Hon Adeniran Joseph Alagbe aspired to represent Ogbomoso North State Constituency in the Oyo State House of Assembly in the last general elections but was stopped by his party as he could not scale the nomination hurdle. Still hoping to contest in 2019, he tells the editor, FEMI OGUNLANA and AYOOLA TAIWO his plans for the people of his constituency. Excerpts:
Can we meet you?
My name is Hon Adeniran Joseph Alagbe from Saja/Isale-Ora in Ogbomoso North local government. I am a young man, and I’m into business, I am also into politics. In business, I am mainly into consultancy in the mining sector. And I have, all my working years in Abuja, worked in the National Assembly as a legislative staffer. I have training and I consult for some senators and members of the National Assembly, so, I have experience in the National Assembly, at least I have worked there for 16 years before I went into private business, consulting particularly in the mining sector.
What can you say about the mining sector in Nigeria? Is it well exploited?
No, but the awareness is improving, the income that the mining sector brings to the economy has improved. There is a lot of awareness now and they are putting in a lot of funds. The mining sector is a capital intensive sector, it needs a lot of finances, a lot of long time financing, so there are foreign partners coming in, especially the Chinese, they are getting more interested in our mining sector. I think with time that is a sector that will get more buoyant, that is the future of the country.
Do you think the available mineral resources in the country can sustain our economy, that is taking out oil?
It can. The mineral resources we have in Nigeria are untapped. I can say that, they are 70 percent untapped. Like in Ogbomoso here, we have a lot of minerals that are untapped. If you go to Nassarawa, we have coal, if you go to Kogi, a lot of minerals are untapped. So, the sector is really, really untapped, just because of finance, the banking sector is not ready to finance it because it is a long term capital project? Minerals’ exploitation is a capital intensive thing, if you want to open a quarry now, as an instance, you need nothing less than N600m to go into that business, to buy the equipment and other things.
Is it that our government is not serious that this sector has remained untapped?
The government is serious, they have come up with a lot of legislations that are going to help foreign investors to come in, but you know because of change of policies, change of government, inconsistencies in policies, investors are very skeptical. But now, they are coming in gradually, I believe in the next three to four years, that sector will experience a boom.
An area like Ogbomoso, has there been an extensive study as to what kind of mineral resources are deposited in her bowels?
Yes, in Ajase, we have mineral deposits, we have coal, it had been surveyed since 1978 even the beacons are there, but the government is not interested, no drive to exploit it. And there are no investors to tap it, had it been it is tapped, Ogbomoso would have been better for it. Then, we have a lot of rocks here that are good for quarry. We have one quarry already, if we have two quarries in Ogbomoso, the economy there will improve. In Oriire, we have gone there to test the rocks, the rocks are good, the place will be good as quarry sites. I’m trying to bring one or two people to invest in that sector, if somebody invests in a quarry of N600m or N700m there, the whole Oriire will change, there will be employments, direct and indirect employments, mechanics will get works, traders too etc, the whole economy will change. If investors could come, but it takes time to convince people, you have to be patient, you have to talk to them, somebody that you want to invest huge amount, you have to be patient to convince him.
You seem to be doing well in the business sector, what is motivating you to come into politics?
Actually from my youth, I have always been serving, I have always been doing a lot of service, service, service. I have a passion to serve, especially in the area where I have vast experience, in the legislative, I have vast experience, I’m not a lawyer but I have been trained over the years, on how to write motions, to write bills, to stand up and be bold and talk, public speaking, I have done a lot of that, I have had a lot of training in that sector. So, the best thing is for me to go and serve, if I don’t use all those skills I have had the opportunity of having, my area will be the worse off. So, service to humanity is actually my driving force, help the people, help the needy, get close to the people, know their problems, help to solve them, that is what I have always been doing in the post 25 years of my life.
Well, if we have people with good vision, and they don’t come into politics things won’t be better, if you allow it to continue to be murky, how will you change it? I tell my friends who said they are not interested in politics, how will Nigeria change? So, we need people with ideas, young people that are vibrant, that want to influence the economy positively, that want to influence the people positively, that want to impact. So, they should be encouraged to participate, if you don’t come, how will Nigeria politics change? How would we have good governance? How would we have responsible governance? You elected a legislator, he doesn’t feel indebted to the people, to report back, that is not what the people want, what people want (and need) is quality representation. So, if we don’t come in, how do we get qualitative representation for the people? It is not only about winning elections, but telling the people what is happening, to impact their lives, to help them, to improve their lives, to provide livelihood for them, to make laws that will help impact positively on their lives, that is what representation is.
