Ogbeni Kolawole Orelope is the Caretaker Chairman of Oluyole Local Government Area of Oyo State. He succeeded the immediate past chairman, Alhaji Abass Aleshinloye. In this exclusive interview with ADEOLA OLADELE and SHARON VINCENT, the council boss spoke about the achievements so far recorded in the local government, the influence of Governor Abiola Ajimobi on him and other chairmen, local government election in the state, his growing up years and more…
Growing up was rough
I once sold chewing sticks at Idi Ape in Iwo Road in order to take care of my younger ones and to send myself to school. I was once a bus conductor too during my secondary school days. I never had it in mind to do that, but in order to make both ends meet, I engaged in it. Things were rough then, but God made a way for me to succeed.
During my secondary school days at IMP in Orita-Aperin, I had the talent for playing football and we had a games master then known as Mr. Tunji Alawaye, he is a journalist. He took interest in me and recommended me to our football coach.
After my secondary school education, the Edo State Government sent a message to me to represent the state at a national under-14 football competition in Denmark. I was the captain of the team that went to Denmark to represent Edo State. I performed well and that was where I started my career as a footballer. When I came back to Nigeria, I played for a team in Edo State. The money I was earning then was not enough to take care of my siblings.
I moved to Lagos State to practice politics and my leader then was Hon. Asogbon. Due to my performance in Alliance for Democracy, Senator Bola Tinubu sent me back to Ibadan to go and contest for State House of Assembly seat. Actually, I never had it in mind to go into politics fully, but the urge came from the people. So I started spending money in printing posters to contest for a seat in the House of Assembly.
But, Late Alhaji Lam Adesina called me and said I should contest as a federal lawmaker. So, I started to print posters again to become a federal honourable. Two months to the election, one Hon. Jide Adewale came into the party and consequently, my ticket was collected and given to him. I endured it and took it by fate.
When the former caretaker chairman was removed, people in my local government called me to come and be the chairman of this local government and my name was forwarded to the governor for approval. I am a slave to the people that was why I removed the appellation of chairman and replaced it with “Ogbeni” like that of the Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aragbesola. Whatever good thing one does today, he is doing it for the children, that is why I want to leave a good legacy in this local government.
I know where the Shoe pinches and I’m ready to deliver dividends of democracy
I am an indigene of Oluyole Local Government and since I came in as the chairman, I have embarked on numerous projects for the benefit of my people. We all have someone who served as our role model. He is Governor Abiola Ajimobi. He has told us we must embark on meaningful projects for the benefit of our people and that is what I am doing in this local government.
The first project I did when I came in was the grading of roads and provision of portable water. Go and check all the nooks and crannies of this local government, there is nowhere my administration has not touched. I did not collect money from any contractor before giving them contracts and they are doing wonderful jobs. I don’t want anybody to thank me for what I have done. I am doing them for the benefit of this local government and for my people to enjoy good governance.
When I came in, I met a grader and the governor has increased it to two and two bulldozers. Despite the fact that there is dwindling federal allocation, we are managing within our resources to give our people the best. The best governor in Nigeria today is Ajimobi. Since his administration began, he has not borrowed money to finance his various projects in the state. He does not have any debt to pay to anybody. If our governor can succeed in doing this, why will I not succeed too as a chairman?
We are working day and night to solve all problems
The state government has been assisting us as at and when due. We have tried within our means to reduce the poverty level of people in this local government through regular empowerment programmes and our administration has been able to provide meaningful programmes for the benefit of people. We have graded roads, provided portable water and we have rehabilitated various primary and secondary schools in the local government. That is the essence of a good government. A government that is ready to solve the problems of its people. That is what we have been doing in our party, APC and the governor has been our role model.
My predecessor laid a good foundation for me
He performed to the best of his opportunity. His removal from office was not as a result of his not performing well. He was called for a higher service. Importantly, he was instrumental to my emergence as the Caretaker Chairman of this local government. And I will continue from where he ended the job. One thing in politics is that, people will not see the good thing that a former government did. Hon. Abass Aleshinloye laid a good foundation for me I must not lie about that.
During his tenure, we had so many markets in Oluyole Local Government, so many roads were rehabilitated. Roads like Oleyo and Soka were done by him. And part of Ire-Akari road was done by him. Even if Abass was not from my party, I will still say good things about him. Let’s call a spade a spade he has done the best he could, while at the helms of affairs in this local government. Our party is producing good materials. He is going a place higher than my present position. If I performed well too, the governor might also call me for a higher service. The governor is test-running everybody. So, Abass has done his best and he has left the mantle for me to take over. He is my brother and my boss.
Akala used the local government election issue to cause problem for Governor Ajimobi
Everybody knows there is a case pending in court on the issue. So it will be difficult to hold local government election if the court case has not been fully heard. Besides, the immediate government under Akala used the issue to cause a serious problem for Gov. Ajimobi. But it has been referred to the court of law to decide on that. Any reasonable government will not want to conduct election under such a condition. Ajimobi knows the supremacy of the law that is why there was a delay in holding the local government election in the state. And I want to tell you in unequivocal terms that the governor has given us the free will to operate without any interference. And he is monitoring our activities to know we deliver qualitative dividends of democracy to people at the grassroots level. So, we are not tied to his apron string as some people are saying.
We Made Adequate Effort at Ensuring People Get their PVCs
We have made adequate steps at ensuring that people get their PVCs. And they are responding as well. During the last public holiday declared by the state government, lots of people came out enmasse to take part in the exercise. So the level of response of people in this local government to the collection of PVC is very impressive. When you move round this local government, you can never see anybody complaining of not getting his or her PVC. Go around and check. If there is any problem, they will call my attention to it and I will respond accordingly. Because this state is not for APC alone, it’s for all and sundry irrespective of political affiliation. We are using our position to help the masses. In any position I find myself, I will perform to my optimal level and deliver the good. Destiny is just like a seed. You work towards it and it will germinate. I will use any position I find myself to assist mankind irrespective of the place you come from.