Prince Dapo Abiodun has been credited with much initiative in the plan to move Ogun State forward as the state clocked 45.
The Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the Governor on Housing, Honourable Olusegun Ojolowo Ojuko revealed in this interview with Ogun News Express (ONE) that the state government has embarked on massive low cost housing projects for the people of the state.
The SSA also revealed that the state government is not resting on its oars to leave the state better than it met it.
He speaks on some other issues affecting the Gateway State in this exclusive interview conducted by Habeebat Ajayi
Tell us about yourself and how you joined politics?
My name is Honourable Olusegun Ojolowo Ojuko, and I am from Ota in Ogun State. Well, politics is part of the family and my father was a well known politician. He was an Aworist, I think he started in his early 50s and I think the blood that runs in me led me to politics. After my sojourn in the United Kingdom, I joined politics because of the interest I have. I saw a lot of things I like in my father and that gave me the move in politics. Not one thing basically, but his impact in the community and I believe politics is what you can lean on to assist your people, community and the environment around you.
So, when did you actually join politics?
Actually, I joined politics, while I was in the UK. I joined them in the running of things, but actively I joined politics in 2009. That was when I devoted all of time into politics.
You were the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) for House of Assembly in 2015, how was the experience like?
I believe it was one of those things that propelled me to my position now, because 2010/2011, I aspired and almost became the candidate of the party. By whatever it was, I missed that time and it was given to my brother, Honourable Nurudeen Akinpelu Aina, who is a two term member of the House of Assembly from Ota State Constituency. In 2014, I contested against him under the SDP, he was in the All Progressives Congress (APC) that was when we left APC with Aremo Olusegun Osoba to the SDP and I lost election to the same Hon. Nurudeen Akinpelu Aina. It was an experience though during that period I had a ghastly motor accident and I was hospitalized on the 9th of May 2015 and election was on the 11th of May, so we lost the election and I spent two months in the hospital.
I don’t regret contesting in 2015, I became known virtually everywhere in the local government even far away from my LG to the state. So, I became one of the popular politicians in the state, I thank God that I contested during that period.
What were the things you people did for Prince Dapo Abiodun to win the election as the Governor of Ogun State?
I didn’t go back to the APC because of His Excellency, Prince Dapo Abiodun, immediately we lost election in SDP. We were instructed by Chief Olusegun Osoba to go back to the APC. We were members of the party before Prince Dapo Abiodun emerged as the Governorship Candidate of the party.
Prince Dapo Abiodun is a complete gentleman. If you will agree with me, he has been in politics for quite a number of years before he contested for the post of a senator and even contested against Otunba Gbenga Daniel. Then, he was about 35 years old; you can see he has been in politics for long.
His coming into Governorship race was just like save a soul situation. I must confess to you, I among the first 10 people that started with him, I stand to be corrected by anybody. He was like save a soul because we are associates of Senator Solomon Adeola Olamilekan (Yayi), when he was contesting for the governorship of the state. But, along the line he had to go back to Lagos. That time, we were looking for whom to support and of course, we had fallen out with Senator Ibikunle Amosun. Then Prince Dapo Abiodun came from the blues. He just came on board and we all rallied round him and today he is the Governor of Ogun State That was how it started and it start well and ended well. He is an accurate and very determined person, you can see him as a gentleman but he is dogged. He knows what he wants and he goes after it. That is what I am enjoying about the Governor today. I believe it will never go round at the same time.
You are an appointee of the Governor as the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Housing, is the position food for the boys?
