Adewumi Adeyemi Irekandu is an architect and legislator at the Osun State House of Assembly. In an interview with SODIQ LAWAL, he discusses godfatherism, youthocracy and rated the Oyetola-led administration low in performance.
Q: So before we start this interview proper, can we briefly meet you, sir?
Q: Sir, can you take us through the journey of your childhood focusing on the education and leadership positions you have held in the past?
I am a native of Ibokun. I was born in Ibokun, a community in Obokun local government of Osun state. I was born on the 27th of April 1984. I had my basic education in Oshogbo. My secondary school is in Our Leaders’ St Francis and Golf International College in Ejigbo.
I had my first degree from the Federal University of Technology, Akure. I studied Architecture. I have my second degree and masters degree also in the same university. I am presently having my PhD in the same university, the Federal University of Technology Akure.
I also served in the university as a student leader. I was first the PRO [Public Relation Officer] of the Students’ Union of FUTA and I also became the FUTA SU president. That is the Federal University of Technology, Akure Students’ Union president.
Q: You are an entrepreneur and architect. Can you trace your journey into politics?
Since I graduated in 2009, I love to make an impact especially to effect changes in my community. As a final year student in 2009 after handing over as SUG president, I began organizing a series of programmes for the youths. Things that can make life better for them, you know, empowerment and likes. Also as a corps member in 2010/2011, I paid the tuition fees of some students in the constituency, which I did not stop after being elected into this office. This included their bags and school uniforms. because I believe education is the very key.
Well, the Peoples’ Democratic Party, as the name implies, is a Democratic party. A party that has a focus on building the tenets of democracy, a party that believes in democracy. That’s the party that anybody that has a democratic ideology is expected to join. And, of course, the antecedent or let me say the foundation upon which the party was built remains unshaken. PDP is a party that is grounded, it is a party to watch out for because with time things will get better. It is a party that is ready to improve and if you observe it is a party that has not changed its name or changed acronyms or anything since it was founded or established. So PDP is a party I will expect anybody that believes in democracy to join.
Q: If I may ask you, sir, as a young person striving in PDP, how were you able to do that, is it through godfatherism?
Oh, thank you very much. As I said, PDP is a democratic party and it is given to following the basic tenets of Democracy I think that is the number one reason if I may use your word: striving in the PDP.
Q: [Cuts in] Do you have a godfather?
Q: [Cuts in] Do you believe in godfatherism?
Maybe I should help you with a better word. I believe in mentoring because there is no stage in life that somebody has not gone ahead of you. That is the truth, you see, godfathers in Nigeria‘s context can be positive or negative. It is former if it is to play the role of a mentor and, of course, latter [negative] if it is to lord him or herself over you to make sure he or she does what is even against your will. So if that is the definition of godfather I don’t have such people.
I have people that believe in me, that believe in the vision that I have and are ready to support me and they do not lord their will over mine and this is why I am striving in PDP. The people at the party know my story, my parents and all.
Q: Okay, between the word godfather and mentor… Which one do you prefer most?
They are both the same, positive godfathers and political mentors are the same.
Q: So that means you believe in godfatherism and you have a godfather?
Yes if it is positive.
Q: You were saying something the other time that they probably know your history maybe I don’t get that in particular, or do you have any relative in politics?
Yes, my grandfather was a supervisory and councillor for works in the old Ijebu ijesha. Headquarter was in Ijebu at that time and he made a lot of impacts. His name is the name I am principally being called today which is Irekandu. If he has not done very well or did not have a good name I won’t take up that name for myself. So as a matter of fact every of his child, male or female are called Irekandu if any so wishes. So I took up that name as my political name and people welcome me because he was a very good man and he performed excellently well when he was in politics. My father was also very active in party politics though he did not hold any elective position he was active and also made a lot of impact in the community.
Q: So it is safe for us to say or to posit that you are one of the fulfilled, young people striving in politics, because of family pedigree?
