Hon Taiwo Olakunle Oluomo innthia interview with the publisher of Amebohotnews Magazine Adedapo David Adedapo, poured his mind on the state of governance in the state, His growing up, legislative activities and stewardship, Ogun 2019 aspiration qmd gubernatorial contest among aspirants and many more. Read and be informed
Amebo: Who is Hon Taiwo Oluomo before being elected and afterwards plus your journey to politics?
Oluomo: Taiwo Kunle Oluomo was born in the family of first Olu of Ifo, Oba Julius Oluomo (pointing to the frame of his late father). I had my primary education at St Michael Catholic Pry School Mushin Olosa, Lagos; had my secondary school at Anglican Grammar School, Oke Ila here in Ifo, afterwards proceeded to the northern part of the country to study journalism. I came back to ifo where I establish a newspaper a bilingual (English and yoruba) paper (Ifo News), I was also into human right activisms, where I founded a forun called Ifo Forum Fight for Democracy. I later linked up with other known activist organizations such as CLO, CDHR and GFR (of Gani Fawehinmi). The June 12 saga was really my first major test where I coordinated the struggle from Ijoko, Idiori, Sango and environ. We use fliers and posters campaigning against the military. I later got in to trouble and was taken to Sangisha and was detained. An indigene of Ifo, a Major General helped me secure my bail at exactly 10:45pm. When MKO died they came to arrest me again because the Hausa community at that time went to lodge a complain that I said their house will be burnt and I went to affirm what they alleged me of. No I haven’t said so but Yes I will do so and the reason was because those Hausas said when Abacha died we were dancing and now that Abiola died we were crying like infants. That to me is an insult and I was made to write my statement down which I did joyfully signing about seven times and the policeman was like menene wetin na? It was the DPO who knew me that said I can’t be handled that way because youths had already gathered outside which means trouble. I was made to calm the youth and also the Seriki Hausa moved to my fathers house (the King) to pledge their loyalty.
Later I decided to equip my self with more knowledge so I went to the University of Lagos on part time to study public affairs management and later advanced diploma in management, I later applied for public administration in the same Unilag. From there I joined politics.
I never loved politics, all I do is to give suggestions on developmental projects that could be embarked on but most won’t listen, but I have this very good brother Aare Tunde Alabi (a former commissioner for Local government and Chieftaincy Affairs) . The idea I sold to him then was graduate engagement scheme, what federal government is now doing; at that time Aare was the Chairman of Ifo Local Government. We deployed some graduates to schools where there are no enough subject teachers, others to control traffic, ensure compliance to clean market environment etc and at that time he pays 4000 naira engaging them instead of roaming about. Though, that time many do not share in that dreams especially graduates becoming traffic managers. It took me going to Lagos (Ikeja) where I put on the reflective jacket with the inscription “graduate traffic manager” so people were moved and we swung into a market and that was how it began. I wasn’t on anybody’s payroll despite being d coordinator which Aare made me be. After Aare left office no one keyed into that program again. I contacted a councillor then to help ensure that government buys that idea and he told me, if its that easy, brother you should have contested too. This was what led me into politics and I vowed not to join the ruling party. Coincidentally Gani Fawehinmi had a party NCP, which I joined and I became a member of the national council of the party.
In 2003 I bought NCP to Ifo with a symbol of an eye, but my supporters for the position of assembly felt it meant that we will loose at the poll “won ma je oju wa ni o“. Along the line I found NDP with a symbol of dove, so I contested in 2003 but I lost, PDP won which made most AD members left for PDP, so I moved to AD which was fast loosing its members, coincidentally Amosun left PDP for ANPP. I contested using that platform which I won but was rigged out. What happened was that they won with about 66votes in 5 wards, the 6th ward I won with 700+ votes, so what they did was to cancell the ward despite a verified result; I pursued the case to the court of appeal but funny enough I was told I lost because the presiding officer said he was robed by hoodlums who carted away the counted electoral materials, I even told them in court why we can’t make use of those forms EC8A given to security agencies but you know when people want to do their magomago I must win at all cost, I was not favoured in court technically because they later told me I should not have been the one to have presented the result sheet but my agents despite the fact that INEC certify those sheets of result as true copy. Then myself and Amosun left for ACN in 2010 where we contested and we won.
