Adenekan Olateru Olagbegi, the Senatorial candidate of the Labour Party in Ondo North Senatorial District in 2007, is Coordinator on Public Private Partnership (PPP)in Ondo State. In this interview with Adeniyi Femi, he speaks on the efforts of the state government to facilitate investments to turn around the economy of the state among other issues.
Q: Can we meet you? can you share your begin with us?
A: I am Adenekan Olateru-Olagbegi born and raised in Owo, Owo Local Government, Southwest Nigeria, I went through my elementary school Owo then proceeded to High School Ibadan, I finish my High Ondo, Ondo State, Akure, before I proceeded to the United States, I was a very good tennis player, represented Ondo State in so many events in the 70s before I travelled, and while in the state I was in All Southwest Athletics Conference in the U.S playing for my University. I had a Tennis Academic Scholarship all through my masters programme, I finished my Masters Programme with a professional degree in Accountancy, then I tenured with firms such as Price Waterhouse Coopers, Arthur Anderson, as an accountant and as a consultant before I set up my personal Consulting firm, Conet Consulting Inc. Thereafter because of the burden I had in me that was so very strong that to whom much is given much is expected, I believed at that I am supposed to work had to give also to my root, some of the experiences I have garnered from my sojourn overseas.
Q:Who has been the experience so far?
A:The experience is mixed; firstly, politics in Nigeria is totally different from politics in America. it is not as straightforward as see the goal post shifting almost all the time but never the less the integrity still remain the same, I make sure that regardless anything, my intensity still remains, I always ensure that my integrity remains intact. I have had so many wonderful opportunities and a lot of good exposures, lot of very good trainings within the last 2 years that I have been back here, I have learnt more about my people and their needs and how those needs can be met.
Q:If you are not an Accountant, what else would you have loved to be?
A:One, I am an Accountant, I probably I would have been an professional athlete, a professional tennis player, playing tennis all over the world
Q: why are you into politics?
A: I am into politics because I really must to make a difference. Yes, you can make a difference as an individual, but when you have a platform such as what politics gives, you are in a better position to do more for your more people. You can take the experience of the current governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko. I have so many friends in the United State that are doing so well as Medical doctors but giving back home is very limited for them, but in his capacity today as the executive governor, what he is been able to do in Ondo State, looked at the way and level he is been able to change and rebrand Ondo State, so that is what I believe that somebody like myself can reciprocate.
Q: As the coordinate the Public Private Partnership in Ondo State we have seen so many innovations you have brought into the system, can you share the experience?
A: Thank you again, working in a little over 2 years now, we have the Akure Mall, that we were able to broker for the state, and the developers were also able to do I deliver within cost & time, and I am glad that a lot of people are enjoying it today in Akure, it is changing the landscape of Akure and especially the nightlife of Akure. The entertainment life of Akure is gradually changing, but that is about the smallest of the thing we have achieved in the PPP. In PPP now, we have landed a deepsea port, the one that once finalized would be the hub for the entire West African coast. it is the Ilaje deep sea port, as we are now it is getting towards final approval, the promoters are ready to raised the funds to do the development and also its tagged the Mining port. It is a solution port for the mining industries of Nigeria. So this is a well thought out innovative way that we’ve managed to solve the Nigeria mining problem because we have looked at the fact that we have so many ports Nigeria, but just as you know, in Ondo State we always try to make statement with whatever we put our hands and our time in. we don’t just want to develop a seaport, we want to do the one that will change the lives of our people, that will change the lives in the Nation, so that is what the seaport will represent. The current administrations all over Nigeria are talking about mining and agriculture but now from our own end, we’ve provided solutions ahead of time, so that by the time you mine those minerals in the North Central especially, the roads that we have are not motorable enough to bring the iron ore, the coal, the granites and other their minerals to the seaport, but with Rail road, you can easily and cost effectively bring it to the port. This is what this mining part will be able to do, because we are constructing a rail road in Ilaje, all the way to the northern fringes of Ondo State and to Kogi area, also we are doing a dualized road from Ore to Ilaje. Definitely, it would open the entire Southern Senatorial district of Ondo State, that is the Deep-sea port. Of course, from the Directorate also, my Free trade zone directorate, with Mr Gorvernor we have also been able to get a license for a Free trade zone. So now, other than Olokola Free trade zone, we have our own exclusive Ondo State Free trade zone, which is in Ilaje, and that also is positioned to be a an amazing free trade zone especially for maritime activities. I have a lot of refinery proposals now on my desk, so by the time that free trade zone finally kicks off, it will be a super-busy Free trade zone. Apart from that you can remember that we have the second largest deposit of bitumen in the world, we couldn’t use that edge due to the fact that the license we had as cancelled during the time of chief Adefarati, but it will would interest you that with a lot of hard work by Mr Governor, with directorate now, we have been able to get over 4 bitumen liceses. I remember a time investors came in from California, from Houston Texas, but unfortunately we didn’t have the license then. But now we have the license, and it is under Bacon, Bacon is one of the companies Ondo State government acquired to help maces a bitumen processes in Ondo State. So we are ready for Bitumen exploration in Ondo State. Apart from that, you have heard about the Ifon ceramic industry which is been moribund for over 24years now. We have brought in expertise and we shall be coming out with tiles and other ceramic products from Ifon now, with the PPP arrangements
