For a very long time, numerous people eagerly desire to know what Rt. Hon. (Prince) Matthew Olushola Kolawole stands for.
This public curiosity got to a crescendo the moment he was democratically elected as the 12th Speaker in the 6th Assembly of the Kogi State House of Assembly.
Even, while in private business as a Consultant to government establishments,
corporate bodies, international organizations and a successful entrepreneur of repute,
the love and affection, humility, friendliness and primal leadership disposition of the highly versatile and resourceful Prince Kolawole didn’t go unnoticed in the public domain.
And, fate favourably answered the inimitable, affable and pragmatic political juggernaut, in 2015 and overwhelmingly reelected in 2019, against all odds; he contested and won the Kogi State House of Assembly in two consecutive times, for the first time in the history of Kabba-Bunu State Constituency in a landslide victory.
If his grass to grace journey is better imagined than experienced, his political odyssey is a rare happenstance in our political firmament. It is unthinkable for a Legislator to navigate his way to the Principal Officer status as a first timer, but alas, like the Darman miracle, the people’s Prince was the Majority Leader for barely two years, and two months without any scandal and before you could say Jack Robinson, he was unanimously elected as the Speaker by majority of his distinguished colleagues. This is destiny at work and the whole metamorphosis could only be divine!
So, with his emergence as the custodian of the gavel on August 3rd, 2017, the eponymous leader with requisite capacity has shown that the rare privilege he is enjoying today is an avenue to serve God and Humanity.
That the Captain of Empowerment in Kogi West is not vain has become a virtue of public consumption. He is neither sentimental nor off the path in terms of social connect, rather, he is offering his widow’s mite to his Constituents whose mandate he is holding in trust.
With no iota of doubt, he has really demonstrated that charity to the downtrodden, service to the electorate who voted en masse for him and philanthropic gestures to the society at large are germane ingredients of good and purposeful leadership.
As a leader with innate qualities and instinctive humane proclivities, Kolawole’s heart strikes a rhythm with those of the people; he feels their pulses, pains and does what he can to lift up dejected souls from a state of hopelessness to hope and a sustainable future.
The mere fact that YomiKola doesn’t harbour hatred, envy, sentiment and hidden agenda in the exercise of public office helps extricate him from unsavoury ‘banana slip’ that often characterize the leadership of Nigeria’s legislative houses.
In spite of dealing with the heterogeneous background of his colleagues and the fragile nature of Kogi State House of Assembly before assumption of office as Speaker, the egalitarian leader was able to steer the mantle of leadership of the House for twenty two months before the 6th assembly wind down in 2019 and now the thirteen months in the 7th assembly, rancour free with vibrant, people-oriented and robust legislative business.
Like an old wine in a new bottle, the unassuming but gifted polemicist is growing in influence, experience and capacity.
However, since he assumed duty as the number 3 citizen of the State, there is no gainsaying that peace has permanently returned to the hitherto crisis ridden Hallowed chamber of the Kogi State House of Assembly; this is a testimony to his leadership acumen.
A calm, humble, trustworthy and easy going lawmaker with the ability to lobby, he has enjoyed maximum cooperation and support of his members which has engendered the smooth running of the Assembly since he emerged as the Speaker.
His intimidating track record of achievements as Speaker within a short time in office made the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Africa Region to appoint him as one of its Executive Committee Members to represent North Central Nigeria.
It is also good to note that his meekness, calmness and hard work made the Conference of Speakers in Nigeria to elect him as the Financial Secretary of the forum.
However, immediately he resumed duty in 2105, he swung into action by constructing 2 blocks of classrooms in Igori–Bunu Primary School, Odo-Appe Ward, Gbeleko Primary School in Egbeda Ward and Idoyi Primary School in Iluke Ward. All the projects have since been completed.
As part of his constituency projects in 2015 – 2020, he has delivered more than 25 boreholes across the fifteen wards of the constituency aside rehabilitating all moribund boreholes in the two wards in Kiriland and made them functional in 2018. In total, 22 existing boreholes were rehabilitated in Kiriland apart from the one in Ofere community.