Amebo: Did you grow up with a silver spoon?
Oluomo: to some extent my father being a king was wealthy, fleets of cars and were living comfortably. I was lucky to be among youths to drive to school as the first child, I was in charge. I’m a town boy, I parked the cars and go about playing table tennis among the boys. Growing up in Mushin made me a complete town boy. When I was running the newspaper, I founded an organization Ifo youth concern which produces over a thousand graduate in the then Ifo local government which include Ewekoro and Ojodu Abiodun. What I do is to gather them invite resource persons, I’ll take them to excursions, to Abuja ( to watch Senate proceedings live) under the presidency of Chuba Okadigbo (Late). I give what I have and even solicits fund for them. I even go to universities and polytechnics to seek for admission for them. That’s why I will always love Aare Tunde Alabi; I asked him to fund a scholarship scheme which he did. I drove from Ifo with my small car to as far as Offa stopping at every higher institution to tell Ifo students that their is scholarship scheme at home for them. Till today I don’t believe in the paraphernalia of an office, I get free with my people.
Amebo: You had an issue with the commissioner for works and housing Engr Adegbite, over an affront in the chamber. A statement was issued by the house to the Executive Governor for the suspension of the commissioner but peace was what we heard finally, was it a case of a toothless dog barking?
Oluomo: thank you for this your platform, you see people need information, and you are doing that. I commend you amebo. What happened was that he (Egnr Adegbite) came into our chamber to honour our invitation, he came to time; unfortunately people had bottled issues within them to fire him. I was to preside over the meeting with him. Mr Speaker had to call that we should wait for him and he came to pacify the honourable members to shed sentiment in asking questions or doing their oversight functions, undoubtedly some of the members felt we should spend enough time deliberating with the speaker after I raised an observation that we should not keep the commissioner waiting, they alleged that he always make them wait in his own office too whenever they go on visitation. After the deliberation with the Speaker, and we allowed him in, I think something just went wrong because myself and the commissioner are friends and of same party. After the normal protocol, he was given the floor, and he said he expected the house to apologize for keeping him waiting (just what some members raised, you know) in other not to allow the members take him up, I swung into a caution, if I had allowed them it would have been disastrous so I just told him, “Mr Commissioner, leave the issue of apology and address the house”; so he said if I fail to allow him express his mind, he will walk out and I told him he dare not because you he is just an ordinary commissioner whom we sat to screen and of which I presided over it. Immediately Mr Governor heard, he stepped in as the father to all, we can’t say he should be sacked but we recommended a suspension. So we showed how far we can bite. Mr Governor knew the implication, called us all the 26 of us and he asked the commissioner to apologize and at that point we were even like asking ourselves what happened? So we resolved everything amicably. Occasionally things like that happen, can you imagine it was just an ego issue and not a salient matter of governance but we only displayed what Maslow propounded in his theory of needs.
Amebo: their was a time you sponsored some of your constituents abroad, what promoted that and will that still be a continuous excursion?
Oluomo: taking people on excursion had been what I’m used to even before becoming a member of the assembly. It was only an improvement when I became a member. The Dubai that we went was as a result of what the Governor said during the last campaign. He was advising our people not to sell their lands cheaply because he intends to turn Ogun State to a Dubai. So when he left, my people were gathered here in my constituency office and they said Oga, how does Dubai look like and I said you will all go and see it soonest. So when I got elected I fulfilled my promise 14 of them plus myself making 15. My P.A for instance, I have taken him to Dubai, Germany and Paris, even last year I took five youths to Germany, so its a normal thing to me and I can tell you Amebo our next trip, you will be there God willing. So its a very natural phenomenon as far as me is concern, its part of human empowerment program.
Amebo: in your first term in office, much was not really heard about Oluomo in the Chamber unlike what we use to hear now, what really went on ?
