- Ex-POLICE Affairs Minister, JELILI ADESIYAN
- Speaks On Life In POLITICS
From any angle you may want to look at it, Alhaji Jelili Adesiyan is a major stakeholder as far as Osun politics is concerned. He is been around since the days of NADECO and he is one of the loyalists of the late former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Bola Ige, who introduced him to Senator Iyiola Omisore. Up till today, Adesiyan is still very relevant in the state’s politics, having paid his dues politically. He had served in several capacities as a public office holder including being Director General in the State Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and a Commissioner for Education under Ex-Gov. Olagunsoye Oyinlola. He is the former Minister of Police Affairs under Ex-President Jonathan.
Alhaji Abdul Jelili Oyewale Adesiyan was born on the 14th August 1955 at Lagere, Ile Oke Agba Ode Omu in Ayedade Local Government Area of Osun State. He completed his Primary Education at A.U.D Primary School Ode-Omu in 1968. Alhaji Adesiyan attended Ahmadiya Grammar School Iwo from 1970-1971. He was also at Victory High School Ikeja Lagos from 1973-1976. He later went to Oyo State College of Education Ilesa from 1980-1983, where he obtained a Nigerian Certificate of Education in History and Yoruba studies.
He later gained admission into University of Ibadan in 1985 where he obtained a B.Ed Adult Education and History in 1988. He furthered his education at the same University in 1989 where he obtained a Masters Degree in Adult and Industrial Education M.Ed in 1991.
Adesiyan worked in several public and private sector companies including a teacher in Community High School Ibadan, Victory High School Ikeja, Guinness Nigeria Limited and Johnson White United in Lagos. He has a long history of political activism; he was an Assistant Secretary, Alliance for Democracy, (Osun State), National delegate, defunct Social Democratic Party Campaign Secretary in old Oyo State and a strong youth activist under the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria. In this special interview, Jelili Adesiyan opens up to City People’s Correspondent, DARE ADENIRAN, on many issues bothering his relationship with Senator Iyiola Omisore, Osun politics and many other interesting things. Read the excerpts.
As a stake holder in Osun politics, how will you describe the political situation in the state presently?
Well, in Osun state today, democracy is at play and because of the way we handle our political system it has given back to many political parties that are fighting for governorship election in the state come 22nd September this year. But no matter how many we have, there will be the major political parties. The election is going to be fought between SDP, PDP, APC and the new NDP. But the SDP, it’s not because I am in line with it but it is because it is the party to be. There are so many other ingredients that people know about before they cast their votes. Parties are only a platform for a contestant to ply his trade, but what is happening in Osun state is about the people; the personalities involved not the political party because majority of the Osun people are well enlightened. Those that are not enlightened are told what to do by the elites. “When you look at the profile of the four main contestants coming from the platforms, you will see that Senator Iyiola Omisore is the man to beat in the coming election.’’ There is no sentiment about it. It is not about political party. So if you ask an illiterate person in Osun state that what is happening, they’ll say ‘we’re Omi Tuntun’. If you go to Osun state, they’ll say ‘ahhh, Iyi lokan’. Yesterday, I was coming from Osogbo, I wanted to buy Yam for my wife by the road side and I parked with two friends in my car, we were in one village, like typical village with village people. As we were buying the Yam, we were putting it in a sack, there were two vehicles that drove past us where we were buying the Yam and we saw the photograph of Omisore and the horse which is the symbol of SDP, that woman unconsciously said, ‘ Esin funfun, gbera!!! Esin funfun wa ti gbera o , the woman thought I was annoyed with what she was saying and she said “ e ma binu sir o, esin tiwa ti gbera o ……’ and I said esin ni emi naa n se and she just shouted’’. That is an illiterate for you, in front of everybody, that’s why it amuses me when I hear that some people said they are coming to Osun state to capture us, they’ll use force on us, you can’t use force on people. People will resist force, so the situation in Osun state now is Omisore and the others.
But with his crowd sir, he contested in the last election in Osun state and lost, what has changed between the last election and now and what made him to fail then?
