THREE Sundays back, a phone call transported me to GRA, Ikeja, Lagos. Specifically, the Joel Ogunnaike Street office of guber aspirant, Deji Doherty. A reading awareness campaign organized at a small space he donated to the organizers was on. And in the midst of the beautiful programme put together by those with great foresight in horning the reading skills of the leaders of tomorrow, with selfless efforts aimed at developing a keener and sharper intellect for the children, sat Deji Doherty, resplendent in a white buba and sokoto in guinea material. He was called to the high table to make a laudable speech in which he extolled the virtues of the programme and capped it all with a pledge of more support.
The typical politician was the audible thoughts that floated all over the place I was and that was the opening belt of my questions when I cornered him for a chat.
Many feel possibly because you’re aspiring to capture the soul of Lagos politics, that’s why you did what you did today. How correct is that?’ A slight pause, as he sat facing me, he’d began, somewhat taken aback, in his foreign accented voice. “I think I have had this facility for six or seven years. And, I don’t think seven years ago, I had the thought of becoming a governor or even had that ambition in mind. Today, I was just invited to be a part of the success of someone I supported to a certain extent.
And, she is not the first, second, third and will not be the last I would definitely support with whatever 1 have. I do it naturally, because I have equally supported a lot of NGOs in the past. The Spinal Cord
Association for over 15 years. Federation of Women Empowerment for ten years and the likes.”
‘So, you didn’t have the dream of becoming the governor of Lagos State seven years ago, what were your aspirations then?’ I quizzed. “I was mainly in business then. The interest of governance was planted in me more than ten years ago. But I never knew on what level it would come. It was just two, three years ago that I decided I would go for governor of Lagos State,· he explained.
‘Based on what factors; influences?’ I’d sought further explanations. “Based on factors that I was ready physically, spiritually. With family support, and psychologically I was ready, And luckily for me also, financially I was ready.’ So, everything was just right, including the political climate at the time when I· decided to declare,” he’d obliged me.
And, the effort that realizing your dream vis-a-vis running your business has been very easy?’ I’d inferred. “It has been hectic. It hasn’t been easy, it has been hectic. It has been tedious, time consuming.
However, I have been running my office from my P.C. One is here permanently. The other, I take everywhere I go. I can deal with my people wherever they are, with it.
And, I also try to delegate a lot of decision making process to my managers.”
‘Some 16 months back, Deji Doherty for governor and all such awareness creating slogans and banners were everywhere, but everything seems to have been toned down for now, was that by commission or omission?’ I’d enquired. “I will not agree with that,” he’d begged to differ, then made a case for himself. “Two years ago, what we had were stickers, maybe posters and things like that. As at now, you see quite a lot of billboards. If you really look around, you’ll see that Deji Doherty is the only one that has quite a number of billboards in the nooks and crannies of this state as of today. And our posters and stickers are there too.
Maybe because you are not recognizing the fact that our sticker bears Doherty 2007. And that is Adedeji Doherty for 2007.”
‘Also, in recent times, there appears to be a bit of not-so-good kind of publicity against your person, how do you take that, do you see that as another incorrect assessment?’ I’d queried. “I don’t see much bad publicity about my person, because it’s only one or two publications that wrote one or two things. And, I am not bothered about it. If you are not trying to achieve something, nobody would talk about you. I am taking part in contributing my own quota to the society. Some people would like it, some will dislike it.
Some will like you for it, some will want to pull you down for whatever reason. But it is part of life. I haven’t grown to this extent without having enemies. I haven’t grown to this extent without people saying good
things all the time. If they don’t talk about you, that’s when there is a problem. But, if they talk about you all the time, good or bad, then it means you must be doing something. And in my own mind, in my own consciousness, I believe what I am doing is the right thing.”
‘Clinically looking at the good and bad sides of politics, has it been messier or fairer than you expected when you started out?’ I’d asked. “Well, so far, so good. I have seen the political terrain as I believe it makes you humble yourself, shows a lot of things about human beings. How we could easily change our minds. And how vulnerable we are. It is something that has made me mature. I don’t see it as a dirty game, what I see is a competition of wit. The smarter you are, the more successful you’ll be in politics. And, you need to always be on your toes,” he’d explained.
‘Your slogan has the saying, we lead while others follow. How well ahead do you see yourself in the race for the Marina house?’ We are very much ahead,” he proclaimed. “Too much ahead: he re-emphasized, and continued, “Because we started early. We worked when a lot of people were sleeping. And, we have achieved quite a lot over a short period of time. We’ve been in this race for about two whole years. We have been able to present ourself to the electorate well ahead of time. As at today, our name, Doherty is getting to be a household name. In terms of politics in Lagos State, we have taken the lead in working towards a vision in 2007. We are leading and others are following, in all respect, in terms of everything. However, we do recognize the other side. Competitors. People that have been senators before, ministers before, ex-governors, former and all of them, permanent secretaries. But I tell you, look at their pedigree, antecedents,
what they have done, compared to ours, we are leading,” he ended.