Hon.Saheed Akinade-Fijabi is a popular Ibadan politician and a young one at that.He is a breathe of fresh air in a state filled with a lot of old politicians.He has been a 2 term member of the House of Representatives.
He is also the son of the Great Akin Fijabi ,the popular lbadan businessman and politician. In this interview with City People Publisher Seye Kehinde he talks about his career and experience in politics. Below are excerpts.
- Mention a bit about your experience as a law maker?
Having spent 8 years as a law maker, I have had an amazing and humbling experience where I have learnt a lot about Nigeria, the Nigerian people, our cultures, the travails and challenges of the people and what it takes to be an effective law maker in order to adequately serve the people and my constituency.
During this time as a law maker, I was Chairman, House Committee on telecommunications and in addition, I raised lots of motions and bills that impact the Citizens of Nigeria positively. For example, I moved the motion for Dr Ameyo Stella Adadevoh to be recognized as a hero for stopping a wide spread of the Ebola virus in Nigeria by placing the patient zero in quarantine.
Another example is the motion I raised for an investigation into the MMM monetary scheme. I got challenged by Nigerians initially on my reason for requesting this investigation but I believe I got vindicated when the scheme collapsed and I received gratitude from Nigerians for flagging the risk through the calls and messages I received at that time.
I learnt a lot about being a good legislator during this time like the need to stay in touch with and listen to my constituents, respect for the constitution, being a problem solver, communication skills, mastery of the rules, time management and so much more.
Another interesting detail about my time as a lawmaker is the fact that I first entered the House as one of the youngest members and it was amusing to see the wondering eyes of scrutiny by people on my right to enter the House many times. So, it is a good feeling knowing I was one of the few people who broke the age gap of people who became members of the House of representatives. And this led me to support the ‘not too young to run ‘bill which was successful.
One thing I have also learnt is the legislature is a very important arm of government and they are the bedrock of democracy which if not taken seriosly can lead to arnarchy.
Generally, it was a pleasant and worthwhile experience and I believe there is still a lot that can be done to make Nigeria a better place
- What made you go into politics? What year did you start?
Politics has always been something I have always loved and been passionate about because of the ability to give to the people. To me, politics is all about service to the people, to humanity. It is this desire and love to serve the people and help the nation that made me go into politics.
For me, I started politics while I was in Mayflower Secondary School, Ogun State. Where I contested for the post of Chief Scavenger and also while I was at Ibadan Polytechnic , I was the Public Relations Officer for my department and also contested for the President of the Student Union Group.
But my service to Nigerians via Politics started in 2011 when I contested for and won the position of a House of representative member representing the Ibadan south-west/north-west Federal Constituency area of Oyo State. I contested and won again in 2015 for same position of a House of representatives member. However in 2019, I contested again but lost the election. Despite the loss, I havent stopped my service to the people as I still continue with what I love doing best, which is being a philantropist. And I will continue this service in any way I can, either as a politician or through my charity organisation, Saheed Akinade-Fijabi Foundation.
- What role did your dad play in you going into politics
He played lots of roles especially being a father and a friend. My dad played the role of a parent and guardian in the first instance . All through life he has always been guiding me . And even in my desire to go into politics, he was there as a father and guided me as I took my actions and also in the political life. Especially as I started young, I took his guidance to heart.
He is my role model so I always look up to him and take his input very seriously. He has helped a lot in advising me and he is always a check for my actions.
He is more than just a father to me, he is like a friend : we fight, joke and play together but He is strict and straightforward with me so I definitely take his input to heart and I keep learning from him everyday
- What kind of person is your dad? Is he also a politician like you?
My father is a strict, straight but easy man. He is a father not only to his children but to all who he loves. He loves looking after his kids, we are his priority and he desires the best for all his children. Most people are ambivalent towards him because his strictness can annoy but the love behind the strictness makes you love him. So those who don’t understand him sometimes get confused. One of his great dislikes is people who cheat others
My dad is not a politician. He is a business man and a socialite. He was one of the very first traders in electronics in Ibadan. A business he still continues till today so he is well known in that area. He is more of a business man. Any political affiliations he has is because I brought him into it. As a socialite he definitely knew and related with politicians , other socialites and business men even before I brought him into it.
- What have you done for your constituency?
A lot. Looking at all I have done for the Ibadan south-west/north-west Federal Constituency area of Oyo State, I consider myself one of the best representatives for the constituency in recent times.
I turned the constituency to an Information and technology (IT) hub. ICT centers have been established in most of the secondary schools in the area. With the opportunity of being the Chairman , House Committee on telecommunications, I was able to facilitate ICT centers into the constituency.
My services didn’t end at my constituency. I facilitated a project worth approximately 300million Naira at the University College Hospital (UCH) , Ibadan which is out of my constituency. Also, I facilitated an ICT project of about 200 million Naira at the Ibadan Polytechnic, my alma mater.
There are numerous projects facilitated and supported by me all over Ibadan and especially in my constituency . My love for the development of my constituency and state and Nigeria at large keep me eager to work and help.
I do believe that with all I have done, I definitely surpassed my predecessors and most likely will surpass my successor too. I think it will be hard for anyone to meet that legacy.
All this is in addition to the various motions and bills which affect not only the lives of my constituency but also, the lives of Nigerians.
All I have done are visible and evident
I do believe I can still do a lot more if given the opportunity to hold any other position in the state or in the country.
- How have you found the job of a lawmaker?
Interesting with a lot of challenges.
The job was interesting and pleasant because the passion I have for a better country and serving the people, developing people and passion for the law making process made it a pleasurable job.
The challenge came from the fact that all I did, no matter how much, always seemed like a drop in an ocean. The economic situation of the country also made it difficult. The many difficulties faced by Nigerians and my constituency was always a challenge as it is hard to satisfy all humans. Many members of the constituency depend on the representative to provide personal needs like school fees, support for naming ceremonies, and so on.
I think the legislative arm needs to be made more robust and stronger to ensure a swifter achievement of a better Nigeria.
Since to me , it was always about being at the service of and service for the people, I kept doing my best and doing my part. It was largely a gratifying job with no regrets