Oluomo: well, I disagree on that. Peradventure it will be because I wasn’t a principal officer that the fame of contributions won’t be much or because I didn’t get the attention as I’m not a principal officer then, but I can tell you that in was as effective as I am presently. Though we had second timers ( Remmy Hassan, Hon Adijat and so on) during that time whom we were learning from but it was for a limited time. I use to go for TV programs on MITV, OGTV and the rest. I sponsor myself anywhere for any legislative activity or seminar anywhere in the world irrespective of the number of days, its learning and it must be continuous.
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Amebo: there are two major bills you sponsored recently which was widely publicised. What was the foundation of that bills?
Oluomo: the land grabbers, kidnapping, cultism etc bill has become a law and I must appreciate my members for their support. It wasn’t my making alone I must be honest with you. Even the executive arm gave in their best. I must appreciate the Hon Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General of Ogun State, Hon Ayeni. Sincerely he put in his total best, he was so elated about the bill. Even after passing the bill, a state that had passed a similar had to come back to us to get our copy because it was all encompassing. It was a trending criminal issues merged together, it took time, and lots of research. I went as far as USA conference of state legislators headquarters where each state belong and I got many information. I was laughing when someone said Oluomo copied Lagos on community security, the person doesn’t understand the concept of legislative synergy; the neighborhood security had been with me but it was not a priority over the land grabbers and other criminal bill to me, though I didn’t call mine neighborhood watch because I anticipated beyond that, I called mine community social orientation corps. To me I proposed two arms, the safety corps and the special Marshall (retirees, CDAs, former honourable members, campaigning against violence and moral vices and reorientation) what is killing America is “over-freedom” which has become lawlessness, we can save many of our youth. We use to have special constables that police engaged at a time being informant. The police we have can’t do it alone. For instance in Ifo here, I had to build another three police posts because of the population about a km away from each other, more bills are still coming.
Amebo : still on the bill that is yet to be passed, how do you envisaged the financial demand will be met especially that we know that the federal allocation had dwindled and in a period of recession?
Oluomo: when their is a will their is a way. Ogun state is paying Vigilante Service of Ogun State (VSO) , these are one to come under this one. We are only adding to it. Ogun State elderly citizens are the best in the world. They can volunteer to do anything as far as it is about development. Look at FRSC Special Marshall, I was a member for 10years, they even pay to get in, Ogun also has Security trust fund. We must realize it is cheaper to prevent crime that to fight it. If Ogun State had been peaceful as it is today, it would pave way for investors as we are witnessing.
Amebo: apart from the famous and unprecedented free bus shuttle (as stated by Hon Yinka Mafe during our interview with him that he copied the scheme from you), what are the other projects you have been able to embark on?
Oluomo: I must appreciate Hon Mafe Yinka my indefatigable majority leader, for that, because I copied good things too. I started with civilian buses and now these macopolos you are seeing outside moving daily, morning and noon. Apart from that I am not just a noise maker, I have built town halls, when you go to ilepa, ibogun; I am here every Saturday attending to financial assistance sought for by my people (opening different files) empowerment programs, revolving soft loans (microfinance scheme); started with 250 women and now over 500 women with a moratorium of 1month. Payment is 500 naira per week till you pay, and immediately you pay back, I reimburse you with no interest at all; I can be here till 10pm still sorting. I have 22 staff working for me 17 here, 3 at office in Abeokuta and the two at home (showing Amebo cheques, employees list and and empowerment programs) I do my things without noise. I’m sinking 5 boreholes presently which I’ll be commissioning that in commemoration of my 6th year (Amebo will cover the event). I give empowerment to my party members every month, all these are verifiable.
Amebo: the assembly invited the commissioner for finance to present the statement of spending as regards the paris club fund, what’s the status now?
Oluomo: yes we did. Unfortunately the time he was to bring it, the house was on break, last week he was mandated to do it. Fortunately I was with Mr Governor where he was telling the commissioners to always heed to our calls and demands because it is our oversight functions. We are getting our facts, we are not noise makers but we do our work judiciously. So, immediately after resuming from Easter break, we would have all needed information furnished by the commissioner.
Amebo: Last December at Arcade ground the local government elected and appointees converged for their severance package but till now, none has received. What is the state of things especially the association of past Supervisors, Advisers and Consultants plus the Councillors?
