Akanbi Isiaq Ajibade is a 24-year-old, Ogbomoso born businessman, social entrepreneur and politician.
In this interview, the mass communications graduate from ESTAM University, Cotonou, Republic of Benin, speaks on why Nigerian Youths need to get involved in active politics and his aspiration to represent Ogbomoso North Constituency in Oyo State House of Assembly in 2022 general elections.
Enjoy the excerpts below.
How would you describe yourself?
I am a peoples’ person. I can almost always find common ground with strangers, and I like making people feel comfortable in my presence. I really enjoy meeting and working with a lot of different people, and I am known for being a great listener and clear communicator, whether I’m engaging with individuals or my constituency at large.
I enjoy solving problems, troubleshooting issues, and coming up with solutions in a timely manner. I thrive in team settings, and I think my skill in effectively communicating with others by extensively listening to people is what drives my ability to proffer solutions to challenges. I am always looking for an opportunity and a way to give back to my community.
I am a results-oriented person, constantly checking in with the goal to determine how close or how far away we are to the delivery of the result and what it will take to make it happen. I am an excellent communicator and I pride myself on making sure everyone is carried along with the right information because it drives better results.
Tell us a little about your background.
I was born in Ogbomoso, in “Akataapa clan” of Masifa/Aguodo ward, in Ogbomoso North Local Govt., to the family of Alhaji Bashir Akanbi and Alhaja Rukayat Oluwakemi Akanbi. I went to Aitch America Nursery and Primary School in Ogbomoso, and later went to Unity School, Ejigbo in Osun State for my Junior Secondary School 1-3, thereafter, I proceeded to Best Legacy in Ogbomoso for my Senior Secondary education. I have my Bachelor in Mass Communication from ESTAM University, Cotonou, Republic of Benin.
My interest and journey into politics started when I used to follow my daddy to his political meetings, be it at ward level or at local govt level. In time past, I have organized a few meetings at the ward level with the youths to discuss issues bothering on development and progress of our community.
Besides my educational qualification, my involvement at grassroot politics and participation in mobilizing people and resources to achieve a common goal, has greatly prepared me for active politics and any challenge that may come my way in serving humanity through politics.
It’s been rumored that you are nursing a political ambition in Oyo State, come 2023, how true is this, and which elective position?
Yes, this is very true, though we are still consulting widely within the party ranks, I am interested in running for a seat at Oyo State House of Assembly representing my people of Ogbomoso North Constituency.
How would you judge the level of political participation by the Youths in Nigeria?
If anything, it is clear that the youths of Nigeria are intent on no longer being bystanders in the fare of governance and how their country is being run, particularly within the purview of the sustained failure of an older citizenry or power elite that has been described as a “Wasted Generation”. It’s always been said that “Youths are leaders of tomorrow” and contrary to the earlier aphorism, the youths no longer want to be leaders of tomorrow, but those of today.
So, I would say the youths are coming out in their numbers to contest for elections at various levels, be it local, state, or federal, especially after the “Not Too Young To Run” bill has been signed by President.
The nature and scope of youth participation are rapidly changing for good compared to what we have over the years. Youth participation in Politics are now in diverse forms – conventional and unconventional, including activities such as voting, being members of political parties, serving on a local youth council, engaging through a youth organization, or taking part in online political activism.
If the Youths are given the chance to take on leadership, do you think they are prepared?
Absolutely, youths have always been prepared and ready to take on any leadership role in shaping this country.
Don’t forget that most of these older politicians we have today had one time or the other started politics at a very young age, and have been elected to one leadership position in this country, some of them at their late 30s or early 40s were State Governors, Local Govt Chairmen, Senators, Reps, and even Presidents or Head of State (as the case may be).
So, I think if we want to talk about the level of youth preparedness for the leadership position in running this country, I think we youths are more prepared and equipped now than ever.
Would you say that Nigeria’s political system has been fair to the youths?
As I said earlier, in this political dispensation, we have had youth as a Speaker of the House of Representative, we have many youths at the National Assembly, either as Hon. Reps or Senators, We have youth as Governor, many in the State Houses of Assembly, my point is that, talking about fairness, let for once detach our focus from being the “President”, and start to think of how we can affect real changes in other more important areas of governance by aspiring and contesting for Members State HOA, Reps in the Federal HOR, Senators, Governors, Local Govt Chairman, Ward Councilors, etc.
You have an NGO, Mayegun Foundation, when was this founded and what does it stand for?
The Mayegun Foundation was founded in the year 2020. This foundation was birthed out of compassion for my people.
As I said earlier, I am a rural person, I live most time among my people and I have witnessed, first hand, the disconnection between the government and the governed. Our people are living in serious poverty, the youth need serious empowerment (Not even jobs this time around), I see that if a youth is adequately empowered, that youth can be able to empower some other more within a limited period of time. So, thinking of how to contribute in my own little way gave birth to what we know today as the “Mayegun Foundation”.
“Mayegun” in the Yoruba parlance literarily means “making life easy”, and we set up the foundation to attend to my immediate constituency, helping the less privileged and alleviating poverty in the little way we can.
You seem to be heavily involved in grassroots politics in Ogbomoso and have a robust relationship across boards, is this your motivation for your political ambition?
Every politics is local, politics is grassroots. You have to be grounded, rooted in your locality, your immediate community, in your constituency to be able to have an edge in this business called politics.
Politics is a serious business, and one has to approach it in that sense and not in the sense of “politics is a game”. When you know in your conventional business, you need a product, capital, labor, place, and so on, but no matter how good your output is, without perfect and right customers that like, tested, and trust what you do, you cannot be successful in that business. So also, after you have equipped yourself with the right ingredients to deliver a good dividend of democracy, you will need people of your community that trust your vision and believe that you can deliver on your promises, and the majority of these people are clamoring for us to go and represent them. To me, their clamoring is a great motivation, coupled with the cordial relationship I have with the rank and file.
What are the challenges Nigerian Youths face in politics?
One of the challenges that faces Nigerian Youths is “Political Godfatherism”. The notion that you have to be endorsed by a or some political gladiator(s) (God-Father) before you can win an election.
Another challenge is the way the election is being monetized.
What are your final words to the youths nursing elective positions in 2023?
Don’t be afraid to come out and contest, don’t feel intimidated. Don’t be afraid of failure, if you are afraid to fail, you are already a FAILURE. We have been hearing for a long that “Youths are leaders of tomorrow”, that tomorrow starts today. And remember that politics is local, politics is grassroots, the earlier you start participating in grassroots politics the better.
Let’s come together in building the country we want for ourselves and the generations after us.