Dr Babatunde Ipaye could be tipped as one of the few Nigerians often referred to as professional in politics. Ipaye who consults for the World Bank in Nigeria is a workaholic dude with humane traits that has paid his dues in grassroot politics.
Perhaps for the first time, Ipaye speaks exclusively on how Gov Ibikunle Amosun rebuilding mission in Ogun state has influenced his likes to join active politics in order to better the lot of the people the more.
For the sake of those who don’t know, who is Dr Tunde Ipaye?
My name is Dr. Babatude Ipaye. I’m a Public health Specialist; my people call me ‘Idunnu’ which is the hospital I established in 1995. Anytime I walk round the street, people call me ‘Idunu’. I consult for the World Bank in Nigeria; I supervised the World bank projects in 35states. I have been a specialist to the United Kingdom department for International Development; I also oversee their HIV projects. I was once a technical specialist to National Malaria Control Programme in Nigeria. I was a lecturer in the Obafemi Awolowo College of Health Sciences of Olabisi Onabanjo University several years back before I resigned. I was a Students Union activist. I was the President of Resident doctors at the teaching hospital in Sagamu. I had a private hospital which I ran for fifteen years from 1995-2010. I am a family man.
Let’s go to your background?
It’s something I love to talk about because it is interesting and educative. I came from a poor background, extremely humble. I was born in a local community in Ijebu-igbo, Oke-agbo. I had my primary education in a local primary school, I had my secondary education in Beje High School which is unknown to many people.But in 1986, I came out top from Beje High School, I had the second best result in WAEC, so my school was noticed . Without that, I wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity to reach where I am today. Everybody started looking for that unknown school and the attention of everyone was on that school. I received a lot of scholarships that year.
How has your background affect your character?
My background is tailored with the lessons I learnt from my mother. My mother as a poor, local woman can actually give an eye of herself to save another eye. Despite her poverty, she is cheerful. When we were growing up, she taught us what I call extended family orientation, that what you need in your life is not your wealth but the people around you and that is, if you are good to people, people will be naturally be good to you.
Why did you go into that line?
When I was in Secondary school, the dream of every young boy is to become a doctor or lawyer, which was the orientation especially when you are brilliant, people would advise you to study Medicine. When I wrote JAMB which was paid for by my school principal, she affirmed that this boy must write Jamb, I never planned to go to University. The first three children of my father didn’t go any further after their secondary education. I actually told my father that I wanted to be a shoe maker and we registered but somebody paid for my Jamb, I had a good score but I didn’t check my result. I wrote my WAEC, someone came and told me I had 8 distinctions which I didn’t know. I was playing football in front of my father’s house when a bike man came and brought my admission letter to study medicine.
Can we have an insight into your family?
I got married to a girlfriend of mine which I dated in the university for six years in 1996 and we have been blessed with many children. I want to keep my family private.
You actually said you are a doctor and yet, you go into politics. How has that emerged with you being a doctor and aspiration for Political office?
One way or the other, when I was in the university, I was in union activism. I was a treasurer for Ogun State Medical Students Association in 1990 which was my intro into participating in democracy. When I was doing my post-graduate in Medicine Residency, because of the qualities my people saw in me, they said I must come and lead them, so I was voted as their President in 2004. Before then, I’ve been actively involved in Politics, I joined the NADECO Movement, Abraham Adesanya resided behind my hospital in Ijebu-Igbo in which I supported him and his cause. When AD was formed, I was part of the state officers of AD, I was initially the deputy treasurer and later became the state internal auditor till 2005, and in 2005 when AD splitted, we went to the DPA arm of AD. I was the campaign manager for the governorship candidate of DPA, now Senator Adegbenga Kaka and of course in the ACN, I was his campaign manager, the chief strategist, and returning officer in which I’ve been supporting participatory democracy especially on the progressive tendencies.
Can you tell us the position you are vying for and why you chose it and not something else?
Let me tell you that, I’ve never thought I will reach the stage where I would make this decision. When I joined Politics, I’ve always been on the thought of me supporting good people to get to government because I have thought that the decay in our politics is because we have allowed any sort of character to lead us. In the last 12-13years, I’ve supported people that are of good character to contest election and some of them have won while some lost. From my poor background, I have the belief that with the little that God has provided for me, I’ve served humanity and I’ve always thought I could even get enough to serve everybody but sometimes I realized that even if you get the desire to serve everybody, you cannot do as much as you desire to do. And in the engagement of the public sector through my work as a public health specialist, I’ve seen public resources been wasted and people have simply lost their voice because they are not able to speak for the masses. I thought strategically, you need to reposition yourself where you can also help in a situation where public resources can be made available for the greater good of the greater number of people and I thought the best way to do that is to come out at the policy and law level where you ensure that if you are able to influence decisions at levels where resources are computed, where policies are formulated, where laws are made, common Nigerians would be the first consideration of people to serve, that has been my major consideration for making myself available for service. I want to serve people; people must accept me to serve them. If people said that I shouldn’t serve them, I will simply continue to serve myself.
Do you think this is the right time for you to come out, why not come out in 2011? Why 2015?
