In a society where leadership is conceived by many as a source of personal gain and primitive acquisition of wealth, someone has consistently demonstrated that leadership without service is not worth holding. Senator Ayo, an Ogbomosho born political heavyweight has over the past decade given an example of true leadership through his community services, Philanthropy and youth empowerment. Thus, if you are looking for an epitome of service to humanity among Nigerian politicians, Senator Ayoade Ademola Adeseun is a good example. The senator representing Oyo Central Senatorial constituency of Oyo state, Nigeria in an interview with the Treasure Magazine International expressed his views on many important issues affecting the Nigerian nation.
Senator Adeseun is the chairman of senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions and also member of Appropriation, Local & Foreign Debt and Sport and Social Development Committees in the current National Assembly.
The distinguished Senator is loved and admired by his people and colleagues across the country. He is passionately committed to service to humanity and highly responsive to the yearnings of the less privileged. A visit to his constituency, Oyo central would be an eye opener because of his unprecedented and monumental achievements ranging from solar- powered boreholes, solar electricity, construction of roads, public buildings, provision of items such as grinding machines, sewing machines, scholarships to the less privileged to mention but a few. His solar energy initiative has endeared so much in the mind of the people that he is now popularly called “Ayo Solar” in Oyo State.
This Ogbomoso born senator has executed many empowerment programmes for the youths, market women and other classes of people in Oyo state. Senator Adeseun is identified with the less privileged, no wonder he was the first person to provide relief materials to flood victims in Ibadan, Oyo state of Nigeria.
Without mincing words, he is a people’s senator, a grass root mobiliser and a lover of the masses who prefers not to publicize any of his achievements. Enjoy the excerpt.
TMI: Good evening Senator, who is Senator Ayoade Ademola Adeseun?
Senator Adeseun: Senator Ayoade Ademola Adeseun is just a simple Ogbomosho man who
took his root from a clan imbibed with the basic essentials of our culture and appreciated these values appropriately. Maybe I would not have appreciated the values as much if not because of my sojourn to other parts of the world. It was there that I had the opportunity of comparing the systems, cultures and approaches to things. These are the factors that determine whether to appreciate or condemn a particular culture. Ordinarily, when we were growing up, the thought was that until you travelled abroad, you have not made it in life. When I finished secondary school, I went to Ibadan polytechnics to study town planning.
While there, I secured double scholarships, from Oyo state Government and Federal Government to study abroad. I got admissions from various universities including Manchester University in England but opted for California because of the weather. I settled for California because of my knowledge in Geography at the O’ level which gave me the insight that Florida and California weather conditions are favourable to me than other parts of USA. Most importantly, I opted for USA rather than UK because of the black integration in the USA .Up till today, you cannot see indigenous black British but we have indigenous black Americans. When I got to the USA, I was amazed with all what I saw but there were occurring things that kept telling me that that was not really my society. To tell you this, California is one of the best states in the world, no discrimination or segregation. The particular thing that I found wanting in the first instance was that, if you are a professor; you are one of one million and one professors, if you are an Engineer; you are one of one million and one engineers and if you are a doctor; ditto but in Nigeria during that time, if you were just a graduate, you became a celebrated person in the society. Value was attached to it and it was highly appreciated. And I kept saying I must go back to my country upon graduation. As a result of this mission, I joined efforts with other Nigerians to form Nigerian organization where I served in various positions. My stay there was wonderful like I said earlier, in the USA, especially in California, they do not discriminate. I was able to achieve what most people thought were impossible. When I left USA, I was the director of facilities management in my university. I had 104 employees reporting to me, only 4 of them were black. It was a society that allowed you to show your best. When I was to come back home in 1994, my university president called me, he said “Ayo, what is your problem? The report we are getting from Nigeria is not encouraging “because of the way Abacha was ruthlessly dealing with people. I replied him that he should not worry because I was very optimistic that Abacha would not last. I opted for a retirement plan because I wanted to come back home when I was still strong and agile so that I could contribute to the growth of Nigeria meaningfully and effectively. Upon arrival in Nigeria, I started a consultancy in Ibadan and I joined the political train. Shortly after Abacha declared a zero party system, I contested for chairmanship in surulere LGA, Iresadu, Oyo state and I won. After that I was re-elected as the chairman of the same local government.
