TRIBUTE TO SERVICE Senator Smart Adeyemi
— By Awwal Yusuf
Senator Smart Adeyemi was elected Senator for the Kogi West constituency of Kogi State, Nigeria, under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and sworn in on 29 May 2007. In the elections of 9 April, 2011, Adeyemi was re-elected and retained his seat as Kogi West Senator. Before he veered into politics, Senator Adeyemi has been an overachiever in more ways than one.
Born 18 August 1960, Adeyemi holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Public Relations, Diploma in Law, Advanced Diploma in Mass Communication and a Masters in Public Administration. A journalist by profession , Adeyemi was National President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists from 1999 to 2006.
A highly ingenious and versatile journalist, Adeyemi is undoubtedly one of the egg heads and key resource persons of the Senate. No wonder he was appointed as member of some of the most sensitive committees in the Senate including those on Privatization, Industry, Federal Character & Inter-Governmental Affairs, Federal Capital Territory and Appropriation. He is vice chairman of the Northern Senators Forum.
As a celebrated pro- people politician, Senator Adeyemi was instrumental in the passage of some of the populist bills of the National Assembly such as the Freedom of Information Bill among where he worked tirelessly behind the scenes and across all parties to dispel widespread misinformation about this bill
A delectable orator and an astute negotiator with a good dose of humor. Senator Adeyemi is one of those that has kept Senators of different parties and with independent minds together on many tough debates and votes in the hallowed chamber.
Here is a man among the very few Nigerian politicians who has dedicated a better part of his now five years in politics to the welfare of the masses, and who has never failed in to put the people of his constituency ahead of himself. Which is a true reflection of his personal cum political philosophy that politics is all about service to humanity.
“When you want to serve, you will serve with the whole of your heart so that history will adjudge you right and if you look at those before, this is the way they served but the unfortunate thing today is that there are some people who are not passionate about their people who are not in government” If we have people who are passionate, Nigeria could have been better than what we have now
“If every politician will be so passionate to understand that when you empower your people, you are not only helping yourself but helping the generation yet unborn, Nigeria would be better”.
Senator Adeyemi has always stressed the issue- and has demonstrated it that he went into politics, not for what he would eat but he wants his name to be written among the Nigerians who came to defend the needs of and aspirations of the people who voted them into public offices and who equally did what they could to improve the well being of their people. And all through his days in the Senate, he has never lost sight of this public mandate and strived to live up to that calling.
“There is no greater honor than being given the trust of the people at home to represent them at the National Assembly where issues concerning their welfare are ventilated and articulated. I have done my best to keep faith with my constituents on every vote I have cast in the Senate chamber and every issue discussed.
Senator Adeyemi’s populist political philosophy draws essentially from his professional career as a journalist. Journalism is different from politics because the idea of journalism is good governance. As journalists, we have social responsibilities and professional responsibilities. If you are common with the virtues of journalism, gradually you will find yourself in politics.
By the time you see the situation of people, you will be tempted to go into politics. Some people go into politics because they want to interact with people in government. I discovered that I was having interest in the well-being of the people and I decided to contribute. There is this misconception that when you are in politics, you are bad and corrupt. When you are in politics you can no longer be yourself and you will have less freedom. I would be disappointing my colleagues in journalism if I don’t agitate for the well-being of the masses. The fact that we are in government does not mean I do not know the pains of the masses”.
He however regrets that journalism in Nigeria has been hijacked by politicians to achieve their selfish goals” The media has been corrupted by politicians. Under the military, there was no involvement in the media but now, corrupt p0liticians are investing in the media and then dictating what journalist should write. We tried to pass a bill that any politician who wants to own a media house must have a practicing journalist as co-owner, so that he would protect the ethics of the profession and the interest of his colleagues. The media must find a way to liberate itself from oppressive investors. The do not see journalism as a noble profession but a weapon to fight their opponents”.
“It has happened to me a lot of times where my colleagues in the media have attacked my personality and I knew why it happened. I knew those who were responsible for those things. People can criticize you and you would be happy but when they condemn you out of hatred, envy, they might distract”.
Senator Adeyemi will remembered by many Nigerians for his rare demonstration of courage and honest purpose in the fight against corruption in government, The National Assembly, the military, the judiciary and the media not excepted. Many people see him as a unique type of practical and outspoken politician, with a frankness unconventionality of thought and expression and a penchant for saying out rightly what most other politicians think but are afraid to say, a politician who dares to say publicly what others whisper among themselves in
Committee rooms and the senate corridors and who has ipso facto incurred the ire of people among and outside the Senate..
