By Boluwaji Obahopo, LOKOJA
Penultimate Monday, the Kogi State House of Assembly marked one year legislative activities of the present Assembly. One outstanding take home was the overwhelming and outpouring encomium that greeted the Speaker of the House, Prince Matthew Olushola Kolawole; prompting many to asked Who Is this Man?!
Long before he stood for election into the Kogi State House of Assembly, Prince Matthew Kolawole, present Speaker of the State Assembly has been deeply rooted into businesses. And those who have thought his legislative forage will slow him down on the business line may have been disappointed, as he had continued to mixed the political duties and his businesses with equilibrium.
While others legislators are now stocked up only to their legislative works, jettisoning their first calling, Kolawole has not shown sign of slowing down on his first love – Business. He appeared to reflect an opposite persona from other legislators as he remained focus on his business side.
Kolawole story was not a silver spoon type, life bequeathed to him a very humble beginning. At many fora, Kolawole had giving insight to how he survived childhood. From selling beans cake with his mother, working on peoples farms to axing and hawking firewoods just to survive. This humble beginning might have formed a strong background for his business acumen. It also reflected in the reason why his major focal point is training people to be self reliance and in pursuit of education.
Kolawole has become a man who now inspires and motivates thousands to find and embrace a happy and confident life. He did not easily emerged from his shell, neither has he forgotten that part of his life when lack of money make him dropped out of school for a while; which is a key reason that inspired him to establish an educational program to members of his constituents immediately he got elected into the State House of Assembly in 2015, where over 1000 had now benefited from his mini scholarship.
“I am deeply fascinated with the messages I get from everywhere (parents, colleagues, teachers and the media) over the educational scheme. It is my belief that education still remained the bedrock of the society. Withought education, I wouldn’t be where I am today. That is why, I have decided never to withold from people the opportunity to be educated,” Kolawole had stated in his last education programe where he paid the WAEC, NECO and JAMB fees for all examination students in Kabba/Bunu state constituency. This came on the sideline of his yearly school competitions where winning school are rewarded with school items while individual winners gained scholarship for their educational pursuits.
‘I strive to help people attain self sufficiency and feel good about themselves. I’m living proof that it works. I overcame the block of rejection. I want to give the same positive impact on others.” he stated about his training scheme to people learning Vocation.
But who is Kolawole.
Mr. Kolawole points to his own life as an example of how a person can evolve as the years pass. Prince Kolawole Mathew Olushola was born on the 5th May 1965 to the family of Mr. and Mrs. Otitonaiye Kolawole of blessed memories. He hails from the ancient city of Gbeleko in Egbeda Ward, Kabba district in Kabba/Bunu Local Government Area of Kogi State, North Central, Nigeria
He started his Primary School Education at Ayede-Bunu in 1973 and completed at Aye –Gbede in 1978 before he proceeded to Baptist Secondary Commercial School Iyah-Gbedde in 1987 to obtain his Secondary School Certificate in West Africa Examination Council, after which he gained admission to study Business Administration at the prestigious Kwara State Polytechnic where he bagged National Diploma, (ND) in 1993, Higher National Diploma (HND) in 1996 and Post Graduate Diploma (PGD) in 2004 respectively. He did his one year compulsory service in Abuja in 1999.
For lack of money, Kolawole despite emerging as the best student in his school days stayed out of school for six years. The first three years was after his primary school, while the other three years was after his secondary school. Little wonder the commitment he shows and gives to his constituents in the education sector since his emergence to the assembly.
Immediately after his NYSC, being somebody who is determined to make it in life and as a sport man and event manager, he decided to pursue a career in these fields of endeavour by first organizing National Tennis Tournament in honour of some prominent personalities among whom were the former First Ladies of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, late Mrs Stella Obasanjo of blessed memory and Mrs Titi Atiku Abubakar.
