By Bayo Oluwasanmi
It is easy to blame Nigerian youths as arm chair critics, theorists, bedroom revolutionaries for not running for elective office in Nigeria. They are often blamed for their seeming lack of political engagement. They are often faulted as consumed by materialism, devoted to spending their time writing criticisms on Facebook and self-involved tweets, and lacking intellectual and political curiosity.
Not true. The fault lies with the Nigerian political system and politicians whose behavior has turned off an entire generation. Our elected officials cheer failed policies and programs, stymie economic and social development. They stunt job creation, induce poverty, sponsor corruption, exploit their constituents, and refuse to do their jobs.
They engage in more than hyperbole and hyper-partisanship. They damage the public’s short-term sense of political trust and confidence, and in the long term, they undermine future generations to be a part of. It is this outrage that drives the political entrepreneurship of Peter Omotayo Ajayi the Executive Director of Salvage for Development Initiative (SDI) to transit as it were, from activism to politics. Peter as he's fondly call, is running for the chairmanship of Ejigbo Local Council Development Area under the party platform of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State.
But why should anyone run for political office? This is the universal question gets asked often by people. The answer is that there are as many reasons as there are aspirants. Some of the often-cited reasons are change of status quo, money, power, influence, and lack of good aspirants/candidates. There are some aspirants who just love politics, having been perennial observers and now see an opportunity to run. Peter decides to run for public office because local issues have him upset and wants to actualize his vision for Ejigbo LCDA.
Certainly, some run for the office for the trappings that come with the job, while others insist on helping their territory back home. Aspirants seem to have a stock answer: Peter wants to make his local government a better place. Peter is running because he cares about his community and the state at large. He wants to go back, reach back, and give back to his community. To him, serving others is the greatest reward of all. For long, Ejigbo LCDA has everything backwards and upside down. In a true democracy, the people are in charge, not the elected officials. Elected leaders are public servants and should do the will of the public. That is what he plans to practice now in Ejigbo LCDA.
Peter Omotayo Ajayi was born over four decades ago and has lived his fruitful and adulthood life in Ejigbo, Lagos State. He schooled in Lagos State University (LASU) where he obtained his Bachelor and Master degrees in Journalism.
As a strong advocate for social change, Peter is fully immersed on Human Rights issues. Between 1999 and 2011, he served in different capacities with different organizations: administrative officer/group coordinator/chair, caretaker committee of Amnesty International Nigerian Section, Co-Convener Movement for Genuine Democracy in Nigeria, Executive Director, Centre for Human Rights Education and Reporting. Politically, Peter has served Ejigbo LCDA as Supervisor For Market and Revenue Generation, Chairman, Committee on Revenue for Ejigbo LCDA, and Revenue Consultant to Ejigbo LCDA. During his appointment as Supervisor for Market and Revenue Generation, Peter worked assiduously and increased the revenue of the Council with 360%, a record that was unprecedented.
He is the Founder and Executive Director of Salvage for Development Initiative (SDI), a Think Tank arm of All Progressives Congress (APC). SDI through research and policy analysis, proffers solutions to socioeconomic and political problems confronting the various governments in Nigeria in general. Peter is the publisher of The View Magazine (online and print) media outfit with focus on politics, corruption and general issues in Nigeria.
While he was with human rights organisations, he participated at different committees such as Human Rights Education, Campaign and outreach, refugee/relief work, Fundraising for Investment and Development. He chaired press and publication as well as the media and publicity organs of the committees.
After the return of democracy to Nigeria in 1999, Peter pitched his tent with the Alliance for Democracy (AD), Action Congress (AC), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), and finally with the All Progressives Congress (APC). In the Media Office of the National Leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, under the then Headship of Mr Sunday Dare, Peter Ajayi was a Social Media Assistant having the responsibility to manage and monitor every online news reports about the image and personality of his principal (Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu). He is a well-travelled activist. Peter's activism is focused on education, political, and economic empowerment, and building engaged communities to solve various socioeconomic and political problems.