Yes, family pedigree worked for me. You see, different factors determine who you are and one of the factors is that I inherited a good name from my parents and that is not the only factor.
Aside from these factors, I have told you what I have been able to do, my antecedents. Even while I was still on campus, I used to come to the community and organized programmes for the youths. That is among the reasons I was supported.
I still did not stop at that, I continued to make impacts. You see, the character is what is going to keep you at the top; some things may open the door for you though. But what you begin to do when the door subsequently opens for you matters a lot.
Q: Would you have thrived this far in politics without a family pedigree?
Yes, of course, we have several people that have been able to do that as well and mine will not be different. It was just an advantage for me. Capacity is key. We have orphans and they excel. What is key is your vision and your capacity to drive that vision. While I was on campus there was no father or mother’s name that spoke for me, capacity did. And of course, when I graduated I did not know I was going to use my grandfather’s name, vision and capacity drove me. When I decided to join politics I just used the name of my grandfather.
You see, in our kind of politics people will ask you, ‘whose son are you’ so it was not only because my father or my grandfather was active in politics and even if they were just community leaders that will be enough, so if they ask you ‘whose son are you?’ ‘Whose daughter are you?’
Q: As a youth, why did you start with the state assembly constituency? Do you fear competition, or do you know it will require more finances and resources?
There is a principle I have been working with over the years and which has been helping me: starting with what you have where you are. Like I said when I graduated from the university or before I graduated I went to Obokun my community. That was the next vision I had. And after some years of impact in this same community, I said to myself, I can represent this same community I have been working for in the State Assembly. Because it was my immediate constituency; I was not working at the senatorial level at the time or federal constituency level or state level, I was only working with Obokun Local Government. That was when I felt ‘it is okay, I should go to the next level and represent these people.
You see, before politics, some people asked me why I chose Obokun and not Ondo or Kwara states, I replied that this was where I was born, this is my immediate community. This is where I started my Foundation: Adewumi Adeyemi Foundation. Wisdom dictates that whatever I want to do should be within my class at the time because that was where I was and that is why I am in the Osun State House of Assembly.
Q: In the 2019 elections that brought you in as a state legislator, out of 26 house of assembly candidates only 3 candidates of the PDP emerged victoriously, that should be a plus for you. How were you able to scale through the hurdles then?
Yes, very well. But like I said, several factors contributed. Number one, it is the party I belong to, the People’s Democratic Party. Also, the efforts of our leaders that you have mentioned it, does not deny that fact. People believe in a number of our leaders. They are stabilizing the party and bringing the dividends of democracy to the people. So my party and the leadership of my party contributed. Also, my efforts, I talked to the constituents myself. I told them what I have for them. They saw the vision and what I have been able to do in the community, so they believed this young man.
No matter how good the political leaders are if you don’t present a candidate that can win an election, they won’t. It is not a factor that makes you win an election but several factors. If there are other places their candidates did not win an election, maybe you need to check the candidacy or the history of the party in that constituency.
Q: Can we say the other candidates fielded in other places were not competent?
Let me add this, in our political system, our electoral is getting better but not the best yet. If not now that we can transmit results electronically, a free and fair election is what we have been expecting but that does not mean we have been having it before now.
The other 23 people that did not win does not translate to not having capable people in those places. Several factors could be responsible, such as electoral violence and the likes.
Q: Are you a product of godfatherism?
Well, I just defined godfatherism for you at the time. I am not entirely a product.
Q: Okay, do you agree that you are a product of godfatherism?
Political mentors, yes.
Q: Who are they?
Let me say this so we don’t misunderstand ourselves. I want to put it in a perspective, godfatherism in the positive way as I defined earlier is good and I will encourage everyone to have one. Godfatherism in the sense that someone will mentor you, some that will believe in you and help you achieve your mission and vision, someone that will help you to attain your vision,…
Q: Who are your godfathers as far as Obokun politics is concerned?
