Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo is the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of New Planet Projects Limited, an accomplished businessman, he hails from Ondo State and currently eying mainstream politics. Tunji-Ojo spoke with ‘Tosin Ajuwon in Akure on his plans to contest for the National Assembly seat to represent Akoko North and East Federal Constituency Area of the state.
You’re an accomplished businessman who has made track a record mostly in the Information Technological sector, what led you into politics?
I’m not just an Information Technology expert but also consultant in management, because I sit as the Managing Director of multiple companies and as a Managing Director of Matrix Information Technology. I have qualifications in Information and Communication Technology. My first degree is in Electronics Communication Engineering and my Masters degree is in Digital Communication.
I will say politically, politics is a way of giving back to the society. Politics to a large extent should be for accomplished minds, people that have conquered personal pride and ego. Professionally, God has been so kind to us. I will ascribe all the success to him, because I am nothing but a product of grace. I’m just a pencil in the hands of God and he has decided to use me as a tool to write happiness on the hearts of people. I think that the numerous challenges we have, infrastructural challenges, of effective representation and also the laudable voice of the people in the National Assembly is a major motivating thing.
You‘ll be taking a shot at the National Assembly by 2019, what’s motivating you considering your success in the business world?
In Nigeria, we run on three tiers political system, which are the federal government, state government and the local government administration. So, we must have a scenario whereby all representatives at the federal level of government will be able to complement this effort to really make life better for our people, we want to be able to influence viable projects to our constituency.
Thinking about the level of poverty and deprivation, misrepresentation in our state at the national level, we know that people before us have tried their best but we have to use their own strengths as a motivating factor for us to be able to develop further, you know it’s the dream of every father to see his son come out better than him.
I know our mentors, our incumbent, those that have been before us; it will also be their dreams for us to build a castle on the foundation. I’m desirous to be able to influence life positively and to be able to create a greater future for my generation because my generation is a new generation and we must be able to create the future for generations coming after us just like the one before us in the likes of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and the party Chairman.
What would you say about those who have represented the state at various national levels, are you satisfied with their level of representation?
They have done well by bringing our generation to the forefront, so we too have a responsibility to the generation coming after us to be able to mentor them. This is a major reason why politics is the key. Politics is a game of leadership and no matter who you are, you are subjected to the rules and laws of the game and if the intelligent and God fearing people stay behind and allow the wrong ones to rule, then, they will end up being subjected to them.
So, we must be able to take advantage of that to create a better future for the people to give them a voice and be able to give them a good representation at the highest level. We have to do our best to support the administration of Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu in Ondo State and also support President Muhammadu Buhari and we have to put in our best in terms of representation in respect to 2019 election.
At the end of the day, we will turn around things for better in Ondo State and ensure there is also effective and adequate Federal Government presence in our dear state for the sun always shine.
But what has really influenced your interest to represent Akoko North and Akoko East in the House of Representatives?
I didn’t just wake up to say I want to contest. I could remember I contested in 2011, but God said it was not time yet because I am a firm believer in God and I believe in God’s appointed time for me. But you know in Nigeria’s democratic settings, you are a loser if you come second or third in an election.
We believe that we can offer representation effectively and the little experience that we have been able to put together in the private sector can be translated into the public sector and make life more meaningful, more beautiful and worth living for our people.
But how prepared are you to run?
Well, we will do our best in life. Generally I have always believed in the efficacy of God and I believe so much in God. If you look at my life you will know I am a product of grace. I am a man that lost his father when I was in primary four and the only child of my parents. I could remember the days I used to hawk tomatoes and pepper at Oja-Oba market in Akure.
I could remember that I was unable to pay for my final year examination, if not for Dr. Ayo Val. He is one of the key men of God that played a major role in my life. He runs Ayo Val Hospital in Akure. For someone like me that have gone through a lot in life, I think politics is a key way that I can give back to my people.
Am not who I am in life because I am the smartest or the best, but because of the grace of God. I am motivated and I leave everything in the hands of God. We are ready and prepared to give it our best.
I am assuring my people that once given the opportunity I will do my best and will never disappoint them. I will do my best to be able to give them effective representation and to be able to collaborate and be able to support and complement efforts of his Excellency, Rotimi Akeredolu towards giving a better life to our people as he has been trying to do over the years.