Now in the State, we just brokered a deal with an investor that wants to come in and waste management, so now we have an integrated waste management in system getting ready to kick start in the state. It’s very unique because they’re so many features this also. they have an electronics waste management system. You can imagine that in West Africa is more like dumping site for computers and electronics, you leave some of these things in your dump site, the mercury, if the chemicals inside get into the water level it would cause a lot of damage or it will contaminating the water even at water level. So now, we are even thinking ahead that we need to create a waste management for electronic waste, there is no any other one in Nigeria, it is going to be the first. We would create it and neighboring states that may what to bring in their electronic wastes to Ondo State, they will have to pay. We would do the recycling of the electronics wastes, we will also contain and depose them. Apart from that, Ondo State is going to even get better in the area of health care, because we have the medical village, you have the Abiye programs all over the state, and with the paucity of funds, especially in dollars, we would provide alternatives for Nigerians in the areas of health tourism and health check areas, people will want to come to Ondo State, that means the wastes for medical activities will increase, and again we are getting ready for it. we are working ahead the time to make sure that we have a waste management system that will cater for the it, so that medical waste will not just be all over are dumping sites so we are going to have that then also the areas the waste management, we are going to do recycling. All those plastics blocking our drainages, then will be picked, recycled, cut them into bits, use them to do chairs and tables and everything. Apart from that, they will do organic fertilizers, these same poeple are getting ready to do their own assembly plants, they will assemble their own trucks, tricycles etc that they will use in that industry, and at the end of the day they will still give money back to Ondo State. Ondo State has a share in all these. Then we still have the cocoa revolution, Chocolate is still there, so we have a lot under two years the list goes on because we believed we need 10 create jobs for these teaming youths. it is all about jobs for these youngsters and with what we have laid down, once we start rolling, nobody will be able to beat Ondo State. There are no reasons for anybody to be poor in Ondo State and also, the revenue will increase significantly we would not have to be waiting for Abuja for money anymore
Q: On Zoning issues
A: Well I believed Ondo State is one of the most peaceful state in the whole of the country, I believe so because of many things, firstly because we are very civilized, we are one of the most educated state, and of course we are the state that does not allow cheating. You know, we like fairness, in the few republics that we have had, the first and second republics, you know each time Ondo State people get cheated you known what usually transpired which I believed that this new order, the rotation is very consistent, it is bringing peace to the state. Constitutionally, everybody can vie for this position, but the unspoken zoning in fairness, you know shows that at least it is better at least at this infancy stage of our democracy far us to still try and rotate until the system get matured. Of course almost anybody that wants to aspire to their position should be able to.
Q: The Ondo State Youth Sunshine forum has nominated two of you as a product for the forthcoming gubernatorial election, Ondo State they have seen something different and special below you could be chosen sir. what is your take? Do you have any ambition?
A:Of course I am grateful to the youth, one thing that I understand, when you are working for people and you see that they appreciate it, you cannot but be happy because all these my day and night toiling, making sure that we industrialize Ondo State, working closely with Mr. Governor to make sure that we bring so many industries here, is for no other persons than for the youth and we know that once we are able to do that, we will be able to create more employment for our teaming the youth. so if they look at it from that angle and feel that I am one of those that can bring that next level of industrialization into this state that will create more jobs for them, that will increase and improved the revenue level, to that, I am grateful.
If they look at it from the angle of integrity and consistency, to that also, I am grateful. I am one of the first 6 that started the Labour party because I was a Senatorial candidate, and that all my other peers have left now and I am the only one left here with Dr. Mimiko, I believe in his vision, the vision that has produced the best healthcare, the healthcare that is been stated by World bank for the entire Africa, the Government that has provided state of the earth Mega schools for the kids, the government that has provide inclusive Urban renewal, Community development programs that have spanned over 900 projects in every nooks and cranny of the State. It is a government that I am proud of, if they see it from that angle, that I am still one of the few people that are still holding on to the vision so if that is the reason they feel that this guy is worthy of their leadership, to that I am grateful.
If they look at my background and see that I studied in the U.S and lived there for about 25 years and with the paucity of funds now, my exposures, my capacities, my experiences there and what I have seen there, with my contacts over there, I am someone that can go knock on the doors of Corporations and Industries even in America and leverage experience to bring funding and grants here. If they look at it also from that area also, I am grateful.
Q: With the economic hardship in Ondo state do you think it will be easy for you to sustain what the man has does in the past 7 years ?
A: Well the biggest asset that I will set as a successor of Dr. Mimiko if given the opportunity is the fact the man has already laid the foundation. The biggest problem is to be able to start up or lay down the structure. Well, with the paucity of funds now, we just have to be creative and get more innovative, knowing well that God has blessed us in Ondo State in terms of Human and Natural resources and we look inwards and just use what we have, I am sure that sky is the limit. I am sure that there is no reason Ondo State should not be the number one State in this country, and there is no reason for anybody in this State to be poor.
In the area of forestry, we can go in there and do so much, for example where I live in Atlanta Georgia, called Georgio specific. One of the top Corporations in the world, what it deals in is Forest products, they have been able to do paper, pulp, paints, different gazebos, construct roofing sheets, furnitures just from forest alone, these are the future will be bringing to Ondo State. We can develop it to become the entire furniture capital for the whole of Africa. In. I.T, there are enormous outsourcing opportunities for our youth because we speak better English that Asians and Indians, yet they explore it.