Oyo State is not living up to its ‘PACE-SETTER’ tag. – Ademola Titilopemi Ajibola

Ademola Titilopemi Ajibola is a passionate Nigerian youth and entrepreneur who believes so much in the Nigeria Project. He had a chit-chat with Ibadanlawa penultimate week and it was an exciting and insightful session. Enjoy.

Ademola Titilopemi Ajibola

What’s the essence of the Oyo 46:46 Project?

Creating OYO 46:46 is just a way of some concerned citizen of Oyo state, coming together to identify and address the issues that affect every citizen, indigenes and investors of the pacesetter state as we are fondly called. It is coming in form of a lecture series, advocacy venture and also an awards event. So it’s a 3 in 1 event and we are excited of the potential it holds. The event will hold as a celebration event for Oyo State 46th anniversary celebration which is to hold in February. We are having the event in Ibadan and we are presently talking to personalities within and beyond the state that will speak to us. It is high time we started having regular conversations that will take us back to the era when Oyo state was truly pacesetting.

So is Oyo State no longer pacesetting?

Pacesetting how or where please ? Is it not a shame that we have lost all those things that made us the pride of the West those years ? Cocoa House, NTA, Liberty Stadium, University of Ibadan, University College Hospital and too many other ground breaking moves. Ibadan and Oyo state was designed to lead while others follow but many atimes, you get on the social media and see people tweeting nonsense thinking of Ibadan as an archaic old town with people walking naked. We are not living up to our name and we have decided to start talking and acting. Lagos state, even with the daily issues here and there, is living up to the CENTRE of EXCELLENCE appellation. We can be like them.

So how does OYO 46:46 fix anything? 

It is to start an engagement and movement. The idea is unique. It’s not one off. Like I said we’d have interactions. Oyo 46:46 is for discussion amongst stakeholders, appreciation of stakeholders and also for information to would be stakeholders. It’s not safe to share all we have up our sleeves but be rest assured, the project will impress everyone and also be continual.

If you are to rate the growth of Oyo State compared to other states, how much would you say the state has done?

For me as ADEMOLA TITILOPEMI AJIBOLA, I don’t think we are doing so greatly and yes we aren’t doing badly to. For me, as Oyo people, we are just there. The government is doing what it can do and if that’s to be called BEST, then so be it. I don’t like to really talk about any administration because I’m not serving in the cabinet neither am I fully privy to details of what’s going on “inside”. I just believe we can do and get better

Is that to say the Governor Seyi Makinde administration isn’t performing?

For one, I won’t ever say anyone isn’t performing because performance isn’t about just adding 2 plus 2 to get 4. I just believe it can be really better. We all know what the security situation has been in Oyo state since after the 2019 elections. And if we are to talk, there are lots of things to be talked about. The Governor is doing some well on infrastructure development, at least we can see how Akobo road that used to get everyone brown is now, and so many other zones getting touched , but there is another Governor in a neighbouring state that just commissioned a 744 unit housing scheme of 1, 2, and 3 bedrooms of 248 flats each. These states don’t have 2 heads and yes we don’t have same IGR or budget, but we can still do more than we are doing now.

It is opined that you have misgivings against the GSM administration because of political reasons as you are known to have a political ambition. 

This is laughable. I have never and will never deny that I am a card carrying APC member and I am progressive but that has never stolen my love for Donald Duke or Olusegun Mimiko. Are these men APC men too? If you are doing good stuff, I will scream it. Governor Seyi Makinde is doing what’s the best he can get done for now and I believe he can do even more. That’s it. I have friends in his government so will I hate their master? But I have a right to my opinions. If I see a bad road, I make a video and talk about it. When it gets fixed, I pick my phone and make a video again and talk about it. That’s me. GSM is a Governor, I’m hoping to serve as a lawmaker so why should I hate on who is far higher than my level? 

What if maybe you expected the government’s patronage and didn’t get any and that is why you are angry at the administration?

Patronage ? (Laughs) With all sense of modesty and humility, I thank God for how far he has brought me. I’m not the richest but I’m far from the poorest. Life has not been all tough for me. I have companies and businesses that settle my bills and fixes my needs so I’m not a jobber. I’m not one who feels the only way out of poverty or hunger for me is government money. If the government consults me or engages me, I will do my job and move and if the government doesn’t, I will still speak greatly of a government that is performing. Prince Oyinlola as Osun state Governor never gave me a dime but I was crazy about his administration than his successor’s administration where I should have made money actually.

