Ondo state coordinator for president Buhari in 2015
Engr. Ifeoluwa Oyedele, Executive Director (Engineering and Technical Services), Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited is a successful entrepreneur, a fearless and sound politician, graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree, Electrical Engineering from the University of Lagos in 1982. On 28th April, 2018 he bagged the Ondo State Man of the year award of Hero Magazine, the event which took place at the international event center Dome, in Akure Ondo State. Recently City People’s Adeola Shittu was at his Abuja offices where he spoke on his life, his political career among other issues.
For the benefit of our readers, who is Mr. Ifeoluwa Oyedele?
Am Engr. Ifeoluwa Oyedele born to the family of late Chief MO Oyedele and Mrs. C.I. Oyedele, a retired primary school teacher. I attended seven different primary schools and I proceed to the Prestigious Government College, Ibadan.
Thereafter, I proceed to Ibadan Polytechnic and the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) and University of Lagos where I studied Electric Engineering. I started my career with DAFEC Consultants as an engineer whose responsibility was to design and prepare tenders for rural electrification projects as well as supervising and monitoring the implementation of the projects. I proceeded to Oyo State Ministry of Works and Transport where I served for two years with similar responsibilities.
I headed the sales department of Dynapower Nigeria Limited for two years after which I consulted for Edison Group and Partners where I designed electrical engineering projects and services per clients’ briefs and terms and also supervised project executions. Due to my innovative and leadership skills, I served in a number of executive capacities in some blue-chip companies carrying out cutting-edge businesses in Nigeria between 1987 and 1991. As Executive Director/Chief Operating Officer, I set up a companies business and strategic agenda, negotiated contracts and ensured quality and standard of jobs are maintained.
Until my appointment with Niger Delta Power Holding Company on September 1, 2016, I was the Managing Director of Matcom Limited a very successful construction company which I set up and I’ve been running since 1992. I have also been actively involved in politics as a political organizer and canvasser, exclusively for parties and candidates that share my sentiments and visions for Nigeria
Put us through your growing up years?
Well like I said, I attended seven different primary schools because my mother was a classroom teacher and in those days teachers were always transferred from one place to another.
So I attended L.A. primary school in Okitupupa, L.A primary school Ode Aye, L.A. primary school Ikoya, L.A primary school, Akotogbo, I also went to Ebenezer African Primary School, Oke Ado in Ibadan and from there I went to government college, Ibadan. My growing up was very interesting and with all humility I will say I come from a very privileged background.
You see in those days, we have men of integrity who spoke the truth, men of high standard in the society, of which my father was one of them. So, my late father was a man of substance in the community. In the western region as at that time, he was conferred with the prestigious honour of the member of the British Empire in those days (1956).
You will understand what that meant being a Civil Servant Officer who retired in 1974. He was appointed the commissioner in the civil service commission in the old western region state and when the western state was subdivided into three states, he was moved to Ondo State in the same position and he finally retired in the 1980.
So if you are privilege to have a father who was educated as at then, who could pay your school fees and you need not to do odd jobs before fees are paid, then I will say it was a great privileged, I went to a secondary school that was second to none as at then, Government College, Ibadan. We were properly brought up as perfect gentlemen and we were impacted with solid educational background and proper training and from there I went to Ibadan Polytechnic just for a year before I moved to Obafemi Awolowo University (University of Ife).
During my days in the polytechnic, I was very active in student activism and I also left University of Ife after a year to move to University of Lagos and I was very active in student activism. I choose that word deliberately “Activism” because I was the secretary general, University of Lagos, Engineering society. I was the governor of my hostel; I was a member of student representative council. I even acted as the speaker of the student representative council. You can imagine in those days for a student of Engineering to be involved in student activities was something note worthy.
So, I enjoyed my life as a young man then, a lot of partying, reading and I also moved with children of similar background. As a young man, I was very active in sport. During my days in government college Ibadan, I participated in all sports activities, like cricket, hockey, football, athletics among other sports activities at a competitive level. But today, I play long tennis, table tennis, hockey, back then there was no sport I didn’t participate in. In a nutshell, that is the story of my life.
Having said you were born into the family where integrity was the order of the day, which of your parents traits do you take after?
