To every objective, sound, unbiased, intellectually and politically informed minds, it would be perfectly right to say age can never be a barrier to any position in politics, neither can it be a barrier to good governance or performance; it is definitely about issues, policies and values that an individual brings on board that matters. Infact an experienced man is a resourceful man.
Meanwhile for the purpose of clarity, Hon Joseph Akinlaja is not perturbed by the unhealthy activities of the fifth columnists and other paid hatchet men who have chosen not to give credit to his success stories, various score cards and quality representation at the National Assembly since 2011 and up to this present moment.
Unfortunately some people are already raising the issue of age in politics, this is not only laughable but it gives credence to how they reason misguidedly from their infantile minds. For the records, Hon Akinlaja can’t even be a septuagenarian even in 2019. His June 1, 1950 date of birth is very clear about this. Records are also there to be verified by anyone that intends to authenticate the veracity of his date of birth. Meanwhile to all haters, yes you can play politics, perhaps to tickle fancy, but it will be very unfair, uncharitable and callous to distort facts.
For the records, Akinlaja was never a poor man before his participation into active politics. He is known to be very hard working all his life and rose into stardom and success without recourse to public funds. He received many laurels both locally and internationally having been identified as a man who distinguishes himself as a professional with selfless focus and instinctive humanitarian mission.
Akinlaja’s remarkable records in Nigeria Labour Congress as Deputy President to Adams Oshiomhole and NUPENG’s Secretary-General can never be erased from historical facts, with his trade union background, he was known for fighting and agitating for the welfare of Nigerian workers even at the risk of his career and life at several instances.
Few months ago Hon Akinlaja used his personal goodwill, intelligence and cerebral disposition to settle a dispute between NARTO and PTD Branch of NUPENG at the NNPC towers, an impasse that could have led to another nationwide fuel crises which could have crippled socio-economic activities of a country trying to permanently exit recession, if not for his timely intervention.
He also probed various stakeholders in the petroleum downstream sector to know why the nation is witnessing scarcity of kerosine and sadly explosion, which has killed lots of people recently. His relentless pressures on the executive is also yielding positive results which will soon pave the way for permanent solution to traffic gridlock in Apapa corridor of Lagos.
Still about age in politics, Tunisia voted for 88-year old Beji Caid Essebsi, this is a veteran politician and a no-nonsense personality. Is Essebsi the only perfect example across the world? In the United States, Ronald Reegan was voted as president at the age of 69, three years short of Buhari’s 73 (as at 2015). Whilst in 2016 Donald Trump who was 70 years during that election year succeeded Obama in a hotly contested presidential poll with a major contender, Hilary Clinton, who was almost a Septuagenarian at that time.
In order to further promote hate against Hon Joseph Akinlaja, some social media haters deliberately tried to bring to memory an issue that has no atom of connection with a serving lawmaker, this is not just preposterous but baseless. Parliamentarian’s primary responsibility anywhere in the world is to make laws and the constitution is clear about that.
As members of the legislative, or lawmaking, branch of government, legislators work on making changes to existing laws or passing new legislation based on their constituents’ needs. They often serve on committees that oversee various aspects of government policy; most laws are developed by these committees and then voted on by the entire legislative body. Thankfully Akinlaja is playing these roles creditably well. Yet, socio-economic empowerment programmes which cut across all units and wards in both Ondo East and West local governments are timely interventions Akinlaja will never take for granted since 2011.
Notable among his contributions at the hallowed chamber is the Petroleum Industry Bill, introduced with the best intentions to redefine the framework of the industry in line with global best practices. Also to his credit is a bill for an act to establish the National Social Welfare Board of Nigeria for the purpose of planning, implementing and overseeing the national social security and welfare scheme and for other connected purposes.
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The bill is seeking for the establishment of a National Social Welfare Board of Nigeria, aimed at providing a veritable platform, through which federal government will make conscious and concrete efforts at ameliorating the suffering of this special group of citizens, the aged, unemployed, widow, physically challenged etc. The bill is not in conflict with existing Acts (such as the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund Act), but complement them.
Hon Akinlaja as well moved numerous motions, one of them was when he urged Federal government to revive primary healthcare centers in Nigeria. He specifically directed the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency to evolve a mechanism to take inventories at all the healthcare centres with a view to ascertaining their status. According to him there was need to equip existing primary health centres than establishing new ones.
He equally moved a motion on matters of urgent public importance on the Need to Resolve the Trade Dispute in the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment, wherein he urged the House to take urgent steps so as to avert a looming strike arising from the disagreement.
This however informed House of Representatives to wade into the matter and pass a resolution to resolve disagreement between the Federal Ministry of Trade and investment and the Senior Civil Servants Association of Nigeria over which the latter had issued a 21-day ultimatum for the Ministry to meet its demands of face indefinite industrial action.
There are many more petitions he had brought to the House which accordingly served the interest of ordinary Nigerians who had no voice. Many employment opportunities had been facilitated by him, rural electrification projects also abound courtesy, Hon Joseph Akinlaja. So why stir the hornet’s nest?
It should also be acknowledged that Hon Akinlaja is open and transparent in all his legislative conducts with sheer vision and sincerity of purpose, devoid of pecuniary gains; it is also true that Hon Akinlaja has not reneged from doing so since his inception into office at the National Assembly.
Against the backdrop of the above, it is ludicrous for anyone under the guise of ‘criticism’ to raise any vituperative diatribe or make unjust comment on the good name Hon Akinlaja has built for himself and family over the years, this is completely irrational and narrow-minded. Such laziness abounds in this country being fueled by a philosophy that rewards the thoughtless and lazy while viciously vilifying the thoughtful, patriotic, passionate and industrious.
In conclusion, a Federal minister, Mr. Babatunde Fashola once said and I want to still agree with him that, “The real problem is not their age; it is the age of their ideas.” These words were said almost six years ago. Never have they been truer than they are today.
Ondo East/West Federal Constituency can never be wrong should they present Hon Joseph Akinlaja once again as their lawmaker for another term or even for higher elective position. His indelible track records will always work for him and make a way for him especially when it is clear that God will be on his side. May God bless and prosper ONDO STATE.
Barrister Omoyeni Akindele Wrote From Ondo Town.