Aremo Abdel-Majid Adesegun Adekoya prominently known around town as Attacker is a member of the House of Representatives representing Ijebu North/Ijebu-East/Ogun Waterside federal constituency at the National Assembly.
ENCOMIUM Weekly’s Dayo Rufai had an exclusive chat with him few days back on various topical issues including the spate of killings by rival cult groups in Ago-Iwoye, his hometown recently.
Your alias, Attacker, reads meanings. Can you please elucidate to those who do not know or misunderstand this?
The name Attacker has many dimensions. I got this name from my position (number 11) in the football team right from my childhood. I used to play in the attack, and my fans, teachers and friends fondly called me Attacker. Besides, since my coming of age, and having seen the level of intimidation, subjugation, especially during the military saga, June 12 annulment, today Attacker attacks injustice, discrimination, under-development. Attacker attacks for the cause of the commoners, the less-privileged, the grassroots people, a voice to the voiceless.
You were a banker, now a politician. What is the motivation?
The zeal to identify with my people, the grassroots people. The zeal to promote development in my community. The zeal to right the wrong. As a banker, I worked in the inspectorate division. The June 12 junta put all progressive minded people on the streets to fight the injustice against MKO Abiola’s mandate. I was in the forefront leading many professionals on the streets of Lagos. It was this agitation that propelled me from professional banking into partisan politics – to right the wrong.
You are known and respected as a grassroots politician, what is your secret?
Probably because I was a grassroots man. I was born and raised in the village. I was born into an average family, my father was a community leader, with many titles. On daily basis, he would attend to the needs of so many people; resolving conflicts, organizing community projects/programmes.
Your commitment for community development, the rural people has been phenomenal. What is your passion for this?
Rural community is my comfort zone. That is where I came from, so developing people, the community people is like throwing a fish back into the sea… it naturally dives deep. The level of marginalization, deprivation of the rural people is so large and wide, that the presence of government is hardly felt.
Most rural communities lack motorable roads, no school, no hospital, no market, no places of worship, poor water, etc. More pathetically, the elected political officers usually abandon them having secured their votes, and they are left with their perennial infrastructure decay. Such motivation like this, informed my going back to my rural community after 30 years to rebuild the community.
I rebuilt all dilapidated structures in my village – returning them to how they were in the 60s. I resuscitated and rebuilt the defunct Ako Wesley Primary School (which became defunct since 1974), I provided health facilities, and provided water system. I re-built the Ako-Onigbagbo Methodist Church, I opened up new/graded the existing rural roads. I established two cooperative societies to give loans to our people, helping them in their businesses and farming. Also resuscitated and rebuilt the defunct Ako Owode Market, I gave scholarship to many students, and sponsored social cultural events to promote our much revered cultural values and heritages. I put smiles on the faces of the people. Everybody was happy. To me, this is community development, and I am satisfied about this.
In 2011, you contested to represent Federal Constituency but you lost. How did you feel and lessons learnt?
Of course, naturally, I never felt bad but I felt disappointed. With this, I came to realize that you don’t trust people…but should always trust in God. With the level of campaign and mobilization I did at that time, and the promises, assurance and support we got from the people, I thought I was home and dry. But I lost in the election. I never felt disappointed because I knew that God never sleeps, and that one day, sometime, somehow, God would compensate me.
So, immediately I lost in the election, I invited my alfas for special thanksgiving prayers to God, and asked for forgiveness and prayed that God Himself would compensate me. I printed thank you memos, handbills and distributed them in all nooks and crannies of my federal consistency. I knew I had to put my trust in God. Today, I am compensated, and I very grateful to Almighty Allah. I have also learnt that you should never lose hope.
Now you have been elected into the Green Chamber, what should be the core roles of the National Assembly?
Our core role is to partner other arms of government, in making qualitative laws. Laws that are geared towards the emancipation of the less privileged, the downtrodden, the less privileged. Laws that will protect the rights and stakes of the Nigerian people, and our shared heritages.
Making laws that will curb the excesses of the executive, the judiciary, including the legislative arm of the government. Laws that will bring food to the tables of average Nigerians. Laws that will take Nigeria from a consumer-economy to a producing, viable, prosperous economy.
Laws that will ensure zero-tolerance for corruption. Laws that will bring employment to the teaming youths in Nigeria. This should be the focus of the National Assembly.
