Our personality of the week is Smart Maduka Ajaja, a candidate for the Senate, Delta North Senatorial District under the platform of African Action Congress (AAC). He has in this interview said that he is the people’s mandate, and has outlined some of the things he will do for the people, should he emerge victorious.
May we know you sir?
My name is Smart Maduka Ajaja. I am from Abavo, Ika South Local Government Area, Delta State.
When were you born?
I was born in June 1962
Who are your parents?
My parents were late Mr. Augustine Ohu Ajaja and Mrs Grace Ajuwe Ajaja both from Abavo Central, Abavo. My father died January 2, 1987, while my mother died April 19, 2014.
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Are you married?
Yes, to Mrs. Margret Ajaja from Abavo and our children are Onyeka, Vision and Great.
What were your growing up days like?
My growing up days were very interesting. I came from a very good family background where love was shared. We were not very rich, but we had values and a very strong confidence in ourselves for a better tomorrow.
At that time, we were our brothers’ and our sisters’ keepers, which is at variance with what is happening today. The brotherly and sisterly love then brought about communal living. My mother used to go to the farm leaving us with neighbours and she didn’t have to be afraid that something would happen to us. People bore the burden of others and we jointly fought a common course for the betterment of all. We shared things in common and anybody’s child is everybody’s child. You could chastise or punish a neighbour’s erring child without the parents coming to fight you. Also, a child could eat in a neighbor’s house without fear or suspicion, and freely associate with other neighbouring children. We played games like Igba Akpiri, Iya Akun and many others, and they were so interesting. Also, we made all our toys and play things from tins, slippers palm fronds and cocoyam stems. So, our parents did not have to go to the market to spend money buying toys for us, and that also increased our creativity.
Sir, how do you compare that to today’s delight in cartoons?
Watching of cartoon, the 21st century way of entertaining young children, makes them inactive and to live a very dependent life. Ours was different. We were so active, running about here and there, and taking delight in being among peers. We explored various ideas and opportunities, and they all helped in shaping the great men and women you see today. We lived an ever green life. Each night we went to bed, we could not wait for the next day to come. It was all fun. Life then was really worth living.
What do you think brought about the sudden change of value system and creativity?
Well, everything we believed in, everything we lived for, the sweetness of life we grew to meet started shattering the moment the quest for inordinate wealth set in. Our value system declined, fear and evil set in, and there arose a high competition of who gets what, which has little or no room for human productivity and humanity. The world we are in now is such a very frightening one.
Some are of the opinion that those who play much are scarcely intelligent.
That is not true. I played a lot during my time but I am good academically.
Tell us about your educational background
I attended the Holy Rosary Catholic Primary School, Abavo and St Ignatius Loyola Secondary School now known as Edeh Grammar School, Umunede. Then I proceeded to Benin to study Nursing, later, school of Orthopaedic Nursing in Dala, Kano. That gave me a lot of spur to practice on cell development. My areas of specialization include oncology, industrial, correctional and orthopaedic nursing. I am also a writer and an avid reader, and this is the reason why people call me professor.
I am a human and environmental right activist, deeply involved in social economic, civil and criminal act and environmental justice. So, wherever there is injustice, be it human or environmental, I am always there, trying to address the issue.
What other things do you do aside all these?
I love playing music. I play guitar and I sing baritone.
Where did you learn how to play guitar?
Through inspiration, I taught myself.
Is it something you developed now or when you were growing up?
I came from a family of music, though we did not take it to the commercial level. Almost every member of my family loves music, including my mother and my father. My son is a very good guitarist too. Those who cannot sing or handle any instrument in my family can dance excellently well. So, we are entertainers.
What is your choice of music?
I play Bob Marley’s revolutionary songs. I also play Peter Touch, because of his message of liberation
Is this idea of liberation in any way tied to your political race?
The sordid state of Nigeria inspired me to come back to Nigeria after I first left in 1994 to South Africa and then to the United States of America two years later. I am back to give a new sense of direction especially to our young people, through effective leadership. So, liberating the people from lack and failed leadership system inspired me to join the political race.
Which party do you belong to?
I belong to African Action Congress (AAC)
We learnt you were formerly in All Progressive Congress (APC)
APC was my first ever party in Nigeria. I thought I could make it there.
And you left when you could not perhaps become their flag bearer?
No, not at all. I left the party even before the primary election, because of what I saw.
What did you see?
I read through their ideological statement which was in agreement with the way I think, but in practice, I discovered that their ways are different from mine. In other words, they do not practice what they preach. So, I had to leave the party to look for the place where I truly belong.
Which is AAC?
Yes. I wholeheartedly believe I belong to the African Action Congress (AAC).
How do you see Sowore’s ideologies?
Sowore’s ideology is the consciousness that Nigerians should and must imbibe if they ever dream of having a Nigeria that we will all be proud of.
Majority of Nigerians recognize two dominant parties: APC and PDP, and you are coming from AAC. How do you see your chances of winning there?
APC and PDP are two failed parties. They should go into suspension at best, because they have misled Nigerians for 20 years. We cannot afford another wasted years, and that is why AAC through her take it back movement has metamorphosed into a party with redemptive ideology that will take Nigeria to her next level. Do I have a chance of winning there? Yes, I have a huge chance of winning. The people are with me. I am their mandate. When I was in APC, I made the party popular in Delta State go and make enquiries. I came into APC when people were scared to say ‘APC.’ I branded it and even friends who believe in me fell in love with the party. So, when I left, the party crumbled, that is why the party is in tattered state today; I left with the goodwill that I brought into it.
