On July 20th, Hon. Olusegun Ganiyu Olulade will 50years old. Olulade, who represented Epe Constituency 2 at the Lagos state House of Assembly between 2011 and 2019, had series of events lined up to celebrate his golden jubilee in a glamorous style. Part of it, was the Road Show tagged ‘Walk For Nigeria’. The former lawmaker fondly called ‘ELENIYAN’ in this interview with OKUNADE ADEKUNLE in his office at Ogudu, speaks on his early stage of life, his growing up, life experience, regrets and greatest achievement so far. Excerpts
What can you say about yourself while growing up as a Kid?
I have alot to say. I was brought up by very disciplined parents. I could recall a day I saw money on the floor and picked it up. When I got home, I informed my mummy that I saw money on the floor and picked it up, she really dealt with me seriously. In fact, the mark from the beating is still on my neck. She started beating me from the House which was about a thousand metres to the place I picked up the One naira to dropped it. If it is nowadays, even me, I don’t think I will wait to get to the place with such a beating. I would have just mentioned where I saw it but I could not do so. That is the way we were brought up. I had to take her to the spot I picked the money from even as I did not spend the money. My mummy said you saw money and you picked it. That was my offence. So, that formed part of our upbringing.
Before I realised that the woman was my Mummy, I always feel she was not my mother because we have alot of people staying with us while growing up. Some of my cousins were staying with us then and so I had it at the back of my mind that she was the one who gave birth to them. But for me, I thought my mother had died and I was looking for someone who will tell me about my parents because I felt she can’t be my mummy and be treating me the way she was treating me.
While in school when I came overall first among all primary three pupils, my uncle who was my father’s elder sibling was a twin and known to be a transporter in the entire Ijebu so identical that their wives could not identify them but only get to identify them through their actions, took me inside his car as the only one entitled to it at that period because of my excellent performance in school. Other pupils had to trek home. He took me home in the car and directed them to prepare food for me. I was honoured because I came overall first. It was an honour to even sit with him because he was perceived to be the most strict man in the family. So, for me to sit with such fearful man and eat with him, it was a great honour to me. Since then, I made up my mind I will never come second. That was what happened throughout my primary school days.
Looking at your early child experience and growing up, can you say there is a correlation?
I will say it has alot of effect on my growing up. As a kid, whatever you are exposed to during your childhood will live with you forever. For me, I believe that those were the period God was moulding me for a greater assignment in future. I thank God for the kind of parents I have and community I grew up from because then the societal belief on child development was that a child belongs to everyone in the community unlike now.
There are some people in the community that once you sight them you adjust your behaviour because if they should find you wanton, they will dealt with you in a ruthless manner which your parents will support. That is the kind of community I grew up from. For instance, in my family if you are three months older than another person, the person must respect you by calling you ‘My brother or my sister’. That was a society i grew up from. The moral value was there, the ‘Omoluabi’ ethos was pronounced in those days unlike what is obtainable now.
You mentioned that you were overall first during your primary days, what was your relationship then with your colleagues and teachers as a brilliant child? Do they have influence over what you become today?
They surely had influence because the teachers in those days were very strict and well disciplined. You dare not take them for granted. When your parent tells you that you will be reported to your teacher you start crying and begging them not to. That is the kind of upbringing I experienced because I don’t want to be beaten. When you see a teacher praising and motivating you on your studies then, I will be moved to do more. I remember in my secondary school days when I was in Class two I came second only once and the girl that came first was the senior girl of my primary school. I cried because of that and my teacher ( Mr Ogunsola) called me and said ‘I know you can do better but you are too playful now, promise me in your third term you will do better’. I replied him that I promise to take back my first position in class.
So, when I came overall first again Mr Ogunsola wrote in my result card ‘Promise Fullfilled’. You can understand the kind of competition we were into in those days and that was what made me keep moving. One of the things that also inspired me in pursuing my university education was that my parents always tell me if I want to be like Alhaji Lateef Jakande, former governor of Lagos state (1979-1983) I have to go to school. Even when I finished secondary school and I did not have financial capacity to further my education immediately, I had to go and work for 8years to gather funds before pursuing my university education. And to the glory of God, my determination and the statement my parents told about Jakande, I went and graduated in flying colour. There are something that you tell children stick with them forever. If there are people you must not offend is the children because they will never forget as they grow up and if you do them any good they will also not forget. So, I recall those early years of my life which was very fantastic. I got the right message, value, and that is helping me till today.
