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‘Why I Cannot Leave The APC’ -Ayo Karim



Ayo Karim is the Managing Director of Costain Plc. The new breed politician is among the top contenders that vied for the APC governorship ticket in Oyo State, Ayo, among many other qualified candidates lost the ticket to Bayo Adelabu. In this interview with Ayotunde Ayanda he narrated his experience in politics, why he choose to stay in APC after losing the party ticket and why he is working with the flagbearer of APC in Oyo State and his assessment of the last elections…

The Presidential and National Assembly election is over, what is your general assessment of the election?

My general assessment is very simple. The permutation, the directive and the calculation worked out in APC’s advantage. Firstly, let us talk about the leaders who are vying for the office of the President. President Muhammadu Buhari is known to be honest, astute and his vice, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has similar characteristics. You can see from what they have been able to prove in the last four years, the previous lords were unable to finish what this present government, even with half of what they were earning before,was able to complete.There is a lot of infrastructure projects to the benefit of Nigerians. So, winning the general election did not come as a surprise, it was all based on performance.

Would you say the election was free and fair?

Yes, in my own personal assessment. It was free and fair because I was involved with the Oyo State chapter of the general election, unfortunately in Oyo State we lost a little bit to the other side but not withstanding we pulled our weight and now we have realised what we need to do in order for us to win further elections.

You attempted getting the APC ticket to run for Governor but you were denied, why didn’t you leave the party to actualise your dream in another party?

I have been a member of APC right from inception, I was there since when it was formed and I believe in the philosophy of the party, I believe in the ethos of the party and I believe that in APC we go by the status of our constitution. It is a bit more favourable to Nigerians to stick to the party that are people oriented and progressive in terms of outlook, a party that has the overall interest of the country at heart in terms of development, also in terms of progress and trying to position the country in the league of nations as one of the best countries in the world. I can see the performance in the last four years in comparison to the previous 16 years of others, the difference is clear. In APC, I think as a country and as a party we have a good chance and for me personally, to answer your question, I have a better chance in striving among like minded people that require progress, that have high value integrity and hope to drive the country forward.

Were you angry you did not get the ticket?

No, I wasn’t angry. When you look at the quality and calibre of the aspirants in Oyo State, I think the APC ,Oyo State party governorship primaries has the best class of aspirants you can display in any part of the country. You can see from the gentleman, Adebayo Adelabu, the current flag bearer of the party in the state and if you look at the other top 10 , which one of them can you push aside? With titans and tactics we came out to raise the bar. I say look, these are the kind of quality leaders we need. And based on that I am not disappointed or dissatisfied about the outcome, of course I was a little disappointed but I am not dissatisfied about the outcome.

So, in the next four years what’s next for Ayo Karim?

First of all we have a party and we have a governorship election and I am proud to say my friend, Adebayo Adelabu is our flag bearer, so I am pulling all my support behind him to win the governorship election so we can follow the party’s values, the ethos and hope to build on the progress that the state has been able to achieve in the last eight years, that is first and foremost. Secondly, after doing that we can now look at how we can add value to what Adebayo Adelabu is doing as governor in the state.

In what capacity have you been working with Adelabu?

Well, we speak on a regular basis and we discuss a lot of strategies on how to achieve the aim. Don’t also forget we are members of the same party and as a member of the same party it is onerous on me as long as I decided to stay with our party and beside he also is my friend. As you can see I am wearing two hats, he is my friend and we are members of the same party, it will be a shame if my friend loses or my party loses, so, I am putting my eggs in one basket and I am going for it.

If Bayo wins… (cuts in)

No, when he wins.

Okay, when Bayo wins the normal trend is for him to seek a second term, making 8 years, in another 8 years you will be in your late 50’s, do you still want to govern Oyo State?

Well, when the time comes we will decide. Nobody knows tomorrow. If I am to answer your question, I don’t know if there are other opportunities available in the society or in Oyo State, I want to practice my politics here but if there is opportunity in the centre, obviously we will be happy to take it.

Before the ticket was given to Adebayo Adelabu, there was a kind of agreement between the top contenders in the state that if you lose out you will work with the winner, other contenders didn’t abide with that rule, why are you the last man standing? You are also a key official with NAMMBO, how were you able to joggle working with Bayo and at the same time play a role in NAMMBO?

NAMMBO is a National Movement for Muhammadu Buhari and Osinbajo, basically it’s just to position ourselves in the centre, to try and support President Buhari and Osinbajo in achieving the target of the second term, and now we have achieved that, as the national Financial Secretary of NAMMBO we were able to raise funds, we did a lot of sensitization all over the country, we went up and down the nooks and crannies of the country, all the villages as much as possible all over the 36 states in the country including Abuja to let the people know that continuity for our country is important, we need to build on the existing progress that the government has made and it would be a disaster if we were to change that government now, so the support for that team is required. Thank God we have been able to achieve that so the next thing now is to come down to the state level to support my friend, Adebayo Adelabu in winning the governorship so that we can also build on the progress we have achieved in the last eight years. On how I was able to do the two, first of all you have to have the capacity, if you don’t have the capacity you can’t joggle the two . And the second question on how I became the last man standing and the only one with Bayo Adelabu. For me as I’ve said earlier, I believe in the ethos and I believe in the philosophy of the party and I also believe that one has to be magnanimous in defeat. In life if people are vying for a post, only one person could win, once that person wins, it’s his time , you need to wait for your own time and believe it would come.
With the results of the Presidential and National Assembly elections in Oyo State, do you think the APC can muster enough strength to win the governorship election?
Oh yes, I believe so, I believe Adebayo Adelabu has done really well, he is on the road, he is campaigning, he is appealing where his personality has to come out, his own self, he has to be a man of his own, he has to be Adebayo Adelabu Penkelemes, appealing to people not under the wing of anyone anymore. He needs to appeal, to reach out to people, this is who I am, this is what I intend to do please support me. For me I believe in that and that is exactly what he is doing, he was on the radio this morning and the interview this morning I must say was exceedingly interesting, about his performance, he was quite sincere, quite open and quite honest about what he can do and what he cannot do. So, for me if you are looking for a leader, a leader has to be open, honest and sincere. He knows quite what he can achieve in terms of what is available in comparison to what is on ground, for me I think a leader like that ought to be followed

