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I came into politics as test case -Hon. Ayodele

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Hon. Adewale Ayodele is the Chairman of Amuwo Odofin Local Government in Lagos State. He spoke extensively with our REPORTER, on his job, person and many more.

 

It is a fact that your parents were not politicians, how did you come into politics?

I had a civil society background and have always wanted a system change, a situation where the people will always come first in whatever the government does. I told my colleagues then that since the opportunity had provided itself, I would like to start from the local government level. And because the age debacle that the Nigerian constitution provides is that you must be 30 before you can contest the local government elections, I had to wait to be 30 before I could run.

Why did you choose to start at the local government, knowing that the House of Representatives is more lucrative?

I believe that I could add more value to the life of the people if I start from the grassroots level.

You are the youngest chairman in your party, All Progressives Congress (APC), are you intimidated by your older colleagues?

It is not about age, it is about what you have to give. I advocate that the political benchmark to enter into any political office in Nigeria should be reduced to 18. In as much as an 18 year-old can vote, such a person should be voted for. And as long as a political party is there that has a programme, it is not the person that is governing; it is the party. The person is just a vessel to deliver the party’s programme. As such, your age has no relevance to what we are saying. If you look at the monarchical style of leadership, age does not come to play because you can be born into leadership like the Obi of Agbor, who was born into it. They just had to prepare him through formal education before he ascended the throne. Great men who have walked this mundane world were never as old as Methuselah. Jesus was very young, Mohammed, Solomon and even Saul. We have had a 19-year-old as President in Haiti and a 24-year-old from United Kingdom as Prime Minister. So it is not about age. However, that is not to say that you will now jettison your own people.

Nigerian politics is one in which old politicians are recycled; why do you think this is so?

I wouldn’t call it recycling. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu will say power is not served a la carte; meaning that, except I give myself a target that when I reach this age I will stop active politics, people will continue to play politics. Power is there for the younger generation to contest. Nobody willingly gives power; you contest it and take it. If the older generations have being recycling themselves, it means that the younger ones have not been contesting with them.

Earlier, you said power is to be taken, are you open to that?

I am open to challenges. If there are no challenges, we won’t be able to move forward and that’s the truth. But for you to take power, you must have something better than what I have to offer, and the people must see it. So if you cannot bring a better option, then you cannot take power.

What are your achievements since you assumed office, in terms of infrastructure?

We have added to what we met on ground and improve on what we have. We have also created more because I am from the school of thought that believes if you have a wheel, why invent any other. So, what we have done so far, is to invest in five critical areas of

development such as drainage systems, roads, schools buildings and job creation. On health, when we came in, we only met one doctor. So what I have done is work with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), and now we are getting Corps doctors. I also spoke with the Nigerian Navy and Army, and they have been sending their interns to us. We have also engaged retired doctors and most of them retired from Federal Government hospitals.

What challenges have you had so far in the job?

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The biggest challenge I have had so far is change. Our people are used to a way of doing things. For instance, environmental upkeep and sanitation; a lot of people don’t want to patronise waste managers, they don’t want to pay tenement rates, land use charge and what have you. A lot of people want to trade on the walkways; people want to discharge human waste into drains. These are the challenges we face. And we operate with a human face, so we try to make them conform by writing letters of apology. But when it becomes recurrent, you have to apply the law. That is the major challenge. People might think it is funds but it is not. People need to understand that they need to carry out their civic responsibilities. For instance, during sanitation they will not come out and we have to go and make them come out of their houses to clean their environment. However, we have recorded successes in these areas over time.

There are speculations that you are eyeing the Senate in 2015, is this true?

