When the message came two weeks ago, it was very short and sharp: Please See me early tomorrow for your interview. 10am is good. That was the text Senator Iyiola Omisore sent.
It was a big relief because City People Magazine had requested for an interview with him for months in fact we had been on his trail for the past 5 months. All we wanted was for him to tell us what he has been up to since he left public office 2 years ago and to confirm to us if indeed he was running for Osun governorship. Over the last five months, Omisore, who was a former Deputy Governor of Osun and a distinguished Senator had kept postponing the interview appointment saying he will do it at the appropriate time. That was the situation until he agreed to talk 2 weeks ago. We were eager to talk to him because of his immense political clout in the politics of Osun. He is not a push over. And he has garnered experience over time. At the appointed time, Senator Omisore was ready to receive City People. But while waiting, he went into other strategic political meetings.
Once he was through with his meetings, Senator Omisore went straight into this interview and for 2 hours he took all our questions head long. We found in him some one who knows his onions, someone who has been in politics long enough to understand the game. He did not mince words when he told us matter of factly that he is the most qualified of all the aspirants who have come out so far to indicate their interest in running for governorship. He is dead right.
Not many know that Omisore’s involvement in politics started early in life, as his family has always been involved in Politics both at sub-national and national Levels.
In the transition years of the Babangida Administration, he was involved in the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and later became a member of the Grassroots Democratic Movement (GDM), UNCP in the Abacha years, under the Gen. Abubakar transition years he got involved with the Pan Yoruba group Afenifere (a pre-democratic activist group largely in south west Nigeria), where he was caucus leader for Osun State and the south west region of Nigeria. It was natural for him to have been involved in the formation of People’s Democratic Party (PDP), All People’s Party (APP) and finally Alliance for Democracy (AD) where he was a top financial backer.
During his tenure in the upper legislative chamber in Nigeria, Senator Omisore distinguished himself not only in name but also by the key positions he held and the achievements recorded during this period at all levels of governance.
Key positions held include •Chairman, Senate Committee on Industries, 2004 – 2005, •Chairman, Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Affairs, 2005 – 2007, •Chairman, Joint Finance Committee, •Chairman, Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism, 2007 – Date, •Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations (2007 -2011), •Chairman, UNDP/NASS Support Implementation Committee (2007 – 2011), •Chairman, Board of Fellows, Institute of Public Administration of Nigeria.
While he was Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, he worked with other members of the committee over 4 rounds of national budget reviews and allocation, increasing national investments in infrastructure, economic and social development as well as championing civic engagement in what has become nationally recognized as the ‘Inclusive national budgeting initiative’. Using this platform he transformed the appropriations processes into an evidence and people responsive process, taking on publicly solicited citizens and institutional perspectives to guide allocations and appropriations. While this often meant that long and challenging negotiations were required with the executive and implementing ministries departments and agencies, Omisore’s leadership and people skills kept all views and thoughts included until a shared budgetary consensus was achieved.
Dr. Omsiore further worked with global institutions and national civil society organizations to ensure that there is alignment between overseas development assistance and national budgeting and appropriation process, proposing for legislative action to support improved research evidence support alignment while focusing on improved budgeting performance and results. The overarching objective was to ensure of his work over the 4 year period as Chairman of the Appropriations Committee of the Upper Legislative Chamber of the Nigerian Assembly was to transform budgeting and appropriation into Socially Desirable Projects with sustained impact on national development. His work development assistance and performance with effective engagement of civil society is recognized by the International Health Partnership Plus and other international agencies
Omisore used his office to improve the level of infrastructural development of the nation, especially road and water supply infrastructures network. He used his office to facilitate bold and transformative investments of the national budget in infrastructure, health and human capital development (education, youth development and economic empowerment). Many of these projects reflect the deployment of his professional capacity and a commitment to bridge the infrastructure gaps in national development and economic growth.
Some of his key achievements include:
(a) Dualization of Ilorin-Ogbomosho-Ibadan road (b) Repair of Ibadan road (c) Dualisation of Ijebu Ode-Ibadan road, Ondo-Akure, Ore-Ondo, Ore-Ipele-Lokoja, Abuja-Lokoja-Okene, Akure-Ado Ekiti, Ado-Ifaki, Aramoko-Ado-Ijero and Gbongan-Sekona-Osogbo roads.