Well, I know its difficult to talk about oneself but I think I almost took after my father though my mother is still alive and the way she talks about my father makes me wonder why he attract so much respect in the society, knowing that he was not a billionaire nor a big businessman. As a matter of fact, before his death, I asked my immediate younger brothers to organise investigative documentary on him to know why my father was that powerful and highly respected in the society. You see, don’t know anybody that will go to my father without according him that respect, some even go to the extent of prostrating for him.
Aside his two Royal fathers who were like his uncle, I don’t know anybody else, so we started the documentary but unfortunately my father died and we couldn’t complete the project. While he was alive, people will say if you want to know the truth of any matter, they should come to Baba Oyedele’s house. My late father had this boldness, he is always fair, no matter whose is gored.
I could recall one incident that involves my elder sister and her husband, my late father heard my sister shouting and he asked us to call my sister, my father asked her what happened and my sister was shouting and insulting her husband in the presence of my father. My father had to slap her, this slap shocked everyone and I tried to intervene that my brother-in-law cheated on her but my father said, is that reason she should be insulting her husband? That day we all learnt a lesson that no mater the provocation, you are not supposed to be rude to someone that is rude to you. I have been teaching people about this. You see my father was a man of integrity. Even 24years after his death people still talk about him.
We grow up among many men and women who live with us and they are not our relatives rather they were our house boys (maids) but we all eat in the same plate and slept on the same bed. He also sent each of his relatives to schools (institutions) but due to financial constraints, he couldn’t send everyone to the university rather he send them to various institutions of learning (like colleges, school of nursing among others) even among his children not all of us attended university, he took the decision for us, only 5 of us went to the university, so that’s the kind of father I have.
And he ensure he set them up. When I started politics, a young man sent a letter to me, on the history of my father and I wept because the young man said he is doing a research about him and he talked about how my father assisted accident victims and ensured the Chief Medical Director looked after such person. So I grew up in that kind of setting.
I have two frame in my office that I cherish so much, first is my testimonial at the government college, Ibadan which speaks volume about who I am and secondly is the letter written to me by one of my friends in 2009, that was 25 years after leaving secondary school and it reads, IFE you were House Matter secretary in 1975, you are one of the 5 in our set whom will have been selected as head of school, if we had not left in form 5, we can attests to your integrity, fairness, vision and inspirational value even as a teenager. “So I think I picked all that from my father.
As a successful Electric Engineering, what actually inspired you in your choice of career?
I honestly cannot say because as at the time I took the decision to studied engineering we don’t have anyone in our family to the best of my knowledge, like I said my father was an educationalist and my mother was a humble primary school teacher, so I didn’t really have anyone that I look up too.
All I know is that I had a dream say between 1967 or 1968, it was the dream that makes me to decide on the profession to pick because at first I wanted to study civic engineering but when I was admitted at University of Ife because I had spent one year at the Polytechnic for my A levels, we decided we would go in for prelim.
Don’t forget in those days we don’t do Jamb, rather each institution do conduct their own entrance exams into the university, so I sat for University of Ife, University of Lagos and Ahmadu Bello University exams.
So lucky me I got information that OAU admission is out, so I bought Tribune and I find my name under Physics instead of Civic Engineering but the fact that few of my friends have gotten into the university, I felt I should go. So when I got to University of Ife, I made enquirer on what I will do to enable me change my course to civic engineering and I was told I had to score very high, this changed my thinking and my social life was reduces and I had excellent result but as at then the Federal Government was starting a new course then called Atomic energy program at the University of Ife which was called Engineering Physics, so they were not allowing brilliant students in that department to move or change course.
But before then I had a feeling something might happen I had obtained a direct entry form for University of Lagos and Ahmadu Bello University but a friend Roland Olufemi Odeneye who lived in Lagos then, informed me that he had already started processing his admission and this made me go to Lagos, where I made an enquiry that the admission officer for faculty of engineering that year was Dr. Osusu who later become a professor, I approached him before then I had applied for my transcripts to be sent to University of Lagos and Ahmadu Bello University but I requested for a copy of my transcripts from the clerk then, so when I went to see Dr. Osusu I gave him a copy of my transcripts, my testimonial and my school certificate result and he was very impress and he asked me to go and start lecture that he will process my admission, so I told him that I wanted to do civic engineering but he said sorry that the department is full and he asked me to pick any other course which were Electrical Engineering, Survey, Electrical Mechanical Survey and Chemical Engineering, so I just picked Electrical Engineering because I felt it cut across all other engineering courses, so that was how I started my career in electrical engineering and I have not looked back since then.