Aside water projects, the Speaker realizing that there is need for concerted efforts to reposition the economic status of the people, launched a N500, 000 Empowerment Scheme in which over 50 market women benefited from with each beneficiary getting the sum of N10, 000 to start up small scale businesses that will boost their economic profile in 2016, 2018 and the 2020 edition will come up before the close of the year, aside other supports given to groups and associations.
As part of his efforts to reposition secondary school education in the constituency, he organized and sponsored an Inter-Secondary School Quiz Competition among the secondary schools in Kabba/Bunu Local Government Area, a program that showcased the knowledge of the students wherein Community High School, Okeofin – Bunu emerged the overall winner followed by St Mary Secondary School, Ayede – Bunu and Wise Virgin Secondary School, Kabba came third respectively in 2017.
While in 2018, he included the inter Secondary School Debate Competition to revive that aspect of education for the students to interact and also test their ability in what they have learnt wherein Community High School, Okeoffin emerged winner ahead of St. Augustine College, Kabba while Christ Anglican Secondary School, Kabba emerged the overall winner of the Quiz Competition, followed by Wise Virgin Secondary School, Kabba and St. Barnabas Secondary, Kabba came third respectively.
All winners in both competitions were awarded a one-year scholarship with mouth watery gifts for both the students and their schools.
Being a lawmaker that loves education, he went the extra mile to support Kabba Development Union (KDU) and Bunu Development Association (BDA) Education Endowment Fund with N500, 000 each; this he did to support indigent students in the two districts. These are aside his regular education support programs which run on a yearly basis, scholarship scheme, distribution of writing materials, school bags etc.
On 1st July, 2017 the Honourable Speaker staged a laudable multimillion naira empowerment program in which over 320 persons across the fifteen Wards in Kabba/Bunu State Constituency including non-indigenes benefited from. The empowerment items distributed include Sewing machine, grinding machine, hair dryers, farm tools, mechanic tools, other artisan’s tools, generator sets, microwave oven, deep freezers, laptops and plastic chairs.
While in October, 2017 the peace loving and amiable representative who have passion for the widows and Market Men and Women decided to reach out to them by empowering them with capital to boost and strengthen their small scale businesses.
He gave N1.6m to Kabba Central Market Men and Women Association and Bunu Market Women Association to support their Cooperative and Thrift Society while two other women groups got #250, 000 each with 30 other business women, two each from the fifteen wards across Kabba/Bunu State constituency receiving N10, 000 each to support their businesses.
This is aside over 120 widows that were given different items of food stuff with cash to support them. The food items given include, Semovita, Rice, Garri, groundnut oil, clothing materials etc.
He regularly paid unscheduled visits to the Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja and other medical institutions within the state to pay medical bills of some patients from his constituency and other people who could not offset their bills.
Understanding that everyone cannot go to school, he partnered with the Nigeria Directorate of Employment (NDE) to train 155 youths in different skills of their choices in 2018/19 session and at the end, each of them will be empowered with the equipments and tools of such skills they have acquired for them to start up and earn their livelihoods. Currently 220 youths are undergoing similar training in Kabba Development Union Skill Acquisition Centre in Kabba.
In 2017/19 120 youths enjoyed monthly stipends as salary to ameliorate their suffering for more than two years apart from the 15 aides attached to his office; the positions he spread across the 7 Local Government Areas that makes up Kogi West Senatorial District, while about 40 aides are serving with him currently in the 7th assembly.
He has facilitated jobs for over 30 graduates in different ministries, agencies and departments of governments at both the state and national level asides other political appointments.
More than 20 people have also gone on pilgrimage to the Holy lands of Jerusalem and Saudi Arabia through his efforts.
In 2018, he donated the sum of N3.5m to ensure the completion of Ayede – Olle community electrification project which has made it possible for the various communities along the axis to access electricity for the first time.
Immediately after he was inaugurated on the 4th June, 2019, as his first project, he installed solar street lights in 7 communities in the constituency.
In 2019, he single handedly as part of his constituency projects sponsored the grading and opening up of the Aiyede – Appe – Igori – Ighun road and Aiyede – Eshi road, a project that cost close to ten million naira.
While in the area of health, the Speaker moved motion on the floor of the house to upgrade the Health Centre in Ike – Bunu to Cottage Hospital, a motion that have received the attention of the executive, and the health care centre has since be upgraded aside the fact that he took an initiative to construct two cottage hospitals in both Kabba and Bunu districts as his personal projects.