(d) Reconstruction of Oja-Ife market and expansion of the stall to 24, with further provision of fund for electrification of the market, sinking of boreholes, provision of burglary proof e.t.c. and rehabilitation of the stall owners (e) Rural Electrification @villages in Osun east (f) UNESCO Cultural Centre (also a tourism) (g) Multipurpose dams in Ife-Ijesha, Oyan, Yemoji, Ijebu Ode, Ogbese (h) Dredging of erosion channels from Oke-Eso to Alapata to Ondo Road and from Ilode to Mokuro to Esinmirin
(i) Rehabilitation of Ife-Ipetu-Ilesa-Akure road (j) Oora stream channelization (k) Facilitated Projects in OAU (l) Rehabilitation of Ife Ondo Road (m) Solar powered boreholeds at various locations in Ile-Ife, Osun East (n) Solar powered streed lighting at vaious locationsin Ife, Ilesha and Osun Estate (o) Injection sub-station 132/33kv at Imo in Ilesha (p) Dualization of Mayfair-Lagere-Enuwa-Moore-Ilesha Bye pass-Akure (q) Rehabilitation of Ife-Ibadan Road (r) Secondary pipe distribution to Iwo water works
(a) He facilitated projects in OAUTH Human Capital Development (Education, Youth Development and Economic Empowerment) (a) Living Spring Free Trade Zone, Oshogbo (b) NAPEP (c) SMEDAN.
Although he lost his seat in the Senate in the national elections of 2011, Omisore remains undaunted in his commitment to the development of Osun State, as well as the overall stability and economic progress of Nigeria. He has retained his extensive ties with the legislative and executive process to ensure sustained investments in all the projects above, and contribute to national directions adopting concessional and the public private financing approach for sustained impact.
Many marvel at Omisore’s grassroot strength. But we can tell you that Iyiola Omisore sprang to recognition and prominence with his people as a result of his philanthropic activities over two decades ago. At the last count he has personally funded or facilitated the funding of 250 projects widely spread all over his home state of Osun and in other states in Nigeria.
The philanthropist when asked about his contribution to the development of the Yoruba youths responded by saying, “I organize scholarship programmes, pay school fees of less privileged students, help the needy ones. These are things which are part of the life people responsive leadership, the heritage of my birth ‘Bibi Ire’ that our forbearers often charged us to always recall, and the duty I bear on account of my faith that through one person God provides for us all. These principles are the pillars of my commitment to philanthropy.
What has helped Senator Iyiola Omisore is that he is a grass root politician, a political mobiliser and a community man, who has always being involved in development efforts in his place of birth, Ile Ife. He has been conferred with over 20 traditional titles by different communities, where he has won the admiration of the people. He is a free mixer and could be found in the circle of both high and the lowly throughout Nigeria. He is also very much at home within the academia and has presented several academic papers at various academic functions.
As a distinguished Yoruba man whose impact has been felt in various towns in Yorubaland, Omisore has in his kitty different chieftaincy titles, all conferred by the kings of these towns in appreciation of what he has done to support community development and strengthen the contribution of traditional systems to public governance and order. The prolific engineer and politician amongst many other chieftaincy titles:
•Apesin Oodua of the Source, •High Chief Lisa of Osogboland, •Bashorun of Ijeshaland •Asiwaju Balogun of Ibadanland, •Akinrogun of Edeland, •Maiyegun of Ijero Kingdom, •Seriki of Usi Ekiti, •Agbaakin of Ila Orangun, •Ashipa of Inisha Kingdom, •Otunba of Ipetu Modu, •Akinrogun of Ede
•Otunba of Odo-Eku.
Many also don’t know that Senator Iyiola Ajani Omisore is the grandson of Lowa Omisore. His father is Oba David Olajide Omisore of Ayepe, Olode, Ile-Ife.
Senator Iyiola Omisore was born in Ile-Ife, Osun State, on 15 September 1957 into a royal family line of the people of Ile-Ife, the cradle of the Yoruba race. Senator Omisore is also the grandson of the late Olufewara Kabiyesi Oba Titus Adetoba of the Oseganderuku ruling house in Ifewara where his mother, Princess Emila Adejola ruled as Regent until her death in 2006. Iyiola grew up in Ile-Ife, in a very large and extended family where diligence, integrity and community service were part of both his heritage and leadership responsibility as royalty.
His parents were devout Christians and members of the SS Peter & Paul Catholic Church Lagere Ile Ife. Iyiola grew up and served as an altar boy to the priests, learning both the value of giving as well as tolerance for all religions and people. It was at this point that Iyiola started demonstrating the qualities of forthrightness; keen intellect and uprightness which not only set him apart from his peers but prepared him for community leadership and service.
He had his primary education at SS Peter and Paul Roman Catholic School in Ile-Ife and his secondary education at St. John Grammar School Ile Ife Osun State from 1972 – 1977, where he excelled. He later attended Federal Polytechnic Owo in Ondo State Nigeria. He later sat for and passed his Full Technological Certificate Examinations at the Technology College, Reading UK, and obtained a diploma Certificate in Electrical/Electronics Engineering. He also holds a Bachelor of Engineering Degree in Power and Machines from Brunnel University Uxbridge, United Kingdom, a postgraduate Certificate in Building service and Engineering Management and a Master of Science Degree in Building Services from the same University. Later, he went to Brunel University, Uxbridge, UK where he earned a Post Graduate Certificate in Mechanical Engineering and an M.Sc degree in Building Services Engineering.