In your own way, do you see yourself as a fulfilled person who had actually impact his society and community at large?
With all sense of modesty, I will say I am a fulfilled man. I have lived my life in a way that my children will do things and say that is what our father will do in this circumstances. I can see myself in my children, in terms of discipline, integrity, I believe am fulfilled. Am not under any illusion that I can change the world but I think I can change one person.
That is why anywhere I find myself I try to impact my way of life into the person closest to me, you see I don’t know how many people have passed though my private company but I know that many of then give testimony of who they are today and what they have learnt. They tell me that they are organized because of what I taught them, so my thinking is that if I have been able to affect one person, I think am fulfilled. Like I said I’m not under any illusion that I can change the world because I’m not God but I can impact one person at a time which is very important to me.
As a successful Electrical Engineering at what time did you decided to join politics?
I don’t think I decided to go into politics, like I said have always been an Activist student during my school days. I’m this kind of person that hates injustice from any quarter, I hate oppression and I have always participated in any decision or process that can lead to taking the best decision for the group. At several occasions I have always been nominated to represent my people in any group I belong to. I was part of the group that led the formation of Gateway Front Foundation by former Governor Otunba Gbenga Daniel.
Despite my absence at the creation of Yoruba council of elders, I was nominated to represent them at Ibadan and that was how I found myself among the Yoruba council of elders and I was made the pioneer Assistant Secretary General of Yoruba Council of Elders, I draft the guideline for the group and I gave it to late Justice Adewale Thompson.
I was part of safe Nigeria group among other groups, you see am never shy to speak the truth and that is what led me into politics. I was one of the supporters of President Mohammed Buhari because at as last election in 2015, the issue of Nigeria and PDP was happening and we need someone with a difference and PMB was miles ahead in terms of integrity which was very important and I have no regrets supporting him. So I will say I started politics in that manner. I became BOT board member of APC and the rest today is history.
Going by your philanthropist acts, do you have any plan to contest come 2019?
I will say no, as we speak I have no ambition of sort. I leave myself open to my God to lead my foot step and wherever he leads me, I will go because I don’t know were he want to take me to. And if he says my journey in politics is over, am ready to call it quits but if he says go and contest for a councilor position, I will do it gladly. I have learnt to obey him without questioning because God knows the best and I have summit myself totally to him.
Original when we started to meet in 2014/2015, I recall that few of us had suggested that I will be the DG, campaign for General Mohammed Buhari Campaign long before he became the APC candidate, I invited Akeredolu to that group, who is now the governor of Ondo state and there was a meeting I didn’t attend and a decision was taken to bring in former Rivers state Governor, His Excellency Rotimi Ameachi and the immediate past secretary to the government of the federation called me and said I called to inform you that we can no longer make you the DG and that Rotimi Akeredolu fought on my behalf so that I can retain the position but a decision was taken for some reason and they agree to make former Gov. Rotimi Ameachi the DG and he said General have ask me to ask you if I will accept to be his campaign coordinator in Ondo state.
At first I felt bad and as I was about responding to the conversation the call line cut off and it took me time that is between Ikeja to Surulere and I couldn’t get across to him but as I was about entering my house his call came in but as at then I had had an encounter with the Holy Spirit and I heard the voice “who do you think you are” and I was like woah, I thought I was a big man, a DG for that matter, so when his call came in, he was like Oga sir, General said will you like to be his coordinator in Ondo state and I said, if all what the General want from me is to sweep the campaign floor, I am ready to do just that. You see that’s my attitude to office and position now and I have chosen to follow God’s leading without question.
What do you do to unwind?
Well, these days, I don’t have enough time for sports any more, I used to play golf and I play golf very well but now I play golf once in 3 months now but I enjoy whatever I do, it will interest you that I relaxed even at work, I’m not the social type but I love to be with my family. I take them out to watch films, I listen to news. In a nutshell I will say I enjoy every bit of my life either when I’m working or reading or whatever I’m doing, I just enjoyed life.