AMUWO ODOFIN LOCAL GOVERNMENT Invites the General Public to the official commissioning of several projects
Sunday, 26 October 2014
Monday, 20 October 2014
OLATERU-OLAGBEGI, the Senatorial candidate of the Labour Party in Ondo North Senatorial District in 2007, is the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Olusegun Mimiko on Public Private Partnership (PPP). In this interview with SEUN ADEBOWALE, he speaks on the efforts of the state government to facilitate investments to turn around the economy of the state among other issues.
Can we meet you sir?
I am Prince Nekan Olateru-Olagbegi former senatorial candidate of the Labour Party (LP). I am the Coordinator of Public Private Partnership of Ondo State. I grew up in Owo town. I had my elementary school in Owo. It was the standard set by my father for all his children that none of his children would go elsewhere without having the first training in their home town. I enjoyed that before I proceeded to Ibadan Boys High School and Oyemekun Grammar School, Akure for my secondary education. I was one of the top Tennis Players that represented Ondo State in about three major secondary school sports event in the country before I left for the US on Tennis Scholarship. I was in United States for over 25years. I went through University in the US on a full Tennis and Academics Scholarship. I studied accountancy. I got my Master of Professional Accountancy through academics scholarship as well. I graduated with first class upper credit and after that I had the opportunity of practicing with the world best firms in my professional career. Today, I am a financial consultant and accountant by profession. I was able to work with colleagues from the best Universities (Oxford, Harvard, and Yale Universities etc) across the world because I practiced in Price Waterhouse Coopers (a financial consulting firm) among other reputable firms in the world. After that, I was able to set up my own consulting firm called Conet Consulting Ink in Atlanta Georgia where I resided for so many years. I decided to open my consultancy with a view to provided jobs for a numbers of Nigerians and African-American people residing in there without jobs. They were called “Big-Five” there. Then there were a lot of African-Americans including Nigerians that were jobless. Then I decided to start my consulting firm with training for graduates and MBAs on how to do consulting work. I was very successful with that because I became one of the biggest minority firms in Atlanta Georgia and that attracted many clients to my company including one of the biggest firms (DeKalb canton) in Georgia among other federal agencies that we have clients. We also attracted the biggest financial firm like Oracle Corporations, IBM etc. they all picked my firm as their minority company in getting jobs. I was doing all that before I had the burden of service. I decided to come home because I knew what my people were going through then. So I decided to jump into murky water of politics.
As Prince of Owo, what was your growing up like?
That is another story entirely. There is this saying that uneasy lies the head that wears a crown. Throughout my growing up, we went through a lot of trails and tribulations. You must have heard or read somewhere that my father, late Sir Olateru-Olagbegi was one of the promoters if democracy in Nigeria. He went to all the constitutional conferences including the one that gave birth to the independent of Nigeria. It was in his house that Action Group (AG) was launched. He was member of that party that gave free education to people and develops the entire Western Region. So when we talk about free education in the Western Region, it will always be linked to his palace. Our revered sage late Chief Ajasin was the one that wrote what one could call memo or charter that was adopted by AG that led to free education. The late Chief Adekunle Ajasin copied that idea when he was on scholarship from the Marshall Plan of United Kingdom when he was in the UK. The late Adekunle Ajasin was in the UK during depression consequent upon Second World War. The Marshall Plan was designed to educate the UK young stars. When it was the time to write on education for the AG, he submitted that and it was adopted by the party. Baba Ajasin himself benefited from scholarship education because my father having came up with the idea of setting up Imade College, Owo which was the second oldest in the present Ondo State, the colonial masters asked him who would manage the college then my father confidently said that he would get one of his people to do it. My father went to the people not only to get someone to manage the college but also get them to come up with their taxes to send Baba Ajasin to Fourh Bay College in Sierra Leone and from there he proceeded to England for further education. Of Course, he brought back free education to his people. So we owe, Owo people, Baba Ajasin and by association my father when we talk about free education in Nigeria.
At what stage did you pick the inspiration to serve your people this time as a politician?
