He lives a life worthy of emulation and commendation. Ayorinde Adedoyin, governorship candidate of Accord Party in the 2019 general elections in Kwara State, is a man that has accomplished much in life.
Ayorinde is not deterred by his electoral loss and he believes he still has more to offer mankind politically, socially and economically.
The handsome dude and a son of successful billionaire industrialist, Samuel Adedoyin evinced joy and satisfaction as he speaks with Wole Adepoju in a recent interview at his Lekki, Lagos home.
The Managing Director Peacegate Group, Ayoribde bears his mind on national issues, kwara state and on a personal note; Ayo revealed he’s not desperate to be a governor. On another note, he revealed he’s chosen a low profile life, because he doesn’t have any point to prove to anyone at the age and stage he’s attained in life.
Kwara State has been in the news recently about an issue relating to wearing of Hijab in schools?
…Actually I will not want to be judgmental on this because I have been working with them to find the best solution to the issue. We believe in what we believe. I have my faith in Christianity and some people have faith in Islam and some have their faith in their tradition. But your religion should not disturb my own, we should all have the freedom to express our religion. But there are always terms and conditions. If the Muslims want to wear their hijab in a Christian school, then the Christians too should be allowed to leave their heads open in a Muslim school. If Muslims want a mosque in a Christian school, then a chapel must be allowed to be built in a Muslim school. If you want to express your faith in my own side of the world, then I should be allowed to express my faith in your own environment. If you would not allow me to do that, why should I allow you to do yours in mine? That is the advice that I would give.
The Governor of Kwara State is handling the matter, but some people praised him, while others condemned him, what is your opinion?
It depends on the divide that one is. It’s just a very sad situation that in the black African nation, we have allowed religion to take over our world. We now politicized religion. If the Governor is a Christian, are we going to say he didn’t do it rightly? But you can only work within the limit of information that is available to you. In the cause of this whole episode or drama, you see a lot of information on the social media. We saw what the late governor of Kwara State did. But the truth is that we really need to move from where we are, when it comes to religious issues if we want Nigeria to move forward. We should stop saying you cannot do this because you are a Christian or you can’t do that because you are a Muslim. Majority of these people shouting Christianity and Islam still indulge in traditional things. It’s a very serious issue, I hope they would be able to resolve it.
I remember you reeled out a lot of ideas before the last general elections but you didn’t get to the office. Would you say the current government is doing what is expected of them by the people?
I will not say they are, but I’m a true believer in what is called Nigeria because I know we have so many opportunities in the country even if we are not making the best use of them not to talk of Kwara State. We have so many natural resources in the state. We have a border with the Republic of Benin. We have so many things in the state. Kwara State used to be the biggest supplier of sugar cane in the north in the past. We have the rice plantation not to talk of cocoa. We have inland waterways that are good for farming. We have what it takes to be a great state. We are the gateway between the west and the north. We have the land, we can grow things, we do animal husbandry and we were looking at the production of milk then. We are only about three to four million people despite the kind of land that we have. What are we doing with it? Have we educated our people enough to make them understand what they can do with what they have? We have some people in governance in Nigeria that ought not to be there because they don’t have an idea of what they should do or what they should be doing. I told someone that Nigeria has fantastic policies on administration and others, but we don’t have people who can interpret it to them.
For example, look at the local content in Brazil because that is actually based on the local content in Nigeria and they have done about 90% of it. They even now have to give waiver to allow investments to come in. We have the same local content being used in Angola and Ghana and they are getting results. Why can’t we that we paid to develop it benefit from it? You don’t blame anybody if your parents bought a new clothe for you and you are keeping it till Easter or Christmas. It is not that you don’t have the clothe, it is your decision not to wear it and keep it till the rainy day. How are you sure you would be alive till that time? So, in some cases, we continue to push and blame the government. It is the government that says now you have a river that goes through your village, and you see opportunity there and you don’t make use of it. In those days, we used to do farming near the river and plant cocoyam. We have 200 million people in Nigeria, even if you are selling water and you sell it for 0.05 % of the people, you are a millionaire not to talk of 1 or 5%. We have the land, if the people refuse to stay in the village and go to the city because they want white collar jobs, is that the fault of the government? I am sad, when I think of Nigeria, but I still see a great future in the country. How we are going to get there I cannot really tell you. But if we follow what is on ground, we will get there. I recently saw a video of when former head of state, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd) went to open Peugeot Automobile Nigeria (PAN) in Kaduna State. It was built with 8.5 million dollars. In 1978, they were still buying a new Beatle car for N3,000 (three thousand naira). Now, you are saying the value of naira is bad, why won’t the value of naira be bad? Where are the PAN of Nigeria, Michelin Tyre, Dunlop Tyre and textile mills? That means you rely on import. For example, Nigeria produce about 300,000 tones of fish and we import over one million tones in a country with river, inland waterways and ocean and you expect your dollar to be at par with dollars. We don’t have the industry anymore; we really don’t produce what we consume. I remember, they used to assemble Rolex, Omega wrist watches and everything in Kwara State. We had the furniture companies that produced chairs, beds and others for schools then. We had the sugar, and Philip Morris. That was a state that was running and we were producing what we needed and we were exporting them to other countries. We had Sincere Sewing machines and others then in Kwara State. We had candle industry, bicycles and all that. Where are they now and you want dollars to be at par with naira? We even import toothpicks into Nigeria.
