The name Prince Matthew Kolawole has remained a phenomenon in the political landscape of Kogi State since he ventured into politics in 2003, when he first contested to represent the people of Kabba/Bunu State Constituency under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Though loved by majority of the electorates in the constituency, he could not scale through the huddles of the party politics of the primary election where the leaders of the party asked him to step down for an anointed candidate who later won the election in 2007.
Not deterred with the political setback, he decided to join forces with the candidate of the party and worked diligently for the overall success of the party then, an effort that earned him the Supervisory Councilor for Agriculture in Kabba/Bunu Local Government Area between 2008 and 2011.
Prince Matthew Kolawole who was born over five decades ago into the family of Pa Kolawole Otitonaiye in Gbeleko community in Kabba district of Kabba/Bunu Local Government Area, had his primary and secondary schools in Aiyede-Bunu and Iyah Gbede in Ijumu Local Government Area where he grew up with his mother who was a petty trader/farmer.
Not minding the challenges of his growing up, he was determined from onset to create a niche for himself which has finally paid off.
As an enterprising person and sportsman, he rose from grass to grace through his talent and commitment as an outstanding lawn tennis player that represented his state Kwara later Kogi and Nigeria in different tournaments across the globe before he ventured into event planning and capacity building. This gave him the opportunity to work with three different first ladies of Nigeria between 1998 and 2007, Her Excellencies, Hajia Fati Abubakar, late Mrs. Stella Obasanjo and Mrs. Titi Abubakar.
Rt. Hon. (Prince) Matthew Kolawole was inaugurated as member for the first term in the sixth Assembly of the Kogi State House of Assembly in 2015 with his colleagues.
The Kabba born international sportsman and business mogul turned politician had an encounter with destiny as his track records coupled with his leadership sagacity and capacity to deliver earned him the Majority Leader of the House despite being a first timer in the Assembly.
A position he held for two years, two months despite the huge crisis that engulfed the House which lasted for almost eight months before fate beckoned on him and he was unanimously elected the 12th Speaker of the Kogi State House of Assembly on the 3rd August, 2017, a position he still maintains till date.
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 could only happen due 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 colleagues which has engendered the smooth running of the Assembly since his emergence as the Right Honourable Speaker.
His intimidating track record of achievements as Speaker within a short time in office made the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Africa Region appointed him as one of its Executive Committee Members to represent North Central Nigeria, a position he still maintains till date.
It is also good to note that his meekness, calmness and hard work made his colleagues in the Nigeria Conference of State Legislature Speakers elected him Financial Secretary of the Conference in early 2018, he served out his term in 2020 and got elected again as the National Treasurer of the Conference the same year.
Immediately he resumed duty in 2015, he swung into action by facilitating the construction of two blocks of classrooms each in Igori-Bunu Primary School in Odo-Ape political ward, Gbeleko Primary School in Egbeda-Kabba political ward and Idoyi Primary School in Iluke-Bunu political ward, the projects have since been completed and put to use by beneficiary schools.
As part of his constituency projects in 2015-2016, he delivered 7 boreholes in Aiyeteju/Kajola, Okekoko, Odolu and Egbeda political wards in Kabba district while Odo-Ape, Olle-Okeofin and Iluke political wards in Bunu district benefitted from the boreholes projects.
Due to the typographical nature of the Kiri axis of Bunu land, drilling of new boreholes became very difficult hence Rt. Hon. (Prince) Matthew Kolawole took the initiative to rehabilitate all moribund boreholes in the two political 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 while efforts are in top gear to actualize the conversion of Suku-Taki road to state road for the State Government to take over the construction.
It is also good to note that as at today Rt. Hon. (Prince) Matthew Kolawole has delivered over 30 boreholes in the constituency and 15 more are in various stages of completion for the benefit of the people to access portable water.
Aside from the water project, the Speaker realizing that there is need for concerted efforts to reposition the economic status of the people, he launched a five hundred thousand naira (N500, 000) Empowerment Scheme in which over 50 market women benefited from the scheme in 2016.
While in education, the Speaker organized and sponsored an Inter-Secondary School Quiz Competition among all Secondary Schools in the Constituency, a program that showcased and broadened the knowledge of the students wherein Community High School, Okeofin-Bunu emerged the overall winner followed by St. Mary Secondary School, Aiyede-Bunu and Wise Virgin Secondary School, Kabba came second and third position respectively in 2017
Still in 2017, the lawmaker staged a multimillion naira empowerment program in which over 320 persons across the fifteen political wards in the constituency including non-indigenes benefitted from.
The empowerment items distributed include sewing machine, grinding machine, hair dryers, farm tools, mechanic tools, other artisans tools, generator sets, microwave oven, deep freezers, laptops and plastic chairs.
