Engr Deji Doherty is a prominent member of Lagos PDP. He is a frontline politician in Lagos State. And he is also a successful businessman who plays big in commodities, hospitality, real estate business, to mention but a few. The big news in that Deji Doherty who owns 10 degrees, the popular event centre at Oregun, Ikeja in Lagos has decided to run for governorship of Lagos State, come 2019.
For the past few months, he has been under heavy pressure to run. Many of the groups within Lagos PDP have put pressure on him to run for governorship. This is because they see him as the most qualified candidate for that slot, having contested at various times over the last 20 years. He contested in 2007, 2011 and 2015. Not only that. He has been very supportive of all the candidates that the Lagos PDP had fielded for the various governorship elections in the recent past.
For those who don’t know him well, Engr. Adedeji Doherty is from the famous Doherty Dynasty in Lagos. Born into the industrious Doherty family of Popo Aguda (Campos) area of Lagos. His great grand father is the late J.H. Doherty, the prince merchant and great philanthropist of 5 Campos Square fame.
Adedeji Doherty was born and nurtured by an equally hardworking father, a Medical Doctor, Dr. J.A. Doherty who passed on recently. Barrister Theophilus Adebayo Doherty of Odunlami fame was his grand uncle. Dr. Daddy Doherty of Idumagbo fame was also his grand Uncle. Mrs. Elizabeth Ewusu Aghatedo Doherty is from the well known Akanbi Osho family of Igbore/Igbehin, Abeokuta. Madam Elizabeth Doherty’s mother is from the Okunse Ogunbor family of the famous Oloke family of Benin City.
Deji started his education at Mary Hill Convent School in Ibadan. He then proceeded to Loyola College also in Ibadan, Oyo State. He finally completed his secondary school, at C.M.S. Grammar School, Bariga, Lagos.
Armed with a brilliant school certificate result, he crossed-over to the US where he obtained an Associate Degree in Mechanical Engineering and then a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Technology from the Central State University, Xenia, Ohio. He returned to Nigeria in 1986 and worked at Triplex Safety Glass, Ibadan, supervising the quality production of Toughened glass where he completed his NYSC.
He proceeded to work at Cargill Nigeria Ltd., (one of the largest grain merchants in the world). He was the Regional Head in charge of Logistics, Transportation, Warehousing and Exportation of Cocoa, Maize and other grain products.
His family mercantile trait was now put to test. He left Cargill in 1990 and started his own company, Dohagro Allied Int’l. Nig. Ltd., which was incorporated in December 1986. He is presently the Chairman and CEO of Timicom Telecommunications Ltd., Agric Engineering Construction Ltd., Lynbrand Ltd., UK and Nigeria and Oluwatosin Motors Nig. Ltd amongst many other businesses.
He has worked in several capacities, succeeding in businesses that were thought to be off-limit by his peers. His ability to achieve success against all odds has brought him immense recognition, both locally and internationally. What made Deji decide to join the race for governorship this time around? What is his game plan? Last Thursday, he told City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE his plans.
The rumour in town is that you are running for Lagos governorship. Is this true?
Very true. I am running. Over the last few months I have been under pressure. Many people have been calling me to run. They feel I have what it takes to give the slot another shot. I really didn’t want to run before because I was beginning to set tired of the whole political process, all the in-fighting, changes in the process. But I don’t think we should abandon the process. I think all the good people in all the political parties should come out and make their impact known and felt.
I have been under pressure from the Women Wing in PDP, the Youth Wing in PDP.
Majority of the leaders in PDP and, a lot of colleagues, both from the Public Sector and the Private Sector, that have approached me to ask me what my plans for 2019 is. However, I had more or less had it in mind that I will not contest in 2019 but having seen the sorrow, pain, the uneasiness on the faces of both the young and the old. The medium income, the high income, the lower income, the citizens of Lagos State made me give it a second thought.
I have not fully decided but I have given it a 2nd thought on throwing my hat in the ring against the present sitting governor Ambode. To cap it all, whilst this was going on he has rolled out some painful policies. Also, the House of Assembly has supported him during the local government elections a policy was passed and it became law within 48 hour period.
