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Osun is highly indebted, but i’m not scared – Ogunbiyi

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Dr. Akinade Akanmu Ogunbiyi

Dr. Akinade Akanmu Ogunbiyi is the Group Chairman, Mutual Benefits Assurance. He is an innovative leader, with gift to identify opportunities and creates great and highly beneficial values from them through entrepreneurship. In an interactive session with the media, he provided a roadmap towards rescuing Osun State from economic squalor come 2019. Excerpt.

On Courage To Serve

There are a thousand and one people like me who are very passionate about leadership and know what to do.

But it is either they are not bold and courageous enough when they get there, or they get there using the wrong platform.

Nigerian politics is dominated by some clear factors, god-fatherism and monetization.

No matter what, no matter how principled you are, if you use the wrong platform to get into political office, unfortunately, you become crippled from day one.

Yes, I am making myself available to serve in Osun State, but I can tell you by the special grace of God, though monetization and god fatherism are in politics, but here I stand on God and what I represent as Akin Ogunbiyi; what I represent to my God, what I represent to my family, that is what I am taking to politics.

As long as that independence is maintained, as long as you are able to align your thoughts, and focus your energies to the goals of helping the people make a decent living, you will surely deliver.

We can complain and complain, good people are in politics but the platform of getting there is the issue. Somebody said to me, you want to run for governorship of Osun State, do you have N3b to N5b to throw away? 

I said I am not going into politics because I want to go and throw N5b away. If I need to spend N5b, I want to know why I am spending N5b. Remember that what I know how to do best is to sell pure water; buy a bag for N10 and find a way to sell and make N100. I am not used to free money. 

If I have to spend N5b to make it happen, it has to be N5b that I can walk away from if something else happens. I am not desperate.

It is not the N5b I am relying on one godfather to give to me and tie my hands.

If I win it and spend N5b it is not an investment that I want to recoup; whatever I am deploying to get to the office, they are part of the sacrifice, I think the society needs saccrifice.  And that is part of the problem of this country – people are not ready to make sacrifices.

On Challenges Of Osun Debts

One of the things that spurred me into taking this decision is because of the common man of Osun State.  For the past eight years, it has not been what it ought to be.

They always say if it is not broken, don’t try to fix it. But what did you describe now?

You said Osun is indebted. We don’t even know how much the debt is: Some say it is N400b, some say its N200b. The government itself said it is N143b. But for eight years, this is the best that government can give.

There is nothing bad in borrowing, the question is, what did you use the fund to do? We know that Osun State is heavily indebted.

And luckily for all of us, there is no hidden place any longer. Debt management office, every month, they publish the statistics.

So, there is nothing that is hidden. Not everybody would ride a car in his lifetime. Not everybody would build a house in his lifetime.

Not everybody would buy bicycle or wear rubber slippers in his lifetime.  But good leadership dictates that everybody must have access to the basic needs of life in order to live a decent life. My parents, your parents, under the leadership of some people, they had access to that and we are what we are today. 

Let me take health care for example.  My mother gave birth sixteen times.

She got married 1944 to my father, before then she was married to somebody else where she had given birth ten times. What do you think was responsible, poverty!

Then her in-laws advised that she had suffered enough, why not go and try another man, maybe through another man, God would grant you grace of another child.

1944, she married my father and with my father, she gave birth six times before it remained just two of us. Let me tell you something about health facility.

In 1962 they set up Iwo Medical Centre, General Hospital. My mother said she had forgotten about child bearing.

She was just nurturing the only one remaining, my sister, when she saw her growing tummy and thought it was fibroid.

She said there was nothing they didn’t do to abort my pregnancy until February 1962 when the Iwo Medical Centre was established and my father said, ‘let’s take you to the clinic in Iwo’. 

The reason was that she was pregnant but our people thought it was fibroid so they attempted to dissolve it not knowing that it was pregnancy.

They took her there where she was told that she was 6 ½ months pregnant. And here I am today, to the glory of God, employing over 5000 people, creating value here and there.

That is the power of a good health facility when made available to the people and the people will always pray.

On the debts, I am fully aware of the challenges on ground but my life has been that of entrepreneurship.

I always start from ground zero. The grace of God is more than sufficient, we have more than enough resources in Osun.

I am not saying it is going to be easy. It is going to be tough. But where there is a will, there is a way. I know how to create wealth. I know how to drive value.

I am going to take Osun as a country that is indebted and has nothing and then start from ground zero. Look around, can you see greens everywhere. Green means life. Green means wealth.

Mineral resources are there. The 4m people of Osun is a market on its own. So, there is work to be done. For somebody like me, by the grace of God, it is going to be tough but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
On Integrity Of the PDP Platform

I am not just new in politics. I may not have been out there in the open but I have been in PDP from God knows when. I have impacted the party.

There are so many reasons why the country is going through what it is going through now.

We thank God for the crisis in PDP. Now, we have the benefit of a standard and which is the standard of APC coming into government.

Failure isn’t a bad thing. But for the discerning eye, failure is an opportunity to start all over more intelligently.

This is what PDP is presently is. I was part and parcel of resolving the crisis of PDP in Osun State.

Without peaceful platform, no matter how well meaning, there is nothing you can do.

PDP has got its act right especially in Osun. And Osun is like the new foundation the PDP at the national level is going to ride on. We have learnt our lesson from our mistake.

There is nothing bad in failure. It is a man who fails and still fails to rise above his failure that is a failure.

Making Osun Civil Service to Excel

The civil service is the bedrock of governance anywhere. They are the real technocrats. They know their onions. 

They assist government to run efficiently and effectively.  But the unfortunate thing about our civil service, it is not only in Osun, it has been politicised.

When I get to government by the special grace of God, I will go back to professionalize the civil service and make it more productive. 

They say there is time value for money. There is also value of time.  If you make this people professional and productive, there is no free lunch. 

They would give you ideas, resources, actions that would bring about productivity. 

What I heard they do now is task the people and increase taxes. If you tax somebody you are owing three years salary, even if you say the tax is 30%, what you are going to get is zero.  So what do you do?

Create the enabling environment for civil servants to be productive, for SMEs to grow and thrive. What is the internally generated revenue, IGR of Osun State, it is about N660m in a month.

The bulk of this revenue, about 60% is derived from one senatorial district.

What is happening to the two other districts? As I said, look at greens everywhere. Don’t forget, I am a farmer. My first degree was in agriculture. I have invested over N2b in setting up of farms. 

This is how we are going to approach it. Once I assume office as governor of Osun state, the first thing is unification for common purpose. I must get a balance across the ethnic, political and religious divide. 

That is the first assignment. Let everybody know that before anything, I am Osun citizen.


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