“Man is by nature a political animal.”- Aristotle
Politics is often considered by several people as a dirty game. Hence the popular belief that many young people are disinterested in Politics. Another school of thought thinks it is because of their deliberate non-inclusion in national politics as they are seen as not matured enough by older politicians.
But some young people have taken the bull by the horn to deliver on their political mandate… thereby bridging the divide between the nation’s youth and the often older officials who run political institutions.
Comrade Ayodele Adebowale, fondly called ‘Mayor’ is one of the youngest politicians of Lagos State who is delivering positive change as the Executive Chairman, Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State (October 30, 2008 to date). Listening to the Chairman who is still in his 30s at the US Consul General’s residence where he personally shares his story with Youthful Vibes leaves us with no doubt that he is towing the line of Peak performing Governor Fashola of Lagos State. Excerpts:
P lease tell us about your upbringing
I was born into the Adewale family on February 19, 1975. I attended St. Christopher Nursery and Primary School Lagos (1977 to 1979). In 1979, I went to the Universal Primary School one (UPE) FESTAC Town, Lagos and completed in 1985. I gained admission into AmuwoOdofin Boys Secondary School, Mile 2, Lagos. After my first 3 years in Secondary School (JSS III) from 1985 to 1988, I moved over to the prestigious St. Gregory’s College, South-West Ikoyi, for my senior secondary school education (1989 to 1992)
In 1997, I gained admission into the Lagos State University to study Chemistry. While in LASU, I took very active part in various extra-curricular activities, such as the Students’ Union, where I would say I cut my political tooth. Presently, I am pursuing my Masters of Business Administration (M.B.A.) at the same university.
What inspired you to get into Politics as a young Nigerian?
I am a social critic who advocates for positive change. The most excellent way to convince people that this change is feasible is to contest for an elective position in government where you will have the authority to effect the changes you consider appropriate that would make a difference.
The Nigerian society does not believe in the ability of young people in governance. They are adjudged inexperienced and do not have the charisma to carry everybody along. The more practical way of convincing people on the ability of the young people is by laying precedents which we have done.
What is your stance on politics as many people regard it as a dirty game?
Politics is a way of life but people perceive it differently. Politics being regarded as a dirty game by many is drawn from the manner some people go about pursuing personal interests in the name of politics against standard norms. Expression of this opinion varies between developed and undeveloped nations, but it is still subjective.
What makes you stand out from other Local Government Chairmen?
Most parts of Amuwo Odofin Local Government, particularly,Festac Town is an elite area whose residents are made up of various ethnic groups and nationalities. Our ability to integrate them into our Administration further transcended into peace that exists in our midst.
Again, Amuwo’s unique in the manner we execute our programmes. Despite the trumpeted argument of my youthfulness, our ability to influence credibly a large number of the Amuwo people stands out. We have virtually fulfilled our electoral promises with very clear evidences readily available for verification. These feats have continually made the people to identify themselves with our programmes and other activities.
W here do you see yourself after leaving office as it is your second term as Local Government chairman?
Life is constant. It shows different stages and leaves room for learning. I will be where the Almighty God wants me to be after my tenure.He provides direction while I key into His leadership.
How can young people draw inspiration from your efforts in making a difference?
All you need to do is to believe in yourself and be original. Every individual has one ability or the other that forms his/her strength; it is your responsibility to develop that ability and your pro-activeness in getting things done appropriately and timely will make the difference.
Do you see yourself becoming a governor of Lagos State?
Governor of Lagos State? (Laughs) It is beyond my imagination.
W ho are your mentors and what have you learnt from them?
My mentors are: Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Chief GaniFawehinmi, Chief Anthony Enahoro, Prof. JadesolaAkande, Dr. BekoRansome-Kuti et al. All these people have one common virtue: the dogged spirit to fight for fairness and equitable justice.
Asiwaju never gives his opponent an opportunity to out-smart or manipulate him. Gani could stand to die for a course he believes in. Dr. BekoRansome-Kuti is a bridge builder and very resilient in fighting for a cause he believes in. So also are Prof. Soyinka, Chief Enahoro and Prof. Akande who areall humanists.
What is your life outside of Governance?
Staying with family members and attending Church activities. Also, I enjoy playing chess, billiards and listening to news.
What challenges do you face being one of the youngest LG chairmen in Nigeria and how have you been handling them
People generally look at you as a young man and try to undermine you, without considering the authority of the position you are occupying. Some elderly ones would not want you to reconsider their thoughts or advice to you. Once your views vary with theirs they take offence.
Sometimes you are being pushed to exerting your authority to get things done. Sometimes too, along the line of discussion, they became amazed on how versatile you are and tend to comport themselves. It is amazing but one has to employ diplomacy in most cases, and where long explanations are required to clearly state the position of the Government on issues, especially on environmental degradation and other related issues, you employ tactfulness.
Any advice for young people who want to go into Politics
To young people who want to go into politics, the coast is clear, but they must strictly follow due process as spelt out by the Electoral Law and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is very important to study the ideology of any political party they might want to join and to ensure that it gives room for the opportunity of the young ones. Presently, Action Congress of Nigeria provides such ideal opportunity.
YOUNG NIGERIANS MAKING THE DIFFERENCE
STEVE OKUNADE ASABA, DELTA STATE
Steve Okunade is the founding Principal of Firm Path System, a human capacity building and business development organization set upin 2005, to help individuals and business organizations to achieve optimal success through the provision of relevant information. He is a graduate of Finance from the Federal Polytechnic,Offa, Kwara State.
Steve comes across to many young people as a business consultant, successful entrepreneur. Also, as a motivational speaker, his talks inspire and inform several people as they get closer to realizing their full potential and achieving tremendous success in their enterprises.
His organization has furnished relevant information to various youth, students and entrepreneurs particularly in the South South and South West regions of Nigeria. He is presently a Life Coach at the Skills Acquisition Centre, Asaba. He teaches students on life skills.