In what kind of country do you do that?
Ambode has handed over the jobs of the PSP and LAWMA to Visionscape. Why? They still can’t explain the whole thing to me. Do you know any money going to Visionscape goes out of Nigeria. It is a foreign company. As a state we get shortchanged for it. I am a Tax Payer and I have been a tax payer for the past 20yrs. We have seen the Ambode government doing things that are painful to the public and private sectors.
Look at the issues of the new law on land use. The kind of figures they are billing landlords in Lagos state show impunity, shows recklessness and they want to impoverish a certain set of people and bring them into your stranglehold of poverty.
How can you charge an individual a million naira per year?
How can you charge an individual N10million a year based on the assessment you did on his property? How can you charge N4 million or 5 million. You have become a bank. What you are saying to that person is that even though you have bought this property, you are going to start paying mortgage to me became for every individual you are charging land use charge that individual, depending on the assessed value of the property, that person will be buying that property all over again in about 15 to 20 years time.
This is not acceptable. A lot of people in Lagos are facing so many taxes they have to pay from both the Federal & State taxes. Many business are not making profits because they have been over-taxed in a society where you don’t have Water, Electricity, Good Roads, and many more, what has the state provided for you? What are we paying for as tax payers? When you go to the hospital you have to pay. If you go to school, you have to pay. When you are on the road you have to pay. You pay for every thing. So, what is Lagos state providing?
This government that we have in place is not a humane government and it is time people with Integrity, that are honest, that are self made, that are hardworking, that are entrepreneurs, that have worked from bottom-up should come up and stand up to be counted, in trying to save the day. That is what I am trying to do. That is what will happen with Adedeji Doherty.
If you decide to run, like you are saying now, what are your chances against a very strong candidate like Gov. Ambode, who is likely to be the APC candidate in Lagos?
I don’t agree with you. One thing a lot of people don’t know about me is this. All my life, I have not had anything easy. Things don’t come easy to me. I have to fight for it. When I was going into the importation of the Rice and Sugar business, several years ago, many people were worried for me.
Even my mother said I should be careful, that they might kill me, that it was only the big people that were in that business I was going into. She said it was only the Dangotes of this world that are in the business, the Isiaku Rabiu, the Mudallabi’s or the Vatswani’s. I went in and I was successful in that business. I faced the tidal waves headlong.
They tackled me. I tackled them too. I succeeded. It’s a tough world. Remember that I also ran as an aspirant on the platform of the PDP when Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was still a sitting governor of this state. At that particular point in time, Ambode was still a Civil Servant. We were already on the political scene.
So, Ambode being a sitting governor will not be a problem. It is not deterrent to me. I am not scared of that. What I believe is that once you are with God there is no other man born of woman that can be against you. And I believe God is with me. Ambode has made too many mistakes that will work against him. Lagosians are unhappy. I am coming to make them happy once again.
Who is Adedeji Doherty?
I was born on March 9, 1962 and I am 43 years old. I was born in Ibadan. My father comes from Lagos central campos and my mother comes from Abeokuta. My great grandfather was a merchant in Alakoro, Mr. J.H. Doherty. His house was in Campos Street just by Campost Square. His mother hailed from Ijero-Ekiti and that is why you have Doherty Memorial Grammar School in Ijero-Ekiti. His first son is my grandfather. He was a Barrister at Law, Akintunde Doherty. His brothers and the well known in Ibadan, Mr. Akintunde Doherty all off blessed memory and Chief Debayo Doherty.
These men were my grandfather younger brothers. The politicians out of them are Chief Debayo Doherty and Dr. Eatti Doherty. They sat down with Chief Samuel Daniel Ladoke Akintola and Chief Obafemi Awolowo to form the Action Group (AG). They are the pioneer members of the present Alliance for Democracy (AD).
Chief Awolowo and Chief Akintola’s misunderstanding was later resolved in my uncle’s house because they both at one time or the other lived in our house. Other politicians that were involved with my family were people like Alhaji Lateef Jakande, Pro. Lambo and others.
