Ipapo-born farmer, Ismail Fagbemi has joined the race to represent the people of Iseyin/Itesiwaju/Iwajowa/Kajola Constituency in the House of Representatives on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
This is just as he unfolded his plans for his constituency.
Fagbemi said that despite the fact that the Oke-Ogun area was nicknamed “the food basket of the state”, it has been neglected for so many years, because some of those elected to represent the people at various levels have not lived up to their responsibilities.
According to him, “Most of our leaders since the advent of civil rule in 1999 have not fulfilled the aspirations and the need of our people at the grassroots. Few of them who are committed to the ideals of democracy like Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu have been able to lay a solid foundation for democracy. People like me are looking up to the likes of Tinubu to make an impact in the area of social development for my people.”
Fagbemi, who is into farming, argued that the country cannot get it right if agriculture is not given the maximum priority it deserves.
He said: “I believe that no matter how long one stays away from home, home is still the best. I am trying to bring the wealth of experience gathered in my sojourn outside the country to help my people. There is a lot of poverty in the land and with our agricultural potentials, particularly in Oke-Ogun where l come from, which was nicknamed the food basket of the state. But, with little assistance from private individuals, we can work towards eradicating poverty among our people.”
The aspirant said he needs a political platform to actualise the laudable programme he has for his people. He elaborates: “I had returned home to Ipapo in 2011 with the intention of setting up a resort to boost tourism in the area. But, apparently l hit a brick wall when I realised that l needed a political platform to execute such a huge project. That is why l decided to go into politics and use my political influence to attract such a laudable project that will be beneficial to my people.
“If you recall, the people had high hopes when the Okere Dam project was conceptualised. But it was later abandoned in 1980 by the Federal Government. With a political platform, I would be in a position to do what l want to do for my people, so that at least in their live time they can have access to running water in their various homes.”
Fagbemi said from a study that was conducted at the time that the dam alone can create about 25,000 jobs opportunity for the people. He said this, to an extent, will solve the problem of unemployment in the area. The idea was for the dam was to provide portable water, to the entire Oke Ogun. It was also expected to provide five megawatts of electricity, irrigation for the farm lands in the area, as well as bring back fishing activities, which was popular in the area in the time past.
He added: “The land mass within the dam is larger than Lake Chad. With the dam in operation, we would be able to provide an agricultural value chain. From South Africa, l brought a new variety of tomato seedling that can produce between 25 to 30 tons of tomatoes per hectare of land, whereas the conventional tomato which we have in the country can only produce between five to six tons per hectare.
“My tomato seedling can fruit three times before it dies away; unlike the local one which can only fruit once. With our exposure and experience, we are going to transform the agrarian environment to an economic hub where the people can tap into the agricultural value chain. All we need is to give direction, fund and access to organised mechanised system of farming to the highly organized farmers who have already formed themselves into cooperatives. In the long run, the agricultural value chain will open up the environment to a new economic opportunity, which will be a win-win situation for the area, the state and the country at large.”
Though money plays a decisive role in Nigerian politics, Fagbemi believes his interaction with his people is more valuable than immediate cash which cannot guarantee their future. The National Assembly aspirant said he has been providing succour to the people in his way, through a non-governmental organisation (NGO), the Easy Foundation, which has catered particularly for indigent students in the constituency.
His words: “The issue of money inducement in politics is a challenge, because l am not a money bag. However, l’ve been trying to let my people see the reason why they need a change from the old order. Where are all the money bags of the past that promised heaven and earth and today there is nothing to show for it?
From my end, l have an organized and proactive programme that will put an end to poverty in Oke Ogun. We are discussing with them to see beyond the immediate and key in into a more profitable and rewarding venture that will secure their future.
“The Easy Foundation came into being when l realised that majority of the people in my area are not even buoyant enough to even pay their children’s school fees, due to poverty. Therefore, it was a stop gap measure to assist in this direction and we have been doing it for many years. We are focusing on human development capacity, so that with little financial assistance they can fend for themselves.
Recently, the foundation also paid the NECO and WAEC examination fees of about 50 students. We have been enlarging the scope, so that a tangible percentage of the student population will benefit from the scheme in the long run.”
Fagbemi insisted that he is taking his community that comprises of Ipapo, Oke-Amu, Okaka, Otu , Komu, Igbojaye and Baba Ode villages to the next level, by making the zone “the food basket of Oyo State”, as it used to be in the past, if given the opportunity to serve.
The Ipapo-born politician who has sojourned in South Africa in the last two decades said his community has been short changed in the political development and patronage for many years. This, he said, necessitated his coming home to answer the call of his people to represent Iseyin/Itesiwaju/Iwajowa/Kajola Federal Constituency come 2019.
He said: “I have been in Diaspora in the last 20 years, but always coming home to interact with my people at least four to six times a year. My interest in politics is just to take active part in contributing positively to the progress of my people. I don’t want to be among those that will be complaining at the back of the stage; I would rather be part of those that will find solution to the problem of our people, particularly at the grassroots level.”