You started well with the Ayo Ni Foundation, what will happen to it ?

Ayo Ni Foundation is a foundation, it is about supporting the people of Nigeria, starting from Oyo State and that will never stop, we are hoping to build on the success we had during our campaign. And still Ayo Ni Foundation is an ongoing thing, we are going to be empowering people, we are going to be doing different types of programmes to empower women, empower students, youths, farmers, market men and women, those are the kinds of things we plan to do in the next few years.

I understand you are close to Governor Ajimobi, how did you take the news of his defeat in the Oyo South Senatorial District election?

Well, funny enough I saw him yesterday for the first time after he lost his senatorial bid, he is still upright, he is upbeat and I think he is magnanimous in defeat. He said he believed it was an act of God and probably God has different role for him to play in the politics of Nigeria and Oyo State, that is the way he sees it. Overall, I think he is taking it very well, from his statement out of 14 federal House of Representatives we won 9 and out of the 3 senatorial districts we won 2, so, overall it is not a failure, it is a pass mark but it was just that the only loss just happened to be his own seat. And I also believe that the Oyo South Senatorial District people is actually sending a message and I think it is not for us to laugh about but it is for us to learn from. I think it is a learning course for people like us who are behind in politics.

Would you consider going to the Senate if you have the chance?

As I said Oyo State is my first love, in any capacity that I can serve the people of the state I will be happy to exploit the challenge.

There is a rumour going round, that you and your brother, Kola are having issues that he is not comfortable with your ambition, how true is this?

Let me clarify this issue now, at my age when people start spreading those kind of rumours you wonder why, what is the motive?. My brother is a business man; I was in business before I decided to become a politician and that is my personal decision. However, I come from a family that is very supportive of whatever we all do, so, I don’t understand where those stories came from that my brother wasn’t comfortable with what I do. My family is 100 percent behind me, I don’t just have one brother, I have few brothers and they are 100 percent in support, but these are private people, because you don’t see them in the public domain doesn’t mean they don’t support what I do, I think that’s where the rumour came from. Do people expect them to be by my side during campaign and run here and there? my brothers are not like that, they are however, in support in term of resources, in terms of family support , that is available, otherwise I won’t be able to achieve what we achieved during the campaign. We all celebrated the New Year party together.

You were doing good as a businessman, why did you come into politics?

I am glad you asked this question, it is a question I feel passionate about. I have been very fortunate to have gone through the Awolowo free education system, and if you look at where we were in the 70s to where we are today with the level of our education system, if I am to send my child in Nigeria to receive that kind of education, I will be paying through the nose. And I know what the economy was in the 70s and in the 80s in comparison to where we are now, and if you look at the education system now it has been decimated, economy decimated and I feel if experienced people, exposed people, people with the technical know-how refuse to get involved with the running of our government, running our affairs then where it makes no sense, the logical thing for me to do having felt the way I felt is to get involved in politics. It is about getting involved because what is happening is that the educated people in the past, the exposed people, the enlightened people don’t want to get involved in politics but the politicians are the ones making decisions about our future and it only makes sense for me to get involved and that is the reason I am getting involved in politics to provide good governance.

How do you plan to merge your personal business with politics?

Well, I have diversified my business if we are to talk about my business, I have a company called Winchester Construction, Winchester Farm, and Winchester Mining, so I have these three businesses that is sustaining my life style.

All based in Nigeria?

Yes, all based in Nigerian and all based in Ibadan.

So, without your total contribution the business can function on its own?

The business can’t function by itself that is why you need people, I have been very fortunate having good people and I am also working as well as doing my politics side by side.

Now that you have come into politics and within the little time, what can you call the direct challenges you have faced?

The direct challenge is about the people, the people are the real challenge. Let me give you a scenario . You see if you take education away from the people the ability of the people to think beyond an average mind has been diminished. So if you can’t think beyond rice and beans on the table, then it is an issue, because you can’t just plan for today, you need to plan for the future and I think the ability for people to plan for the future has been taking away deliberately. So, our job as politicians and as leaders in this state is to raise the bar in education so that our people are able to think beyond an average mind, beyond rice and beans on the table and start thinking about the future of all us. For me, that is a challenge because that ability has been taken away and we need to bring it back, so when you are campaigning in a lot of cases it is extremely difficult for majority to understand what you are saying without inducement.

Are you aware of the popular belief that the APC governorship tickets goes to the highest bidders, have heard it?

