Posted by Rotimi Oyelowo on Saturday, September 3, 2016 Under: Our Headline Articles
Controversy persists within the South African Chapter of the ruling party in Nigeria; the All Progressive Congress (APC) Party. This has led to different factions within the party with the Bola Babarinde-led faction getting the mandate letter from the National Party in Nigeria signed by the Party Chairman Chief John Oyegun to bring together all factions and organize an authentic National convention that will truly reflect the party’s principles.
Bola Babarinde was born into the family of late Emmanuel Oyelowo and Mrs Moradeke Alice Babarinde (Nee Fagbemiro) in 1964. A native of Ibadan in Oyo state, Nigeria, he had his school life mostly in Lagos. He attended National Primary School, Abule Ijesha, then Lagos Baptist Academy, Obanikoro for his secondary school education. He went further to study at Federal School of Arts and Science (FSS), Victoria Island for his Advanced level; after which he studied Civil Engineering at the prestigious University of Lagos. He also studied at the University of South Africa (UNISA).
Although a qualified Civil Engineer, things changed on his arrival in South Africa because it was difficult to practice such profession back then in the country. So, he did some odd jobs before he started his Management Training Company. Besides training, Babarinde is now involved in affordable mass housing using German Technology which he has introduced to Nigeria in other to reduce the acute shortage of houses. According to him, the target markets are government workers and teachers. Also, he is exploring the mining, renewable energy and agriculture sectors along with his partners from South Africa, Germany and the United States of America.
Hon. Babarinde said that he has recently stepped down as the immediate past President of Rotary Club of Pretoria West. He acknowledged that it was a privilege to have been the first Nigerian in South Africa to have headed such a huge international organization with a membership of over 1.2 million members worldwide. Quoting the Rotary Slogan- “SERVICE ABOVE SELF”, the Nigerian Civil Engineer turned management consultant and politician wished most leaders in corporate or government institutions will emulate Rotary core values in giving back to the society no matter how little so that the world would be a better place.
He explained that the club happens to be the most diverse club in Southern Africa in terms of people because they have individuals from different African countries as members. He said he worked with a team and during their one year tenure they tried their best but can only do so much for next executive to continue where they stopped. According to him, they revived the club website which was dormant for over 5 years. Also, his team revived two projects: St. John’s Catholic Clinic for motherless and aged people and Kwanele home for Orphans and children from poor homes. The club also celebrated Mandela Day in Attridgeville with kids in 2015, and fed over 500 pupils. This year, over 1,400 pupils including teachers were taken care of at Lotus Garden Primary school. The club also distributed books and linen to schools and homes such as Lerato Home, in Pretoria to mention few.
On Thursday 21st of July 2016, The Nigerian Voice Newspaper sat down with Hon. Bola Babarinde for an exclusive interview about the happenings going on in APC South Africa and the mandate letter he got from the National Headquarters of All Progressive Congress Party in Nigeria. Hon. Babarinde insisted that he never stepped down as the Vice-chairman of APC but as that of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). He also debunked the information that he joined Labour Party as generally assumed by many, and that there is no crisis in the party. He cleared the rumour on his alleged resignation.
Categorically stated, “I never joined the Labour party in South Africa; it was mere propaganda against us as members of Bibiire Coalition SA Chapter. Bibiire is a Yoruba social cultural organization that supports the aspirations and good causes of any of our members in whatever he or she wants to do, and we feel is right. Bibiire means to be born well, cultured and morally upright. Unless being a member of such noble association automatically makes you a member of a political party”, he concluded.
He stated that the organization (Bibiire) had PDP, ACN and other political organizations as members while it existed. He said even those who are not interested in politics are members of the association, which according to him, is an assembly of Odua’s descendants aimed at assisting one another.
Furthermore, on his rumored resignation, he had this to say: “I stepped down as Vice Chairman of ACN SA chapter and up till today my resignation letter was never accepted officially. How can I resign from an organization (APC SA) that was not yet recognized from Nigeria? It was ACN SA and not APC SA. I decided to resign simply because there was no clear direction in ACN SA, and hardly do we hold meetings without rancor”.
