Oluseye Oladejo is the Commissioner for Special Duties in Lagos state. The English graduate and father of boys turned 50 on Tuesday, February 2, 2016.
He told ENCOMIUM Weekly in this interview his political trajectory from his days at University of Ife, Ile-Ife, Osun state, where he became the secretary-general of the student union at 19.
Oladejo, who was once the Executive Secretary of Mushin Local Government Council and the chairman of the same council, before being appointed Special Adviser in Fashola’s administration and a commissioner in Ambode’s administration believes politics is in his genes.
How does it feel to turn 50 in a country where the average life span is low?
There are no hard and fast rules about what life span should be. We return all the glory to God for opportunity of life. In spite of everything that one has passed through in 50 years, He’s been very faithful. So, it feels good to be 50.
50 years of committing sins, hope to conquer some days, but one cannot but be grateful. 50 years of whole lot of life blessings. Along the line, I met with friends who have been destiny helpers. Along the line too, I also dealt with friendly foes, who by and large taught me a bit of life lessons, that you can’t afford to be too trusting and you can’t afford to be too cautious.
In sum total, God has been faithful. Some say count your blessings and name them one by one, count your blessings and see what God has done. One has cause to be very grateful for the opportunities along the line. Of course, one cannot but remember the dark moments. By and large so far, so good.
Do you feel your new age?
No, I don’t. Sincerely, I don’t, except for the patches of grey hair which is not really a reflection of the age. That could be a reflection of activities that are double of what my age is. I have gone through a lot. I have been the secretary of Mushin Local Government, chairman, Mushin Local Government, special adviser in Fashola’s administration and now a commissioner. Public office comes with a lot of pressure. If you want to do the job well, if you are really passionate about the job, you will want to ensure that you get result and leave a nice legacy on the sand of time.
That can also come at a price. You will have some grey hair. That is not peculiar to me.
What will you say is the happiest moment of your 50 years of existence?
A whole lot of happy moments! One, turning 50 is very important to me because my mom didn’t make it to 50. We were preparing for her 50th when she passed on. So, I am happy and grateful that I made it to 50!
There are too many remarkable experiences to start naming them one after the other. Is it within the family? Is it educationally? Is it politically? Too numerous to mention.
There must have been one or two that made you extremely happy?
I can recall one. I left office as a local government chairman on some very controversial circumstances. I was out for four years but I came back just like a cat with nine lives. I will say a political cat with nine lives. I came back to make the state cabinet in Raji Fashola’s administration. It doesn’t always happen that way. I came back as a special adviser. I am here again, as honourable commissioner. I will call that political restoration. It is not that important the way you start a journey but it is much more important the way you end it.
So, it is important to me that I was able to come back. I was able to get that restoration and I continued to be relevant in the politics of my local government and the state. That is very important, at least, career wise.
What would you consider the most challenging moment of your 50 years of existence?
That was when I was a local government chairman. I was full of dreams. I wanted to transform the local government, I mean in Mushin then.
I had plans for the youths for employment generation and all that. But as soon as we came in, the then president (Obasanjo) withheld the allocation. So, it became very difficult to fulfill those promises excep one. Water then was a big problem in my local government. it was cheaper to do compared to roads, drainages, and all of that. So, I was able to sink 165 boreholes and that got me an award.
Yes, spread over the local government. We were able to persuade landlords, churches and mosques to allow us (LG) to use their space. The boreholes are still there till today. Being a local government chairman was very challenging in a peculiar environment like Mushin local government and then we didn’t have money.
What lessons of life will you say you have learnt in your 50 years of existence?
I have learnt lessons of being dogged, of perseverance, to be patient, trusting, common sense and to remain level headed and not be carried away by spoils of office.
I have also learnt that you have more friends because of the political power you wield than friends who are really your friends for what you have. With these lessons and one putting them to use, you will not do too many wrongs.
Would you say you are a fulfilled person going by what you have achieved politically?
Life itself is a continuous state. The moment you lose the zeal or drive to want to become something, your existence itself becomes worthless. I will still aspire. One needs to continue to aspire so that you can still get some joy from very existence.
I have been cut out for this. I have been a student unionist. I was the Secretary-General University of Ife (Student Union) at 19. So, public office has always been my life or destiny or in my genes.
For me, we’ve not been able to achieve the Nigeria of our dream. So, it will be foolhardy for anyone holding a political office to say he is fulfilled. The purpose of holding political office is to impact positively. To have a legacy to refer to. I am very far from that. I have come, I have seen, I have not yet conquered. I will have my way some day.
For someone who has been in politics since university days, what will you say you enjoy most about politics?
The people, you have the opportunity to interact one-on-one with the people. You are able to identify with them and their peculiar needs, their dreams and their aspirations.
You can bring about positive change when you have the opportunity to serve in the process of driving the policy of the government of the day. So, you are able to make a mark. And that is what politics is all about really.
What will you say you don’t like about being in politics?
A lot of people will always tell you politics is risky but you wouldn’t find anything in the world that is dangerous. The very idea that you came into the world is a risk because you can make a success of it or not otherwise.
Then, people talk about the violence, hooliganlism and the rest of it in politics. but there are just few professions that are not risky.
Can you tell us a little about your wife and how you met her?
My wife and I bear the same first name. She is Mrs. Seye Oladejo.
Is she Oluseye too?
No, she is Omiseye. We met 25 years ago. We were preparing for the burial of my paternal grandfather in Ibadan, when a sister of mine told me she was inviting her friend that her name is Seye. I told her that would be nice, she will be my wife.
Incidentally, she turned out to be my wife a few years later and as they say, the rest is history. I have no regret marrying her. She is very supportive and very understanding. She never liked public office and she never liked politics but if you love me, you will love my job.
If you want to marry a man, you will marry him the way he is. It is a complete package.
But were you in politics when you met?
Yes, I was. I have been in politics right from school. I have been in politics since 1985. We are still together till today, blessed with children.
How many children?
In my culture you don’t count your children. I only have sons, I don’t’ have daughters. I can tell you that much. She is also in the service of the state government as a public servant. We are Christians. What else do you want to know?