Mrs Adijat Adeleye-Oladapo was a two-term member of the Ogun State House of Assembly, where she represented Ifo/Ewekoro constituency. She started Politics at a very young age and has been a politician for over two decades. Mrs Adeleye-Oladapo spoke with the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of PublicFaces Magazine (Bola Solate) on the current situation of her party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the state governor and her plans for 2019.
At what point did you decide to venture into politics?
I started politics very early, I was actually underaged if you are to consider the age one is to vote or be voted for in Nigeria, it’s supposed to be 18 and I was not up to that when I started active politics. People tend to compare my age with where I am and what I have achieved politically not knowing that I have put over two decades of my life into politics.
How have you been able to combine motherhood with politics?
It’s not easy. For you to be able to combine that successfully, a lot lies with your husband. The man must be a very understanding man and that is the gift God has given me.
(Cuts in) Would you say you have been able to achieve your political ambition?
Yes, I can say I have been able to do my best. Definitely no one can do it all, the main thing is for you to make the difference where you find yourself and not just the difference but also leave your footprints. I think while I occupied the little space I did, I want to believe and I stand to be corrected that I was able to make my own little input.
(Cuts in) Is that why some refer to you as the Iron Lady?
I know people call me all sort of names, some call me Amazon, somebody once used the word Enigma too and I said that I am unpredictable. In politics, you make friends and you make enemies. I remember a sentence someone once wrote to me in paper on the floor of the house which states that ‘Love her or Hate her, everybody respects her’. So for me, some people believe I can go to the extreme because when I’m doing something I believe so much in, I am ready to give it everything. People believe politicians are liars but I joined politics to make a difference. I don’t want the name that people give to politicians and so, In the course of you being truthful to what you believe in and wanting to follow your heart and the way things should be done, you may make a lot of enemies. Some of them are not really your enemies, but they just don’t like your guts.
In 2014, you received the Young Achievers Award for the ICT centre you opened in your constituency, now that you’re not in office, is the centre still in operation?
Well, talking about the awards, to the glory of God we were able to receive a whole lot of it and we also turned down so many because before we receive any award, I’ll sit down and say to myself, do we
really deserve this award. When we set up the ICT and I said we because when you talk about Adijat, Adijat is just one person but when you are talking about Honourable Adijat, you’re talking of a brand
because there are lots of people that make up that brand. Setting up an ICT centre has been one of my dreams because I knew how I grew up and the challenges I faced. So I had it in mind that if I won that
election I will do this which I did but along the line after we opened the ICT Centre, I discovered that the one we set up cannot take care of the large number of youths in my constituency, so we had to set up
another one, at the end of the day, we had two ICT centres and we run it with 500,000naira in a month and to God be the glory, I am sure we have trained over a thousand youth in that constituency..
Now that I am out of office, we run the centre a bit but along the line, I discovered that we need to re-evaluate what we were doing and how we can cope with the high level of running cost of the centres.
So, what we have done now is to consolidate the place because we were running the first centre on a leased land but the second one we have now is built on my property. Currently, I thought we would be able to finish up with it before my 40th birthday and used the opportunity to re-open the centre, but unfortunately we are not done with what we are doing, hopefully very soon, we would finish and re-open the place and it’s still going to be run free of charge.
How do you find time for the youth despite your busy schedule?
I have no choice but to be close to the youth. I didn’t have a very sweet experience while growing up. I had some opportunities and I did not have some, so I decided to look at the things I never had access
to. For instance, I barely had any mentorship while growing up so I made some mistakes in life but with the grace of God, he turned things around for me to what I have become today. So, I decided there and
then that I am going to use all those experiences I’ve garnered to assist the up and coming ones in order not to find themselves in the situation I found myself.
What is the secret of your frequent change of hairdos?
(Laughs). Most people don’t know. I even heard a ridiculous statement made by someone that I cut my hair during election for charms to win the election. What really happened was that the different style of
hairdo took a toll on my hair, so my hair became very short and I became inspired by my friend that‘s always on low cut and for the tolled hair to grow back up together, I had to go very low. Before you
know it, I started receiving different comments like; ‘Leave the low cut, it suits you’, and others will be like, ‘Please don’t cut your hair again’. In fact there was a day I was travelling in Dana Air, and one of the hostess came to me and said ‘Madam, you have started making your hair again’ and I asked if she knows me that much, so I asked her again that, which do you prefer, the low cut or hairdo, she answered, the low cut and I laughed. I get diverse opinions. Tomorrow I can decide to cut my hair again but a whole lot of people are begging me not to cut the hair again.
Back to the Iron Lady Nickname, Some people believe that you got the name because you’re a critic of Governor Amosun?
