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I Become Cautious When I Am Over Excited-Hon. Tunde Braimoh

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Braimoh

Hon. Tunde Braimoh is a consummate lawyer and politician. Currently a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, he spoke with us on issues bordering on politics, life as a young man and more.

A politician among other things, how did life start for you as a lawyer?

Well, we thank God. I had the opportunity of being well brought up though I had my own fair share of youthful exuberance, which cascade into some rascality and all of that. I was involved in things boys of youthful age do. I was daring, I was bold. We thank God. Today, maybe some of the things I did out of youthful exuberance and not out of extreme boldness got me to where I am. I thought I could do whatever I wanted, and that explains why I was not a brilliant student.

Why were you not a brilliant student?

I was always an average student not because I didn’t have what it took to be the best, but because I was a man of many parts, always doing this and that and I was always distracted. Captain of this team, chairman of that team. I was just everywhere at the same time and those things made my studies suffer. I was always an average student.

How does an average student become a lawyer knowing that Law School can be challenging?

I have never failed a class. And I eventually became a lawyer. I think that I am a very good lawyer. People that I have worked with as a fresh lawyer and those I have worked with as a professional agree with me. There was hardly any court matter that I argued that people would not follow me by asking for my complimentary card afterwards. People were always impressed with me, even the judges and magistrates. I was building a vast legal empire before the call of my people came to represent them as chairman in the Local Government.

Heeding the call of my people is a popular line among politicians; tell us how your road to politics started?

It started in 1996 because I had participated in the MKO Abiola debacle. I was one of the supporters of MKO Abiola not because of SDP. I was in SDP all because of Abiola. I didn’t know Abiola too much because I had only met him once. But because of the things I had heard of him, I developed interest in him and took him as my mentor. That is me; I see friendship not necessarily because of what the friend will do for you, but for what you can do for the friend. If you do something providence will give you back. If you do something for a black person, providence might give you back via a white person. So, it doesn’t mean that it will flow from that person to you, it might not, but it will never be wasted. I was just a young lawyer, but because of the people that loved me, people in the community that we shared political idea together with, people who saw my opinion as good and because I made funds available to foster what we were saying, they saw me as a political captain of sort and started asking for my direction. At the end of the day, they started asking themselves why they couldn’t make their local government chairman. From the remoteness of my own area, they catapulted me to the heart of Shomolu because then there was no Kosofe Local Government. That was where I contested the election for chairman for Shomolu Local Government, marking the start of my active politicking.

Boldness is one attribute you have continuously spoken about, how bold can you really be?

Very bold. But age and experience has slowed me down. The Yoruba’s say when you are a wizard, you get more afraid because when you know you may imagine consequences, but when you don’t know, you are not even aware that what is behind six is beyond seven and eight, nine or even 10 or one million. So, when you don’t know, you won’t know consequences. You are careless as a youth, as a student, you make so many mistakes and that is why it is generally said that it is God who looks after toddlers. Sometime, they will want to fall, but they will regain their balance. God is great. A child might fall of a staircase and nothing will happen, but if an adult does that, he will die or he might never regain full use of himself again.

You seem to be speaking from experience, is there a story to this?

As a child, I had a terrible experience that kept me in and out of the hospital for about six years. Sometimes, I will stay in the hospital for upward of nine months nonstop. I will come out and go back again. It disturbed my childhood. I drank a whole bottle of kerosene as a nine month old. I was going to die, my mother suffered a lot, but I did not die. So, this thing happened because I did not know. I drank it and it was not bitter, but people wondered how it tasted to me. I remembered when I would see students going to school, but I could not, but later, I started going to school. Since that thing stopped, since I survived the life threatening experience, I have never slept in any hospital all through my adult life. I started school at about age nine because I wasn’t healthy enough to be leaving the house. I go to the hospital for normal checks, but I have never been admitted. I am not boasting. I thank God. Right now, the age and exposure make you think twice. Because I have now grown up, I have children, I have followers, I have people, I am mentoring; I have people that look up to me as a role model, so many things have happened. I am more careful now and I now work in a meticulous way. That is why the boldness has waned, it’s not like the boldness is not there anymore. I am daring, I can take bold steps. You know too much carefulness is carelessness and too much security is insecurity. You can’t be too careful. You plan for life and life has its plans for you. If you like it or not, it is the plan of life that will work because everything has been predestined. God is not just there for fashion. He is the author and finisher of our faith. As a human being, it is only God who knows what tomorrow holds. If you know that you will be a billionaire tomorrow, you won’t work today and if you know that you will be poor tomorrow, you can die today. That is why he hides everything from us. You have to continue the struggle. The decision is God’s, so you just do your best and leave the rest. The adventurism in me is waning because of these factors.

They say that the best of lawyers win some cases and losses some, were there any you regretted loosing?

Not that I lost. I was a victim of intrigues in many cases. I was a victim of intrigues with corrupt judges and magistrates that will delay cases in a way that will make the client not to be able to afford it. And because of my own young age, I couldn’t understand that I shouldn’t have reacted the way I did. Some of the things that I have done, I regret and some of the things I have also done, I have no regrets. There was the case of a man who bought a property from a person and the judge took part of the money and was delaying the matter and because the guy didn’t have the money to pay, I made a proposition to him on how he would pay later after we had won the case, but the client was too greedy to agree with me. So, I withdrew from the case and the guy lost the case because it was not a case you give to just any lawyer. Sorry to say, I had a very functional chamber that I was operating. When you give a roadside lawyer who had no books, no bearing of a case of that nature, he will mess it up. His lawyer lost the case. Later, when I saw the guy, I almost wept. I regretted not taking the case. It would have been better if I had won the case and he didn’t pay me. I felt for him. As a young man in life, his first investment had gone down the drain and you know they say opportunity comes, but once. Unfortunately, he has not been able to get himself again. When I see him, I say maybe if I had been able to help him, things wouldn’t be the way they are for him. The money was about three hundred thousand then, but it was a vast estate that he bought. If he had that, he would have been okay in life. So, I regret some of these things and I ask myself why I behaved like that. He should not have been stupid and naïve not to be aware that services of such supposed to be paid for. He too regretted his actions. So, I was a victim of such intrigues and such problems in many cases.

