Tuesday, 22 April 2014

How my wife persuaded me to join politics - Ojokoro LCDA boss, Benjamin Adeyemi Olabinjo (BAO) + “Why they call me ATM”


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BAO, Dr. Seye Kehinde and The GDA of asabeafrika
Honorable (Dr.) Benjamin Adeyemi Olabinjo (JP) is a meek personality with a heart of Gold. His case is synonymous to that of the Biblical Joseph whose prophetic gift endeared the government of the day in Egypt to entrust political power in his hand as the Prime Minister of a land that was not his birth place.
Starting as a humble political critic in year 2000, Olabinjo who was a super critic of people in politics never knew destiny was going to play a fast one on him in the future by entrusting him with a political post he so much criticized as a result of bad governance at the time. It all started with a nomination by a group of political associates who noticed the gift of leadership in the young Benjamin Olabinjo; they wanted him to vie for the post of a local government chairman but Olabinjo still politically naïve rejected the offer and almost never took the idea serious, not until the third nomination came and a subtle persuasion from his darling wife, Dr. (Mrs.) Omolabake Adenike Olabinjo followed that he eventually yielded to the call-to-service, but by the time he wanted to honor the call another person had taken over the slot and Olabinjo was given a lesser role of a counselor but he never mind as he continued to work at the back stage for his party, A.C.N. But in a miraculous turn of event and master stroke of luck combined with the act of God, the Ode Remo, Ogun state, South West Nigeria born  politician was later re-chosen as a chairmanship candidate in 2008 after he defeated all his rivals to emerge as the Action Congress of Nigeria (A.C.N) candidate and was subsequently elected as the Executive Chairman of Ojokoro Local Development Area from 2008 to 2011. In 2012, he was re-elected back into office for a 2nd tenure of three years due to his loyalty, dint of service and contribution to the development of his community. An alumnus of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Olabinjo who was born on 4th October 1958 to the renowned Olabinjo family of Ago-Iwoye in Ogun state has a Bachelor of Science degree (BSC) in Industrial and Labor Relations from OOU and a second degree in Leadership and Management Development from the prestigious Manchester Business School of the University of Manchester, United Kingdom. A member of several professional bodies like Institute of Public Administration of Nigeria (IPAN), Institute of Corporate Managers and Public Administration of Nigeria (ICMAN) and Institute of Environmental Accountants of Nigeria (IEAN) among many others, the two term chairman of Ojokoro LCDA who has won several awards from both local and international bodies for his rare transformation of his community in the last 5 years was specially honored by the Dean of all faculties and management of EPS-LACITE International University, Cotonou, Benin Republic last year with a Doctorate Degree (Honoris Causa) in Political Science and International Relations.  Dr. Benjamin Adeyemi Olabinjo who is famously addressed as ATM due to his kindness to the masses and his ability to engender unprecedented social and infrastructural development in his community of Ojokoro was awarded The Best Outstanding Performance Award 2010 by the Lagos state duly accredited assessment team—Concerned Human Right Nigeria. In 2011, honor came from abroad through The African leadership Society based in Accra, Ghana that honored him with Distinguished African Icon of Grassroots Development Award in 2011. He equally won the Lagos State Award for Best owner of Sports Facility in Lagos state and was given a trophy by Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola.
 Recently, he was equally given a recognition awards by City People Magazine during her maiden edition of City People Awards for Political Excellence in Lagos. Few days to the awards, the publisher of the magazine in conjunction with your African Number 1 Celebrity Encounter blog asabeafrika  met the with the famous Lagos LCDA boss inside his office at the CDA secretariat along Lagos-Abeokuta Express Road, Lagos, South West Nigeria where he opened up in a two hours no hold bared interview session in the presence of top aides on the secret of his humble beginning and success story. He spoke on his ascension to political power and why he is so passionate about grassroots development. Take a seat and enjoy the story of one of Nigeria’s most innovative grassroots development expert.     


