- City People Spends 1 Hour With OGUN Guber Aspirant, GNI
Everyone calls him GNI. But his real name is Prince Gboyega Nasir Isiaka. At the last Ogun State Governorship elections, he made a great showing. Officially he came No 2, though he and his supporters insist till today that he won that election.
Nonetheless, Gboyega Nasiru Isiaka has put that behind him and he has begun work on the 2019 governorship race which he says he would win hands down. He is the most experienced and the aspirant that has been in the race longest Who is the real GNI? City People can tell you.
Prince ‘Gboyega Nasir ISIAKA was born on 17 February 1962 into the family of Alhaja Adijat Agbeke Isiaka, a Trader and late Prince Tijani Adebowale Isiaka, a respected Transporter, philanthropist, politician and community leader of Remo Quarters, Imeko in Imeko Afon Local Government of Yewa, Ogun West Senatorial District.
Raised in a very strict, religious and disciplined home, GNI had no choice but to conform to the best standards possible. This, to a large extent, moulded him into the refined and packaged person he is today. He attended Ansarudeen Primary School, Imeko Afon between 1968 and 1973 after which he proceeded to Nazareth High School, Imeko between 1973 and 1978. He also had a stint at the Abeokuta Continuing Education Centre for knowledge enhancement.
Between this period and the time he was admitted into a higher institution, GNI worked briefly as a Clerical Officer at the Egbado (now Yewa) North Local Government Secretariat. The first point of call for his higher institution was Ogun State Polytechnic, now (Moshood Abiola Polytechnic), Abeokuta where he was admitted to study Mass Communication in 1981. He was there for a few months when he realised he was not fulfilled with the career path he was towing; hence he left the school and pursued his dream.
He was offered admission into the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) to study Accounting in 1982. He grabbed the opportunity and was doggedly committed to his studies. By 1986, he graduated and was awarded a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting (B.Sc. Accounting) with a First Class Honours. He proceeded for the one year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme in Jos Municipal Local Government area of Plateau State where his place of the primary assignment was Joseph Akande & Co. Chartered Accountants with auditing and accounting as his main duties. GNI’s discipline and astuteness at duties won over his employers and was consequently retained in 1987.
He qualified as a Chartered Accountant (ACA) in 1988. In 1995 he did his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) at the University of Lagos and also did the Senior Management Programme (SMP) at the Lagos Business School in 1998. His unquenchable passion for administrative excellence made him become a qualified associate in 1988 and his clean record of practice nudged him to become a Fellow of Institute of Chartered Accountants (FCA) in April 2003.
He is also an Associate, Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS) as well as an Associate member of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN). In furtherance of his bid to attain leadership excellence, he took a leadership course in “Leadership in the 21st Century” at the John F. Kennedy Centre, Harvard University, the United States of America in 2009. All these academic certifications, post graduate qualifications, fellowships and honorariums were achieved by dint of hard work, forthrightness, humility and trust in Almighty Allah, Who has been his strength and pillar in times of challenges. Some other professional training he underwent included the Euro Money Course in Investment Capital Management and Strategic training in Water and Power Financing.
The real corporate experience in the life of GNI kicked off when he was retained by Joseph Akande & Co. Chartered Accountants after his NYSC. He was in charge of Audit and Accounts of all the businesses of the organisation, a role he played diligently for two years before leaving in 1989 to join Lion Bank for career improvement. At Lion Bank, he functioned in the Audit and Investment Banking departments. He was able to use his initiative to craft policies and project development strategies that substantially increased the investment profile and consequently secured upscale businesses for the bank. He left Lion Bank with a track record of performance. In February 1996, he was appointed as Assistant Manager, Investment Banking at Lead Merchant Bank Plc where he held the investment banking portfolio. He immediately brought his experience, training and competence to bear on the initiation reformative policies, risk taking and promotion of shrewd investments that uplifted the investment portfolio of the organisation. He rose through the ranks to the position of Assistant General Manager (AGM) and Head of the Investment Banking Group overseeing general investments and Lead Investment Limited, a subsidiary of the Bank. Gboyega ISIAKA also led various corporate transactions that include Nigerdock Plc and raising capItal for First Bank Plc Union Bank Plc and several others. During the period, the Bank won the Best Issuing House in Nigeria Award for three consecutive years. He left Lead Bank Plc in October 2003 with his head high.
In between the period, GNI also engaged in private audit and investment consultancy services both in Nigeria and outside the country.
After a break of 8 years from private world for public service, GNI has since 2011 returned to the private world as the Chief Executive Officer of both Edgefield Development & Investment Partners (an infrastructure development and advisory firm) and GNI & Associates Ltd (a professional Services & Consulting firm) with offices in Lagos and Abuja. The international partnerships the companies presently enjoy and the inroad made by both firms within the short period of the establishment are good testimonies to the managerial shrewdness of Prince Gboyega Nasir ISIAKA.
His track record in banking, especially Investment banking caught the attention of the then Governor of Ogun State, His Excellency, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, who appointed him in November 2003 as his Special Assistant on Investments. GNI seized the opportunity and partnered with the Economic Team to broker many lucrative business deals that placed the state on the pedestal of economic development.