Oluomo: there was a communication misappropriation at that time. It was not for everybody to show up at Arcade ground but even at that, the payment can’t be done at a go. Imagine that the Government paid the PDP first even before us, we got ours just last week, we will be paying in batches and every body meant to collect will be paid. Some are not qualified to get the severance by law. The money at that time can’t pay every body; but I must tell you everybody under law will get paid. I pity and apologize to those who aren’t paid for now and sympathized with those who had lost their lives in the struggle. The Governor is too overwhelmed, working day and night. He wants to do all the work in Ogun at a go, a goal getter he is! Even my members also complained why he must pay the PDPs and executive members before them, but now that he has paid end of story, so the same thing will happen to those at the grassroot. Please I beg them to be patient with us as a government.
Amebo: under the last schedule assented by the former Governor, before the recent amendment done by the present legislative house, the SUSACO were covered to be paid both furniture allowance and severance package, are those set of people still in the favour book?
Oluomo: I am repeating this, those who the last scheduled favoured to be paid will be paid.
Amebo: there are flux of projects everywhere in Ogun State yet to be completed, why starting new ones especially the model colleges inwhich only one is in operation?
Oluomo: if you don’t start something you can’t do anything. Nobody wanted to do business with Ogun state before, but we need to show them we are capable and ready. Hence we have to bridge the gap of ensuring infrastructures are built. Let me use Sango-Ijoko road. If we don’t start it no one will come to help. In 2011, the Governor brought a Brazilian Company into Nigeria to come and do the road, finance it to show their capability and to run metro buses like the BRT, and the State will be paying gradually, but as it is a foreign company we need federal government approval; the PDP at that time at the top then didn’t give us the approval because they felt we will have things to campaign. Don’t forget that developing agencies needs enough conviction before they can invest. So later we started without them. None of these developing organizations had contacts with Ogun state before, they usually go to Lagos and other developing states so we needed to show them our foundation to give us a leeway. Now that we are opening Ogun state up, “75% of foreign direct investment (FDI) landed safely in Ogun State”. So we must give it to Amosun, we might not even give it to Amosun now, but by the time the benefits arrives, we will appreciate him better.
Amebo: you are known for justice especially as an activist, their was an inconsistency in the state policy whereby the state issued a memo that those taking political positions should resign and later said they should be reabsorbed. Till date most have been reabsorbed but those in the Local Government Service Commission are yet to be absorbed, what is the house doing about this inconsistency?
Oluomo: I’m sure a Susaco member wrote this; between you, God and my conscience, I took the matter up, I even thought it was the local government and chieftaincy title commission. In the presence of the Governor I took the man up (Commissioner Ojuko) I said “Oga, this man is doing a very bad thing, why must people who served in our government not get reabsorbed and the man said he is not the one but the Chairman of LGSC. Then I said he can raise a memo to that office for them to do the needful and the Governor took interest and ordered something to be done brought to his table for assent. In fairness, I didn’t give it a follow up because a matter the Governor took up, I think it has gotten to the climax. That’s why I want to thank you again Amebo for your platform which is very much grassrooted, I will now give it a follow up because it means the result hasn’t been achieved, I assure you.
Amebo: despite giving out the largest vote from Ifo constituency 1, much has not been the dividend enjoyed by the constituency. What are you doing about this as their representative?
Oluomo: this is very correct, it will get to our turn, this is one government, though it borders me but I can assure my people, this same government will do it and we will be cheerful. I wish they know what I know but they should be assured our turn cometh soon.
Amebo: most of the model schools are nearly abandoned, is the house just folding arms?
Oluomo: yes its not our joy, but what we thought was that, the way money was coming at inception of this government will continue but it was not so. For instance their is a model school at Ifo here and another at Ogun west, Amosun won’t abandon any project and we are now working on how it will regain all works. All facilities will also be provided. To some people two years is short, forgetting that a lot can happen within that two years. For instance the Model school at Idiroko will be the temporary takeoff site for the new Ogun polytechnic, if we had not planted that where would they start? But in one word all projects will be completed before the end of this administration.
