OPINION : ASUNDEMADE: MISFORTUNES OF AN HUNGRY HATCHET WRITER -DAPO FALADE
BY DAPO FALADE
Reading through the piece by one Maroof Asudemade, titled “Misfortunes of Senatorial Representation in Oyo South: KK-D to the Rescue”, as reported in some online publications, the initial reaction should have been to ignore him and his jaundiced write up. This is informed by the popular saying that you don’t join to fight the pig in its natural habitat namely, dirty and filthy waters.
However, on a second thought, the need to respond to him became compelling, for, at least, three cogent reasons, particularly for the benefit of the people of Oyo South Senatorial District and to generally refresh the memory of the reading public on the activities of his subject of attack, Distinguished Senator Mohammed Kola Balogun.
These reasons, interconnected and interwoven, are not far-fetched. Number one, we are in a society where we easily forget the cause and course of History.
Secondly, and related to the first one, is the fact that keeping silent, even in the face of flagrant falsehood, is no more golden, given that people tend to easily forget recent happenings.
Thirdly, and still relating to the first two reasons, not responding to the deliberate falsehood being spread by an apparently hungry hatchet writer would, abnitio, would be an admission to and acceptance of his false narratives on legislative businesses in the National Assembly, as regards the the lives of the people and the development of Oyo South Senatorial District, ably represented by Senator Kola Balogun.
Asudemade, hyping his paymasters, inadvertently described Oyo South Senatorial District as being the most prominent among the three senatorial disricts representing Oyo State in the Nigerian Senate. Without seeking to downgrade the other two senatorial districts namely, Oyo North and Oyo Central, Oyo South Senatorial District, given its size and being the most cosmopolitan among the three, is truly the heart and soul of Oyo State.
It is also worthy to note that the man, Asudemade, made mention of the senators that had represented the district in the National Assembly. He recalled that it has been represented at the Senate by Senator Peter Adeyemo of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), from 1999 to 2003; the late Senator Abiola Ajimobi (AD), from 2003 to 2007; Senator Kamoru Adedibu (PDP), from 2007 to 2011; Senator Femi Lanlehin (ACN/Accord), from 2011 to 2015 and Senator Soji Akanbi (APC) from 2015 to 2019. These are facts of History that cannot be altered.
Proving to be somebody who has little or no knowledge of the essence of legislative business, he said Oyo South Senatorial District is now a shadow of its former self in terms of representation since the advent of democracy in 1999.
He said the tenures of the aforementioned lawmakers were the glorious and better days the senatorial district had seen.
This is where he fundamentally goofed. The activities of these former legislative representatives, their successes and failure will not be a subject of discourse in this response to the deliberate falsehood spinned by the man. However, it would worth the while to speak on some lies he alluded to in the piece.
To worsen his case of a clear demonstration of his total ignorance of legislative business and the essence of being a senator, Asudemade said the tenure of the current senator representing Oyo South Senatorial District at the Red Chamber is as “good as not being represented at all at the Senate. Apart from the statutory functions senators are saddled with and which Senator Kola Balogun is adequately found wanting in, the Senatorial District he represents is acutely thirsty of infrastructural and human empowerments.” What a warped representation of the true facts on ground as they relate to the activities of the incumbent lawmaker representing Oyo South in the Senate?
He also said the people of Oyo South are not enjoying financial and material empowerments from Senator Kola Balogun, contrary to what the people of Oyo North and Oyo Central are enjoying from their representatives, Senator Abdulfatai Buhari and Senator Teslim Folarin, respectively.
Again, this piece would not seek to pontificate on the activities of the two senator-colleagues of Senator Kola Balogun. However, there is a need to set the record straight, particularly to disabuse the minds of the good people of Oyo South and the general public about the deliberate falsehood being spread by Asudemade.
To start from the basic, is it not an absurdity to write that Oyo South enjoyed a so-called glorious moment of quality representation by a set of politicians from the same political party from 1999 to 2019, safe for between 2007 and 2011 when Senator Adedibu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won the election to represent the district?
If, indeed that era was glorious, what could have made the PDP, a party in political limbo for eight years since 2011, to win the election in a senatorial district which had a then sitting governor, the late Senator Abiola Ajimobi, who also contested for the same election?
What could have gone wrong to have made a people who were enjoying the largess of quality representation, as alluded to by Asudemade, to become ingrates, turning around to give their votes to Dr Kola Balogun who turned out to be a modern-day David who overwhelming defeated an almighty Goliath (the late Senator Ajimobi) in the epic electoral contest in 2019?