With such brilliant outings in your early days, did you ever experience rivalry with your siblings and friends in the community?
There was a bit of envy because we are all human being but it was not deep like we used to have it in these days. My siblings were also doing well in those days too. Everyone was going about his or her own things. I could recall that most times they want me to be their friend. They buy food for me. Concerning my siblings, we don’t envy ourselves. We don’t have such issues. My siblings were very proud of me then because they were also doing well in their classes. They were proud of me that their younger brother was doing well in school. Everyone of us has his own God given potentials. Some were athletes whom people in the community always talk about. My family is gifted with talented people. So, we did not have any issue of envy at all. Even till now, everyone of us is doing well in our respective callings. We continue to encourage ourselves that we can do more in life.
Sometime last year or so at your book launch, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola jokingly said the lady he knew as your fiance was different from who you finally married, how did such happened?
What he said was that, it was a lady that brought me to him when we were planning the governorship campaign of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in 1999 which I was one of the youngest individuals in the campaign team. So, when Aregbesola mentioned a lady at the book launch, people started reading another meaning to it. But he clarified it that the lady was much older than me to the extend that she can give birth to me. That was what happened.
How did you meet your wife then?
I met her through my elder sister. I was staying with my sister then while her mummy a d my sister worked in the same office. I knew other siblings of her but I had never met her because she was schooling outside Lagos. Her siblings usually visit us and we also visit them being family friend. In fact, her immediate senior sibling was my very close friend and I never knew she has a sister like her until they came to our house together. I remember vividly that my wife came to our house one day along with married women. She was the youngest among them and by then I did not have a job. I just finished my University education seeking for job. I just relocated from Jos to Lagos and searching for job in Lagos. So, on that very day, I saw a young and pretty lady and I approached my sister that I like her friend. I told my sister that that is my wife I will marry her. My sister said ‘ Don’t you know she is Mama Fowora’s daughter?’. That was how I started the hunting. I won’t lie to you, she really gave me a tough time. I have to be going to their place frequently to woo her. Fortunately for me, she is someone who actually help me in running with my vision. It is good to have someone who can run your vision with you. That is who she is to me. I remember vividly I did not have job. I only had one trouser, one ‘buba and sokoto’ and three shirts. Those were the clothes I worn every day and there was no job to do to buy another one. And I was looking for someone to marry, can you imagine! (Laughing). When you said she can’t marry me, I had to go and meet her mother to plead for me. Her mother told me not to worry that she would talk to her on my behalf. I also met with her brother’s wife, yet she said No.
I kept pestering her until a day when I woke up in the morning and I said to myself that the day would be the last day I would asked her out and if she still stands her ground, I will end it there. That means she is not my wife and I will look else where for a wife. That was what was in my mind. So, I got to her place and still told me she was not going to marry me. I said Okay no problem and she said she should see me off. As she was seeing me off, we got to a particular place within the estate we were staying together, and in my mind, I was saying to myself ‘Today is the final day I am looking elsewhere for a wife. So, we got to a place where I needed to cross to the other side and I told her that day would be th last day I will be asking her out and since she had said No, I will not talk about it again. I said thank you.
According to her, as I turned and going towards our own house, something told her that if she loses me that is the end of it. I just heard someone calling my name because I was already off the radar. I was hearing my name and she was running after me. That was how the whole journey started.
We became very close and we got more talking about life. I told her I have no job. I remember when I wanted to start this business of waste management, she told me she would join me in doing it. We started it together and to the glory of God we are where we are today.
Are you saying she was never discouraged by her friends from marrying you based on your Joblessness those days?
During those days, it was tough. Her friends were discouraging her, asking her what she saw in me to accept marrying me. Her friends told her that how could someone like her marry a boy with one trouser. She only made up her mind on me. She really gambled. Although, she was from a very good Christian background. She gets to know God in her early stage of life and it really helped the relationship. Despite what everyone told her, she remained adamant and that God has told her that I am her husband.
