Pastor Yinka Adepoju is the pioneer Director-General of signage Regulatory Agency established during the first term of the Oyo State governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi as part of the new thing that his government introduced to modernize Oyo State and return it to its pace setter status. Pastor Adepoju who also doubles as the Special Adviser on Signage and Advertisement to the Governor in this interview with Parrot Xtra bares his mind on the attributes and achievements of Governor Abiola Ajimobi in the last seven and half years in office. Our man OYEDAPO OYEWOLE brings in the excerpts:
You have been working as the Director-General of Oyo State Signage and Advertisement Agency (OYSAA) since 2012 when the Agency was established, what will you say about Governor Abiola Ajimobi’s leadership style?
I think I should start by congratulating our amiable Governor, the people’s Governor, Mr Transformation in the person of His Excellency, Senator Abiola Ajimobi for the way he has run the affairs of Oyo State in these almost eight years. He has performed wonderfully well and going further, I want to say that God in His mercies has given Oyo State this man of great virtues. Ajimobi as I see him is a man of vision, a man of values, a man of colours, and a man of great attributes. That we have him as Governor of Oyo State for a second term has been a wonderful achievement for the State and its citizenry. This visionary Governor came into power in 2011 and turned around everything in the state. Name it – from peace and security which we are all enjoying, to turning the State to modern Oyo State in terms of infrastructural development, in terms of progressive educational system, in terms of providing modern day amenities which I termed as dividends of democracy for the people of Oyo State. I think we have been so lucky to have him. Oyo State had suffered in the past and that suffering especially in the area of bad leadership brought Oyo State into a state of retrogression but with Ajimobi coming on board and for the fact that he is serving two terms which is something that has never happened in the history of Oyo State is an added value – and this added value is in the sense that he came at the right time.
Honestly speaking, if you ask me, I would have even said that perhaps another term would have moved us further from where we are now but unfortunately the constitution of Nigeria does not permit it. However, we thank God for what he has done for us in these almost eight years but time is running out, in a couple of months he would have finished his second term and of course what we expect is another person. But come to think of it, we have a candidate who is like a son to Ajimobi and the candidate that we have, I want to believe is also equal to the task ahead of him. For me, we are just waiting for the election, I know that Adebayo Adelabu will be the next Oyo Governor by the grace of Almighty God and all we expect him to do is to continue from where Ajimobi would have stopped. It is believed that all the legacies of Ajimobi would be pursued to a very good end. Because we are celebrating His Excellency, I also want to use this opportunity to show my own appreciation as the Special Adviser on Signage and Advertisement, the regulatory Agency of Government established during the time of Ajimobi.
When he came in as Governor in 2011 as part of this new concepts that happened in Oyo State, he created the Agency by sending into the House of Assembly a Bill which eventually became a Law that created the Agency and by the grace of God I was appointed as a pioneer DG and we thank God for the modest achievements that the Agency has achieved in the last seven years. This Agency is the creation of Ajimobi and in all ramifications, the Agency has also supported whatever success this administration has recorded so far in terms of Regulatory, activities, control and administration of billboards, signage structures, branding, and all other advertising platforms that you can ever think of. Before now, the sector was badly managed. In fact to some of us that are professionals, we saw it as a sector that was not properly handled; it was being handled by charlatans, people who have no knowledge of how to run advertising or even what advertising is all about. Billboards were haphazardly arranged, structures were falling down without anybody showing any keen interest. Billboards were not well aligned and the whole place looked like a jungle city – no regulation, the people that claimed they were doing something about it were just making money into their private pockets and everything was done anyhow and the Advertisers who are the users of the platforms refused to come to Ibadan because no reasonable or responsible Advertiser will want to be in that kind of arrangement but to the glory of God when we came in 2012, we removed all the dilapidated structures and we rolled out new orders – of course part of the new order was setting the standard.
We had what we called a stakeholders’ forum in one of the popular event-centres in Ibadan and we brought all the stakeholders under one roof and told them what must be done and what must not be done I must confess it wasn’t easy impressing new order on them, we stood our ground. There were pockets of resistance here and there – some people even carried placards claiming that no, it will never happen, that is not the way we have been doing it… Of course we know that change is one thing that is difficult to impress on people. People don’t like to experience change but because we were adamant and we felt the need for change was there, we also insisted that we would put our feet down and we were not deterred by their demonstration and all of that and today, what we have is like a blessing to the state.