As he has personally admitted, “I have stepped on toes because of my belief in the rule of law and as a journalist. I believe that everyone is entitle to good life and we have not been able to reach a compromise most of the time. I am not always comfortable with my colleagues because of fear in politics in Nigeria that democracy might starve if you compromise”
For Senator Adeyemi, politics should be for those who have excelled in their chosen career and want to serve the people, and he regrets that today, “we are seeing very wicked people in politics…people that are not ready to sacrifice something for their people…who derive pleasure in seeing others suffer. I believe everyone should have access to three square meals. People should have access to free education and I know we can afford it…”
In Adeyemi’s opinion, the military programmed Nigeria to fail by copying the American bicameral legislature when one chamber is enough to legislate. For him, the current practice of two chambers is a waste of national resources and maintains that there is need for reforms in this direction. In May 2010, Adeyemi was quoted to have asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate members of the National Assembly whom he alleged were corrupt. Although he said he was misquoted and denied saying that the National Assembly is corrupt, he however declared that if there are a few that are corrupt, the EFCC should go ahead to expose them.
“There are some politicians whose standard of living demands explanation but some of us are good. I have agitated for a prode all politicians at the end of their tensure, so that everyone would give account of their days in office. The judiciary and media are not free of corruption, so it is a national problem. We must confront corruption and a stiffer punishment should be given for it”.
A classic instance of Senator Adeyemi’s boldness in confronting corruption in government was the uncover by the Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory of major contract scams in the Federal Capital Development Agency (FCDA) over the building of the official quarters of presiding officers of the National Assembly at Maitama Extension in Abuja as well as for the vice presidendent of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in which the FCDA allegedly sought for and got approval to build new residences for the Senate presidentent, his deputy, speaker of the House of Representative and his deputy for N3,044,675,974.54. The contract was said to have been awarded on December 21, 2010 while the contract for the design and construction of the official October 2009 at N7 billion but later re-awarded with an additional N9 billion.
The one thing people respect and admire about Senator Adeyemi is how proud he is of his family and how devoted he is to his wife. It is wonderful to behold when someone exudes love and admiration and devotion to those people who are most important to all of us—our families.
Senator Adeyemi could in some way be classified as a social introvert, more explicitly as a man with virtually no social life. And is instructive to learn why this is so. And it for no reasons other than his characteristic sense of sympathy and empathy with the less privileged members of his constituency. In his own words:” I don’t really have any social life. I am always at home with my family watching Christian movies. There are large unemployed people and this has made crime rate grow. You cannot say you are celebrating or enjoying when the people around you are suffering and can’t afford three square meals. I have conscience and that is why I don’t believe much in social life”.
Adeyemi’s commitment to the welfare of his constituents, unlike most other politicians, has not been in mere words and promises that ultimately end of empty and few others among his colleagues has equaled or surpassed him in practical demonstration of genuine desire to uplift their welfare. Among the many forms of democracy dividends to his constituents include the secure of jobs for over 200 graduates from his senatorial district during his first tenure as Senator, the purchase of cars for traditional rulers in his constituency and not less than 100 cars to empower youths of his constituency. He has also provided boreholes, health centres and rehabilities, like roads. In December 27 2011, he distributed over 50 motorcycles and 10 SUVs to the youth in addition to building 100 lock-up shops in Iyara Local governments and also laid the foundation stone of the Kabba Township Stadium, which construction he is sponsoring as a way of involving the unemployed youth in sporting activities.
He has also built a 1000-seater auditorium in Koton-Karfe, to enable the people in the area to have a central point as well as serve as a source of revenue to assist indigent students or pupils pay their school fees. The Senator is currently building a 30-bed hospital in Odo-Eri and has purchased a three container load of medical equipment from the United States of America at a cost of about 250,000 dollars meant for seven hospitals across the senatorial district. He has also sponsored many of his constituents on pilgrimage to Mecca and Jerusalem.
“ I am always concerned about my people. This is a small way of appreciating their efforts towards their livelihood. To me, if you do not empower the people then you cannot claim to be serving them. People must be empowered to reduce the rate of crime in the society. The major cause of crime in the country today was high unemployment rate. As a politician, I cannot distribute money to everybody in a constituency but a politician can provide the basic things that are required by the people”’ says Adeyemi.
As one looks back, the successes achieved so far by the Senate have been possible because people of good conscience and political will like Smart Adeyemi were able to work across political parties for the common good of our Nation. He has indeed been a wonderful role model for many of budding politicians and aspiring us in this country even if some people don’t agree.
As a celebrated journalist, there are few politicians who can provide a more shining example of the power of journalism to positively change people’s lives and shape a better society than Senator Adeyemi whose legacy provides a rich and voluminous source of inspiration for the Nigerian coming generation of politicians. More than anything else, his sense of humanity is what makes him such a legislative icon that he has earned for himself as a politician who has served his nation and the people of his constituency with courage, truth, honor and integrity.