Actually, that was not the beginning of the Iron Lady thing. I was a member in the sixth and seventh Legislature in Ogun State, and the ‘IronLady’ stuff started in the sixth legislature during a face-off
with the then Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel. The house split into two, G15 and G11, and I happened to be the only female member of the G15 which was presumed to be tackling the then Governor. Anywhere we go, people would be like, with all these things you are doing, there is a woman among you? No, she must be an ‘IronLady’ and that was where the name rose from. During that period, a lot of things happened, the house was locked, issues here and there and despite that fact, I was with them all through and after that, we got into this Government. So when people ask me the issue between me and the current Governor, I still find it difficult to give a good answer because it wasn’t as if we had any issues while we were campaigning, I don’t have issues with him and I don’t see reasons why he should have issues with me but unfortunately, the crisis started from the day the house was supposed to be inaugurated. The party sat down in their own wisdom and said the speaker of the house is going to be a new member so as to ensure stability and a ranking member the deputy speaker which was zoned to
Ogun Central and I happened to be the only ranking member in Ogun Central, so they decided that I would be the Deputy Speaker but unfortunately, I think the Governor had his own plan. So on the day of
the election, the Governor sponsored another person as the Deputy Speaker. For me, its politics and it’s no big deal. This is politics, we can move on because it’s a game and there has to be a winner and a
loser. Unfortunately, that action polarized the house and the house divided in line of 10-16.
What led to the demolition of your house?
I decided to erect an added structure to my house because I had so many people around me and nobody came to tell me anything until one Sunday morning when I was called that the house was being demolished.
Did you make consultation before you erected the structure?
Yes, I agree that I might have erred in the course of putting up that structure but like a father, I expected the Governor, if he can’t call me, he could have just told the speaker, ‘tell Adijat, she should not do that’. It’s as simple as ABC.
What is your typical day like?
It depends. My day is unpredictable. I might have planned that tomorrow, I want to sleep all through and today, I’ll just receive a text message that there is going to be a meeting at the party secretariat or at the leader’s house. Already, that day has been disrupted, except if I’m not in town. If I give you an appointment tomorrow, anything can come up and I’ll just call you to tell you I’m sorry we have to
What else are you into apart from Politics?
Well, until I left the house, I wasn’t doing anything outside that because even the constitution makes it clear that, occupying an elective position is full time. When you say full time, what it means is, you are not allowed to do any other job along with it except farming.
Tell us about your husband?
His name is Mr Segun Oladapo, he is an accountant but currently businessman. He is more of a farmer, he’s into livestock farming. We met over fifteen years ago. My first child would be fourteen in August.
What does Fashion mean to you?
If I have my way, I want to wake up in the morning, take my bath, put my jean on, T-shirt, flat slippers and off I go. I like it very simple and comfortable. I want to put on an attire that if anything happens
with my car, I can easily get down and pick a bike and off I go. But you know at times, status demands that you look nice at all times but still, I try as much as possible to be me. And I do say my greatest
gift in terms of beauty is my stature. My figure is my greatest asset that I have on me. I do tell people that I don’t have that ‘WOW’ face but when you see me in my own style and you see that stature, I want
to believe that you will remember that stature if you see it again.
Is it true that you fainted after you lost the last election and woke up the third day?
(Laughs). The only hospital I’ve been to in a year was when I went to do my annual check-up with my kids. For crying out loud, I have contested three times, I won twice and lost once, so why would I faint. At any point in time, my prayer to God is, ‘let your will be done’. On the day of the election, I didn’t stay there till the end, immediately I ask for results in some places, I left for the hotel I was staying. I had my sister and a few other people that were with me. Normally, it’s a routine, whenever I am doing some
things or contesting for election, I go on fasting, so on that day, I was on three days ‘white fasting’, so immediately I heard the results from some polling units, I went back to the hotel, had my bath, asked my sister to order food for me and after that, asked my sister to get me panadol because I have not been sleeping. I have moved on. it’s not the end of the world.
Do you believe the current crisis rocking the PDP will be a good omen for the party in 2019?
People have seen what is on ground, its left for the people to decide which way they want to go in 2019, but I believe if the party is able to put its house in order, the future is very bright in 2019.
What is your opinion about the so called Political Prostitution in Nigeria?
In Nigeria, there is nothing called political prostitution, because if you want to call people political prostitutes, there are a lot of people you will call that, even our current President, Minister of Transportation and so any of them, including our father here. Nigeria is unlike United States of America. The political ideology between the Democrat and Republican is very distinct. Unfortunately, in Nigeria,
we don’t have political ideology.
If there is political ideology, Amaechi who was speaker under PDP for 8 years and Governor for about seven years will not cross to another party and be seen as a democrat.
What should your supporters be expecting from you in 2019 and your advice for up and coming politicians in Nigeria?
As for 2019, my life is in the hands of someone and he is the one that grants my path, I go the way he wants to go so I can’t say this is what I am going to do in 2019. 2019 is three years to come and I don’t
own the next one second. For the youths, I want to advise them to be steadfast, they should stand for something. They should be useful because the elders are ready to give some space to the youth but they can only give it when they know that they have someone to give it to.
At what point would you like to retire from active politics?
In the context of contesting elections, if I have my way, maybe around fifty or fifty-five. After that, I will still be in politics but not in terms of jostling for an office because for me, I believe politics is service. I don’t want to be pushed out, I want to leave when the ovation is loudest then I will continue mentoring people because I have already started mentoring. And that doesn’t mean one cannot get political appointments.