Adedamola Aminu is one of the Nigerians doing lofty work in the United Kingdom academically and politically. He is currently the chairman of the Association of Nigerian-British Councillors in the United Kingdom and the President Association of Nigerian Academics UK (ANAUK). In 2006, he was elected Councillor of the Labour Party to represent Tulse Hill Ward, Brixton, Lambeth. He was elected as Deputy Mayor in 2013-2014 and later served as Mayor of Lambeth in 2014-2015. He is the author of Nigerian Politicians in United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland-A book of profiles. The book highlights the role of members of parliament, mayors and councillors and also achievements of first and second generation Nigerians in the UK. He visited Nigeria recently and spoke with Effects.
Why are you in Nigeria?
I’m in the country because I was invited to be a patron of Nigeria Red Cross at Ibadan South- East. That is why I came to Nigeria and in-between spend a bit of time with families as part of my holiday.
Politically and academically you are doing well in the UK, how long have you left the country?
About 32 years now, but I do come to the country every year. Infact, sometimes two, three times in a year. Last year, I was in Nigeria about three times and I’m already here now and before the end of the year, I may be here. I’m very frequent in Nigeria, either on a business trip or on holiday to train people. I train people on leadership and customer service. I was in Nigeria thrice last year to offer training for businesses in Nigeria.
Any memorable moment of the first time you got to the UK, how was life there?
It was tough. When you just arrive in a new country that you are not used to the culture, environment, it is a different ball game. I had a comfortable life in Nigeria, I was working and I was playing professional football.at that time. I had a comfortable life then. But going to a country that you are not familiar with, a place where you don’t really know much people, it was hard. After a while, I started getting used to the system. I started having new friends and knowing fully well I’m staying in the UK for good, I braced up. It’s over 30 years down the line and I’m still there.
Any regrets leaving Nigeria?
No regrets at all. Looking at the things I have done politically and in the area of my profession (academics ), I have no regrets at all. I thank God for the grace and the opportunity that I have to be able to serve in that country and to be able to achieve most of the things that I achieved. I have no regrets. That place has really been a blessing to me.
How do you relax when you are over there?
I just go to Uncle Tunji Oyelana’s restaurant in Camberwell and relax with some friends. Have a meal and chill out. Gone are the days I’m into sports, but now, I think age is catching up. I have stopped doing sports. Most of the time I just relax at home or go out to spend time with friends and family.
What is your kind of style?
It depends on the occasion. For social outing, I prefer my traditional outfits. Other occasions like formal/cocktail dinners, I dress in suit. I like classic styles as it is timeless.
What lessons have you learnt about life?
The lesson I learnt about life is that we need to be humble and not get carried away with power and position because everything in life is temporary. We should always remember where we are coming from. We need to leave a good legacy and make sure we serve humanity by being a serving leader.
As politician, what was your reaction about the President going for a second term in office?
Well, people have not been able to see the benefit of democracy that much in Nigeria. Buhari’s administration said they are trying their best but people have not been able to see what they have achieved. I think the minister responsible for communication and information should be out there and establish the achievements of the current administration in terms of what they have done so far. It is not good enough to say we are doing this or that, but where is the evidence? Saying you are spending money on infrastructures, where are the examples of the infrastructures you are spending money on? Let’s see examples of what you have done so far and know what is left to be done. I think they need to let the people know what they have done, what state the project is at the moment, if they don’t do that people are not going to trust them. Things are tight in Nigeria now, prices of food have skyrocketed. I think they need to do a lot to ease the pain of the masses in Nigeria. That is what I can say now. But in terms of achievements of this current administration, I cannot vouch for it because there is no evidence to show that this is how they are spending their money. They still have a lot to do, especially in education and health as well. I know in some areas they are doing roads, but that is not the only thing people need. Electricity have not improved that much; people still live in darkness. These are the things government still need to work on.
Do you have a dream concerning Nigeria, what is it?
To have a government that really cares about people and making sure that all the infrastructures are put in place. I’m a lecturer and an educationist. I would want the government to work more on the state of schools so that these young people can have quality, better education. Not everybody would be able to send their children to private schools. This is the only thing the common people can benefit, by being able to send their children to school that is quality. They need to invest in hospitals and clinics in all the local government areas so that people have access to better medical care. Obviously, they have collected a lot of money from people that looted the country, where are they spending this money? They need to show the evidence. When we are talking about good government, it is about being transparent. Let people know what you are doing to help them but if you are not doing that, it means you are not doing anything.
You wrote a book recently, what is it all about?
The book I recently authored is Nigeria British politicians in United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. It is a book of profile, it is about making sure we have records of all Nigerian British who have done well in the United Kingdom and Ireland from the first day the person was elected till date. The book actually chronicles individual members of parliament, mayors and councillors and then the year they were elected, when they finished, and a profile of them as well in terms of the position they held either as a cabinet member and as a minister or as a council leader or as a mayor. It is just about having our own record because no one will write our own history for us; if we don’t start documenting our history, then others will just write what they feel about us. The book is a fact about every single Nigerian who is being elected in the United Kingdom over the years till date. It actually shows the achievements they contributed to the political system. One thing the book highlighted was that it shows that its only in the United Kingdom, apart from America, that we have a lot of outsiders being elected in position of politics. In the book , we probably have nothing less than 100 Nigerians being elected and that doesn’t include the Caribbean and the Asia. So, if we can have this number of Nigerians elected in the United Kingdom, why is it that they are not being used in Nigeria? With all the skills and expertise these individuals have in governance why is it that our country Nigeria still remain the way it is now when we have this talent of people in Diaspora who are making our country Nigeria proud? I think the book is an insight to what Nigerians abroad are capable of, what they have achieved and I’m sure everyone that lays hand on that book will see what the councillors, mayors, members of parliament have done, the achievement s, and they will be able to judge for themselves whether these people are the people we need to bring back home to come and do something for our country in Nigeria.
Are you sure these people will heed the call if called upon to serve here considering the way things are here because life in the UK is quite different?
I always say to people that when Nigeria calls then I need to obey and I’m sure some Nigerians are yearning to make things better for our families here. We have families, friends here. For me, I’m saying categorically that when opportunities come to serve in any capacity, I will be willing and I’m sure my colleagues have the same feelings too. But are they welcome, will the people give them the opportunity to do that?