In July 2004, Daniel also appointed ISIAKA as the pioneer Group Managing Director of the Gateway Holdings Limited, the investment company of the state. In public service, he also served in different capacities as Chairman, Ogun Guangdong Free Trade Zone Working Implementation Committee; member, Ogun Finance Committee; member, Economic Summit Planning Committee and member, Ogun State Economic Advisory Council (EAC) among others. In all of these calls to service, he distinguished and comported himself creditably.
Unknown to many people, Politics runs in Gboyega Nasir ISIAKA but was dormant for a long period before it came to find fulfilment especially when one considers the fact that his father, late Pa T. A. Isiaka was a notable Yewa politician and leader in the Southwest during the 1st and 2nd Republics. He was a prominent member of the political movements of that era. The height of his involvement was when he was appointed Executive Director of the defunct Western Nigeria Development Corporation (WNDC) Ibadan.
GNI did not set out to be a partisan party man considering his deep private sector and reserved mindset. His trajectory in life was indeed preparing him for a major role in life. He began his political journey during his university days when, in 1988, he was appointed Director of Organisation of the Egbado (Yewa) Students Association of the University of Ife. His administrative acumen must have impressed members and he was consequently elected the President of the Association in 1989.
Thereafter, his politics was basically in the boardrooms of the many corporate organisations he worked with and some of the experiences were invaluable and revealing. But coming on board the Daniel government was a paradigm shift as he was baptised into mainstream politics. Ever since he has played active roles in the political events of Ogun State which culminated in his gubernatorial contest in the 2011 general elections in Ogun State.
Gboyega ISIAKA is not all about academics, professionalism and administrative excellence. He is also a family man. He is happily married to Jelilat Oluwatoyin Isiaka and the marriage is blessed with lovely children. Gboyega is social, jovial and relatively outgoing but a little reserved and cautious. He belongs to a number of social associations and clubs. Such include the prestigious Ikoyi Club 1938 Lagos, Rock Beach Resort Abeokuta, Rotary Club of Sagamu Central and the Yewa Union Ilaro among others.
What has GNI been up to in the last 18 months since he lost to Senator Ibikunle Amosun? What are his strategies? These and much more were the questions City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE asked GNI last week and he found him to be a very intelligent and experienced politician.
Since the last governorship elections, you have been quiet, but I know you have been on the move too. What have you been up to?
It’s been interesting I will say. First, I have had to manage the shock of the elections and we approached the judiciary for adjudication. Whilst doing all that I had to come back to my line of business financial consulting, stock broking, and generally business advisory. That’s what I have been doing largely. I have also been participating in discussions and trying to find solutions to some of the challenges facing the polity, I can’t leave politics. But we have allowed the people who were declared to do their work and hoping will benefit from it.
What’s your analysis of why the results went the way it went in favour of Gov. Amosun?
A whole lot of things explain it. We had to manage little internal issues within my party. We tried to mend some fences towards the end of the elections. We had to bring the various factions together. We were not able to completely achieve that. There were problems of candidacy. Some of the candidates featured in a few of the locations, especially at the National Assembly and State Assembly level were not liked Some people were not particularly happy with them. So, there was a level of internal dissenting opinion.
Therefore, we could not get the total support we needed. On the day of the election, everybody mans his own area. No matter how good you are, you can’t leave your area to go to other areas on the day of the elections So you are at the mercy of the people managing the process at that time in that area. So when people are not happy about some things it gets reflected in the results.
There was also the bandwagon effect. Two weeks earlier, on March 28, the presidential elections was held and a winner was declared which is the incumbent Presidential Buhari. That had its own effect too.
So it is a whole garment of all those that happened. If for instance, the election had gone the other way you never can tell it may have helped.
I think in terms of the campaigns and the work we did I think we tried all that we can. The issues were put on the table. We had a good showing.
What was your reaction when you heard the news that Gov. Amosun had been declared a winner?
I was surprised. I was waiting to see what and what went wrong. Eventually, we were able to pin it down to about 3 or 4 local governments where what came out of those local governments was not what we were expecting. A good level of malpractices may have happened, but the court felt otherwise. So we take it that, that is the result. The result was a shock. It was a big surprise. We were not expecting that.
Immediately the final judgement was given we went back to the drawing board.
Many aspirants have started work on the 2019 governorship race in Ogun State and I know you are one of the aspirants. How do you think the game will play out?
Yes. Things are beginning to build up. We are involved. We are very much on the field. I never left for one day. Since the election. We reckon that in the area of candidates there will be a lot of aspirants, more so since the incumbent is not contesting again. We are also expecting that there will be alignments and realignments in the polity.
For me and my team, we are ready to go. We have our ears on the ground and we have been doing a lot of consultations. We are trying to build bridges as much as possible.
Looking at the list of aspirants in the public domain, so far, you appear to be the most experienced. How do you think this will position you?
You are correct, not just experience but also the best known among the electorate. I have been with them for years. They know GNI. I have also been to the nooks and crannies of this state, not once, not twice and I relate very well to people at the very lowest levels. That definitely is bound to help me. The voters are with me. I know them. They know me.
