1. How would you describe yourself in three words?
I am a person of conviction, very passionate about public service and I didn’t get into politics to make up the numbers. I want to make an impact in society.
2. Have you always lived in Glasgow?
I was born in South-Western Nigeria; I lived there for a couple of years, and then came to England when I was a teenager. I came to Glasgow for my undergraduate studies in 2008.
3. Has politics always been part of your life?
In some ways, yes and in some other ways, I would say no. I consider myself a political person in the sense that I have always been interested in the conversations of the day.
I am more a big picture kind of person who is more interested in getting things done and making a change. I just get on with voters, speak to people to find out what their concerns are and see how I can help.
4. What brought you into the “active political life”?
I joined the conservative party in 2015 after the general election which David Cameron won. I consider myself to be Conservative at heart and I have always been. I think as a politician, you should never shy away from what your convictions are.
In 2016, I voted for Brexit. A lot of people hate Brexit, but I have a different mindset towards it. I voted Brexit because I felt the British economy was not balanced in the sense that it was more in favour of Europe as opposed to being global in its approach. For example, migrants from other countries of the world couldn’t get into the UK because immigration from the European Union couldn’t be controlled.
I also wanted the UK to regain its entrepreneurial spirit in terms of striking independent trade deals with counties around the globe as opposed to just European countries.
My Christian faith also motivated me to get involved in politics; I think that the Christian voice in this country is becoming aligned. This was my primary motivation for getting involved in politics.
5. How did you receive the news about your election as the first-ever black councillor in the Glasgow City Council?
As I said, I am a fairly ordinary person and to be honest, I didn’t get involved in politics to become the first black person to be elected councillor in Glasgow. It was obviously great to know that people voted for me, that they trusted me.
On the day itself, I didn’t really come to terms with the achievement.
6. Has your election changed your life?
Yes, absolutely! Now I have to meet people; to go for meetings, I have access to things that maybe people don’t have access to.
I think one of the greatest things happening right now is people getting used to seeing someone from a different background involved in decision-making. Because, when you think about Scotland as a country, Scotland doesn’t have that much exposure to people from different backgrounds compared to England which is a much more diverse country.
It would be great if my success motivates other people to get involved in politics and Africans should definitely get involved in the decision-making process. They pay tax as well.
7. Why did you choose to join the Conservative and Unionist Party? Why not the other political groups?
It is the party which represents most of my beliefs compared to other platforms. There are some central dogmas which are synonymous with the conservative party. Things like free enterprise, less state intervention, encouraging individual effort and businesses are all things I believe in.
8. Are you then inviting Africans to join the Conservative Party?
Yes, we have a lot of business people in the African community and people with conservative instincts. If you believe in self-effort and less state intervention, you are probably conservative.
9. What matters to you in Victoria Park (12) which is your local area?
In my local area, there are lots of issues, but I will mention some major things. Public service and state of local roads are important issues. The roads actually are not that bad, but there are other issues such as bin collection, council tax issues, the way the environment looks, you know just ordinary everyday things.
10. Could you describe one of your typical work days?
People contact us via emails; I should mention we have support staff who help out, but I mostly attend to my emails myself. I try to understand the enquiry, speak to constituent if appropriate and then progress the enquiry by contacting the relevant department. Depending on the issue involved, it can involve further investigation, meetings and a site visit in the ward.
In the evenings, we attend community council meetings. We also have committee meetings in the City Chamber and usually occurs during the day, lasting hours.
11. What are your favourite things about being a councillor?
When things actually get done. The feeling of being able to help is great. Also seeing my ideas being implemented provides a sense of fulfilment.
12. Is there anything you do not appreciate in being a councillor?
Sometimes the process can be quite frustrating when for instance, you want to get something done and you have to go through the council structure which is already an established structure entrenched in bureaucracy.
13. You are a current research student at Glasgow Caledonian University and a councillor at the same time: how do you manage both activities? How do you organise, plan, and prioritise your work?
This actually applied more to me last year because I am now finishing my studies. I would say it was very challenging, but I won the election when already at the tail end of my studies. So, it is not that challenging, and we also have a lot of support from the council.
14. On a personal level, what is your most significant achievement?
My greatest achievement is my relationship with God.
15. Again, thinking on a personal level, what is the lowest point of your life to date?
As a councillor, the frustration of trying to do something and not being able to it. I don’t really want to be specific, let’s say the disappointment of not being able to implement things.
16. What would you say to someone who thinks that getting involved in political life is a waste of time, as it won’t make a real difference to society?
We are here today because of politics; the level of tax you pay is because of someone’s political decision, the state of the roads is because of someone’s political decision, the state of the NHS is because of someone’s political decision, everything is a consequence of politics whether you like it or not. So, I think politics is actually very central to society so we can’t ignore it and I think politics does make a difference.
I compare politics to breathing; you are not always conscious of breathing, but it is central to life, so I encourage people to get involved in politics.