It is public knowledge that Bayo Adelabu, a former Deputy Governor of the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN) who is the grandson of the late prominent politician and nationalist Alhaji Adegoke Adelabu popularly known as ‘Penkelemesi, has joined Oyo guber race.
He is one of the many aspirants who want to succeed the incumbent governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi. Adelabu is running under the umbrella of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
He is not also just in the race; he is determined and highly optimistic about his aspiration to contribute his own quota to the development of his people and Oyo state generally. He is ready to give all it takes, legitimately, to make his ambition of serving the people of Oyo state as the executive governor become reality. And he is also ready to sacrifice everything within his power to serve his people, part of which was his decision to disengage himself from the service of the CBN as the Deputy Governor of the Apex Bank, where he was six years away from becoming CBN Governor. That is to show how passionate Bayo Adelabu is to contribute to the development of his state.
To realise this ambition however, Bayo Adelabu has since launched a powerful campaign team and has embarked on wide consultation across the nook and cranny of Oyo State. Another thing worthy of note about Bayo Adelabu is the fact that he is not relying on his family name and credentials alone; he is been able to put in place his own structure and he is relatively popular among his people. He is very close to the grassroots, having engaged himself in service to human long time before venturing into politics. Many people include youths, old, widows and less privilege have been helped and elevated through his foundation, Bayo Adelabu Foundation. These and many more formed part of the discussions when Adelabu featured on a popular radio program recently and was monitored by this reporter. Below are the excerpts of his interview with the radio station.
On what motivated Bayo Adelabu to going into politics, his response was very factual and straight. ‘’Of course it is a generally known fact to everybody now that, their son Bayo Adelabu is ready to serve the people of Oyo State. I think it is all over town, It is no longer a secret, I had already left my job which is to be sure of my readiness and preparation to give all it takes’’. ‘’And let me say it clearly here that, there are three reasons why I want to give myself out to serve the people of Oyo State and contribute my own quota to the development and transformation as a mark of continuation from where the incumbent Governor is going to drop the baton in 2019.
My first reason I will say is someone selfish, this is my state, this is where I was born, I don’t have any other place and it is been my age long intention to retire back to this state as soon as I leave active employment. In my retirement I want to see myself living in my environment as it comparable to what obtains not only in Lagos but talk about the best cities all over the world, talk about London in the U.K, talk about Dubai in the UAE and every other place that have our target for holiday and tourism. We can create our own heavens in Oyo State so I had always wanted to play my own path to contribute to its growth and development of my state. Going to CBN again has also opened my eyes to lots of things that we can do that will help us to move the state forward.
And the second reason is emotional; it is sincerely a continuation of our family legacy. We have a heritage in my own family that is known for grass rooted politics, that is known for good governance, that is known for the love of the people; intellectual governance which symbolize my late grandfather, Alhaji Gbadamosi Oduola Akanbi Adegoke Adelabu also known as (penkelemesi). I think the man’s legacy has to be renewed. He died about 60 years ago and a lot of us living today were not around when he lived and those that were around were still very young. So my intention is to say that if you don’t meet Adelabu of the 40s and 50s, here we are to see the Adelabu of 2019, which is the chip off the old block. So I want to continue in that family tradition, to give our people the best of governance
The last reason sincerely is generic which will serve as an incentive to decent young professionals to also participate in the governance of our country because this is our own, we don’t have any other place. If I come here and I become successful, which I know I will be by God’s grace, it would serve as an incentive and encouragement to other professionals like me that have garnered experience all over the world with very sound academic qualification to make sure that they contribute to the development of their father land. It is garbage in garbage out, the quality of life we live is determined by the quality of people that are in governance and the government generally determines our standard of living and the quality of life that we live. We can’t continue to shun politics and that is why I am here’’, he stated.