So, my interest in politics began when I was in the university, I had a 25 year plan, as to where I wanted to be each time, as I got older. And I wrote all these down. At each stage of my life from when I left college, my youth service, got a job, got married, started having children, the number of children I wanted, the kind of work I wanted to do and the level of success I wanted to achieve in life are things I already wrote down. However, in all these I have God first.
The items I have on the list therefore, include my share of serving humanity and this was how politics got into my life. It is something that had already been brewing in my mind from time I was in the university and my position today have allowed me to take part in politics at this time.
So, the driving forces that made me to go into politics are a passion to serve the people. It is only through governance that one can serve one’s people apart from the philanthropic areas one can take part in. Putting a smile on someone’s face is what gives me joy and makes me feel fulfilled. And if you look deeply into the lives of majority of people in Nigeria today, you see that there is a need for someone that has a vision, someone that can give hope to step in and try as much as possible enhancing their lives.
You have played big in business and politics. You faced challenges and surmounted them. What does that say about Deji Doherty?
One thing a lot of people say about me is that, once I start a project I get to the end of it. My business career is one that is ongoing and I believe that won’t stop. My political career is the one that has passion attached to it. The medium by which I believe I can use to pursue a successful political career is by going into mainstream politics.
That is what has brought me into the foray of politics, especially in Lagos State. It is also my personal conviction that I must pay back to those that have made me. By that, I mean the grassroot people. They are the people in the markets, in Idumagbo, Oke Arin, Igan Idunganran, Alaba, Ibadan, Osogbo. These are the people that have made me what I am today.
They were the people that patronised me when the big corporations did not. I believe that the experiences I went through during that period, for example paying school fees for some of my customers’ children, paying rents, hospital bills, these are the things I did which ought to have been done by the state. This is one of the major reasons I went into politics. I believe with time I will be able to sit in a position where I would be able to assist these people or help pass bills that will make them get the care they need from government.
How have you found politics?
My political career throughout these years has been one of great experience for me. It has taught me not to talk too much, to be very mature, to know when to talk, it has taught me to be very humble, taught me to be very patient and to appreciate people in the grassroots. It opens your eyes also to the activities of government.
Can you tell us about the Doherty family and your growing-up years?
I am from Lagos State. My great grandfather, the Prince Merchant of Lagos, J.H. Doherty was born in Lagos. His mother hailed from Ijero Ekiti. He gave birth to my grandfather, Akintunde Doherty who gave birth to my father Dr. Tunji Doherty.
I was born in Ibadan. My primary school was in Ibadan. My secondary school was in CMS Grammar School, Bariga in Lagos. When I left to CMS I went to school in the States, I went to Central State University in Ohio.
I graduated there with a degree in Industrial Technology. I came back to Nigeria in 1986 to do my Youth Corp. After that, I set up my company called Dohagro Allied International. It was mainly an Agro Allied International Company which dealt mainly in the drying and shelling of Maize. I travelled round the entire food basket of the South West. I travelled round all the big farms – Folawiyo Farms, Ashafa Farms, all farms of very large hectarage.
My services were needed on these farms because I was able to carry my driers and shellers into these farms to dry and shell their maize. This led me into meeting a company called Cargil, the largest privately owned trading commodity company in the world. I was made the Purchasing Manager of Cargil in 1988. I also worked as Logistics Manager (South), North and East. This gave me the opportunity to travel the entire country by road. That is why I have a good knowledge of the entire company.
I resigned there in 1990. I got married that year. I now took up the executive mantle of being Executive Chairman of Dohagro Allied International. We also are traders, importers of rice, sugar, and along the years we diversified into properties, entertainment and establishment of 10 Degrees Event Centre, gum-producing that textile industries use nowadays. We also went into Plastic manufacturing. We do the Rainbow brand in the market, in terms of flexible straws and single wrap straws. We have Dain packaging, we have Dain Cars which is one of the representatives of Beijing Auto Works in Nigeria. We have other interests in the Oil and Gas industry, and Power industry.