Wednesday, 23 April 2014

My Pact with Tinubu, Aregbesola and Fashola - Honorable Benjamin Adeyemi Olabinjo

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BAO with BAT (Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu)

In this concluding part of our encounter with Honorable Benjamin Adeyemi Olabinjo, the Chairman of Ojokoro LCDA who was recently honored with a recognition award by City People Media Groups during her maiden edition of the City People Awards for Political Excellence, the man famously called ATM told us the reason why he is very close to the national leader of his party, APC Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the state governor, Barrister Babatunde Raji Fashola and the Governor of Osun state, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. He equally narrated how he was able to turn around the fortune of Ojokoro LCDA within a very short while and how his efforts as the chairman has drawn several attention culminating in awards recognitions to him. It is a very interesting chat with asabeafrika and City People. Enjoy the excerpts.

BAO with Rauf Aregbesola, Governor of Osun State
My Pact with Tinubu, Aregbesola and Fashola
On why Olabinjo is very close to the likes of Tinubu, Fashola and Aregbesola, the man called ATM argued that it is his work that brought him closer to the trio and nothing else than his hard wark, hear him  “If you perform very well, you will be tagged one. People believe that you can just be a favorite son of Asiwaju. You can’t be a favorite son of Asiwaju without you performing, without you doing what is expected of you as the leader of the community” Another allegation is that Olabinjo’s projects are done with such rapidity that many feels that his LCDA is favored above other. Although he didn’t deny but he buttress the fact by saying this “Well, I can agree with you on that ground and I will tell you why I am saying this; the governor himself said it openly, the day we commissioned Olaniyi Street, he said since he has started commissioning roads and projects across the state he was surprised that Olabinjo instead for me to offer him a gift for the road that he constructed in my Local Development Area, what I did was to hand over to him a parcel asking for the delivery of another gigantic project. So, people were very amazed but the Governor said that is the kind of person that he wants; a worker, a thinker. Because I have never been to his office to ask for any thing that will benefit me directly, either to say ‘Your Excellency sir, tomorrow is my birthday or my daughter is marrying tomorrow’. I have never, rather than do that, I will demand for what will be beneficial to my people in the Local Government Area I have been voted to run. And that is why you will see that even the governor, I must tell you the truth, he has done a lot in my local government in terms of infrastructure. He has done a lot, so, then for our Oga Pata-pata, Asiwaju, if you are not ready to work, you are not going to be his favorite. You can see the foundation he laid as the Governor of this state that is the reason why Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola can be able to work. Had it been that Asiwaju did not do anything like other PDP governors then, I am telling you, Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola would be a beginner. So, for him to achieve what he has achieved today, it would have been very, very rough. But Asiwaju has been working, working, working and fortunately for him, he got a person that would continue with the good job he has been doing. So that is Asiwaju for you; if you are not ready to work, he will just show you the way out of his environment”.

BAO with BRF (Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola)
Why Governor Fashola can’t forget BAO
BAO went ahead to narrate the story of how he surprised his Governor when the later came to commission a project in his domain “The project is actually a Governor’s project, but when he was commissioning that place I gave him a parcel and when he opened it, it turned out to be the one where I did the BOQ (Bill of Quantity) of Temple Road down to Oladeinde which is Shina Peters Road. From power line here, that is Jankara Road down to Fagba. You will see that is the longest road in our Local Government Area because that is the road that divides Ojokoro into two, that is the middle of Ojokoro. I looked at it that he is my Oga and he is ready to work, and he used to tell us that the reward of hard work is to work harder. So, I just look at it and I said ‘if you can do this for us’ because Olaniyi, if you know how Olaniyi was then, you will credit him for what he has done for us in this local government. So, when I saw that ‘Oh, Oga can do this for me in this local government? I said ‘Okay, let me try him for this Temple Road and Power line Road. So, that was the parcel I handed over to him at the Olaniyi event. All the quotation, everything, the amount that is going to finish it, it is over Three point something billion naira. I did the BOQ and I handed it over to him. So, when he opened it, he laughed and said “People can you see Olabinjo, this is what I have just done in his Local Government Area but instead for him to put lace or anything inside the parcel to appreciate me, he is giving me additional job to do for him’. You know, that is the way we work in our team, as far as our party is concerned, if you really believe in Asiwaju, we are a working and a winning team. If Governor is going on the right, we follow him to the right, if he says we are going on the left we make sure that whatever we are doing on the right side we complete it so that people can have something good to say about our party”.