Would you advice that political parties align with the two major political parties, PDP and APC that exist in the country?
….You say we have two big political parties in Nigeria, are you sure? They are one and the same. The same people in the PDP today would be in the APC tomorrow and vice versa. Politics is a choice and when I went into politics, I went there to make a change. You don’t need any godfather to be in the contest. I thank God for what I have been able to do and the results I am getting now. It’s not because you have won when you get into office. You win when people later sit back and they wish they had voted for you due to what you are able to do. A political party is just a platform, you plug in to see if it works for you or not. Majority of those who want to win would rather go to the two parts but some people have to be in other political parties too. It would not be good for us to have a two party state at the end of the day. If you don’t have a solid opposition then there would be problem. I don’t see the PDP as an opposition to APC or APC as opposition to PDP. I see them as one party. Until we are able to get the other parties, we will not get there. Even if it is just one person, that lone voice can still make a difference. We cannot continue the way we are and expect a different result. People thought I was mad to have contested under Accord Party, but I felt I should try. If you don’t try, you won’t even know what is possible. Politics is not a do-or-die affair. If I say I want to serve and you say you don’t want me, is it by force?
A lot of people believe that as a son of Adedoyin, you have the feather to take on anybody, but it appears like you are not so keen to be the governor?
…I am not desperate to want to be in government. Everything that I did makes me sit back to smile each time people call to thank me. It is not about killing ourselves; we should not go into that. If you want to serve and the people say it is not now, accept it and if possible try again.
Don’t you think it is better you move to one of the big parties that have tested structures on ground?
That is when you just want to plug and play; you don’t want to work hard. Sometimes, you need to clear the land, cultivate it and take care of it for it to grow and for you to harvest. Anybody can be blaming Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu now, but when they were clearing the ground, planting the seed and making it well, they were not there. Now, they have seen the plant grow and everybody wants to be part of it. It will take a while to build. Even if you want to build a farm house, you will still have to do the foundation. So no matter what happens, you are growing. When he was clearing the land, putting blocks together to build the house, you were not there, you now came in as a tenant and you don’t want to pay rent.
What is your impression about the political class since 1999?
Democracy is very expensive. Like in Nigeria, in a state, you have the state house of assembly, you have the governor, you have all the commissioners and all that. The lawmakers are being paid salaries whether they go to work or not. Same goes for the federal, you have the House of Representatives, senate and the judiciary and you have the president. Members of the National Assembly get paid whether they sit or not and their budget is bigger than those of health and education. However, the military lack experience, they are not administrators and we ran into trouble waters, when they were there.
Under democracy, it is believed that they give us opportunity to express ourselves, but are we really expressing ourselves? Are you sure this is what we should be getting that we get. But I still believe that we will get there one day.
We will like you to look at the performances of the successive governments, would you say we have got to the Promised Land?
I don’t know what the Promised Land looks like because I’m not there. If the past had done it right, we will not be where we are now. After the tenure of Gowon, things started going bad.
But, I don’t think the civilian governments have done well. I don’t see any serious change in our way of life. What was the exchange rate of naira to the dollar then, now it is over N400 to one dollar. The successive governments have not actually done well. Look at job creation, healthcare, security and all that. But this current government is spending a lot of money on Infrastructure. If the rail system can work well, we will have 25% of our problems solved. If we can move our goods then it is okay.
Every successive government usually makes promises
…yes, someone might say when I am coming back I would get you some things and he gets there and discovers that the money he expected to see on ground is no longer there, what do you want him to do?
It is the same story now and then, they would promise to do certain things and when they get there they would be telling stories. Why is it like this?
Yes, they would be promising they want to do some things without understanding what is on ground in terms of availability of funds, commitment, the loan on ground and the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). You see a state with IGR of N5 billion including the money they get from the federal government and they would spend N3 billion as salaries and they would still have to pay loan. So, what some state governors have left is not even up to N500 million every month and there would be other things. Yet, you want the Governor to build schools and do many things. Even in some cases, 40% of the people they pay salaries don’t even go to work. In Kwara State, we ought to have 1,000 public primary schools, but majority of the schools are no longer there and about 800 public secondary schools, how many of them are still functioning and we still pay the teachers. How many of the hospitals are functioning, and we have doctors and nurses that are being paid. Some of them are even working in private hospitals in Lagos State and are collecting salaries from Kwara State Government.