Benjamin Adeyemi Olabinjo
I don’t ignore phone calls.
Our first question was to find out why Olabinjo is so prominent in his domain and his answers were not far fetched as he relayed to us one of the secrets of his leadership “Thank you very much, you see people calling me BAO (His initials), ATM etc is  because I am around for them. I am the type of a person that makes my door open for everybody. You can see me anytime you want, you can call me anytime you want. I am not the type of person that will ignore phone calls either I know you or I don’t know you. Because by you calling me you might have something important to relay to me that is very important to my own life personally.  If I don’t pick your call that means I can not be lucky to achieve what you want to assist me with. So, I make my door open for people because one of the criteria of being a grass root man is for you to be a person that is accessible to  people; so the only secret of my success is that I make my self accessible to people”.
Why they call me ATM
His famous initials ATM will make any reporter very curious and we didn’t mind asking him why? “The reason why people call me ATM is that if you come to me that you need my assistance in one way or the other; I will just make sure that I try my possible best to rescue you; if you cry to my house, you will not cry out. It is a must that you must laugh; so no matter how little it is, you will get something. You know if you have your ATM card, if you slot it in, money will come out of the ATM Machine. So, coming to me, no matter how, no matter how small it is, I will give you something. So, that is the reason why people call me ATM”.

Benjamin Adeyemi and wife, Omolabake Adenike Olabinjo
How my wife made me join politics.
The interview went deeper when we inquired to know how Olabinjo joined politics “Well, I am a CDA man by nature. I was the chairman of my CDA then, and even at that time we used the hall here (The CDA) then for our meetings. Ojokoro has not come into existence at the time, so whenever we were in the meeting we will be discussing about these politicians and all these elected officers, how are they doing, are they working well or what is it about. We often criticize them, so we discovered that most of them were not working. That was our belief, because we believed that all the money in the world belongs to the local government unknown to us that they have a specific amount being given to them by the federal government. So, we criticize them as community men. From there we gathered together to form a forum to challenge the attitude of local government chairmen, we said ‘ok, what are these people doing that we can not do?’We named it Grass Root Group (GRG). From that area I was nominated by Alhaji Bakare to come and contest for the position of local government chairman and I said ‘what do you mean? You mean I should come out for chairman of the local government? No, I am not up to the task’. The first time, the second time and the third time it kept coming and my wife said “ah, ah, gentle man, go there now and listen to what they have to say’. But on getting to that meeting another person has agreed to take the position of the chairman that is the person of one Mr. Ajibade, he is a retired Daily Times executive. So, at that meeting because I was willing to support him and I donated the sum of ten thousand naira at the program then. After sometime they say if we have a chairman and we don’t have people from his own group who can form the nexus of the councillorship in the Local Government area, they will impeach him easily.  So, they just called me and said ‘Mr. Olabinjo, you are going to be one of the councilors we are going to use and I said ‘Counselor! Ok, if it is counselor, is it not to serve my people, I am ready to do it’. That was how it started. That was in year 2000”.

How my love for Geisha made me fight Obasanjo
Olabinjo gave more reasons why he was initially afraid of joining politics before his wife persuaded him to join “Well, being that I am not a politician. And I was the one that is criticizing them; I point to many things that I believe was wrong. I was a super critic. And for your information in 1976, I didn’t know that you have to go through a newspaper column before you can write a letter that will get to the president or anybody in the helms of affairs. Around 1974, 75 and 76, Geisha then was my favorite delicacy. If I want to eat, I will buy Geisha, open that Geisha, warm it. Then, my eba, I prepare it within some minutes or cook rice and pour the Geisha on it. But suddenly it was banned by the military government and the price of a tin of Geisha just shot up. Then, I drafted a direct letter to the president and that was General Olusegun Obasanjo who was the Head of State and Commander-in-chief then, without knowing that the letter cannot get to him; I just said ‘ok, I will write a letter, this man, why is he doing this? Why is he doing that?’ Then the letter was written and I posted it, now I know the letter will not leave the post office but that was my belief then, that I can face anybody in government or anywhere and when you are doing anything I believe is wrong. I believe I could challenge you no matter your authority or level in government. So, I was a super critic and that was why I said ‘Chairman? No.  But my wife (Dr. Mrs. Omolabake Adenike Olabinjo) encouraged me that ‘gentleman, go. Is it not to serve your people, go there, God will give you the wisdom and opportunity to do it but on getting there, someone has accepted to do it but as God would have it, as I am talking to you now, the person who took it up by that time did not even achieve the position of a councilor till date. That was the greatest irony”.