How I turned Ojokoro LCDA around
The grass root mobilizer reeled out some of the projects he has done in as the Chief Executive Officer of Ojokoro LCDA and why people are talking about them “So far as this local government is concerned I can mention to you many projects me and my team have completed since we came on board. So far so good, I have given out more than forty transformers. In terms of education I have renovated about four schools that have been tumbled down before my team came on board but if you go there now, you will see them in good condition. I have equally given over three thousand pupils the opportunity to do their GCE at no cost. That is for education; on health, right now as I am talking to you I have a Primary Health Center that is under construction and there was a time we purchased ten million naira worth of medical equipments for our health delivery system. Before now, because we are all constrained financially right now, before, I used to give out three million naira quarterly for free drugs to the people in my local government area. We have done several empowerment schemes; during our empowerment  programs, we give fridges, freezers, pepper grinding machines, NAPEP motorcycles, Hairdressing Machines, Clippers to barbers and so many things that can aide small scale entrepreneurship and stop crime and poverty among our people. We even give some people cash support to enable them to start a business of their own; we did that in conjunction with a micro-finance bank then. At a time I put in ten million naira for the people at the grass root to enable them finance several projects and small scale businesses that if you are selling minimum of hundred thousand or two hundred thousand naira worth of goods, they will still borrow you money to pay back, we did that in conjunction with Union Bank, I gave ten million naira to the farmers (Agro Farms) so, if you are a farmer, at least you can borrow money and start your small scale farming and generate employment for many others. Roads, I have done at least I can mention seven roads that have been completed. Not a road of hundred meters or two hundred meters o, I can mention a road that is up to one thousand meters that I did in this local government area.  Then for security, we give it our all, I have purchased some vehicles for our police to enable them do their job well, we purchased three brand new vehicles for the police at a time, we equipped them, we use to give them the necessary equipments as at when due, even most of their vehicles we refurbishes it for them. So, there are lots of things we have done but right now I can only tell you the few I can remember.  

BAO and team with City People publisher, Dr. Seye Kehinde
Why we bought our own tractors for Road Construction
His own LCDA among the over 15 LCDAs in Lagos is the only one that bought tractors for the upgrading of roads instead of leasing tractors, Olabinjo gave us the reason why he took the initiative “The reason why I took that decision was because we have so many roads in this Local Government Area; either I or the state Government, no magic can be done. We can not complete the work in Ojokoro. I can mention to you a number of the roads that has been constructed by the state government and the ones that has been constructed by us within five years. Despite that we still have a lot of roads, there is no way you can touch it but I just deem it fit that instead of we wasting money and I know that in another five years because of the effect of economic of scale, there is nothing that can be done there. If we cannot put drainage or put asphalt on it, at least if we can be grading them, putting asphalt, roll it and make it motor-able for our people, that one will be better, that is the reason I deem it fit to buy two grader machines, I have one before that was refurbished. I bought another two, making three. I bought two rollers and I have Excavator; so where we need to put earth drain we put it, if you do grading and there is erosion on the road, it is not a good job. So, at least with back-up we still excavate it to enable the little water that will be on the road to move for easy erosion, so that is the reason we purchased our own equipments and with this grader that we are talking about, I can tell you that we have graded over one thousand streets in Ojokoro”.

