His growing up years were spent in understudying his father, who happens to be an accomplished politician, and now he is gradually following the footsteps of his father, who we can call his political mentor.
Hon. (Prince) Sultan Adeniji-Adele is representing Amuwo Odofin Constituency 1 in the Lagos State House of Assembly and his father, Prince Ademola Adeniji-Adele made waves then as the Chairman of Lagos Island Local Government and later as the Commissioner for Youths and Sports in Lagos State.
Young Adeniji-Adele, who is just 34 years old, was a guest of the journalists covering the Lagos State House of Assembly at their weekly programme tagged; “Time Out With The Press,” and the lawyer-turned-politician speaks extensively on his background, constituency as well as state and national issues.
Can we know you better?
I am Sultan Adeniji-Adele, I was born into the Adeniji-Adele Royal family of Lagos on October 3rd, 1980 in FESTAC Town. My father is Prince Ademola Adeniji-Adele, the immediate past Commissioner for Youth and Sports in Lagos State and my mother is Alhaja Tawakalitu Adeniji-Adele. I am the first child of the family. I went to United Primary School in FESTAC; I later went to Kings College, Lagos. I also attended Lagos State Model College, Kankon, Badagry. I am a Muslim and I am married, I am a lawyer by profession. I was trained at the Lagos State University (LASU). I am a football person, a sports lover; I represented my school, LASU at the National University Games (NUGA). I am a down-to-earth person and I respect my elders.
Things were not too rosy for my family, when I was born, though it was okay. I got admission into LASU in 1997 to read law; I was just 17 years old and the school was really hot at that time. I got admission immediately after my secondary school education. I was born into a political family. Initially, I got admission to read political science, but I had always wanted to be a lawyer. So, I wasn’t happy when I got the admission until I crossed to law. LASU was like a war college, when I gained admission there due to the activities of cult members. Anything could just happen and everybody would start running up and down, I was not into campus politics in LASU, I was not part of students’ union executive, but I had a lot of friends among them.
The current Chairman of Amuwo Odofin Local Government in Lagos State, Comrade Ayodele Adewale, who was a President of LASU Students Union Government, is my friend and my in-law; he is married to my younger sister. We were very close in school, he was the youngest student union president that ever emerged in LASU; he became president of LASUSU, when he was in 200 level. I graduated from the law school in Kano, actually I didn’t want to go there, I tried my best to bring it back to Lagos, but it was not possible. My law school was late because I had some minor issues in LASU, I didn’t go with my set, I went with the set that was coming after me. Eventually I ventured into politics, I started politics from childhood because I am close to my father; I am the first child and first son.
Also, my school; Kings College, was very close to City Hall. Why my father was the Chairman of Lagos Island Local Government, we were staying in FESTAC, so he was going to the council from FESTAC everyday and I had been having contacts with politics as a young man. I was a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with my father; we were in the party for eight years. Later, I became PDP ward youth leader. Later, we moved to Alliance for Democracy, then to the defunct Action Congress (AC). After that, I decided that I was coming to the Lagos State House of Assembly.
I was 28 years old then and the constitution says you must be 30 years old on or before Election Day. I calculated the age and I knew that I would be 30 years old before the election since I was born in October, and election would be in April of 2011. I just tried it out, people thought I was influenced by my father, but that is not so. When I went to tell him I wanted to come here, he laughed and I said I was serious about it and he said that I should go out there and try my luck. I was very conversant with the youth. I think I know 95% of the youths in Amuwo Odofin, I grew up there and everybody knows one another. I am married to Omolola and very soon she would be delivered of our first child.
You said when you were given admission in LASU, you were asked to read political science, but that you were not happy until you crossed to read law, one wonders why you are now in politics, when you didn’t want to study political science in school
Politics is not about what you do in school, it is in-built. As I told you, I have been a politician from a very young age and once you are born into a polygamous family, it is politics all the way, so it has been in the blood. My father is a chemical engineer; he didn’t go to school to read politics, so it is about what is in you.
Are the youths in your constituency not bothered about your contributions on the floor of the House as you don’t usually speak on the floor?