What could have happened to have made a people said to be enjoying dividends of democracy from their representatives, right from the days of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) to the dying years of the clueless and rudderless All Progressives Congress (APC), to suddenly become turncoats against their supposed benefactors and give their votes to Senator Balogun of the PDP in 2019?
It is very clear that Asudemade, his ilks and sponsors are yet to get over the rejection of their political party by the people of Oyo South as demonstrated by the overwhelming victory of the then PDP senatorial candidate in the 2019 elections. If he did not know, the result of the 2019 senatorial election was an affirmation of the fact that the people of Oyo South were tired of the years of misrule by the APC in Oyo State, hence their rejection of the party’s candidate in the senatorial election.
Asudemade also said, because of “the current lacklustre representations bedeviling Oyo South”, a finance and banking executive, a member of the APC, Mr Kolapo Kola-Daisi, has decided to ‘Get-Involved’ “to rescue Oyo South from the misfortunes of bad representations it’s been plunged into by the present occupier of the Senatorial seat at the National Assembly.”
He went further to describe Kolapo, a son of Chief Kola-Daisi, as a great philanthropist, industrialist and educationist, who has carved an enviable niche for himself in the world of banking and finance who “combines native acumen and global intelligence which will put him in competent stead to be able to turn the fortunes of Oyo South Senatorial District around come from 2023 when he mounts the saddle of representation at the Red Chamber.”
Again, the hatchet writer may be right in his assessment of Kolapo Kola-Daisi as an accomplished young man who, given his rich background, acquired education from some of the best schools in the world. While one cannot begrudge the young man of his noble birth, it is not out of place to say that coming from a rich background does not necessarily translate to been a success, occupying an elective public space. In any case, the ability and capability of the young man to win an electoral contest and handle such a high political office is another subject of discourse entirely.
Asudemade referred to the legislative activities of Senator Kola Balogun as “lacklustre representations”. It is quite clear that he is suffering from either stark ignorance or deliberate mischief, with the latter strongly being the case.
To set the record straight, the legislative activities of Senator Kola Balogun, from 2019 to date, would, once again, be disclosed here. Beyond propanganda, these are veritable facts which are in the open.
It is on record that Senator Balogun has surpassed many of his predecessors in terms of legislative duties within a short period of two and half years. Contrary to the era when representatives from Oyo South in particular and the entire state were mere bench-warmers, Senator Balogun has rekindled the hope of the people of Oyo South in quality representative within the period in question.
As part of his legislative duties, the incumbent legislator from Oyo South has had many Bills sponsored and co-sponsored by him; he has many motions sponsored by him and co-sponsored with other colleagues. Senator Balogun has been regular at plenaries and at different committees of the Senate and several oversight functions where he always make meaningful and impactful contributions. He has been actively monitoring and making sure that projects allocated in the national budgets to Oyo South Senatorial District are properly and effectively executed.
Contrary to the impression of “lacklustre representations” created by Asudemade, the Legislative Bills sponsored by Senator Balogun include a Bill for an Act to Amend the National Health Act, 2014, To Regulate Medical Treatment Abroad and for other Matters Connected Therewith, 2020;
A Bill For An Act To Alter The Provisions Of The Constitution Of The Federal Republic Of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended), To Make Provisions For A Periodic Conduct Of National Population And Housing Census In Nigeria;
A Bill For An Act To Develop A Decentralised System Of Vigilantism Peculiar To Every Local Community In Nigeria, Facilitate Community Policing, Neighbourhood Watch, Local Intelligence Gathering And For Other Related Matters;
A Bill for an Act to amend the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act; and Memorandum for the creation of Ibadan State was submitted to the Constitutional Amendment Committee.
The hardworking senator has co-sponsored and spoke in support of some other Bills, including: National Primary Health Care Development Agency Act Amendment Bill; South West Economic Development Commission Bill.
Bill for Act for The Establishment of Federal University of Technology Yaba, moved by Senator Olamilekan Adeola Solomon of Lagos West; Bill for an Act to Establish a Commission for Electoral Offences.
He supported the Bill for The Establishment of North Central Development Commission, sponsored By Senator Abba Moro.
