•Former OYO Gov. Otunba ALAO AKALA’s 70t Birthday Interview
A few days back, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala marked his 70th birthday.
Otunba Akala was the Governor of Oyo State before Senator Ajibola Ajimobi came into office, before Engr. Seyi Makinde now took over. He was 70 in the first week of June. But before the birthday he launched his Memoirs/Autobiography which is explosive because he touched on all the people, events and activities he has been part of since he was born.
A few days back, this simple and easy-going politician was our guest on City People TV, Instagram Live Chat with City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE and he spoke on his new life at 70 and the politics of Oyo State. Don’t forget he is the undisputed godfather of Ogbomosho politics. He also revealed why he is in APC now. It is really interesting.
How does it feel to be 70?
I feel good, I feel blessed. I think age is just a number. I still feel the same way I used to be when I was 50. Apart from little, little health challenges. You know when you are getting old, you need to take some medication especially for high blood pressure. Though I don’t have any serious health problem.
I take my medication for high blood pressure which I started using when I was in the office.
How do you plan to celebrate your 70th birthday?
Honestly speaking I am planless. Planless in the sense that it has been difficult for everyone to plan anything now. Nobody can move. No flight is allowed to come into the country. That makes it difficult for anyone to plan anything. Unless everything is back to normal before the d-day but for now, we are planness.
What has life taught you at 70 sir?
The only thing life has taught me is to continue to be grateful to God. Because when you look back, the way you started, the people you started with, where they were and where you are. You will have no choice than to always give thanks to God. I am grateful to God for keeping me alive. I started with some people who have gone to be with the Lord. Life has taught me that anywhere you find yourself just give thanks to him and be grateful.
Let me take you back to when it all started, where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born on the 3rd of June, I was born both in Nigeria and in Ghana in 1950. I was a baby when I was brought back to Ogbomosho, I grew up to know that I was born in Ogbomosho but later on somebody said I was born in Ghana.
How was your growing up?
Like other children, I started primary school at Osupa Baptort School established in 1855. I was lucky at that time when we got our independence. I grew up amidst my friends playing with planks, playing ball and other small things we do as children. I grew up staying with my maternal grandmother and I have no cause to regret. I learnt some trade it didn’t work. I started working in Ogbomosho/Owolanke Farm settlement. I learnt to keep poultry before I started a poultry on my own at age of 14 from there again I left for Ghana.
In Ghana I started schooling again. I went to Kaduna Barrack Training School, after 4 years I went to a College in Ghana, I was there for 2 years. Later I returned back to Ogbomosho where I eventually got my certificate from Ogbomosho High School in 1972.
How do you find your years in the Police Force?
It was very interesting. I really enjoyed my years in the police force. It has always been my desire to join a uniform job because I grew up in a Barrack in Kaduna. I knew I was going to enjoy it even before I started and I didn’t regret it at all. If possible I come to this world again I will still join Police.
As a Police Officer, you are a Nurse, you are a doctor, you are a teacher. You are everything. Being a Police Officer is a jack of all trade and master of everything. That was how we were taught when we were in training. I enjoyed everything I got when I was a Police Officer.
I saw myself above all my contemporaries because I did that profession.
You are expected to do so many things as a Police Officer. Your patience is also tested as a Police Officer. So I enjoyed my life as a Police Officer. I did not want to leave but God said it was time for me to leave and I left. It was better off for me to leave at that time. I was able to be useful to myself at a very youthful age.
At what point did politics come in, was it when you were there or when you left?
It was when I left the police force I realised that I would be able to use all the experiences I have gathered in life in politics and I went into politics. Don’t worry all these information is in my book that we are going to launch on the 1st of June.
How do you see your years as Governor of Oyo State?
It was okay. I was able to fulfil all my promises. I was able to fulfil all my mandates. When I was coming in as the Governor of Oyo State, I prayed to Almighty God to give me the wisdom to perform well. I had a vision when coming into the government and my vision was to leave Oyo State
better than the way I met it. I have gathered a lot of experiences before going into that office. I did not waste time when I became the Governor, I went straight into the business since I have had my vision of what I wanted to do. I knew it was an opportunity in my lifetime to change the course of what is happening in Oyo State at that time. To make sure that I bring back the pacesetter status of Oyo State. And also to make sure that I serve the people of Oyo State with the fear of God when everybody will have a say in government, and that was exactly what I did. You know my antecedence. I started as a grassroots person. I started as a Local Government Chairman. I was very much in touch with the grassroots when I was in power. I had a programme that time that enabled be able to get in touch with the grassroots every month.
I will go on Radio and TV to let people call me, I told them straight not to censor any call, if anybody wants to abuse me let them abuse me! I was very much with the people that I govern. I enjoyed what I did and I left posterity to judge what I did for the people of Oyo State. I thank God for the period God allowed us to spend as the Governor of Oyo State.
Was there any regret, sir?
No, I don’t have any regret at all. It was a privilege that God has given me, why should I regret. Not everybody had that kind of privilege I had. Not everybody of my age group had that privilege. It is just the grace of God. I don’t have any regret at all. I enjoyed serving the people of Oyo State, and they also supported me very well in doing my job.
How do you see Oyo State today sir?
Ebenezer Obey sang and I quote “come and dance Ebenezer, do your best and leave the rest”. I have done my best, let those behind us do what they think they can do for the people of Oyo State as well. Posterity will judge all of us.
How do you see the effort of the current governor?
I have told you that I don’t have any regret. Let every one that is there do their own best. Let’s leave posterity to judge. It’s not people like me that will talk about any government. We cannot criticise any government we can only give advice. By the Grace of God, I am a statesman now. If anybody wants to tap experience from me they should come to me. I am not going to criticise any government. I will make myself available as a stateman for anybody to use me for the betterment of Oyo State, not for me to be exchanging views about any governor on the newspaper.
If I am approached I will definitely help as a statesman. Anybody that wants to be a Governor should know that he has to do his best, so let’s leave them to work. Let him serve the good people who have given him the mandate to serve them.
What’s your relationship with Governor Seyi Makinde?
He is close to me I am close to him. It can’t be more than that. We have a very cordial relationship.
Talking about politics, are you still actively involved?
I am still in politics. As an elder statesman, I can’t function well if I am not in politic. I am still doing politics. One thing about politics, you don’t retire unless you are not good. When you want to retire you will remember lots of destinies who are still attached to you and they want you to guide them.
So, if you retire how would they tap into your experience? A lot of young men have determined to follow you, that their destiny is tied to yours how will you then make them happy. So, I will not leave politics until I die. Baba Awolowo did not leave politics until he died. Baba Adesanya was a politician until he died. So, I am not leaving politics until I die.