What is your immediate reaction on the recent cult killings in your hometown, Ago-Iwoye. And what have you been doing to stem the tide?
The activities of rival cult groups in Ago-Iwoye in recent times are heart-rendering. A suspected member of a particular cult group was cut down on Sunday while another one was equally cut short in retaliation for the previous day’s incident. These killings are worrisome.
The people of Ago-Iwoye and the Ijebu axis are living in fear daily. We appeal to the police and other security agencies in the state to urgently come to the aid of the people of Ago-Iwoye and the Ijebu axis and protect us from the menace of these cult and murderous groups.
What are the major problems facing Nigeria, and what are the ways you think these myriad problems could be solved?
Corruption, unemployment, poor power supply, etc. The level of corruption in Nigeria is massive, unimaginable and annoying. Our entire system is corrupt. Our value system, our family system, education, politics, health sector, police, military, all sectors. Corruption in Nigeria is not only endemic and grossly retrogressive.
In view of the current defeat of the PDP at the National and many states, what should be the task before the Africa’s largest political party, in revamping for 2019 elections?
Yes, the party leaders should go back to the drawing board and re-assess what led to this defeat. We should be sincere, disciplined and more courageous to right the wrongs, synergize and reposition the party, against the next elections.
You are vocal and focused, and the expectations of the people are high about you. What would be your agenda at the House of Representatives?
They should expect quality, vibrant and resourceful representation. I make bold to say that I desire to surpass the achievements of all my predecessors in this constituency God willing. Their voices would be heard at the federal level, and their mandate would bring them holistic development and dividends of democracy.
What would your first 100 days in office look like?
Like I did in 1997 when I became the Executive Chairman of Kosofe Local Government Area of Lagos state, I challenge the media and my constituency to move round this constituency within my first 100 days in office, and to publish (unedited) what they see. I am a legislator with a difference.
I know what is expected of me, and I will do it, as much as God Almighty helps me. I have done it severally in the past; I will do it again. I believe in making people happy. I am a grassroots politician, I know where the shoe pinches.
As someone who thinks ahead of time, what programmes and projects should the people in this constituency be expecting these four years?
No doubt, implementation of projects rest squarely on the executive, be it federal, state or local government. But I want to tell you that with me, it is going to be legislation with a difference. It is going to be legislation unusual, like never before.
I am aware that in my federal constituency, we have over 60 percent of the total bitumen deposit in Nigeria. Also in my constituency, we have the deepest portion of the Lagoon in the whole of West Africa, the Olokola. We have the approval of the Federal Government for the deepest seaport in Nigeria (twice deeper than Tin Can Island). I will put pressure and legislation to make these potentials work for our people.
The OK-NLG and the Seaport alone have the capacity to employ all the unemployed graduates in the whole South-West, Nigeria combined. What of the Iwopin Papermill, Lagos Island (the largest Island in the country)? Although it has been privatized, but I know what can still be done to create advantage for our people through this investment.
What of quarry? We have the best stones in the country in my constituency. Government can aid growth of these investments.
We learnt that the opposition has filed petition at the tribunal against your victory. What is your take about this?
Our people have spoken with their votes, and have given me their mandate. So, I have no problem with bad losers. However, it should be known to the public that APC and its candidate are only crying wolf where none exists.
I contested elections in the volatile and complex city of Lagos from councilor to executive chairman and won all of the elections. I served as a personal assistant to a Minister of State of Finance and also served as a commissioner for eight years in Ogun State.
My experiences in these areas added value to my election into the Green Chamber. I am the Aremo Ebumawe of Ago-Iwoye, the Otunba Alade’refe of Ijebu-Ife, Otunba Bobaseye of Ibiade, Otunba Iwaju Ogoran’muda of Iwopin, Otunba Gbadero of Ayede, Otunba of Imobi Kingdom. In fact, I am a title holder in many towns and cities of the three local government areas of my Federal Constituency which brings me closer to constituents of the local government.
I also contested in 2011, for the same House of Representatives which I lost but despite that I never left the people of my Federal constituency for any other town, city or country. It’s then sheer wickedness on the part of APC to now import a candidate who, for long has been in the diaspora to represent the people he never knew from Adam. But the good people of our constituency are conscious enough to decipher truth from false through their votes. For sure, the courts would do their job, and my mandate will be further established.