I am familiar with the youth in my constituency, so they know me on one on one basis, it is not that we don’t have challenges there, but personal relationship with the people matters most to them. The kind of politics I play is such that I live among the people. It is not about your contribution on the floor of the House, but it is about the impact you can make in the lives of the people you represent. I might not be contributing much on the floor of the House, I believe that when you come into a new system, you need to study things, I told you I am just a little above 30. Most of the people that were talking when we came in later realized that they were making a big mistake. You need to watch before you leap. I am pretty young and this is my first term in the House, so I need to watch things.
Would you still have been in politics if your father were not a politician?
Like I said, politics has been in the family for sometime, I am from a political and royal family. When I was growing up, I actually wanted to be a footballer because I play a lot of soccer and God did not allow that, definitely it has been destined by God. I am the only politician amongst my father’s children; others are businessmen, lawyers, doctors and all that. I am the only one that took after my father. I would say I am destined to be a politician
What lessons do you think your party, APC has to learn from the election in Ekiti State and would you say the people voted for Mr. Ayo Fayose or voted against Governor Kayode Fayemi?
On the Ekiti State election, I would say Governor Kayode Fayemi did not connect with the people of the grassroots and that is a major problem. It is a problem that brings down a politician; you have to connect with the people. Why did Mr. Ayo Fayose win, it is because the Governor is not moving with those in the grassroots, he was relating with the elites, which was why he was defeated. It is the people in the grassroots that vote, the elites only analyse. The lesson is that political office holders should go back to the grassroots, they should relate with the people who matters.
What are the challenges in your constituency and what are you doing to tackle them?
The major challenge in my constituency is drainage problem, especially in Mile 2 and Amuwo Odofin areas. Thank God the Governor is working on that. When I actually came in, I met with the Governor and he came to Mile 2 Estate, if you go to Mile 2 now, you would see the construction works going on in the bus stop. Whatever road you build would go bad if you don’t do proper drainages there, so it is one problem that should be solved. If you go to Mile 2 area now, you would spend about four hours there because of the construction works and the drainage system. The people are actually working on the drainage system before moving to the roads. Another problem is the bridge in the area, but it is being repaired by the Lagos State Government and it is in 40% stage.
There has always been this complaint that FESTAC Town has been neglected by the federal government, which built the estate many years back, what are you doing to solve the problems in the area?
FESTAC is actually owned by the Federal Government, but the Chairman of Amuwo-Odofin Local Government, Comrade Ayodele Adewale has done a lot of projects there. The Minister of State for Works came there recently and she praised the Chairman for the works done in the area despite being a Federal Government project.
How do you feel when you see some youths like you, who are yet to get jobs and how do you think the issue can be tackled?
I see the youths often, and to be sincere, most of them don’t have jobs and it is a national issue. Presently, I am working on a Bill tagged; Wealth Creation Bill. It is going to have a commission. The bill would address a lot of problems; I have called on the National Youth Council of Nigeria for their own contribution to it. It will involve government parastatals and private companies. Once a youth finishes from school, it would be the duty of the commission to give him or her temporary employment. The employment would be in your field of study, the commission would be responsible for getting you a job. Let us say you studied microbiology, you can probably be posted to the Lagos State Ministry of Health and you would be given some money every month. Eventually, if the organization you are working with wants to permanent you, they can do so. As soon as you finish your education, you take your CV there as a Lagosian and as someone who has registered as a resident of the state with LASRRA. They would get you job with the company or parastatal and I think it would curb joblessness in the state.
The on-going National Conference recommended Diaspora voting, what is your opinion on this?
If anyone wants to be part of development in Nigeria, the person should come to the country and be part of the change rather than staying abroad to vote.
What do you think is wrong with FESTAC Area that the crime rate there is so high and what is your opinion on child trafficking. What judgment should be passed on the culprits?
I believe the on-going development in Mile 2 would curb the rate of crime there, once everywhere is bright and you can see one another, crime would reduce. If you look at Mile 2 from the low cost housing estate, you would see that it is a beautiful place. I think the only crime in FESTAC Town is the menace of internet fraudsters or yahoo boys. I think this has also reduced due to the intervention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Also, the current Area E Police Commander is working hard to curb crime in the area. So, it has actually reduced. We have also had issue of kidnapping and killings and all that, there was a girl that was killed and her body was mutilated, the Area E commander called me to see the body and it was horrible. But I can say it is being addressed. On child trafficking, we all know that it is bad, we have an agency working on that and I think they are trying.
You and your father were in PDP in the past, people wonder why politicians are fond of cross carpeting, and they leave one party for another with impunity. Don’t you think political parties should have ideologies and politicians should stick to their ideology?