You know some time some people looked at some position, especially Special Assistant (SA) and SSA as food for the boys. Even some people have said it to me that “Segun, this is food for the boys. But unfortunately, it is not. When I got to the ministry, I’m one of the three Senior Special Assistants appointed to the ministry of housing. What is in housing is far more than what the commissioner alone can handle, especially what the governor is doing. These days, every senatorial district has there housing projects going on at the same time. I don’t know how a commissioner will cut himself into three senatorial districts at the same time. We aren’t talking about 10 or 20 housing units; we are talking about 100, 200, and 300 housing units at the same time. In each senatorial district, he might not be able to handle anything. So SSA as food for the boys doesn’t apply to housing at all. We are always on our toes every time. The commissioner is one of those that won’t allow you to rest. We were in Kobape area of Abeokuta few weeks ago and I wore new shoes, but the shoes almost went back to the factory. What the Governor is trying to do is to recreate the township arrangements of the state. Abeokuta is getting congested every day; he is looking for a way to push people out of the state capital to the downtown to create another environment for them. Look at what is happening in Abuja, a lot of people are working there and they are living in Gwagwalada, far away from Abuja because is there is access to the area, especially roads. People won’t mind living in about 20, 30s mile away from where they work once they have access to shelter, that’s what the Governor is trying to do.
We have projects going on in Kobape, Kemta, Ogun Central, Shagamu as we speak. We are starting those of Ilaro and Ota and that’s because of scarcity of land. But, when I came in, I have been able to get land here and there in the two constituencies in Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government and Ado Igbesa. They have already given us one, which I think is good for what the government is trying to do in Koga Road to Badagry Expressway. We are planning to have project there, so that people can come from Lagos because the place is congested.
What we are doing is to have a housing estate in Lagos/Ogun border line so that it will attract people from Lagos State to come here there. We want to provide low cost shelter for our people to secure our border from Lagos State and attract revenue from people coming from Lagos to Ogun State/ Lagos is encroaching most of our boarder land now, but by the time we erect our projects on the land, definitely they will know it belongs to Ogun State. I know the state is not as bouyant as expected, but all those projects are done with loans that’s why the governor is very prudent on the cost of the houses. They are done through direct labour so that they won’t be too expensive for people to afford because we target civil servants, and low income earners, so we have to mind the cost of the houses.
Most governments embark on these housing projects claiming that they are for low income earners, but later they sell them at huge amount of money. How will this administration keep to their words and are the projects meant for civil servants alone?
When I was speaking the other time, I said civil servants and low income earners. Civil servants are in one side and low income earners include the peasants, vulcanizes, market women, and everyone in other sectors.
You have to understand that the project is done through direct labour, under normal circumstances it should have been publicised whereby the work would be given to contractors. If I can tell you, contractors are running away from the project because they are not getting much from it. Let me tell you, one contractor got a building project that was coming phase by phase, the first phase was German floor, the second phase was lintel, the other one is roofing. When he finished that one, he got #70,000 as profit, most of them have gone out of sites and most of them thought they would make money from the projects are no more on site. Thank God, what we giving to them, we knew they would not make much from it, so as soon as they left, they didn’t go with government money and someone else will take over. What we are doing is that we have block makers on site, and we give them cement. But some said that they didn’t want cement, and that they were okay with the prices we gave them. Invariably there is no how this thing will go up and there are different kinds of buildings we have. We have one opposite the secretariat, we one that we call “Yellow Roof.” They are in duplexes, they are not meant for low income earners. You know what you want for yourself, we are selling forms with bank account numbers and people are paying gradually. Some people won’t do anything now until the house is ready. How about some people who had been paying instrumentally over a period of one to two years, and immediately the project starts they now come with placards protesting and shouting that government didn’t give them houses. Where were you when there was an advert on the house. Infact the bank account is not for Ogun State Government, its Gateway Mortgage money. It isn’t going to the government account because it’s gateway that seeks the loans, invariably if your money goes there and you didn’t get a house, it’s sure we are going to have over subscription, which could have been the reason. Now, I just mentioned the Kobape project, which we have finished the first phase of 180 houses and we are starting another 120. Now, with the way people are turning in by the time the project is done, we will know how to sort it out. Some people will be in our priority list, you can’t rule that one out. We have to put our people first, and screen the people that want to get the houses.
Looking at the border areas, does this government have the political will to control people who get what in those housing units?
We may not have total control over it; we can just manage it to the lowest point. One thing is that how about Ogun indigenes that live in Lagos, are you going to deprive them from having houses in the state? That is why we gave everyone the opportunity of starting now, the forms are advertised everywhere, everybody knows that Ogun State has housing projects supervised by the Ministry of Housing. If you know you can’t afford it at once, why can’t you get the form now and start paying gradually. I can assure you that 80% of those that are paying now will get houses due to the over subscription that may occur, and it’s very certain that you will get your money back if you don’t get a house.
