Hon. Tajudeen Adefisoye, popularly known as Small Alhaji is the outgoing member representing Idanre/Ifedore federal constituency of Ondo State in the Nigerian House of Representatives. He opens up for the very first time on his shocking loss in the February 2023 National Assembly election. He also speaks on his expectations of Bola Tinubu’s government after his inauguration and on other national issues.
Did you see it coming that you would lose your bid to become a ranking member of the House of Representatives?
I didn’t see it coming. In fact, I never thought that I could lose the election. The result came as a surprise to so many people. I truly rated myself before the election based on my legislative performance, high level of dedication to my constituency and unprecedented projects that I brought to my constituency. Going by the judgment of people in my constituency, I am obviously the best MHR in the legislative history of the constituency.
I won my primary election based on this record of performance and I was willing to work with everybody during the main election. Although I knew I would have a big problem the day I decamped to the APC because majority of the youths in my constituency were not so happy with the decision. They had preferred that we remain in the SDP that brought us to office. Nevertheless, I made frantic efforts to explain what necessitated the decision to them but I could perceive that this decision still did not go down well with a majority of my youthful followers.
We had a rally two days before the election and with that crowd alone, I honestly felt that I was good to go.
Surprisingly, everything changed on election day when you could even see our party agents working against me. Most of the APC party agents worked for the PDP on the election day. Painful enough, the security agents too were all out against us. Sincerely, I still couldn’t fathom what really transpired on the eve of the election that I could only term with on the day of the election.
Painfully too, APC leaders in Idanre Local Government just decided not to work for me. They shockingly sold me out after I had handed over my entire election structure to them. They simply told all my groups to collapse under the party and stay loyal to the party. All my groups did as instructed by the APC leaders in Idanre, but we all realised too late that the leaders had already compromised heavily by selling out to the PDP.
What could you basically describe as the factors responsible for your unaccomplished reelection bid despite your obvious sterling performance?
People said they were angry because I took their mandate to APC. I also heard that stakeholders too were angry because I didn’t let soldiers leave Idanre when they nearly killed some APC stakeholders during the last local government election in Ondo State. More so, people and leaders that were naturally expected to work for me in Idanre Local Government resorted to unconscionable anti-party activities before the election and also on the day of the election.
I know that the majority of the people weren’t happy after I decamped from SDP to APC. This was after APC members had earlier attacked members of the SDP during the Local Government election. Some of these aggrieved SDP members and supporters simply bottled up their anger until the day of the election.
I guess that this was also one of the reasons for the loss in Idanre.
I won the other local government massively and I must give kudos to the leaders of Ifedore Local Government. Although a few of them engaged in anti-party too a large majority supported me.
What are your expectations of the incoming government of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu?
You know I seriously campaigned both online and offline for Asiwaju because I so much believe in him. If you go and check my campaign videos, pictures and even my social media pages; you will see that I so much believed in Jagaban. I said it then that Asiwaju is coming to give us the much-needed and obviously developmental template that will serve as a good guide to successive governments. As a matter of fact, this is where the Nigerian journey to true and lasting development will begin.
We are very much in need of political and developmental direction in Nigeria and this is what Asiwaju has come to offer. We really don’t have a clear-cut direction since the return of democracy in 1999. Past presidents were more particular about the title of the president rather than giving deserved attention to the real issue of long-lasting development.
I am totally convinced that Asiwaju means business. He is certain to make things right and we will see a lot of developmental changes under him and I am glad Nigerians will want him to continue automatically after his first four years. You can go and check Twitter and see how I was so much abused on account of pitching my tent with Asiwaju. I am the most abused lawmaker on social media because of my support for Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. I was even blackmailed at a point that I said anyone that refused to vote for Asiwaju must be a bastard.
The level of abuse at the time was quite intense but I know that the majority of the people who abused me then will still apologize by the time they begin to see true development from the government of Bola Tinubu.
What do you think the incoming administration of Bola Tinubu should do to genuinely gain the support of Nigerian youths?
Interestingly, Asiwaju has started winning the youths to his side. If you check the Transition Committee, you will see that most people on the list are youths.
The President-elect is already giving lots of responsibilities to the youth and that is a good one. He has promised to start the student loan which is also a good one. I am very confident that Asiwaju will appoint a lot of youths into major positions by the time his government starts.
He needs to listen more to the people from the grassroots to get first-hand information and not filtered ones if he wants to readily gain the support of the youths. I am of the opinion that Asiwaju needs to work with result-driven youths that also share his vision on good governance, innovative leadership and how best to empower the Nigerian youths. I am very sure that this will definitely take a whole lot of burden off him.
Who would you have supported to become the next speaker of the 10th National Assembly if you had been reelected?
I am a party man and will continue to remain a completely loyal party person. I am not unmindful of the fact that the interest of a party always supersedes that of the members. On the basis of this, I would have gone in the direction of the APC party.
This means that anybody that is endorsed by the APC national leadership would have automatically been my own candidate too.
Are you done with partisan politics and what’s your next political plan if your answer is on the contrary?
Done with politics?
This question is funny I must confess. I am just 38 years old and I have a lot of legacy projects within and outside of my constituency. I have leveraged on the vehicle of politics to touch and transform lives. I couldn’t have done all these on a wider scale without the vehicle of politics. I am still very much in politics and I know that better and bigger responsibilities are awaiting me and I hope to continue contributing to the development of my state and Nigeria as a whole. I will still be 38 at the completion of my tenure as a member Federal House of Representatives. At this age, I still have the energy and zeal needed for optimal delivery of responsibilities.
I have obviously performed very wonderfully as a federal lawmaker and it was this same outstanding performance that got me the award of African Lawmaker of the Year in 2020. This temporary setback happened because people of the grassroots were only angry that I left them for a bigger party. We will address them when it is time and I know they will soon be happy that I joined the APC by the time they begin to see the developmental agenda of Asiwaju for Nigeria.
I can confidently tell you that I am still a big factor in the politics of my constituency and Ondo State at large. I am obviously good to go. I have the experience and the intelligence to serve anywhere. We have in the last four years brought a lot of positive changes to.