Is it normal for government to impose taxes just anyhow?
If you are earning, you should pay tax. In a system that works, it is taxes that run the government. In such societies they get much money from tax. But 70% of Nigerians don’t pat tax and they want good roads and they want the hospitals to work. You don’t invest, you didn’t plant and you want to harvest. We keep blaming the government, are we doing what we ought to do and let the government do what they should do? Thank God for the oil that we are selling, if the oil is not there, what are we going to do? Until we agree that we are not doing what we ought to do, it will not be right for us to judge the government.
If any of the big parties invite you, will you heed the call?
I’m still part of them. When I see them do what is not right, I usually call their attention to it. It is not about who is there, I believe in one government. Whoever that is there today is there because God wants him or her to be there. Whether the person will now do well or not is left to him. If you are not meant to be there you will not be there. I would not say because I am not there I would now see what would benefit my people and I would not talk.
Do you consider absence of restructuring as part of the country’s problems?
..From the onset, Nigeria came into being because one man, Lord Lugard. He felt we should be one without thinking of how we are going to survive. Then, initially, we had much focused leadership in place. We had the cocoa industry, animal husbandry and all sort of things. But where are we today, some people who lack idea get into power and destroy everything that they met on ground.
Will you support Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for presidency in 2023?
If it is not Tinubu, if it is Osinbajo or Fashola or anybody, once the person is from the South West, definitely I would support him.
It’s observed that you are always in your shell. You are hardly seen at social events. Also, you talk about God a lot these days. Is there anything to that?
I thank God for my life. That’s number one. I thank God for my life because I was opportune to be successful at a very young age, forget about what my father is doing. I am talking about my own business. And I have played as a young man. I have done the discos, I have done the parties but it gets to a time in your life that you have to restructure and start to look at what it is that actually adds value to you as a person? What is it that I am looking for now? Women! I have gone out with some of the best women in Nigeria. Cars! I have driven the best cars. The only thing I have not used my own money to buy is probably private jet. At the end of the day, what serious value do they add? Except for the cars that get you from one point to the other and just what people say that oh…he’s driving a Benz, he’s driving a Porsche. That’s all. I remember when we were growing up, in our house in Victoria Island, we had two Rolls Royces, Cadillac, S Class Benz, but sometimes my father went to the office in a 504. And one day we got talking and he said it gets to a time in your life that what matters is about getting to where you are going to, not how you get there. I didn’t understand it then but now, life for me, to have even got to where I am now, to have got to this age is just by God’s grace. Now, what I think about…I pray that my children are successful. I want everything around me to be good; I want Nigeria to be a better place. Again, you said I am religious. Yes, I am a bit religious because I don’t have a choice but to continue to thank God for my life. I have seen friends that we had everything together that are now on the streets. I have seen friends with plenty of money that are now dead. I have seen friends that we grew up together that are on sick bed now. I have seen friends that we had everything together but are still seeking the face of the lord for a child. Yes, I have my own issues with businesses and everything, but I am still standing. Don’t you think I should be thankful to God? Parties! I go to parties but that of close family or friends. I just sit down and watch. I don’t have to get on the stage and be spraying. I know my money is needed somewhere better and I try my best to reach out to people I need to reach out to. So I have got to that stage of my life that all I am looking for is just peace of mind. I just want to be happy. It’s not that I am one hundred percent, there but I am trying my best.
So what is your personal goal that fulfilling it would make you happy?
What will make me happy is to see all my children do well, a situation where I would sit back and thank God that I did what I ought to do. That is because when they are happy, I am happy. It also makes me happy when I touch peoples’ lives and I see them smile. I remember I went to a village sometime and I saw this man. He said you are Mr. Adedoyin, I said yes. He sighed and said thank you. He said they didn’t know me from anywhere and I ordered that they should make water available for them. It was then I understood him. So for me, I don’t need to prove any point to anyone anymore, I don’t need to wear designer clothes. My brand is made. I am not just starting to build any brand. I have lots of reasons to be thankful to God and I am a happy man.
Do you have regrets?
You see, I don’t have any regrets. I would admit that I have made so many mistakes. But sometimes, the mistakes we make are what keep us going. Mistakes are like stepping stones taking us to where we are or where we want to go. So to say regret, I don’t have it, but I thank God He’s given me opportunity to do something, maybe I didn’t do it right and he’s given me the opportunity to make the corrections. I don’t have regrets because all these mistakes are what have made me what I am today because I have learnt from them and they are what I call wisdom now.