Senator Balogun raised motions on urgent need to upgrade the status of the Ibadan Airport from local to
international airport; Need to immortalise the late Chief Richard Akinjide SAN due to his contribution to national development and submitted a petition at the floor of the Senate against the Nigeria Custom Service for the midnight invasion of the Bodija and Orita Merin Markets in Ibadan.
Among the Motions he supported are for the revitalization of the textile industry in Nigeria; in support of the appointment of Honourable Sunday Dare’s appointment as a minister.
He contributed during the 2020 appropriation debate wherein he spoke on the need to increase budgetary spending on education, healthcare, power, road and rail infrastructure and agriculture.
Senator Kola Balogun has attended several oversight functions of the Senate committees that he belongs to, vis-a-vis:
Anti Corruption and Financial Crime; Army; Culture and Tourism; Youth and Sports Development; Education (Primary and Secondary); Power; Public Procurement; Water Resources; Science and Technology.
As regards the false narratives by Asudemade that Senator Balogun has not been empowering his constituents, the facts are there for every discernible minds to sieve through. There is a need to lay this facts bare for the public to see the face of a man doing a hatchet job for his sponsors.
Senator Balogun, in spite of the various litigations instituted against his electoral victory in 2019, which consumed about six months of his assumption of office, and the socio-economic issues that attended the global COVID-19 pandemic, hit the ground running to ensure that his constituents enjoy the dividends of democracy, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, during and after.
Among some of the empowerment projects and programmes the people-loving senator has facilitated for Oyo South Senatorial District are:
N60 million Continuous Revolving Loan Scheme and capacity building for nine cooperative societies in Ibadan in February 2020;
N50 Million capacity-building programme for 45 youths and women selected from the nine local government councils of the district in the art of film-making and business, held in Ibadan in February, 2020 in collaboration with the Nigerian Film Corporation, Jos;
Capacity-building and empowerment on agricultural entrepreneurship for about 500 youths and farmers in the nine local government councils of the district, held thrice within 2021 at the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), Moor Plantation, Ibadan. Each of the beneficiaries of the three trainings were empowered with farm tools and the sum of N100,000;
Facilitation of over N350 million COVID-19 loan to over 450 different trade groups, big markets, members of the press inclusive of the Ohaneze Indigbo traders in the district between June and August, 2020;
Facilitation of payment of Federal Government N30,000 each Survival Fund to 434 tradesmen and Artisans in Oyo South Senatorial District in June, 2020 totalling N13.02M;
Facilitation of payment of N20,000.00 each palliative grant of the Federal Government to 100 women in the District in February 2021 at the State Secretariat, Ibadan, Oyo State totalling N2M;
Facilitation of payment of N20,000,00 grant to empower 1,000 women and youths in Oyo South Senatorial District through the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports Development via beneficiaries’ personal accounts totalling N20m;
Facilitation of N14m grant provision to market men and women in Oyo South Senatorial District paid via Nigeria Prisons Micro-Finance Bank in the month of February 2021 through the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN);
Facilitation of N11m Continuous Revolving Loan Scheme for fresh eight Cooperative Societies in Ibadan and Ibarapa in April, 2021;
30 Solar Powered Street lights were provided in Oke-Aremo, Agala Estate, the UCH and the University of Ibadan all in Ibadan North Local Government;
Provision of solar powered borehole, with overhead water storage tanks for NECO Office in Agodi, Ibadan North Local Government;
A completed block of two classrooms with toilet, office, store and solar powered light and other facilities at Oje-Igosun Grammar School, Ibadan North LGA. This has been handed over to UBEC who in turn handed it over to Oyo SUBEB;
Provision and installation of 300KVA electrical transformer and accessories at Ashi Community in Ibadan North Local Government (protected with fence and gate);
A 500 kva transformer was provided and installed in Alliwo Compound to serve six communities adjoining the area through personal effort;
Provision and installation of 300 KVA electrical transformer and accessories at Fagbamila Community in Ibadan North East (fenced with gate);
Provision and installation of 500 KVA Transformer and accessories at Padi, Oke-Ofa, Ibadan North East Local Government fully energized;
Provision and installation of 300 KVA Transformer with Accessories at Ogungbade Area of Molete in Ibadan South West Local Government of Oyo State (properly fenced with gate);
Provision and installation of 500 KVA Transformer and accessories at Falola Street, Osoba Area of Ibadan South West LGA;
Provision and Installation of 500KVA Transformer and Accessories at Salvation Army Area of Ibadan North West Local Government;
Provision and installation of 300 KVA Transformer at Arise Area of Iddo Local Government;
Provision and installation of 300 KVA with Accessories at Riverview Estate, Idi-Ishin of Ibadan South West Local Government;
Provision and Installation of 300KVA Transformer and Accessories at Alatere Community of Iddo Local Government;
Construction and completion of one block of three classrooms at Community Primary School at Itabo, Lanlate at Ibarapa East Local Government.
