Till date, new-generation politicians still make wishful references to the very robust people programmes that defined the political voyage of the great Obafemi Jeremiah Awolowo. The reasons for this isn’t unconnected to the almost inimitable nature of those programmes, such that, Awolowo’s free education and welfarist policies for example, remain a standard-bearer for supposedly good political ideas and drives today.
In Afijio local government area of Oyo state, Seyi Joseph Adisa, a barrister seeking to represent the constituency in the state’s house of assembly, has seemingly raised some dust of hope as regards charting new paths for the politics of development.
The All Progressives Congress candidate, who until now, served as the Principal Private Secretary to the Executive Governor of Oyo state, Governor Abiola Ajimobi, shocked many when he publicly declared his interest to run for political office. The shock stemmed from his famous unsuspecting mien which many regarded as an apolitical trait. However, Mr. Adisa took time to further shock those watching with the style of campaign he chose to make his ideas and vision known to the Afijio electorates.
It was a campaign style that took the state by awe.
At a point across most political circles in the state, people kept querying the expanse and direction of Seyi Adisa’s campaign, wondering if he was truly gunning for a state house of assembly seat, as it seemed as if he was campaigning “too right and too well” for a higher seat.
His famed belief in the politics of development that focuses on people made Seyi Adisa design his campaign model around meeting and matching direct needs in his constituency, more than running a campaign of promises.
According to a remark Mr. Adisa made during a recent press meet, be stated the reason why he chose a path mostly uncharted by nascent politicians. His words,
“When we started out, we had one goal – PEOPLE.
We strongly believed in our dream of deploying the power of purposeful representation, backed with political will, to better the lives of the people of Afijio.
This valid desire to deepen the politics of people in my constituency and by far, in Oyo state, drove us to run an issues-centric and governance-driven campaign, with the intention of depicting the relative ease with which purposeful representation can indeed usher substantial progress into Afijio.
This then gave birth to the EJEKASEYI drive – a charge to deliver a campaign of substance, as against a campaign of promises”
This virgin remark from the university of Birmingham graduate will make one understand why he took a bold and unprecedented step of launching his campaign in Afijio with a grand concert that enlisted A-lister musicians and that shook the entire local government for the right reasons.
That concert which was said to mainly depict the youthfulness, vigor, and freshness of Barr. Seyi’s vision and ideas, also set a tone for the unexpected from his plans.
A Back2School programme was set up by his campaign team targeting parents. Parents were supported with financial relief by providing new school bags, textbooks and exercise books for their wards across the entire Afijio. There’s seldom any school on the whole of the constituency that isn’t colored or dotted in Seyi Adisa’s yellow. The kids, proudly bearing any of the relief items, books, uniforms or schoolbags, items Barr Adisa prefers to call “tokens of love”, are seen doting everywhere and visible to anyone who cares to look.
Not done, his team partnered with a non-profit organization, the 7eleven Foundation, to set up an unusual empowerment programme for 100 youths picked across Afijio. The unusual nature of this empowerment programme gave it state-wide appeal because of its style of picking unemployed youths, helping them via entrepreneurial training in five (5) different crafts to make them gainfully employed, and eventually transforming them into employers of labour.
In Afijio today, the graduands from that programme are not only gainfully employed, but are indeed creating employment for others already. They are the success stories of that unusual incubation-to-activation style of empowerment. By one wave of his wand, a template to systematically solve the problem of unemployment was birthed for youths in that constituency.
With a goal to maximize AFIJIO’s tag as the state’s “fruit basket”, Barr. Adisa kickstarted similarly lofty ideas to fully explore the entire value chain of agricultural products abundant in Afijio. He already has a template to work with the farmers therein after interacting with them on a number of occasions.
Just recently, over 2,000 Afijio residents benefitted from a robust 4-day medical outreach setup by his team to cater for a wide-range of medical needs. 41 successful surgeries ranging from hernias to removal of lumps were performed, and a total of 160 eyeglasses were given, along with packs of drugs, all given for free.
Basically, in the past year, Barr. Adisa has deployed his experience in governance matters and a network of influence to either provide and/or improve basic socioeconomic and education infrastructure, train education personnel, empower parents and school children, aid agriculture, and create fruitful employment. He has been busy using his experience and reach to meet both direct and systemic needs.
While he was focused on meeting these needs, he gained soldiers by default. Soldiers who religiously believed in his vision. The beneficiaries of his people programmes automatically became his foot soldiers and canvasers of his vision. Across Afijio today, seldom will air blow for breath without the scent of “ejekaseyi” – his campaign slogan – coloring the air.
As it is said in the street slanguage and parlance, ‘everywhere stew’ for Seyi Adisa, and he achieved this not with overly melodramatic and rough-ryding rallies, rather, he did so with his method of issues and focusing on people and their needs. He practiced absolute ‘peoplecracy’ and it worked!
Seyi Adisa is definitely not Obafemi Awolowo, this Joseph is clearly not that Jeremiah; but without a shadow of doubt, by these strides attained throughout his campaign’s journey, he has redefined, resurrected the politics of development, and gave hope to its chances of survival in today’s political forays.
•Sayo Aluko writes from Ibadan