Chief Dotun Sanusi is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Magnificent Ilaji Hotel and Sport Resorts in Ona Ara Local Government Area of Oyo State. The Resort is a high class masterpiece with state-of-the-art facilities and modern equipment which placed the Resort at the apex of the hospitality industry in Oyo State. Ilaji Resort has continued to make waves as a classic hospitality haven with high profile personalities, students and top dignitaries patronising and thronging the Resort for business, relaxation and visit.
In this exclusive interview with RICHARD THOMAS in Ibadan, the dynamic philanthropist spoke on a wide range of issues relating to security, Governor Seyi Makinde’s administration and why he established the Resort in Ona Ara Local Government in Ibadan.
What is your assessment about hospitality industry in Oyo State?
The Hospitality Industry in Oyo State is fair in terms of rating. Due to the coronavirus pandemic that hit the whole world in the year 2020, we could not maximize the profit at that time. It was in a surviving stage as most centres were locked for months in order to tackle the virus
The Covid-19 pandemic dealt with the hospitality industry which happened to be a global thing. Though, the industry is a bit fair now, but was seriously affected at the initial stage. But we were also able to manage the situation in Oyo State throughout the lockdown with policy of government in the state.
Why did you establish Ilaji Resort?
Ilaji Resort was established out of my passion for humanity and to give back to the society. I was raised by the contributions of people of Methodist Church. The people there were able to put together Westley Primary School and College together. They were able to fund a lot of us in school. In the course of making it through in life, I want to give back to the society.
Then, I found out that if you want to give back to the society, you have to go to where you are not expecting any form of monetary returns but to contribute to the welfare of the people in the community.
Then, I also thought I needed a place that has history and the local government that the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) is very low. So, Ona Ara settlement out of the 33 local government area of Oyo State came to my mind.
Akanra/Ona Ara Agbekoya has history. Secondly, because they were fighting injustice, they were being neglected. Basically, they were not enjoying the benefits of government. They were lacking all the supports they should get from government in terms of IGR.
So, I looked at it and then I said it is a perfect match for what I wanted to do. This made me to establish Ilaji Resort in Ona Ara Local Government in the state.
As a philanthropist, what’s your assessment of the political and economic policies of Governor Seyi’s administration?
Engr. Seyi Makinde’s government is a government that is ready to create an enabling environment that will help businesses to thrive. He is a supportive governor, but government alone cannot do it all.
When we decided to do the road from Olorunsogo down to the local government, he gave me all the support with manpower from the Road Maintenance Agency and I provided all the fund. Then, we were able to work 17 kilometre road. That showed the government of Engr. Seyi is ready to provide good governance for business to thrive.
For over 18 or 19 years, the whole area was not in good shape. So we decided to return fix them back.,
The government allowed us to do it about 62 villages in the area.
Recently, the people that are in urban control blocked the road without putting in good alternative for the people and we told the governor that how can they cut off over one million people from this road,?
The government of Engr. Makinde quickly intervened and asked them to immediately remove all the blockages which they did. It shows that Oyo State is set for good development.
The nation no doubt is faced with serious security challenges; don’t you think this development could affect hospitality business in the state and country?
Definitely it will. Any area that is not secured, no business can thrive there. Nobody will stay in a place or area that is not secured. If there is no security, there is no hospitality business. That’s what makes Ilaji Resort became a stakeholder in security matters. We collaborated with both the local security, state and all the joint forces to provide security for the area.
What is your candid advise for politicians in the state and country in addressing the huge economic and security problems?
The major thing is that all politicians should have passion for humanity and not be selfish. They should make sure that they love the nation and their states. They should forget personal interest and have the interest of the nation, states and people at heart.
Whatever you do and you don’t love your people and neighbors will make a mess of the whole thing. They should make sure that they are honest and have genuine love for humanity. They should learn how to do things on merit.
What is your reaction to the insinuations flying around that you are nursing the ambition to run for Senate in the 2023 elections?
The insinuation is not true. My passion is to give to humanity; I want to make sure I give back to them which has been what I am doing. I prefer to share out from whatever God gives to me.
I want my community, family and extended family to be happy, that is what I stand for. So, anybody saying that I am nursing such ambition is wasting his time. That’s not part of my ambition in life. So, it is no go area for me. My mission is to give back to the society and not to contest for senate, and I am not a card carrying member of any political party.