HON. Kamal Ayinde Bayewu is the chairman of Ajeromi/Ifelodun Local Government Council. He has been there since 2007. He turned 52 recently and granted ENCOMIUM Weekly an interview on his birthday, life and achievements. The banker turned politician told us the story of his rise from grass to grace…
How do you feel turning 52?
I feel great because God has given me good health. God has given me the opportunity to see another year. I give God the glory that He has spared my life. All glory and adoration belong to Almighty Allah.
Do you feel old?
In my heart, I still feel young so that I can continue to pursue my set goals. I am still work in progress.
There is this saying that when you are growing old you have less time, less energy and more money. Does this apply to you?
Yes, money I have in abundance. Time I don’t have much of it anymore and my energy is at a reducing level. I will say I have more money because the opportunities to make money are there for me. Time is not there. I struggle every day to catch up with it and the energy is certainly not as it was before.
What would you say has been the best moment of your 52 years on earth?
When I graduated from Lagos State Polytechnic with HND Agricultural Economics against all odds. I said against all odds because despite sitting for GCE every year after my WASCE, I did not pass Mathematics until 10 years later. The best I could get within those years was P7. Because I didn’t have credit in Mathematics to enable me gain admission into the university to study Geology, I started working and after that I started a family. It was a friend who advised me to look for admission at the polytechnic to study Agric-Economics. It was my 1979 WASCE result that I used to gain admission into Lagos State Polytechnic in 1986. At the time I gained admission to the polytechnic, I already had two kids, two lovely girls. In the OND class, I was probably the oldest student but this did not stop me from participating in all school activities including student unionism. I chose to go back to do my HND because I wanted to do my youth service corp. If I had gone to the university, I would have been over 30 by the time I graduate. The day I graduated I knew my glory has started. What made the day happy for me was the fact that my mother who had been my backbone was alive to witness my graduation. She died two months after. Another best moment of my life was when against all odds, Universal Trust Bank (UTB) gave me employment with my HND.
When would you say has been the most challenging moment of your life?
Ironically, my best moment is equally my most challenging moment. The five years I spent getting my HND, Agric-Economics was probably the most challenging period of my life. It was not easy both academically and financially. Academically, I knew I had nothing much in my head because I had left school seven years earlier before gaining admission. So, I did not mind how young or old you are if you are in a position to help me academically, I will come to you. For financial assistance, I relied solely on the N5 weekly allowance from my mother and selling odd things like cigarette at parties to survive. That was why I said I graduated against all odds. I thank God today because aside my HND, I have two Masters degrees and other professional qualifications. God has been wonderful.
Did you ever dream of coming into politics?
No, but I knew that one thing that comes to me easily is offering service and helping people. It comes to me naturally. But I never thought I would lead the people within the community. Of course, I participated a lot in community activities but I never thought I could one day be the leader of the community. I also participated a lot in students politics. I was the President of Agric-Economics Students Association. I was a member of the Students Representatives Council and I contested for the student union president when I was in HND 1. But despite all these, I never for one day thought I would be in partisan politics outside of the school campus.
How then did you find yourself in partisan politics?
I don’t really know. But I remember there was a time I was sitting alone in my room and I heard this voice that said, ‘Go ye and deliver your people.’ It said it three times, I started asking myself what does this mean? Does it mean I should join politics to deliver my people? I was working in the bank and I knew it was not possible for me to be working in the bank and at the same time join partisan politics. But when the urge for joining partisan politics became too strong for me, I went to see one of my bosses, the head of Human Resources, Mr. C. W. Akilu, to ask if it is possible for me to be a banker and the same time a politician. And the man said no it is not possible. He asked, ‘What if one of your customers is one of your opponents? What are you looking for? You are a young man, is it not money you are looking for? We’ve just promoted you.’
I didn’t even know I had been promoted. So, the urge to join politics just went down. Then I was planning to go to the House of Assembly. In 2003, the urge came again. Fortunately, some people wanted me to contest for the chairmanship of the local government. I told them I was not interested. I was interested in going to the House of Representatives. I went to my brother who took me to the leaders, and the leaders said there was no vacancy in the House of Representatives. In 2006 again, I was still interested in House of Representatives, I came out openly this time around. I contested the primaries and I came first. I had already been given the INEC form to fill. But the leadership of the party said they have promised all the incumbents a return ticket because they did not support the third term agenda (of President Obasanjo). That was how I was forced to step down for the incumbent.
Who was the incumbent?
Hon. Ogunbanjo. The party secretary, Mr. Lateef Raji promised me that I was going to be the next chairman of the local government council. I told him I was not interested, that I was interested in the legislature. But then a woman who was there when the party secretary said it, never allowed me to rest. She kept on drumming it into my ears that I was going to be the next chairman of Ajeromi/Ifelodun local government. I was still working in the bank then. I went to my CEO, Mr. Erastus Akingbola.
You moved to Intercontinental Bank then?
Yes, in 2000. I told him I wanted to participate in the local government elections. He said okay, you are allowed to go and he prayed with me. He said, if you are able to make it no problem but if you are unable to make it, your job is waiting for you. That was what gave me the confidence to contest in 2007.
What would you say you like about politics?
Politics and banking are almost the same thing, because in both you offer service. But this time around at macro level and not micro level that you have in the banking industry. In the banking industry, they usually tell us you must offer help to your customers. So, my coming here I must offer help to my people.
What is it about politics that you don’t like?
The deceit. A lot of people deceive themselves and they believe that is politics. They say one thing, they mean another. That is what I am not comfortable with. I say it the way I see it.
As the chairman of Ajeromi/Ifelodun local government council for two terms, what would you consider the best legacy that you will be bequeathing to the people of the area?
To the best of my knowledge, ability and the resources available. I have been able to transform Ajegunle from what it was before particularly in terms of road connectivity. In terms of moving from Alayabiagba to Aiyetoro, Aiyetoro to Awodiora, Awodiora to Alakoto, Alakoto to Tolu, you can move everywhere on tarred roads. There is no community that is not connected to each other. I say this with all sense of responsibility. All the roads that we have done in Ajeromi/Ifelodun, if it does not have any intrinsic value we will not do it. That I know I am bequeathing to the people of Ajeromi/Ifelodun Local Government. These are roads that are very solid, they are not just ordinary roads.
Two things are likely to happen, either you go for third term as the chairman or you go for another elective post. Which one?
God will lead us aright. But I know that I will still continue to serve my people in whatever capacity. It could be at the local level, state or national level. It could even be globally.
You said you are married to two women, what would you say informed this?
Islamic injunctions is there, I am allowed to marry more than one. If it has not been there maybe I would have been with one. But it is not a compulsion. Islam never says you must do it. It stated marry two, three, four but if you do not have the capacity, you can marry one.
So, how many children do you have?
Yoruba ni won ki ka omo f’olomo (Yoruba say you should not count children for the parents). But I have lovely children, I have a chartered accountant, a forensic accountant, a human resources manager and an economist.
Your children are already grown?
I am a grandfather by the grace of God. I have four grandchildren and I am still counting.