I am going to win this election. I am very optimistic about it, regardless of what they say. They will all be in shock with what is going to happen.
So how are you preparing for February 16th?
I look forward to it. I have been working hard on it, doing something different. I am not campaigning in the Nigeria traditional way of campaign. I have come to disobey the old tradition and system of Nigeria. My audience should know exactly what they want from me. I am one that is not using money to win the people over. I give you the message of truth, the message of light, and the message of liberation. This is what our people need now, because our people are in darkness, they are entangled between men and women who have stopped them or blocked them from accessing opportunities, and the chains must be broken now, if we ever think of progressing beyond this piteous level.
What campaign method are you adopting sir?
Well, I am adopting two methods. I am doing my campaigns on social media, and I am also going round communities to spread the same message. I just finished from a meeting with some young people; men and women, and after preaching my message to them, they agreed to take the message to their various localities.
My target encompasses both young people and the elderly. However, my focus is more on the youth, because the young people are the engine room of every nation. But, unfortunately our today leaders have reduced them to beggars. They have reduced them to killers, they have reduced them to nonentities, and it is time for someone to stand up for them because they do not have anybody to look up to. Our women are also disappointed, they are abused and they are not given the type of access and good opportunity that they need to grow beyond the kitchen. My mother was a very strong woman and I know what she taught me, and knowing full well that the women are the backbone of any nation, I believe that their limit should be beyond what it is today. As for the elderly ones, majority of them are people who have served this great country in one way or the other, and then when they go into retirement after working so hard for Nigeria, in their old age, Nigeria turns her back on them. So, I have them very close to my heart, they don’t have to line up and die while waiting for their pension and gratuity anymore.
How do you hope to turn that around?
I will put up a bill that will target total overhaul of our pension system and make it work so that if anybody retires, before the end of one year after the retirement date that person should have enough information about when his or her pension and gratuity will be paid. They do not have to go to Abuja anymore. I will move a motion or formulate a bill, which if passed into law, will decentralize the pension system, so that somebody who is in Agbor can go to the pension office at Agbor and process it, instead of them taking the risk of travelling far and going to pass the night in open shops, motor parks and Bus Stops. That should not happen to someone who has served his or her country.
As a first timer in the Red Chambers, how do you think that the old timers and the entire house will grant you audience, more so, when you will be standing against what they benefit from?
There is no first timer or old timer. I am a Nigerian citizen and I do not see anybody superior to others. I am coming prepared not like someone who is going there to learn, I live in a democratic nation, and I have done a thorough survey to check out the possibilities. I have an eye to what I already want to get done in the senate.
Who is your strong opponent now?
The truth is that I don’t know if there is any strong opponent, I looked at every opponent as an opponent and not beyond that. I respect them but I am not scared of them, because I know I have something different to offer, something that they don’t have. I am not a criminal, I have never been convicted for any crime by any authority, and I am not being hunted by FBI in the United States or EFCC in Nigeria. So, I am very different. I came from a very pure background. I am endowed with competency and good content of character, and I think this is what leadership should be about and I believe this is what our people need right now.
What do you have to say about the system of governance in Ika land and Anioma people?
Ika politics is a very funny one, I have been following it since 2011. Ika people have been boxed up in one corner and sometimes it bothers me. You can imagine an individual telling Ika people what to do politically and who to vote for. We are not animals, we are not robots, and I want to see that change, because God gave us right, freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of choice. So, I believe that those basic human rights have been infringed upon over the years by some individuals who think that they can reason for others. I am telling Ika people to stand up and set themselves free, to think freely and make political choices for their own good and for the good of the next generation of Ika people. I hate what I have observed since 2011, and I hope that in this 2019 Ika people will come out to vote for who they have to vote for, not because anybody has told them to vote for those individuals.
In Anioma, the same thing applies, because what I have come to understand is that the politicians in Anioma are very dishonest and they use the Anioma Agenda for their selfish interest. Anioma agenda is not necessarily electing an Anioma man as governor. Anioma agenda is a developmental blueprint, formed for the development of Anioma through good and trusted leadership. But, what we have come to understand is that people think Anioma agenda is that their own person has to govern Delta state. It is very wrong. Perhaps they should have coined it to Anioma Mandate Agenda, because it is certainly not Anioma Agenda. Therefore, what they are pursuing as Anioma agenda is totally wrong, our politicians use it to confuse our people to lead them in the wrong direction. Anioma people have been manipulated by strange individuals for the past 20 years. The tower has been recycling around them and they are using the same formula that we are fighting against at the Federal level in a situation. Should we continue that way, development will not take place. So, what I want to suggest, what I think should happen, is that Anioma people should have access to every opportunity that is available for them to aspire to become what and who they want to be.
What are your words for the youth?
The youths are the main reason I am in this race. I have observed from the past ten years how the youth of Nigeria have lost it. They have lost power, they are used all the time to create outcomes that are favourable to their oppressors. They are used as foot soldiers in Olympic war against themselves, against their generation and against their future. I am telling them today to rise up and raise their consciousness high enough to recognize who their true enemies are.