Construction and completion of one block of two (2) classrooms at Oke-Oba, Eruwa Local Authority Primary School in Ibarapa East Local Government;
Construction and completion of one block of 3 classrooms at Okusehinde Primary School, Aremo, Ibadan North East;
Rehabilitation of 1 kilometre Road at the BCJ to the Railway line in Ibadan South West Local Government to Ojutelegan in Iddo Local Government;
Rehabilitation of the Maya-Road to the Expressway at Eruwa, Ibarapa East Local Government;
Construction of bridge and rehabilitation of Odo Eran Road at Igboora in Ibarapa Central Local Government;
Sinking of a new solar powered borehole at Yanko-bi-ororo in Ward 10 Lanlate, Ibarapa East Local Government;
Supply and provision of study materials to three community primary schools namely, Community Primary School, Olomo, Iddo Local Government; Community Primary School, Oke-Ayo, Odo-Ona Ibadan South West LGA and L.A. Primary School 1, Oke-Oba Series, Ibarapa East LGA.
He provided chairs and tables, mathematics kits, notebooks and exercise books, textbooks covering Mathematics and English Language for various primary schools within the nine local government areas that make up Oyo South.
Through his personal effort, he intervened in the massive fire incident that broke out at the popular Dugbe Market in Ibadan on 15 April, 2020 and also donated the sum of One Million Naira to the affected traders to start afresh.
He also donated cash in support of many communities and associations across the senatorial district to assist self-help projects initiated by landlords associations and others.
Even though the Oriental Foods Industry Limited, located at Kilometre 14, Ibadan-Lagos Expressway Ibadan, is outside his senatorial district, a distress call by its management was taken up with zeal by Senator Balogun to forestall imminent closure of the milk producing industry with a staff strength of close to 500 employees.
He has been pursuing, in collaboration with the executives of the Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII), matters relating to the creation of Ibadan State from the existing Oyo State.
He stoutly stood up against the midnight invasion of the Bodija International Market, Orita-Merin and Oja-Oba Markets in Ibadan, by men of the Customs from Ikeja Unit in Lagos who had carted away thousands of bags of rice, millions of naira, gaari, and vegetable oil on the suspicion that the items were imported.
He visited and identified with the traders at Araromi, Agodi, Sparte Parts Market in Ibadan that got burnt overnight in May, 2021. He invited the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to the market where a decision was taken on providing reliefs for the traders. Same was done for Gbaremu Ijokodo and Mammy Markets, both in Ibadan.
He assisted some constituents who were owed large sums of money by federal agencies after the completion of their contracts, executed before the commencement of his tenure.
He has been helping to secure federal employments for youths in the senatorial district. Senator Balogun helped in the redeployment of over 2000 youth corps members to their preferred states.
He donated a car and a reasonable sum to the yearly Miss Oyo State Beauty Pageant to make the youths happy. He has been helpful in securing admissions for students at both the secondary schools and tertiary institutions.
Within the outgoing year, Senator Kola Balogun successfully facilitated the training and empowerment of 100 youths in cake making. The beneficiaries of all the training programmes were given the sum of N100,000 each as seed fund, just as they were given baking kits and materials.
As at the time of writing this piece, other ongoing projects embarked upon by the hardworking senator include a block of three classrooms at Islamic Primary School, Agugu; a block of four classrooms at Agbaje Memorial Primary School, while borehole projects are ongoing at Bodija Market, Ibadan North; Aleshinloye Market, Ibadan South West; Araromi Market, Gate, Ibadan North East; Police Residential Estate, Idi Isin, Ibadan North West and Orita Aperin, Ibadan South East.
As stated earlier, this response would not have been necessary but for the need to put a lie to the false narrative being propagated by Maroof Asudemade and his sponsors and also to lay the record bare to the public, especially the people of Oyo South Senatorial District, able represented by Senator Mohammed Kola Balogun.
•Falade is the Special Adviser to Senator Kola Balogun, Oyo South Senatorial District.