In 2018, he introduced the Inter Secondary School Debate Competition to revive that aspect of education in the constituency for the students to interact and also test their intellectual ability, wherein Community High School, Okeofin emerged winner ahead of St. Augustine College, Kabba while Christ Anglican Secondary School emerged the overall winner of the Quiz Competition, followed by Wise Vargin Secondary School, Kabba and St. Barnabas Secondary School, Kabba came third respectively.
All winners in both competitions were given a one year scholarship with watery gifts for both the schools and students aside over 1500 students that have enjoyed scholarship program sponsored by him at one time or the other.
Being a lawmaker that places a premium on education, he went extra miles to support Kabba Development Union (KDU) and Bunu Development Association (BDA) with the sum of five hundred thousand naira each (N1m) to support indigent students in the two districts.
In 2018, the Speaker also released the sum of one million, six hundred thousand naira only, (N1.6m) to Kabba Central Market Men & Women Association and Bunu Market Women Association to support their Cooperative and Thrift Society while two other women groups got two hundred and fifty thousand naira each to support their business.
Beneficiaries are drawn from the fifteen political wards of Kabba/Bunu State Constituency.
This is aside over 120 widows that were given different items of food stuff with cash to support their little businesses.
The food items include semovita, rice, gari, and groundnut oil and clothing materials.
It is also good to note that the speaker regularly paid unscheduled visits to the Federal Medical Centre to pay medical bills of some patients from his constituency and other people who could not offset their bills in the hospital.
Understanding that everyone cannot go to school, he partnered with the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) to train 155 youths in different skills of their choices and at the end, each of them were empowered with the equipments and tools of such skills they have acquired for them to start up and earn their livelihoods.
While in the second phase, over 200 youths recently completed their training with the NDE and are waiting to be settled in accordance with their choices of skill at a later date in the year.
Between 2017 and 2019, over 120 youths enjoyed monthly stipends as salary to ameliorate their suffering apart from the 15 aides attached to his office, the positions he spread across the state while currently he appointed over 40 aides to support his office.
He has procured and installed over 70 solar street lights to various communities in the constituency while he has distributed over 50 vehicles and 60 motorcycles to individuals, groups, associations and party in the last 6years.
The Speaker has facilitated jobs to over 50 graduates in different ministries, agencies and departments of governments at the state, other states and national level aside other political appointments.
More than 25 people have also gone on pilgrimage to the holy lands of Jerusalem and Saudi Arabia through his efforts.
It is on record that the lawmaker paid 3.5m naira to energize the electrification project of Aiyede – Olle – Bunu communities; the singular gesture enables those communities for the first in their existence to have access to electric power in their various homes.
While in the area of health, the Speaker took an initiative to construct two cottage hospitals in both Kabba and Bunu districts.
The two projects are in an advanced stage of completion while he rehabilitated the health centre in Osomule – Bunu community.
Under his rural road projects, he graded Aiyede-Ape-Igori road and Gbeleko link road for farmers in those axis to have easy access of moving their farm produces to the market.
Aside from humanitarian gestures, he has also been very active in contributing meaningfully to the law making process during the sixth and in the current seventh assembly of the Kogi State House of Assembly by moving motions and sponsoring bills that will promote good governance of the state.
Under his leadership, the House of Assembly has passed 80 bills while 20 bills are at various stages of legislation since he assumed duty as the Speaker and majority of bills passed have been assented to by Governor Yahaya Bello.
He moved 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 name change and also established a Pediatric section, a project that is ongoing.
He also moved motions on the rehabilitation of Kabba township road which forced the contractor to return to site, motion on Omigbo and Omoko bridges and recently with his outstanding lobby technique, the State Government under the leadership of Governor Yahaya Bello approved the reconstruction of the township toads to a reputable contractor who have since commenced work.
He moved a joint motion with Hon. Victor Adewale Omofiaye to provide for adequate staffing for the Kogi State College of Education Technical, Kabba.
He also moved motion to upgrade Ike-Bunu Health Centre to Cottage Hospital, his motion on decentralization of Prince Audu Abubakar University, Ayingba received attention to the effect, the executive arm sponsored a bill on it and it has since been passed and assent by the Governor, while he sponsored bills on Road Traffic, Sport Trust Fund, Administration of Criminal Justice, Civil Service Reform (Pension) .
Rt. Hon. (Prince) Matthew Kolawole remained the first Speaker of the Kogi State House of Assembly to host Nigeria Conference of State Legislatures Speakers since the creation of the state 30 years ago.
There is no gainsaying that his leadership has brought about peace and tranquility in the legislative arm of government in the state.
Based on his monumental achievements and selfless service to the constituency, state and humanity at large Rt. Hon. (Prince) Matthew Kolawole will be needed beyond 2023.