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I’ll make Ekiti State Nigeria’s Silicon Valley- Olumilua
Muyiwa Olumilua is a gubernatorial aspirant for the 2018 election in Ekiti State and doubles as the MD and CEO of Keshlink Investment Limited. He was the Senior Special Assistant on Project Monitoring to former Governor Kayode Fayemi from 2010-2012 and later held a similar position as SSA on Integration and Intergovernmental Relations. In this interview with Godfrey AKON, he spoke on his ambition of becoming the next governor of Ekiti state. Excerpts:
What is Muyiwa Foundation about?
Muyiwa Olumilua Foundation was started to fulfil my childhood dream to put a smile on the faces of people. People in this case are the less privileged. You don’t need to put a smile on Dangote’s face because he is already smiling; but the common man.
Those who find it hard to live on a daily basis and meet their daily needs or basic requirements, the essence of the foundation is to try and make life worth living for them. Truth be told, things are very tough for a lot of people. When average people like us hardly meet our daily needs at times, you can imagine what people like that are going through. So that is the essence of the foundation.
Tell us about your foundation’s collaboration with UNESCO to tackle the out-of-school problem in Nigeria?
Let me start by saying I am one of the friends of UNESCO. I started as a goodwill ambassador for a project in UNESCO and was later upgraded to a friend of UNESCO. There is a Read and Earn project under UNESCO aimed at giving people the ability to go to school and study and make a living.
UNESCO, Muyiwa Olumilua Foundation, Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, and Education 2030 came together to look at how we can reduce the incidence of student dropout from school.
Now, we know that when it comes to the education of a child, a mother is the first point of call. Education starts with the mother.
Unfortunately, in rural Nigeria, let me start with Ekiti state where I come from, you find out that mothers are more involved in the education of their children.
Some graduates who talk about their journey of life, keep saying thank God for my mother; my mother had to borrow money to send me to school, sell her cloths, sold garri and so on and so forth, just to send me to school.
So I think the first people we should touch their lives should be these mothers. So the programme is essentially in three different categories. One, it has to do with education of the children. Number two, since the education of children is the primary concern of a mother, then the mother has to be healthy to take care of these children and send them to school. So it has a health aspect. Then number three, if you have a healthy mother who doesn’t have money, the whole objective is defeated. So the number three aspect of it is how to empower these women.
Empowerment in the sense of boosting the businesses of those engaged in business by financing them. For those who do not have any skills, there will be skills acquisition and also loans to help them acquire the tools of their trade and some working capital. So that at the end of the day, we will have a healthy mother who is earning an income and who can take care of the education of these children without having drop outs of school.
So the first phase of the project is called ‘Project V Nigeria’ and that ‘V’ stand for ‘5’ in Roman numerals which was recently launched in Ekiti state. So the ‘V’ which stands for 5 means that the project is to run for five years.
You declared your intention to vie for Ekiti state governorship in 2018; what are your plans if you get the ticket and eventually win?
You see, the primary focus is how to create wealth in Ekiti, make Ekiti sate self-sustaining and modernize it to a large extent. Now, these three things I mentioned have sub-heads. If you are talking about creating wealth, how do you do that? We are looking along the lines of agriculture. We also look along the lines of tourism and boosting education that will make it attractive to people from other states and if possible outside the country.
In terms of ICT development, one of my dreams is to make Ekiti state the Silicon Valley of Nigeria. You all know Ekiti people like reading that is why we are called the fountain of knowledge. So we want to live up to that name. Let it not just be a name for the sake of it but to actually translate into real terms. Let people know that these people are actually the fountain of knowledge in Nigeria.
Now, when you create wealth, then we are talking about the state being self-sustaining; self-sustaining in what way? Presently, Ekiti state is almost 100 per cent dependent on federal allocation. If we don’t get any money from the federation account, the state will collapse. We will not be able to pay salaries, not to talk of embarking on capital project.
Looking at that, it means the state is not viable. So we want to make it viable. Again, we want to increase the standard of living of our people. A lot of people in Ekiti live well below the poverty line. We want to improve the lives of our people. There are some basic things that people should have which Ekiti people lack; we want to make available to them.
Over 25 aspirants are already jostling for APC governorship ticket in the state. What stands you out among others?
We are talking about what stands me out as an aspirant. I have been a member of the party right from the beginning. I have been progressive. Now, the term progressive has truly been bastardized. Once you join APC you are considered a progressive. But I don’t believe that is true. Being progressive is a state of mind, not just a word. You might be a member of APC and still be a conservative but I’m a progressive person and I have always been so.
In terms of academic qualification I have read enough. I have been through the whole school process having graduated from the University of Lagos in 1990 with Bsc honours in Estate management. I went further to obtain a masters degree and MBA specializing in finance. I’m a member of different professional bodies. Presently I’m the chairman of the Abuja chapter of certified Institute of Auctioneers, CIA, a member of International Facility Management Association, IFMA, the international chapter, Texas and the Abuja chapter and other qualifications.
Being an Ekiti person as the fountain of knowledge, we want to know if the person to govern us is somebody who has certain amount of knowledge. With all sense of modesty, let me say I have superior attitude and superior state of mind. If you ask me, by this I simply mean that the mindset of an individual counts a lot. The true intention of the aspirants should always be taken into consideration. Your attitude, your state of mind will show that this person is actually very serious. He is not there for fun and games. Now, I’m not in this for the funfair or for people to shout Excellency, no. Luckily, I was a son of the governor, I lived in the government house. So I have seen all the privileges and enjoyed them as a young boy.
What I want to do is to make a change in the lives of Ekiti people. So I believe in the light of all these, the Ekiti people will actually sit down to make a choice without being influenced by people who are throwing money around.
What is your assessment of the current PDP-led government in Ekiti state?
I do not intend to antagonize the PDP government nor the governor. Governor Fayose who is the present governor has his own mindset. People voted him and largely, a lot of people are happy with him.
Although quit a lot of people who have not been paid salaries are upset, I believe he still has his own fan base and knowing him on a personal level, I still give him that respect as the governor of my state which I am duty bound to do; as he is someone who is like an elder brother to me.
So I will not antagonize him, but what I’m promising is that, when we get there, we will build on the structures and correct the mistakes that we believe the PDP government is making. Government like I always say, is a continuum. It flows from one government to another regardless of which party is in power.
So when APC takes over the government in Ekiti state, we will try to correct as many mistakes that the present government has made and we are going to make life worth living for the citizens of Ekiti state.
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