Senator Ademola Adeleke, who replaced his late elder brother, Isiaka Adeleke in the senate, in this interview with the PUNCH talks about his social and political life. Read excerpts below:
How have you been coping in the Senate since you joined the upper chamber?
God has been helping me to cope well with the demands of the office. It is noteworthy that there are a number of my late brother’s colleagues who saw that they had an obligation to help me succeed. They have been wonderful and of course, a number of other people have helped in one way or the other. I have only been in the Senate for about 10 months but it looks like two years already. I sponsored a bill on Youth Empowerment which is going in for second reading now. My belief is that if we empower our youths and provide them with excellent education and decent jobs, they will excel and we will have less social problems to contend with. I have also embarked on various intervention projects on education, skills acquisition, electricity and provision of scholarships to my constituents. The scholarship scheme is worth over N250m and it is for the whole duration of beneficiaries’ course of study. My tenure has been an eventful one so far.
It is rumoured that you are eyeing the governorship seat in Osun State, how true is this?
Yes, I am contesting for governorship seat of Osun State. I have submitted my letter of intent to the PDP and working hard at getting the nomination ticket of the party. In fact, I just finished a tour of the nine federal constituencies in the state where I met with party leaders and delegates who will be participating in the primaries. I am very hopeful of winning the ticket of the party and with the help of God, going further to win the governorship elections. I have told the party that it is not a do or die affair for me. I am a party man to the core and will abide by the outcome of the primary whichever way it goes. I am running to be governor because there is a state to fix. Our state is today one of the four most indebted states in Nigeria. Our external debt is over $70m while the domestic debt is close to N200bn as at last year. Unfortunately, it is also a state with very low IGR. Workers are being owed salaries of up to 15 cumulative months in some instances. These are enough reasons to rise up for the task of salvaging the state.
People say that as a jolly good fellow, you don’t appear as someone who would love to play a kind of politics played in Nigeria, is that a correct assessment?
Well, there is always a role to play in changing any situation that is unpleasant. My own type of politics is patterned after that of my late brother who was the first executive governor of Osun State. He was a grassroots mobiliser and compassionate leader who did not encourage political violence in any form. That is the kind of politician I want to be.
Following your election after the death of your brother, there was a rift between the governor and your family, has that been settled now?
It was really not anything personal. There was a level of empathy we expected from the governor on the demise of one of the state’s eminent leaders and indeed a former governor. The point however is that before my brother’s death, he had consistently advised the governor to pay more attention to the welfare of the workers and other ordinary citizens of Osun State. The late Senator Isiaka Adeleke was against the non-payment of salaries and pensions. So we had no personal issues with the governor. It was all about the people but we have since moved on by the grace of God.
How are you relating with your late brother’s followers who are mostly APC while you are in PDP?
I have very good relationship with all my constituents regardless of their party affiliation. As I said earlier, several thousands of our supporters who are still in the APC have decided to join forces with us in the PDP. They will be received into the party by our national chairman at a zonal mega rally holding in Osogbo this weekend. It is a very major development which will definitely alter the political equation in Osun State in favour of the PDP.
As someone who hardly talks to the press, can you give us a peek view of your personality?
Getting me to talk about myself isn’t always easy because as the saying goes, ‘a student doesn’t mark his own script’. However let me just say I am a humble, easy- going and focused person born into a great family of the Late Balogun of Ede Land who was a senator in the second republic. My career life has always been in the private sector and that is why I may not be too much of a media personality. I am however not a shy person.
In a lighter mood, people often say that you probably trained Davido, your nephew, is that true?
Yes, I did train him a few skills which by the Grace of God are helping him today in his career. Our family is very proud of him.
Why do you like dancing at parties and even in churches?
Don’t you also dance in church and when you have joyous occasions? Well, I dance because I am happy and grateful to God. I am not a pretentious person but the dancing aspect is just a minor aspect of me. I am a deep thinker and solution-finder. For example, in one of my recent visits to one of the local governments in my senatorial district, I came into contact with a group of retirees who said they had always wanted to meet with me because I always exude joy and confidence. These were senior citizens who needed encouragement in their difficult situation occasioned by the failure of the APC government in Osun State. Of course I spent quality time with them and shared some of the resources God has given to me to make them even happier. That to me is the essence of life.
You have two sons in the music industry, Bred and Shina Rambo, did you actually encourage them to choose music?
Well, I believe each person has a unique gift and talent. Our responsibility as parent is to guide our children and help them with the right education to develop whatever talent God has given to them. This is what I do with my children and that is what I encourage parents to do.