Southwest Leader of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Alhaji Abdul-Rasheed Adebisi, Adeyemi Aremu Olopoeyan On Tuesday clocked 62. The Seasoned Politician spoke with Akindele Alabi on his background, journey into Oyo politics, and what he learned under the tutelage of the late Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu.
At 62, are you happy and fulfilled?
Well, as usual, I am delighted and grateful to God for allowing me to see yet another year. I give God the glory for who I am. I still feel inside me the way I used to feel when I was 40 years. I am strong as a 45 years old man. I thank God for the grace of good health and for keeping me alive to this day.
What is the rationale behind your yearly birthday celebration?
At this stage of my life, I noticed that God has a special love and interest in me, I have reached a stage in my life where I have to continuously thank God for his blessings on me and my family.
Looking at the way I was born and raised, I see every additional year I spent on the earth as a blessing, so I have decided to show special thanksgiving as an expression of thanks to God, my creator.
How would you describe your background?
I was born as a normal child, to a family of eight, I am the seventh. My father was an Artisan and my mother, Iya Ijesha was a petty trader. We were nurtured and bred with biblical words because both my parents are devoted Christians and as a result of this, it’s a ritual for every member of the Adeyemi household to attend church devotions.
We Attended Apostolic Church, Alafara Oje. I was the Baba Ijo, while my mother was Olori Obirin-rere of the Church, and our pastor then was the late Rev. Dada, from Afuleyin Compound, Labiran, Ibadan.
I lived with my parent and siblings at Beiyerura, an interior part of Ibadan, Oyo state, growing up in such an area I mentioned required extra hard work to become successful in life.
I attended CAC primary school, Olugbode at Odo Osun, near Beiyeruka, where we were living, between 1968 to 1973 but I didn’t go further my education after elementary school due to the financial weakness of my parent. It was my wish to join my mates at modern school to continue my study from there, but my parent made me understand that no money.
With the financial crisis in my family, I had no choice but to engage myself. I got a teaching job, it was a lesson class for toddlers, and we called it Je’leosimi, with that, I still help my mother in her trading business, I did all that for like 3 years. Later, I went ahead to learn a printing press job at Charity printing press under Chief Iluyemi at Yemetu Barrack, Ibadan Oyo state, in 1976 and completed my apprenticeship on March 25, 1981. My Oga, chief Iluyemi is from Ondo town
You can see my beginning was somehow rough, with no aim of assurance of producing hope for success or happiness in the future but I continue to struggle for a better life.
After the completion of your apprenticeship at Charity printing press, how did you navigate through the difficulties of life?
In my quest to earn a living, I started my first job at Adeniran Ogunsanya Printing Press, Orita Challenge April 25, 1981, after spending a few months at Adeniran Ogunsanya Printing Press, I joined popularly Oodua printing press at Eleyele in Ibadan, August 11, 1981. I resigned on December 1982 and went to Lagos. Luckily, it took me only a few weeks to get a job at Harrison Press Yaba and later Onward Press, Iwaya Lagos.
That was my first time of been and working in Lagos, I came back to Ibadan in 1983 to work with Advocate newspaper, founded by Chief Adisa Akinloye and as Head of the printing department while Chief Lateef Oyelade, Gani Kola Balogun and Uncle Layi Ajakaiye served as Director, Chairman, and Chief Editor of the Advocate press.
Unfortunately, I was unable to enjoy my stay and working with Advocate Printing Press as a result of the Military takeover of the government.
Advocate Printing Press was forced to stop production, due to the Nigerian military coup, which took place on 31 December 1983. It was coordinated by key officers of the Nigerian military and led to the ousting of the democratically elected government of President Shehu Shagari and the installation of Major General Muhammadu Buhari as head of state
I went back to Lagos for the second time to look for a job in 1984, immediately after I got to Lagos, I got another job at Iranian Embassy Press, at No 1a, Alexander Road, Ikoyi and I left in 1986 and that was my last time in printing job.
Since you resigned from your last job in 1986, what other thing(s) did you do?
I resigned to start my private business with ” Deytuns Motors “, at No 42, Swenu Street, Western Avenue, Lagos.
Later in December 1993, I registered my own company, I venture into the telecommunication business, I got a franchise of Africa’s largest mobile network operator, ” MTN”. Later became the first dealer in Oyo state to sell mobile phones, and accessories with my company name, Yembisco Nigeria Limited, my office was at Akinloye complex, Bode Waasimi, Basorun, Ibadan here.
No doubt, you are one of the most respected politicians in Oyo state today, how did you get to the stage?
Well, if you say, one of the experienced and a factor, I will not argue with you, because it has been a while since I have been into politics and I am very consistent.
My recent political affiliation and activities in just concluded 2023 political politicking show I am a committed politician.
I started to participate in politics towards the 1983 general election, I am an active member of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN), but all political activities were banned after the dethronement of President Sheu Shagari’s administration by the military, and as k said, I left Ibadan to Lagos after the coup.
After the return of Democracy in 1999, I came to Ibadan at a time and met with one of my bosses at Advocate newspaper, Late Uncle Layi Ajakaiye, I let him know am still interested in politics, and he was very happy to hear that, so, he took me to Molete to meet late Chief Lamidi Ariyibi Adedibu, he introduced to the late Political Garrison Commander, so that is where my real politics started.
I was very close with Baba Adedibu and
maintained a cordial relationship with Baba Adedibu till his final day.
Part of what I inherited from Adedibu was the ideal of bravery and fearless politics, as well as the ability to voice at any opportunity. I learned the act of forgiveness after being hurt politically, that is why people, especially my loyalists see me easily forgive and instantly embrace any person that offended me and come back for a settlement.
Almost every associate of Baba Adedibu left him at one time or the other but he used to promptly forgive them all and moved to relate with them as if nothing had happened even though many of the dissidents got a better cut of the cake than those who never left and a Molete.
I am just saying this to let people know the kind of politics I learned from my mentor. I had heard and seen so many people judging me from afar, unfortunately, when they come closer to me, they see the simplicity in me.
After Baba died in 2008, I still maintained my ground in PDP and never stopped following that political path laid by the late Adedibu during his lifetime. But then, late governor Alao Akala carried on as overall leader of the party in Oyo state and I never hide his unflinching support for him till PDP lost out in 2011.
Despite PDP being out of the system in Oyo state after the 2011 election, and many stakeholders joining AC, the ruling party, I still see PDP as the best political party and remain committed and consistent even, though it got to a time that, the late governor Sen.Abiola Ajimobi made several overtures to lure him into the All Progressive Congress (APC) after it was formed, I am still determined to rise, fall and rise again with PDP in Oyo state until we got another opportunity to return to power in 2019 with governor Seyi Makinde. Unfortunately, I left the party early last year due to irreconcilable differences with the governor but thank God now, me and he is back with our friendship and we don’t better than before ( laugh ).
If you follow the journey over the years I had stated, you can see I have fought many battles politically, winning some and getting cuts in some, so much experience pushed me to one of the factors in Oyo state politics.
The difference between you and Governor Makinde was resolved few days to the March 18 2023 gubernatorial election, how did it happen?
Yes, I and the governor had little differences before the commencement of his first term, no one was ready to blink first at the time, so we departed, but when it was time that God want us to come together again, we did, like I always said, no one knows governor Seyi Makinde politically better than I do, likewise himself understand my political theory very well. So, it was easy for us to come back together and we are back, better with more understanding like before.
Now that you and Governor Seyi Makinde have reconciled, do we see you in PDP soon?
In politics, nothing is impossible. However, presently I am in NNPP and a leader of the party in Southwest. I have no reason to dump NNPP.