Peter is greatly influenced by the life of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Thomas Sankara, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Wole Soyinka, Gani Fawehinmi, and Femi Falana. Peter is incredibly frustrated with the current state of affairs in Ejigbo and growing increasingly depressed about the future political prospects of Ejigbo Local Local Council Development Area. He believes he must throw himself into that process. He believes at a minimum, he will be able to get a wider audience for his ideas and views. At maximum, he believes he would win and get a huge audience for his views and be able to directly affect his desired change.
Peter also believes he could inspire others to run, influence other aspirants to pick up certain policy points from him in going forward. Aspirants, his opponents in particular, are always acting like experience is important, that the most experience politician is the best qualified for office. The opposite is true. The longer someone is in politics, the better they are at politics, not better at running public office. They also cannot help but get deeper into corruption. If the aspirant has been in political office just a few times before, it is a good thing, because we can see how good or bad they were.
The most important things are honesty, integrity, and intelligence, and diligence. Aspirants should spend their time figuring out how to make the lives of people of Ejigbo LCDA and Lagos State in general better when they get into office. They should not be spending their time figuring out how to make their lives better, raise money, and promise favors when they get into office, but they have to do this now to stay in the game. We want the best leaders and managers in office, not the best politicians.
Our current political system creates great politicians, wheeler and dealers, not necessarily great leaders or problem solvers. Peter believes we have to turn that around now. Everyone will be happy when things begin to change, even crooks, because most crooked politicians really do not want to be crooks. They just think they have to be crooked to win, and they are right. Most people think the ends justify the means because it works. Cheating works, and it should not. The reason even the crook will welcome a new fair system is they are beginning to wake up to the fact they are going to die along with everyone else if we do not make the change and make it fast. The survival of every one depends on it.
When a leader projects purpose and passion for his vision, he creates an atmosphere of expectancy among the people. Peter has created such expectancy while campaigning in Ejigbo.
1. A sense of destiny: He communicates a sense of better future, the belief that they’re in this together.
2. A sense of family: He is able to convince the people that they are rejoined together as a family by his vision – a vision of a better tomorrow.
3. A militant spirit: He assured them that he will match his representation with a militancy that the urgency of the task ahead demands.
4. Connection: Peter knows how to connect with the grassroots. He speaks their language. He expressed empathy and compassion for their predicament, and brings courage to their pursuits.
During his campaign in Ejigbo areas, Peter has been able to articulate his vision emphasizing that instead of contagious selfishness, there should be contagious servant hood. He told the residents of Ejigbo that to get ahead, put others first. His vision rest squarely on five cardinal points: Education, healthcare, infrastructural development, employment and empowerment for youth, and better life for our elderly. Peter will champion equitable, accessible, and quality education for all school age children in order to develop their skills and intellect. Teachers will be given the support and all the necessary encouragement to do their job.
As Executive Chairman of Ejigbo LCDA, Peter would work with law making body to make urgent healthcare reform his first priority. He’ll make free and easy access to healthcare a right and not privilege for all the people of Ejigbo Local Council Development Area. Well-equipped modern healthcare centers staffed with qualified doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers would be the standard in Ejigbo Local Government. Unemployment is the number one killer of our youth. Peter in consultation and collaboration with law makers would influence bills for job creation and government guaranteed loans for small businesses. He’ll also scout around for foreign and local investors who are interested in citing industries in Ejigbo LCDA. Our women are very resourceful and creative. Our women should be empowered to achieve their dreams in the areas of education, business, politics, and other socioeconomic ventures. Peter would make women empowerment a focus of his government.
For our elderly, old age should not mean death sentence in any form. Our elderly have the right to live a decent life in their twilight years. Toward this end, Peter would spearhead “Better Life for Seniors” program that will ensure decent life for them. As chairman, Ejigbo LCDA= Peter will quickly build a clout with other progressives in the council to deal with organized nonsense in governance that hinders solutions to the LCDA’s problems. Peter exudes integrity and honesty that will serve him well. He will be a leading voice in the chorus for social change, economic development and prosperity for the majority of Ejigbo people. Ejigbo LCDA needs a chairman with patience and perceptivity to look into a troubled situation, discern the problem, and then do what it takes to correct the difficulty. In short, Ejigbo needs a troubleshooter in order to grow and develop. Results with resolve. Peter Ajayi is the right choice.
Bayo Oluwasanmi is A Syndicated Columnist, Maryland, USA