•In The JULY OSUN Governorship Election
Right now in Osun State, Dr Akin Ogunbiyi’s name has become well known. His name is on everyone’s lips. This corporate player has suddenly transformed into a grassroot politician.
From being an Insurance guru, he has become a big-time farmer, and now a big player in politics. He is one of those contesting for the governorship of Osun in a few days’ time. It is no longer news that the Ile-Ogbo-born-Insurance guru-turned politician, is the front runner for the governorship of Osun. He will be running on the platform of another party and not the PDP that he left a few weeks back. We can reveal authoritatively that several parties have pledged support for his candidacy.
The shoddy way Ogunbiyi was treated recently during the Osun PDP primaries got many politicians angry and they have all rallied around him. He will be contesting on the platform of the Accord Party.
Apart from the fact that he has an intimidating C.V and requisite experience to back it up, there are many other things working for him. He is very humble and well-loved by his people. They see him as a clean politician, someone that is not corrupt. He is a thoroughbred professional, a wealth creator, well exposed and an employer of labour. No wonder, many described him as a game-changer when he first joined the guber race years back.
This will be the 2nd time Akin Ogunbiyi will be running for the Osun governorship. He tried it the last time, but he was rigged out at the primaries. Before he took up the offer to come and run on the platform of the Accord Party, there was so much pressure on him not to dump the PDP. The PDP chieftains in the state wanted him to work for Demola Adeleke, in the coming election. All sorts of carrots were dangled before him. But he refused.
Even the current Osun governor, Oyetola wanted to woo him to work for him. He wanted him to work for the return of the APC in OSUN. But he also refused.
The deciding factor for him was when a high-powered delegation of OSUN politicians from very many parties came to ask him to run on their platform and he accepted. They all believe so much in him.
Let’s tell you more about Ogunbiyi. His parents were farmers and his father served as Chairman of the Trade Association. Akin Ogunbiyi attended primary school at A.U.D Primary School. He graduated with a degree in Agricultural Economics from Obafemi Awolowo University in Ife. He studied at the International Graduate School of Management, University of Navarra (IESE) Barcelona in Spain where he earned an Executive Masters in Business Administration. Ogunbiyi attended Lagos Business School. He earned a degree in History and an M Sc in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from UNILAG. He is an Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute in London. He secured the highest number of distinctions in the professional examination in two sittings.
He is an Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute, London. He trained in insurance in NICON. He then joined the Finance and Insurance Experts Limited – a multi-disciplinary consultancy firm. He is a pioneer Associate Director. Ogunbiyi is a fellow of the Institute Directors, Nigeria. He serves on the board of the Infrastructure Bank Plc and other Companies. He is Chairman Of Mutual Benefits Assurance Plc.
Ogunbiyi started politics in 2018 and joined the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) hoping to become Governor of Osun State. On 23 July 2018, Ademola Adeleke emerged as the PDP candidate after defeating Ogunbiyi by 7 votes.
At what point did he go into partisan politics, City People asked him in 2018? “I have stayed away from active participation in politics because of the way it is played in this clime. But it seems we have not been able to get it right over the years with the calibre of people in charge of leadership and governance in Nigeria.”
“Since its about service, we should stop complaining but present ourselves to the electorates as options. Again, Chief Obafemi Awolowo said one thing which keeps re-vibrating, he said, ‘’if good people refuse to join politics then you leave it in the hands of fools’’. People have been complaining about so long that Nigeria is a land that is blessed with milk and honey. But unfortunately, we are bedevilled with leadership problems. It is not that we don’t have the capability in terms of human capital; it is just that the right people don’t find it very interesting or exciting to go into politics because people have seen politics as violent, deadly and unworthy.”
“That it is only touts or jobless people that go into it. This time of social media, people will tell you that in a country of 180 million people, you have tens of millions of First Class graduates, tens of millions of Second Class Upper-grade holders. And unfortunately, they are the ones roaming the streets and people who are Ministers, who are leaders, who are in positions of governance are the dropouts. Do you blame anybody? We should blame ourselves. I have seen what people like Peter Obi, the former governor of Anambra State did.
That guy is indeed my role model. I watched him closely and each day of his administration. He had a lot of positive influence on my life and on my decision to join politics. He is a humane, a grounded professional, an accomplished man in his own right and a boardroom guru. He went into politics, he has no regrets and his people are better off for it, Nigeria politics is better off for it. In his first and second terms in office, I picked so much interest in what he did then and I was really motivated. ‘’And I actually said to myself that, by age 60 I will go into politics.’’
“Again, if you look at what has happened in Osun State, I am a major stakeholder in the state. I looked at it critically and I asked myself why not now? Things are not so rosy. Ask the current government they will tell you they have tried their best, but their best has not been good enough for Osun State People. In every sector, I don’t mean to push anyone nor am I abusing anybody but the point is, we can’t see the scorecard. Can I do something? Maybe this is the time. And that was what informed my decision. And I didn’t just jump into it; I knew what I wanted to do. I voluntarily retired from the boardroom. I actually gave notice of retirement to my board in December 2012.”
