one year at the Federal School of Science Lagos before proceeding to the University of Ife to train as a medical doctor in 1974. I graduated in 1981 as a medical doctor. Following my housemanship, at the State Hospital, Abeokuta, I was posted to Lagos for NYSC, which I completed in 1983. I then worked with May Clinics Groups as a Medical Officer for four years and thereafter, established my private medical firm, Nimbus Medical Centre.  I also served as the Company Medical Adviser to Cadbury Plc, Lagos, from 1988 till 1992. “However, my political activism started in the medical school 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 with Olusegun Mimiko and Oluwarotimi Akeredolu. 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 subsequently elected the Speaker at the inauguration of the House.’’

Political Career…
Mamora got to the pinnacle of the legislature in Lagos State. Was it something he had always desired? ‘‘Yes, I desired it, I hoped for it and God made it possible. Right from childhood, I was fascinated about legislating. My late dad was the leader of Action Group in our local government area in Ijebu East. I knew that someday, somehow I would be part of electioneering campaign process. Though, I knew I could be part of politicking, but I did not know as at then at what level. I knew that someday, I would be in a position to serve people and my desire had been in legislative capacity. I thank God that it came to pass.’’

My first love…
For Mamora, medicine remains his first love despite his foray into politics. His late father played a key role in this: “My late dad ensured that, that vision was realised. My dad addressed me as a doctor right from my childhood days. I was named after Dr. Olorunimbe, the first Mayor of Lagos who was a medical practitioner. My name was derived from that very important personality of Lagos. My dad always encouraged me by addressing me from childhood as doctor.’’

Politics Exposes more…
‘‘When you stay within the confines of your consulting room, you’re only able to minister to scores of people or hundreds over the years. But when you leave the confines of the consulting room to become a politician; then you’re ministering to the larger society or community. So by extension, one may safely say that being in politics and conversing with a larger number of people would expose you more.’’
On leaving political office, he simply returned to his first love – medical practice. ‘‘After leaving office, the very first thing I could do was to go back to my first love which is my medical practice. I went back to practice and re-organised my hospital by giving it some kind of lift in terms of the environment and personnel. I improved the total out look to make it function better and more patient-friendly. All my years in the legislature, my hospital was running. I have doctors and nurses and other workers who are working there. I usually visit the place twice a week to give a helping hand where it is needed. Of course, I am engaged in what I enjoy doing by sharing my experience over the 12 years period with people. I am always invited to deliver papers at occasions mostly on legislative advocacy and national issues. I had been invited by Rivers State House of Assembly, Nigeria Institute of Advanced Legal Studies and others to share my experience on issues. I have also had invitation from the ECOWAS parliament when they had retreat in Ghana and so on. I have been having these invitations as a result of my exposure in the legislative. So, I have so much I am doing. Aside these, I also attend my party functions and engage in the strengthening of my party.’’
What has Mamora missed outside the Senate? ‘‘I am missing the senate family and the opportunity of further contributing my own quota to nation building within the ambit of that senate. You will recall that there is no issue of national importance or the one that concerns Lagos that you will not hear my voice, be it in law-making, representation or legitimising oversight functions. But it is okay, one cannot be there all the time.’
“As 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 present crop of lawmakers…
‘‘Well, the legislature is gradually getting to be what it ought to be. 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 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. As a result of this, the legislature has remained the most misconstrued, most mis-represented and most misunderstood arm of government.
‘‘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 legislations at the national level. When you compare the National Assembly and the state legislature, the National Assembly is far ahead especially in terms of independence.
“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. At the state level, you still have over-bearing attitude of governors and godfathers. To a large extent, it has been difficult for legislators at the state level to really be independent as it is expected.
‘‘For instance, if you look at the last constitutional amendment, the independence of the state assembly was passed at the national level, but was rejected at the state level. That was a real disaster. It was because of the overbearing attitude of the governors.’
“ 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 will be difficult to improve the quality of legislation at this level. They have been so subjugated that they cannot show that independence of mind as to query certain things in the interest of the people.

Relationship with Asiwaju…
Reacting to the speculated rift between him and former governor Bola 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”

A voice against Boko Haram…
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 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 apprehend culprits or nip their activities in the bud, as security is everybody’s business.
“Nigerians have a responsibility to come up with information that will help security agencies apprehend criminals. But to be able to achieve this, the people must have confidence in 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.
“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, 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 ago, the National assembly decided to take a second look at the anti-terrorism act, with a view to possibly repealing and/or amending it, because the society is dynamic and in the same manner, laws are dynamic.”

APC and 2015…
On the chances of his party winning the 2015 presidential election, he said: “Judging by the tremendous goodwill that the APC has on ground right now, if we are to go by that, I will tell you that the Peoples Democratic Party is a goner come 2015. Nigerians are happy now that they have an alternative which is the APC. The PDP-controlled Federal Government has not justified being in office for so long. The PDP has been in the seat of power in Nigeria since 1999 and the opposition party says it is not delivering the dividends of democracy to Nigerians.’’

Rebasing of the Nigerian economy and the common man…
“The recent GDP rebasing is not what is important for the common man. What is important is the quality of life. The power sector is getting worse. The roads and unemployment crisis are there. It is not about effort being made. You may be making efforts but the efforts are not just good enough for the people. It should not take eternity for Nigeria to be transformed. How does the rebasing of the economy translate into a better life for the ordinary man? You think the ordinary man on the street will be interested in knowing how the quality of his life is, in the face of unemployment, insecurity and broken down infrastructure. There is a need for government to improve the productive base of the economy with focus on agriculture. The problems of preservation and transportation, access roads to farm and then to the market, should be addressed in order for proper diversification of the economy to take effect.

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