Cross carpeting is allowed in Nigerian politics, if you are pursuing something and you are not getting it and things are not being done the way you want, you have a right to leave. That was what happened in the PDP, we left the party during the tenure of former president Olusegun Obasanjo, he was not doing things in the right way. People like us would not have been here if we had stayed in the party, we had to leave for a party that would give us better opportunities.
As a lawyer, do you agree that rapists should be given life sentences?
I agree that rapists should be given life sentences, everybody who is found wanting in rape cases should be given life jail.
There was a suggestion that policemen should be posted to schools to ensure security there, do you agree to this?
I would say it is okay to have police in schools due to the security situations in the country now, the security situation in Nigeria is getting worse by the day, look at what happened at the Federal Government Girls College, Chibok, Borno State, where some school girls were kidnapped by members of the Boko Haram sect. You could even train local people on security to guide the schools. I think it is high time we started having that.
You said you are still understudying others as a lawmaker, but the people want immediate results, don’t you think this would work against you and if you don’t make it to the House for a second term, what would be your next plan and regret?
Yes, I would be 34 years old in July, but I am a grassroots person and I work with the people. People want immediate results, the problem in Nigeria is that we don’t have patience, if you go abroad, you would see people who have spent a lot of time in the parliament. I met a woman abroad who has spent years in the parliament and now she is doing well. We need time to learn these things.
Your father is a well known politician, you moved with him, when he moved to APC, so if he decides to leave for another party would you still go with him?
When my father crossed to the defunct AC, I was still very young then, but I have come to realize that APC as it is called now is a party that gives opportunity to youths. Nobody in the PDP would give you the kind of chance APC is giving us because PDP is a party of grandfathers. People in the PDP are people whose names I used to hear when I was just 10 years old. If my father feels like going to another party, he is on his own; I have seen a party that has the love of the youth at heart. I still have a lot of years ahead of me, so I need to think well and stay with the right party, which is APC.
Do you see yourself practicing law after politics as a trained lawyer?
I am still a lawyer; I run a chamber with my brother, who is also a lawyer. I don’t even plan to leave politics anyway, but I am still involved in law.
The Chairman of Amuwo Odofin alleged that the Area Commander funded a youth vanguard, which is not in the best interest of the people, what do you have to say to this?
The Area E Commander, ACP Dan Okoro set up a youth vanguard, Police Youth Vanguard, which the Chairman of Amuwo Odofin LG, Comrade Ayodele Adewale opposed. We checked the constitution of Nigeria in relation to Police Act if the Area Commander has a power to set up a youth vanguard; it is never stated in the act. We wrote to him on this and he said that the community actually asked the police to set up the vanguard, but the manner of approach by the AC is not right. Though he is doing well, the youth vanguard goes about to harass people, it is an issue between him and the LG Chairman. The AC is alleged to have used the police to harass council officials. It goes beyond the youth vanguard, they used to work for the community, but now they are going too far and I once called a meeting, where I told them my mind on this and I told them what they supposed to do. I told them they are using the power given to them by the AC to settle personal scores with people. I am a member of the committee set up the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly to look into the matter and we are working on it.
Can you highlight your achievements in your constituency so far?
I give GCE and JAMB forms to students in my area every year, and I monitor them in schools. We give them money for registration about N100,000 each. I organize sporting programmes amongst them regularly. I orgainse lawn tennis competition and one of our candidates is doing well now. I do poverty alleviation programmes annually, but we discovered that poverty is still in the society despite programmes like that. The programmes involved distribution of sewing machines. I have given out tricycles, and as a footballer, I host an annual football competition. There is this one-day soccer tournament that I do even before I came into the Assembly. One of our products is playing for the Super Eagles, though Coach Stephen Keshi did not take him to the World Cup. FESTAC is a football town; people like Emmanuel Amunike, Sunday Oliseh, Okocha and others came from there. I once did free eye test for the people, and at the end of the programme, we gave them eye glasses. We gave out transformers; I gave them these because they needed them. I sponsor people to Jerusalem and Mecca every year with my money. We have done a lot of things for the people through this. My constituency has issues, but most people believe in personal assistance and I do this a lot. People believe that you should give them personal support, there are some I do every month, but these are between me and God. I set aside money from my income to help the people on a monthly basis.
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