By Eric Elezuo
Leveraging on his superlative performance when he held sway as the executive chairman of Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area between 2008 and 2014, the people of the constituency feel it is the best if he replicates the same excellence performance at the Federal level, and so the clarion call for Comrade Ayodele Adewale to take up seat as member of the House of Representatives in 2019. In this interview, Adewale, reputed as an uncommon achiever, explains the passion that drives his desire. Excerpts:
Can we meet you sir?
My name is Ayodele Adewale, immediate past chairman of Amuwo-Odofin Local Government.
Apart from being the immediate past chairman, what else are you?
I am the MD of Husbock Links and Developement. It is a construction, servicing, real estate and consulting company and we also have interest in agriculture and community affairs.
What of politically?
Politically I have served at various platforms but presently I am contesting for the House of Representatives, Amuwo Odofin Federal Constituency.
Between 2014 when you left the chairmanship office and now, what has been happening in your life politically?
Politically, I have been instrumental to encouraging people to get into office, hoping that they will improve on what we started. Of course, I am in the forefront of supporting my party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) on various fronts, especially as it concerns Lagos State. I am also an active social commentator, educating the larger community about the working of the APC and of course their expectation from the society.
What can you tender to the people as a credential for them to vote you to the House of Representatives?
I have a historic record of active civil society participation, which thrives on the building of an ideal society. It is not a magical transition. That was the idea I brought into office as Chairman of the Local Government and I was able to implement a lot of it, and that is why you see more attention in the local government as people want to know what is happening. As a result, we have been able to key into other people’s thought, and they also have used the experience of our activities here to improve on their own local governments.
What do you think the person currently in the position you are contesting for in the House of Representative is not doing well?
My mission is to bring the attention of both the Federal and state governments to Amuwo Odofin Federal Constituency because every politics deals with the grassroots, and one must improve his locality before venturing into a larger scope. Amuwo-Odofin has not received enough attention and the resources in the federal and state are quite limited. So, getting attention depends on how you are able to persuade and negotiate for your people. I can confidently say that from the beginning of this democracy, there is not much project we have achieved.
So what projects have you proposed to bring down to the constituency when eventually you are elected?
I have not said I was going to do projects in the real sense. It is not about projects but representation.
Can you explain what you mean?
Government is about people and what they desire. Therefore, one must represent them through every legal Organized platform particularly in the National Assembly. You can’t do anything literarily without consulting your consistency and that is why I said it is about representation. Our people desire a lot of attention from the federal and the state governments, and I see myself as using that platform to further entrench our request and lobby authorities. The local government can only do little especially when it’s has a focused leadership and the state government has limited resources. It is the clamour of the people therefore, that will attract and bring development to our community’s. And my community needs someone who has the ability to lobby and negotiate totally is very much needed like me to represent them.
Aside that, we can also use that office to attract some attentions from the private sector using my pedigree and experience while I was Chairman of Amuwo Odofin Local Government and of course, my relationship with companies and foreign nations, because while I was in government, the US Marine through the US Consulate comes yearly to render medical services to our coastal areas. And that today, has stopped. is it because I am no longer in government? There should be continuity. For this to happen, there must be someone who can bridge the gap.
I had a wonderful relationship with the private sector as well as NGOs like the Rotary Club, the Lions Clubs and many others, and we benefitted a lot from one another. I have what it takes to resuscitate that relationship.
Can you itemize some differences between your days in Amuwo-Odofin LGA and now?
During my days, the people came first, and we tried as much as possible to do thought provoking projects, making people wonder where we got the money from. And I told them it is just a matter of thinking out of the box. But today, everybody is demoralized as the government is even not funding meaningful projects despite the fact that they received over N1.2 billion from the federal and state allocation without adding the internally generated revenue from Amuwo Odofin LG only in one year. There is no meaningful project to identify them with as at today.
What can you say is the problem?
I leadership and self aggrandizement
People put self far above the community and the office they occupy. I even heard that an auditor came and gave them pass mark. But it is only when an independent forensic auditor is invited, that people will actually see that all the money has gone under the bridge. Go to the schools, health centres, roads, environment; nothing meaningful and impactful is happening – everywhere is filled with filth and potholes on the roads.
