As he oversees engineering projects, Idris Adelakun is used to finding solutions and implementing them within strict timelines.
Adelakun, who is running for mayor in the Oct. 26 election, hopes to take that approach to solving entrenched social issues.
“Winnipeg has given me a lot and I have to give back,” says the man who arrived in Canada just over a decade ago. “I want to transform our great city by implementing a well-designed plan, and I’m putting that plan together right now.”
Adelakun left his native Nigeria for Winnipeg in 2010 to complete a master’s degree at the University of Manitoba in biosystems engineering, which focuses on agricultural equipment.
He read online that Manitoba was a land of opportunity that was worth enduring frightfully cold winters. He excelled and, by 2012, was representing the university at engineering conferences.
Adelakun easily found full-time work and became a provincially accredited engineer with an extra certificate in supervisory management.
In that time, he and his wife had two sons, in 2013 and 2015. Even with full-time work and two children to raise, Adelakun completed a PhD in organizational management through Carolina University, a private Baptist university in North Carolina that offers online programs.
“I’ve been managing projects, people and teams; I lead,” he says. “I have the strong belief that my skills are transferable to the city’s (top job).”
Adelakun’s platform focuses on four themes, which he plans to flesh out closer to the election.
Safety is the No. 1 issue he hears about, and he wants to ramp up the city’s response to addiction, homelessness and mental health. He argues projects must do more to rehabilitate people because existing strategies don’t do enough.
He hopes to lower taxes and bring more investment to the city to pay for better parks, libraries and snow removal. He’d like to reduce the amount of sewage dumped into rivers and get more infill housing that could stimulate more demand for transit.
“I want to see Winnipeg as a city that will work for everyone, that will make everyone feel at home,” says Adelakun, who lives in the West End.
He says the city needs a mayor who sets measurable goals with strict timelines. Adelakun says he’s holding back on platform details until his promises have clear targets and deadlines.
And he insists he’s running to win.
“We have big names, but where are we right now? That’s why we need to have a rethink,” he says.