That has its own advantage and a clear edge over anybody who is just joining the race. But we are not taking that for granted and we are not resting on our oars. We are going into it as if that is not there. We are going into it for victory by the grace of God. We are going into it with all the seriousness. Yes. We have that clear advantage. There is no doubt about that.
As you move around, and as you meet stakeholders what is your message to them?
The message is about Life move abundant. In Yoruba, it means Irorun De. Good Governance. The Life More Abundant is placed on 4 pillars. We are sticking to that because we know the reason for that is now even move now. Its about the Economy. Its about the people. Its about how do we make Life More Abundant for the people. How do we ensure that the People live a better life? At the end of it all, its about the people. How do we do it in a way that will sincerely serve the people? All of this is about the Heart. Its about the person. Who that person is? Where is the person coming from Of all the candidates that have come out so far I can beat my chest to say I know this state inside out. I know where the opportunities are. I know what to do. I know where the shoe pinches. I have something to put on the table. I have been in this state in the last 14 years. I left banking in 2004 and since that time I have been in and around the state.
The important thing is that in all I want to do: How do you do it sincerely? What exactly do you know about this state? Where are you coming from? These are the issues. In terms of knowing the state and the ability to deliver the goods, we have it. I have been through it all from the upper part of the state in Imeko to the Central part We have been to everywhere. Politically, I have been to all the wards, not once, not twice. And I have had interactions with everybody for years from market women to artisans, traders, vulcanizers everybody. What we are talking about is the ability to demonstrate that knowledge about the state and also an exhibition of sincerity about wanting to serve the state and also with my track record of having worked in this state before.
What’s your assessment of the 6 years of Gov. Amosun?
Number one is I like to talk about the performance of a government when it is midway into the administration.
Unless something major happens and I need to comment on that incident. If not, I really don’t want to go into assessment because I also believe that it is in the interest of the people for the government to do well, everything should not be reduced to politics alone. So that the people can at least enjoy the dividends.
2ndly during the campaign, it was really a direct issue between him and me, as candidates. I canvassed most of these things. And after I said all those things people still made their choice based on what he said.
Having said that, I have my views. The main area I talk about generally is that, in the area of allocation of resources and management of the resources and utilisation of resources of the state to get the maximum benefit and advantage, I think the Amosun government has not done well enough.
For instance, some of the projects they are going into are not necessary. When you talk of the scale of preference, and priorities I will say their priorities are not well set. What I am saying is embarking on some road projects around the place is neither here and there. One or two of them we can give a pass mark, but there quite a number of them abandoned all over the place, that should not have been started in the first instance.
Look at Ijebu-Igbo. The bridge they started has been abandoned, half done. After Ago-Iwoye, there is a model school abandoned there. I went to Ilaro, we saw something that looked much like a fish pond in the middle of nowhere. They have destroyed a lot of houses, they want to do a road there. From Ilara to Igoha to Ijoun there is this much talk about the longest road that they want to do, it has been abandoned. Less than one kilometre or 2 of it was done. If you go to Akute-Alagbole-Lambe you will see heavy bridges it’s there abandoned. So when you see all of those and the fact that they have been abandoned and yet you now want to go and embark on a 10 lane road, I have issues with that decision.
There is nobody that is saying there should not be infrastructure. Oh, why not. We need infrastructure. But that is not to say you will start one, abandon it, start the next one, abandon it and go on like that. So I think in terms of utilisation and allocation of resources, they have not done well at all.
What this government has been doing is to embark on things that clearly we can’t see the reason for it. For instance, in all of the things, we are saying now in Ogun State, I still do not see the reason for a 10 lane road between Abeokuta and Sagamu no matter the reasons they talk about. They talk of using the road to attract economic investments. I don’t get it.
We should also look at the larger picture. That is the federal government. I don’t expect this federal government of change to throw away the attempt made towards the end of the last administration to look at the fundamentals. By that I mean a Confab where we looked at the fundamentals. We need to go back to the fundamentals. The solution is to find a way to enhance revenue.
Let’s allocate our resources. Lets prioritise our projects. Let’s pay attention to things that are also important like Education. This is the age of Innovation. It’s not only about bridges. It’s about brain power of the people. Don’t pay lip service to Education.
What I am saying is that I am a champion of the fact that we need to look at the structure of this nation. We need to look at the fundamentals not just running after fiscal policies alone. We spend a lot on recurrent expenditure.
The cost of running is very, very high. What I am saying is that as the Chief Executive of State, what is available should be well managed. We must get our priorities right. We must drive our projects along the lines of where we want the state to be in the next generation.
A few weeks back the governor was quoted as having said many of those who have come out to be governor of the state so far will not get there. What was your reaction then when he said so?
I have no reaction. He was not talking to me. He said none of those who came to him to tell him they want to be governor qualify to be. I didn’t go to him. And I know he couldn’t have been talking to me.
And I also don’t know the people he is talking to. I know that ultimately it’s God that chooses. Its people that votes. He is entitled to his opinion. And we are not even in the same party.