Hon. Wale Okedara is a leading member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Alimosho and a foremost community leader. In this interview with Our Community newspaper, he spoke about his political sojourn and community development efforts. Excerpt…
May we meet you?
My name is Wale Okedara, Alimosho Man of the Year 2016 and a Trailblazer of Africa.
Can you tell us about your background?
I attended St. Joseph Secondary School and proceeded to Ogun State Polytechnic (now Moshood Abiola Polytechnic), Ojere. I studied accountancy and I am a chartered banker from the Chartered School of Economics. I am a banker, a politician and I have contested three times. I won the Vice Chairmanship of CNC in the whole Alimosho Local Government and I have contested against Hon. Olamilekan Adeola (Yayi), who is now a senator. I contested against Hon. Tayo Oduntan, who is also the Deputy Chief Whip of Lagos State House of Assembly Constituency 01. I have also worked under Tinubu as a Board of Director member.
How would you describe growing up?
Growing up was challenging because I lost my father at the age of eight years. My mother was a trader and the Chairperson of the Market Association in Oke-Odo and you know when you lose your father at that tender age it can be quite challenging. I had to cooperate with my mum and help her sell garri. I had to remove the shirt of my school uniform after school to help her hawk garri. I worked very hard to assist her because I was from a poor background. After school, I worked in a bank and gathered some money to proceed to the polytechnic to further my education. After school I found myself in the banking industry and that has been my line. In the bank industry there’s much discipline and that discipline is what is inherent in me.
Tell us about your family?
I am a happily married man, and I am really grateful to God for giving me my own wife. She is a dedicated sister, friend and wife. I cannot say it all but I am blessed with a very good woman who supports me.
Were you born and bred in Alimosho?
I was born and bred in Agege and most of the people in Agege metamorphosed to Alimosho. You know in the old days when you are going from Oshodi, along – from Lagos state to Abeokuta – there’s one old road and when Obasanjo came in there was a new road and that propelled some of those living in Agege to move to Alimosho. By virtue of that, I have a commitment to Alimosho moreover, my parents have houses in Alimosho and they were buried here too. As far as I am concerned Alimosho has a place in my background too and that is why I am peculiar and so involved in the growth of Alimosho. Thus Alimosho has a great impact on me.
You are recognised by people in and out of Alimosho; you were awarded Alimosho Man of the Year and West Africa Youth Parliament Award of Credence. Why the recognition?
When you are talking about award, there must have been precedence if the whole of Alimosho could give me an award. It shows how useful I am. I didn’t give them money to present me with an award. As far as politics is concerned, I started as a delegate and It is just humbling to be singled out for an award. I love giving out. It is part of me. I joined politics out of my service to humanity. It is part of me. I love serving people and leaving good legacies. I am a people’s person. That time there was an election in Alimosho and I happened to be the Vice Chairman of the whole Alimosho for CNC and that exposed my political career in Alimosho. Moreover, coming out as a contestant in Alimosho means you must have taken the length and breadth of Alimosho. There’s one particular thing that I am grateful to God for and it is because since I have been contesting there has never been a problem. The first time, I contested against Hon. Olamilekan Yayi. The second time was with Hon. Tayo Oduntan and I have always been contented with the outcome. The only appointment I have had is with the board of directors in Lagos state. I served the state under Bola Tinubu. I approach people in a respectful, humble and pleasing manner.
Can you brief us on your political journey?
When I was a student in Agege – that was during Jakande’s era – I went for meetings in ward B in Agege. The first Chairman of Agege Local Government, Alhaji Ganiyy Owolabi was the one who led me into politics. He was the pioneer Chairman of Agege Local Government then. Moving from there, I was appointed a delegate in 1997. I moved along with the SDP era and during the SDP era we had five parties and I happened to be the Vice Chairmanship candidate of CNC. From there we moved to AD (Alliance for Democracy) and I contested for House of Assembly constituency 02. I contested three times and in 2005 and 2006, I was given the Board of Directors appointment. I have been with APC right from the days of AD to this time.
You have been consistent with a party. What is your motivation?
If you are contented in life, there is no need to continue moving from one place to another. When you have a wife and she is contented with you there is no need for her to look elsewhere. I am open-minded and focused. Moreover, anywhere you find yourself there is always the opportunity to serve. In the course of service there is no need migrating from one place to the other. Contentment is key and belief in God.
Why are you championing Ambode’s second term in office?
I believe in merit. I was his campaign chairman for Igando/Ikotun in the last election and I must say that what he has done so far has spoken for him. The achievement of the governor has campaigned for him. Prior to 1999, we didn’t have a commissioner in Alimosho. It was when Tinubu came in that we had Rauf Aregbesola. We didn’t have a single good road in Alimosho prior to this time. Ambode has done more for us than Fashola in Alimosho. Ambode possesses positive peculiarities. He has only spent 18 months and he has built a bridge for us and roads. How do you think such person does not deserve another term? He has exhibited brilliancy in all his ways. He has also performed above average in Lagos state. So, I think the best thing is to celebrate and encourage him to do more. However, I support him every day and every time. Even a PDP member of the House of Assembly said Ambode deserves a second term.
Why is the local government not developing Isuti road?
First of all, it isn’t the responsibility of the local government to do roads. It is the responsibility of the state government to do roads. Alimosho is bigger than some states in Nigeria and prior to 1999 we had no single commissioner. It was during Aregbesola’s tenure that we started having development in Alimosho. However, the government of Ambode is working hard to build good road in Alimosho and presently they are working on 10 roads.
What are some of your achievements within the community?
In Egan before the state government came, I singlehandedly graded that road and I was given a title by the Oba as the Atunluse of the whole Egan. This extended to parts of Igando while the Kabiyesi of Igando gave me the title of Arebobagunwa. The cable wire on this street was bought by me and that’s why this placed is named Okedara bus stop after me. I am presently the patron of the whole CDAs in Egan.
Being an inspiration to a lot of people, what is your advice to the youths?
My advice to the youths is that they should be diversified. The idea of leaving school and looking for a white-collar job should be eroded. They should be involved in so many positive things. Everyone wants to work in the bank or in offices. They should think of how to stand on their own and that’s why there’s a ministry for wealth creation. Majority of them are thinking of travelling abroad meanwhile when they get there they do odd jobs that they wouldn’t have done in Nigeria. They should find ways to be creative and stop waiting on government to do everything for them. A lot of them become frustrated after searching for a white-collar job without yielding results. The youths should be disciplined and self-reliant.
What is your advice to the local government chairmen in Alimosho?
There is a limitation to what the local government can do based on the available fund. My advice for them is to prioritise their spending and avoid wasteful spending. They should focus on their aim so that they can achieve maximum result.