Before his fora into politics, Kolawole business’s endeavour has yielded positive result to the extent he became the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Achiever’s Event Management Nigeria Limited, Barclays Global Consult, African Event Management and Golden Grand Royale Hotel, Kabba in Kogi State, as well as a club House in Lokoja. He is married to Deaconess Zainab Kolawole with wonderful children, boys and girls.
Aside his business line, the Speaker has now turned his attention to making people self reliance. Over 220 persons are presently engaged in his fourth phase vocational training scheme which he is doing in partnership with the Nigeria Directorate of Employment, NDE.
Kolawole had disclosed that his utmost priority now is to make sure he empowers people in his constituency aside the constituency projects he has started and working towards completing. Beneficiaries of his scheme are not limited to indigenes of those community under him but for those who reside in his constituency, irrespective of tribes or religion.
Kolawale disclosed that he prefers training the unemployed than giving out motorcycle, grinding machine and others item to party members who do not know it’s worth, as some of them often sold those items off.
The speaker noted that though he has physical building as projects that are yet to be completed, but he preferred to focus on his educational and vocational scheme because those physical structures will not support livelihoods.
The vocational scheme of the Speaker came with a unique feature. Beneficiaries are trained by the NDE, while allowances are provided by the Speaker to the beneficiaries. At completion, the Speaker procured training equipment to each beneficiaries in line with the vocation learned; as well as start up capital, “And now we have over 220 people learning at this moment. The 220 people pay me better than that building physical building because this 220 will finish and go to labour market and start their own life. And when they finishes we still give small money to them to go and rent shops where they can start life. Anybody who learn fashion and designing must be given equipment for that particular field, there was equipment I bought for past beneficiaries at almost N400,000 per person.
“So am preparing to educate about 220 and the 220 is better for me because the first empowerment I did I almost regretted it. About 320 party members were giving those equipments and what happened? I bought sewing machines, give to 30 members, grinding machine to 30 members, fridges to 30 members and so many things. And we discovered that as you are giving it to them they will call somebody to come and buy it.
“But the person who went to learn will value what they learn. And as I go on the streets a lot of people come and thank me and when I try to find out they will tell me they partake in the empowerment ceremony”.
Beneficiaries of the vocational training has come close to 400.KOLAWOLE POLITICAL AND BUSINESS HARDWORK
About 13 year ago, Prince Kolawole took a bold step to contest for the Kabba/Bunu state constituency under the PDP. Though he won the primary ticket, it was taken away from him and given to another person. Four years later, while preparing to take another shoot, he was compelled by both party and community leaders to step down for another candidate and he did. But in 2015, the narrative changed, Kolawole secured the PDP ticket and won the general election. He was subsequently elected as Majority leader by his fellow members. But two years into his tenure, divine providence provided him the opportunity to become the Speaker of the House after he decamped to the All Progressive Congress, APC.
In an overwhelming circumstances, Kolawole won a second term seat into the assembly in 2019, and again, secured the speakership position. He was the first person in the history of the local government to secure a back to back victory to the assembly. A feat many ascribed to his superlative performance both on the floor of the state assembly and in his constituency programs. He was the first to holds regular townhall meetings where he engaged his people on what they desires from him as their legislators.
That is why testimonies across the state abound to show the huge impact he had in people’s life. Many are also astonished about his supports for religious activities. But more importantly, his the fair sharing he gave in distribution of his constituency projects to community and different strata of people in his constituency. He has been described as a welter of distinguished intellectuals and a trail blazers.
On Junu 21, Kolawole marked one year in piloting the affairs of the state 7th Assembly. The encomium may not be far from the fact that he has presided over the most peaceful assembly in the anal of the state, brought about a far less acrimony between the legislators and the executives, made the people’s comfort his mission, and served and protected the interest of Kabba/Bunu people. Summarily, he had justified his mandate.
But far greater to emulate his how he had combined successfully, his business life with his political life with hardwork. From sport and tourism business to legislating, coupled with community and human capacity development, Kolawole has shown what it means to have a proven and time-tested wealth creator and agent of change at the helms of affairs.End