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By Debo Adepelumi
It has often been said that it takes a great deal of courage to stand up to one’s enemies, just as much courage is also required to stand up to friends alike. No young man has been seen in recent time to have demonstrated raw courage in the face of stiff and monumental oppositions like Alhaji Tajudeen Adeyemi Adefisoye, popularly known as ‘Small Alhaji’. The young man is now the House of Representatives member elect for Idanre/Ifedore federal constituency in Ondo State.
The contradiction between his frail stature and quantum of his repository courage is pretty confounding and confusing. He captures a good figure of ‘Jesu ti ko nige, to npase’ as they say in the local Yoruba parlance. Small Alhaji is definitely a model of ‘small body being that works with a massively big engine’.
Presumably, the first time his rare courage became noticeable to all was when he singly prevented some political thugs of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from burning down the office of INEC that is located in his home town of Idanre during the 2015 general elections.
This act of bravado that actually portended a high possibility of his being killed by the thugs might have been taken by many as a mere flash in the pan. However, the real bravery of Small Alhaji came out in full throttle when he dumped the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the run up to 2019 general elections and pitched his tents with an unknown Social Democratic Party ((SDP).
What underlined real courage in the political gambit of Small Alhaji was the fact of having to contend with powers, principalities and deeply entrenched political parties with formidable structures. Not even a fulcrum of his supporters believed that a repeat of David and Goliath fight could be reenacted between the frailly Small Alhaji and his arch political opponents.
To many, the efforts of a 34 year old man to dislodge an incumbent House of Reps member who was contesting on the platform of APC and an immediate past Commissioner who hails from same Idanre with him and the candidate of PDP appeared a mere wishful thinking.
The hope of his ever winning became further hopeless with the third candidate of Action Alliance who also had the backing of someone very important and highly influential in the state.
The entire scenario could be perceived as the the case of a toddler trying to stand against a moving train. Naturally, complete crushing was to be expected, but sheer courage and determined efforts saw Small Alhaji triumphed over the allied forces.
Aside the inherent courage of the young man, another attribute that cannot be taken away from him is humility. Fact of his humble nature must have informed the love showed him by the people of Idanre/Ifedore federal consistency.
Being deeply loved by the people undoubtedly give strength, while loving the people deeply in return also gives courage. Small Alhaji actually drew strength from this and went ahead to win the two local governments of Idanre and Ifedore when it was least expected by the established parties.
A man of courage would rather confront his challenges, rather than run away from them. This was exactly what Small Alhaji did throughout the period of campaign.
He never for once felt agitated nor showed any sign of being overwhelmed in the face of mountainous opposition. He practically turned deaf ears and blind eyes to all matters with semblances of distraction in the course of his electioneering campaign. Courageously, Small Alhaji went, he saw and conquered at the polls.
At a material time in the course of the electioneering campaign, it became clear to people on the other political divide that Small Alhaji has become a moving train that would be most difficult to stop.
True to characters of an average Nigerian politicians, blackmailing, intimidation and thuggery became options in a desperate bid to stop the emergence of Small Alhaji. However, while the electorates were determined to vote their conscience, the young man in the eye of the storm never ran out of courage to firmly resist all sorts of concocted machinations to thwart his impending victory.
Half education just like half courage could prove unhelpful to its possessor. Small Alhaji had a clear cut ‘counter strategies’ that covered the entire cycle of his election.
His courageous resolve also worked the magic at INEC Constituency Collation Center in Idanre where frantic efforts were made by the opposition to prevent his declaration as winner of the election. There is also the angle of divine recompense to his electoral victory. The candidate of APC and the incumbent MHR is someone that Small Alhaji supported to make it to the House of Representatives. But, hardly had the man known as White won election that his true character of ingratitude manifested. At the end, the same man was trounced in his own local government area by Small Alhaji.
It is instructive to state that while some elected members of the 9th National Assembly are still basking in the euphoria of their victories, Small Alhaji, the son of an Idanre based cocoa magnate has gone to work and already done with his blue print of developmental and empowerment programmes.
He has also wasted no time to warm himself into the hearts of most elected members of National Assembly, thereby becoming a toast of many that attended the mandatory orientation programme. He has also shrug off his shy nature and clad a flowing garb of impressive advocacy. The Chief Executive Officer of VATA City Center has been actively involved in deep intellectual intercourse and adventure at the induction programmes in the National Assembly.
The determined courage of Small Alhaji to blaze the trail of quality representation in his constituency is beginning to manifest. In his resolve to prove points of performance to some critics, he has resolved to go beyond the constitutional duties of legislation and thoughtfully mapped out for execution some beneficial community projects in Idanre/Ifedore federal constituency.
He has already conceived some youth empowerment programmes as well as overseas training programme some few selected youth of Idanre/Ifedore federal constituency.
To be launched soon for the benefits of traders in his constituency is ‘Small Alhaji Market Moni’. This is conceived to be a quarterly grant disbursement to some selected female traders in his consistency.
He also has the ‘Small Alhaji Educational Scheme’ for indigent, but accademically endowed students in his constituency. There is also plan for Small Alhaji Soccer Competition amongst secondary schools in Idanre and Ifedore local government areas. He also has good plans for ‘Small Alhaji Rural Water Project as well as Small Alhaji Stipends For The Aged.
In keeping faith with his electoral slogan of ‘develop with Small Alhaji’, Idanre/Ifedore federal constituency is now positioned for quality representation and development.
Meanwhile, it should be noted that success is not final and failure is not fatal; however, it is the courage to continue that counts. Small Alhaji is starting on the right footing and he is expected to end much more better with the help of God, support of the people courage and impressive performance.
He is resolutely determined to imprint his footprints in the sand of Idanre/Ifedore.