On his seriousness as far as the governorship race is concerned and if his decision to serve his people is irreversible or not? ‘’I know that great achievement in this world requires a lot of great sacrifice and one of those sacrifices which I have engaged myself in was to drop my job at the Central Bank of Nigeria, I have six more years to go but because of the importance and passion I have for governance of my state for my contribution to the development of my state and to continue the good work of the incumbent Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, I have to pay that sacrifice. I don’t deserve pity or sympathy from anybody, my decision is irreversible. It was an age long ambition and aspiration for me to continue with my family legacy and to be able to be remembered for what I must have done while alive.
Today, I keep telling people that, if I ask you who the richest man was in the 70s, 80s or 90s? Probably you won’t be able to remember anybody. You are only know as a rich man when you are alive but for those that were not so rich but they gave themselves to the service of humanity like the likes of Awolowo, Azikiwe, Adelabu you don’t need to crack your brain before you remember those people. So it is not about wealth, it is not about money. Once you are comfortable, you can feed your family, our needs are actually very limited if we want to be sincere with ourselves; it is our wants that is unlimited and that is what push people not to be able to do what their passion is. I left my job at CBN not because I didn’t need money any longer but I believe more in giving that sacrifice to ensure that I am able to contest for this election. I am a professional, I could have easily delayed my resignation and wait to be weighing the option of if I will be successful in the election or nor but I didn’t do that, I had to quit a job for me to aspire for another one. You can’t be a serving public officer and still be going around politicking; it is unprofessional and unethical and it doesn’t really show a kind of determination that you have. For you to give it all that it takes you have to drop the one that you are holding, that is why I left my job and I know that with God behind me and beside me, am going to succeed. So my decision still stands, sacrosanct, it is irreversible.’’
Will Bayo Adelabu leave APC if he doesn’t get the party’s ticket? ‘’Let me tell you that I am a highly optimistic person and I weigh my options before taken my decisions. I don’t even think of any other options. APC today is the only party in Oyo State, it is the party that can guarantee victory at elections, it is the only party that has proven to people that governance has changed, that governance is now about the welfare of the people, transformation of the state. “I am very sure I am going to get the ticket of APC. That is what I am basing my decision on, there is even no consideration of not been able to get APC ticket. We are talking of Adegoke Adelabu, we are talking of thorough professional. Oyo State APC knows the value of this aspirant and I believe it won’t escape their hands.’’
Late Adegoke Adelabu (Penkelemesi), in his lifetime, was known to be a grassroot politician who commanded enormous respect among his people and that brings to mind the question of how close is Bayo Adelabu to the grass root, in terms of his exposure, the kind of businesses he runs and whether he is a Muslim or Christian? ‘’I am a Muslim. I mean we all know Alhaji Adegoke Adelabu and you all know my name as Abdulwaheed Adebayo Adekola Adelabu. Let me also reinstate that the fact the name, Adegoke Adelabu (penkelemesi), is synonymous to grass rooted politics that was the father of grass root politics. Anywhere you hear Adelabu everybody associate with it; all classes of people, especially people at the low helm of our society, they love Adelabu so much. Let me on that point intimate the people of my dear state about the kind of business I do apart from my official work at CBN and other banks that I had worked before.
I am into 3 types businesses and these three businesses were carefully selected, it cuts across all the classes of the society. Number one is Real Estate, which is building, sale and letting of houses. I started these businesses over fifteen years ago and go check the businesses I do in this sector it is available for everybody. I have more than hundred tenants, my rents are cheaper than the general rents, and you can ask the agents that handle this for me. In any environment that you have my property, go and check out the rent they are cheaper than others around, including my offices and complex. And that is to give our people decent and affordable accommodation, both residential and office accommodations.
The number two business I do is Tourism. Tourism contributes a lot to the growth of any economy. Dubai today don’t have anything signicant that they are producing other than been able to attract tourists to their county and you can go and find out how much of money they make from tourism and the basis of tourism to start with is hospitality which is hotels. Go and check out my hotels in Ibadan, I am telling you it cuts across all categories of people; we have the ones for the lowest class, middle class and the higher class. I have 4-star hotel BestWestern for the higher class, I have Bayse One Place for the middle class, I have Bayse One Executive at Oluyole for the people of the lower helm. If you come to Oyo State you have a place that is conducive and secure to stay.