Take for example, before we came on board, there was no electronic board anywhere and you will agree with me that around the world today, everything is going high-tech and Oyo State as a state is a pace setter state – why should we at this 21st century not have the modern day billboard? I’ve traveled far and wide including Europe and America, so it is expected that what you see in those developed climes should also be seen in a State like Oyo. We introduced it, we lured practitioners, we encouraged them to bring such innovative ideas into our own State and they obliged us. Today we have 14 screens in different locations of Ibadan being the capital and our plan is to introduce it to other big cities within the state. Of course what we have now only exists in Ibadan but they have added values to our highways in terms of lighting up the roads in the night. Not only that, the aesthetics value in terms of beauty, colouration and all of that can be seen. I must say that I am not only very proud to be part of this administration but to have Governor Ajimobi as my leader, mentor and boss of inestimable value.
Look at the road network, peace and security that we are all enjoying, dualization of roads and expansion of roads and look at the kind of model schools that we have which have also added value to the education sector. Look at the equipment at the hospitals in terms of facilities, look at agriculture and others – everything is being turned around and it’s like he’s taking back the lost glory of Oyo State and this is awesome in the real sense of it. So, kudos to Governor Ajimobi and I take this opportunity of his 69th birthday to congratulate him, to commend him and to also wish him well in his future endeavours.
Considering all these numerous achievements that he has recorded, what will you say is his greatest strength that has influenced the progress and development of Oyo State?
Well one major thing I identify in him is that he is an international man, well exposed and I can say that even before becoming Governor, he served in the private sector and to God be the glory; he rose to the zenith of his career before moving out and joining politics. Of course the exposure he had in all of the places he worked either locally or internationally must have helped him one way or the other but again, I look at him as a man of integrity because if you have all of the exposure in this world and you don’t have integrity or you are not honest or you don’t even have the fear of God, it will not work. This man has the fear of God and he has that strong belief that it was God that put him in this position and he knows that he must apply everything that he has to ensure that the common man on the road or even the less privileged should have something to enjoy during his administration. So he went as far as giving improved life to all and sundry; the low level people, the middle class, the upper class and all of that.
Like I said earlier on, he’s a visionary Governor and he has the interest of the people in mind and because he has the fear of God too, we’ve had Governors in the past who were just interested in themselves, their cronies and families. They were doing everything just to support their own, and people who are either serving them or people who they have one relationship or another with but here is a man who is interested in turning the state whether from Ibarapa to Ido to Ibadan to Oyo, Ogbomoso, Oke Ogun. All the zones in the State – he made sure that all of these infrastructural developments touched and today we can say that we have something close to equal development in all of the zones. And that is why even the next step he’s trying to take he will surely get there because it’s going to be an all round victory for him because apart from the senatorial district he belongs to, people are already campaigning for him that let this man go to the National Assembly to go and represent us, he’s going to attract more developments into the state by going to the Senate to go and represent us. He will not only fight for Oyo State but our country, Nigeria in general. Even at his age, he has a very bright future and I see him still going places. Ordinarily one would have thought that at his age the Governor should go into retirement and go and enjoy himself somewhere but he’s still agitating to go to the National Assembly not because he’s looking for anything but because he wants to see how he can help the state in particular and Nigeria in general. So by the grace of God his heart’s desires will be achieved. My humble prayer for him is that God will continue to lead him aright and he will continue to bless him and his family for what he has been able to do for the people of Oyo State. He will be adequately rewarded.
Personally sir, can you share with us some of the things you have gained from him?
Oh yes, I have gained so much under Ajimobi in the past seven years. It’s like going to a school -call it Ajimobi School; the time I and my colleagues have spent running this administration with the Governor as our Captain, as our Principal has been wonderful and I can say that we have learnt a lot. You see, in management there is this thing they say that know your boss. Of course this is the man that some of us are lucky to have worked with him for over seven years – some spent four years, others, two years or less – but there’s nobody who would work with Ajimobi for either a year or two that will not learn something from him. He’s courageous, he’s always determined to achieve and I think that those are the basic things that one needs to move forward in life. You must be courageous, you must be principled and anything you think that people will benefit from, don’t shy away from it. So I see those attributes in him. Very courageous, he’s principled, honest, to the best of my knowledge, I see him as a honest man, a man of honour and integrity.
Even, in terms of appearance – if you look at him, you will say that oh, this man appears clean. So, personally I’ve gained a lot from him and I know that some of the things that I have gained in terms of knowledge will also drive my own future endeavours. So, again, I congratulate the people’s governor, our governor, the quintessential man in the person of Senator Abiola Ajimobi. I congratulate him on his 69th birthday and what else should I say other than that God should just give him good health, long life and make him to be more prosperous in terms of God’s wealth in the remaining years that he has to spend on earth. He has done so well. I congratulate him and wish him more prosperous life. He has accomplished so many things. I wish him more accomplishment, good life and good health. God will always bless whatever he lays his hand on in the nearest future.