I have heard it many times and that is entirely not true, it is just untrue, nothing true about it. And I am sure Adebayo Adelabu himself has reiterated many times and Governor Ajimobi has said if you have evidence bring it forward. Nobody for once has brought forward a single evidence as proof.

What will you do to sustain the Ayo Karim brand you have largely created in Oyo State?

Well, it is by sustainability, I have been in business for so long to understand how to sustain a process; it is by sustaining and getting involved. As I said and I have said to my friend, Adebayo Adelabu that I am available to support his movement, to add value to the state because I have about 30 years experience in construction work, I have about 10 years experience in farming and I also moved majority of my business into Oyo State and there is a lot opportunities to also exploit in the State, the mining sector is a bit dormant at the moment and the method in which we use in mining is not efficient and effective enough for us to be earning enough revenue from it. Agric business is available for us to expand if we want to be the food basket of the nation. There are other lots of things and I want to get involved and trust me, look at the history of Oyo State, Oyo State with an exception to Ibadan is a first in everything, we want that reputation, as our number plate says we are the Pace Setter State and we want to go back to that pace setting mode again and I believe Adebayo Adelabu is on the right step.

What is your expectation in this new dispensation as a politician that have contributed to its emergence?

My expectation is very simple, first of all you need to look at the quality hands that emerged in the last 18 months, the ones who get involved, who contributed their quota, those ones should be seriously looked into so that we should put the right peg in the right hole. Those days I believe have gone where because you suffered for the party it doesn’t necessary mean you need to hold a position, now the right pegs have to be in the right holes so that we start delivering the processes for Nigerians. You know there is a lot of different role that people can play; I believe there are lots of technical roles that require technical people to be able to deliver. So, we must be able to strike their balance that is what I expect, going forward, be listening government, yes a lot of people have suffered for the party to get the party to where it is but it is not necessary mean they are suited to the technical role. Those technical role let us fix the right pegs in the right holes that you will see will the exponent progress that we are going to make when that happened, I am not saying if, when that happened.
In the next four years the common man should expect continuity of the progress that have been made in the last four years for example, integrated transport system, the rail, the road, the air transport, electricity, all these kind of things, all these have been resolved now and if we don’t capitalize on those things we are going to lose out as a country, so, for me what you should expect, you should expect more of ease of life, ease of transport, ease of trading, ease of doing business in this country. This government’s continuity will create enabling environment for business to thrive and you can see from the Npower programme, agric programme and the school feeding programme and all other programmes embarked upon by the present administration. Now, I think we are getting to point where in the next 18 months we should be able to feed ourselves and feed our neighbours. Those are the kind of things we should expect, going forward I don’t think there will be a u-turn in that policy because the idea is for this government to capitalize and take it to an exponential level.


‘why I married the Ooni of Ife’ -Ronke Ademiluyi




-Ayotunde Ayanda
The convener of the African Fashion Week, Princess Ronke Ademiluyi is one of the wives of the Ooni of Ife, in this short interview, the fashion designer, a great grand-daughter to Ooni Ademiluyi traced her background and why she fell in love with the present Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi…
What’s The Usual Life In A Palace For An Olori?
My great grandfather was Ooni Ajagun Ademiluyi, he was the 48th Ooni of Ife, so I’ve always been used to royalty, I’m a blue-blood. I’ve always known everything about the palace and royalty. Now that I’m married to the 51st Ooni of Ife, for me it’s just normal because it’s something I’ve always been used to. Waking up with duties, doing my work as well, doing my cultural duties, bringing everything together is just something I do effortlessly, because I’ve been used to it from a tender age. When His Majesty ascended the throne in 2015 I had that opportunity to be a part of the whole thing, so I’m kind of grown with him and he is being someone like a mentor, he mentors me a lot.
How Did You Adjust To Life In Ile-Ife Compared To The City Life In Lagos, Did You Miss Anything?
To be honest, I don’t really miss anything because I don’t like the traffic in Lagos, we all know how hectic Lagos can be. Living here is more like an escape from the city life. I have my work that I do here as well, His Majesty established an adire factory for me where we make adire and train people, we work with students from the Universities. For me it’s another life aside from the one in Lagos.
There is a change in your dressing, as a Queen are there some clothes you are forbidden to wear?
My position comes with my appearance as the wife of a king, you can be called at any time to do anything, so you must keep up that appearance because you are representing your husband wherever you are. If you are dressed in jeans or not dressed in a proper way it would have an adverse effect, people will start talking. People would feel that I even being a princess I supposed to know better.
In a royal setting there is usually polygamy and Kabiyesi exercised this recently by marrying you and five other wives, how do you cope?
First and foremost I must say polygamy is part of the African culture. If you look at all the Oonis, from  Ooni Oduduwa they all had many wives, even my great grandfather, Ooni Ademiluyi had 47 wives. It comes with the throne and its part of the throne, polygamy is an African culture and part of the throne of Ile-Ife. My husband’s predecessor, Ooni Olubuse had 11 wives, that’s the culture.
Why Did You Marry The Kabiyesi And What Was The Attraction?
I can tell you I fell in love with him because of our culture, for the upliftment of our culture.
What was your childhood like?
I had a very privileged background as one of the only children of Prince Adebolu Ademiluyi, I have three brothers, I’m the only girl. I was born in London, precisely the Paddington Hospital where the royals in the Uk are born as well. I lived in Sussex Garden while growing up before we moved back to Nigeria. I did a bit of my school in Nigeria, my primary school was Adrao International School and then my mum who is from Akure decided that we should go over there to also learn from her people, so I was in boarding School at Fiwasaye Girls Grammar School, Akure. I went back to London for my A’Levels, later I went to London University where I studied Law, despite always wanting to spend all my life in fashion and textile.
Why did you study Law?
Fashion then was frowned at. They see it as the lowest for those who are not intelligent, unlike now where African fashion is now a huge thing. I’m in love with western designs but I look into Africa for inspiration. They call it ethnic fashion, tribal fashion, African fashion, there s no name they haven’t given it, but the bottom line is that it is African. Africa has like 3000 tribes and each tribe has its own unique fashion culture. No matter how close your borders are, when you see kente on someone you know maybe this person is from Ghana. In Nigeria we have about 500 ethnic groups and we have our different fashion. Regarding African fashion, i think we are still scratching the surface, we haven’t started yet. Fashion wasn’t lucrative when I was growing up, so I wasn’t allowed to study fashion. My mum’s sister that I stayed with was a retired Judge, so I used to go to court with her, it was from there tht the inspiration came to study Law, but I never practised, after stdying Law I went straight into fashion.
For someone who had given a lot to fashion, what has fashion given back to you?
Fashion has given me a lot. I showcased about 2000 designers from about 26 African countries and I have been the success story of the most emerging and successful African designers. For me I’m happy, I’m fulfilled when I listen to testimonies of what others have been able to gain from what I started. Fashion has given me fulfilment and it will continue giving me.
Your store Rukiz in Lagos was popular then with the high-heeled and the most urban, what happened to the business?
Rukiz was a chain of store I had when I moved back to Nigeria in 2001, it was actually Rukiz that exposed me into the fashion industry. When I was in school in London I used to do a little bit of fashion but after my studies I decided to move back to Nigeria and that was when I established Rukiz. I had a chain of 5 stores, two on Opebi, one in Surulere, one in Lekki and one in Lagos Island, they were all doing well, but when I decided to move into African fashion industry I decided to close Rukiz because I couldn’t get a proper management structure. With the African fashion I was all over, I was in the UK and around different African countries. So, the management of Rukiz store was lacking and that was why I closed it to focus on African Fashion.
I started African Fashion Week in London in 2011. African fashion wasn’t popular then and people were like why do I have to call it that, I was advised to change the name but I went with my gut-feeling and established the African Fashion Week London. The venue we took then could only accommodate 700 people, but we had a turn-up of 4500 people and that was when I knew the world is hungry for African fashion and its been growing since then and this has inspired so many African fashion around the world, there is hardly any city in the world that doesn’t have an African Fashion Week which was based on the success I achieved.
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‘I fought under Charles Taylor in the Liberian civil war’ -Oluwo of Iwo