I have a number of them. Those are my political leaders. And they believe in what I believe in. Distinguished Senator Fadahunsi [Osun East Senator], Honourable Oluwole Oke [Obokun/Oriade Federal Constituency Representative in the National Assembly], and Honourable Soji Adagunodo, he is the PDP member that represented Obokun Constituency in the Osun State House of Assembly before me, he is presently the national vice chairman of the PDP, Honourable Diran Odeyemi, he is the former deputy national publicity secretary of PDP, Honourable Mayowa Adejorin, he is the former chairman of the party in Obokun local government. Barrister Ojo Williams, Honourable Adelani Owoeye, Honourable Tope Ladesuyi and several others.
Q: [Cuts in] Did you dabble into politics after your NYSC?
That is incorrect. I served 2010/11 and I contested in 2019, which is almost ten years apart.
Q: [Cuts in] How did you finance your campaign?
My party was involved in my campaign funding. I also have an Architecture and construction company that I founded as an Architect myself which was able to support my campaign. And most importantly, we crowd-funded my campaign. I had a campaign account, we named it Adewumi Adeyemi Campaign Organization. We opened an account with Zenith Bank at the time it was online and people donated.
I told you I was a Students’ Union leader on campus. Even before the party accepted me and before they gave me their ticket, before the primaries. Some alumni of my school that knew what we did while on campus and believe in me, began to crowdfund the campaign. This also extended to friends and families.
People gave as much as one thousand Naira and people gave two hundred thousand Naira, even a million naira was donated.
Yes. I have. I have just spent three out of four years. My party has also given me another ticket, thus renewing my opportunity to contest for representation for another four years.
Q: Can you give us your scorecard in the office, sir?
Let me begin with our core duties: lawmaking. I have some bills I have submitted to the House of Assembly. On the fore is Osun State Disability Protection Bill (2020), this is a bill that will give leverage to the disabled; their health, their association, access to public buildings etc. Another one is Osun State Local Content Bill (2020)., Osun State Community Social Responsibility Bill (2020) and Osun State COVID-19 Economic Stimulus Bill (2020).
Let me elucidate, Osun State Local Content Bill (2020) is a kind of a bill that will improve the economy of this state because it states that whatever is used in Osun state should be produced in Osun state. Hence whatever the government wants to do in Osun state as long as we have people that can do it in Osun state should be given the opportunities to do it. Even if the governor needs furniture, it must be produced in Osun state.
Q: And has any of the bills been passed?
No, they have not been passed but they have been submitted to the house of assembly, we believe that with the support of my Honourable colleagues, these bills will be passed.
The third one is, the Osun State Community Social Responsibility bill, this is a bill that will make sure businesses in the state contribute some percentages to the host community. During the COVID-19 outbreak, these businesses donated to the federal government though they have branches here. What the bill is saying is that any community that host you, at least give them a percentage. No matter how small.
There were times we had security challenges in our constituency, so these issues were brought to the House of Assembly and attention was given to them. And some of our roads have become impassable, I raised some motion at the floor to drive the attention of the government to it. This and many more had been done.
Beyond law-making and even though there is no constituency project as it were for the state lawmakers, I’ve been able to execute several people-focused projects for my constituents.
Scholarships were given to students. We have helped make payments of WAEC fees for indigents secondary school students. We’ve also reduced the number of out-of-school children in my constituency by taking children that are out of school back to class.
We’ve sunk boreholes across my constituency, and I’ve organised economic empowerment programmes for my people wherein equipment worth several million was purchased and given to over a hundred of my constituents.
The NURTW and the RTEAN approached me for ultra-modern motor parks. We are currently building that. It is one of the ongoing projects. I’ve facilitated government projects for my constituency.
The vulnerable groups in my constituency have benefited also from our different interventions. By this, a vulnerable group in IREGUN ward 04 of my constituency has 6 lock-up shops, a borehole and public toilets to themselves. This has helped to eradicate open dedication in the community.