I believe to whom much is given, much is expected. I left home when I was still very young but my mind has always been at home as a Prince given the fact that I secured scholarship to study oversea. I was exposed to good education in good environment yet I did not let that get into my head. I still remember them. Just like I have said, working side by side with the world best exposed me to a lot of things. I found out that they are not any better than what you are. It is just a matter of applying your mind, focusing and concentrating on what you do and you can achieve. I learnt that if my people utilize the resources available, I feel that there is no reason we cannot be as good as people from other advance countries in the world. I have also looked at the resources given to us by God in this state and I have seen that those in the oversea do not have 1% of what we have in Nigeria and they are still progressing. It saddens me and creates a lot of burden for me. I feel that if I am okay, I should be able to help those who do not have anything. If God creates you as a rich man with rich family and you die as rich man without impacting positively on the people, I do not think you have fulfilled the purpose of creating you as a wealthy man. You must be able to reach out not only to provide for yourself but provide for the people and lift them up. That is when it can be said that you have lived a fulfilled life. so that is why the burden is so heavy on me. In my own case, I wanted to go to school and I did. I wanted to go higher I equally did by getting my Master of Professional Accountancy back in the 80s. It is not good enough to acquire everything to yourself without helping to develop your people. One thing I know for sure is that rich nations like Japan that do not have any major resources are the manufacturers of this world. Look at Switzerland, they neither grow nor plant cocoa but there the biggest chocolate producer in the world. When you look at Egypt as one of the oldest countries of the world and compare it to smaller nations like Australia, you will observe that Australia is wealthier than Egypt. What I ma trying to say in effect is that it is the people, the determination, attitude, the behavior that make individuals and countries to be more successful and not because of natural resources or any other thing. So I think if we are able to train and development people very well, we can also replicate what we are seeing in oversea here in Ondo State and in Nigeria as a whole.
Sometimes in 2007, you decided to go into politics as a fresher and you contested Ondo North Senatorial election as candidate of the Labour Party (LP) but you eventually lost the election….
It is the same reason that I gave about burning desire in me to represent my people and lift them out of poverty and bad governance. My believe is that once you are in the system and you have the right thinking, you are not self-centred and selfish you probably can help more people than what you would have been able to do by yourself as individual. Take for example Dr Olusegun Mimiko is a medical doctor who would seat up late in his clinic to help people without charging them. That was what he could do as individual which is limiting compare that to what he has been able to do when he became Governor of the state. He was able to set up Mother and Child Hospital in the history of this country. Look at the Emergency Centre in Ondo where you have ambulances readily available to help anybody who finds himself in any critical medical situation. What I am saying is that as a political officeholder, you can do more for your people and that was what interests me in getting into politics. In 2007 when I contested, my people in Ondo North Senatorial District demonstrated their love for me by voting for me. They know my background and they know that as a young man in politics, I would be able to effect change in the system. I believe that I won that election on the platform of the LP but because of manipulation, it was given to Senator Bode Olajumoke of the PDP. Despite the manipulation, the LP was able to win the two seats in the House of Assembly in Owo, in Akoko areas, we won the all the seats to the House of Assembly and we won the gubernatorial election in 2007. However, whatever, it will take, we must give our people better representative. The people of the Northern Senatorial District of this state must get it right. I have offered myself once and since then I have not reneged. I have learnt a lot from my late father as a politician. I have received from my father proper political tutelage. I learnt how he used to receive people, give to people and put his investment in people. He father represented the best when it comes to investing in the people. I know with my capacity and investment here in Nigeria and abroad, I can galvanize, solicit and get more people and corporations that will help me develop my people. Luckily in 2007 when we were coming into government as a party, we had idea of what we want to do. We thank God that Dr Mimiko when he got into government was able to lay down the foundation for some of these things. What I will do as a Senator by the time I am finally elected in 2015 is to look at what the Governor has been able to do and how we can complement and enhance. In the area of education, I cannot change it because he has laid good foundation in that sector and mine is to enhance it. By way of enhancement, there is no reason we cannot introduce good physical examination into schools whereby students across my district will be having regular check ups while we put funds aside to take care of critical ones. The whole essence will make students learn better and make them productive. There is no reason I cannot solicit for computers in all the schools in my district because I know the important of computers these days. If you have PhD and you are not computer literate it is as if you have never been to school. In 2006, when I