in this exclusive interview with AYOTUNDE AYANDA, the Oluwo dissects major issues in Yorubaland, his background and how he wins all his battles…


By November this year, you will be marking eight years on the throne as the Oluwo of Iwo kingdom. If there is one thing you have enjoyed about being the king of this town, what could it be?

As soon as you are made the king, you must be able to define the position you are holding and why you are being called the king. My prayer everyday on this throne is that I should be greater than my forefathers who once occupied this seat. I also pray that by the time I leave this throne, whoever is coming after me should be greater than me. When I first got on the throne, we realized that some of the things we knew were things we were made to believe but we found out that things were what they ought to be. So, the first was to challenge the status quo by asking questions and making your research.

What did you find out about the throne and what has changed in almost eight years?

We found out that  kingship in Yoruba land is more spiritual than the physical. I am not the real king, the real king is actually Olodumare and Olodumare cannot be seen. Kingship is not the position of humans but one that was created by God. When you greet the king in Yoruba land, they say Kabiyesi o. So who is the Kabiyesi? I can’t be the Kabi o kosi (Unquestionable One). Olodumare is the owner of the odu, which literally means the codes of life; the owner of creation. There is nobody in history that answers that name. Olodumare simply means the one who knows where all of us are going and where it will all end. So for me, being able to define what kingship means and propagating it across the Yoruba land. Many who aspire to take the institution of kingship don’t know that they are talking the institution of God. What they don’t know is that the institution of kingship is a different one entirely and shouldn’t be compared to worshipping deities. You don’t mix God’s institution of kingship with Ogun or Obatala or Sango. But people get it wrong when people worshipping will use water to make rituals for the king is supposed to be the representation of God.

You a monarch who doesn’t believe in worshipping deities but you couldn’t have become a king without some of the traditional rituals you don’t want to have around you. Who do you worship now and do you worship it?

I worship Olodumare without having to go through Sango, Obatala or any other deities. My role as a king is to put people who are worshipping their fathers on the right track. The king does not practice all religion. The king should not be involved in any religion that needs you to pass through another god to talk to Olodumare. When kings these days want to defend this, they will say they are following what they met as tradition but I always tell them that they are following what is from the Dark Age. You must learn to correct the mistakes of your father. As a Yoruba man, I believe that tradition can be done without worshipping deities. Worshipping deities is not tradition; it is not culture. It is a religion of some people but worshipping Olodumare is the widely acceptable religion and way of life. That’s why I feel bad when I hear people calling on angels to come and rescue them or help them take their prayers to God. You cannot call an angel to come and do anything for you because they are not responsible to you. It is like somebody working for me in the palace who suddenly disappears and when I found him and asked where he went to, he told me that a man called me to come and work for him. That maid as far as I am concerned does not have a job in the palace again. That’s the same way you can’t call angel Gabriel and angel Michael because he can’t help you. Unless his master, God sends him to you, he will not answer your call. It is same way you can’t send an angel to God; he will not deliver your message because you are not his master.