TMI: (cuts in) was that when Alao Akala contested for chairmanship?
Senator Adeseun: No. My first term, he was still in the force as a police officer but we grew up together. Let me tell you the story briefly. I went to Ogbomosho Grammar school while he went to Ogbomosho High school but in the same community. So, during holidays we played soccer together etc. I think I graduated from secondary before him. We went our separate ways as he went and joined police force while I went to Ibadan polytechnic. After 20 years, I came back and our friendship continued as if we were never separated. Then, characters had been formed in different manners but we were not looking at those things. We started partying together and doing most things together. It was after I finished my second term that he started showing his interest in contesting for a political position. All People’s Party (APP) now All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), Alliance for Democracy (AD) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were formed as allowed by the military Government. Initially, we all came with late Chief Bola Ige to Abuja to launch PDP. When we got to Sheraton Hotel, on the day of the launch and super delegates were coming out, Chief Bola Ige being a member of G34 that fought Abacha was not comfortable with the caliber of people in attendance. He just stood up and beckoned to us that we should meet him in his hotel room. He said “my people, these are not individuals we can work with”. That night, he started making contacts and work began on how to form a party. That was when chief Bola Ige, Shinkafi and others formed APP. We took off from there by going to Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja to launch APP about a month later or thereabout. We were in Ikeja for the launch when Saraki came, IBB showed up and some other Abacha praise singers and late Chief Bola Ige asked, “Are these the people we are going to work with?” and he specifically referred to Adedibu who was sitting there. And if they would be part of this party, they should not occupy sensitive positions. We managed to finish that process and when we got to his room, he said he was not going to be in APP anymore that we were going to form another party. We then formed AD. In the meantime, when APP was formed, we went home to report to our people and they were very happy. After putting structures on ground, I was nominated to be state chairman of APP. I had no choice than to report back to our people, I then went home to report we were not APP again because this is a democracy. You know Ogbomosho people, for a very long time, since Akintola and Awolowo era, it is a community that sticks to regional government. So when PDP was being formed, they were excited that for the first time, a party with progressives and conservatives was being formed. They didn’t hesitate to follow us.
When we now came back to tell them that we were no more in APP ,they raised eyes brows and they said late Chief Bola Ige was trying to play us to regional party again. We reported back to chief Bola Ige that our people had vehemently refused to go to AD. We persuaded him to remain in APP but he refused. That was when Alao Akala came out and said he wanted to do politics. He tried all the parties but he failed to get any ticket because if you are not there at party formation, you will find it pretty difficult to manoeuvre your way. But because he had been my long time friend, I promised him a ticket in APP being the state chairman of the party and with the support of my supporters, he got the ticket.
He then ran for the general election and won as the chairman of the local Government. During his tenure, I was appointed at the state level by Alhaji Lam Adeshina (former Governor of Oyo state) as the chairman of state transport company.