BAO
How common sense earned me the grace to win the Race
On how he eventually became the chosen one despite his initial resistance, Olabinjo continued the story “truth is I used to believe that CDA candidates can stand on their own as independent candidates and we were moving from one rally to another during the campaign period and something happened that changed the whole perception that one can stand as a sole candidate. We got to a place called  Eko Circle (A political movement in his Local Government Area) that day, the man who has taken it up to be the chairman was asked few questions by the group (Eko Circle) leadership and one of the question was that he should mention his ten point agenda. He mentioned it and someone asked a follow up question which also turned out to be a critical question that ‘ok, sir, which group do you belong to?’ and he said that he belong to every group. The good thing was that I did not sit along with them on the high table instead I sat in the midst of the people at least to feel their pulse as a grass root man, I wanted to be hearing their comments. So, somebody said “Ode (Fool) Instead for him to say he belongs to Eko Circle”, that person was referring to our candidate who was answering questions at the front; meanwhile Eko Circle had no candidate”. From there I just asked from the person, ‘did Eko Circle have any counselor in ward H? He said no, that Eko Circle doesn’t have any counselor’. From that day I decided to be attending their meetings. That was how I became a politician. It was there and then that I realized that if you don’t belong to a group or a team you cannot call yourself a politician. It simply means that sole candidacy, cannot work in this country. You have to align yourself and your ambition to a group”.

Honorable (Mrs.) Omolabake Adenike Olabinjo
My Political sojourn, an act of God
Honorable Benjamin Adeyemi Olabinjo believes his entrance into politics has the imprint of God in all ramification and this he confirmed to asabeafrika and City People during the encounter “I believe it is the act of God because I said it earlier that they said I should come out as a counselor, so, as I joined Eko Circle, the leader of Eko Circle then was Alhaji Mustapha took deep interest in me. I can tell you today that after the demise of Alhaji Mustapha, the people I met there have been with him for a minimum of fifteen to twenty years. They now picked me to be the leader after his death. But as a person that was asked to be a counselor to someone, within that group, Honorable Mustapha said ‘common! Go and sit down’ and I listened to him, I regarded him as my leader. So, at another time after that period, people said I should come out for chairman and I said ‘but last time I was agitating for counselor, so why didn’t you let me go?’ and they said ‘No, you are too much for that’ and someone suggested that I should go for assembly. From the group they kicked against it and said ‘no, this man will be good for us. We want you to be a chairman, not assembly man; we don’t want assembly anymore because honorable Mustapha has been there (Assembly) for eight years’. That was how it started, people called my name to it, not that I woke up one day and just have it at the back of my mind that I am going to be a counselor or a chairman or to hold any political position at all. I have never dreamt about it but people just believe I can do it and that is the more reason why I am putting all my efforts, all my efforts to make sure that I did not disappoint those who feel that I can do it. Though I have tried my best, my best may not be enough but I believe I have tried”.  
City People Publisher, Dr. Seye Kehinde present a copy of the magazine to BAO
I have no security in my house

Does the Chairman of Ojokoro LCDA fear anything in life? We asked and he equally had a ready answer for us “My own is that I fear nobody and I fear nothing but I respect people. I fear only God, the Bible says fear God but respect people because it is only God that can do everything. You have to respect people. If you come to my house there is no fence, no gate because I believe anything that comes my way is my destiny. If God says today is the end of me on earth, no human being on earth can stop it. If God says I will be one hundred and twenty years on earth, let the military men carry their guns and look for me to shoot, you will be surprised God will move me away from that area in a miraculous way and people will say ‘ah, this man, maybe he is an Ijebu man, he has used juju’ but no, it is not juju, it is the work of God because God knows where He is taking me to. So, anything that comes my way is my destiny, not that I don’t fear but there are some things you don’t need to be afraid of. If you have God and you are honest with what you are doing; I am not saying I am a saint or whatever. But at least within me, in terms of fairness to people and my God, I believe I can score myself 80 percent. So, if I have that one within me and my conscience certifies me that I have done nothing wrong, why do I need to be afraid? That is the reason why I believe that anything that comes my way is my destiny”. 

(Watch out for Part 2 of the Interview on this blog in 24 hours time as BAO takes us through the story of his Political Godfathers)

Gbenga Dan Asabe

Africa's Number One Celebrity Encounter Blog

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