Thursday 28th December, 2017 was a memorable day for popular Lagos Prince, Kazeem Eletu-Odibo, as he successful gathered over 3,000 of his Facebook fans across the country at the City People Event Centre, Gbagada, Lagos.
Over 300, from the 500 bags of rice that were bought were distributed and also 300 kegs of vegetable were given out.
This was done under his Prince Kazeem Eletu-Odibo foundation. More than 5,000 names were short-listed. These are the names of those who regularly comment on his posts.
The Managing Director of the Foundation, Mrs. Omobolanle Adebayo made sure every one had a nice time.
At 3pm, the Chairman and Founder of the Foundation, Ambassador, Dr. Prince Kazeem Eletu-Odibo, arrived the venue with his entourage. His arrival was felt, as the MC, Olakunle Taiwo kicked off the event and he opened with the Introduction of the executive members of the foundation.
Before his arrival, there was a lot of positive comments about Prince Kazeem Eletu-Odibo. He was praised for his kind gesture toward his community. Many attendees revealed how he has helped many of those who call on him from time to time to actualize their dreams.
Prince Kazeem Eletu-Odibo Foundation is a non-profit organization working to eradicate poverty, through education and personal development programmes, including school improvement, access to quality education and community motivation and participation predominantly in some less –privileged areas across Nigeria. The foundation is independent and privately supported charity.
Shortly after the presentation of gifts (rice and vegetable oil), the humble Prince spoke to City People about his life. He spoke to City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE and Senior Reporter, ISAAC ABIMBADE and revealed how he started life on the streets before he hit it big in real estate at Osapa London of Lagos.
How did you discover your mission to help people in life?
I won’t say I discovered it. I just believe! From the beginning when I started growing up in Ajegunle, I never knew I was a Prince, I never knew I was from a royal family. My father died while I was a kid. Lekki then was a bush. There was no expressway there then. The expressway was done between 1981-1985. So, after my father’s final burial, everyone had to take their children away from there. So, I found myself in my Uncle’s place in Ajegunle. I grew up in Ajegunle. So, when I was growing up there, I realized that my mission in life was to touch people’s life. From my primary school days, when it was time to eat, I always took some of my friends to canteen along with me and I would pay for their food.
A lot of my friends can testify to this. Even in my secondary school days, when I was a Bus Conductor before I started driving. I was a Bus Conductor for 3 years before I started driving. I drove Danfo bus for 9 years. Before I started driving I was a Scavenger; I used to pick dirt on the street to survive. I have seen it all in life. A lot of people would think maybe it’s because God has blessed me and that’s why I’m doing all what I have been doing. I have been doing this since I was a child. I never knew I was a Prince. I never knew I was from a royal family. My mom never told me that my father had a land somewhere in Lekki. She never told me anything. I just had that belief while I was growing up; I told God I would like to help people in need. And with the little I had then, I used to help people with the little I could. I believe that nobody can please people but I will continue to help with the little I have. I will do little I can do to humanity.
At what point did you start noticing you are from a royal family and a Prince?
Like I said, my mom never told me anything about that. There was a lady that saw my mom in Ajegunle, and she said mother, what are you doing here (Ajegunle)? Your late husband land (place) has turned to a city in Lekki. She continued that, they have been looking for you, they can not find you. That was the time my mom now called me that she would take me to my father’s place in Lekki and she also told me about my father. That was how I found out my father has an expanse of land in Lekki and his from a royal family. (Eletu-Odibo family). It was that woman who saw my mom that made it easy for me to reconnect with my family.
How did you now go about it?
When my mom told me about it, she brought me to Osapa and that was around 1993, I was still in secondary school then and that was when I started driving Danfo bus. So, when we got to Osapa, when I met with my family, my brothers especially, everybody was in tears that they have been looking for us. My father had 10 wives and 17 children. My mom is the last wife and I’m the last born of all the children. So, when we got to Osapa that day, everybody was like, we have been looking for you ‘guys’ and it was like a reunion party. It was like a big party because they were all happy to see me. So, they asked me to leave Ajegunle, but then, my mom never wanted to leave me for anybody.
So, when I closed from school in Ajegunle every Friday, I will go to Osapa on Friday and I go back to Ajegunle on Sunday. From there, I got to know more about my family. I knew I was a Prince and that was how I started my life.
At what point did you now start real estate?
I started Real Estate in 2007 when I came back from London. I left Nigeria in 2002. I came back from London in 2006 and I started real estate 2007. But I would say real estate is in my blood because my father was a real estate man while he was alive. So, I believe I followed the footstep of my dad.
How has it been since then?
It’s been good. The position I was in 2007 is not the same position I am today. I will give God all the glory because he has been kind to me. God has been helping me. My mom is a prayerful woman. She’s been there for me. She advices me. She knows I am a Charity man. She tells me what to do, how to live a humble life, how to respect everybody. So, I give God the glory for what I have today and what I will be tomorrow.
From what you just told us, it shows you are from a humble background. How did you find yourself in London and what was your motive?
