Oyo Would Have Been Declared ‘Bankrupt’ If Not For Makinde’s Emergence As Governor ― Alawode

People come to politics for different reasons and purposes, but for him, he came to politics for one singular reason and that is to touch the lives of others especially the downtrodden. He is no other person than Hon. Emmanuel Oluwole Alawode, who today is the Executive Chairman of Ibadan South East Local Government by the special grace of God and magnanimity of his boss,Engr Seyi Makinde, the Executive Governor of Oyo State. In this interview with the trio of Oyedapo Oyewole, Florence Olugbodi and Abdulyekeen Olamide, Hon. Alawode speaks extensively on why he is passionate about touching the lives, his achievements so far and Governor Makinde’s administration in Oyo State. Excerpt:-

Before your election as the Executive Chairman, you had served as caretaker Chairman for about fourteen months. What is the difference between the two tenures?

Well, there is no difference, what we are here to do is to better the lot of our people, wiping tears off the faces of the generality of the citizens of Ibadan South East local Government, making things happen for them where hope has been lost. I came in on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for me to be able to take care of so many things in the areas of amenities for the people and as part of our manifestos things that we have promised to do when we were elected even as a Caretaker Chairman and the elected Chairman. Now, we give God the glory that we have been able to do at least to a reasonable degree all of the promises we’ve made to them at that time.

I could remember in the area of construction, we have been able to construct bridges for those who have specifically demanded for it because we just didn’t come on board for us to do a project that is coming from our minds but we are doing things that the people themselves really made known to us. Before we embark on most of the projects, we will call town a kind of village town hall meeting to dialogue with the people to hear from them things they want us to do for them in their various localities. So most of the things I am going to talk about here are the things that the people actually ask for themselves that they want us to do.

Like the construction of the bridge now, this is the bridge that links up the entire ward six to eight in Ibadan South East Local Government, so without this bridge most of our people will have to pass through ward six for them to pass through the Ibadan South East local government. So we discovered, we knew, we saw it to be a very important project for us to do. Most of the people that are infected with ringworm and all these could have gotten that from bad bridges, we never wanted that kind of pandemics to come up in Ibadan South East so we have to do that. So up till today, the bridge is still there.

We also have so many other bridges that are bad one way or the other, there was one that was done halfway, so we have to reconstruct the walkway and the retaining one and make it better than it was before, so if you go through that place now we have been able to reconstruct the road and bridges, so everything is there now. Then we have a lot of culvert erected because we realized that some of the gutters have been erected without culvert being erected there, we still have to go back to the drawing board to see how we can prevent the road being destroyed by water. So we went round the local government area and picked out some of the culverts that were bad and we renovated them. Then the repair of Kobomoje road is there, we had a 20bkilometer road repaired from Labo junction there down to express over head bridge, Academy.  The road was so bad that people were avoiding taking the place and this has really brought untold hardship to the people living in that area and commuters plying it. So we made a presentation to the Governor and we were able to repair that road through the intervention of His Excellency. We had a lot of rehabilitation on our roads, those that have not been actually tarred, you know there are filler roads linking up Ibadan south East to the express, most of these roads were bad as at the time we came in and so one of them was that Ojikutu road, if you go there now you will see that it has been tarred and some first class grading has been given to some other ones.

So coming back to the local government, we realized that since our Councilors came on board we are unable to fix them up in their offices, because the offices were not in place anymore. The Legislative building that one of the former Chairmen, Honorable Akeem Ige constructed at that time was not maintained by the successful government. The successful government that came on board never really saw anything good in rehabilitating the edifice put in place by him. So when we just came on board, I just felt it will be good for us to make sure that we rebuild the wall that was broken down, that is exactly what we did, if you look to the left hand side now you will see that the building has been reconstructed, and by the grace of God by next week it will be commissioned our legislators should be moving into their office.