“That I would retire in December 2016. That was clear 4 years. I have been living in my community for the last 7 years. So, those are all part of planning and restructuring. And I actually desire a change and good service. Those are the two key things that motivated me. Government, leadership is about service. Can you do it better? Can you give quality and effective leadership? Can you make the lives of the people better? Can people really benefit from democracy? My answers are in the affirmative so I am into politics.
What have been his major fears since he joined partisan politics in 2018?
“My greatest fear to start with was the fact that Nigerian Politics has been monetized. The second fear is godfatherism and I had to settle within my mind how I want to play it. Even when the right people have the best of intentions, when they get it wrong by the mode of entering, even if they eventually get to the position they are incapacitated from day one. So, I said to myself, yes there are people out there who have been in politics all their lives.”
“There are recognized leaders in politics, there are fathers and mothers. There are people that are worthy of reference. I said to myself, I just need a platform; I don’t need a godfather and I chose my platform carefully. If God has been this faithful to me, there is nothing I am looking for if not for the fact that one is motivated by service to the people; the desire to bring the service and the good leadership. I started my company at the age of 39, to the glory of God at 56, I have been able to retire to my village.”
“The second aspect is the issue of monetization and I said to myself, if it is service I want to go and give, I will offer myself to the people. I will offer what I want to do to the people. I will showcase my profile, and let them make their decision. I am not competing with anybody on the basis of how much money we are ready to throw around. Remember people like us started by selling sachet water. I tell people now I sell fish as a farmer. How much do you think I will be able to gather to go and compete? I didn’t make free money! And I am not going to the government to go and make money.”
“The money I am spending is not an investment that I am looking forward to recouping. I genuinely want to serve my people. If I tell people what I want to do, it is up to them to decide. If tomorrow Insha Allah, by God’s grace, I will do everything possible within my reach, within my means and my budget to win the ticket of the party. If I win Glory is to God, if I don’t win it, I will go back to my farm. It is not a do or die affair. If anybody has N10 billion to spend, good luck to him. If it is only N10 million I can judiciously spend to project myself and what I want to do for the people, it is up to them to make their choice.”
What stands him out among other aspirants?
“I have put out my profile; I have been talking openly as to what and what I can bring to the table. So, everybody else has put their profile and what they can do on the table. It is for the electorates, the delegates, and the party to make their choice. There is a job scope, there is position specification. 25 people, 100 people, it is only one person that will get the crown. But starting with my personality and when you talk of my personality, it comprises everything that I stand for; family background, professional career, experience, training, my exposure, my education and my intellect. When I retired, part of what I did was to go and get more capacity, I went to Yale School of Management and did their Global Executive Leadership Management course. They admitted only 27 of us throughout the world, we were the first set.”
“I was in Yale University for 9 months. Going to Yale for that course was part of my preparation for this job. I have been to all the best universities in the world to do one leadership course or the other. I am an alumnus of Harvard Business School, for their high potential leadership course.”
“I deliberately chose that course and stayed away for 9 months, learning about new techniques, new management techniques, building capacity for leadership. I didn’t just go there by accident.
“Today, I have voluntarily retired from both Board and Management. I just told you I gave 4 years’ notice for retirement. Now, I am ready and I don’t need any push, it was a conscious decision. I have taken this decision in the last four years and that was why I started doing the things I was doing, reorganizing myself. I also told you I have been living in my community for the last seven years. I built a church for the community, I am promoting a private university, which is the University of Ile-Ogbo.”
Dr Ogunbiyi comes from a very humble and disciplined background. He is a village man from Ile-Ogbo.” He is gentle and a straightforward person, whereas, 1+1 in politics may not be 2. Does he think he can cope with the political environment, given the kind of background you are coming from?
“I am Akin Ogunbiyi from a humble background. Yes. I am happy you are in my house in my country home. I was raised in a very simple and principled way, to believe in something and stand for it, value, hard work, integrity, respect others and honour God in all my ways. Among other things, I am what I am today and these are the values that have defined my kind of person. These are the values I am taking into politics. There is patronage everywhere, but when you are given patronage, equally there is what they call a “standard service agreement’’.
You can give patronage but with the standard service agreement. If I want to use a local contractor, we’ll all agree, on anybody that can meet one, two, or three standards. If you can’t, go and build up your capacity. I won’t give anybody a job of one naira and ask him to make it ten naira and at the end of the day ask him to bring seven naira back. At the end of the day, nothing is done. What am I looking for? There will be patronage but patronage, with results. So with me, one plus one is still going to be two. They might be doing it elsewhere but not with me, it won’t happen under my leadership.”