I used to give free drugs when I was in office, I employed over 28 doctors, I was paying corps member Dr N100,000 at the riverine and N70,00 upland while other Dr got N170,000 stipend. Some other NYSC members were collecting twenty-eight thousand naira, some fifty, some seventy, some thirty-five; the least was twenty depending on the type of service they render. I was the highest employer of corps members in Nigeria. Far above what the state government employed in any ministry or agency. At a point, I took 260 corps members and I was paying them monthly, but today, no corps member is paid again. So, what went wrong! Is it that they are not getting resources again, the answer is no. and they are even collecting more than what we collected. We constructed and rehabilitated roads, drainage, schools; we did training for civil servants and political office holders both in Nigeria and abroad. We attended many climate change conferences; even the climate change unit is now in comatose.
But some people would argue the present administration was foisted on them by you…
Nobody foisted anything on anybody. We love the people. We recommended what I believe at the time was the best option. And if you put the equation together, you will realize that somebody who has been the Supervisor for Works, Head of Operations; Chief of Staff, and many more should practically be more qualified than any other person because he had seen the nitty gritty of the administration. Even God said he was disappointed that he created man; so, who am I? I wouldn’t know their inner intentions and self reasoning, but for you to have been in the office where things were happening, it should mean that you should be able to build on that foundation than someone who is coming to start from the beginning, from the outside.
So, at what stage did things go wrong?
I can’t go into the details now, but everything went haywire from the 4th day in office. They would not listen to voice of reasoning nor stick to the master plan of development for the area. By now, we should have built a stadium and a new administrative complex; redefining the face of public administration. By now, we would have built the first paediatric primary health care Centre in Nigeria. The job is supposed to be a continuous one; like what we have in Lagos state and that’s why the state is developing. There is a master plan that the present chairman of Amuwo Odofin Local Government was supposed to key into, which he promised to key into but jettisoned for his personal interest.
So, when you become a member of the House of Representative, do you think there won’t be issues bringing in your attractive investments into the constituency?
There won’t be issues, because when you are bringing investments, it doesn’t have to go through that channel. They can come independently and do what they want. If you are bringing investor or support for health care; there are private hospitals to partner with, as we did when I was in government. I partnered with Rotary club, Hosanna Hospital on deformity correction, cancer screening, prostrate screening, hypertension, high blood pressure, and diabetes. But we would still want them to partner with the local government because government is not about a person, it is institution. If they want to partner with the government, so be it. There are other private sectors that we can run it through. So, there will be no issues at all.
So, what’s your strategy for winning this election?
The strategy is to sustain our relationship with people. Like I will say, the government is about the people. These people still remember what God used me to achieve and impact on their lives and system. There are those who had the opportunity of getting empowerment through the GCE and JAMB forms we provided; a lot of them are in tertiary institutions now, and some have graduated. Even their family still remembers that. The over 3000 babies that were delivered for free at our health centers while I was in government are over 6-years-old now; their parents see them and joy overwhelms them. The Agric supports we gave are doing well. The IT students that we trained through partnering with NIIT are using their certificates to cater for themselves, and they are earning a living. The community dwellers that we have meetings with regular in order to improve the environmental sanitation in every aspect are still there. So, they know the difference, and they are the one championing my course. Once we cross primary stage and I winning the APC primary, the deal is done. The strategy is based on full trust.
Some might say you would not be as efficient when you get to the House of Representative?
A leopard cannot change its spots. I am myself yesterday, today and tomorrow.
So, what’s your promise to the people of Amuwo-Odofin?
My promise is that given another opportunity to serve, coupled with the experience we have gained now, it is far greater than what we had before. We are going to make an overwhelming improvement.
In the House of Representative, there is something called the Constituency Allowance…
I would not know; I only know from my civil society understanding that legislative business is for law making, and they have oversight functions. But, beyond that, I am going to lobby a lot of projects for my constituency. I have a lot of my colleagues in the House, so lobbying will not be an issue because of the relationship we have already. Therefore, lobbying to get project for my constituency is not a big deal. Moreover, I know the act of lobbying, and I am very good at it. So, it is not a big deal.
Talking about primaries, do you know those that will contest against you?
Yes, seven of them.
Do you think there is anyone of them who have a better pedigree than you?
In this game, I have learnt not to underestimate anybody, but I don’t think any of them have a programme, because all you see them do now is throw money around and post their pictures. No programme whatsoever on the poster! But I have a programme, which I capsuled in my mission and vision.
