He is the son of late Oba Abiodun Oniru. He was a former Commissioner in Lagos State. Aremo Adesegun Oniru hardly talks about his life of royalty. He seldom grants interviews, but not too long ago he opened up on his life as a crown prince. And that has been his 1st major interview till date. City People reveals the interview he had with the City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE, during which he spoke about the influence of his late dad.
What sort of person are you?
I believe I am an easy-going person and I take every day as it comes. I try not to complicate my life. And I try my possible best to do the right thing. And so once all those things are in place, every day in the same.
When you look back at your life, how does it make you feel?
Looking back, I feel fulfilled. And you can’t feel fulfilled in life without a few people being part of that life and being an impact on your life. First of all, I like to give glory to Almighty Allah for making me what I am today and the people he has used to make me what I am. By this, I mean my mother, my father, Oba Idowu Abiodun Oniru, who has educated me to a level for me to take charge and fully control of my life. And for my mother for being there for me and her advice, I won’t be doing Justice to myself if I don’t recognise the impact Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has had in my life, and my Uncle, the current Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu. He is my family. He is my brother and he is my guardian.
Between the two of them, they brought me back to Nigeria in 2002 and 2003, from where I was working in England, I was doing very well. But they insisted that look, there is nowhere as home. Come and contribute your own quota to your state. Those are the people who have made me who I am today.
How have you found being Oba Oniru’s son? Has it been a huge responsibility or an advantage?
It is a huge responsibility because as time goes on, some of us will begin to assume higher responsibility. My father will live long. But he will not live forever.
Some decisions that need to be made in the family, he is still alive making those decisions now. As I always say to people, when a child listens to his or her parents for a duration in life, at a time, your parents must start listening to you too.
So, whenever I can, I advise my father, and he does likewise to me. And whenever I advise him, he sees reasons to take my advice. This is one of the responsibility I am talking about from the royal side of things.
Let’s talk about your growing up years. Where were you born?
I was born in Lagos, at Island Maternity. I started my education from the Nursery. I started my proper school life at Holy Cross School near City Hall. At the age of 7, my father moved me and some of my brothers to a school in Abeokuta called St. Bernadette Private School. I was there till the age of 12. From there, I was shipped out abroad in 1978 to a school called Gorin Hall School in Sussex in England. After my O’Levels there, I went off to a college called Stafford House Tutorial College in Canterbury in Kent to do my “A’Levels, I then went on to Wharton Stone College, then to the University of West Minister. Back then, it was called The Polytechnic of Central London right outside Madame Tussauds. That’s where I obtained my degree as a Civil Engineer. Since 1990/91, I have never stopped working. That’s the story of my life.
After you left school, did you stay back to work?
I lived and worked in the UK for 24 years. I came back to Nigeria in early 2,000. After I graduated, I free-lanced working in those Middle East countries where the real money was. Then, I went to work at Essex Country Council, and I then went on to work for the Highway Agency, looking after motorways, the M25 Motorways particularly, from Essex Junction all the way to Heathrow Airport Junction.
All the structures: Bridges, subways, tunnels I was an inspection team leader inspecting the structures ensuring that all is well with them and back then, our budget every year to do maintenance work on those structures was about £6 to £8 million a year.
Being a young Engineer, that was much money back then, to maintain the structures. I did live and work in the UK for a long time.
After you moved back to Nigeria, what did you do?
When I moved back to Nigeria, I started off by constructing properties for the family. My family is a major landowner on Victoria Island, so I was constructing properties for the family and selling them and everyone was happy until after a year or so after coming back that I was appointed the Managing Director, of a corporation called Waterfronts and Tourism Development Corporation back then. That corporation became a full Ministry in 2007. It was split into two. I became the Commissioner for Waterfront and Infrastructural Development and the Tourism side was handled by Tokunbo Afikuyomi. He became the Commissioner for Tourism.
Prior to that, I have been the Special Adviser for Works & Infrastructure to His Excellency, Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Moving on from that, I was a Commissioner for Housing towards the end of Asiwaju’s administration and at the inception of Gov. Babatunde Raji Fashola’s administration, I became the Commissioner for a brand new Ministry called Ministry of Waterfronts & Infrastructural Development and to the glory of God, I am still that Commissioner today.