His numerous Awards from local & International bodies
Me and Awards
When we asked Olabinjo to explain the reason for the many plaques in his office which shows commendations from both local and international bodies, he first replied by saying “I appreciate you for that question you just raised”. He spoke ahead “One, because I have nothing to hide from the media whenever media executives come to ask me any question, I will answer them. If you want me to even grant you a phone interview I will do it without hesitation. By doing so, the information of our work here in Ojokoro spread across through both print and electronic media platforms including the internet  and that gingered the interest of people to come searching for us, these organizations and bodies come down to ask me questions. Then if they start asking questions I will now say ‘well, it is not possible for you to just ask question from me, go out and see what I have done and equally ask from people how I got there. To my surprise many of them will just write a letter to me that they want to give me an award; even there was a particular award I was given as the Most Sport Friendly local Government Area in Lagos and a trophy was presented to me. The trophy was presented to me by His Excellency Babatunde Raji Fashola at Teslim Balogun Stadium, Suru-Lere, Lagos, I was the third person presented with that trophy that very day. It was an overwhelming occasion, the lesson of that is that if you are doing something and you think people are not observing you then you are quite wrong because they are quietly watching  what you are doing, so that was how I got all these awards. Of recent I got an Honorary Causa Doctorate degree in political Science and International Relations from EPS-LACITE University at Cotonou, the Republic of Benin. It was another very rare commendation that tasked my imagination because I am someone who just likes to do my thing, make people happy and go to bed peacefully”.

Why my Staffer are well dressed
In moving round the LCDA which is situated inside a large compound shared with a customary court in Ijaiye area of Ojokoro, you discover that most of Olabinjo’s staffers are dressed neat as if they work in a bank. We wanted to know how he achieved that standard and this is what he told us “It is simply because the welfare of my staff is my number one priority; there was a staff, a senior staff and a professional who was transferred from another local government area to my local government, getting here I pointed to her that she has eczema, I said ‘Madam, why do you have all these eczema on your face? And even the way you dress is not normal as far as I am concerned’. She was shocked but to my surprise after two months, she changed all her system. I am that type of person that will challenge you to your face; if you dress and you don’t dress properly I will tell you that the way you dress is not proper. Then if I challenge you and I discover that it is assistance you need to upgrade your wardrobe, I will do it for you in the little way I can and let me tell you one thing life has thought me, if you let the welfare of your staff be your priority, they will work and serve you with the best of energy”.

Why I named buildings in the LCDA after Asiwaju, Aregbesola & Fashola
The three major structures housing the administrative block, judicial block and the legislative block in the LCDA are named after three prominent APC figures namely; National Leader Asiwaju Tinubu, Osun Governor Rauf Aregbesola and Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola of Lagos. Olabinjo must have a reason for being the only one among his colleagues to achieve this feat, “I can tell you that if you hear that APC is controlling the entire federation now, those are the tree musketeers that are behind the change. And I have done this even before APC was founded, in my own dream, I looked at Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola because I named that building after him when I was just two years in the office and that was during his own first term also, I looked at him as a person that will lead the party to a prominent position where people will embrace the ideology of the party. I looked at Governor Aregbesola as a game changer, a perception maker who can make people say ‘o, kudos to Asiwaju, at least he has moved this party to the next level’. Both Governor Fashola and Governor Aregbesola are working with Asiwaju. When Governor Aregbesola was Commissioner for Works in Lagos, Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola was the Chief of Staff, if you look at the combination you see that the two of them are working together with Asiwaju and that is the reason Asiwaju can get to the position he is today and I believe that other people coming behind, we have to honor them one way or the other. That is why the one (building) in the middle, I showed to people that this is the most powerful man in the middle, that is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, his right man on the right hand side that is Governor Aregbesola and the left man on the left hand side, that is Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola and I believe with the three of them as far as this country is concerned as regards creative leadership, the sky is the limit”.
BAO and wife, Omolabake and Big Sister,
Chief (Mrs) Basirat Olayinka Ojugbele
Young Ladies still disturb me
In getting to know about his fashion sense, Honorable Labinjo caused the team to laugh when he told us the story behind his dressing elaborate to events “As a politician and at my age now, if I am still dressing like a hommies (laughter) that means I am trying to oppress young ladies. On a lighter mood I want to tell you that young ladies run after me but I look at them and feel sorry for them; I say they don’t know what they are doing because I am their father. I look at the rush and I feel very uncomfortable in most cases. For instance there was a party I attended with my wife and maybe the lady didn’t know she is my wife. I said give me food and when the food came, I said let me have something to clean my hand or you want to feed me? And without any restrain the lady said ‘Ah, Oga if you allow me to feed you, I will feed you o’ and I screamed “what do you mean?” and this was a girl that if you peruse her age she is nothing lesser than twenty-two or twenty-four years. So, that is the reason I decided to change my dressing sense, I said instead of me dressing like hommies (Young People) let me start dressing like a Baba  (old man)so that they can know that I am a responsible family man. So, these ladies made me change my dressing sense”.