My vision is to see Amuwo-Odofin Federal constituency, Lagos state and Nigeria become self-sustained for development. My mission is to attract the attention of the federal and state governments for peculiar individual developments and sustainability. I am looking forward to the Amuwo-Odofin that can operate on its own, free of state and federal assistance. My mission encapsulates all about self-sustainability through women and youth empowerment, infrastructural provision and many others. When you say you want to bring the attention of people to somewhere, you have to develop your space, and that is why I capsuled it. It is big and deep. I am not limiting it to Amuwo Odofin alone but to Lagos state and Nigeria. For example, nobody is talking about the issue of the 37 local government development areas we have in the National Assembly. They should be listed into the federal revenue. Nobody is saying anything, and now that APC is in power is the best time for us to fight for it, before the Saraki crisis started. Now is the best opportunity because we have the control of the federal government, we have majority in the Senate and House of Representative, and we lost that opportunity.
Although you’ve summarized it to sustainability, can you itemize it?
They are all encapsulated in that. Without sustainability, you have nothing. Without good health facilities, infrastructure, security you can’t sustain yourself.
There should be more to it?
Except you want me to break it down, and I can’t do that in one article. I have lots of programs that will be created by law, but I have only summarized it. I’m a science-based person, and when I was the chairman, I did a lot. As a legislator, I cannot implement but I would work on laws that would bring the focus of the federal, state and local government to achieve that executive function using my oversight function without compromise. Already, I know the functions of the executive, it is now to back it up with an oversight function of the legislative and policies that is embedded in the law, and monitor it. I know I can’t be doing roads, unless I want to lie to you. That is why I am going to use laws and policies to make it effective because when the executive knows that somebody is monitoring and following them, they don’t have a choice but to implement it because I know how much will be coming from the federal to the local government. And once they are not implementing it, I know that I can call the community and tell them what has happened and the total budget they received. With this, all eyes will be on them, and they have no justification than to go and do it; that is the power of the legislature.
By the time you are following them bumper to bumper, even with the use of the media, they will be on their toes. With the knowledge of their budget for the year, no one can be telling you he has only done few empowerment, empowerment of what? No infrastructure, only bead making, cake and hair dressing as empowerment, for the whole of one quarter, six months and 1 year. Then, there is a conduit pipe somewhere taking the funds disguised as empowerment programme. We would monitor every program in order to know the quality of program you are bringing to the people.
With your mindset and the environment we leave in, do you think the power that be will allow you achieve this?
The power that be, also need people in the society to help them to carry out the programme and policies of the party so that development will be seen. The powers that be cannot be everywhere, they need like minds, and that is the vision of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, President Muhammadu Buhari and comrade Adams Oshiomole, and I can back it up. Asiwaju was so meticulous that he built the prosperity of Lagos from nothing to something, and he laid the blueprint in which successive governors have keyed into.
What is your view on the present Lagos State administration?
His Excellency, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode has proved to be a wonderful developer. He is investing more on infrastructure and creative art. Creative art, as we all know, is an empowerment programme. He is leveraging on the good foundation laid by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and sustained by Mr. Babatunde Fashola. It is infrastructure all the way because that is what will create security and provide opportunities. With somebody like me in the National Assembly; helping them to monitor this structure, they will definitely achieve more. The people will be happier, and by the time there is more of my kind doing the same thing, then we will be close to the ideal world we dream of. It is doable.
So, what advice can you give to the people as regard the forth coming election?
They should arm themselves with their PVCs. Also, they should free their thoughts from financial inducement. Whoever induces you financially does not have anything good for you. Whoever wishes to lead you must share your pain because he that wears the shoe knows where it pinches. If he has not lived with you, he cannot understand your pain. If they come from Ikorodu, American and several other places, or dance to music or take people to Dubai they cannot understand your pain because he or she will not understand it. He does not know whether it is water first or health centre. He or She will only do what he or she feels, and that’s not solving a problem. Also, he must get a refund for his money which he spent wooing the electorates. We know those that have integrity among us, and those that don’t. We also know those that support community development. So this is the time to make the right choice, and not be swayed by financial inducement.
Can we actually separate money from politics?
It is like oil and water. It will take time before you separate them. The oil will stay on top, the water will remain underneath. If you are careful enough, you can separate them; it will only take time.
Is that part of what you are bringing?
Yes, that why I educate my members through discussion. On weekly basis, we discuss and we proffer solutions.
So far, what is people’s reception of you like?
They are happy, they are waiting, and are also praying because they’ve enjoyed it before and they want to enjoy it again.
Thank you and we wish you success come 2019
Thank you and I appreciate you for your time