Amebo: there are internal wrangling in Ogun APC, some chairmen of the party are being removed because of misconduct even though it was because of their loyalty to a particular politician gunning for the Governorship seat, as a member of the inner caucus of the Governor, don’t you think the victory of the party could be affected?
Oluomo: to me their is no wrangling, people were only putting the cart before the horse. At the time the polity was heated, it was too early, to the extent that people took it upon themselves castigating the house we all built together because they say they have somebody in mind. If they had not taken it to that level,it won’t have been this bad: I’m not God but if I’m not to contest this seat again, the person that will succeed me won’t be someone that stood up in a corner condemning what I’m doing. If I do well, I should have a say in whosoever that will succeed me in my party, no one can do it alone but condemning the same home that will present you is an affront to the polity. No one disputes anybody’s ambition, if you like you can come from Zamfara and say you are an indigene, but its an affront to now come gather those who are antagonist of the government and start to cast aspersions. About removing anybody, no body has such right, may be they were suspended perhaps for a gross misconduct, it has happened here before in Ifo last year, where a particular ward chairman was suspended for slapping the woman leader. Why should we remove anybody, its a game but one must not do things excessively.
Amebo: you have been acknowledge as a down to earth person, you don’t even use escorts neither do we see you bragging with security attached to you nor dressing flamboyantly, was that your winning strategy?
Oluomo: those who knows me and my background will not see anything special in all what you are saying. I told you where I was born, Mushin. I’m a town boy! I don’t play football but I have marks of wounds on my legs; those are the wounds I received during my struggle for democracy for Nigeria. Do you know when I was a struggler I don’t wear native attires till I was sworn in as a member of the assembly? Even in secondary school I wore the best of polos and jeans, native was a sin to me, I’m a prince but I don’t believe in gorgeous dressings “aso nla ko leyan nla o” ; even Amosun is like that, he doesn’t blow sirens, drives himself many of a time. I don’t have skeleton in my cupboard, I resume here in the morning, close here in the night. In one statement, that is Oluomo Taiwo. I even rejected th police given to me because I know it will be driving my town boys back from associating with me besides God is the ultimate security, even my hilux is looked somewhere coming out once in a blue moon.
Amebo: under your leadership as the deputy speaker, your party partly fielded the position of the chairmen in most local government and later after election now appointed vice chairmen, is that not a holistic impunity?
Oluomo: that question is totally incorrect. Every local government and LCDAs had both chairmanship and vice chairmanship aspirants. The little problem was trying to balance camps and caucus and also imbalance, so there were changes at some points which where done at the scope of time as stipulated by OGSEIC. This is the first time we will be having these huge numbers of candidates even the PDP had changes, it is not uncommon.
Amebo: Ogun 2019, Amosun’s camp,has many influx of aspirants, do you see it affecting the camp if eventually the Governor now settles for his anoited?
Oluomo: politics is about believing in whom you are following as a leader. If you are in politics and have no leader you are only gallivanting as a jester in the polity; you have confidence in your leader rising and sinking together. If your leader says my people let’s reason together this is where we should go why not? Some of us believed in the leadership of Amosun while in the opposition and we followed him and here we are together. Amosun has been telling those who had been signifying that though its good they showed interest but he is not the one that tells them to contest but they should be doing their consultations. By the time all ships are down we will sit together and consider all parameters, and see who the society favours the most because we politicians are not up to 10% of the voting power, we will all fall inline. If our government did well and our Governor did well and says this is the person he can trust to continue his good works, those who believes in him and the masses that believes in him and the new favoured candidate; this also happens in the time of Awolowo so its not new, the one that the majority follows will win.
Amebo: Mr Speaker Rt Hon Suraj Adekunbi is also in th contest while you are the Deputy. Do you see yourself aligning with him?
Oluomo: (cuts in) let me answer you straight away, Hon Taiwo Olakunle Oluomo will not sacrifice those politicians I have known and worked with in the last 5-10 years for anybody, I don’t know his background or that I have not worked with; which means I won’t work with any aspirants that I have not worked with. I’m fully behind Suraj Ishola Adekunbi being the only aspirant I know and has informed me and my members of his intention. So, until the leadership of the party says otherwise about being the party’s flagbearer that I’ll quit my support but today if I’m asked to queue behind my own chosen candidate o, it is definitely Suraj Adekunbi, I know his antecedent, we have worked together, he is a known devil to me compared to an abstract angel.