Do you believe in magic?

I don’t believe in magic, I believe magic is just like a dream comes true. You will hear people say somebody attacked them in their dream but they woke up later. That’s not true. If that person has such power to attack you in your dream, you can’t wake up to tell the story. There are many deceits out there that they use to trick people. These things are not real. But God made us kings over everything He created. I am not under any deity or traditional influence; I am far above all deities known to man. What people call Orisa simply means the specially chosen ones, so everybody is special in the face of God. But Kings reign supreme over those who are specially chosen such as Ogun, Obatala, Sango and other deities known to man. The people erroneously say Oba alase ikeji Orisa but that’s not correct. Oba is not the second in command to any deity, he’s above all deities. Other Obas who have not discovered the truth can continue to play second fiddle to the deities. I just want people to know and change. If you look at the Bible, who did Moses, David and Jesus Christ, Noah and even Abraham consult before having access to God? They spoke directly to God alone. So why do we have to speak through somebody before we have access to our father? So, why do Yoruba people want to see God through somebody else? God is indescribable. So, the king represents God on earth. If I go to church or mosque, I have gone there to bless their prayers because I am the only one empowered by God to bless people’s prayers as God’s representation. If a king recognises God and worships Him alone, if he goes to a mosque or church, he has gone to bless them. That’s why I said the Yoruba race is the most blessed in the world. God blessed us so much that we don’t have to be worried about anything as long as we can call Olodumare and worship Him. Christians and Muslims need to understand that they don’t have to bow down to any other deity. The future of the Yoruba is very bright.

Recently, the Ooni of Ife and veteran actor, Pete Edochie were in the news because the latter greeted the Ooni by shaking hands with him. As the custodian of tradition and culture of the Yoruba race, what do you make of that scenario?

 I believe that a king should know his office. When people see their religious leaders, they want them to pray for them and bless them. But do you know that the blessing of a king is greater than that of any religious or spiritual fathers you can think about. But the problem is that people don’t see  that a king’s blessing is greater than that of any religious leaders. Many kings belong to a secret society where you see that a road side mechanic is not only a member, but the boss. Kings have become so hopeless in their offices that they don’t know that the day you become a king, you are not expected to be part of any secret cult. Do you know we don’t have the Yoruba Council of Obas? We supposed to merge the kings in Yorubaland together which will be greater than any other secret society. But some people won’t let that happen because they want to weaken the traditional institution. So, as first class kings, we must come together and take back our institution but it can never happen because the kings will never agree that Olodumare is the owner of the stool.  In Ogun State, they worship Agemo and their kings worship with them, Oyo worships Sango, Ife will say it is worshipping 400 deities. I don’t know how they came about 400 deities. They need to tell us the names of each of the deities. If all kings come under the umbrella of Olodumare, we will enjoy the respect they desire. If you attend functions in the North, only the President can sit with the traditional rulers. Ministers, governors and other political office holders will sit behind their Emirs but in Yoruba land, they relegate the Obas to the back seats, you will be seeing Senators and House of Reps members at the front that even state house of assembly members will sit ahead of their Obas. Kings have become powerless in Yoruba land. That’s why I was talking about secret cults, imagine a Sultan in the same secret cult as a mechanic, what do you expect? You can see what is wrong with the Yoruba kingship, they have signs and will signal to him, they can even tell him they would kill him, that’s why they are powerless. 
This man, Pete Edochie is probably in a cult with his own king over there. The Igbos lack respect, they greet their fathers standing doesn’t bow to their elders; they shake them.
If you were in that situation, what would you have done?
I will not shake Edochie. We’ve seen the likes of billionaires like Dangote, Taiwo Afolabi bow when they want to greet me. Otedola bows, even the President, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu bows, Baba Lai Mohammed bows, these are great men but symbols of humility. I can show you their pictures, you can see where President Tinubu greeted me, a whole President!  But If I were in the shoes of the Ooni, I would not shake hands with that man. If you are coming to greet me and you can’t bow, then keep your greeting. I have met eminent Nigerians who would greet me with humility and I will in return extend my hand to shake them. 

Nigerians are groaning under the yoke of fuel price hike occasioned by the removal of fuel subsidy, what do you think of this decision by President Bola Tinubu at this critical time?

Removing subsidy is the best thing to do for the survival of the country. Subsidy is an organized crime with some elites sharing the money. Who are they subsidising for? Do you subsidise petroleum products? You subsidise housing and healthcare. Petroleum is luxury, so you don’t subsidise it. Let’s build our railways with that money and our roads as well. Let the government start giving palliatives and increase the minimum wage.

You have brought a lot of class and royalty to this throne in the last seven years, but some people argued that the standard you have set for the kingdom is too expensive for the town to manage. What does it cost you to be classy?

It can cost you so much and it can cost you less if you are confident in what you are wearing and how you carry yourself. You can use an Ankara to propagate your style. You can even use Kampala to elevate your status as a king. It depends on how you move with confidence and boldness no matter what you wear.

