Coming from a very humble background, Olagoke Odetunde, son of a Second Republic politician in old Oyo State, Chief J.A Odetunde, has a passion for human development; he believes the only avenue through which he could effectively achieve his goal is to first touch the lives of his people in Irewole/Isokan State Constituency of Osun State.
This perhaps explains why this amiable and unassuming surveyor is venturing into politics. In this interview with JIDE OKE, Odetunde spoke of his integrated life initiative, free Medicare Programme being financed from his meager resources, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Action Democratic Party (ADP) among other issues.
What background prepared you for what you do now?
I was born in Apomu town in Isokan Local Government Area of Osun State, to Pa and Mrs Odetunde both from Apomu. My childhood was spent here in Apomu and Lagos where I had my primary school education.
My secondary school education was also at Apomu, from where I was admitted to The Polytechnic Ibadan, Oyo State to study quantity surveying.
I passed out from The Polytechnic in 1990 as a qualified quantity surveyor and did my National Youth Service in Kogi State between 1990 and 1991. After my Youth Service, I worked with Amuwa Ajagun Construction Limited, as quantity surveyor and site manager.
I later joined GYB Consult Limited. While at GYB Consult, I formed a small business with four other colleagues, Project-Bond Ltd.
I was very pushful in finding myself in all these areas, where this skill would come out from and be fully exploited and that happened to a very great extent. I also formed P&S Associate with a colleague and I became the managing partner in 2005.
It is the background that I gained in all the process that really put my feet on the platform to take off as a politically conscious individual and the overriding philosophy that I have gained over these years is that one should not be confined to a narrow alley;
one should not find oneself entangled in a very limited space of intelligential operations, so that in a situation where you say you are a surveyor and then you are restricted to the practice of construction, that is strictly antithetical for development of the individual person and the cooperate society.
Where are you experiences in political engagement?
Every man or woman born into this world is a politician, because right in your home as a father or a mother, you play politics in that family. Even in your place of work you play politics. So, to me everybody is a born politician.
From all indications, your participation in politics is to attain a sustainable development for your community, are you saying same goal cannot be achieved through your profession as a surveyor. Why must you go into politics to achieve this dream?
My going into main stream politics is not to seek fulfillment, in fact at this stage, I’m no longer seeking fulfillment as a personal goal, what I really want now is to be able to contribute
and what remains a fulfillment for me is to see my constituency developed in a sustainable manner which you can say that yes, this is the dream that our forefathers had about our local community, about Osun, about all of us.
Now, you want to represent Irewole Isokan State Constituency of Osun State in next year general election, how much of the constituency do you know?
My immediate political area is my ward and local government which is Isokan Local Government Area. As a matter of fact, no politician can claim to know about every part of his constituency or senatorial district.
It is the people working with him that will do the contact, take him around where necessary to sell his ambition. All these, I have been doing and to a large extent I have familiarised myself with most part of the constituency.
During election, the electorate would be guided by the contribution of contestants to the development of their community, on what are you building your ambition?
Well, I will not be able to give a direct answer to that question, but I can answer why I am into politics; the avenue that it is going to take, I may not be able to say for now.
But so far so good I have been able to touch the lives of my people in the little way I could through my health initiative programme and the empowerment of women and youth in the constituency.
Also I believe that it is the responsibility of every individual to satisfy his or her conscience because when we stand before God, our conscience should be our judge.
For one to run for political office in Nigeria, one must be financially strong. How loaded are you financially?
To be frank with you I don’t have the money like others who are loaded to throw the money around. But the little I have with the good will of the people around me I believe that alone will see me through in my ambition.
If you eventually emerge winner to represent Irewole/Isokan State constituency in 2019 general election, what are your plans for the people of the constituency?
The major problem confronting our people in the constituency is non-accessibility of farmers to their farms. So when I assume office the first thing I will give priority is to open up rural roads to enable farmers transport their farm produce to the towns and cities for marketing.
I will also settle everything about the youth through employment and empowerment, because I personally feel encouraged by the amount of struggle they made to make ends meet in our society.
Women will also be supported financially to start small-scale businesses and those who are already in business will be encouraged to grow in their trades.
The 2019 general election is about three months away, do you see INEC conducting free, fair and credible polls?
Well, if INEC is given a free hand to conduct the 2019 election they will conduct it. INEC is called independent body but they are not independent, the mere fact that the people there were appointed by the ruling party, the electoral umpire finds it difficult to be independent.
That is why we are advocating for clear independence for INEC to make it possible for all the political parties to be involved in the appointment of the people who head INEC. But as long as the President solely appoints the bosses of INEC they are bound to do whatever he dictates to them.
How is ADP fairing?
ADP is doing well, the enthusiasm of the people joining the party is very encouraging, in fact in most of the meetings we attend on daily basis you discover core politicians from other political parties including APC coming and declare their interest.
So I hope that if this trend is maintained there is all indications that it will take over the government soonest, both at the local, state and national levels.