That is a very good question we failed in the last election because we used the wrong set of people as leaders. Unknown to us, those that came to work for us in the election that were in the same political party with us were wrong people. They were not committed, they were only after what they can take and unfortunately for us, we couldn’t be in every places at the same time, so we had to use lieutenants. Our own belief was that we used wrong lieutenants, as I’m talking to you, by God’s grace, they’ve been deleted from the life of Omisore so much that new leadership have germinated.
Those who didn’t have access to Omisore now have direct access to him, in fact, they were the one who said we should come to SDP. It was not Omisore that says let’s go to SDP. It is the new leaders, as in the young leadership and that was what informed our choice of deputy governor: we took one of them who is as young as them, who was just the youth leader of the party in the state, he has all what it takes. He has the qualification to do it. He has everything to do it and we chose him to represent that segment of the people. “People like me can’t be and not take part in such government that we are going to form by the grace of God.’’ I am not going to be part of the government but the young ones; the new leadership will emerge so that if we can bring about a good government, they will inherit it and continue like that. SDP is going to be the party to beat in Osun state now and in the future.
You have come a long way with Senator Iyiola Omisore; from AD to PDP and now SDP. can you tell us what we don’t know about him that you know?
I got to know Omisore when uncle Bola Ige came to U.S to meet me during NADECO days, he introduced Omisore to me and he told me so many things about him. To me, Uncle Bola Ige couldn’t have be wrong. I believed he was a person who always sees things beyond what is happening now and if he could come to me and eulogize such a person to me, I believe in it. That day we clicked almost immediately and since that day he has never missed it with me. It is not because of my religion but where I’m coming from. I was brought up to appreciate what people have done in my life, some people are not endowed with such things, because I know from 1998 till today, God has been using Omisore in the lives of different people even against his own interest. However, after some time they always stabbed him in the back. Coming from a Muslim family, I am not equipped to do such a thing. Omisore in his life, in Osun state as hot as the political atmosphere now is, has helped in installing Governor, in installing Deputy Governor, in installing House of Reps members, Commissioners, Ministers, God has used him. The most unfortunate thing is that they have always been stabbing him in the back. He has done so wonderfully well to me you know, nobody rises to a position in political life except somebody will push him into that position, be it President, be it Governor, Minister or Senator. And that is why erroneously some people believe that those are his godfathers because probably one way or the other, God has used them to enthrone the person. But you see because of the nature of man, mere mortals, they’ll say “Arobafin ni oba n pa” in Yoruba land. That’s what is happening to his life but I pray to God that I will not be such a person. God himself enjoined us to always thank him for what he is doing in our lives. He doesn’t need us for anything. He just wants us to appreciate him for all he is doing for us. Those who don’t want to appreciate him, turn it against him. Omisore is a reincarnation of his grandfather Lowa. He was one of the greatest Nigerians but he lived all his life in controversy. So I was not surprised when I heard all these things about him. I have been everything in this state even before I joined politics, a Director General, a Commissioner even before I became a Minister he has done wonderfully well for me and he is not a type of person to put you in a position and stand at your neck.
This sometimes turns to envy because he will not come back to you for a favor. That is how I can explain it.
We are in that period of time that of defection which people believe is a bad omen for the country’s democracy. You were in the progressive but now you have moved to conservative. What does that says about your person and your political mentor?
Let me be frank with you. Nigerian politicians are not ideological, they are self-centered. The don’t believe in right or left, they are just political jargons and theories that are just being possessed in an advanced democracy. But in a democracy such as what we are having in Nigeria now is ‘where the interests of my friends could be met’ or at best ‘where are my friends?’. When we were in Alliance for Democracy, to a level then, it was ideological because it was a rebirth of the then Action Group. The people who were meant to manage it brought the Nigerian in themselves in and there was no one to check. This is why AD fissile out. At that, that we could not find our people to realize our aspirations, our yearnings. The only other political parties were PDP or ANPP. PDP was in power. And you know in Nigeria, they can use power of incumbency to do and undo. So we talked ourselves into going to PDP thinking that if we have problems, they will be able to fight with us. It is not about ideology. PDP is a party that doesn’t revolve around anybody which is a very good political pursuit. When anybody wants to dominate, people will tell them their limits. If they can tell Chief Obasanjo his limit, it means there is no fear of anybody. But at a particular point, some of us that have been piloting the affairs of the party became lost to themselves in the South-South.
