Fifty something years old son of Kwara state born billionaire industrialist, Prince Samuel Adedoyin, Ayorinde, with over thirty years in the business world, no doubt has a success story to tell. Having seen it all as a reputable business man, articulate Ayo, as he’s fondly called feels it’s the right he channels his wealth of experiences into liberating the people of Kwara in the real sense of it. Through the platform of Accord Party, Ayorinde is hoping to become the next governor of Kwara state with the plan of turning the state into a commercial hub, that will be beneficial to Kwara people and making the state a better place.
Ayorinde, in this interview with Wole Adepoju explained how he intends to make a difference if elected as the governor in 2019. While he did not underrate the political influence of the Sarakis in Kwara politics, Ayo however insists he doesn’t need anyone to become governor of the state as he believes he has the fundamental right to aspire to be the governor.
Could you tell us more about yourself?
That is one part of my life that I actually find very difficult to do because, how do you introduce yourself? But let me give it a shot: I am Ayorinde Adedoyin, from Agbamu in Irepodun Ifelodun local government area of Kwara State. Do I say I went to school or I passed through schools? I have been a businessman in the last thirty years of my life.
You are aiming to be the next governor of Kwara State. What informed that decision?
The decision was quite simple for me. You see, in life, we need to be a bit straightforward in order to achieve what you are trying to do or doing what you are doing. I have been someone who believes and I have always had that belief that Kwara State has the potential to be a great business hub. Growing up, when people talked to me, they always thought I grew up in Victoria Island or Ikoyi or somewhere upscale but most of my growing up years were spent in Kwara. I went to school in Kwara; primary school, secondary and part of my tertiary education was at Kwara Tech before I left, so I know Kwara State very well.
The Kwara I used to know was a thriving state, a state that had the potential to become an economic hub. You could go on excursions then and we had the likes of Bacita Sugar, Kwara Mills, Kainji Dam, you could go to Jebba and saw that the state had so much to offer.
But most of these places are no more with us. Kainji is no more there. We had a state where many good things could be found. We had a state where great things were in abundance. Even before the airport, we had airstrips, we had likes of Egbe, the Igbaja, where small planes could land and take off. It was promising. We had industries in almost all the local government areas in Kwara State.
Things were happening back then. There was the Oro Bicycle; we the candle industry but all of a sudden, we now have 36,000 (thirty-six thousand) square kilometre of land just wasting away.
We are more divided than we were back then. We had Barutin, the highest suppliers of cotton to the textiles in the North; we had the Tobacco industry, we had things going and the land is still there. So I see Kwara as a state with untapped resources that you can turn around and make something from. Maybe God is just keeping it for me to go there, take the opportunity and do the right thing.
Do you think you can actually realize the dream of turning Kwara State around?
Yes, I know I can do it. You see, in everything that you do, the timing has to be right. You don’t just go into a jungle because you are told there are a lot of animals there to be killed without knowing whether it’s a Lion, Elephant or Squirrel. You don’t just wake up one morning to go into the forest because instead of you killing the animal there, it will kill you.
Many believe that Ilorin is about the only place in Kwara State that things are happening. What are you likely to do differently that will transform the state in its entirety?
What we have done is that we have looked at Kwara as a state and I will show you something we have come up with and when you tap into a local government, you will see the opportunity there and you can key into it. For example, we looked at Barutin, and ask ourselves: what were they doing before? What are they doing now and how do you add value to this and so on? For instance, someone said to me they are growing rice. Now, what do we do to make them go back to it every year because there is the need for continuity? Also, for whatever we are producing, if the state government is going to use it, they must buy what is from Kwara first so, you need to learn to circulate your money within your system. That is how you empower your people directly. That is number one; that is continuity on what is on the ground.
Then the next question to ask is: what can we bring to add value to the people? Part of it is that we are leveraging on location. Where is Barutin located in Nigeria? Barutin is located within the border between Nigeria and the Republic of Benin. Now Lagos and Ogun States are getting something from those goods that are coming from their ports, be it legally or illegally. But the issue is that we too have that advantage. Now, there is a road directly that has been built that stops at Barutin border of Nigeria, so why can’t we leverage on that port?
Whether we like it or not, our goods will continue to go to Cotonou because our ports cannot sustain Nigeria. We are over a hundred and eighty million people; we have Apapa, we have Port Harcourt, but the truth is that sixty to seventy per cent of the importation comes to Lagos.People won’t take their containers to Warri or Calabar for certain reasons. Customs came out to say they are banning the importation of cars. About three or four months ago, Customs said they needed investors in bonded car warehouse; that is an opportunity for us. We are not looking at dry port, but bonded warehouses. If we create a car bonded warehouse in that place, even if there are a hundred thousand cars that go through that place every month, we would know the ripple effect of that in terms of job creation, from drivers to mechanics, spare parts dealers, hotels, restaurants, so that is another thing.
We now come down to Karama. Karama for example, is the biggest producer of Yam flour in Nigeria. Have we actually showcased them as that? In Karama, part of what we are doing is that we are attracting investors into that site but not for Yam flour but for something else.