I have never nurtured such an ambition. It is the party that will determine where we would go. We have given our sovereignty to the party, we are party believers, we are loyalists and for me, my ideology of a movement is not for you to be ambitious without a movement. It is the movement just like the coach that will determine where each player can fit into, for a development purpose. If a player starts developing an ambition, he is going to destroy the team. There is, however, nothing wrong in being ambitious. But for me, I am happy that I have been given an opportunity to serve. I came in as a test case. Even when my aspirations were brought to our national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, he was skeptical because he said this guy is young; he has never worked in a local government, he has never held a public office before. He was wondering how I would cope with the pressure of a terrain like Amuwo Odofin overseeing millions of naira. He was like let him be the secretary, learn from the political play and campaign. But I kept telling them that there were people who had thrived. Abraham Adesanya was 21 years old when he was in the lower house of the parliament, Diete Spiffs was 26 years old when he was a military governor, Ken Saro Wiwa was 25 years old as a commissioner and Yakubu Gowon was 29 when he became Head of State. So, it is about you listening and being able to aggregate all the advice for the betterment of the community.

How did you convince Tinubu then?

I was told to go and campaign to my constituency that the ticket was not automatic and we would have to go through primaries. I had a campaign group known as Alaba Olajide Campaign Organization and through that group we kept on for four years on the field campaigning to the extent that I had to sell my car, a Datsun Bluebird car, that my mother gave me for N32,000, to produce handbills. There is a woman, Iya Adesanya, who would sell her bean cake to finance our campaign. She would wake up at 4 a.m. and would fry her bean cake and people will come and pretend that they were campaigning for our group. People were donating N500,000 and N200,000 to make benches for four good years. At times, we would want to go for a political rally and there would be no money, but I would tell them that money would come and miraculously God always did something. I remember the day the late Mama, Jadesola Akande, gave me N100,000. She just called me and said young man, how are you? You have not even asked us for money. And I told her that she is already advocating. But she said no, that her personal assistant would put some money into my account. And that was on my declaration day. I had only N30,000 and needed N70, 000. I called back to thank her when I saw that after the money I needed I still had money in my account. I was the only contestant who went to all the wards, including the riverine areas; others were busy giving out cars. I thank God that at the end of the day, I was elected.

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What was it like, playing big brother to most of the boys who are celebrities today; people like Faze?

Such was more evident in the basketball court because Faze was one of the kids who will run up to me and say brother, they won’t allow us to play. And I will tell him don’t worry. I will pick him and some of his friends and we would form a set. The truth of the matter is that, because we only had like two hours to play, if there were more of my age mates, the junior ones won’t have the opportunity to play. So, once they spot me, they will come to me and I will tell my mates that we must play. That was how it went. But when I was not there they would just be picking ball all through.

How do you relax?

I relax doing my job. I have always told people to do what they love. For instance, if journalism is your passion, even if you are working in the middle of the night, you won’t have stress. Recently, I went to, my doctor to check my blood pressure, and he said I was more than okay. I leave my office at 2 a.m. every day and I have been doing that for the past five years. But I don’t see anything special in that because for one to move a system forward, one has to make sacrifice. I still find time to do some recreational activities. I like to shoot pool a lot. I have a pool joint around and I have my stick in the boot of my car. So, sometimes when I feel like relaxing, I go to Grasshoppers for one hour and go home to sleep. I also love playing Chess. If I find a good player, I just pick my board from the car and go somewhere and play for a while.

How fashion conscious are you?

I became an activist by accident. I got into the university as what you called a fine boy. I won’t wear any shirt without a crest. I loved perfumes, I loved wristwatches and I was addicted to photography. So, my fashion sense was classic.

Why don’t you cut your hair?

It is just a brand that makes me different from the crowd. When Tinubu came into politics, I asked him what the logo on his cap meant. And he

explained that it was a chain that has been broken. It was a sign that the military chain had been broken. For him, it was a symbol, a brand. I remember that when I met Tinubu I went to defend myself due to a problem we had in Lagos State University (LASU), then. I had faced the panel of the Governing Council, Senate and House of Assembly but I had to face the governor in a panel. If I had lost in that panel, I would have been expelled from the school.

What do the pictures of Awolowo, Fela, Ghandi and the rest on your office wall mean to you?

They are supposed to help you form a mindset about the person you are coming to see. That, of course, is if you are meeting me for the first time. Apart from that, you can also align yourself with any one of them, as a model, because we lack mentorship in Nigeria. When we were young, if people asked us who our role model was, we could easily say who he is. But now, ask a kid on the street and he doesn’t even know what the word means. You must align you character along with that of someone great and aim to surpass that person and that is why it is said that if you aim for the stars you will get to the moon. That is why some of us see Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as our model. He is somebody who stands for the rights of the people in contemporary times. He is my role model. Beko, Thomas Sankara, Wole Soyinka and Martin Luther King Jr are my role models.

