Tunji Offeyi is the chosen Liberal Democrats candidate for Colliers Wood in the UK. Contesting in the Council election, the Lagos State University,LASU, graduate joins the growing number of Nigerians occupying political positions outside the shores of Nigeria. In this interview with Vanguard, Offeyi spoke about his early exposure to politics, the difference in the electioneering process in Nigeria and the UK and the possibility of contributing his quota to Nigeria’s politics when the time comes. Excerpts:
Tell us about your early background
Well, I grew up with my late grandma in the Epe area of Lagos, the typical country boy with native wisdom. Attended Pobo Pry School,PSGS for High School and Lagos State University where I studied Literature in English and was President in my department. Started writing for the Week magazine since I was in LASU till I graduated and went to serve(NYSC) in Bauchi State where I lectured Use of English at Social Development Institute Ningi and afterwards relocated to the UK.
From what you just said, it shows you ventured into politics early and have the basic knowledge. How has your political journey been?
So true. My cousin Bimbo Okesanya who lives in New York now, noticed my drive as a young ‘Jambite’ so he borrowed me books about Martin Luther, Malcolm X and
also registered me for an association called Integrity. I will really trace my interest to my time living with the Okesanyas as they buy newpapapers everyday and that really got me enlightened and prepared to venture into Student Unionism when I eventually passed that difficult exam called Jamb. Till date I haven’t looked back and historically my late maternal grandfather Pa Michael Adepoju Otufowora was a first republic politician of the Action Group. Suffice to say it also runs in the blood I guess!
You have been politically active since your university days as you said and that if I’m correct is a long time ago. So my question is, why politics, what inspired you to join politics and stay active all along?
It has to be politics for me because I believe I have the natural talent and with politics you can reach more people than merely doing humanitarian works, which is also good. None the less you at some point need power to get something things done like good roads, electricity etc. No matter how rich you don’t have the power to for instance to electrify Nigeria because you need authority to do so, this is why Lagos State for instance is still struggling in this department even though they are determined to get things fixed. So getting political power is what seperates politicians from philanthropists. Power makes a lot of difference to be in a position to render service to humanity. This is one major attraction for me!
What are you bringing to the political scene that is different from what other politicians have brought?
Purpose,clarity and sincerity…This is what we need now and am prepared to do just that!
Even though you now reside in the UK, I am very sure you hear and read about the politics in Nigeria. How do you compare the electioneering process in both countries?
With all due respect it is like comparing day and night.Here elections are sacrosanct. Nobody jokes with democracy. It is the finality. That is why in as much as the Brexit result is a calamity to the UK, the government is not giving in to a second refendum. Although this is the position of my own party, the government’s excuse is that democratic process must be respected by all means ,good or bad. This then tells you how different the election culture here is far more a serious process than we have back home till date the outcome of the constitutional conference have been dumped in another dustbin of history. This was a star studded conference featuring the likes of late Dora Akunyili, Chief Ayo Opadokun and many distinguished Nigerians. Yet it ended as just another jamboree. Political witch hunt, killings must stop in Nigeria and Africa as a whole to have a credible electioneering process, this is the bitter truth!
You are contesting in the Councillorship election for Colliers Wood in London. What are your plans if you win?
We are currently drafting the party manifesto for this area that aside campaigns need to formally kick off before proper campaigns,but a little hint., we will be looking at the housing crisis,education and environmental issues. But full details will be formally reeled out in due course and I should keep you posted regarding this.
What are your plans for the future politically, do you think you could one day come back to contribute your quota to Nigeria’s political system?
As the saying goes the future is not for us to see. However I might one day serve Nigeria in the area of Foreign affairs considering am studying International Relations at the moment, so I see that as a possibility. But maybe not grassroots politics. I love Nigeria and will be happy to represent my nation preferably on the international scene considering my exposure in this regards.