joined politics of this state, I went back to my alma mater and I discovered that the same book I read when I was in the school over 20 years ago was still in the book shelve. With that I was able to ship in over 1m copies of text books and I distributed it in all the schools in Ondo North Senatorial District including my alma mater. I have not stopped doing that. as a sportsman who benefited immensely from Tennis Scholarship, there is no reason for me not to create opportunity for youth and students in my district not to receive special training in sporting activities because I believe education did is not limited to the four wall of the classroom. Students will be able will be able to exercise their body for proper functioning. Such students will learn better. In the area of health, Dr Olusegun Mimiko has done a lot. We have Mother and Child Hospital being built across the state, emergency services etc as programmes of the present administration in the health sector. As a Senator come 2015, there is no reason we cannot establish special hospital for heart and other specialist hospitals that will complement what Governor Mimiko has been doing. We can achieve this through PPP. We have some many Nigerian doctors abroad and there is no reason we cannot use technology to leverage them to help treat our people. You can have patients in Nigeria and have doctors that will be treating you abroad. That is what technology can do. There is no reason for folk like me not to set it up for the benefit of our people. There is no reason for me not to improve on community development of the Governor. It is on record today that the Governor has touched over 700 communities in Ondo within five years. I should be able to analyze the resources in my district and come up with the conclusion that I might not have oil or bitumen but I have the knowledge base in my district. I have the University and Polytechnic of the state in my district. Can you imagine a University that is being linked up with University that specializes in space technology, biotechnology, ICT etc. can you imagine if I help link our institutions to those Universities? Are you saying lack of jobs in the country cannot reduce with this? You will discover that companies that specialize in space technology will be looking for you. That is part of what I will be looking for because I will not be doing what others have been doing. I will not be doing the usual but new ideas will be introduced.
As Coordinator of the state Public Private Partnership (PPP), what has your office been doing to ensure good governance in the state and the challenges of carrying out your duties?
My office as PPP Coordinator is to source for investment for the state. As you might likely know, our state is endowed with many resources. We have oil, bitumen, granite etc. the state is endowed with so many natural resources but the question is how are you maximizing the resources. The problem there is fund which is very scarce. There are many things we need to do to tap these resources and it takes a lot of capital. My responsibility is to look for investors that can bring the needed capital. This must also be done in a very create way in other to be of advantage to the state. Currently the state manages to get a reliable partner that can come and help build a world class shopping mall in Akure. We have also been able to do that in a very creative format such that Ondo State does not need to contribute anything in term of money. Inspite of the fact that we are not putting any money down we are getting 30% out of the deal. Apart from that, we will the property becomes that of Ondo State after 30 years. That is creative negotiation on behalf of the state government. We are hoping to get similar deal in hotel because of the event centre-Doom Project- of the state government that will be commissioned soon. The Doom is a world class event centre and one of the best in the country. Since it is a convetion centre that will attract a lot of events, there will be need for a very good hotel that will complement it. The shopping mall and the hotel will be built very close to the event centre. That is why we have to rebuild that corridor at Owena Hotel and we doing it through PPP. Another project we want to execute through PPP is Bitumen in Agbabu here in the state. Our Bitumen is the second largest in the world outside Canada. We have been able to get partner that will come in with the newest innovative technologies that will help us crack and mine the Bitumen. That is in the pipeline and we have been trying to put the MoU together. The analysis that we are getting shows that we are very close to signing the MoU and exploitation of Bitumen. We are also mindful of the pollution that it will create and we are looking for investor that will do it. And we have been able to found one that will be friendly with the state. Now in the entire West African Countries, there is no deep-sea port and people have been saying that we should have one in Ondo State but it is not easy to get. It cost a lot of money to have deep-sea port but in the PPP now, we are putting up a partnership team that will attract a world class developers. We are thinking of getting deep-sea port that will be first of its kind in West Africa and that by implication Ondo State will become investment hub. In the area of cocoa, we are trying to inject life into one of our moribund Chocolate Factories in Idanre. We want it to become a productive chocolate factory and by the special grace of God we will sign the MoU very soon. We are also looking into the area of agriculture. We are trying also in the area of Air Cargo. We want to see the possibility of getting airline in the US that will make Akure their cargo hub. So within four months, we have been able to attract world class investors into the state and by the grace of God, the result will soon begin to show. When all these begin to manifest, our youth who are jobless will be gainfully employed.