These and many more projects are what we have been able to do to make life better for our people. Importantly, we have made our constituents realize that legislators are their servants. We are representing the people in the House of Assembly, so it is not like a boss-servant relationship, the constituents are the boss. our constituency engagement has greatly improved.
Q: Since you said you have achieved your main purpose of joining politics, why did you want to rerun? Is the second term bid a personal decision?
I told you I feel fulfilled in the last three years. The goals we have set, we have been able to achieve. That does not mean there are no more goals. Legislative activities require experience for maximum benefit. It is a good thing that the Obokun has this kind of representation at this time. We want to consolidate this representation that we have made in the first term. We will be able to improve on it. There is still more to do.
To rerun is a personal decision and my constituents as well as party members welcome the idea of returning me to the House. And it is about what I have told you earlier, making life better for the people.
It is obvious even to the blind that the chances of the PDP are very high, especially from the national outlook. You know what is happening in our country. And of course, it has a reflection on what is happening in the state. So, the chances of the PDP are high.
Q: What formed your opinion on the chances?
Number one, the PDP is a democratic party and it follows the tenets of Democracy. Democracy is a beautiful thing, just like Abraham Lincoln defined it for us. Democracy is a people-centred government. People have compared the opposition government to the PDP and they know the PDP is better. By popular opinion and not just my own opinion, people are ready to return to the PDP.
Sen. Ademola Adekele is compassionate. Someone that loves the people and has a passion to make life a lot better for the people. And we have seen what he was able to achieve while he was in the Senate. The welfare of his people was a priority for him and the people know this. You can compare the rating of our candidate with the other party’s candidate. You will see how the public is always ready to receive him (Ademola Adeleke). To be realistic, even before we go into elections, from our experience we already know who would win from the acceptance of the candidacy by the public.
Q: You must have been aware of the grievances in the opposition party due to the delay in the release of the primary election results, what do you think of that?
We believe that it gives the PDP leverage. It is huge leverage. I repeat, the PDP is a democratic party. We had our primary elections and we announced the winners the same day. My own was announced that same day.
The other party, I think it has been about two weeks now that they had theirs, and they are not ready to declare who the winner is. So which one is a democratic party? Of course, you know what the answer is, the PDP is the Democratic party. Because if they claim to be democratic, they already know who the winners are, why are they refusing to announce them?
Q: If you are to rate the current administration in the state, what would be your score card?
So as not to sound political and to be realistic, they are paying the worker’s salaries as when due though are unable to pay arrears and that of some pensioners. There was a time in this state when it was difficult for the workers to receive their salaries. At a time they resorted to payment of half salary and I think that is where the acronym ‘Hafsah’ came from.
In terms of infrastructural development, I won’t score the government high.
Also, on security, I won’t score the government high. Because in my constituency we are having some security issues. And the Amoketun that we expect to be on top of the situation has not been doing much compared to the two other states in the South West. Some people see Amotekun as personal bodyguards to some of these political appointees.
Q: Out of 100%, how much would you rate the present administration in the state?
Q: Can you recall any friction between opposition and ruling members in the cause of legislation?
No. There has not been any need for friction. This does not mean we have not had our differences but it has not affected the legislative activities.
Q: Should your party emerge what would you do differently?
Amotekun can be empowered beyond being political bodyguards. That will be different with the PDP because we will make sure they protect the people they suppose to protect. We will strengthen them and equip them.
And if the PDP emerges, power must return to the local government. All these projects the state government is doing and claiming are mostly projects for the local government. A governor will come out and say they have tar a 2 to 10-kilometer road, so what has the local government done?
A few years ago when the PDP was in power, we know what they were able to do. Local government chairmen were commissioning roads in kilometres. We believe that the local government is the closest to the people. How many have the chance to go to the governor’s office?
This will be a major stride in the PDP administration.