How best do you think the state could be positioned?

Many ways. The Governor has aides. He has Senior Special Assistants, Special Advisers, Commissioners, LGA/LCDA Chairs and co. These people live amongst people too. They see the roads, the markets, the hunger and all. They should report it to the Governor and present ADVICE on how to get it done. If you are called a SPECIAL ADVISER, you should live up to it. It’s not just about storming events to represent the Governor or show you are in government. There should be a way your office feels pulse of the populace for the government and returns to the table with discussions and solutions. With discussions and actions, GSM got LAUTECH for Oyo State. We need more of such result oriented moves.

Government apart, what about the multinationals with investments and customers in Oyo state ? How much are they doing ?

I’ve never been a fan of multinationals or big companies because it’s always ending at “we will hear from the head office” and most times, that’s as good as calling into voicemail. Anyone who wants to do really serious entertainment business in Oyo state either gets a contact from Lagos or have long legs down here. It makes it quite frustrating and energy sapping. Lots of people I know have at one time sort sponsorships from multinationals and big companies and what I know we have repeated is “we have no budget but we’d do souvenirs” and to be honest, souvenirs doesn’t rent hall or pay for sound and stage set ups. I started seeing money from event investment when I started operating in Lagos. 

So is relocation the way out of it to become successful in Oyo state?

I didn’t say so o. Even though I tell people to look outward. I have all my businesses registered in Ibadan. But I have offices and stations in Lagos and Abeokuta. So many times I hear “ADEMOLA doesn’t stay in Ibadan” but I’m in Ibadan all the time. Even seen more than many people who they assume don’t leave Ibadan. I live, work, eat and drink Ibadan. I have a traditional chieftaincy title from Siba in Ibadan here too. If you feel you aren’t getting enough, you can try to check outside. Yinka Ayefele built all from here. Femi Adebayo, Muyiwa Ademola and a host of them. So Ibadan and Oyo State is viable, if only the government and brands look inwardly, then it gets better and richer.

If you were to be in charge of Oyo State government for a day or a week, what would you do differently?

First day in government I want to have people who understand the game and ask questions. Imagine having a government where former governors are Principal Advisers to me Governor? Asking questions on sectors where they failed and what they know could have been better and I implement them. It is not alway easy as typed but the intentions will endear anyone to me. Then we have round pegs in round holes. Gist has it that one Governor one time slapped his best friend , who was in his government to be checkmating him and the man returned the slaps. You know why that was possible? The best friend has a source of livelihood. He couldn’t be tossed around. How many of us will get slapped by a Governor and not tell him “sir, you didn’t slap me well o”. There needs to be round pegs in round holes. Not rubber stamp lawmakers or administrative aides we have around across Nigeria. Save for few who still know the purpose of being in government, it would have been worse.

What’s your take about Youths in Government. Do you think the youths are ready for power?

Yes. There are clamour and agitations here and there. It’s beyond the Not Too Young To Run bill. We have been told we are not too young to run, but nomination forms are 1, 2, 5 million Naira. How many youths will get it? Not to talk of the high cost of campaign and associated costs. The youths that are ready aren’t financially capable and the youths that are financially capable are mostly not the ones with legitimate means of livelihood so at the end, the corruption induced youths will sweep off the old and corrupt older ones. A comic situation of old wine in new bottles. 

How do you manage competition? And what would you say has sustained you in the past years as an entrepreneur and social renewal advocate? 

I have never and will never compete in business. Only time I’m sure I will is election period when I’m contesting for post to represent my people in the House of Assembly, House of Reps or Senate. What has largely I sustained me is that I don’t have high ambitions so I’ve always been able to cut my shirt to my size and never overrun myself to impress anyone and it has been really helpful. What I don’t have, I pray to have and what I have is always good for me. Contentment and the need to be off the poverty line so I can always be there for my people has been a huge force for me.

What should be expected on your stable for the year 2022 as 2021 wraps up?

Too many new projects are lined up. We’d start the year by God’s Grace with Oyo 46:46 in February, then the Westerners Enterprise & Governance Honours in June and MAYA AWARDS Africa later in the year. I intend to do more ideation projects and execute more activations for brands that trust our capacity to deliver. We pray Omicron doesn’t do to us what in 2022 what Covid-19 did to us in 2020. I can not cry o (laughs

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