Amebo: Their was a heavy rumour at a particular time that Chief Tolu Odebiyi is the anointed candidate, though this was borne out of the statement credited to the Governor where he was said to have uttered that he knows those who will not be Governor that the Governor is yet to be in government, after which weeks later Chief Odebiyi was sworn in as the Chief of Staff, now you are talking about Suraj Adekunbi, don’t you think the other man might have issue with you?
Oluomo: the man in question has ever approached me, no one on his behalf has done that it was only Adekunbi that has. Apart form that it is not only the man Chief Odebiyi that is in the party aspiring, I have heard of Kolawole Lawal, Olubori and the rest. Even on the day you are talking the Governor only said there are so many incoming ôô, that he knows its only one of them that will eventually “come” that the Babas knows how things are done during selection process; That he is not God. Odebiyi is known to us now, he lobbied for senate in Ogun West in 2015 he is not in the circle of those I said I don’t know before. Ask him, if the Governor has told him he is the anointed candidate, for me the Governor hasn’t told me he has anointed candidate. I maintain that nobody has approached me except Adekunbi. If others tell me they want to be, yes we will see how it goes.
Amebo: we have talked about Adekunbi, what are you taking a shot at in 2019?
Oluomo: for now, I have not decided. By my nature I’m very calculative, looking at things critically clear before taking a shot and I believed so much in my political leadership, its just like people following me, I expect them reason with me: I’ll call them, reason together and decide together. So for 2019, when the times comes the leader Mr Governor will tell us where we are going. If you ask him about politics now he will tell you Oluomo, go and sit down jare, I’m thinking something else, I still ask him yesterday (Wednesday). We know our game, we know how to play it. We were in the opposition and now a winning party, we have tasted both side of the system, we will play it too well, we are veterans, the Governor told me. It will be folly of me if I say I don’t know the politics of Ifo or my constituency, I have been here as opposition for twelve years. When the time comes we will sit down in our party with the who is who, its not the noise you are seeing right now. In most cases we do consensus but if it doesn’t work we go for primaries. It happens here in Ifo during the house of representative contest, we held primary. So after my 6years, I’ll seat down with my people consult in the town to know the feelers and what is trending because they are the real deciding facto. I’ll consult and you will be informed.
Amebo: how often do you give account of stewardship to he general population of Ifo constituency 1
Oluomo: yes, I’m very close to them, I attend and host people of my constituency, CDCs, CDAs, Religious bodies, Market women, Artisans and we talk and inform them. Occasionally I host town hall meetings where we gather and I get them informed about my activities and that of the government though that is usually considered as noise to me. Every Saturday I visit CDCs and CDAs to deliberate. They come here and I go there, I have conference rooms here, open space outside and a mini hall in this building. So its not even monthly stewardship presentation but daily and weekly as the case may be. They even most times come here to seek clarity on issues.
Amebo: some of your colleagues had chieftaincy title during and some before, what title do yon have?
Oluomo: well I’m a Prince and Princes don’t have titles. I don’t even take award, because if I want that, this office will not even contain it. I’m serving now so their is no justification. The few ones you are seeing (pointing at them) were like forcefully given; It was brought down here. I have made it point clear. Even at a point a particular award was given in my absence because of the free bus scheme, I rejected it but they gave it to one of my boys who went to the event for something else to deliver it to me.
Amebo; will the free bus scheme stops after you leave office?
Oluomo: if I’m out of public office and I still have the capacity and means, I’ll definitely continue. My father did it before his demise collecting 5naira for maintenance and payment of driver, because in honesty it is very costly but will do it and do it again and again to alleviate the suffering our school children go through.
Amebo: we want to appreciate you for your time and we hope we can always knock on your door at any time to seek clarity on trending issues as it affects Ogun State.
Oluomo: you are most welcome and feel free at any point in time to contact if need arises.