•Talks About His Life @ 55
Penultimate weekend, Hon. Ladi Adebutu, the son of an Ijebu billionaire, Chief Kessington Adebutu, turned 55 years. It was a double celebration for this grassroots politician, who was honoured with a title of “Fewagboye of Owode Yewa”, a day before his birthday.
This chairman of House Committee on Agriculture and rural development is not just loved in his home town, Iperu Remo, Hon. Ladi Adebutu is also loved in all nooks and crannies of Ogun State. When he clocked 55, the chairman of Ogun PDP, Hon. Sikirulai Ogundele, threw a classy birthday to mark the event at his mansion located at Hiltop Estate in Abeakuta. City People’s Assistant Society Editor, Abiola Orisile, who was at the event had an exclusive interview with him. He speaks on his life at 55, why he is contesting Ogun Guber election and what life has taught him.
How do you feel turning 55 today?
It is very interesting to turn 55 years old. It means that you are near 60 than 50, which is a milestone in the journey of life. It is the time when you start to look at 60 down the road. It is the time when you have to assess and say how far have I gone? What remains to be done? As Christians, we believe in 3 scores and anything beyond that is a bonus. It is time to view 60 years from afar. What marks have I made on mankind? What marks have I made on my immediate community and what have I done for myself and my immediate family? At the end of the day, what would I be remembered for, or would I have just come and gone? It is a time of sober reflection.
A time of joy, and thanksgiving, because, while we look forward and ahead to 60, we must also look backward. How about those who have not been able to come this far, not necessarily because they have done anything wrong? It is just a total thanksgiving experience.
It is a double celebration as you also got a title of Otunba Fiwagboye of Owode Egba.”. How does it make you feel?
We thank God, it was the 5th Iwuye ceremony and we have more than 20 others awaiting . If we put efforts to it, maybe one title a year, because we have to be efficient in these things. We don’t want to spend so much money, so we are thinking if we could merge some to save money. Maybe, once a year in the next 20 years. We would be able to clear the already existing ones and we then leave the new ones to the next generations.
City People’s investigations revealed that there are 4 factions of PDP in Ogun State, but 3 of them have been able to come together all because of you, what is your take on this?
It is three-and-half faction but I wouldn’t want to say it is because of me. PDP is a large diverse family with many shades. Socially, we have a common trend. Compassion in governance, social security, food security, enabling environment to mention a few. You know the doctrine of PDP. But naturally, aspirations over time have divided us. Aspirations in any family should be moderate. But when it becomes extensive and saturated, those forces that should keep us together in rare times, now tend to separate us. So, what we have done is that though we all have aspirations, we appeal to all and sundry.
It is when we have a platform that we can pursue our agenda and aspirations. So, DBM, Dimeji Bankole Movement, OGD and our group decided to come together to get the party into governance. We have various other eminent members in our group. The most contentious of the group, though event has justified in the last few months, that it might not necessarily be a PDP group. It is a group that could have been derailed because of very powerful forces other than the desire of PDP. Seventy per cent of that group has come back to the main stream. So far, we have DBM, OGD and classical Lado people. So, it is an all manner of shades coming together. So, we have 90% back, which is very interesting. Thank God that the ruling party has made a blunder. The members have destroyed their own party because of their lack of internal democracy, lack of compassion for followership and destruction of their party structure. More than 50% of the old APC structure has been destroyed. I believe that PDP in whatever colour or coloration would come back to governance again and be a majority party.
PDP Chairman just said 39 seats are available for elective contest, while the governor’s seat is not vacant, why are you contesting?
To God be the glory. If that is the will of the people, it will be my joy to serve my people. I know it won’t be an easy task. We have seen examples how the other party has continually interfered in the affairs of the other parties. They don’t want opposition party. At the national level, APC continues to tamper with our party. They foment trouble in our party as if the country is a one-party state.