The two projects are ongoing and at an advanced stage while he rehabilitated the Osomule health centre.
In the advent of the outbreak of the deadly Coronavirus pandemic in the country, the outstanding lawmaker has consistently reached out to his constituents by distributing food items and cash gift as palliatives and also educating them to take precautionary measure by washing and sanitizing their hands regularly, promote personal hygiene, observing social or physical distancing of at least two meters and wearing of facemasks.
Asides his humanitarian gestures, he has also been very active in contributing meaningfully to the lawmaking process at the Sixth Assembly of the Kogi State House of Assembly by moving motions and sponsoring bills that will promote good governance of the state.
He moved motion for the upgrading and renaming of the Zonal Hospital, Kabba to Kabba Specialist Hospital, a motion which got the attention of the State Government to effect the name change and also established a Pediatric section, a project that is ongoing.
He also moved motion on the rehabilitation of Kabba Township which forced the contractor to return to site, though due to paucity of fund occasion by the corona virus pandemic, the project is stalled now.
A motion to provide adequate staffing for Kogi State College of Education Technical, Kabba, and this motion was jointly sponsored by the Speaker and Hon. Victor Omofiaye.
A motion for the reconstruction of Omigbo and Omoko bridges in Kabba, both motions are receiving the attention of the State Government.
A motion to upgrade the Ike Health Centre to Cottage Hospital
A motion to decentralize the Kogi State University, Ayingba and make it a multi campuses institution, this motion prompted the Executive arm to sponsor a bill that seeks to decentralize the university to have campuses across the state, the bill has since to be passed and assented to by the Governor.
He sponsored the Road Traffic bill which has undergone public hearing waiting to be passed to law any moment from now.
He also sponsored the Sport Trust Fund Commission, which seeks to provide the legal framework to support talented athletics in the state to access funds that will enable them to go for more training hence enhancing professionalism in their chosen areas of sports.
Under his leadership, the Sixth assembly assented to the 15 alteration bills sent to States Assemblies by the National Assembly to effect the amendment of the 1999 Constitutions of Nigeria, prominent among is the autonomy of the State Legislature.
The Sixth assembly under the watch of Rt. Hon. (Prince) Matthew Kolawole passed over 50 bills into law which has been assented to by Governor Yahaya Bello, a feat other assemblies before him could not achieved within the short period under review, among was the establishment of the Kogi State House of Assembly Service Commission, Youth Commission etc
While in the 7th assembly, the Kogi State House of Assembly has received 18 bills both private and executive bills, 8 has been passed into law, while 10 has passed second reading awaiting for public hearing, among is the establishment of the Confluence University of Science and Technology, Osara, Kogi State.
His leadership has brought stability to the legislative arm of government which is working in harmony with the Executive arm and other stakeholders in the state to fast track the overall development of all sectors in the state.
To create a conducive atmosphere for the lawmakers and staff to carry out their responsibility effectively and efficiently, he procured 250kwa Maikano generating set to guarantee uninterrupted power supply to the assembly complex.
On a general note, Rt. Hon. Matthew Kolawole is the first member from the constituency to hold a principal position of the Majority Leader and later the exalted position of the Speaker and the first to be reelected as member of the State Assembly on two consecutive occasions since the entrenchment of democracy in Nigeria.
He is a man that has a lot of respect for the traditional rulers, hence he consistently carries them along in all his activities and programmes since he came on board.
He organises constituency briefing annually to update his constituents on his activities and other programs through which he attracted quality men and women of goodwill to visit the community from time to time.
Our people should do well to see this budding institution as a veritable source to learn some useful lessons in good, qualitative leadership and interpersonal relations skills.
Based on his outstanding performances as a lawmaker and presiding officer, he has bagged many awards to his credit among which is the one by the Hero of Democracy Award 2019 as the Most Outstanding Speaker of the States House of Assembly in Nigeria.
Going forward, Rt. Hon Prince Matthew Kolawole will continue to provide qualitative representation and purposeful leadership at the state assembly with the support and cooperation of the people of Kabba/Bunu Constituency and his distinguished honourable colleagues.
Femi Olugbemi is the Chief Press Secretary to the Speaker Kogi state House of Assembly