By GILBERT EKEZIE
The immediate past Executive Chairman of Ifelodun Local Council Development Area, Lagos State, Hon. Shuaib Fatai Ajidagba, popularly called AJIFAT, in this interview, speaks on his stewardship, relationship with some party leaders and why he decided to vie for House of Reps seat in Kwara- State in 2023.
Could you tell us bit of your background?
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I am the CEO of AJIFAT Medical Centre and a House of Representatives avspirant in Asa Federal Constituency, Kwara State on the platform of APC.
Could you speak about your eight years tenure as Council Chairman in Lagos State?
Well, I thank the Almighty Allah and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for giving you the opportunity to serve in Ifelodun LCDA. If not for him, Iwould not be able to have the opportunity to be saying this today.
Talking about my two terms in office as Chairman,. I will say that I am very happy because I am seeing my people being happy after leaving office. On the areas of infrastructure development, empowerment and others, I will not rate myself, rather the people will, and I am happy that they are talking good about me. Actually, the eight years journey was tough. However, I went, I saw and I conquered. I was able to change the narratives in the politics of both Ajeromi Ifelodub LGA and Ifelodun LCDA Lagos State and that has given other people the opportunity to come to. contest. In fact, I am happy about that.
How did you change the narrative in politics to make it more attractive to others in Ifelodun LCDA?
Before I came on board in 2011, there was no visible development in Ifelodun LCDA and if you go round the schools in the area, you will only see Jakande buildings leaking roofs damaged roads and poor infrastructure. In fact, the area is nothing to write home about. But I was surprised when you
I received the first and second allocation and saw that it is enough to do things the people can appreciate, things that can create impact on the people. So, when I got to the LGA meeting, happily I said ‘Owo be nikansu’. That does not mean we wanted to embezzle money, we want to use the money accordingly on education, health, empowerment, security and for the welfare of our people so that they can see it . In fact, that is the reason people talk good about me till this moment.
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The Health Centre you constructed at Alaba Oro is seen as the best of its kind, what inspired you to put up such gigantic facility?
I am a man of integrity and very blunt. I had a mission for coming to serve and I did not want anything that would affect my integrity. I am a medical practitioner and I have two hospitals. Before I became the Local Government Chairman. I said that if I have the opportunity to serve, I will do it that way, so that if I leave, nothing will affect me and my family because definitely, everything that has a beginning, must have an end.
When you look at the money, there are some budgets that you will do on how to use it, and if you do not use the opportunity, you will regret it. As the Chairman, I did not do well then, it would affect my practice because my practice is permanent, but to be in an elective office is temporal. That is the reason I decided to use the money to do something that has never happened in many localities in Nigeria and beyond. I am still searching be and have never seen any Council that has built that kind of edifice. People believe that Local Government is all about Primary Health Centre, we have to change that narrative. If you use the money accordingly, that does not mean you will not benefit. I was determined to change the narrative by making things that had never happened before to happen.
The hospital edifice and the Legislative building have never happened at the local government level. The distribution of school bags, uniforms, sandals,, writing materials ,socks, GCE and JAMB forms which we did on yearly basis, had never happened in the history of Ifelodun LCDA. Though, there may be health mission, but not conducting free minor surgery on patients successfully, the way.we did. I tried to lay a foundation that others will follow.
Now, Ifelodun people are doing GCE on yearly basis. I had to put in the bye-law that even when I leave office, it will continue. The distribution of school uniform and the health mission must continue because people expect them. I want to change what I met on ground and bring in my own innovation, so that people will believe that there is money in the Local Council and that it is not for the Council Chairman, but for the people. I performed to the extent that nobody in Ifelodun LCDA complains or talks against me, except my political opponents.
What is your relationship with leaders of APC in Ifelodun LCDA?
We have good relationship during my administration and now . Meanwhile, when I was contesting, many of them did not support me. We had G-16 then and they did not give me their support because they had a culture of ‘after you, it is my turn.’ Then,.I came, struggled , prayed to God and later emerged. Thereafter, I began to carry everyone along, showed love to them and they began to love me . As a result, about 85% of the leaders who did not support me before my emergence are supporting me today. My supporters are not come from Kwara or Delta, rather those within are the ones who love me today.
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Why do they love you so?
The reason is due to my generosity, moving closer to the people and never discriminated against anyone. Also those I touched their lives are there to testify.
How were you able to sustain ACO, your political group?.