With that, we are going to create jobs, directly and indirectly, for thousands of people in that area. We are putting it in Karama because of what we are doing in Baruti, and we have the same interest in the south.
But for that one, we are still trying to joggle it so people won’t say it’s because it’s their area, but it will be subject to availability of land. We are coming to Moro; we have something for each local government all planned.
And what I’m saying is that we are not just dreaming; we have talked about it, we have gotten investors and we even have funding in place.
Again, see look at cattle business; the cattle business in Nigeria is worth $18 billion a year. We could look at the business side of it. Are we ready to take a chunk of that $18 billion? Cattle business in Lagos is worth N1.4 billion a day. Every day, they kill between seven to eight thousand cows in Lagos.
There is a way we can actually encourage our people to breed. How much will it cost us if we ask our people to set up ranches so we can take advantage of what is going on in Lagos? It’s going to be a big fight. If you look at why the herdsmen are carrying guns, maybe it is part of it.
Economic protection is quite real and some time can get very violent. We can sit with the Lagos State government and sign agreements with states in the north to produce right; we can say let us breed the meat that you need for you if you can guarantee you will take three thousand cattle from us every month.
When there is an off-take agreement, funding becomes easy. We can even go as far as to kill, clean and deliver to Lagos by 6 am every day. If they kill and they clean, they are creating some hundreds of jobs already.
Aside from the people killing the animals, drivers, trucks, security and the rest, we are keeping that side of the job in Kwara. So, we are not just talking, we have plans. It’s not rocket science.
What structures do you have on the ground that can propel your ambition?
I would be glad to tell you that before I started saying this thing, I had been working. There was a programme we carried out as a test but my name was not on it. We did a test to know what our people need because it is a different thing giving to people and it is a different thing giving them what they need and I will tell you for real, that in every local government in Kwara, we have representatives.
In every ward in Kwara, as I speak to you, we have representatives. I don’t go into things without actually knowing that I can do it.
Let us look at religion as a factor. You are a Christian while Kwara is predominantly a Muslim state. Don’t you think this will affect you?
Not at all; that is what they made it up to be. Have you looked at the census? Is the census saying the same thing? Are you talking about Kwara as a whole or you are talking about Ilorin? We need to make some clarity and I don’t want to get into the religious aspect of politics in Kwara.
I am one of the people who believe that religion should not dictate what we do or where we go in our state. We did not grow up thinking someone is a Muslim or a Christian. Growing up in Kwara, Ilorin that I know, I schooled in Ilorin too, I did not go to anybody’s home and they asked if I was a Christian or Muslim.
It was when politics started getting heated up that they started using religion as a tool of segregation and that was when religion started to become an issue.
In the past, no one cared whether you were a Christian or a Muslim but when they started playing politics and when they started auctioning politics for money, then you start using different things.
I’m Ayo Adedoyin; I am from Kwara State. That is who I am. Forget whether I am a Christian, forget whether I am a Muslim; everybody alive in Kwara State is entitled to run for any post that they wish, be they Christians or Muslims. When we start flogging this thing, we start making issues out of none issues. That is how it seems to me.
It is a known fact that the Sarakis have been a factor in who becomes a Governor in Kwara State. Are you going to seek their blessings or you are pursuing your aspiration independent of them?
Let me tell you the truth. I salute the courage of Dr. Saraki, I mean the father, who had been able to put things together and build a brand that people find very difficult to challenge.
To me, the Saraki family has done very well for themselves. They have built that brand but they built the brand along Kwara brand which shows that without Saraki, there is no Kwara and without Kwara, there is no Saraki.
And as it can be good for them, it can also be bad for them and that depends on what side you want to exploit because when you build a brand around one person or around something if anything happens to that thing you build it around, it scatters.
I am not one of the people who will fight them; I am human. But the fortunate thing about Kwara is that it does not belong to a particular family. Kwara is not a property of anybody.
But one mistake our people make, especially from our side the Igbominas, is that they want to be traders. They believe that the only way you can become anybody, being known or being respected, is to come to Lagos, make money and go home and build a house but Dr Saraki was able to understand what politics stood for. They knew politics controls the money.
Back to the question; I don’t need anyone’s brand to exercise my fundamental human rights in Nigeria. I don’t. The law is the authority that governs me. I am of the opinion that every family should aspire to be what they want to be.
I am coming from another strong brand, what I do with it is left to me. It is only a very lazy man and a man who is unsure of himself that will go and use another brand to build himself.
Why should you go and put your face on a poster and put someone else’s face on that poster and if that person says you should pay for using his brand, you are complaining?
If you are sure of yourself, leave your face, let the people vote for you based on who you are. Why should you go and attach their family brand to it? That means you are their slave. I am sorry, I am not.
I believe in the brand my father has built. My grandfather started it, my father has taken over and I pray my children too will be proud to use that name. I have a strong brand too; I don’t need anybody’s brand.