“I love to operate an all-inclusive government where ideas from all quarters are made known” – Hon. Shabi

In this edition of YabaCitizen, we got to have a chat with the first ever Executive Chairman of Yaba LCDA and Lagos House of Assembly aspirant, Hon. Adebola Rasheed Shabi, aka Shabi (ș’omolúabi). He spoke about his upbringing in the good old days, his love for family time, the success of his administration as the Chairman and his future plans for Lagos Mainland Local Government.

Tell us about your childhood and early education.
I am Engr Adebola Rasheed Shabi. I was born in Lagos Mainland Local Government on August 26, 1962, and I grew up there.

I attended Africa Church Primary School, in Ebute-Metta. From there I wrote the Common Entrance Examination, and I got an admission into Federal Government College. Back then in the old days when I was in Primary School going to Secondary School, we had only 13 Federal Government Colleges (FGCs) in Nigeria and had only 12 states in Nigeria. Each state had its own FGC apart from Lagos that had Queens’ College and Kings’ College. It was highly competitive to gain an admission into federal schools then.
I got admission into FGC, Kano. I had to get in there in one WASSCE sitting being such a competitive place.

We had good times then; healthy lunch breaks, good leadership, all of which have been eroded now. Our teachers were top-notch, we had educators of different races at the time – Chinese, Indian, British, and so on.

What did you do after completing secondary school?
I finished up with good grades and won a UNESCO scholarship to Romania to study Chemical Engineering. I had my M.Sc degree in 1985. I travelled back to Nigeria to undergo my mandatory one-year service of the NYSC in 1986/87 at the Chemical & Allied Products (now known as Deluxe Paints) at Adeniyi Jones in Ikeja.

Upon completion of NYSC, after a few months I relocated to London and worked at the Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), London. Afterwards, I relocated to the United States where I underwent some jobs and did some courses.

Tell us about your journey into the world of politics
I lost my father in 1998. Nigeria embraced democratic governance in 1999. Prior to these times, I had been contemplating returning home and bringing these developments I had seen in other countries along with me.

When I came home for my late father’s funeral, some party chieftains approached me and asked that I take up a leadership position, but I thought I wasn’t ready (chuckles) and only wanted to focus on what I came for.

It was from the year 2000 I started getting involved in politics and leadership under the umbrella of the Alliance for Democracy (AD). Interestingly, I bought the very first megaphone AD used for its campaign at Old Yaba Road.

Since then, I had started trying to make an impact in grassroot development in Yaba. Before 2002, I had distributed over 7000 exercise books to the schools in Lagos Mainland. I relocated back home shortly after and wanted to contest at the House of Assembly level but there was no need to do so as the incumbent representative then was doing quite well. Fortunately, that was the year additional 37 LCDAs were created in Lagos State of which Yaba LCDA is among. This opened more than one opportunity for me to make an impact as my father was from Ebute-Metta and my mother, from Yaba. Even my maternal grandparents had roots in Ajayi Street at Onike.

I chose to contest for the Chairmanship of Yaba LCDA and won and became the first ever Executive Chairman of Yaba LCDA. Unfortunately, that was the year that the federal allocation to Lagos State was withheld by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo. And so, the Governor of Lagos then, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu called for a forum of all the chairmen of LGs and LCDAs in Lagos State and encouraged us to think outside the box and come up with innovative ways of generating revenue independent of federal assistance. So, my exposure and experience overseas helped me to devise various means of revenue generation.

What were your achievements despite the odds?
One of the ways I did that was to procure Atan Cemetry and invite investors to bid for it.

In the past, people had to go far places like Lekki onwards to bury their loved ones and such ceremonies were very expensive. But after procuring the land at Atan and investors bidding for it, Ebony funeral Home won it and built a private vault in it, and the LCDA to was generating income from it.

Along with this, we tapped into other opportunities and levies hitherto not explored before.

The first infrastructural project under my administration was Igbobi-Sabe Road, with direct labour, thereby providing jobs for the youth in the area. We also rehabilitated a lot of schools in the LCDA by donating desks to Fazl-I-Omar Primary School in Iwaya and many other schools in Yaba.

Making my constituents comfortable is something I personally hold very dearly. My administration cleared the canals in Iwaya, Abule-Ijesha and Oyadiran/Makoko even though it was the responsibility of the state government. It had to be done because the clogged canal caused flooding to residents at the time. After the clearing, they testified to the relief they had from flooding problems.

I constructed over 65 boreholes, did many roads namely Owodunni – Ajoke street, Owodunni with streetlights, Ajayi – Araromi street, Ajayi street with streetlights, David Street and Ebun Street, at Abule-Oja, Old Yaba Road streetlights, Borno Way streetlights, Queens Road, streets, and boreholes in various communities in Makoko, and many more.

I made sure to extend these projects to all the 9 political wards in Yaba LCDA. All of these projects led us to create employment for the youth in the constituency and many of them are still working there as at today. Even many of those projects I executed – boreholes, roads – are still functioning as at today. Also, we rehabilitated some of the public health centres. We actually began the building of the health centre at Igbobi-Sabe, and my successor completed it.

Now what are your future plans for Lagos Mainland as you look forward to serving her at the Lagos House of Assembly?
Firstly, I have a passion for Mother Earth. As an environmentalist and a chemical engineer and I believe in conserving our environment. Even the Good Book talks about God giving us dominion over the earth to protect and preserve it and not to destroy it.

And so, it is in my manifesto to sound the rallying cry to protect the environment for the next generation. It is termed SUSTAINABLE ENVIRONMENT; we would regularly execute project that help improve the state of our environment and also help extend our lifespan.

Secondly, my responsibility in the Legislature will be to propose and promote bills that will result in the improvement of my constituency at the state level and in order to get this done, I will enlist the counsel of Community Development Associations (CDAs), landlords and tenants’ associations, artisans, the youths and the elderly alike on a regular basis to discuss what things are lacking in the various areas I will be representing. I love to operate an all-inclusive government where ideas from all quarters are made known.

What factors have contributed to your success?
One of the factors that has made me successful if contentment and the belief that when I’m leaving the world, I won’t be taking anything along with me.

I also love to make an impact in people’s lives. I feel a high level of fulfilment knowing that I have left an indelible mark in the lives of others.

There are no successes without woeful tales. Failure is an integral part of success. There are times when I realised that, unfortunately, some people are out to exploit the goodness of others. I have come to terms with it and devised ways to ensure that help is promptly and rightly delivered to those who need it the most.

What advise do you have for parents of today?
This goes to both mothers and fathers. Don’t be in a hurry to send your toddlers to school. It is usually not how ‘fast’ but how well. Create time for your children and spend it watching them grow. When you observe some characters that you do not like in them, begin to correct them from that tender age.

Do not leave you child’s upbringing in the hands of strangers who may be out to corrupt the minds of your children.

Take good care of your teenagers; take them out and have fun with them. Engage them, tell stories, teach them the Word of God, either as a Christian or as a Muslim. Sometimes, pay visits to their schools to find out how they are fairing and how you can help them do better in life.

And to the youths?
Don’t be scared to fail. Just do what you have to do, identify the risks, take risks, you may make mistakes sometimes, but you will learn from them. Be serious with your life, you don’t have to indulge in money rituals and killings to become rich or have an impact in other people’s lives. Be godly and make sure to extend that lifestyle to your own children too.

Will you ever publish a book, sir?
You see, I’m a scientist. I can’t sit down to read ten pages of a book without doing some calculations (laughs). I believe in numbers.

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