You are a luxurious king, but they say luxury is not cheap…

It doesn’t come cheap but the way you carry yourself will make people come and ask you what are you wearing and who makes what you wear. That’s why I tell people that a king’s luxury is his people. If you are milking your people as a king, you will be enjoying luxury in fear and that doesn’t add up to being bold and confident. I am the first king in the world that the people rose to fight on his behalf when some people said they wanted to dethrone me. My people will fight for me because I don’t take anything from them. So my people are my wealth, my strength and boldness because power lies in the hands of the people and I am serving them.
You will clock 8 years on the throne in some months time, there had been attempts to depose you, you’ve fought different battles…which of these shook you the most?
None! Nothing in life that I pass through that I don’t expect, they are tests. There is no peace in the world, every day we fight, the only place where there is peace is the grave. You wake up and fight every day, even God doesn’t sleep. So, no attack shakes me. If you are in a school and you write an exam you’ve prepared for, you must pass. I’m always prepared and God is my strength.

You mean different things to different people. Some people believe you are troublesome and some will say you are different. How do you really see yourself?

When I get to an event and I am not given the right seat, I will tell them that I am a First Class Oba; you should treat me with royalty. Anywhere I am, I always ask for my right  because nobody is going to give it to you on a platter of gold, you have to demand it. When I first became the Oluwo, I realised that this throne had no respect or dignity. The royalty and dignity had been beaten down and almost nonexistent. My first outing as the Oluwa I was placed in the 16th seat and I said no, this is not my seat, even in Abuja, I would say no! I know my class in the comity of Obas, so I don’t take  anything that falls low of my class. In the Western House of Chiefs, I am number three.
People can say I’m troublesome because they don’t understand what I fight for, I fight for my rights in a diplomatic way, that is me! I always tell the truth. I don’t like the situation where people ask me about myself and I won’t be able to answer. I’ve gone through a lot in life, do you know I was in the Liberian war…
As A Soldier?
I fought under Charles Taylor in the war. Ive passed through a lot, this is a story for another day.

How did your journey to throne begin and what prepared you for this seat?

You know that we Yorubas are very deep spiritually, so our kings are chosen by the Olodumare Himself. So I was chosen by God to be king, especially for the role I am playing in the Yoruba land today, which is to bring all kings back to Olodumare. My father was a prince, a very high prince from Iwo,  known as Prince Kola Akanbi, he was an Insurance man that worked with Marine Engineering owned by Fajemirokun. I grew up in that house beside Bovas fuel station at Total Garden in Ibadan. I attended Omolewa  Nursery and Primary school. On the eight day of my birth, somebody came and told my parents that they should not give me the names they had prepared for me. He came with the prophecy that I would be a great king and dropped the names I would be called- Adewale, because he would bring the crown home, the crown that has been lost from our family for over 400 years, and I would also be called Olusegun, because he would fall to no attack and also  Akorede and Abdulrasheed. He warned them that if they call me any other names, people would be dying. They said the man turned back and disappeared. That was what happened on the eight day. I was at Iwo Grammar School, but some spiritual issues happened in 1981 that I had to leave, later I finished at Oba Akinyele. Along the line I lived in Akobo where I met the family of the present Ooni, it was part of my kingship journey. The Ooni was younger than us then, but his elder brother, Tunji Ogunwusi, was my friend, we used to play soccer together, he was in St Patrick’s. God later used me for them in the future.

You contested against 40 other princes of Iwo but you emerged winner. Did the Ifa pick you at that time?

Tell me one king that Ifa picked in Yoruba land. The person who is picked by the governor is the one God has ordained to be the king. There is no Oba in Yoruba land that will say Ifa picked him. It is after the governor picked you that you now become a king. Ifa doesn’t have any power over the governor. May be you watch too much Nollywood movies. Even during our forefathers, they would make the most powerful person at that time king. At that time, I didn’t even know the governor because I had just returned from Canada but I told other contestants who are far richer and popular then that I am the next king even if you know Barack Obama and the governor, it will not change the fact that I am the next Oluwo.

How did you become the Oba if you didn’t know the governor?

When Olodumare wants to work, you can’t even understand how He would do it. Just for few months before I became the king, Olodumare just opened a channel. I didn’t even meet the governor until the eve of the day I would be announced as the king. I met him at 1am and that was all! It was the work of Olodumare, the god of the Yorubas, the god of our fathers and you can’t understand it. When God brings a king, He brings him for a purpose.
Has this throne made you richer?
No, I’m just here serving and that is the purpose. I’m here to serve, nothing else.
You recently married a wife from the North, many would have thought as a Yoruba Oba, you will marry a Yoruba woman, what informed that decision?
many Yoruba women listen to rumors and they don’t give rooms, they judged, many rumours were being peddled and I was judged. The former Olori was a set up, she was part of the attacks, and they paid her to do a lot. She poisoned me twice. She even lured me to a mall in Canada where she paid an assassin to kill me. But as God would have it, the assassin was someone I’ve helped in the past, and he couldn’t do the job.  I don’t smoke, my people can attest to that, but she coerced me to help her do some things, you know she is a Jamaican and she made me believe she must smoke to survive. You can imagine a woman you don’t have problem with recording you in your own bedroom, it showed she had an agenda. All my friends back from Canada know I don’t smoke. 
I married from the royal family which I see they are loyal and honest to their husband and I married from where I’m comfortable with.


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We Are Planning To Revolutionize Nigeria’s Real Estate Industry – Idowu Lamidi, CEO, Dollar Construction Company




Idowu Lamidi

The CEO of fast-growing multinational construction company in Nigeria, Dollar Construction Company, Idowu Lamidi, recently  shared his view on how he ventured into construction business and why he decided to build quality estates in Ibadan among many salient issues… Excerpts

Can our readers meet you?