Many have come like this, promising to help make change through good legislations etc, how do you hope to actually make positive impact if you are eventually elected?
That is why I told you I have vast experience
ce; there are so many ways, so many sectors in which one can make a change. The first thing is that our legislators, our representatives they don’t engage NGOs. NGOs are always on ground and they just need little finance or support, they will impact positively to make their objectives known. That is one sector that is not being tapped at all, they have people that are financing them, but sometimes, they just need some basic support, accommodation and one or two things to make the required impact on the economy. That is one, number two, opening cooperatives among people is actually very, very important, building people in groups and allowing them to come up with ideas and supporting them in a business. We don’t need to have an individual doing a business, a group of five young girls can come together and do one business and they will make the required impact, and they won’t be a burden to their parents or anybody, they will be self-sufficient. That is what we need, young people that can have an income of five thousand, three thousand naira every day, that way, they can sustain their families and live a good life. They don’t need a lot of money, just a little support, little ideas like that can make positive impact.
The thing will grow and from there each can venture into his/her personal business. So, that is just what you need, young men, unemployed graduates, they don’t need to look for job, what ideas do they have? What ideas do people have? Okay, all of you are graduates, I want ideas from you? I receive the ideas, I look at them if they are viable, and l support the ideas. That will help to eradicate poverty.
Based on what you are saying, there have been instances when politicians bring people together, train them on vocations or trades and support them with funds, but the beneficiaries will eventually divert the money to frivolous things.
That is why I said you don’t need to give them the money, let them start a venture and they all participate in that venture, I do it in Abuja, I do it in Lagos, there are many ventures like that. I have noticed in Ogbomoso, you bought people equipment, they sell it off, so, that is not really it, but if you are in a venture, you can’t spend the money.
As a person, do you support all these empowerment programmes, giving clippers, motorcycles etc to the people?
It has an impact to a certain extent, but we have to be thinking, we are in the 21st century, we need to do more than that. All of them just sell it off, we must look beyond that because it has a temporary impact, we need something that will give a sustainable impact, we have to think widely.
You have tried to contest but you have never been picked to represent your party despite your popularity and ideas, why has it been difficult for you to get picked?
Well, politics is all about patience and timing. And once you want to serve the people, you have to be patient with the people, patient with the leadership, patient with everything, patience and patience. You see, there is timing for everything. So, one is God’s aspect, another is timing. There is timing for everything, you see, it takes time for you to grow in any venture, so it is in politics. In life generally, it is about patience and timing. There is no way Alagbe’s vision is coming to fruition one day without taking time, so, it is all about timing, time is key.
Have you been able to convince party leaders as per your ambition?
Party leaders are aware of my programme and they are aware of my intellect, and they are aware of me. If you say Alagbe, Alagbe, the leadership knows me, they know my worth, and they know the stuff I’m made of and they trust me, my time will come, it is all about timing, my time will come. The leadership has absolute trust and confidence in me, they have tested me on various things and they have seen my loyalty to the party and my vision. It is about timing.
2019 is around the corner, have you decided on what to contest for?
I am still in the process of consulting, if you want to serve, you need to consult to know where people want you to represent them. So, I’m in still in the process of consulting, it needs patience. But still, l am interested in serving the people.
What can you say about the political terrain of Ogbomoso?
The political terrain of Ogbomoso is just all about our leader, Otunba Adebayo Alao Akala, the people trust him, he is our leader and the people follow him, the populace is in support of him. He is close to the grassroots and he feels the heartbeat of the people. So, the political terrain in Ogbomoso is about our leader, Otunba Adebayo Alao Akala.
I want you to assess the present government in the country
The present government in the country is trying its best. Actually, it met so many issues, but governance is all about patience, consultation, engagement with people. To govern a people, you need to consult widely, you need to engage widely. Before you take a step, you need to consult widely and consultations take time, before the people of a community can buy into your vision it takes time, even if you have correct ideas, it takes time before people buy into it. You can be frustrated by a community, so governance is all about consultation, which s gradual, it is a slow thing, you say you want to bring this project
the community, they say they don’t want it, so, you have to convince them, consult them, pacify them, even in Ogbomoso we have various communities, you need to consult, pacify them. That is what leadership is all about.