Yayi: A Curious Look at Representative Democracy

Kunle Somorin writes about the legislative and constituency interventions of the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Olamilekan Adeola, who represents Ogun West Senatorial District in the 10th National Assembly.

He is a study on representative democracy. Many have shouted themselves hoarse on the primacy of the legislature as the bastion of democracy and pegged the logic on the propriety of the Westminster model of parliamentary system of government for Nigeria on the institution.  

One of those “representing” well in that arm of government is Solomon OlamilekanAdeola.

Fondly called “Yayi”, which the online encyclopedia, nomorigine.com says is a name given to a special breed of mankind whose “character traits typically include kindness, compassion and a nurturing nature”.

The chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation is a lawmaker from Ogun West who represents his people like no other. Unique antecedents of lawmakers like this recommend the legislature as an institution to represent the common interests of the citizens through lawmaking and exercise of oversight functions on the activities of the other two arms of government, that is, the executive and the judiciary. 

Not only has Adeola served as a legislator at the state unicameral level and at both chambers of the bi-camera National Assembly, but he has also represented constituents across two politically sophisticated states: Lagos and Ogun.

As a Chartered Accountant first elected a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly to represent Alimosho State Constituency 2 in 2003, Adeola was reputed to have been instrumental to the enactment of the law that strengthened the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service. That piece of legislation kickstarted a financial revolution in Lagos and initially shot up the revenue of the state from N5 billion monthly to over N20 billion.

Also, as a state lawmaker, Adeola was part of the team that passed the Fiscal Responsibility Act and the Public Procurement Act of Lagos State.

In 2011, Adeola’s hard work and dedication to representative democracy were rewarded when he was elected to the Federal Legislature to represent Alimosho Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives.

To underscore his reputation and competence, when the committees of the House were inaugurated by the Speaker, Hon. AminuTambuwal for members,Adeola got the position of the chairman of the only constitutional committee, the Public Accounts Committee of the House. He got the post as a first-time member of the House.

For eight years between 2015 and 2023, Adeola served as the Senator representing Lagos West, before switching allegiance during the 2023 general elections to represent Ogun West Senatorial District at the National Assembly, where he is currently the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation.

Apart from his primary legislative work which he significantly thrives at to the admiration of his colleagues, Adeola has a passion for facilitating meaningful projects to his senatorial district and empowering his constituents.

When he was representing Lagos West, the senator facilitated the construction of six major water works in six local government areas within his district. Apart from facilitating those projects, the senator also personally financed the construction of 28 boreholes in public schools and public toilets across the senatorial district.

The senator also facilitated the training of hundreds of constituents in fish farming and processing, animal feed production, and boat operation, in conjunction with the Federal College of Fisheries and Marine Technology, Lagos. Tagged “Teach a Man to Fish”, the training included the provision of a training manual, fishing equipment, start-up capital, and bags of feeds.

Under his “Light Up Lagos West” project, Adeola facilitated the provision of 130 poles of solar-panel street lights distributed to 20 major streets in Ojo, Badagry, Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Amuwo-Odofin, Ikeja, Alimosho, Mushin, IfakoIjaiyae, Oshodi-Isolo and Agege LGAs.

As someone who cares about education and capacity development, the senator also facilitated training for teachers in his district and the supply of 750 prefabricated chairs and desks for 13 public nursery and primary schools spread across Lagos West at Ojo, Badagry, Oshodi-Isolo, Mushin and Alimosho. 

Even before transferring his mandate to represent the people as a lawmaker from Lagos West to Ogun West, Adeola already started to empower his Ogun constituents in 2022 when he trained and equipped 6,000 indigenes of Ogun West in various skills acquisition programmes. He also funded the construction of a library at the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, and facilitated the upgrade of the institution to a university.

In less than one year as the senator representing Ogun West, Adeola has already made a significant impact on the lives of the people he represents. 

His Mega Empowerment Programme, designed to renew the hope of his people, has seen him providing much-needed startup grants, and various empowerment equipment for 10,000 selected constituents and institutions of government working for the welfare of his people and other Nigerians resident in his district in one day!

Adeola appears to have continued from where he stopped when he represented Lagos West in terms of infrastructural project facilitation. He has attracted projects to all five local government areas of Ogun West Senatorial District and has embarked on the construction of roads, school buildings, ICT centres, healthcare facilities, markets, police stations and town halls. He has also provided transformers to communities in his district. For instance, in less than one year, the senator has facilitated the construction of 156 classrooms with other facilities in schools across the senatorial district, while three ICT centres have been constructed at Nazareth High School Imeko, Imeko-Afon LGA; School of Nursing Ilaro, Yewa South LGA; and AUD Comprehensive High School Ota, Ado-Odo Ota LGA thanks to the senator. He also facilitated the provision of school furniture for 25 primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.

His determination to improve the quality of education of his constituents saw him constitute a scholarship and bursary board comprising eminent academics for the senatorial district. The first set of awards of scholarships and bursaries were recently presented to students of tertiary institutions at the rate of N200,000 for university undergraduates, N180,000 for polytechnic undergraduates and N150,000 for colleges of education undergraduates for 1532 students.

Just like he did in Lagos, Adeola has also facilitated the construction of Primary Health Care Centres (PHCs) and Intensive Care Units (ICU) in Ogun West and also facilitated the donation of 28 500kva transformers to different parts of his senatorial district, in addition to the 50 transformers he donated before becoming Ogun West senator.

 In January, the senator continued his programme by empowering 15,000 young and old artisans who had earlier been trained in various economically viable skills such as ICT, agric value-chain, hairdressing, make-up, barbing, solar power installation, interlocking, phone repairs, tailoring, vulcanizing, rice milling and other such skills acquisition. Understanding that skills acquisition without a start-up grant is futile, the senator made sure that 12,000 beneficiaries went home with start-up equipment and grants worth over 3billion naira.

Although the senator has facilitated the employment of scores of constituents in federal appointments, he continues to embark on the training of women and youths in entrepreneurship development and skills acquisition as a means to enhance self-employment.

5000 market women and men were also empowered in the second phase of the senator’s “OlojaYayi” Support Fund for market traders with N50,000 each.

Adeola’s obsession with the development and empowerment of his people has not in any way distracted him from his primary assignment as a lawmaker. So far, he has presented eight bills to the Senate, including the “Nigeria Railway Corporation Act (Amendment) Bill, 2023” (SB.9); “Federal College of Geological and Cement Studies, Iselu, Yewa North, Ogun State (Establishment) Bill, 2023” (SB.109); the “Institute of Chartered Accountant of Nigeria (ICAN) Act (Amendment) Bill 2023” (SB.265); the “Bill for an Act to Establish Federal University of Technology, Ilaro, 2023”; and “National Institute for Border Studies, Imeko, Ogun State (Establishment) Bill” 2024.

Three of the eight bills have been read for the first time while the bill on Federal College of Geological and Cement Studies, Iselu has passed the second reading and is ready for public hearing at the committee level.

Schemed out of vying for public office in that State by the immediate past government in Ogun State, it is incontestable that no lawmaker in the State has brought more dividends to his constituents since the birth of modern Nigeria than the man with the honofic title of Aremo (scion) of Yewaland by all the natural rulers of Yewaland.

He may not be a saint. Who is infallible? No one. But from the accounts of what he has done in the legislative positions thrust on him, all our elected public officials have a thing or more to learn from this iconoclastic politician.  At this rate, he is going, the people of Ogun West are simply blessed and in for more dividends of representative democracy, and, who knows, maybe Ogun State, in general, could one day benefit from the unprecedented gait Yayi is known for.

-Somorin writes from Abeokuta.

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