Similarly, in Ogun State, you will see that often perceived opponent’s life is made uncomfortable. As a member of the National Assembly and chairman of Rural Development, I have been able to bring home some constituency projects and various efforts have been made to disrupt such projects. Why should you deny your constituency a water project? After all, it is not a party programme, rather the project is available to all parties. That project was disrupted. Thank God, we have been able to find alternative site for the project, so as to meet deadline for completion of the project. I think with such a difficulty, it has become clearer that there is an internal wrangling and quarrelling. We do not have that luxury now. Majority of the parties have decided to think towards that line that after all by consensus, we have been able to run the party without interference at the local level to state level and even from the state level to the South-West level. That is even an encouragement to our people. I was part and parcel of the group that arrived at that point. So, whatever the party decides, I am available for the post of councillor to President.
What will be the plight of PDP with the internal crisis rocking the party at the national level and which faction do you belong?
I have no qualms. I belong to the Makarfi group. I believe when the chips are down, it is the people who make the party. No law court can tell me who my friends should be. No law court can tell me who my associates should be. If the law court decided to make Sheriff King over some, I don’t have to be part of that. Come to think of it, I am sure Sheriff won’t have the required finesse and dexterity to be a leader of the PDP. I am also certain that if worse get to the worst, we would go a separate road and form a new identity. I am sure the decision of Ali Modu Sheriff doesn’t suggest we are of the same family. I cannot understand why supposed leaders and elders of the party would clamour for Sheriff. If, for example, Jimoh Ibrahim could say I kept them in court for long to distract them, so they won’t win and do you think that person should be called a PDP member? And if you hear similar statements from some PDP members and maybe because of personal decision, you are acting the script of APC, what is the guarantee that one year, two years down the road, the same thing would not be repeated?
Your father, Sir Kessington Adebutu, is your number one political fan, how do you feel having such a father as you turn 55?
That means I have a long way to go. God has granted him to achieve a milestone. As a human being, I decided to surpass him. It is 27 years ahead. I will try to bridge that gap and overtake him. It just shows that there is still a long way to go. On my father being my number one political fan, let me tell you this, if my father was to be 13 years younger, I know he would be contesting today. I want to assure you that the goodwill I get from his good work is real. I am a beneficiary of his goodwill and it is my duty to preserve his good name. I pray that God will guide his path and preserve him for us all. God has been kind to me. He blessed me with a good pedigree and this has made the journey not too difficult.
You have the biggest piggery farm in Nigeria, how did you set it up?
The piggery was set up by my father in 1991 and it has gtown by leaps and bound. We have moved and we are hoping that in the next few years, we are going to be retailing. We thank God.
Most first children of rich men go prodigal, how have you been able to build your name without becoming prodigal?
(Laughs). Every child has challenges just as others whether you are the first or the last. We all have children now and this makes us all appreciate our upbringing the more.
How was growing up with your father?
Have you heard of draconian style? My father had his unique policies. We got privileges, presents, bonuses, the goods and we got a very big cane for being bad. I thank my father. It has not always been perfect. There would be differences, but it is very important that parents share very fundamental philosophies with their kids. One of my father’s philosophy is fairness and justice. You have to be fair to others. Keep your words.
Your wife is turning 50 soon as you also turned 55, any party on the line?
I believe in thanksgiving. By next week as well we are going to have a thanksgiving occasion in Ago-Iwoye and I believe in thanksgiving. Whenever I have time to say, God, I thank you, I do it. Next Sunday too, I am going to have a big thanksgiving.
You have this humour about you and you associate with people irrespective of their status, how did you evolve the practice?
If you take life easy and you know that wherever you find yourself today, it is not because you are special, you would appreciate people’s pains and joy and do positive things in their lives.
Governor Ayodele Fayose stormed your birthday party last night, how did you become close?
I am a great fan of Governor Ayo Fayose. Many things that you think are not possible to day, he says it. Many issues he addresses not many people have that boldness, so I appreciate him for that.
Many people believe that with your popularity, you may be called upon by the APC to join them, would you?
The question I want to ask you is, would you join a losing team? Why would I leave a winning team to join a losing team? APC in the last 6 years have been given the opportunity to do the needful, but they have shown that they have no plans for good governance. They lack competence. Yesterday, I had opportunity to stand with some Sango market women, who have suffered and their goods taken away by Customs officers, I was worried. These women told me they voted for them and in less than 2 years, they have been punished. I pray God brings us to the government people of compassion and good feeling for citizens.