He continued “there is no crisis in our party, the APC in SA. It is clear from the Mandate Letter given to us by the National Working Committee that it was addressed to me and our secretariat”
“We applied officially and met all conditions as stipulated by the National Headquarters in Abuja, we submitted the right documents, followed up regularly, and travelled to Abuja on many occasions like other recognized Diaspora chapters. It was time consuming and procedural but worth it. We got our mandate letters (Canada, Scandinavia, South Africa, United Kingdom and USA Chapters) at the same period. It was duly signed by the National Chairman of our great party, Chief John Odigie Oyegun. It can be confirmed if in doubt, many had done that and came back convinced”, Hon. Babarinde explained.
Hon. Babarinde also affirmed that the mandate letter gave them the required impetus to move forward in setting up, agenda, structures and committees that will help them conduct a successful convention in South Africa and coordinate the provinces. He said they are in contact with other recognized Diaspora chapters and they are working together to be a formidable force and assist the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari”.
The APC SA chieftain noted that the party belongs to all Nigerians living in South Africa. He called on all interested Nigerians in South Africa to come and register to be members to enable them vote and be voted for. He warned that the APC guidelines are very strict. "Our party wants people of integrity, people that have means of livelihood, people with conscience, people that are ready to serve humanity, not what is in it for me alone, people that have time and are ready to contribute to good governance back home, Babarinde warned".
He continued "When we brought the mandate letter some people obviously contested the authenticity of the document. We understand because similar letter albeit spurious was brought in the past and even Convention was conducted with similar letter only to find out later that it emanated from a wrong source. People have genuine reasons to contest it but now everyone is sure we have confirmation from Nigeria and there is no reason not to believe we are working with APC Headquarters in Abuja".
However, Hon. Bola Babarinde distanced himself from the National Convention organized by a faction of APC SA early this year referring to the convention as an illegal and failed convention. “I was not part of the illegal and failed convention. Honestly, it was an unfortunate situation. Immediately we got wind of the planned convention, we contacted the mother body in Abuja and it was disclaimed. We made concerted efforts to prevail on people that are close to the organizers that it was wrong to plan such convention without the knowledge of APC authority in Nigeria, but we were rebuffed. And the result is a failed, unrecognized and scammed convention”
With regards to moving the party forward in South Africa, Hon. Babarinde thinks it may be too early for now as they are yet to be inaugurated.
However, he stated that when fully inaugurated, firstly, they must pursue the achievement of voting in diaspora come 2019. He gave examples of Ghana, and South Africa - a recent democracy of 21 years and many other African countries who recognize their citizens’ civic rights outside the shore of their countries; why not Nigeria?
He opined that when the senate recently refused to discuss the matter of Diaspora voting many people thought they rejected it. “No they were pre occupied with many other things of National importance, but very soon they will re-visit diaspora voting and it will hopefully be approved to provide platform for 2019 General Election”, he assured.
The party leader also expressed that Nigeria needs help of professionals outside the country, and this is the reason they are targeting a membership drive of professional men, women and artisans who are ready to give back to Nigeria, and so far it has been very successful.
"Politics of thuggery is over, constructive meaningful debate is encouraged, vibrant youth and women wing is paramount. Our party fortunately is the party at the central. It will be a little easier to work with the Authorities to resolve most of the problems faced by Nigerians at our High Commission, including the decentralization of the issuance of passport from the Central Processing Unit in Johannesburg (as is the practice in Nigeria, where States Immigration Commands now issue and amend passport information at States level). Also, unlawful arrest and deportation of innocent Nigerians just to mention a few", stated Hon. Babarinde
Hon. Babarinde gave an optimistic assessment with a pass mark for the APC government in Nigeria suggesting that there is light at the end of the tunnel. "Just a little over a year ago, APC wrestled power from the criminal elements in PDP government, who milked and suffocated Nigeria for over sixteen year, it is easy to destroy than to build, it is a long road and difficult one but at the end of the tunnel there will be light", My favorite quote on change “all change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and so beautiful at the end” Babarinde assured.
"The government is facing battles from many fronts, principally corruption, but as a wise General that faces the most dangerous fronts in battles, he conquers it before concentrating on the next tough front. Corruption is our biggest problem, it brought us thus far and if not faced head on as the APC government is doing, it will kill Nigeria and honestly we are winning" Hon. Babarinde said.
Concluding the interview, Hon. Babarinde advised: "Nigerians in South Africa and anywhere in the world should strive to be good ambassadors of our dear country. We should be our brother’s keepers. Let us refrain from business and activities that will soil our image as people, respect our host nation and do good while we are here so that our stay will be rewarding. God bless Nigeria and Nigerians.
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