Hon. Peter Ajayi the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Babajide Sanwoolu on political matters, a trained journalist and grassroot politician. Having served in different capacities as a grassroot politician in the Ejigbo Local Council Development Area of Lagos, as well as in the All Progressives Congress (APC) party, he stands tall as a political icon in Ejigbo grassroot politics. Among other issues, Hon. Ajayi shares his experience in politics with ANTHONIA DURU.
Can you share your antecedents in politics?
I have been in active politics for almost a decade. I was once social media assistant to our National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. I have contested for the chairmanship seat of Ejigbo Local Council Development Area (LCDA) twice. I was a former Supervisor for Market and Revenue Generation, I was chairman, committee on revenue, I was also a consultant on Revenue here in Ejigbo. I was media adviser to the immediate past chairman of APC, Chief Henry Ajomale. I have been everywhere in politics. I was a member of the campaign committees that worked for both former governors Babatunde Raji Fashola and Akinwunmi Ambode. I was campaign secretary for Governor Sanwoolu for two days before the Director General of the campaign recalled me because he felt I should hold a more sensitive position which was his personal assistant. I have been with Mr. Tayo Ayinde the present Chief of Staff to the Lagos State governor for many years and he has mentored and groomed me.
Were you expecting to be appointed?
Sincerely I wasn’t expecting any appointment for myself, I was only expecting the appointment of my boss, Mr. Tayo Ayinde as Chief of Staff.
Playing deeply in the political arena, what has changed about you?
I am still myself and the only thing that has probably changed about me is the experience I have garnered over the years which now guides my daily operations and activities. You are aware experience is the best teacher. I have learnt that you shouldn’t get carried away by positions because those things are not permanent.
Having been groomed by your mentor, are you reciprocating this gesture by grooming others politically?
I am a product of a great leader and one of the things I do is to lead by example. I believe in 100 per cent loyalty to the person you choose as your leader and I tell people this. I tell people if you want to grow politically, you must be committed to the cause. Loyalty to your leaders is key in politics. When I contested as chairman, I was everywhere to lobby and campaign but when the party made a pronouncement, I had to abide by it. I am loyal to the cause of the party. As someone who is growing politically, you don’t argue or contend with your party and leaders.
You mean one can’t call the attention of a political leader whenever he or she errs?
Far from it. But personally I don’t just pick leaders; you know we have elders and we have leaders. My leaders have the qualities it takes lead. A leader is not selfish and a good leader is an embodiment of everything that is good. I don’t have many leaders but they are people of value, they don’t mislead you. I was introduced to my boss (Mr. Tayo Ayinde) by someone and he accepted me as a son. He mentors me and he believes in my capacity.
Many in this part of the world believe grassroot politics is centered on stomach infrastructure. As a grassroot politician, what are your thoughts on this?
I like to be called a grassroot politician because that is where things happen. Not forgetting that all politics are local. You don’t become a grassroot politician overnight, you must have participated actively in politics for a while before you can be called a grassroot politician. I live in Ejigbo and I know virtually everywhere and everything in Ejigbo. Without grassroot politics there is no politics. You can’t rule out somethings like giving out to people but politics is beyond that. Politics is better when you make yourself available to people. Some people after getting elected, they abandon their people. They will always come back to the people they abandoned. Giving out things is not a crime and for me it is not buying the conscience of the people it is a way of bringing smiles to the faces of your constituents.
Don’t you think giving out money and handouts is a reflection of poverty in our society?
Giving out money is not peculiar to politicians, others give out too. Many people are of the opinion that once you occupy any position, you have the resources but it is beyond that. My advice to people is whatever you can afford, give it to your people.
Some people in Ejigbo are of the opinion that politicians here practice politics of bitterness. How true is this?
I can’t rule out politics of bitterness completely in politics, but in Ejigbo, there is nothing like politics of bitterness except without my knowledge. People must have showed grievances in the past most especially those that felt they were being ruled by non indigene since the creation of the council. That was not politics of bitterness as far as I am concerned but an expression of interests. Thank God we are happy an indigene is presently the chairman of the council. The indigenes are happy and non indigenes are not complaining.
You are the only political appointee of Lagos State government in the Oshodi- Isolo Federal Constituency II. What does this mean to you?
It is a very rare privilege and I am grateful to God. I see it as an opportunity to work harder and further show more commitment to the cause of my party. I am carrying out my duties as expected and everyone is happy. It is not actually the number of political appointees that mostly benefit or very important but the willingness of those appointed to represent the interests of their people and deliver to them accordingly. For me as an appointee, I have not disappointed the people of my Constituency and they are in turn happy with me.
How far do you see yourself politically?
I am aiming high daily but I am also mindful of the God factor.