You’ve been around politicians for years, at least 16 years. How come you’ve not been tempted to go for elective office?
(Laughs) In life, everyone must know his/her limits. In life, everyone must be content with where and what God has given you. If my state asks me to contest for any position, I would be quite happy to do it because I believe I have enough experience now to do whatever is it that the state requires of me.
If you mean Governorship elections, you need to know that these things are done in a way and manner. That the party has set out the guidelines. There is West, Central and East. I am from Lagos Central and the Current Governor is from there too.
It will be unfair for anyone to want to contest from that side when the zoning of the Governorship is to the East.
When we started the interview you said your life is an open storybook. Why did you say that?
The game that we are in if you believe you can have secrets and you can’t be open to people and make your life an open book, then it’s the beginning of an end to a story that has never started. You cannot go into government and not expect to be criticised. You cannot go into government and not expect to be abused. You cannot go into government and think you will get away with some of the things that you do without other people going against you.
So, when you make your life an open book, there would be no surprise.
What sort of a person is Aremo Ade Segun Oniru?
Aremo Adesegun Oniru is a man, who enjoys life, a man, who is ready to relate with anybody from any walk of life. Aremo Adesegun Oniru is a person, who enjoys Entertainment. He is a man who believes in properties.
I, as a person, hate to see numbers in the banks. I, as a person, will like to see your money working for you.
And how best does that work? By acquiring properties, developing it and owning properties. So, I am a proper person.
As for my background, I am a Civil Engineer. I have a degree in Civil Engineering.
On one hand, you are a Prince and on the other, you’re a peoples man, so much so very many people have nice things to say about you. People hardly say negative things about you beyond those who just say, oh! Aremo Adesegun Oniru loves the good life.
(Laughs) Noo! I have to differ from you. There are a lot of many people who don’t agree with some of the things I do. And that is understandable. For example, let me take my family. My wife and my kids believe that since they’ve known me as a person I have never spent enough time with them. That is a big issue in my family. My family believes that daddy, you can leave this job, and we can move back to London and you will be ok. They don’t understand that Lagos State is in my heart.
I also have many friends around me if I am to rate the level of friendship I have around me, I will say I have 30% good ones and 70% not so good. Those who are not soo good I still keep as friends. That’s me, That’s for a reason.
It’s because it’s good to keep your enemies close to you and your friends at arm’s length. A friend who will look at me in the eyes and tell me the way it is, and what I am doing wrong is a true friend.
A friend who will tell me whatever I want to hear is a very bad friend. So, I have all those kind of people around me. I know for sure that people say bad things about me. But it’s a free world. There is nowhere you will be in life that you won’t have enemies or those envious of who you are or what you have achieved in life. Thank God, I believe I have more positive people who will say more positive things about me than the people who don’t really know me and will say negative things about me.
As a Prince, how do you get along with different kinds of people, from diverse backgrounds?
I have to get along because I am a people’s person and I have to daily deal with people of all shades and forms. Sometimes I get worked up and I take it out on my wife at home.
When I get home I pour out my anger on her. Most time, she does not understand why this man gets worked up over things. We are all human. I try my best to try and get along with people and to work with people and to make sure that all is well.
Tell us about your wife?
My lovely wife is Adeyinka Oniru she is a very, very pleasant person. She was born in Newscastle, very cold part of England. She came back to Nigeria because of me. She was living and working in England and I married her many, many years ago.
She is a very, very pleasant woman and easy going. There are very, very few people who know who my wife is. She lives a private life. She knows that Good, the Bad and Ugly sides of me. And everybody has that side of me. Don’t let anybody lie to you. I thank God for her, for what she has done and for the role she has played in my life. We have four lovely children made up of 3 girls, one boy. I have a 21-year-old, 18, 15 and a 6-year-old-boy and she has dedicated her life to looking after those children for me.
How does the crown Prince unwind?
I love the Entertainment industry. I love music. I believe one day, I plan to have an entertainment outfit that I can call my own. I have a small bar at Oniru where I unwind It’s my bar. I usually hang out at the bar called Timeless. My friends and I relax there most evenings, over drinks. When I close, I go home first, see my son, and wife and later go and have a drink with my friends and go back home and sleep.