How would you evaluate the Nigerian legal system?

The legal system in Nigeria especially in Lagos is now better. What I was talking about earlier was the pre-Osinbajo era. When I say pre-Osinbajo, I am talking about Osinbajo as Attorney General and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as Governor in Lagos State. The Asiwaju era brought about tremendous, sustained and consistent changes in the Lagos legal system. Now, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has done another one with Adeniji Adele as Attorney General. In Lagos now, it is very difficult for any minister in the temple of justice or people charged with the administration of justice to do things with impunity. Impunity is not possible in Lagos State justice system. Impunity is not possible any more with the kind of reforms put in place by Asiwaju Tinubu and sustained by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode. Then, it was military rule and they were using 1972 rules. I am talking about the early 90s. Now, the rules hardly exist for more than five or six years before they are reformed, so all the loopholes have been blocked and plugged. Now, impunity is dying. I don’t know of the other states that have not really buckled up to the modern day judiciary system, but in Lagos, it is impossible. The new Chief Justice has promised new evolutionary and epoch making reforms that will make delay, denial, transversity of justice almost impossible in Lagos State.

At a point in time you were not politically active, what were you up to then?

I was in politics, but not in the limelight. You see, there are so many sides to politics, the bright side and the dull side. I fell on the dull side then. I told you I was very adventurous, I was very bold, I was very daring, I could do things without thinking of the consequences. I took a misadventure and that was the result. But once things are done, I move on, I don’t give up.

You said misadventure, can you expatiate on that?

I wouldn’t want to say that it happened because I went to another party. That was just the manifestation of the problem. The problem was that I took a misadventure because I was parochial, myopic in analysing, aggregating and articulating the situation. I took a permanent decision in a temporary situation and you don’t do that.

You don’t do that in politics?

In anywhere, even in life. You don’t make a promise when you are happy and you don’t take a decision when you are angry. Time is a great healer of wounds and some things happen that without you doing anything they normalise themselves. They might appear so bad, but if you can be patient, just a little patient, you will just see that things will roll themselves over because we reside in a dynamic world and nothing is static. When problems come, they are meant to come and go. Happiness even disappears more. When I was in the Kegaites Club in the university, we used to say that in the midst of happiness, there is danger. It may sound like jargons, but it is true. And that is why I get very cautious when I see that I am extremely happy. If I am in a party and it is soaring and raving, that’s the time I take off. When you see that things are getting too rosy, be careful and when they are getting bad, be hopeful because at the end of the tunnel, there is light. I am not a pessimist, but I think, we should balance things.

But there were talks of you having issues with Asiwaju, did it really happen?

There were times we had issues with Asiwaju, which we did not know were for the betterment of all of us. If Asiwaju did not have the foresight to break the local government into smaller units to reach the people better, we would not have the proper structures that we have today. Today, people are more involved. So, those were the things that gave birth to the misadventure. We thank God.

Tell us about life in the university

It was fun throughout; there was no dull moment. I was a complete rascal. I was never a brilliant student and I never failed my exams because I would give you back to sender. You cannot be a good lawyer by not researching because no two cases are the same, there must be slight variation.

It’s not every day you hear people saying that they were not brilliant, why are you divulging this?

I don’t lie. However, I never failed any exam in my life. I thank God for where I am today because of the way I lived my life. I thought that I would have been dead by now. I could have been a professor because I am well endowed. If I bring a document now and give you a copy and I also study it, within an hour, I will write out the document for you. I have that gift. And that was why I often only turned up for exams two weeks to its commencement. It was common to hear people say don’t imitate him, he knows his way.

Would it be right to describe you as a socialite?

People don’t know that I am not a socialite. A socialite is somebody who will go out of his way to look for fun. Fun comes across me, fun beckons to me. When I socialise, when I network with party people, I go there because I have to. I don’t seek fun because I cherish my rest a lot and I don’t get enough time to rest. I like to be a good father to my children, a good husband to my wife and a good mentor to my mentees. I still have an old mother who still craves my attention. Because a lot of people look up to me, I can’t just go out looking for fun. However, when I have the opportunity of playing, I play hard, but when I have the opportunity of working or staying with my people I stay well. Whatever I do, I do it well without inhibition. For instance, you go to a party and you get asked what you will eat, they bring the food and you are looking at it, it will get cooled, flies will perch on it and you will still eat it. All of these things happened to the food because you were trying to create an impression. Who are you short-changing? So, when I go to a party, when they bring the food I eat, if I want to eat. If they bring champagne, if I want to drink I drink. If I want to dance and they are not playing the right music I request for, the one I want, I dance because I am there to have fun. I won’t sit and be posing. Once I am there, I am there and I want to have fun. When I am tired of the place, I pack my load and go, but while I am there, you will know that I am there. You must leave something for people to be able to talk about when you go, it is good. You are imprinting your footprint on the sands of time.

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