My name is Idowu Lamidi, I started my life in Ibadan, before going to the North. I bagged my HND in Land Administration and I am currently studying Business administration in Nasarawa State Polytechnic. In Dollar Construction Company, our lives have always been on business and we are in Ibadan not just to make money, or build estates but build homes for people. Once you people have a good home, crime will reduce. For someone living in a tattered house and you are threatening such person with prison, he will even tell you that there is no difference with where he is staying and that is why when people go to prison, they come out hardened, but someone that has comfort runs away from problem. That is why an adage in English says “the owner of a glass house will not throw stone” that is why we are here.

You said you grew up in Ibadan, you were born in Ibadan, but you are from Oyo town.  Why did you take your business first to Abuja before you came to Ibadan?

In the course of doing my Industrial Training in Abuja with a company, called ADCAN and it was from there that I started the company.

What brought about the name Dollar Construction Company?

In 2007, when I wanted to register the company, I and my wife trying to form name from our names but could not come up with one, then I told her that we should sleep over it When I woke up, I just tell her that the company will be called Dollar Construction Company. She said what kind of name is that and I told her that is a name that everybody would always remember.

Today, people know my company name more than they know my real name.  In some area in Abuja, if you say you are looking for Idowu Lamidi, people asked you, nobody bears that name here. But once you say Dollar Construction, everybody will know that because everybody need promo and they see that currency as an achievement even today if you take one dollar which is not up to a thousand dollar, even some adults if you give it to them and you give them one thousand naira, they will prefer to take one dollar. It’s about something catchy that anybody can remember, like if you are coming to any of our estate, I’m going to dollar estate, the only question they will ask now is which of the dollar is it the dollar phase one, two or three. We make it so easy to remember.

The situation of the third phase is formerly Oyo State Trade Fair Ground, how did you acquire this kind of massive land for your project?

The land used to be for Trade Fair ground, which is under Oyo State Ministry of Commerce and Industry and it acquired Wemabodtech to build neighborhood market.  When my company joined Wemabodtech, we told them this is a land locked area, and that it would only be good for building homes.

If you are planning a market, many things have to be put into consideration. Good road network must be one of the considerations and the situation must be between three or more communities. The proposed site, which is eleven hectares, is too big for a one-community market. If you look at where this land is situated, apart from Aerodrome Estate, every other thing here are like educational institution. To our left here, we have The Polytechnic Ibadan, to our right we have Aerodrome and Ventura Plaza, directly opposite us, and we have University of Ibadan. Surrounding us, there is no community as such; then who are you now building the market for? Secondly, the road to access the market is not there, you do not create local streets to access a market of this magnitude because it will cause a lot of traffic. You cannot tell people what to sell in their markets, people that will be bringing rice in trailers, people that will be bringing beans, tiles, lightening in trailers, and different kind of things. That is why you see today, iwo road is always jam-packed, it is not because of too many cars, but because of too many tucks accessing the place at a time. Look at Gbagi Central Market also, because of those trucks also coming to drop goods, they are not cars that you can just quickly reverse and move on. Before a trailer can turn, it will take nothing less than 15-20 minutes and you have like 10-15 queues to turn, you are going to have issues. We now advice that we cannot use it for market, it has to be used for residential, because one, this area again at night, it’s always like a ghost town, the schools close by six, four, three, everybody goes home, there will not be any activities. However, making it a home, by 6 o’clock, people start coming back home, it gives life to the place because when you have a home, you will have transportation system that runs 24hours around that place. It gives the police also comfort that are there that there are people who will call the police when things go wrong or if there is any crime trying to take place. If it is a market, once it is 6  o’clock, the market will short down totally that is why we now applied for change of use to the executive governor of oyo state through the ministry of land and the governor gave us the change of use and that is why we are now doing residential and not marketing.

Talking about the phases that you have, phase one, two or three, is it a strategic kind of progress for you to keep having different phases, even if the phase one is still not yet developed. What exactly are you trying to achieve by that?

To make estate ready is not all about the building alone. We may have the building and I do not have money to buy furniture because if you are moving to a new house, my mindset maybe different from yours. In Dollar Phase one, most of the houses there is completed but the owners have not moved in maybe because, some want to move in with a new car or I cannot move in with my old furniture but once you have made the road available, security, light and water, the estate is ready for you to move in. That is what we have been able to achieve in our phase one, and in our phase two, people have already moved in. If I did not move in to my house does not mean that the estate is not ready. The estate is ready but how I may look at it with this kind of hose that I might have, I need a Bentley Car to accompany the house, I need to move in at my wedding ceremony, I need to move in with this, these furnitures are too old, it now depends on you. Some people will even move in and even say it is even breakthrough for me to have finish this house. Moreover, it is not about moving phase one to phase two, I can assure you that we are going to have up to phase 5. Now, the prices of these estates are different, if you cannot afford to buy in phase one, you can go for the phase two because our phase two is cheaper, phase 3 is more expensive than phase two and phase 1. Your taste in the environment you want to live in, I keep telling people, our estate, we are going to provide same quality of infrastructure; it may not be same quality of house. In our phase 2, we allow bungalows, but in our phase one and three, nothing like bungalows. These are houses of contemporary, if you ask an architect; they will tell you contemporary houses are what we are building and not what we are used to.  The phase 2 is a bit cheaper so that Civil Servants and the middle class can also afford it. Those are the reason we keep opening different phases to accommodate as much people as available that need houses.