At present, the senator holds a Ph.D in Infrastructure Finance from the International School of Management, Paris, France and he is currently undergoing his DBA programme at the same institution. In his pursuit of excellence, the Senator who is equally a fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, England and Wales underwent several courses in different high profile institutions. He did the Advanced Budgeting Course at the George Town University, Washington DC, USA; the Appropriations and Public Finance Course at the ABS Academy, Athens, Greece; the Advanced Leadership Course at the University of Carolina; The Innovation and Leadership Course at the West London College; the Public Finance Course at the Harvard University and the Aid Effectiveness and Donour Harmonization Course at the Internationale Weiterbildung und Entwicklung gGmbH, Germany.
In January 2013, he completed and was awarded a Doctorate Degree by the International School of Management in Paris, majoring in Procurement, Taxation, Corporate Governance, Infrastructure finance and Public Private Partnerships. The concept of Public Private Partnerships is a key part of the strategy that has been successfully used to provide affordable infrastructure that meets public needs. The concept combines the best capabilities of the Public and Private sectors for mutual benefit.
What has he been up to in the last 2 years, since he left the Senate, he was asked. “The last 2 years has been very interesting” he explained. “I have gone back to my practice, to my first love, which is Engineering, in Practice and in Education. I have gone back to practice Engineering. I have gone back for professional ethics improvement i.e taking up COREN assignments, going to Universities for accreditation for courses in Engineering, taking up Engineering work, do designs. My company is Iyiola Omisore & Associates. I have some projects I am already doing now. It is an Engineering company. I am a Public-Private practitioner.”
“That is the core of my Ph.D. I am trying to introduce PPP to the Nigerian context, to engage the Government, the Public Sector and the Private Sector. I am trying to let them understand the benefits of PPP because infrastructures have gone beyond reach of government. Population has exploded. There is no way how government can found the required infrastructure. There are a lot of bottle ready like legal, framework, institutional, and acceptability.
Those are the things I am trying to tackle. I have written books, journals and given lectures about it in the last 2 years. And of course by the side I have continued to play politics too. PDP has been in opposition. We are trying to reposition our party. The Supreme Court judgment came about 3 weeks with Sen. Ahmed Makarfi winning”
How does he see the judgment? “It’s a welcome development,” he says. “It has gone in favour of the majority of PDP. Makarfi caretaker committee controls about 90% of PDP, whilst Sheriff controls about 5%.”
Though they won in the Court of Appeal all the same, we were all hopeful. That is why as you can I see, I worked with Sheriff at the Osun State electoral rerun that brought out Senator Ademola Adeleke.
How does he assess the performance of APC at the Federal level and State level? “My views are clear, “he says. “APC seems unprepared. That is why for 2 years they have been blaming the previous government. There is nothing bad in blaming previous governments, but the blaming game ought to have stopped by now. When you are taking up the leadership of a party or that of a country you ought to have been prepared, more so, when President Buhari had contested for about 12 years. So it is not new and he didn’t get there by accident. I think the government seems to be clueless, and they don’t have the capability or the where withal and even the courage to lead the country aright”
So, how prepared is the PDP for 2019? “The PDP is ready. We have the experience. We’ve been through it before, having fallen at the last election; we have learnt our lessons as well. There is an adage that says there is nothing bad in falling, but you have to have the ability to rise up to the challenges. We are rising up to the challenges and Nigerians are really helping us.
The inability of the APC to rule properly is an impetus to PDP coming up and it is an encouragement for Nigerian to help PDP come back as well.
How dose he you see the performance of Gov Aregbesola in Osun in the last 7 years? Well, the last 7 years of Gov. Aregbesola in Osun State has been a disaster. Its sad. I don’t like condemning people. But these facts are there for everybody to see. They are glaring. Unfortunately for Gov Aregbesola, there have been PDP governments and AD governments before him. So you can see things that have been built up in the last 12 years have all, gradually, been destroyed and every thing has gone down the drain. Its very unfortunate. In Osun State now we are owing almost about N268 billion and there is nothing to show for it. We have ISPO. It was payment that are signed between Osun State and Federal Allocation up to 2040. Its like 25 years loan ability. We have a lot of commercial bonds unpaid. The roads are bad, no water, no commerce, no drugs in hospitals, there is capital flight, workers are unpaid, salaries are being owned almost 8 months in arrears, pensioners are being owed. So activities in Osun has come to standstill. Today, Osun is on life support.” Is he saying there is nothing positive Gov. Aregbesola has done to move Osun State forward in terms of development? “Like what? In what area? was his reply. “You may know it. I haven’t seen it and I should know if any. I am a stakeholder in the state. Apart from all those newspaper propaganda, I can’t see anything he has done.”