Then there have been issue of security, it’s being a tug of war between us and the invaders when we came in as the caretaker chairman but to the glory of God, we met with all the security chiefs and we had a lot of meetings to see how we curb the menace being brought up by the security challenges and the security operators in this local government has been so wonderful, from the Police down to the DSS, Immigration officers, Civil Defense, and the non-conventional security agencies, like the OPC, Odo Ronu, Agbekoya and so on, they have been so wonderful. When we came, it was too serious a challenge for us but all I do know is that God has helped us to be able to curb all of this menace. It is either you leave Ibadan South East local government completely or you change to what we want you to be.

Those that we have been able to rehabilitate are so many and we thank God that you can go to your house and sleep with your eyes closed unlike before, It was so terrible when we first came on board as caretaker Chairman, many at times I never slept properly, but now I could sleep well because there is peace all across Ibadan south East local government. Thanks to the police, the Amotekun and the security agencies in the local government, they have been so wonderful; there was never any one of them that I called to take care of one problem or the other that they never answered, so I give it to them.

Still on the security issue, one of the things we realized again is that even the station the police use, we discovered that it is always dark at night, I have visited them very frequently, I have gone out with them, any time there is any problem they will join me over, so we just realize that we need to light up those police stations, so we have been able to give solar light to all the police stations in the Ibadan South East Local Government and to some extent, we have been able to renovate some of the police stations, where we couldn’t help, we brought in people that can assist us. Like the police station at Idi-Aro, now you will see that it has been extended a bit, the DPO office has been taken care of and the entire offices there have been renovated and work is still ongoing in some others like we did for them at Idi Aro.

Then, we realized that most of the police stations here lack mobility, if there is any problem anywhere, no vehicle to convey the security agencies to save the situation that is too bad. so I contacted a friend of mine who lives in the U.S who got us two vehicles which we handed over to the Felele police station and the other one to the Amotekun unit. So these are almost all of the things that have helped us to curb all of the problems that had been on ground before now in Ibadan South East Local Government area.

We realize that at a time Ibadan South East was named as one of the most notorious areas, flash point area, but today the story has changed, you can work across Ibadan south East local government unmolested unlike before.

So in the area of education, when we came on board, we realized that most of the schools in this local government have been taken over by reptiles because of the huge bushes that have taken over them, so we make sure that we cleared the place to make them more habitable for the students and the teachers at large, so if you go around all the primary and secondary schools around the local government, they are much more habitable now unlike before.

Then in the area of education too we have been able to sponsor on a yearly basis five students to Technical University, we pay in full all their tuition fee from year one till the time they finish in this local government., so this has been running for about three years now since we came on board, and we thank God for the feedback we are getting back from the school as regards the students that we have been able to sponsor that they are doing well. Also, if you go to Eleyele Nursing Home, we have nurses that we have been able to sponsor from my local government here. We have been able to take care of so many of them in the last two years. We have been sponsoring five also to that school.

Yes, in the area of security, we didn’t limit it to vehicles alone because there are areas where vehicles cannot be able to get to, so on this note, we’ve been able to get eight motorcycles which we give to both conventional and non conventional security agencies which they still use up till today.

In the area of youths and women empowerment, we have been able to do youth empowerment for young farmers that are coming on board. We gave them chickens which they rear themselves; they sold at a time and made money from it. We gave them different trainings on  how whatever they generated from selling those Broilers when they grow up and add to their business and today they are on their own, those youths have been able to set up and the women, they have been equipped in the area of agricultural products, which we made available unto them and it didn’t end their alone, we have been able to send more than eighty of our indigenes to Nasarawa for three months old programmes put in place by the Executive Governor of Oyo State, so sending of those people had been taken care of by the local government. They’ve gone and acquired knowledge and plans are on going to see how we could established them so it was because of that we have been able to acquire fifty acres of land at Oleyo where we intend to put them to put in place all of the knowledge they have been able to acquire at the training ground they went to in Nasarawa but for lack of funds now we would have set them up but work is almost done now to take them there.

My wife has been so wonderful too in the area of empowering youth and women as well as the orphan. She has succeeded in bringing a lot of people that have been helping orphanage children we have in this part of local government. She has done a lot as regards empowering women is concerned in this part of Oyo State, the women have been taking care of very well and then, we did make sure that we equally empower both the youth and the women, within the premises of the local government where we gave a lot of empowerment equipments to all the artisans. We have people that were sent for training as hairstylist and at the completion of the training we equipped them and they are working with those equipment we gave them now, then those that are market women we gave them cash, those that are petty traders selling soft drinks, cold water we gave them deep freezers and those that their businesses require little funding, we were able to give them money to add to what they have and so improve their business and capital base.