We have seen some of your achievement in previous projects like phase one and phase two, and this one, one will be pushed to ask that how do you plan to finance this project considering the current unfavorable economic situation in the country. What is your plan for this project?

Well, financing of housing project, they say it takes community to raise a child. That is our strength and that is why you see that we do not have good car, because our priority is to deliver these estates. Our plan is to have a good road, neighborhood, a place you can raise your child, like in this estate now we always have an open space where we call green area. We also have a recreation Club house, I don’t mean night club. Like on Saturday and Sunday, you are not going out, you just stroll with to the club house with some games for the children, where adult can take cool drinks and listen to countryside music those are the things we are doing in all of our estates. All these are planned, these are not after thoughts. I always tell people that we have limited estate in Ibadan. What we have in Ibadan mostly are GRA because the property owners came together and put gate doesn’t make it an estate. This is comprehensive development, we have a clinic here, and we have everything here.

So what you are saying in essence is that what differentiates these estates is not the infrastructure bodies but there are buildings and structures.

You started in Abuja, what attracted you to Ibadan?

Yeah, our plan is to conquer the southwest because if you are doing well outside your home, it does not talk good about you. First, how many people can afford to buy our kind of houses in Ibadan? We look at that first, how many people can afford to buy same houses in Abuja? A businessperson will use that to plan. We are planning to conquer the south west to provide housing, but it may not be possible for us to build building in Oyo or in Oshogbo, Ede or in towns and villages across southwest, but it is possible to provide site and services in those area so that people now build their strength.

Dollar Construction is it only for Estates. What other things do you do there?

We are among the category B in Federal Government contractor list. We have category A which are the Dantata, Berger, Chinese, CCECC, and others. We are doing government contracts very well, year in, year out that is why you see that it is very easy for us to provide infrastructure in our estates. The only equipment we have in road construction is the spreader because it is not what we use often but we have all other equipment and it is so easy for us to build roads in our estates.

There are lot of estate/construction companies in Ibadan and some will say, buy one take one free, what stands dollar construction over all these construction companies?

Housing is something that everybody prefers. In my lifetime, I plan to have as many as possible houses because it’s one way of transferring wealth to generation yet unborn. Those people saying, buy one land and take one arm free they have their targeted audience and in which it is working for them because somebody that bought land which is 600 thousand and you give him ram that is worth 350 thousand, I think the person has his mindset tied somewhere. We are targeting our own audience. They are targeting their own audiences, that is the reason you see most of those estates will not see the light of the day because it takes a lot to build an estate, not Baale that will just sell land and call it one estate, which is still good because they are also providing services to people. If you that can buy land of N100million, I do not think ram will be your priority. However, it is nothing out of place to appreciating our clients by getting those gifts during festive periods but your primary reason of buying property with us is not for ram.

Having successfully exhibited the previous estates the phase 1, what is your mega plan for year 2023?

What develops cities mostly, not just the housing. When we have good houses and nobody to live in it, it does not make sense or so. Our mega plan for 2023 is that we want to make industrial layout. Oyo-Ibadan road at least we should have so many industrial lay out there, Lagos-Ibadan, we should have a lot of industrial lay out so that we can have industries coming in and that will make our houses affordable, because if I’m working in a good place and the company can provide affordable housing, my problem is half solved. Our houses are very affordable with the kind of amenities that come with it. There are houses for N3billion, N5billion, in Lagos, Abuja, I have build house that I have sold for N3.5billion before, N1.4billion before and almost N2billion before. If we are having same kind of structure that is much lesser here, I do not think it is not affordable. We are into site and services, which means that you have gotten your land, and we’ve made the infrastructure, street light, water system, perimeter fencing and you sell to people in plot maybe 500, 600 and individuals build what they feel like, that is what is called site and servicing.

One of the challenges faced in real estate not only in Oyo State but in every other place is scandal…how have you been able to be scandal-free? And, how have you been able to be free from the ‘omo onile’ factor?

Experience has taught us a lot of lesson, even people buy property from us knows that we have a milestone payment plan. If the person dies in the process, in all our form, we have the next of kin to the person on it. We will contact the next of kin of such person. It doesn’t allow us have issues, and when the issues are cleared, everyone hands off. For us now, all our offices are always at the site, you come to us at the site, and you meet us at there so that you can easily know quickly if anything is happening. For every site we have sold, we also report it to EFCC. Every month we report our transaction back to EFCC to know who own the site or house. Our workers know so it will be difficult for you to say that person is no longer the owner of the house because there will be too many testimony against you. When we are selling house to you, we give you speculation and it is not that you will just buy the land and you will now run to Abuja and say maybe after 20years you will come and resell it, we will revoke it. We have not had issues of selling land to one person and we say this land does not belong to one person again, we can revoke If we sell land to you and we give you payment plans and you default 3 times. We will revoke and it shows that you do not have capacity for that kind of project and there will not be any need to embark on it.

How do you stay focused with what you are doing?

I started real estate at a very tender age, when I was just 24 years old. I have worked with some big companies in the real estate sector before I started my company. I believe that the greatest enjoyment is for someone to sleep and this is what I do, and if I see one bottle of cold drink, I can take if the opportunity provides itself.

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