You revealed that you started the waste management business after your search for white collar job was unfruitful, how exactly did you start the business?
When I left Jos for Lagos because I had worked in the banking industry before I decide to continue to work in the industry and so I applied and was called for series of interviews. There was a particular interview I went for which we were almost 2000 who sat for the written test, so we were shortlisted to five not knowing that they were only interested in three people. At the last interview we were directed to meet with the top management staff of the bank and the five of us were given appointment to be at the place around Victoria Island. Because I was staying in Egbe in Ijede area of Ikorodu, I had to leave home very early with N500 my sister gave me then. That was year 2002. I left home without eating because we were to be at the place at 8am. In my mind, I thought we will finish by 10am and I will come back to eat but we wer not attended to until around 4pm. When we were called individually, they asked me who do I know that can deposit N10million into the bank. I mentioned the first name mentioned the second name, it was the third name I mentioned that turned things around for me in my life. I mentioned Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who was the governor of Lagos then. The man interviewing us said to me that if I know him I won’t be there searching for job. And the man sent me out of the interview session. That was the end of the interview.
I was already tired in between the period I stayed for the interview and I had as well used part of the transport fare to eat. It means my transport fare to get home had been shortchanged. I trek from Victoria Island to Obalende. You know then that when you want to go for interview you will need to put on ‘ suit and tire’, the white shirt had already turned black because I was tired and for the fact that I got a good new believing it was a bad news from the interview, I became weak. When I got to Obalende, I took a bus going to Ikorodu because the money with me can take me from Obalende to Ikorodu. My mind was that if I get to Ikorodu I will board a bus going to Ijede. To the glory of God, I entered the bus going to Ikorodu but when it got to Mile 12 people started complaining about the terrible traffic we met in between Ketu and Mile 12. We later discovered that the traffic was caused by huge refuse. While the commuters were complaining about it, I was seeing prospect in it. That was how I asked myself what can I do in the area of waste management and to the glory of God, we start the business.
Why did you then venture into party politics when you have a thriving business that was bringing in cool money?
I will say it is my drive to serve my people. I was the only young boy in my community that was paying levy. I started paying community levy when i was in primary school . That is to show you that I have passion for the development of my community. I always have passion to develop my society. I always remove money from what my father gave to me to pay the levies. The man who happened to be the Secretary of the community then is still alive and he can testify to it. That shows you that it is all about service. I felt I can do better, I felt I have something to contribute and that was why I said let me go into party politics. If it is about myself alone, I will continue to do my business and be making money for myself but it is about community development which I have displayed when I was in office and outside office.
There was a viral picture on the social media where you sat with Asiwaju Tinubu engaging in discussion, how did it happen?
I paid him a courtesy visit after working for him to become the governor of Lagos in 1999. I went there with other young Nigerians to tell him we are solidly behind him and will continue to be with him.
Can we say the courtesy visit initiated your journey into the Lagos House of Assembly?
How did you come into the House of Assembly in 2011?
Like I said earlier, it is about my passion for community development. When I contested in 2007, in the entire local government I was the only candidate adopted by the entire local government. All stakeholders said they want me in 2007 and nobody contested with me in my local government, it was in other local government that people contested against me. I had the support of the local government because I had done so many things as a young boy in the area of community services. Everyone was saying they should give it to me. And that is what I am still enjoying today. They know I have the capacity, they know I love my community.
Was it then that the brand ‘Eleniyan’ came up?
It was when people were seeing me with Asiwaju Tinubu and other influential people in the society. People often say I am son of influential people. People keep calling me ‘ Eleniyan’ since then.
Even when I was in secondary school, people were always around me to fight my battle for me . I had boys that defended me simply because I was brilliant and comfort myself. So, the ‘Eleniyan’ brand has always been there.
By July 20th you will be 50years old, what can you say it is your regret and also your achievement?
It might be tough for me to really say a particular thing was my regret. Maybe my regret can be that I did not further my education after leaving secondary until after 8year. My regret can be that I did not marry earlier than I did. But to the glory of God, all those things turned out to be blessings to me. And my greatest achievement is getting married to my wife. That is my greatest achievement. Had it been my wife does not support me in everything I am doing we will be having issues.