People talk about you as one of the ardent loyalist of the LP and Governor Olusegun Mimiko even when things were tough in the party, you remain in the party ….what is that thing that fascinated you to the governor?
Thank you very much. I do not have any reason not to remain a strong loyalist of the Governor and the party I belong. I believe it is through the grace of God. I left the US with my family over eight years ago to join Governor Mimiko and assist him in transforming the state. That was about two years before 2007 election in the state. I thank God that my wife and children are doing very well and healthy. You can imagine if anything had happened to my family probably I would not be fortunate to be here now. That was why I said earlier that it takes the grace of God. Secondly, the person in question, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, like I said that I have met so many world leaders and there are different types leaders in different categories. Dr Olusegun Mimiko belongs to one of those top leaders. If you are a leader and you do not have followers, you are a bad leader. Dr Mimiko is a leader of men because he cares about men and his people. I have immense opportunity of been closed to him. Again because of my background and the fact that my father was one of the movers and shakers in politics of this state, I have opportunity of knowing a number of people. Dr Olusegun Mimiko is somebody who has managed to combine strength of so many leaders of the past (like Papa Obafemi Awolowo, Pa Adekunle Ajasin, and Sir Olateru Olagbegi etc) and reduce the weaknesses of so many others. So that attracted me to him and again I see similarity in our vision. When I talk, I talk passionately about health and education. This is the way Dr Olusegun talks and reason. I said earlier that because of my love for education, I brought over one million textbooks to this state. It is about laying a very good foundation. Pa Awolowo laid foundation for free education in the 50s and he built structure that befitted that period. Today we are in the age that is being driven by technology and we cannot continue to live in the past. That informed the present administration to start building model schools tagged ‘Caring Heart Mega Primary Schools’ across the state. With what the present administration is doing in education sector, if you are a student in Ipele, you cannot say you cannot compete with somebody in Washington. With the new invest in schools in Ondo State, Dr Mimiko expects students to be able to compete with others in oversea. Opposition is saying he should have used the money to renovate old school buildings but he said no because we cannot continue to remain in the past. The way he pursues this vision has been very encouraging. He is very innovative. As a Governor, he is very reserved and modest. As an intelligent man, he wine and dine with you without intimidating you with his intelligence or wealth of his experience there is no doubt about that. When you see a leader like him, will you want to leave him?
How will you advise your people as 2015 election garners more weight?
My advice to my people in the Northern Senatorial District is that they should pay attention to the party that has been given them dividends of democracy. Dr Olusegun Mimiko who is the leader of the party cares a lot about people of this state. We can feel and see the transformation programme of Governor Mimiko and the LP in the northern part of this state. In Owo for instance, the government dualised the ancient town with the state-of-the-art infrastructure. That road is one of the best in the South-West. Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo has also been transformed. If you go to Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba (AAUA), you can see how the present administration has made better. The Mega Schools in Akoko and market in Ikare is one of the best in the state. You can see massive road construction in the northern part of the state. All these are landmark achievement for Dr Olusegun Mimiko of the LP. Our people must continue to support us so that this government can continue to deliver dividends of democracy for the people. The deep-sea port that we want to construct in the see, according to the plan, Governor Mimiko wants to create railroad from the deep-sea in Ilaje to the northern fringes of Ondo State. Do you know if that happens all our resources (Granites, cocoa etc) can be shipped to every part of the world? All these and more are what Governor Olusegun Mimiko has for the people in the Northern part of this state.
Via SEUN ADEBOWALE
Thursday, 2 October 2014
On SAT 27/9/14 President Jonathan paid a warm visit to Benin City, Edo State.
During his visit the president first commissioned Benin- Ofosu road before moving to the Oba of Benin’s palace and finally concluding the day by cheering SOUTH SOUTH PDP MEMBERS,at the SOUTH SOUTH PDP RALLY
Also in attendance was his Vice-President Namadi Sambo and a number of distinguished individuals.
The President was welcomed by Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomole, members of Goodluck To Goodluck (G2G) 2015 alongside the people of Edo State.