‘What l learnt under Governor Ajimobi in 7 years will help me as a lawmaker’
By Adeola Badru, Ibadan
Mr. Seyi Adisa, a lawyer and Principal Private Secretary to Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, is the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Afijio state constituency in the forthcoming elections. In this interview, Adisa speaks on the possibility of emerging a member of the state House of Assembly.
Should you realise our dream, what plans do you have for youths in your constituency?
Across Nigeria and in Oyo State, we have a level of youth unemployment that is bothersome and particularly because I am a young man I understand the frustration a young person might have trying to make ends meet, has gone to school and graduated somewhere. So it is one of the key projects I would like to take on.
As a legislature, we are to make laws and we will make laws. There are three ways I think youths can get engaged. The first is to have an environment where companies can come into the community and set up shop and when that happens, the companies employ people. The second way is by empowering them and giving them tools and skills to start their own businesses and engage people. And then the third one is that there are not enough jobs from government which is the biggest employer. The first two are areas we are going to work on and we are going to ensure we create laws that will attract foreign investors. Afijio happens to be a local government that can be called the fruit basket of Oyo State; we have a lot of arable land suitable for all kinds of fruits, cassava and maize.
And when we talk about livestock, we have the biggest poultry in Afijio, Awe. We can make laws that would attract foreign investors to use the downstream side of agriculture and go into the value chain and our youths can get engaged. The second aspect, which is something we have done and we hope to continue to do, is to empower youths. I empowered 100 young people in Afijio and what we did was to take five different skills and teach them technical skills. Over the next one year we will be monitoring them and making sure their businesses and technical skills are getting better. The other thing is to teach them a bit of character building because a lot of people don’t look at this when they are talking about business. So we put everything in the pot to ensure that the businesses we create will last a lifetime. And the brilliant part is that at the end of one year, we will access them, and register as many of them that have built their businesses into a cooperative and that would then give them access to finance so that they can expand their businesses and then employ other youth and other people so that we can gradually tackle unemployment.
How do you realize the set goals bearing in mind the economic situation of the country?
I have the privilege to have understudied the first governor to do two terms in Oyo State and what that has exposed me into is a lot of opportunities. When I say we want to do something, it’s not surely out of political gaming. We have started to implement it. The hundred people we empowered is a pointer that it can be done. So, no matter the economic situation, the network of friends we have made over the year is tool we will bring to the table apart from government; we also have agencies that have the interest of Nigeria at heart like DFID, USID.
When we are talking of lawmaking, from your own point of view as a lawyer, what do you think lawmaking is all about? Is it about rituals of providing empowerment for the less privileged?
Primarily, the role of a legislature is to make laws. You have to work with the executive. You also have the responsibility to act as check and balance on the other arms of government and to make sure the constituency you are representing is well catered for. But we need law reviews because we have a lot of laws that are obsolete. Meanwhile, in my case, lawmaking is about really using laws to create environment you want and you cannot really do anything without the backing of the law. My aim is to make laws that will empower people and create that enabling environment that will make people come to Oyo State.
If you emerge as a lawmaker, what are the cardinal bills you intend to initiate within 100 days in office?
Based on experience, sometimes you don’t know until you get there, but what I would like to do certainly is to ensure that we create an environment where SMEs can thrive and we have a lot if businesses in Oyo in the informal sector. We need to create that environment where entrepreneurs want to start in our state. We have a lot of young people in Oyo creating software, creating applications; we need to give them the opportunity to create the businesses they want.
What stands you out among the candidates jostling for the Afijio seat?
Representing people requires understanding governance and that would be what we will bring to the table in Afijio. The advantage is that I have worked with government for seven years, and that’s hard to come by. I believe, unlike others, that I wouldn’t have a year or two to learn. I will hit the ground running. I already have a blueprint, manifesto and it is realistic because I have tested them based on realities.
Were you spurred to vie for the Afijio seat by the governor, your mentor?
When I entered politics, I said I was coming to learn because I foresaw the calling that I will be in government. Interestingly, when I told the governor, he was very surprised because he sees me as a gentle administrator. He was surprised, but also very pleased. He didn’t put me into it. I actually pushed my agenda to his knowledge asking if he was okay with it. Considering loyalty, one needs to ask what one’s boss thinks. As soon as I told him, he was at ease and he will continue to be supportive. Being there, he is always asking for progress report. It wasn’t his idea; it was my agenda that he supported.
Considering recent defections from All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oyo to parties like the African Democratic Congress (ADC), will this development not hamper your chances to emerge?
There are several perceptions in politics. Sometimes a group of people, not more than 200, will be said to be 2,000 or ten people sit in a room and we are told that 100 people have moved. Without a doubt, we have lost some people to ADC, but, if you look very closely, these were people who could not have their way in the APC and decided to leave. Politics is give and take and, I think, after taking, they were not ready to give. Even abroad, we have right and left wings and it is not the left wing that wins always. Sometimes the right wing wins, other times, the left wing wins. But, when the right wing wins, it does not mean that those on the left wing should leave the party. And we need to develop parties of ideology. If they were real progressives, they should have stayed; the fact that things didn’t go their way did not make it a reason to leave. We believe, overtime, we will develop politics of ideology to know where people stand. Is it for the benefit of people that they are called progressives or for the benefit of self? To my mind, in Oyo Zone, the APC is firmly on ground and I believe the party will win in 2019, not just in Oyo Zone but also across the zones. It is a statement made based on facts. The purpose of government is security, to give an enabling environment, and APC has given this. APC has given modern infrastructure that we have never seen before, infrastructure that will bring development, good roads, through dualisation, schools, etc. Everybody has said we have turned Oyo State into a huge construction site. That is the foundation for development. We have a rail line coming and that is development that people want. You can see that this APC government has done what government should do. What about welfarism, MSME growth? Our people are wiser and they will decide to choose the APC in the 2019 elections.
If you emerge lawmaker and the next governor is not the APC candidate, Mr. Adebayo Adelabu, how much of a calamity will this be for you?
First of all, I believe Adelabu will win. However, in answering the “if” in your question, we will be in the legislature and our role is to continue to do check and balance. We will do our job as legislators to check the activities of the executive and ensure that the people of Oyo State get good government. The job of government is for a few people to represent the majority and it is always about the people. Our role is to ensure that the people get what they deserve. We don’t want a government that will start to tear everything up because it was a different government that set it up; we don’t want government that will come in and believe that just for the sake of politics, it has to destroy the good works that have been done before now. What is most important for us in the legislature is to create good laws and act as check to the executive to ensure that government is as it should be and that Oyo does not go back to the yesteryears when it was known for anarchy, thuggery and brigandage. But really, I don’t see how Adelabu will not win the forthcoming governorship election.