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Politics

Fresh Trouble For Alex Otti

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Alex Otti

Political troubles eventually sink all politicians. This is something which Alex Otti has found out.

Once favoured to become the governor of Abia State, that dream is yet to become a reality.

Though still hoping, the man’s chances have continued to dwindle.

Otti, recently suffered a major setback in his political ambition when he got suspended indefinitely by his party, All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), for anti-party activities.

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Though there have been questions concerning the legitimacy of the suspension, the possibility of his actualising the dream of becoming Abia state’s first citizen via APGA continues to look vague, especially with talks that he is more concerned about his interest than that of the party having being raised.

 

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Happy Times For Peter Obi

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Peter Obi

 

A loss such as the office of the Vice President would make any man sober.

Peter Obi, the vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the last election is not an exception to this rule.

Since the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), declared President Muhammadu Buhari winner of the election, Obi has not had a reason to celebrate.

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However, he had no choice but to clear his head of issues such as lawyers and tribunal when he added a year to his age yesterday.

Devoid of a carnival-like celebration, the shindig to celebrate the former Anambra State governor at 58 still brought smiles to his face.

 

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Politics

Presidential Poll: PDP Closes Case With 62 Witnesses

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The Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, on Friday, July 19 closed his case at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja.

The duo of Abubakar and the PDP closed their case after calling 62 witnesses out of the 400 earlier speculated would testify in the case.

Abubakar is challenging the outcome of the February 23, presidential election on the grounds that the result of the election was manipulated to favour President Muhammad Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Closing the case, Chris Uche SAN, informed the tribunal that they would not be calling any other witness after former Osita Chidoka, the 62nd witness had finished testifying for the petitioner.

Chidoka, a former Corp Marshal FRSC informed the tribunal that he was the National Collation Agent and Head of PDP Situation Room for the February 23, 2019 presidential election.

He admitted that he was not there when results were transmitted as well as not seening the INEC server. However, the witness told the tribunal that the INEC Chairman, Mahmoud Yakubu had consistently told them at various times during meetings that a server would be used for the purpose of electronic transmission of results.

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Chidoka said he was there when the results were collated by INEC, and that it was done manually.

Though he could not disclose the serial number of the server in which results were transmitted to by party agents, however he reminded the INEC counsel that card reader was not mentioned in their meeting with Mahmood Yakubu but it was used in the election.

Responding to questions from Yakubu Maikyau, counsel to the APC, Chidoka revealed that the INEC Chairman had told him and other stakeholders during meetings prior to the 2019 general elections that they should assume the election was being conducted under the new electoral act, (which was later not signed into law).

He wondered why the commission spent a whooping N27billion on Information Technology, only to come out and tell Nigerians that it did not deploy server for the purpose of electronic transmission of election results.

Chidoka also told the tribunal that the INEC Chairman had told him that it would be immoral for the electoral body not to use electronic transmission of results after N27bn had been spent on IT facilities and equipment.

Earlier, David Nyoga from Kenya, had testified at against the election of President Muhammad Buhari.
Nyoga, an expert in information technology, told the tribunal that from his expert analysis, four websites were discovered to belong to INEC.
Upon cross-examination by counsel to Buhari, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), the witness said his analysis was based on data supplied by a whistle blower.
The witness further told the tribunal that the information contained in the report of his analysis were extracts made from three of the four websites.

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He confirmed that “Fact.Com was created on March 12, against the February 23 presidential election.

Under cross examination by counsel to All Progressives Congress (APC), Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), the witness maintained that INEC chairman can authorise access to the server.

On whether he was engaged and paid for the job, the witness answered that only the logistics for the job were paid for.
“I was not paid but logistics were paid for.”
However, he admitted that he was not granted access to the site by INEC chairman.

He also admitted that the same scientific method, without authorisation, can be used to alter the information contained on the website.

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