Hon. Abiodun Isiaq Akinlade, a three-term member of the Federal House of Representatives from Yewa South/Ipokia federal consituency, celebrates his 50th birthday today. To mark the golden age, the former House Committee Chairman on Science and Technology speaks on his political journey and the 2019 governorship election in Ogun State. WALE ELEGBEDE brings excerpts…
How has life been at 50?
Well, I thank Almighty Allah for his mercies and grace. Life has been so eventful but I thank God for what He had been doing. You know when one looks back at where he is coming from, whatever obstacles, perceived, imagined or visible, become just a stepping stone to greater heights.
At every juncture of my life, the immense blessings and grace of God is always abounding and by this I mean all facet of my life; family, politics, business endeavours and the rest.
But more importantly, it’s a big delight to see that on the basis of the commitment to serve my people, one is able to bring succour, happiness and create a meaningful future for the young ones.
Your looks and carriage do not look 50. Do you feel the golden age?
Seriously, I don’t feel 50 at all. Sometimes, I ask who is the person clocking 50 because I still feel so youthful and healthy and I thank Almighty Allah for that. I want to thank God for giving me a loving and understanding wife who is an angel in my life.
However, I have come to learn that each passing day affords us the opportunity to be a better person and bring smiles to the face of people. I have taken it upon myself to positively impact people and the society especially the youth who I am very passionate about. So, I may not feel 50 physically but in age, perspectives and priority, I am 50.
Do you have any regret as you attain the golden age?
No! The Almighty Allah had been so magnanimous to me and I am so thankful for all His blessings. There is no wisdom or power anywhere, it is Allah who gives willfully and I am one of the recipients. I have no regrets at all. However, in the course of my aspiration for governorship of Ogun State, I have learnt a lot of lessons.
How do you mean? Are you talking about your quest for power in Ogun State?
I know that Almighty Allah is the one that gives power but as humans, it’s natural for one to feel shortchanged. My first aspiration for governorship was for the 2011 election. I was in the pole position and the aspirant to beat among those eyeing the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) ticket then.
As a matter of fact, the story was already walking naked on the streets that I will emerge as the candidate of the party from the Jubril Martins Kuye (JMK) camp. But at a meeting in 2010 held at Baba JMK’s house, I was there alongside General Tunji Olurin, Hon. Adewusi, now a monarch, and others.
It was at the meeting that JMK told me that the powers that be have selected Olurin ahead of me and that I should step down for Olurin who was just coming into the party and politics afresh. I wasn’t satisfied with the decision and I moved alongside my supporters to the now defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). That w
as my first time of being unlucky. Again at the ACN, immediately we moved into the party, our soaring presence was so terrific. After few months of being in the party, all the other aspirants, about seven or thereabout, decided to adopt me as the consensus candidate of the party. It was only Governor Amosun that was not there that day.
But it was a shock that two days later, some leaders of the party converged again and said they had chosen Amosun as the party’s governorship candidate. Another twist to the whole stuff was when Amosun left the party for CPC and the leaders of the party called me and handed over the ACN ticket to me but when he returned again, they gave him back the ticket.
That was my second unlucky attempt. In the run-up to the 2015 elections, I was also in the pole for the PDP ticket but it was given to Gboyega Nasir Isiaka (GNI) and that was one of my saddest days in politics. How did you make your entry into politics?
My entry into politics is both circumstantial and at the same time predestined. I worked in the private sector but I belonged to a youth group in Ogun West then which is piqued by the continuous dominance of Ogun East and Ogun Central zones in the scheme of politics in Ogun State.
The group, named Yewa-Awori Youths Agenda Forum (YAYAF), was solely established to correct the marginalisation of the zone and it was apolitical. Around 2001 or there- about, some leade r s of the zone wanted to go and see the then President Olusegun Obasanjo in Abuja to present the demands of the zone and the need for equity and justice in the state.
Because YAYAF was a prominent youth organisation fighting for similar issues in the polity, two of us were selected to follow the leaders to Aso Rock to meet with Obasanjo.
The outcome of that meeting redefined my orientation about politics because I was able to identify the limitations of our leaders in terms of demands for equity; it looks like they were making a case from outside the fold of power and that one could only influence decisions to favour people only if within the system.
From then, I came to my people in YAYAF and I told each of them to start making plans of getting involved in active politics rather than sit back criticising. So, that was what gave me the drive and as they say, the rest is history.
So, the need for equity and justice in Ogun West was what drove you into politics?
Absolutely yes! Because the marginalisation was already taking its toll on our people and the way we live. We needed direction from a leader and I decided to rise up to the occasion especially in the area of unemployment.
In my area, the most thriving business is the cross-border business and that has affected the psyche of many youths who now take solace in the business on the pretext that there is no job for them even after going to school. That mindset actually reduced the rate of school enrolment.
Given the problem, I reckoned that we must create jobs and employment for our people and that was why I did all I could to ensure that our area attracts Federal Governments jobs and presence and through that, many of our people are now employed and living well. That’s why we are rest assured by God’s grace that an indigene of Ogun West will take over from the incumbent governor in 2019.
What is the relationship between you and Governor Ibikunle Amosun?
It’s fine! Whatever happened between us in the past was just group interest and there is nothing personal in whatever happened during and after elections.
Are you contesting the 2019 governorship election in Ogun State?
Like I said earlier, I was unlucky on three occasions but InShaAllah, I know that 2019 is the year that God has made for me not only to contest but to become the next governor of Ogun State. I’m in the race; God and the people are with me as well.
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