By Olaseni Durojaiye
The early birds who defied the downpour that Monday morning met the empowerment items neatly arranged under six different canopies. The canopies bore the names of all the six local government areas that constitute Ogun Central Senatorial District of Ogun State – Abeokuta North, Abeokuta South, Ewekoro, Odeda, Obafemi-Owode and Ifo Local Government areas of Ogun State.
A close watch revealed transformers, generators, grinding machines, sewing machines, hair dryers, barbing clippers, deep freezers, motorcycles, all brand new. Six Corolla cars, freshly painted in all green and yellow stripes, the colours of taxi cabs in the state glistened even under the rain.
They were all meant to economically empower residents of the six local government mentioned above. It would be safe to conclude that the beneficiaries are all members of the All Progressive Congress (APC), the political party of the host, Senator Lanre Tejuosho.
The occasion was the Ogun Central Empowerment initiative and launch of ‘Community Meets Opportunity’.
Inside the hall was a beehive of activities. While the organisers confer with beneficiaries at one end of the high table, the special guests, seated at the high table engaged in some tete-a-tete of interest to them. They include the Chairman of Ogun Central Senatorial District of the All Progressive Party (APC), Chief Kunle Adeshina, Chief Dayo Abatan, Olalekan Adegun, Chief Mrs. M.S. Oke, Alhaji Amosun, Tajudeen Lemboye, Baale Adejinmi Bello, Senatorial Women Leader Alhaja Toyosi Mitros and Senatorial Secretary, Farouk Akintunde among other.
Also in attendance were the Deputy Governor of the state, Mrs. Tetunde Onanuga, Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development, Afolabi Afuape; Executive Chairmen of Odeda Local Government, Wale Oanaolapo; member, Ogun State House of Assembly representing Ifo II Constituency, Ganiu Oyediji, Prince Kayode Tejuosho, among many others.
On the floor of the hall, party loyalists dressed in different uniformed attires mingle, while a seven-man local, itinerant band dished out popular tunes at the slightest opportunity that presented itself.
The host was ubiquitous, moving from one end of the high table to the other and down the podium where some party executives at the local government level sat awaiting the commencement proper.
In his welcome address, he stated: “On the 28th of March, 2015, the people of Ogun Central Senatorial District elected me as the Senator representing Ogun Central Senatorial District in the National Assembly.
“As a way of identifying with you, the people of Ogun Central Senatorial District and to show my profound gratitude to God, I have today returned to you my teeming supporters, many of whom toiled night and day for my success at the March 2015 polls. It is our collective success that is being celebrated today and I have come to render an account of my stewardship, so far, as the Senator representing Ogun Central Senatorial District.
“As many of you are aware, I was made the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health. I am humbled by the confidence reposed in me by the leadership of the Senate to carry that responsibility and have so far tried within my ability and help from God and the support of my colleagues to carry out the duties as demanded by that office,” he stated.
As the even progressed different groups and members drawn from the local government areas displayed different theatrics in a bid to outdo one another in a clear show of appreciation. One of them came decked in a uniformed attire complete with cap on which was inscribed Eni A Fe De – The Preferred One Is Here. Intermittently, they belted different tunes from the traditional drums that were delicately balanced on their shoulders waxed praise poetry directed at their patron. Their performance drove the hall to frenzy as chants of Eni A Fe De rented the air. The senator, who is also the crown prince of Oke-Ona, couldn’t help but jumped up to display some dance steps.
“That’s royal tune,” a middle-aged man, who was a guest, seated beside this reporter volunteered, “as a Crown Prince of Egba Oke-Ona, he knows culture, he knows such songs and beats are accompanied with royal dance steps; he should dance to it.”
A local football club also turned up. And they also caught the Senator’s attention with their football juggling skills. Enthralled by their display, Senator Tejuosho and Afuape came down from the podium and joined in. As they juggled and passed the ball between them the hall erupted in applause and urged them on.
“The people love him; they seek every opportunity to show him love and appreciation for what he has been doing for them. This is beyond the usual theatrics and pretensions that you often get in politics; Senator Tejuosho is on ground and in touch with the grassroots and the people adore him for that,” his Special Assistant on Constituency Matters told THISDAY.
In her address, Deputy Governor of the state, Mrs. Yetunde Onanuga, commended the senator for staying in touch with his constituency and described empowerment initiative as a demonstration of love for the people of Ogun State in general and Ogun Central zone in particular. She also enjoined other elected representatives to emulate Senator Tejuosho and cultivate the culture of giving back to the society through similar gesture.
“I commend our host, Senator Lanre Tejuosho for this laudable initiative. It takes someone who is caring and has the love of the people to come up with such a commendable empowerment initiative. The Governor would have personally grace this occasion but he had to attend another very important state function, but to underscore the importance that he attached to this event, he has asked myself and the Honourable Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Afolabi Afuape, to stand in for him.
“Permit me to use this opportunity to call on other elective representatives of the people to emulate Senator Tejuosho. Let us not forget our people and where we come from because we will always go back there and to them.
The communities that benefitted from the six transformer were Obantoko Ward, Odeda Local Government; Itesiwaju Community, Abeokuta South Local Government; Elega Community, Abeokuta North Local Government; Yewande Community, Ifo Local Government; Opeyeta Community, Ewekoro Local Government and Boluwaduro Community, Obafemi/Owode Local Government of the state.
Besides the transformers, six party loyalists also received painted taxis cab. 369 were also distributed among party members, while another 129 grinding machines were also distributed to women as a means to empower them economically. 80 hairstylists in the zone also got 40 hair dryers and 40 barbing clippers; 21 members of the Okada riders association in the zone received one Motorcycle each while 20 deep freezers were also distributed among petty traders.
Speaking in an interview with THISDAY, Senator Tejuosho explained that, “distributing empowerment items is one of the ways through which we extend the dividends of democracy to members of my constituency. Last Friday, we launched an Information Technology Centre where job aspirants could come in a register online for the teaching job that the federal government launched recently. If people are qualified and don’t have money for time at the cyber café the opportunity will elude them. So we thought of putting up the facility as a first step in that direction. There are other empowerment projects that we plan to embark on through the Community meets Opportunity Initiative.
“We owe it to our people. It is part of our call and response slogan in APC. When we say APC, our party members reply continuity, when we say dividends of democracy; they will say continuity. So, this is just a continuation of dividends of democracy that we have promised our people. As we get any opportunity to do more, we will continue to do it. If we get it every month, we’ll do it every month. The idea is that as we progress, everybody will be progressing together with us. So, the prayer is that everything we do, we must always make sure that we remember where we are coming from and remember the people that we left at home and make sure that we are all happy at the same time. By God’s grace, we’ll continue to expand what we are doing and make sure that everybody in Ogun Central at least has no reason to have poverty, has no reason not to have something economically empowering to do. That’s one of the reasons why they vote for us, why we are there for them and we will continue by God’s grace to do more,” Senator told THISDAY in an interview.
According to Benjamin Disreali, politician, writer and two-time British Prime Minister, “The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but reveal to them their own.” If indeed this is true, the event was a very successful one as the beneficiaries had been shown how to be economically engaged, which is the first step to being shown their individual riches.