Hon. (Dr) Abdullateef Abdulhakeem is versatile. He is an Islamic cleric and preacher who holds his congregation and listeners spell bound when preaching. He is a politician who has served in Lagos State House of Assembly as a member, a Special Adviser to Governor Fashola on Legislative and Political Matters and presently a member of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s cabinet as the commissioner for Home Affairs. He is also a lawyer who holds Ph.d in Law from University of Lagos and has spent 25 meritorious years at the bar.
He turned 50 on Monday, August 21, 2017. He granted encomium.ng interview before he jetted out of the country to Mecca, as the head of Lagos State pilgrims on Thursday, August 24, 2017.
Let us start by congratulating you on your 50th birthday.
Thank you so much.
How does it feel turning 50?
Birthday is not a period to be dancing. It is a period for one to reflect, to try and rewrite some of your stories and do what you have not done because tomorrow may be too late. Especially when you look at the way many are leaving this world all of a sudden. I give glory to Almighty Allah, He has been most generous and has preserved my life to this day. When I look at my life, I have attained a lot. I feel fulfilled. As a senior legal practitioner who has spent over 25 years at the bar and someone who ventured into politics and won election most immediately. I became a preacher in order to represent Islam well and correct hate preachers. I want people to understand what Islam means. I have been preaching for more than 25years.
Do you feel your new age physically and otherwise?
You don’t feel anything until you begin to see those who are younger than you. I felt young every day until, I gave out my two daughters in marriage. Then I realized I will soon become a grandfather. All the same, I still feel very young.
Are you saying that you can still do some of those things you used to do in your 30’s and 20’s?
No, that is not possible anymore.
What will you say you are happy about as you turn 50?
I am happy I’m still serving God. I’m happy I am at the peak of my career. One’s prayer in life is to get to peak of his career. As an academic, I have my Ph.d in Law at this age. I have served three executive governors – Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Babatunde Fashola (SAN) and Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode. I have gathered all the experience, and I have made so many friends. I see myself as a leader who is being consulted by people on a regular basis. As I woke up this morning, I have 300 text messages waiting for my response. On my WhatsApp, I have 87,000 messages to read. One has suddenly become someone that is trusted to deal with issues. I am happy that, this is the role I am playing at this stage of my life.
When will you say is the happiest moment of your life so far?
I am happy when I inspire people. I am happy when people call me to say my marriage was about to break up until today when I listened to your message and we have resolved it. I see that as a great achievement more than anything in this world. So many Christians have called me to say they don’t miss my lecture because, the approach is experiential and practical. That is my greatest joy.
When will you say is the saddest moment of your life so far?
I am always sad when I see the people who know what to do, do not take steps to participate in rescuing the nation. Meanwhile, they complain. I feel very sad because, when you say something is complex, it is an evidence of ignorance. Many nations are built by the people.
But in Nigeria you will see the righteous telling you politics is dirty. The well read and the professors telling you there is no way they will allow them to enter (politics) without making any attempt. That gives room for fraudsters and never do well to come into politics because the constitution says a school certificate holder can be the president of the country. It is a situation of those who know are not where they should be. That is the only regret that I have every day.
This why I started an organization to launch young people into politics, to let them know that power is not served a la carte. You don’t sit down at home and expect power to come to you. You have to go and get it. People love to lament, whereas the solution to the problems are at their doorsteps.
Look at the number of people that voted in the last governorship elections in Lagos state. Is it not 800,000 people that voted for Governor Akinwunmi Ambode in a state of about 22 million people. Which means millions of people were at home on that day watching African Magic. So, I feel sad when I see those who should be there, doing the right thing, staying outside telling those inside, this is how it should be done.
What is growing up like for you?
I grew up as an Awori boy in Idimu. I was brought up by my grandparents who were farmers. I attended Local Primary school, Idimu. I later gained admission into one of the Jakande’s schools – Oregun High School, in 1980. Later I moved to Ejigbo High School, Ejigbo. I also attended Methodist Boys High School, Lagos, where I did my HSC (Higher School Certificate) and I had the best result – 14points, that year. This got me an admission into University of Lagos to read law.
How many are you in your family and who are your other siblings?
I am the first child of my mum and the fifth child of my father. My daddy married four wives.
Was he an Islamic cleric like you?
He was not an Islamic cleric. He was a very charitable and selfless man. He was loved by so many people in the community. The same thing with my mom.
Are they still alive?
My dad is late but my mom is alive. The current Oba of Ejigbo is my uncle.
Tell us about your immediate family.
I am married to four wives as you are aware. As Muslims, polygamy is not prescribed it is only permitted. Some people who practice polygamy may enter hell fire if they don’t know how to go about it. Islam allows one man to marry one woman if that is okay for him. It furthers allows a man to marry two, three or four if it is also okay for him. There is nothing wrong in marrying more than one wife, especially if you look at the challenges facing women today. There are so many women around to the extent that many of them are literally begging men to marry them. Some men are hit and run.
In my own case, I know that as a preacher I need to ensure that I keep my family intact. Many people will have one wife and have 20 girlfriends. They like it that way. But, I have four wives. We live together happily. Whoever comes into my house will not know who is who because, the children don’t discriminate as to which house to go.
How easy is it for to manage four women as wives and 14 children?
It’s been very easy. You know when you face God, God will face you. Some people cannot manage one wife . But if you face God, God will face you. If you are involved in God’s transaction, God will be involved in your own transaction.
Because no man has the wisdom to control or manage women. It is by the grace of God. Women are righteous people who are also very selfless. So, because we are able to speak the same language, they are not too materialistic, so there is little or no problem among us.
Even the tongue and the teeth do fight. There is nothing that goes on in polygamy that does not go on too in monogamy. You find wives who fight with their husband’s family. You find wives who create problems for their husbands. But, I have been blessed graciously. All my wives live happily under the same roof and the children are united.
That is my greatest achievement in life. That I am able to keep them in one place and everything has been going on well. I can’t say that there is a particular challenge in my house, that is not in any other house.
When you see them, it speaks volume of the tranquility and calmness in the house and our understanding of each other.
How old is your first child?
My first child who just got married is 25.
What about your last child?
He is about six months old.
How easy has it been for you to combine politics with religion? Don’t you see any contractions between the two?
No, no, no. I see politics as religion. Religion is about doing what is good especially showing humanity kindness and charity. Politics is just a vehicle for one to perform his religion. Religion is not only when you go to the mosque and pray.
– Tolani Abatti for encomium.ng