By Ajibola Olarinoye
If you want to serve your community, focus on utilizing real leadership to improve others’ quality of life and put politics aside so your constituents can look up to you. Your legacy is what matters most, more than the title of your leadership position (Saaif Alam).
In Nigeria and some other developing countries, the thoughts and beliefs of many politicians about political leadership are totally different from those in developed countries, where their democracies are rooted in sound and real democratic tenets. In the developed democracies, they are enjoying the dividends of democracy compared to the way we are practicing ours here.
In developing democracies like ours in Nigeria, we can enjoy the dividends of democracy to the fullest and even enjoy a better standard of living if all our leaders in this climate see political leadership as just a medium to serve the people. Politics or political leadership must not be a financial venture or an avenue to rake in millions of dollars to store up for an unborn generation. Political leadership should rather be a hot seat where office holders should always think outside the box to formulate life-changing ideas, make viable decisions, plan for 20 years ahead, plan for the unborn generation, and plan on how the lives of the people can be smoothed out in the context of democracies and everyone would become invaluable assets contributing to the development of Nigeria.
Considering the way our political terrain is, a lot of Nigerians may be pessimistic that it may take a donkey’s worth of years for the country to start producing leaders that would be fully up to the task of fulfilling the attributes highlighted above.
However, I have good news: our country has begun to produce a new crop of politicians who have come to the political stage with “new thinking” like the late Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gobachev did. Youths who are coming to the political terrain with fresh ideas would give Nigeria a new hope and usher the country to the next level of development in every facet of leadership. One of those leaders is Shina Peller, who is currently representing the Iseyin/Itesiwaju/Kajola/Iwajowa Federal Constituency of Oyo State in the House of Representatives and is planning to move to the Senate.
Firstly, who is this man called Shina Peller? Before I start shedding light on his personality and achievements, we all know that our political climate has been known as a “lucrative money-making channel.” I want to say it unequivocally and bluntly that many people are attracted to political office in Nigeria, not because they have the genuine mindset of serving the people and making the needed transformation, but because of the public money they would siphon. That is why you would see somebody who has less than N500,000 before going into public office, but after the expiration of his tenure, he would have acquired multi-billion Naira properties, and this is greatly affecting Nigeria’s destiny.
However, with the coming of people like Shina Peller, the political stage is setting for a new dawn, and this is a signal of a fresh chapter for Nigeria. This means that somebody like Peller is an indication of hope for good leadership amid the present state of things in Nigeria.
You may ask, “What makes Peller so unique that I have to devote time to write an article for him?” That’s a good question. Even a greenhorn in politics, looking at his background, would come to the conclusion that what drove the Iseyin-born businessman to politics was the genuine passion and unswerving love he has for his constituents, Oyo State, and Nigeria in general, not the lust of amassing wealth like many political leaders in the country. First and foremost, before venturing into politics, he was already a very successful entrepreneur, controlling a multi-billion Naira business empire, and his business enterprises continue to grow.
He is the owner of the Aqula Group of Companies, a multi-billion Naira venture that has great investments in real estate, hospitality, international trade, massive financial services, energy, and entertainment. He owns Aquila Oil and Gas, the highly prestigious Quilox
nightclub and many other successful investments
Secondly, before venturing into politics, he was a well-known philanthropist who has used his hard-earned millions to transform many lives and give hope to uncountable homes. Up until now, many people still ask why a billionaire who has already touched many lives with his personal money would get involved in politics. This is the genuine passion and real love for political leadership that I have been talking about. It is against this backdrop that he wants to move to the Senate to represent Oyo North Senatorial District.
Peller, in one interview, said: “Firstly, I don’t intend to step down from politics because for me, it’s all about interest and commitment.” I had said that if they ever saw my legs in politics, they should cut them, because I didn’t think I would ever go into it. My business was doing well, and I also had plans to make Quilox a pan-African brand. I wanted to have branches of Quilox in Kenya, South Africa, and other places.
He added: “I kept getting calls from the people in my constituency asking me to go into politics.” When so many people had been coming to meet me, I started thinking about it and wondering whether I would not regret it. At one point, it felt like I was saying no to God because the voice of the people is the voice of God. “That’s why, when I decided to go into politics, I never thought of putting my interests first,” he said in an interview with journalists.
The young man, Peller, is driven by this unique passion, and this has really paid off judging by his style of representation at the lower federal legislative house. People all over Nigeria have been greatly amazed by the unique and excellent ideas that are coming from him in the course of representing the people. We are talking about idiosyncratic and life-changing ideas that have practically touched the lives of many, both directly and indirectly. A lot of community and traditional leaders across the country have said that due to the kind of intelligence and ideas he possesses, he should have made an attempt to contest for the presidency or governorship post in these 2023 general elections instead of the Senate. But Peller, being a very humble man with a decent upbringing, believes that life is about phases, and that as one moves from one phase to another, one learns and understands some things that prepare one for the task ahead. The more you perform every task given to you effectively, the more you have a positive impact on people’s lives.
X-raying his quirky feats so far in public office, he is presidential or governorship material, and no vestige of doubt can disprove this. With all modesty and respect, among the candidates contesting the Senate race with him, none can match even 50 percent of his ancestry. Let it be known to all the readers that I am not a card-carrying member of the Accord Party, which Peller is using as a platform, and that, as an experienced journalist, I have done thorough, unbiased, and highly objective research before jumping into these conclusions.
I am concerned about us having a new Nigeria, and I believe that it is 100 percent possible despite the present cloudy situation. We can have the Nigeria of our dreams if we are not just praying in our closets but also going out there and collecting our PVCs to participate in the electoral process. Remember, INEC counts votes, not prayer points. It is possible to have quality and incorruptible leaders if we don’t judge candidates by the cash and rice they give you but by the quality of their ideas and characters. We will have quality leaders if we don’t choose them just on the basis of their political party but purely on the quality of the personalities the party is presenting for them. My unbiased research on Shina Peller shows that he is one of those who represent the new Nigeria we are yearning for to safeguard the future of our generations.
I just want to advise the people of Oyo North Senatorial District that Peller wants to go and represent, that safeguarding your destiny will not just come by prayers alone, as I have said earlier. The works of Shina Peller as a House of Representatives member speak volumes about what you would enjoy and what you want to have in stock for your children.
Just do a little research about what his program tagged “SHINAAYO” means:
I. Infrastructural development
N: Natural Resources
Y: Youth Empowerment
opportunity for women and the elderly.
You will hear uncountable testimonies of both that have benefited directly and indirectly. Some people said they probably would have committed suicide if not for several programs that the young man unveiled as a member of the House of Representatives. If I start enumerating the impact made by the SHINAAYO program, I believe that in the next 24 hours I will not finish the article. This is not an exaggeration, but a statement of fact. In the lower house, it is a fact that some colleagues are envious of him based on his incisive contributions and motions in the course of lawmaking. All these have records for those who want to check. Numbers and records don’t lie; they are there for the world to see.
Hon. Shina Peller represents the Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Winston Churchill, and Barack Obama of our generation. With leaders like Peller, Nigeria will get there. If someone can achieve such an unbelievable and historic feat as a member of the lower legislative house, just imagine what will happen as a senator.
Ajibola Olarinoye is a staff reporter with Politico.ng. He writes from Ikorodu, Lagos State.