The third one is Agriculture and Farming. I have got farms across the state, I mean arable farm and livestock; everybody eats fruit. So tell me which of the businesses is reserved for the affluence? And I can tell you that in all these businesses which I started more than twelve years ago, I employed more that 560 people who I pay salary on a monthly basis and I have not owned a single moth salary. This is the way I have contributed to the economy of this state, if I can do this in my personal capacity, you can always imagine what I can use the entire resource of this state to achieve. I believe in teaching people how to fish, not to give fish to people, our people must be productive, they must be able to wake up in the morning and have a place to go to, to ensure that they are able to secure their daily meal, instead of going round and becoming ‘all right sir’’ and all that. Just provide job for the people and people are not lazy, they are ready to work and make a living for themselves. So my businesses are fully associated with three classes in the society.
Beyond profitable business or commercial business however, in Oyo State, you know about my foundation, Bayo Adelabu Foundation, the proceeds from these businesses are also invested in my foundation to ensure that the less privilege in the society are taken care of free of charge. We assist people in the education, we assist people health care services, the orphans, the widows, the physically handicapped and we also engage in youth rehabilitation. These are what I use profits from my business to achieve. What I eat do eat as an individual is actually limited; my needs are limited and restricted. But profits we are making is returned back to the society to ensure that the less privilege are taken care of.’’
If given the chance to sever as governor of Oyo State, how transparent would Bayo Adelabu’s administration be? ‘’Let me tell you that when I become the governor as a professional, a trained and chartered accountant I believe so much in transparency and accountability and that will be the bedrock of our administration and am promising you that I will do everything within the confine of the law of the country to let people know what they should know. We are going to have published account in Oyo State government; security votes is also part of fund collected from federal the government. Apart from security vote, we have Internally Generated Revenue, so government revenue is an addition of Federal allocation, how these monies come in and how they are spent on each of the sector everybody will know. Let me also tell you that security is a very sensitive function of government and men of the underworld that are perpetrating these crimes are always at alert to know how prepared the government is , giving them full details about where you have strengthened, where you have put the money is also giving out the state. It is making it venerable to where these people will attract and how much preparation they also need to perpetrate their crime. As much as possible I am going to ensure that the public knows where these monies go to with level of derails that will not affect the security of the state.’’
On the issue of Asset declaration, Bayo has this to say; ‘’There are two types of declaration; you have the formal declaration of assets with the Code of Conduct Bureau, which will not be public and we have the public declaration, published declaration of assets, I have right to do either of the two. But let me tell you that before declaring my assets I believe more than half of the people of Oyo State know what my assets and there are assets I have acquired years back when I was in the profitable employment at the private sector. So I am telling you now that I will declare my assets publicly.’’
Is the money politics going to be applicable in the case of Bayo Adelabu as far as the election is concerned? ‘’The rot in our politics, which we call money politics didn’t start yesterday or day before yesterday, it is an accumulation of our bad experience over the years. And I believe it is going to fade away gradually. ‘’Let me tell you that for my little experience in politics I have known that if a candidate is a candidate of substance, it attracts natural followership. If it is a name they believe is reliable and have fact records and had displayed love to the state in so many ways before venturing into politics, it attracts its own natural followership. Of course there are legitimate campaign expenses, they expenses you can’t run away from. You work with people, politics is about the people, it is about interest, defending and protecting the interest of the people and you can’t do it alone. When you send people on errand you must be able to take care of them and we are talking about a state as big and as large as state, 28,450 kilometers, over seven million people. The politics in Oyo State is vast and you have to send people errands, you must hire cars and what have you, those are legitimate spending which you must be ready to incur. In terms of people asking for bribe or facilitation before they do thing for you I will never engage myself in it. Something I didn’t do while I was in the private sector, I didn’t do when I was at the helms of affairs at the CBN I will not start it now, it not part of me, it is not in my character. My grandfather attracted his natural followership, of course I have my already established natural followership, whoever is expecting Bayo Adelabu to give money for his or her support or to buy your vote, it will never happen and I will engage myself in such.’’