Also in the area of agriculture, we equally gave cassava stems to farmers; it was so scarce as at that time, so the Oyo state government in collaboration with some other people to help us to get those stems which we distributed to our farmers, that yielded them a lot of resources according to the feedback that we got from them.

In the area of health, we have released a huge sum of money for rehabilitation and equipping the various public health centres that we have. If you go through the Ibadan south east local government now, we have lots of public health centre that have become moribund before we came on board but you know you can trust our governor that one thing that major in his heart is good and better living of the citizens and one of those things is to make sure we provide good health service. So we have to renovate a lot of health centres.  if you go to Oranyan, it has been upgraded to a standard health center, if you get there now there is nothing that is not there. They are taking charge of so many issues that ordinarily could not have been taken care of at the local government level here that is to show to the fact that His Excellency helped in releasing funds for the health center to get upgraded to the state and the level they are now. We don’t have any problem regarding public health centers. We have no fear that whatever the ailment could be will be taken care of by our nurses and doctors in all of our public health care centres.

Then we have been able to give a lot of financial assistance to a lot of people in this local government, we have been able to save lives! There was a time a woman walked into our office with report of his son in need of kidney transplant, that cost a lot of money and by the grace of almighty God we were able to take care of some of the bills and what gladdens our heart is that the boy lives, till today he has been living and so that is one major reasons why we are grateful to God.

Another one came in with cervical cancer and all that she needed was the fund to take chemo and some of the drugs that will bring her back, I wouldn’t know why God loves us so much in this local government, he works on our behalf for that person, having gotten funds for her, by the time she went through all the processes in the UCH and the test for confirmation of her status as at that was done, she was declared free of any form of cancer. Today, she is a happy person.

Also, we had another person whose leg got damaged like eight years ago and that has also resulted in cancerous things and so when we came on board he needed several thousands of naira. Like we have been doing we prayed to God to come to our aid by getting the funds for him to do the operation and today he is back on his feet. So these are some of the things, when you see people weeping profusely because of one problem or the other and you are able to take care of those problems, they will never forget this kind of government, when Engineer Seyi Makinde was in government was when God helped them, so this is enough for us. When you walk across the road, you see people praising God on your behalf and shouting Glory be to God because of you, that’s enough for us to be happy.

We have also been able to take care of those who are called street urchins. When I came on board I knew we were in trouble in this part of Oyo state, because we had a lot of out of school children, those who have been introduced to drugs right from their early years of life, I got disturbed even in my sleep. In fact, we had to consult with the University of Ibadan Business School, they came here, they had a lot of meetings with us and some of the solutions they offered to us are seriously working for us right now. We have succeeded in rehabilitating a lot of them and some of them were those we put on the bus to Nasarawa, so some of those who used to take drugs then are now doing well. In those days they used to be in tattered clothes, but today you will never be able to recognize them because that page of their lives has been closed up and the moment they cooperated to be rehabilitated another page has been opened in their lives. You have even met one of those that we have rehabilitated but you will never know that he used to be a smoker. We are working towards the possibility of leaving the Ibadan South East Local Government better than we left it, hoping that God will help us.

How would you describe His Excellency, Engineer Seyi Makinde’s style of administration?

My Governor?

Yes.

Well, we couldn’t have asked for a better governor in this state than him as of now. I see him as a God sent, a man whom God has used to transform and bring every lost glory of this state back unto us. Before now, Oyo state has never been reckoned with anymore, you imagine a situation where a state cannot afford to pay the salary of members of staff in the civil service, show me that month in which we haven’t paid salary ever since our governor stepped into office in May 2019? So it’s been a joy galore among them. How he has been doing it, we don’t know. That man works as if he was an angel, If you truly look at the way he does his things you will see that he doesn’t rely on hearsay or what people say, by the end of the day you will just see that it keeps bringing results. He is a result oriented person, that is one thing I have learnt about him and impossibility never on his plan and to us as chairmen, the elders says the person that will give us cloth to wear, we will first look at the one on his body, so what we see in him is what we have replicated in local governments especially in my own local government here. I tried to follow in his steps to do things that he does that has been making Oyo state happy, that is the exact  thing I have been able to do, bringing one or a little invention too, to collaborate with what God is doing in the hands of our Governor.