When I moved from Ajegunle to Osapa, what we used to hear was everybody traveling abroad to hustle and we used to hear people easily make it abroad. So, I felt I should go and try the other side of the world because I didn’t want to depend on my father’s wealth; let me go and hustle on my own. That’s why I travelled. So, while abroad, I did all sort of things like I did while in Ajegunle. I was a House-keeper. I was selling newspaper there but God said you have to go back to your fathers land.
How did you feel when you won the land case of your father land, a few years ago?
The case about my father’s property, according to history, I learnt my father bought the land from the Ojomu royal family in 1977, about 254 hectares and he paid. About 9 of them signed for him then. He has all the perfected documents, registered at the Land Registry at Alausa in Ikeja. So, I learnt that the Ojomu family said when Lagos State revoked all land in Lekki, my family didn’t support them to fight Lagos State and since they won Lagos State in court, they said we don’t have any land anymore. My late brothers started the case around 1993 and the case lasted for over 20 years. The spirit of my father knew he bought the land genuinely from the Ojomu Chieftaincy family and the Supreme Court judgement gave us victory.
Can you tell us about who he was and the important of your father when he was alive?
Like I said, I didn’t know my father that well. I was very young when he died. According to what I have been hearing and from the history, everybody that knows Lagos State will know the important of my dad, most especially in the Lekki axis. From Maroko to Epe, nobody can say he/she doesn’t know who Gbadamosi Bamidele Eletu-Odibo was. He was a wealthy man. He was a powerful man and he was also an influencer; he had call the ‘contacts’. Everything I’m doing today is like a footstep of my father because then, according to what people say that when you cry to my father, you will smile on your way back. He was very kind. He loved to put smiles on people’s faces. I don’t see anybody coming out to say that Chief Gbadamosi Bamidele Eletu-Odibo has done bad thing to him or her. He had helped a lot of people and communities over there.
Whenever my father returned from Lagos Island to Osapa, people from Ibeju Lekki to Epe would come to greet him. The masquerades would be dancing. He had a lot of cows; they would killed cows and people would be dancing and rejoicing. So, my father is like a mentor to me.
We also heard he was the Traditional Prime Minister to Oba of Lagos at that time, can you tell us what that means?
Everybody knows that Eletu-Odibo family came from Benin in the year 1630. That was when Oba of Benin sent Eletu-Odibo, Obanikoro and some other Chiefs to came to Lagos, to crown Prince Ado; the first Oba of Lagos. My father was a Prime Minister to Oba of Lagos then. His younger brother was Eletu-Odibo then when he was alive. He was the person who crowned Oba Oyekan. When Oba Oyekan had issue with Chieftaincy, he came to my father in Osapa, my father helped and stood by him till he was re-installed as Oba of Lagos then.
As Lagos is concern today, especially in the Eti-Osa axis nobody can say my father; late Chief Gbadamosi Bamidele Eletu-Odibo was not an important person.
How have you been able to rebuild the name Eletu-Odibo which was part of Lagos history to what it has become today?
Eletu-Odibo is a powerful name in Lagos. No family can push us back. Like I said, Eletu Odibo originated from Benin in 1630 and since then, the name has been there. When I started growing up, I realized the name has been abandoned. So, I said to myself that, how can this name be abandoned? So, I have tried my best to bring the name back. After the victory at the Supreme Court, the name started coming up with what I have been doing in Osapa-London area of Lekki, in Lagos people can relate to my name with the mention of Osapa London.
So, I have tried to build the name to what it was from the beginning. And by the grace of God, today the name has repositioned itself. With the work I have been doing, in terms of Charity, community developments, the name has become a strong brand. People know that I’m a man of my word. These are some of the reasons why I was conferred the United Nation Ambassador in America. I believe the name is still going higher and higher.
In Osapa London and it surroundings, everyone commends you, you have single-handedly done several projects without waiting for government. Can you tell us why you are doing all these?
When I came back from abroad, I found out the whole place was water-logged except the few areas that was sold. When I started real estate and I told people to come and buy, they started complaining that the land was water-logged; that they couldn’t invest there. I used to tell them I would do it but they never believed me. So, when I started making money from real estate, I decided to start on my own. The price of land then was about 2 million naira for a plot of land in 2006-2007.
Even with that little amount, many were not buying. I believe in something, once you take care of your environment, you environment will take care of you. So, I decided to start the development on my own because I believe it’s my community. They say Charity begins at home. I want to prove to everybody that I can do it. Once I can do my own community, I can do anywhere. I started Construction of roads, Drainages and shortly I started, the value of property started going up and a lot of people were coming, then I started doing more roads and drainages.
Can you tell us the new project you are working on?
I will just share a few things about it because it’s not yet official. But I want to say a very big thank you to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode because he was the person who signed the documents for my family. It was like a settlement out of Court from my family and Lagos State government. When we won at Supreme Court, they couldn’t allow us to take possession of the land which the Lagos State Government has given C of O and Governor’s Consent. The process started from governor Fashola’s regime but he couldn’t do it before he left office and today, the governor has finally signed the allocation letter to the Eletu –Odibo family, which is 160 hectares. We are still on it though we have to do some reclamation because it has been covered with water. It is a very big project. It is going to be like a mega city and its going to be the second phase of Osapa-London; this second phase will be like Osapa London of Dubai.