The amount of money wasted can’t be matched with what is on ground. There have been colossal waste in the last 7 years. I can reel everything out to you. Look at the issue of OPON IMO about N8.96 billion was spent. Where is it today? Today, there is no Opon Imo in Osun State, not anywhere. He embarked on roads in Osun State, not one single one has been completed in the last 7 years. He spent almost about N189 billion on roads alone. Of course, there is no water.
Ede Waterworks is still in bad shape. Iwo Waterworks is still in bad shape. Ejigbo Waterworks is in bad shape. Ila Waterworks is in bad shape. Ife Waterworks is in bad shape.
The hospitals have become mere consulting clinics. To worsen the situation, doctors are also being owed. Doctors are complaining that whenever they dispense drugs, patients would be asking them for money. So, Osun is better described as been on life support.
With this grim scenario he has painted how does he (Omisore) think he will cope if he wins? “Its not an easy thing.” he admits. “It’s a grim situation truly. Its also not an attractive thing to do. But there is so much pressure on me, from the populace and Osun perspective and because of the experience I had garnered over the years. I have shown this, I have exhibited this, and people have trusted me over the years. I have the ability and capability to do the job and manage finances both at the Federal level and state levels like when I was deputy governor as well. So it will take a lot of ingenuity and courage as well and a lot of Purposefulness and the will to want to do the right thing. Anybody coming in after Aregbesola must come in and manage the huge debt profile. As I look at Osun State today, the huge debt is staring at my face too. I have been busy with my team thinking of how we can think outside of the box to manage this state. We have to manage this state. That state cannot be sold. It will not die. So, it needs somebody like me who is well read, who is versatile in engineering, in project management and in financing.” Omisore is planning to come in at a time when there is problem in all the states, with funding issues and co.
How does he plan to tackle all these? “Like I explained to you, it is not an easy thing to do, but it is not impossible to do. There was a time I met a cross section of Osun people, Osun indigenes. I met with some medical doctors, NULGE, Teachers, and during my meeting with them, I told them that I am frustrated with the way things were going on in that state. They now said they are afraid that if me I am frustrated with Osun problems what’s the hope for them in that state. So, what I am doing now is; I am trying to take the leadership by myself and look for ways out of it. It can be done. Osun can bounce back again.
I am trying to look for ways out of problems facing the state. When Obama took over as President of the US, after Bush Jnr., American economy was at its lowest in 69 years in, but by Gods grace America’s economy was turned around before he gave it to Trump, I believe in my Ability and Versatility, Exposure and Experience and the courage to want to do the right thing and the courage to want to give to the direction, the quality of people to manage the finances and the courage to even raise money at the cheapest rate and to garner grants and aids from the international community. My experience and contacts will actually help that state. I am the most experienced politician in that state. Of course a country like Rewanda lived on aids all through.” Omisore told City People that he is the most qualified for the governorship of the state.
As the governorship elections is just around the corner, how does he see the quality of aspirants that are coming out to contest? “Well, as at today, I have been around for a long time in Osun State. You know that yourself. I have won elections and lost elections in that state, and today everybody is looking forward to me. So, its even a burden on me, because whether I like it or not, I have to run, to go in there to change things, to transform things.
So, even, I have no choice in this matter. Every where I go people ask me to come and save them from the rot that the state has witnessed. So, I can’t run away from it, so its even a problem for me. And the Bible says whoever begins to plough and looks back is not fit for the kingdom of God. That is the Biblical injunction. So, I must not desert those people at this time of their need. So I must provide direction and it means. I have to come in to stablise things before I hand over power to the younger people coming behind without experience. In this Osun State today, I am the most experienced technocrat/politician today in that State. I am the only one capable of resolving the log jam Osun State is facing today. When people give you a Burden and a Trust, they will understand you. Between the Governed and the Led, between the Leader and the Led, the Governor and the governed, there must be Trust. I have told all of them that we have to rule this state together. We have to find a solution to the issue of salary particularly, because the Bible says the Worker deserves his wage.
This is the paramount thing. After resolving the issue of how to pay salaries on due dates then you now go to the second schedule, that is Development for that state, by that I mean providing Infrastructure, particularly. Do you know that OSUN state before Aregbesola was 60th in WAEC/NECO, now we are No 32 Schools have gone on strike for more than 1 year and they will go for exams. LAUTECH has been on strike for a while now. Medical students are stranded. These days, I go to Universities to lecture, to help out. I have experience in all these areas I have been trying to familiarise myself with the reality on ground and with my ability and capability come up with a lasting solution and what will help is my ability to rise above board and reason beyond my environment
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