To me Engineer Seyi Makinde is a wonderful man; he is a round peg in our round hole in Oyo state. Without him at this particular point in time, perhaps Oyo state would have been bleeding into comatose. If he hadn’t come as at the time he came, maybe they would have declared Oyo state as a bankrupt state because as an Accountant I have been privileged to know some of the things that have been on the ground in the past. If I tell you the truth, how he does it is still a miracle to me.

It’s not easy, look at what has been happening in the past four months, how many states can boast of the payment of salary on or before 25th of every month, he didn’t stop there, go to all our roads in all the regions in this state, you will see that all of the road have been lighted up, wow! So if you pass through Oyo state now, it appears as if you are in London. So where he has been getting money to take care of all these things and maintaining them is still surprising. Then see the roads themselves, go to Saki, go to Iseyin, go to Eruwa, move everywhere, you will see that all of our major roads, roads that link up agricultural centers of the state have been open up now, see Iseyin road before now and you know that most of the food that we eat come from that region of the state. So if the roads are not good it will bounce back on the final consumer which is you and I, you see but now that Engineer Seyi Makinde has been able to open up the road things are gradually coming now, agricultural produce that has been on the high side before are now coming down, all can be traced to the hand work of a visionary leader, Engineer Seyi Makinde and we pray that God will sustain and keep him. Please pray for him, help me tell the people out there to keep praying for him, it is not easy, it is only God that has made it easy.

As an accountant who had worked in the banking sector, what inspired you to join politics?

Well that is a wonderful question that you have asked. Well, I have always had this vision to be part of those who make people happy like I said when we started this interview. My father used to take me along to orphanage homes and some of the poorest of the poor and each time I followed him there, he always tell me Wole when you grow up, I really want you to touch on the lives of these people, you could have been like them but for the fact that God shows mercy. So he told me of a story when his father died when he was growing up very early in life and it was like the end was closing up on him. My dad was a very brilliant person and the stories I heard from family members before he died was that they always see Him as the Messiah of the family which indeed God gave to him. He was very brilliant. One way or the other, God blessed him to get the education that he wanted and he made up his mind that he was going to give back to society. So I started building this up in my heart. When I joined the banking sector as of that time, he handed two people over to me to pay their school fees. So I remember perfectly after five years he added one more to it and on my own I added two, making five that I was paying their school fees. So gradually the thing started growing in my mind, that if I could do this as a salary earner, if I have the privilege of going into politics then I should be able to touch more lives. That was what really motivated me and by the grace of God today, we have been able to do the little we could do so that was what motivated me.

It was like I was stupid when I was leaving the banking sector, you know leaving certainty for uncertainty, bug when you hand over everything into God’s hands, you will never be disappointed. There was this fear then that politics water can be murky and truly it can be very terrible, because I remember 2012 when I was attacked, I was in UCH for seven months, so a lot of people came back to tell me that you can’t go on with this, but trust me, Dad has always told me as regard that passage of the bible that says there is no one that has placed his own on his plow that look back that is fit for the kingdom of God. I said to them that I have left certainty for uncertainty I will never go back until it become certainty and so I thank God that today, the prayer of yesterday has been answered, at least becoming the Chairman of Ibadan South East local government has afforded me the opportunity, all thanks to His Excellency Seyi Makinde, this has afforded me the opportunity to be able to embark on a lifelong vision to touch another lives, so we give God the glory.

Finally sir, on the 12th of May 2022, you will clock one year as the Executive Chairman in office, what would you like to be remembered for after your three year tenure?

After my three year tenure, well I will love to be remembered after we must have left this office as a man who came, who saw and who conquered. A man who had vision to touch on the lives of the people for which God allowed him to be able to do just that.