Sen. Adeola @54 : The continuing rise of a grassroot politician

By: Kayode Odunaro

From the humble circumstance of birth like majority of Nigerians, only a most gifted seer would have forecasted the rise and rise of Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola aka Yayi in the political space of Nigeria, particularly in the legislative arm of government at state and Federal Level. Indeed, over the last two decades, Senator Adeola has consistently won competitive parliamentary elections at state and federal levels across two states on six consecutive occasions. That is no fluke by any standard. Only a few politicians in Nigeria can boast of such variegated and progressive political success and across states acceptability.

Such accomplishments come from a dedication in serving the interest of the electorate based on fulfilling electoral promises. Shortly after the dawn of our current democratic experience in 1999, Senator Adeola decided to join active political participation following his departure from The Guardian Newspapers and the establishment of his accounting consulting firm, SOOTEM Consulting. Winning his first election into Alimosho Constituency 2 in the Lagos State House of Assembly in 2003, Senator Adeola began a journey that had earned him many awards and the accolade of a legislator par excellence.

In his rise in the Nigeria’s legislative arm of government, Yayi has set some unprecedented records achieved through his commitment to hard-work, service to people and a “can do spirit”. At the Lagos State House of Assembly, he was made the Chairman of the then joint committee on Finance and Appropriation. In that capacity, he was part of the team that midwifed the legislative enactment and reforms that catapulted the internally generated revenue (IGR) of Lagos State from a paltry N5 billion monthly to its current figure of roughly N50 billion monthly. His representation in terms of human resources development and empowerment easily ensured he served a second term in Lagos State legislature and was there after elected to serve in the Federal House of Representatives, representing Alimosho Federal Constituency, the largest constituency in Nigeria, that is bigger than Bayelsa and Yobe state in terms of population.

Characteristically, as is now his nature Senator Adeola emerged with another record by being appointed as the chairman of Public Accounts, the only constitutional committee of the House of Representatives. Usually, the headship of this government auditing committee is reserved for ranking opposition legislator, certainly not a first timer. The then Honourable member went on to discharge his duties with the discovery of massive mis-appropriation in government finances. He also got the colonial Audit Act of 1953 Re-Enacted and passed. His performance of his law-making functions and oversights, which led to the then Minister of Petroleum to obtain an injunction restraining the House Committee from investigating her private jet charters, as well as his effective representation in form of empowerment and various training and skills acquisition led to his election as a Senator in 2015 representing Lagos West senatorial district, the largest district in terms of population.

In the 8th Senate, Senator Adeola was initially made a vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Communications but was to make a mark as the pioneer Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Content, a committee that he brought to limelight through his oversight activities on International Oil Companies (IOCs), particularly in their compliance with local content in favour of Nigerians. Not surprisingly, his performance in office as usual earned him a second term in the 9th Senate where he was made the Chairman of Senate Committee on Finance. Under his watch 4 different Finance Acts 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 were passed to amend several financially related legislations and bring them up to date as well as provide reliefs for persons or corporate bodies. Through his committee investigative activities on revenue generation, many MDAs returned hundreds of millions of their IGR to the coffers of government, funds that would have been frivolously spent. His massive empowerment programmes in education, road, medical, security and other infrastructures as well as trainings, skills acquisitions and empowerment in equipment and grants that went viral on social media in its rivaling of executive performance was the stuff for another re-election.

Having spent five consecutive terms totaling 20 years as a parliamentarian at state and federal level in Lagos State, Senator Adeola decided to relocate to his homestead in Ogun State. In spite of multiple legal tussles challenging the legality of his decision, all of which he won, Senator Adeola was to make history as the only senator serving in one state and simultaneously contesting and winning election in another state. This was after the judiciary proclaimed that there were no legal impediments to his daring and unprecedented move. He thus became a serving senator in one state and a senator-elect in another state having won with a landslide victory over his opponents. In the 10th Senate, Senator Adeola was inaugurated as the senator representing Ogun West senatorial district.

Senator Adeola is indeed a man of history. In the 9th Senate, he was the one who seconded the motion to elect Senator Ahmad Lawan as President of the Senate. At the victory of Senator Lawan, he earned the parliamentary privilege of leading the newly elected president of the Senate to his presiding seat and taking the iconic picture alongside the mover of the motion and the Clerk of National Assembly. This photograph is only taken once every 4 years except there is a removal of President of Senate. And in a historic coincidence, in the 10th Senate, Senator Adeola played the same role in the election of Senator Godswill Akpabio and took the iconic photograph. As written this feat is historic in every 4 years and more historical as Senator Adeola is the only senator to have achieved this feat twice in the parliamentary history of Nigeria. He had served as chairman of Public Account Committee of House of Representatives (2011-2015), pioneer chairman of Senate committee on Local Content (2017-2019), chairman of Senate Committee on Finance (2019-2023) and now chairman Senate Committee on Appropriations (2023- till date). His service to the nation over the years earned him one of the highest national honours of the Commander of the Order of Niger, CON.

For the young man born 54 years ago in humble circumstance it looks Nollywood-like to see the man Adeola making huge waves in national affairs and development. His meteoric rise as a technocrat politician winning six elections at state and federal levels across states consecutively apparently marked him out as a peoples’ politician not to be dismissed easily.

Born on August 10, 1969 at Lagos Island Maternity Hospital, Lagos State to family of Mr. Ayinde Adeola Ogunleye and Madam Abeeni Olasunbo Ogunleye (nee Akinola), Yayi began his education at the State Primary School, Alimosho in Lagos State. On the successful completion of his primary education, he proceeded to Community Grammar School, Akowonjo. His quest for educational advancement in life took him to the prestigious Ondo State Polytechnic, Owo now Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo, Ondo state where he bagged the Higher National Diploma (HND) in Accounting. Adeola became a Chartered Accountant at a relatively young age. As well as being a Fellow of ICAN(FCA) and Fellow Chartered Taxation Institute (FCTI), he is also a member of the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) and Fellow of Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro (FFPI).

His working life started in “The Guardian Newspapers Limited”, where he put in almost 12 years of accounting service as Accountant. He resigned from “The Guardian” and proceeded to Olatunji Omoyeni &Co where he led the audit team as a Senior Auditor. Adeola later established his own company, SOOTEM Consulting where he was until his foray into partisan politics.

Adeola, a Christian, is happily married to Mrs. Temitope Adeola and the union is blessed with children. At the age of 54 years, 20 served as a legislator at state and Federal level and still counting, Adeola is still on the rise and look set to change the socio-political and economic landscape of Ogun West, Ogun State and Nigeria.

Kayode Odunaro

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