In 2003, I opted to go to the House of Representatives, contested and won. In 2007, I went for second term and won again. This time around , I wanted to go for senate but because Akala told me he would run for the governorship, I said do you think this ticket will be given to Ogbomosho considering the power that was situated in Ibadan most especially the grand commander of Oyo politics, Adedibu? Akala now told me that Obasanjo had promised him and I said that is fine, you go ahead and I would drop my senate ambition. He
brought witness that Obasanjo has approved his candidature and I said in that case I withdraw from the senatorial race and opted for the second term to the House of Representatives. In the course of his misgovernance, we had become real bitter enemies because the man became a governor nobody could advise anymore. This is a man that went from my house to be sworn in as the governor of Oyo state. Akala was in my bedroom when Ladoja was impeached and I took him to where he was sworn in as the governor. And the day Ladoja came back as a result of re-instatement verdict by the supreme court, I went to government house and Akala ,his wife the driver and myself carried his belongings to my personal house in Ikolaba ,very close to the government house . When he was to become the governor after the impeachment of Ladoja, he called me around 4:00am and he said “Ayo, where are you? And I replied “I am in bed in Ogbomosho “He now said get up, I am on my way to your house” when he arrived, he said ‘ Alhaji Adedibu just told me that governor Ladoja would be removed that morning and Akala must be close by. I set out with him without security men and he told me before I started driving that he had security report that people have laid ambush along Oyo- Ibadan road and along Iwo –Ibadan road. I said “don’t worry, we are going to beat them by surprise” I now took him through Ede,Osogbo through Asejire and busted out where we were not expected ordinarily. We went straight to my house in Ibadan where we were monitoring the chief judge and other activities in the house and after that he was sworn in and I warned him one on one.
In fact when he was asked to leave the government house the second time, I helped him with the packing of his properties and I kept him in my bedroom for eleven days before he could show his face to the public and thereafter took him to Ogbomosho. That was how close we were but the very point of departure was even during that eleven months transitional period, I realized that people were complaining bitterly to me about a lot of things.
Initially I was trying to advise him and he would not listen and it got to a stage, he became less concerned and nonchalant about the people he was governing. At a time, it became very
difficult to talk to him and I said, this thing you are holding, you are holding in trust of all of
us and we Ogbomosho in particular, we have something to prove here and we are hoping that you are the one but based on this your behavior, you seems to have deviated from what we agreed you would do. But due to the circumstances surrounding his removal we could not fight him, we still worked with him and assisted him to get the real ticket to come back. We did everything we could to get him back to the office thinking he would turn a new leaf to the voters he had offended. I will tell you this, for that real election, Alhaji Ladoja came
in to get the ticket, we fought and we were able to subdue his political power. Others rose from other parties and from the poll, Ajumobi actually won that election in 2007, of course the court declared that it was Akala that won. We gave him the votes! Ogbomosho has five local governments and from four local governments in Ogbomosho Akala got more votes than he did in the rest of the state.
We got him elected and from these four local governments, two local governments are in my constituency. He came in and became something else, power got into his head. Nobody could advise him, nobody could talk to him even my humble self and I said, “this man, if we do not distant ourselves from him, people at the end of the day would say we were part of the system because nobody would believe that he and I were not working in agreement to implement those things that were anti electorates. I therefore made it known to our leaders in Ogbomosho and we resolved that if he makes any policy that is detrimental to the welfare of the citizenry or to the image of the state, we would publicly challenge him, so people would know that we were not part of the decision irrespective of the same membership or friendship. Thus, we started a small group(still in existence), we called it Ogbomosho solidarity forum(OSF) and we periodically put out advertorials commenting and informing the world that there were differences in what the governor was doing and what Ogbomosho believes in.
Anyway, his four year term expired and he said he wanted the second term and we said given what you did the last four years, whatever it would take, we would take you out. And the battle began, he started telling people that if I contested for councillorship, I would not win and I told him that the battle line had been drawn. Fortunately for us, I think he was banking on Nigerian system that when you are in power, you will just write the figures of election result as it happened in 2007 when he became governor but unfortunately for him, professor Attahiru Jega came ,then president Jonathan to his credit, being a godly person or someone with presence of conscience had an eye on history and he wanted to do that which
the world would say that, this man has done well, something that is credible and the world
would say these people did a decent job. You cannot find a perfect election anywhere in the
world but to a large extent, if you get 85-90% rating that is good enough. So, I think Attahiru Jega helped President Goodluck Jonathan to steer the course because if it had not been the character of president Jonathan, if the INEC chief had been somebody else, I am very sure the pressure on Jonathan would have caused him to keep him to his henchmen who are ordinary people who steal votes, political jobbers and people who manouvre election to subvert the will of the electorates. So, Jega stood his ground and President Jonathan supported him.