In education, as PDP stakeholders, we will encourage our teachers. We need to equip them, strengthen them and make sure they are paid.
On the economy, I have just told you about a bill I sponsored. The PDP will ensure the local content and local business owners are patronized. What we consume in the state should be produced by the state.
Q: As a young politician, do you believe in youtho-cracy? Do you believe that the youth can make things work in the country if given the chance?
I believe the youth can do it. Youths are energetic; they are the drivers of our nation. The age we are in is the age of energy, we do things better, and we do things faster in a new way. So I believe in youtho-cracy but not without meritocracy because the two must go side by side.
Q: What have you personally done towards this?
I have aides across the ten wards and 90% of them are youths, when I say 90% I mean only one of them is a senior citizen. I mentor some youths and I inspire them. I call them into leadership. Those are among the things I have done. I also have a mentoring programme for the youth.
Q: On the national outlook, how would you describe the Buhari-led administration in the seven years?
Buhari’s administration has failed Nigerians. It is quite unfortunate that lives no longer have value in this country. The essence of a government is to protect lives and properties. This is in the schedule of our constitution. And this administration has failed woefully in that regard.
Number two, improve the welfare of the people, to make life better for the people. Have they been able to secure lives and properties? Do you know the number of people that have been killed since this administration came on board? I am not talking about politics here, some of the people who died, of them were members of the other political party so it is not politics; this is about the reality.
Recently a Catholic Church was attacked in Owo, Ondo State. Dozens of people lost their lives. [It was] a very gory sight to behold. It is very, very unfortunate. What was the reason people voted out the PDP administration? Was it not because of these killings? Has it abated? Has it stopped? Or has it increased?
It is quite unfortunate because people lose their lives every day. It could happen to anybody. Priests are being kidnapped. Soldiers are being killed anyhow. You cannot even sleep with your eyes closed peacefully in your house.
This administration still has a year to make a lot of things better. It is not beyond them, because The Federal Government has all the powers of the government at its disposal. The soldier, the military: everything. They should use them. Forget about tribe, forget about politics, and solve this problem of insecurity.
Q: It appears that your only grievance about this government is on insecurity, does it mean that this administration has been able to perform in other areas?
Now a Dollar is more or less 600 Naira, and because we are not producing a good amount of what we using in Nigeria, it has a huge effect on our economy. There is inflation, so the economy is zero. So this administration does not perform well in that area too.
So, insecurity is zero, economy zero, even in education. Do you know since when tertiary institutions’ students have been at home because of the ongoing strike?
So, insecurity zero, economy zero, education zero, what is a nation built on?
Q: Let me say if a Southerner emerges as the APC (presidential) candidate, who would you prefer to vote for between a Northerner and a Southerner?
I just told you earlier that I believe in ‘meritocracy’. It is because the kind of leadership we have been having in the past is the reason regionalization is being agitated. If we have it all, there won’t be such. I will vote for Waziri Atiku Abubakar, regardless of who the opposition candidate is because I believe he is capable. He will be able to unite the nation more. A house divided against itself will never stand. One of the issues this administration has is that they have successfully divided the nation than they met it.
Q: Why do you prefer the presidential candidacy of Atiku to others from other political parties?
If you have monitored Atiku’s campaign, you will discover that one of his slogans and the focus of his campaign is ‘One Nigeria‘. That makes him someone who understands that the unity of Nigeria is sacrosanct. And this is one of the reasons I will be voting for him. Besides, he has proven this a lot of times. In his family, he has every tribe, or let me say every region as part of his family. Hence, I say he sees Yoruba as his family and Igbo as his family and he will unite Nigeria.
Furthermore, I feel he is capable because I have been able to see what he has built in his private life. Someone who has been able to do that will be able to build the country we are clamouring for. Besides all these, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is a member of my party too.
Q: Are you married, sir?
Yes, I am married to Adedayo Adeyemi Faith. We have two children, and we have been married since 2011. Continue Reading