What is the next thing now that you’ve said that you don’t want to be involved directly in politics? Do you want to stay back and watch things happen?
The coming election is the next thing. I will continue to be actively involved in politics because I cannot afford to abandon those who made me, I can’t abandon them. I might be playing an active role, if God spares my life, up till the election in 2019 which is going to be the general election. I’ll continue to play an active role and make sure I help those who had helped me in the past. The younger generation, because when they call you and start hailing you and saluting you, there are some people they see behind you, it might not be the older person who has it all but the younger ones, so you will try as much as possible to play your own path. People had supported me in the past and I have to support the upcoming generation behind me then I can take my leave, it is not something I’m thinking about now. I have been talking to my God and to my family that if God can help me to live and be in position of business till the age of 65, I will leave and retire to my little business that can put bread on my table and start enjoying my life all over the world, that was my plan. I have seen that anybody who doesn’t possess the ability to know when to stop, he will continue to be around rousing, chasing what is not anywhere. I know that I have seen the rise and fall of people in business, in political life, in social life because we don’t know when to stop. It is the problem of some people, the purpose of history is to learn from others’ mistakes, if you don’t learn from other people’s mistakes, then you will be condemned to do the same thing all over again.
I’m going to be 63 this year, by the time I’m 65, that will be after 2019, I hope my wife will be blessed to host another birthday for me, then at that time, I’ll be able to tell myself that it is enough in politics. I’ll come back to start writing my memoir so that by the time I’m 70, if God allows, I’ll launch my memoir and that’s all.
So what is taking your time now that you are not in any public office and apart from politics?
Well, I do small businesses aside politics but golf is the thing. as you are talking to me, I’m looking at my wrist watch, I should start my game by 2 o’clock. My political colleagues all know that I can’t do without playing golf, because it is the only thing that keeps me standing in terms of my health. It is like a drug given to me to survive and sustain myself. So I just pray that God spares my life, I want to enjoy golf till when I’m 90. Because it is a game that has no end. For as long as you can walk that distance, you can play golf till the age of 90 or more.
What would you say was in your backfround that really motivated you to have become this successful in life?
Well, I was embarrassed when you said success, I know it is a subjective statement, everybody has a different approach to success and failure. I thank God, when I want sleep today, I will reflect on my life and say to myself , someone said you’re successful, then I will ask my wife if it is true, but where I am today is nothing but by the grace of God. Nothing but the grace of God and the fact that I’m a man that has always been contented with life. That is why in my political office, I’ve never been accused, individually or collectively, as someone who embezzled public property to satisfy himself. I’ve never been called once and asked to give account for something because each time I get to the office, the first thing I look at is the photograph of my predecessors hanging on the wall and they came in one day like me here, happy and celebrating, they have gone and one day I will go too and the only thing that can make me enjoy the stay of life is not to be greedy. To be contented with whatever you have, it is that contentment that is keeping me going and if people say I’m a success, I believe I’m a success because I know I’ve never spoilt my family name.
So many things have been said about your person i.e the killing of Chief Bola Ige, the Ekiti election scandal and all that, how does it make you feel each time you read about yourself in a negative manner?
The thing is that, one thing is important that everybody has but they pretend that they don’t have it and that is conscience. Whatever anybody says about you, when they are saying things negatively about me, I pity those who are saying it because they are having the wrong perception about me. So there’s nothing I can do about that once my conscience is clear. Adesiyan is my name; it is the person that God has endowed,
What defines your person?
Jelili Adesiyan is a completely made, to be contented, not to look down on anybody except you are admiring the seat of that person. To know that whatever you become in life, it pleases God to put you in such position; it is not by your own self. So I want to look at life like that. That is me.