How a day starts for me
“It is not an easy thing, you know at times you will like to go right but you will meet yourself at the left side. A lot of things do happen but God helps one to handle it. The day starts with thinking and doing something for the people. I am a grass root man and I believe that community service is a twenty four hours, seven days and twelve months round-the-clock schedule. You must be on top of all matters within your sphere of influence”.

PDP is Sinking
Closing the interview, Olabinjo spoke on the recent registration exercise embarked upon by the ruling APC Party; he says the action is the barometer that will measure the success of his party in the coming election, “As far as I am concerned it is the best political strategy for us at least that will enable Nigerians to know the kind of followership our party APC enjoys. It is not just a political strategy that works; it is also a strength driving process that is very good for our democracy. With the number of the people in my local government and with what we have on ground, believe you me with the kind of crowd that is trooping out for registration, I don’t think we can register all of them. Before you guys came in, I was telling some of my guests that we might need to extend the date because the numbers of days are just too small”.  The Ojokoro LCDA boss frowned at a recent kidnap of APC registration agents in Ebonyi state “For those kidnapping in Ebonyi state or wherever, it is a sign of distress on their part. They just want to sabotage our efforts and it simply shows APC is making a point. They have seen what we have on ground and they had to introduce a Madaru strategy to truncate our efforts. All these things you are seeing are from the presidency.  People are tired and everybody needs change and the government in power is in a position of amnesia”

Men of God should seek change
The Local Government boss expressed his greatest regret with religious leaders in Nigeria as he closed the chat“I watched a program this morning and a guests was brought to the program on Silver Bird TV and the man said the people in the helms of religious affairs are the people that are giving us problem and I said why?. They asked him why? And he said why can’t a Pastor Adeboye mount the pulpit and say “We want change”, at least these people have ruled for many years and you can not point to anything tangible they have done. Because these men of God are the ones controlling the heart of millions of Nigerians and whatever direction they tell them to follow they will go. Go to Redeem Camp and see the legion of people, if a Pastor Adeboye can just mount the podium and say we need change, you will see the reaction of people. If we change the system we are using right now you will be surprised what Nigeria will look like in few years time; between 1999 and 2014 see what we have turn the city of Lagos to, is it not a testimony? If you look at the number of the years we used to do just that, I believe Nigeria can be turned into that as well within 8 years. And my prayer is that this nation is going to be better than the way it is now in my life time by the grace of God and I expect you to also do that prayer for yourself (Referring City People publisher, Dr. Seye Kehinde). If you want it in your own time, I am over 50, moving to 60, I am sure you are also in your late forties or thereabout and you want change, because I want it to happen in my own life time and that is the important reason we must seek change. That is the reason why it is important for us to register as APC members and go out to vote when it is time to vote”. 

Gbenga Dan Asabe

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