We are aware that the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Works and Housing, is trying to do some housing units in different states, is the Ogun State Government collaborating with the FG on this?
I don’t have full details of the project, but I can tell you that just like you and pick information on the media, most of them might not be authentic. The Commissioner for Housing has not really given us a brief on this. What we hear is that 10,000 low cost housing units have been given to each state. I will make my findings, now that this is coming up in case of next time so that I won’t still say I don’t know,
Thank God Ogun State clocked 45 few days ago, from your own assessment do you think the state has been able to achieve something laudable since it’s creation?
You see, every government is a work in progress because there is no government that will start and last for 100 years. There is a transition process, they will say this is what we have done, you take over and we have to look at what you have done so far. That means there is a progression and transition. There is a Transition Committee formed by both governments; the outgoing and the incoming. Most of the time, we found out that what the outgoing leaves for the incoming, they cannot continue with it, they have to start their own. Unfortunately, we have been changing from one party to other. This is not giving the state progression because if one party leaves, the coming party will want to rubbish what that one left behind. But we are fortunate this time around, though there were some things that were like hiccups in this transition from APC to APC, which did not make it to be that smooth. What I am trying to say is that every government is a process. You can see what happened in the United States of America, which exposed to the whole world that no policies, democracy is perfect. They are still dragging it till now, which means that they just wanted to cover up all their shortcomings. The former President of America couldn’t handle it and he exposed the whole of America politics to ridicule. In Ogun State, people will have something to say about the government. Some said the Governor is slow, I agree with you on that but, our fathers and mothers say slow and steady wins the race. You don’t have to be fast and you collapse at the middle of the road. How about someone, who is working gently and spends ten years on his way, but by the time he gets to your side, you are dead, he just walks pass you and go to his destination. This is what I call; “steady Government.” Look at what the Governor is doing about promoting our culture. Now, ‘Adire’ is the official dress code for all government appointees. On Friday, you must wear ‘Adire’ and our government is looking at a texture of ‘Adire’ that can be used as school uniforms for both primary and secondary schools. How to manage the cloth for that long time is what they are looking at for now, we can have thousands of designs in ‘Adire,’ you can have different schools using different designs. If we had been using it, we would have been used to it by now.
‘Adire’ is becoming part of me now; I have more than 10 ‘Adires.’ It is so beautiful, I sew one for twelve thousand naira, how will I imagine myself some years back going to Itoku to buy ‘Adire.’ This is what the Ogun state Government is bringing into the system, now you can buy ‘Adire’ online with home delivery. We have ‘Adire’ site now you can be abroad and buy ‘Adire’ in the design that you want. Also, n road construction they are trying their best with the little resources Ogun State has.
In a nutshell you believe Prince Dapo Abiodun is leading Ogun State on a progressive path as the state clocks 45?
It’s quite unfortunate that this government started during the COVID-19 Pandemic period, which has been a thorn in the flesh of this government. People won’t see it that you are pinched by pin, it is you that will be feeling the pains. This government started on May 29, 2019 and COVID-19 started later that year before it became loud in 2020 and it is yet to go and this a government that came on a new slate. We also had EndSARS Protests, look at the way we managed the protests. It took a lot of wisdom for the Governor and his crew to make sure that the spillover in Lagos did not affect the state much. No single property or house was burn in Ogun. There was no causality in Ogun State. It was the management ingenuity of the governor and his team, so the Governor has always been very articulate in handling things, saying he is slow in not correct. COVID-9 came on around and affected so many things drastically .
The government had the plan of raising 15 to 16 billion naira bond, but COVID-19 did a lot of havoc and it affected the plan.
Can you tell us your education background?
I had my primary Education in Saint village Primary School, Amu Mushin, Lagos, then I went to Ansar ud Deen Grammar School, and later to Anwar Islam College Agege for my HSC. I later attended Lagos State University (LASU), where I read Islamic Studies and History. I had one or two experiences and traveled out of the country to the United Kingdom, where I spent most of my time before I came back to Nigeria.