Well, I thank God for his grace. Before I became a Council Chairman, I was averagely okay, not boasting. I am not saying that I had much money, but I was already a millionaire ,million was a small thing to me and I have done what one could be praying to do . Before I emerged, I have houses, children and a good business that fetches me money. If you are looking for s good leader, you should trace what the person is doing for a living. Most of the challenges we are having today is as s result of electing or appointing those who do have a clear means of income. If one does not have something doing, he cannot run a successful government. The person may be there, but the people cannot see anything good. For instance, I have a good profession. While in the Council, I employed doctors and nurses and was supervising them. So, when I left office, I went back to my work and whatever I gather, I use it to sustain my people. But some, after leaving office, they do not have anything to do.
It was alleged that you splitted.APC in Ifelodun LCDA, how true is that?
The true position is that in 2011 when I showed interest to contest for Chairman, one Wahab Adigun who happens to come from the same state, Kwara with me was also interested. Honestly, I did not mean it, but I decided to waste some money, hoping that if not Chairman, they can compensate me with Secretary to the Local Government or Supervisory Councillor because I was enjoying my medical practice. Then, I was spending money . Especially, if the incumbent House of Reps member, Hon Kolawole Taiwo is celebrating, I will buy Ankara clothes for many people, as a way of seeking for his love, but he never showed me love. I also tried to move closer to a former Chairman of Ifelodun LCDA and one time House of Reps member, Hon Taiwo Adenekan, yet I was not accepted and nobody brought me closer. I was wondering the kind of politics that is being played. Meanwhile, the area was volatile with the presence of Area boys. Then, anywhere I go to chill down, the boys will always hail me and I usually give them money, so they found it difficult to attack me because they had a way of discouraging or frustrating an aspirant then. I also give free medical treatment to many residents in my hospital. Many aspirants were attacked and molested by area boys then. When the leaders refused to identify with me, I put my trust in God. At a point, one of leaders told me and said that I should hold a meeting with other aspirants who also from Kwara State to allow one person and another Vice Chairman and I agreed. Unfortunately, the move failed.
Why did the move fail?
Maybe, they underated me. That eventually made me to rebrand myself. I tried to know my much is the Council allocation and bought a Toyota Sequoia and a big Honda Legend. So,when our leaders went to Umrah, I will meet them there on consultation. At a point, I was advised to meet leaders in Ajeromi which I did after much pressure. It was the leaders in Ajeromi that mediated on my behalf and I later won the election.
Why did you decide to contest in Kwara State, instead of Lagos where you are more popular?
The APC leaders in Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government and Ifelodun LCDA had a joint meeting on 18th, December, 2020 at the residence of the party ‘s Apex Leader in Lagos West, Prince Rabiu Adio Oluwa and resolved that the issue of lopsidedness of representation at the Federal House of Representatives should be addressed and that the Imbalances which have occurred since 1999 concerning equal representation of both Local Governments, is a cause for concern. It was also resolved at the meeting that while Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government Area has had one slot representation between 1999 and 2002, Ifelodun has had uninterrupted four terms slots from 2003 till date.
So, the representation at the House of Representatives should revert to Ajeromi Ifelodun subsequently on completion of Ifelodun slot and consequently becomes rotational among the two councils, and that the agreement shall be binding on the two local governments and shall not be subjected to any controversy by any individual or group of people. The resolution, among other things also had it that change of residency by any aspirant for House of Representatives from either of the areas is prohibited. The document was signed by the leaders of both areas. Obviously, it is the turn of Ajeromi Ifelodun LGA for produce House of Representatives member in 2023. For that reason, I cannot contest in Ifelodun , rather, I am moving my destiny to my home state, Kwara. Moreover, many may think that I am planning to quit Lagos politics, but that is not true, APC is one and I remain strong in Lagos, notwithstanding going to Kwara State to serve my people.
What gives you the courage that you will win the House of Representatives seat in Kwara State?
I am a native of Ilorin and I came to Lagos in 1992 to establish AJIFAT Medical Centre in 1995. Since then, I have never missed a month without traveling home. I always do my ceremonies at home. My primary, secondary and everything I did were all at home . I am very popular there and one of the financiers of Kwara APC in Lagos. I do sponsor people to go and vote at home up till this moment, and I know how much I have invested. If you’re in another state and achieved a lot, it is good you go home. Meanwhile, I have a good relationship with the governor of Kwara State, State Chairman of APC, EXCOs and leaders. So, with my exploits , experience and connection, I have the confidence that the good people of Asa Federal Constituency would choose me to represent them, come 2023.