I’ve told you earlier that I’ve always supported people to get into position. The first question I expect you to ask is that ‘have they done our heart desire?’ which is ‘Yes’ and some ‘No’. Why have people changed? Why have they lost their voice? I don’t have an answer but I can postulate that people just get into the system possibly because they don’t have any other life out of that system but for some of us who independently have life out of the system, I can always dust my certificate and do something else. For those that extremely have another life out of the system, we can actually stand up to tell the authority the truth. If people is the center, then we must focus on the people.
People have been coming promising and it has always been the same every year. What are your promises?
I don’t make promises; promises are meant to be broken. I’ve got antecedents; I’ve got a past in which people are connected to the fact simply know that Babatunde Ipaye does not have a fixed deposit in any account in Nigeria, I’ve never fixed money and I don’t intend to fix money because I think it is stupid for anybody to try and acquire resources you don’t own and keep it somewhere. I do not aspire to buy a private jet because it is stupidity, it is better to fly in first class than to have a private jet. I do not aspire to build houses with 20+ rooms because I know it is stupid to sleep in a room with more than 14*14 room, it is completely stupid. What I do is connect to people; I know that what you give to people is what they need. How can you promise what people have not stated as what they need. I think in democracy, one should go to the people and ask how they can be served. Why will I say I want to build school, I want to build house when they have not said that is what they want. All I can say is that I have lived a life among my people, I grew up among them, I live among them, what God has given to me; I share among them. I have produced 2 first class graduates in the last four years, one of them is going abroad, so for me; it is just service to humanity in the best way that God has made me to do. Let me also tell you that as a parliament, I know that my rule is catalytic, I will continue to use some of my personal resources to assist people individually but I told you that the catalytic one is to change the mindset and the concept of governance in Nigeria.
I believe you are a card carrying member of a party, what is your connectivity to your party?
My party is All Progressives Congress of Nigeria (APC), it is a merger of a party I belong to before now which is ACN, I’ve always belonged to the progressive end. I know that you can say what is the ideology behind that? I’ve told you the history, as a history, it was the only progressive party even when it was not qualified to be registered. I told you about DPA, we moved to ACN and now APC. APC is the only credible opposition that we have to the party in the central for 14years and you know what the party has done to Nigeria in the issue of security, no light, no water and I think we can’t continue to do this the old same way or else we won’t have different result.
What is your assessment of the Amosun led government?
I’ve told many people that Amosun is not a perfect person like many of us. You can’t solve all problems in 3years but let me tell you the comparison because in development, you must do comparative analysis. I was telling someone that Amount, compared to the immediate past of bank robberies. Ogun state is a state where bank robbery was constant; my town lost two banks to armed robbery, Ogbere lost first bank to armed robbery, Ijebu-Ode’s GTB was robbed almost every fortnight and suddenly that has disappeared. The fundamental essence of governance is the security of lives and properties, if you could rate the Amosun government, it should be rated over 50% pass mark for even managing security alone. In Sagamu, nobody banks in the day in Sagamu, people take their cheques to Lagos cash. Abeokuta bankers will never open their banks three years ago until they see army along the street. We have forgotten that 3years ago, all these were happening and some of us now are asking of what Amosun has done because now we have comfort. For me, if the fundamental reason for governance is security, he has done credibly well because lives and properties, business bond everybody. Three years ago, a road will be constructed, rain will fall and the road will be washed away, that’s why Amosun has done the best construction which can last for the next 20-25years. Compare a government that comes to you and say ‘I cannot do this, I cannot do that’ and people say ‘why can’t you do it?’ to a government that says ‘I will pay salary and he wouldn’t pay’. If you look at the Amosun among the options that we have, I think he is the best option we can have and we need to support. In development, we say resources are not unlimited because we cannot have the resources to go round everybody at every time but people also say the human need is their basic, I agree and we can always address that as it comes but fundamentally if a government has taken the IGR of a state from 700million to about 4billiion, I think we need to give credit to that government. If a government has given so much to infrastructural development, we need to give credit to that government. If a government has managed the issue of security, I think we need to give a lot of credit to that government. Like he said ‘People will always ask for more’, we just need to tell him the area in which he needs to improve, and we support the government.
If you are voted into power, what will be your legacy?
I will remain the Babatunde Ipaye that everybody knows, a man that would eat amala by the roadside along with his people, not artificial popcorn. A man that will go to grassroot , his hometown and centre development on his people. A man that would reasonably see to what comes to his people rather than what comes to himself, a man that would live a life of humility, a man that would continue to be a responsible family man, a man that wants to live and die among his people.
You are out to represent the people of Ijebu-Waterside, Ijebu-East and Ijebu-North in the Federal House of Representatives. What is your message to this people?
My message is that, we should reflect what we’ve done in the past and connect it with our future; we should take decisions based on what we know of people that represents us. We should vote wisely void of sentiment. We should disallow distractions and we should put the best person forward because representation is taking your needs to the central and bringing back to you what you truly deserve and I think I’ve shown from the life I’ve lived that I can do that for my people. Thank you.