We went into real election and the outcome was that Alao Akala was voted out of office, and by the special grace of God, I am in the senate today. If you are oriented towards being good to your fellow citizens, goodness will be compensation from God. We do not have any power, he was the state sitting governor, he had tonnes of money, he got to a point where my
friend went to stadium and money was been distributed, N5, 000 (Five thousand naira) per person. This began in his house, the crowd was much that they broke down his gate, and his
driver was trampled upon and died. What kind of society is this? That was why I said, pounds for pounds, he had everything in his possession and we simply could not match him but the will of the electorates prevailed and that is why Ajumobi is governor today and I have high hope he would do very well. I also have hope that the ACN governors would transform their respective environments for the benefit of the masses. If south west had been a country for instance, we should have been flying by now given what Awolowo laid down for all of us and I see enough commitment in all of them and with Bola Tinubu as the leader, I don’t think anybody would be given an inch to stray from being cause of emancipating our people.
TMI: Distinguished Senator, by your foundational academic qualification, you are a town planning expert. What motivated you into politics?
Senator Adeseun: Ordinarily, town planners work very closely with the communities because we colour the first line of the fence from the point of view of government-citizenry interaction, people would build houses, plan for location of businesses and must follow regulations well as laid down by the government. All professionals- Architects, Engineers, Estate valuers and what have you, all of their works would now come to town planners table for vetting, coordination and advice. We, town planners play vital roles such as educating the populace about why they should do certain things in certain ways and who would have to be in the forefront of persuading and pacifying the citizenry because people always come
to town planners angry. We are always the first contact with the populace. We, town planners serve as mediators between the government and the populace, most times, we face unbearable challenges while discharging our duties for instance, if there is a decision to demolish a property that has been built in violation of town planning rules, we become enemies of the owner while discharging the task placed upon our shoulder.
But the major motivation was that I have the blood of service to humanity in my vein. I love
my people, I love my society and it has been my priority to make them happy in the little way I could afford.
TMI: Senator, in the 6th Assembly, you were the chairman of the appropriation committee, a member of the ruling party and many projects were executed by you in your constituency and state, now that you are in the senate and no more in the ruling party, do you think you can record same success in the 7th Assembly?
Senator Adeseun: frankly, I do not see any real reason why I should fail. The way I look at
it in the National Assembly, I agree with you that party platform matters a lot. The most effective tool to use as a legislator is the ability to lobby for your constituency. You make good rapport with your colleagues, you educate, you encourage and persuade them to see why those developments must happen in specific areas where Nigerians need them because if you keep on talking about your constituency there will be a question that, what happens to other constituency? So, you should be a strong advocate of doing things that are good for the nation, not just your particular constituency.
Secondly, what makes a significant difference between what I try to do in my constituency is the fact that I made an absolute challenge for myself that any project approved for my constituency must be completed and must be completed very effectively. So, I go home every weekend. If you were a contractor given a job in my constituency and you were playing with it, you are in trouble, because you will not go away with it. In addition, I have wonderful people who are very accommodating and selfless in nature.
They provide conducive environments for the contractors so that the projects can see the light of the day because federal government is in Abuja and if there is any reliable report that you are not being favourable to the take off or the execution of any project, the Government will relocate it a different area where they are willing to give where with all. As a stakeholder in the society, you must constantly check on the project to ascertain it is excellently done and that is what I do.
TMI: You started from local government chairmanship and you have progressed to the senate with continuous winning of all elections contested for. What strategy are you using? And why did you start from the grass root?
Senator Adeseun: let me say that I am just following the American road map. My belief also is that you must grow from baby steps particularly in politics. I think you need to learn the ropes, for you to learn the ropes you must work at the lower tier before you proceed to higher levels of responsibility. It is unfortunate in our system that someone will come out of
nowhere, he or she will aspire to be a senator and he/she will be elected. Someone from nowhere will come out for Governorship and he would get the ticket. More often than not, they ever hardly perform because they fail to learn the rudiments of politics. Politics is a human based interactive profession. It is imperative your knowledge is developed from the grass root, undoubtedly, you would be comfortable with your people and be equipped enough to represent them. In addition, you will know where the shoe pinches and you will understand the feelings of your people when you are far from them. You will be responsive to their yearnings, needs and their calls. I enjoy talking, visiting, and listening to my people. This has made it possible for me to understand our common problems. You must use your position to impact positively on the lives of your people.
