Olaide Akinremi is the representative of Ibadan North Federal Constituency and someone who is passionate about capacity development, youth empowerment, tourism, among other interests.
In a recent interview with journalists, he talked about becoming a politician, his plans and goals for his community, youth engagement and more. ROTIMI IGE brings excerpts from the interaction.
As the representative of the Ibadan North Federal Constituency, what are your agenda?
I want to represent my Ibadan North constituents to the best of my ability and also the good people of Oyo State. I want to sponsor bills and move motions that will improve the life of the average Nigerian and also make Nigeria a better place to live.
My major focus is human capital development, ensuring financial independence and individual sustainability of my people, especially young people.
Why did you decide to join politics?
I joined politics because of my passion and desire to make my immediate environment a better place. As an entrepreneur, I do what I can to improve my environment and people’s lives but I felt that going into politics would enable me to do a lot more.
You have a passion for the youths. Tell us about that?
Nigeria and Oyo State have a huge youth population but despite that, a lot of them are unemployed. This bothers me a lot. As a young man growing up in Ibadan, I had great hopes and aspirations but at a point, I had to seek greener pastures to achieve this because the environment wasn’t quite favourable for this. My passion for the youths is to do all I can to create an enabling environment for each and every hardworking young person to thrive and maximise their potential without having to seek greener pastures elsewhere. Nigeria is blessed with a lot of brilliant and talented people that only need a little push to excel in any chosen endeavour.
What are your plans post-COVID-19 in this regard?
I will be connecting more with my constituents and meeting their needs by finding the right solutions. I intend to do this by creating a feedback system, and as much as I can have engagement with as many people as possible. I understand that a lot of people are out of jobs and some businesses have crashed, so I will do my best to facilitate employment for as many as possible and also expand our support and intervention for MSME’s.
You are also passionate about tourism and its potentials, especially in Oyo State. What challenges have you identified and what solutions can you proffer?
Oyo State has huge tourism potential; from Bowers Tower to UI Zoo, Agodi Gardens, Old Oyo National Park, the suspended lake in Ado Awaye and the numerous festivals. I think the challenge is that we haven’t sold ourselves enough, and some investments need to be channelled to the sector from both government and private sector. I will do the best I can to see if we can develop a tourist map for Oyo State with the support of the relevant ministries and agencies. I am also working on getting a few individuals and corporate organisations to invest in the sector.
Entertainment is one of the largest employers of labour in Nigeria and in the world. How do you intend to use your office to bring more light to this fact in government?
It is true entertainment provides a lot of jobs and as someone passionate about developing human capacity, I intend to support the entertainment sector in any way I can. I will have regular meetings with stakeholders and we shall together see how we can better support each other. As a legislator, I will look at bills that will protect intellectual property and also help promote the industry. I will also support value-adding initiatives and events in any way I can. I think Oyo State has abundant talented people who just need a little push to get a breakthrough and this is another area that I will do my best to focus on in the coming years.
Your constituency is home to most of the higher institutions in Ibadan. Should we expect capacity development for our undergraduates too?
I am currently the Science and Technology Committee (STC) vice-chairman. I want to use the position to see how we can partner with these institutions to promote STEM – Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics among young people. The idea is to develop their skills beyond what they are taught in classrooms so that when they graduate they can actually create employment for themselves and/or become very employable. Before now, a lot of the graduates of polytechnics were so good that they ended up in oil and telecoms companies so, how about we bring back that old glory? University of Ibadan, University College Hospital and College of Medicine are all first and produced outstanding graduates for so many years; why shouldn’t they be able to compete favourably globally? Outside of STEM, we will have other training and empowerment programmes targeted specifically at the undergraduates to help prepare them for the real world. Of course, we will not neglect sports and entertainment.
How do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process in Ibadan North?
Like I said earlier, we intend to create a system that allows for direct feedback from the constituents so that I can be abreast of their needs and concerns better. I will also, after COVID-19 restrictions are over, kick off a monthly town hall meeting with constituents and also meet various groups and associations. As a matter of fact, don’t be surprised if you hear a knock on your door and it’s me. Everything I do for my constituents will be needs-based and to make lives better.
Police brutality and rape are the main topics of the day. What is your take on this and, based on that, how do you intend to approach this using your esteemed office?
Let’s, first of all, condemn in strong terms rape and police brutality. The series of these terrible acts have led to the loss of a lot of innocent young people and especially women. It has left a lot of survivors in emotional and psychological trauma. As a lawmaker, I will strongly advocate for the amendment of existing rape and sexual offences law for stricter punishment at the National Assembly. My foundation will also collaborate with NGOs and other relevant organisations in advocacy and campaign against rape, sexual assault, drug abuse and police brutality.
I will also work with relevant law enforcement agencies to ensure that perpetrators are brought to book and also ensure they discharge their duties without harassing or putting the lives of our young men and women at risk.
Tell us a bit about what you have done in one year as a representative.
It has been a year since I began representing the interest of my people at the National Assembly, and in this space of time, I have contributed to lawmaking as well as facilitated several benefits to my constituents.
While my focus has majorly been on human capital development, ensuring the financial independence and individual sustainability of my people in the process, I have also facilitated series of other benefits and capital projects, some of which are in the pipeline. I have co-sponsored and made active contributions to the out-of-school children, infectious diseases, local content bill, and the motion for provision of coronavirus emergency fund for Nigerian universities and tertiary institutions.
My Prince Akinremi Foundation (PAF) organised tutorials for over 6,000 WASSCE and UTME students and distributed over 1000 JAMB and over 200 NECO forms to indigent students in the constituency. I championed Lassa fever and coronavirus sensitisation with the distribution of relief materials to constituents with over 5,000 families reached with food reliefs and over 15,000 nose masks distributed. These distributions are still ongoing and hence not limited to the numbers already delivered. We have distributed over N100 million in medical bills cleared on behalf of financially stranded constituents at various hospitals. We have also given over N26 million in cash assistance expended on various beneficiaries in form of school fees, rents, dues and bills and are currently facilitating agricultural empowerment settlement for over 7000 beneficiaries in the cooperative for commercial and industrial agriculture programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria and Federal Ministry of Finance.
As earlier stated, my goal is to ensure the financial emancipation of my constituents, However, capital projects are currently being facilitated, with a health centre construction in process at Agbaje Ijokodo. Also, work is currently ongoing at two other constituency projects I met on the resumption of office, at UCH and Òkè Apọn respectively, while more of such are still to come.
Tell us about your fashion sense.
As a typical Yoruba man, I try to infuse my culture and tradition in my dressing without losing the essence of being a youthful person so I decided to adopt wearing the abeti aja cap. You will usually find me wearing a complete Yoruba attire with my abeti aja cap. Sometimes, the young person in me goes casual but most importantly, I dress for comfort.
What would you have become if not a politician?
Being a politician for me is to help a lot more people than I do as an entrepreneur. I don’t think politics would have stopped me from being an entrepreneur. It also wouldn’t have slowed or stopped my interest in agriculture.
How do you relax?
I have very little time in 24 hours to myself so when I do have that free time, I try to get as much rest as I can so that I can stay refreshed. I spend part of my relaxation time to research new ideas and how to better improve myself as a person. I also engage in some sports when I can (table tennis and some board games).
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