Adeboye Paul Kalejaiye is the Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Rural Development , a role entrusted toÂ him by the governor to see to the development of the rural areas in the state, so as to be able to curb rural-urban drift. Having earned aÂ first degree in education, a Masters in Public andÂ Business Administration and a fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Management, Nigeria public Administrators,Â Mr Kalejaye has beenÂ involved in politics right from hisÂ secondary school days where heÂ held positions, as the president of the student associations.
The journey to active politics began inÂ 1989 with theÂ APP and ACP where he served as Chairman of the party. He has served in Lagos in a number of capacities, and presently Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Rural Development.
Why the focus on the poor and less privileged?
Our society has not really taken care of the aged. And I think this is what we need to focus on. In the developed world the old are their focus of attention. They are accepted and provided with basic amenities and they have access to medical care.
Of all that we lived for,Â the old age is the most essential because at this time the body is weak. You canâ€™t really do things the way you would have wanted. And it is the time help hardly come. Even when you have children that are grown up they are already pursuing their career and some are not likely to be even near you.
As they are already living on their own. It becomes a time when we rely mostly on domestic servants and other help from places we least expects. So these are the reasons we must give proper attention to old people because it is the desire of everyone to get old. My wish is that I also can live above 70 or probably 85 and what becomes of me after then I leave to God.
What do you intend to turn around in your capacity as adviser to the governor on rural development?
First and foremost, the duty of a special adviser is given one who have the technical know-how, a man who has a second view of issues and activities.
A man who renders unbiased, undiluted, sound and robust advice to the governor; in his quest to achieve his mission and vision to the state. In his quest to deliver the mandate which was given to him; by the people, and to fulfill his manifesto. So he needs people who can give in-depth knowledge of these activities.
So that is the job of a special adviser and I see it as a challenging assignment. My duty and resolve and what I do basically; I am in charge of rural development in Lagos state. We embarked on a project that we called the rural integrated development program. It is our initiative. It is a move away from the hitherto method of rural development in such areas.
My job as special adviser to the governor is to see to the development of our rural areas in Lagos state. So as to be able to curb rural urban drift by giving the rural areas affordability of the largesse and necessity of life. If we have good roads, pipe bore water, functional schools, hospital and electricity, what is anybody coming to do in the hustle and bustle of city life.
The approach which his
Excellency have employed in the rural integrated development is a process that ensures that the development of cluster community with a radius of proximity to each other of not more than 5km to have similar access to water, electricity, road, hospital, schools instead of putting water in village A, road in village B, electricity in village C and hospital in village D, and scatter them. Whereas somebody that has a bore hole needs electricity to power it.
And someone who has power also need education and those who have education also need a mini clinic. So what we do in the integrated approach is to choose a focal point among these communities and site all these amenities in one place for all of them. So that they all have access to these infrastructures. And within a kilometer radius they have access to these basic necessities of life.
Last year we did that and we achieved it in 38 communities in Lagos and this year we are moving with double of that size. Apart from that, his Excellency in his magnanimity and his quest to get to the grass roots and down trodden has also invested a whopping sum of 3billion into what he called the Intervention Rural Development program. It is even outside the budget of theÂ ministry. It is an intervention. So his Excellency is so concerned about the plight of the rural people and he has decided that he would stop at nothing to ensure that what is good for the goose is also good for the gander.
How far have you been able to
impact lives in the Ajeromi local government area which is your constituency?
Ajeromi local government area is not in the classification of rural areas, it is in the classification of urban/slum. But if you see what we have done, I have also used my position in office to facilitate the development of this territory in the last oneÂ year alone.Â What the government is doing in this local government is to the tune ofÂ billions of naira; let me make an example, because it is a feasible project for all to see. We have a general hospital in this area and it serves all the community in this area, it is theÂ Â hospital that is near closest to the people.
The next general hospital you find is in Badagry. The general hospital serves all the catchments areas down to Ojo. What the government did last year was to approve the construction and development of women and children hospital. Government did a lot, because we had to acquire a nearby school and then relocate the school because we needed space. And that was where the former Muslim community primary school was, and they wereÂ so willing to assist and cooperated.
The relocation cost a lot of money but, the project is on going with about 40/60% completion. Apart from that we have two link bridges that are been constructed. That commenced under the leadership of this government.
These are key expenditure outlets. The road is been constructed to link the Apapa Oshodi express way. So these are major developments. Aside from that the face lift that is been given to Malu road, for the first time LAMATA is working in Ajegunle. And the people of Ajegunle are beginning to feel the dividends of democracy. The drainages are been attended to, the canals also are not left out, and the government is not looking back. All of these are projects of huge expenditure.
What I have used my position to do in theÂ area is to attract development and we are not stopping there. I am happy about what is going on in Aj city, we are gradually moving away from a jungle city to a jolly city. I am happy to say that we have leadership that is responsible both at the state and local levels.
But I have a problem with the
demolition that is going on right now. What plan does the government have to soften the plight of those affected?
The demolition is a clean up exercise. Who brought them there in the first place, if they paid people to occupy a place that was not approved by the government then they are engaging themselves in illegality and then it becomes their problem if they do not follow the law. How long can we continue to be lawless? Some of us go to developed countries and we see how things are done.
But who benefits at the end of the day? Let me give you a scenario of Oshodi market, in spite of the population of people that ply the roads, there is no more traffic like it used to be. In whatever you are doing, what is necessary is to do a cost benefit and if it is beneficial to majority of the people in the society do it.
We can sacrifice minority for majority, that is the way it is, we are going to continue to consider the larger interest of Lagosians as against the minority interest of the people who are self seeking, who are lawless. It is not because we are providing alternative we are investing in mortgagees for people to be able to purchase and own properties..
So we canâ€™t continue this way, there must be a break and we should start thinking right. I canâ€™t say because ourÂ parents were nasty and stupid, (my apology) does not mean it should continue. My father never lived in the house I am living today; it means that I am living in a better society today, so I must leave the society better than what my society left. We are doing clean up, we are doing reconstruction and re-planning of Lagos state, that is what we are doing.
I know that you are a busy man, how to you relax?
It is a bit difficult now, because of my tight schedule, but still I do notÂ allow my vehicle to do all the movement for me. Once I am in the office and I have to go to any place in Alausa I take a walk. And on a daily basis I ensure that I take a good amount of walk. And also when I wake up in the morning I do some room exercise. Besides that I am a club person and I find time to go to the club. I also find time to spend with my family. Sundays happen to be the time I have for my family, and on Sunday we eat outside no one cooks. But I must also say that it is not as easy, asÂ the quest to develop Lagos state is more challenging, 24 hrs is barely enough to do these things. But we thank God for his grace.