Look at Olusegun Obasanjo, it would remain in the history as one of the characters that was
bestowed on Nigeria land scales. Obasanjo is a colossus! He had opportunity but misused it and that is why we are still having the problems on ground in Nigeria today. God is a kind God.
Sometimes, you wonder why he blesses people of such character that cannot make meaningful impact on the people. I think God does so to prove a point that He does it the way He wants. The challenge is when God gives you that endowment, what are you going to do to justify what He has given you. That is the ultimate. My belief is that we owe it to ourselves and posterity to use what is available to build a society that will be egalitarian because we must remind ourselves as a matter of fact that all of us are products of poverty. That is another good thing about America, United states of American is a nation where the middle class is so big , so huge and they still sustain the economy but Nigeria, a very few at the top holds on the wealth. There are only two classes: The haves and the have nots, there is no middle class and that is why we are still susceptible to coups and political upheavals. We just need to be prayerful because if people are pushed to the world, unwanted things may happen. Look at the security state of the nation. A nation where people are being lied up on the road for vehicles to run them down calls for an urgent attention. We are all culpable and fingers cannot be pointed at just one person. There is so much unemployment in Nigeria. So if we need the man power, put more people in the police force, let states have
their own police forces. In the U.S, there are four different types of police system; there is country, city, state and National. What is wrong with us? Too much money, resources and power are centralized at the centre. Why are we not devolving this power to the lower tiers of government where they will be more effective?
Even that is where this issue of security needs to be revisited. Nigeria is potentially great. Look at Japan, a nation without mineral resources, all Japan has, was human resources which they developed and turned to these powers until recently when things began to change. Japan for a long time was no 2 or no 3 with best economy in the world. Nigeria has the mineral resources; we have the land and the human resources to be a great nation. What we have been lacking is leadership. The interest of the people must be a priority in the agenda of any responsible leader. There is enough for us to live and do well and nobody is saying we must share this common wealth equally because I don’t believe in communism. Communism has proved itself not to be a success the world over. That is why china and Russia liberalized but there are certain minimal levels you should not allow people to fall through. When you now reinvigorate the human capital resource and you merge that with the natural resources that you have, you produce more in abundance. Those are the kind of system we should be looking at as a nation and I hope we would get there one day.
TMI: Distinguished Senator, can we hear straight from the horse’s mouth by telling us the projects you have executed in your constituency?
Senator Adeseun: See, if I start to enumerate, this interview will take us till tomorrow. It will suffice to say my focus has always been to help develop my people, my area and to serve as a beacon for the younger generation from whom they can take a cue, so they also can help project and build a nation that we all can be proud of. How that translates in practical terms includes (1). Working on the Educational system: Encouraging youths to go to school, they should not just go to school; they should go to school and learn. But academics work alone is not the solution. In Nigeria, we have all sorts of graduates, we have PhD holders that are jobless but we need to revive Education, to also take account of the world of work, people should be trained to be self starters, people should be trained to pull themselves up with their both hands and not wait for any Government Somewhere to come and give them jobs or somebody should come and provide something for them. So, through youth development programmes, through sensitization programmes, through the issuance of grants, awards and sport activities, we have attempted to encourage a rethinking among our youths. (2). Development of infrastructures, we observed that people do not have good roads ,pipe borne water, electricity, even the security of lives and properties becomes a challenge. If you can look at how these people of underworld operate, you will know that they take advantage of darkness to terrorise innocent citizens. That is where the concepts of solar lighting emerged.
