33 year-old lawmaker, Hon. Sultan Adeniji-Adele, representing Amuwo Odofin 1 in the Lagos State House of Assembly, was accused of not contributing to any issue or pushed any bill on the floor of the House. The youthful and dandy chap, in an exclusive interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly on Thursday, October 3, 2013, cleared the air on all accusations, opened up on his greatest aspirations, his family and much more.
How has it been representing your constituency in the Lagos House of Assembly?
By the grace of the Almighty God, it has been okay. But I won’t say it’s been really smooth because there were some rough edges along the line. It is not easy being a young chap because there are so many responsibilities that come with it which is predominantly how to relate with your elderly ones in the House. In my constituency, 65 per cent of voters are youths. So, it makes it easy for me to relate with them.
What have you attracted to your people so far?
I always conduct an education programme every year even before I became a member of the House of Assembly. I also conduct sports programme which comes up every December, in order to bring people together. When I became a member, I increased the pace because the people feel we have the full support of the government. The first step was to distribute 500 GCE and JAMB forms annually. I increased the money price of the sport programme. We had also brought a little bit of development by providing transformers from the state government, poverty alleviation for the older ones. Sometime last year, I gave out a lot of poverty alleviation items like sewing machines, grinding machines, clippers for those interested in barbing, okada, Keke NAPEP and much more. I gave out over a 100 items last year and I am looking forward in doing the same thing this year too. So far, I have been able to touch the lives of one or two people out there.
Having done all these, what more do you have in mind for the people of Amuwo Odofin 1?
My next plan is the poverty alleviation programme but this would be in form of a medical programme for people who can’t afford to go to a hospital. We would bring the treatment right to their doorsteps. This would be in form of a mobile medical service for those who are interested in the free medical check-up and treatment.
After all these projects, there are still some inundations that you are not representing your constituency well?
This is politics. Not everybody would like you, even Jesus Christ, He was sacred but was still nailed to the cross by people who did not like Him. In politics, you would always have opponents, people who think you have come to outshine them. But I can tell you categorically that people who are on our side are more than the people who are criticizing us. Most especially being the youngest legislator in the country, it comes with a lot of issues, distractions and criticisms. But with God, everything is well. Although, with all they are saying, I don’t let it get to me.
Can you specifically tell us the bills you have sponsored in the House so far?
No bill yet. Although, I am working on a Wealth Creation Bill, which is for youths. There are so many youths in Lagos State who just finished from school and have nothing to do. Some get themselves involved in illegal things such as yahoo plus and many more. So, we are trying to curb joblessness within the state, not only within my constituency. It is going to be like a youth ministry, where you can go and show off what you learnt in school within two years just like NYSC. But the difference is that, it would be like a full employment scheme. Here, once you finish your NYSC, you work for two years, while the government searches for a place for you to work. But if you decide to remain there, no problem. It is a Wealth Creation Bill that has the youth at heart.
Why do you think your political opponents want to ruin you?
Like I said, not everybody is your friend in politics. There are so many people who want to be in your position and if they are not, they would want to ruin you. Most people play politics to the extreme, some go as far as saying all sorts to tarnish your image. But from the family I come from, I was taught to keep my head straight. I keep to myself a lot and do my own things in my own way. Although, I read all sorts of things in all dailies, on the internet, and all they want is for me to respond which I would not, but fold my arms and keep doing my own thing.
How does it feel being the youngest member of the Lagos House of Assembly?
It is like a favour from God. Sometimes I actually wake up and wonder if I am dreaming but I have been able to overcome that now. We have young achievers in my house. My father was the local government chairman of Lagos Island Local Government at 33 as far back as 1990. He was also the youngest chairman in the country then. And I believe I’m following his footstep, although I became a member of the House at 30 and I have beaten him to the record of the age issue. But all these do not change anything about me. Even being the youngest member of the House gives me more opportunities to relate with people of my age because they feel you have the resources to help them out. So, like I said, one has to give thanks to God for finding himself or herself in any position.
How did you make it into the House?
I contested and won, under the umbrella of the Action Congress of Nigeria.
How did politics start for you?
I have been a political person right from birth because my father has been a politician, my grandfather, the former Oba of Lagos, Oba Adeniji-Adele, who was at the same time the Deputy Senate President. My father, Prince Ademola Adeniji-Adele has been in politics for a long time. He was a councillor in Lagos Island and from there, he rose to become the local government chairman. From there, he contested for senatorial seat under the umbrella of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and we have been politically inclined since. The major thing is, I was born into a polygamous home and there is no politics as tough as polygamy. Once you can survive polygamy, there is no politics you can’t survive.
What next after you are through with this term?
Let me be specific. I wish to retain my post as the member of the House of Assembly, but God will surely direct us when the right time comes.
Can you tell us more about you and how long you have been married?
I am Hon. Sultan Adeniji-Adele, a lawyer by profession. I happen to be the first of my father, Prince Ademola Adeniji-Adele. I happen to be a sports man and I have been married for five years now. I’m a down to earth person who does not let things bother him. No matter how big the situation might be, I would just push it aside because definitely, I know I will surely overcome it. I enjoy looking good which is one of my weapons that I use in attracting people.
When you are not in the House of Assembly, what do you engage yourself in?
I live in my constituency. So, once I’m not in the House, I am in my constituency office. But at weekends, I play soccer because I love it a lot. Both Saturday and Sunday mornings, you will meet me at F.A.G field. If I am not in my constituency office, I’m with the boys on the street because I also grew up on the street.
What is your greatest aspiration?
I am from a royal family and everybody from such family will always hope to be the next Oba of Lagos one day. So, I pray to God that one day, I hope to be the next Oba of Lagos. Long live the present Oba, Oba Rilwan Akiolu. He is a father figure to me and to all Lagosians.
What do you have to say to youths who are looking up to you?
They should keep their heads high. People talk a lot and they should not let it get to them. That’s one thing that actually helped me. When I wanted to contest as a member of the House of Assembly, I heard all sorts that tried to bring me down, but I did not let it get to me because I knew where I was going to and I believe to have enough experience, you have to try it out. So far, so good, I would call it a learning process.
How are you able to juggle marital life and political appointment?
My wife is very accommodating and tolerating. She understands me a lot. I dated her for five years before we got married. She is ready to live with whatever I do. Sometimes, I call her my ‘oracle’ because she is a Christian and I am a Muslim. Although born Muslim, she has been there for me religiously, martially and many more. I try to merge the two. No matter the time, I make sure I sleep in my house because I do not sleep out. She has been wonderful all the way.
What is your assessment of Governor Fashola’s tenure?
I call him the Actualizer because he is fantastic and has brought sunshine into Lagos State. Although, we have past governors who did it but Fashola has turned Lagos into a mega city. If I am to score him, I would score him 99 per cent because only God can be the perfect person.
What do you have to say about the ongoing ASUU strike?
It is a shame when we talk about ASUU strike because it has been happening for a long time and that keeps bothering me when the Federal Government fails to listen to the demands of lecturers or students. While I was in school too, I faced the strike for one year. Students who are at home now, some of them have gone into illegal business like prostitution, yahoo plus and some into petty theft because they have nothing doing. I want to call on the president of this country to actually do something on this issue because it is extremely important. They turned deaf ears because their children are abroad. This is really going out of hand and the president needs to act fast. It is also a national issue and something needs to be done urgently.
– DOLAPO AMODENI