Can the crisis rocking Oyo APC affect his chances in any way? He affirmed that the party is not as troubled as it is being painted outside. ‘’A lot of reconciliation are ongoing and many people that left are now coming back, because they have seen the light. They have seen that, the only party to be in Nigeria today is APC. They were aggrieved there was no doubt about that, politics is about protection of your personal and general interest. When your interests are not been protected, it is your right to speak out or to be aggrieved and that is why reconciliation is necessary and our leader had set up a very hardworking and aggressive reconciliation committee that actually brought back a lot of these aggrieved members. So today there are very few out there that are not part of APC and I am sure before the general election they are all going to come back.’’
On the notion in some quarters that some people believe Adelabu could have been of great benefit to Ibadan and Oyo State generally if Adelabu become CBN Governor rather than the executive governor of the state since he still has age on his side.
‘’I thank my people for wishing me well. I must something that our leader usually say something that ‘’a good leader takes his people to where they want to be but a great leader take his people to where they ought to be’’. They might think that been the CBN Governor, which I was close to be, will be the best option for them. But for the benefit of being an insider and my capability, my passion and what I can do, I strongly believe that they will benefit more being at the helm of affairs in the state, ‘’coming from the CBN, coming from the private sector. All the experiences I have garnered, I believe replicating them in Oyo State will benefit my people more.’’
‘’When I was at the CBN, of course I was able to bring projects to this state that benefit people of the state ; I was able to employ citizens of this state, resident and indigent. I was also able to do a lot but that are very little, I believe I can do more.
Building on Governor Ajimobi’s legacies, ‘’I want to tell you that what Governor Ajimobi has achieved for us in this state, we have never seen it this good in the history of democracy in Oyo State. Is it about social infrastructure, is it quality of roads you see around now which is comparable to what you see overseas compared to what you had from the previous administrations. We knew what this state was seven years ago, politics was not attractive to people like us, who will even not venture into it; even though I had my ambition since 1999 to come into politics. Between 1999 and 2010, I have never saw it right because it was dangerous; hooliganism, brigandage and a lot of vices in the society were the feature of the society at that time. Is it the reform in the education which I am involved in as Chairman, the governing council of Lagelu Grammar School? Is it the reform in the health sector? Is it the improvement in the economy of the state in terms of tourism, in terms of night life, in terms of doing business? All these things are things Governor Ajimobi is known for and it would go down in the history as a governor that has brought all these and the one that has also attracted the kind of talents and professionals that we see vying for the position of governoship today in Oyo State. You can only improve on what he has done I can tell you that, Governor Ajimobi, sincerely, is the architect of modern Oyo state. What am I doing in politics, if not for the leadership quality of the likes of Governor Ajimobi who have made it attractive to someone like me? Foundation is the most difficult in any structure you are building, Gov. Ajimobi is laying the foundation for everybody and we are going to build on this foundation and you start seeing the impact of what he ahs done. Tinubu di it in Lagos that was what Fashola built on and that is what Ambode built on. Now we are crediting Ambode, we crediting Fashola, what about Tinubu that started it? So anybody that says Gov. Ajimobi’s performance is not commendable sincerely needs his head to be examined.’’
On the issue of high school fees at Technical University, Ibadan, which Adelabu facilitated its foundation building and facilities while at CBN. \
‘’Tech-U has a larger plan and beyond what CBN had donated as their contribution, the state government is still going to do more, by building more classrooms and putting more facilities to make it the state-of-the-art university, comparable to its peers across the globe. And beyond the buildings and facilities, there is running cost in this university. While I will not sit here to defend the fees being charged by the Oyo State government for the reason obviously known to them, I see it as a good feedback in terms of the way people see how the university charges and this will be useful to the government to moderate the charges to be able to accommodate more people.
Don’t also forget that we have few students in the university presently and the cost of running is shared over these few students; I believe that as the population of the students grow and the facilities and standard remains the same the students will be able to pay less. And the benevolent Ajimobi that I know will do something about the charge by then.’’