Being a young-man, how do you intend to carry the youths along in order to realise your political ambition?
I believe that you do not need to be a Methuselah to be able to achieve anything. I also believe that politics should not be how old or how young you are, but rather what you are capable of achieving.
I am only running for the House of Representatives, not for the presidency or governorship and I think that as a young person, I can feel the problems of our people. We belong to the same age group, and then we know what they are going through. I really know where the pain is in their shoes and we know what they really want out of life and politics. We believe that we can then link their points of aggregations and feelings.
How will you go about getting the support of your people in Akoko North and East Areas ahead of the general election?
About getting the support of the people, I do not think that should be a problem in Akoko North and Akoko East. I think to the glory of God, they know that we have always stood by them over the years that my people are aware that for them to be able to know what I can do for them our people must apparently take a look at the past and see the influence that we have been able to make in their lives.
Then, they definitely appreciated us when I ran an election in 2011 and I could remember I had 17,000 votes. It was a massive vote by Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and I can say in the entire Ondo State I was the only person that came second on the platform and others came third, which showed a level of popularity amongst my people.
Some major roads in the Akoko mostly the one linking the Akungba Akoko to Abuja has been a nightmare, what is your take?
That road is an eye sore, but I have to put the record straight and I think our people will understand. That road is not a state road but a federal road; this is part of the reasons why we need effective representation. We have seen how one of the Senators from Kogi was able to influence a project from Kabba to Illorin. We have seen similar things too and so many other states doing the same thing.
Our own representatives too should draw serious attention of the government as well. In as much as Governor Rotimi Akeredolu would like to help, the simple truth is that it is a federal road.
The question goes beyond the Ondo State government, but the question goes to the federal government representatives. They need to also try to draw the attention of the government. Use your office to declare the place a matter of emergency. Now we are scared of the bad road and we are also scared of being kidnapped on the road, a journey that was supposed to take 5 hours is now taking 10 hours.
I could remember in 2006 to 2007, we used to make it on that road for 5hours, but now it is something else. It then means that once you go through that road you have wasted your entire day. So productivity wise, it is making us to be less productive.
What is your opinion on the two and half years of the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration in the country?
I will be very objective. I will say the two years have been great and tough. I’m an expert in change management, being a key aspect of my profession. It is one of the most difficult thing in life and any administration.
President Muhammadu Buhari may not have made our economy high because he came in at a point of recession. He came in when our source of income, crude oil was nose-diving, so money was not available and you know that our population keeps increasing.
The demand keeps increasing and at that, we know that there was enormous debt on ground, therefore, the President had used the first year in clearing the mess so that he can have a fertile ground.
The President spent time making sure all relevant stakeholders, bothering on the masses, civil servant, public servants and all agency of government keyed into his vision. Now after achieving that, he will successfully take us to the next level and we know that we are actually growing as a country. As a country, we need a leader that has international reputation, a leader that other countries can take for his words and that is what Buhari has provided.
We must not lose sight of our past for us to appreciate where we are. If we look at 2015, where we were on the issue of Boko Haram and where are we today? President Buhari has also been kind enough to open up the space and you can see there is relative stability in our foreign exchange. So economically, he has done well; it is too early to judge any administration in two and a half years especially when you came in from outside.
Is there any hope and what would be your advice?
Let me use this medium to appeal to Nigerians to be patient with this current administration and I can assure that the intention of President Buhari in terms of delivery of good governance which is a social contract he signed with Nigeria on May 29th, 2015 is good.
We must not forget that gold is not gold until it passes through the fire. So we as Nigerians, it is our own period of sacrifice and I can assure that with President Buhari getting a second term, we would get a secured future in Nigeria by the grace of Almighty God.
Politics to a large extent should be for accomplished minds, people that have conquered personal pride and ego. Professionally, God has been so kind to us. I will ascribe all the success to him, because I am nothing but a product of grace. I’m just a pencil in the hands of God and he has decided to use me as a tool to write happiness on the hearts of people. I think that the numerous challenges we have, infrastructural challenges, of effective representation and also the laudable voice of the people in the National Assembly is a major motivating thing.