If communities are illuminated, more often than not, these hoodlums perpetrating their nefarious activities in the dark would be cautious of being caught and thus be discouraged. So, the infrastructural development should be an integral part of what we do. Now, let us talk about the economy. How do we help the local farmers and traders so that they can send their children to schools? It does not need to be a big time programme. For instance, we decided that job centers where cassava can be processed for local farmers need to be established. We set up some irrigation projects in my constituency to help the local people. There is a lot of works to be done but you just keep tackling them and you cannot say I am tired. My world view is to tackle all of those fundamentals in order for us to eventually raise a better society.
TMI: Sir, you tabled the project of Lagos-Ilorin road before the house. Would it be appropriate to say it will be swept under the carpet like other projects? What are you doing to get the projects executed?
Senate Adeseun: I am absolutely and irrevocably committed to do everything I can to ensure that, that road project is executed. We must not run away from the fact that this Lagos-Ilorin road is number one road in Nigeria. The economy of Nigeria is almost intimately tied to that road, because that Lagos sea port supplies a lot of Nigerians. All our industries are depended on heavy equipment and raw materials and you cannot transport those by air. The cheapest and most effective way of transporting them is through the sea into the country. If you go to the port and see how many containers coming to our port on daily basis, you will be amazed and all those containers would almost have to go through that road. How much will it cost to fix that road for God sake? If we do not fix that road, then we are undermining ourselves, we are undermining our ability to be economically viable as a nation. What is very annoying about this also is this, in the eight years administration of Obasanjo, they came up with this project of public-private partnership (PPP) which was a wonderful idea. The problem with it from my own point of view was that they concessioned it to somebody who simply lacks the ability to do the job. Very disgusting, why would you concession the most important road in your country to somebody who is not an engineer or who does not have a construction company but a lawyer who just put together a package?
Look at the years they have been constructing that road and we have not seen any convincing progress there. My view is, that road is too important to be entrusted in just somebody’s hands to make profit. So, the government takes the whole back, not concession it and if it will be concessioned, the road must first be re-built or re-constructed, not just repair. That road is one of the outstanding legacies that Obasanjo /Shehu Musa Yara dua bequeathed to us as a nation in 70s. It was during the military era of Obasanjo that the road was constructed. So, to answer your question, we will continue to push hard as we can and we will not allow the government to rest because we are part of the government, we are part of the nation and we owe it a responsibility to ourselves, to our society and to do everything we can because Nigeria has the resources, the ability and where with all to succeed. There is no reason for us to be a failed nation.
TMI: You are in the law mwaking arm of the government and you have executed various projects for your constituency. Do you think you can do better if you were in the Executive arm and what is the next step politically? Any message to Nigeria’s in Diaspora?
Senator Adeseun: The first part of it, I think depends on how the political terrain unfolds. We are all tools in the hands of almighty God. He does what He wishes with us. We may have aspiration or interest but my ultimate prayer to God Almighty is that I would seek whatever office available but my fervent prayer to Him also is to put me where I will be of the most service to my people, to my community and to humanity. Where that will be is a matter of conjecture but wherever I find myself, I will continue to uphold those values that are very dear to me and I believe can help sustain our society. My priority is to put smile on the faces of my people and make the society worthy of living. On the issue of our people in Diaspora, I will passionately appeal, plead and beg them to come home. Nigeria is not impossible. In fact, there are more opportunities in Nigeria than anywhere in the world. That is why you see western people coming in daily basis. God has endowed this country with human resources and natural resources. Look at the quality of the human elements in our society, look at the Ibos, and imagine the endowments they have, they are aggressive, they are bright and very innovative. Look at the Yorubas, you know what our qualities are, look at the Hausas and look at the mineral resources that we have not even tapped at all. Let me sound a note of warning to our friends overseas, do not just come because you are called, if you do that, you will be committing suicide (harakiri). It is advisable to visit, do your visibility study and liaise with your reliable friends at home before coming. We must join hands together to take the nation to that Promised Land.
TMI: Thank you distinguished Senator
Senator Adeseun: Thank you Treasure Magazine International Team.