Oyo State Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Oluwaseun Fakorede, is one of the young ones that have benefited from the ‘not too young to rule’ mantra. He is the youngest commissioner in Nigeria. In this interview with SEYI SOKOYA, the 27-year-old graduate of Civil Engineering speaks on his plans, career and other issues.
YOU are the youngest commissioner in the country. How do you intend to use this opportunity to prove to the older generation in public offices and in politics that the clamour for the younger generation in power is serious business?
Indeed, this is a welcomed development and a call to service. I see this as an opportunity for us, the younger generation, to prove that we are ready to take up responsibilities in nation building. It is clear evidence that the Nigerian youth are responsible and also ready to serve our fatherland.
There are lots of hardworking and intelligent youths in the country that are committed to working and leading the country aright. I am a typical example and I am ready to make a difference.
You have been here for months. Can you tell us your plans for youths and the development of sports in the state?
One of the major challenges we have in this ministry, or generally for youths and sports, has something do with structure. By the special grace of God, this is what we intend to actually instill in the ministry and that is why I am particularly very optimistic about making a difference with this opportunity. This is in line with Governor Seyi Makinde’s blueprint for the development of the state. He has significant plans for the youth in the state and that is why he made me his loudspeaker in a ministry like this.
A loudspeaker is something that amplifies what the speaker is saying. Who is the speaker here?
His Excellency! I will give a remarkable expression to that plan that His Excellency has for us and that plan is sufficient enough. What we just need to do is practical implementation. The successful implementation of this plan, by the grace of God, is exactly what we are going after. We need wisdom, a good team and the right form of leadership, especially from the top, like the governor. He is a perfect model to us all. We will definitely give our best to take the state to a greater height. I pray God gives me wisdom. We have started approaching some things differently. Wisdom is one principal thing we are bringing on board and this is not a function of age. As I used to say, ‘the age of Methuselah has nothing to do with the wisdom of Solomon.’
How have you been able to work with older officers in the ministry?
This should not be a barrier. Our goal is to accomplish excellent results this time. So, that ability to put things together will be required. I am ready to work with anyone, whether old or young, to achieve sustainable growth in the youth and sports management industry. The reason I am particularly enthusiastic about this new role is that I have prior insight into the plans of the governor and I know how rich those plans are when it comes to the infrastructure for sports and youth development. And all these are germane to the governor’s agenda. We want to rejuvenate the system, because it is vital. It is a priority in the government’s agenda. That is why I am so confident that this section of governance will experience a great turnaround. All the challenges will be a thing of the past.
Youthfulness means to be flourishing. That is what the governor is brining to the state. Oyo State is flourishing again, with our agenda and serious implementation of it. I will only advise the people, especially the younger generation, to collectively give Mr Governor the necessary support, trust and prayers, so that we can all change the situation of the state for good.
Unemployment has become of on the major challenges in the country and it affects the youth the most. How do you intend to change the story of unemployed youths in Oyo State?
When it comes to youth empowerment, God has given us the capacity to achieve great results. Nation-building and community service projects are what I have been doing for years. Being offered this role is strictly not a partisan thing; I mean my appointment and the governor himself has said so.
The present government is so passionate about taking the state to a better height. And the youth are one of its priorities. The innovation and various opportunities that will be provided will inspire and motivate a lot of young persons.
I laid the foundation of what I attainted today in 2003. Though I was very young, I was able to mingle with the right people, a development that actually helped me a lot. I believe that a lot of young people are motivated, inspired and confident that things can work again in this nation. Many young Nigerians are working hard to change the narrative of the negative image and impression about our country and I am proud to be one of them.
With your little experience, wouldn’t you say the shoe is too big for you to be commissioner for youth and sports, especially with your age?
Personally, I don’t feel that way. The truth must be told, I might encounter one challenge or the other, but I am with the right people.
And I am with the kind of anchorman that a lot of things are going to be easy for one to run with. As I said earlier, it is a function of wisdom, not age. A popular Yoruba adage says; owo omode ko to pepe, t’agbalagba ko wo keregbe. So, we need to bring all hands on deck, if we want to restore the glory of the nation. Nigeria is not a nation of the old; the young generation also has a part to play and that is why we are being recognised. Thanks to Governor Makinde who has truly demonstrated to be a visionary leader.
The age is not a challenge and over the years, one has been able to grow very fast. And sometimes, personally, I find it difficult to believe that I am 27 and that is what my birth certificate says. It is truth that it is a big task and big responsibility, but I know God will see me through. If I am not capable, I am sure that Mr Governor would not have considered me.
What do you want to be remembered for on this seat?
Leadership is about sacrifice and responsibility. The truth is that I am not living a normal life for myself, but for many people, youths, the nation and Africa. There are lots of things I have to deny myself of, in order to serve well. I want to be able to instill the necessary things needed for positive change. I might not be perfect, but I know God will help me. I made up my mind to sell myself out to the service of the nation.
What are the major things you want to achieve as the commissioner for youth and sports?
Primarily, the agenda I have is that of the governor. I have the privilege to have an insight into his agenda and he is someone who knows what the youth wants. The agenda that he has is unique and resourceful. This is what I am promoting. I just want to be an amplifier. I want to give more expression to that message, the agenda of His Excellency.
Some protest trailed your nomination. How were you able to manage the situation?
It is normal. It is a party thing and it has been settled. We are not here to play dirty politics, but to rewrite the story of our dear state for good. The governor’s decision was on merit and that is why we have the opportunity to be here. I didn’t know him before. I connected with him on LinkedIn long before the election. I made him understand my worth and my passion to influence younger Nigerians like me, which I had been into over the years. It is a great dream that I held in high my heart to actualise on a larger platform as commissioner of my dear state.
You are not married yet. With the affluence that comes with your office, how are you sure you won’t be distracted?
I am not inebriated with this office. Yes, I am not married yet, but this is about me and my ingenuity earned me this. So, I can never be distracted. Aside the fact that I came from a disciplined home, I have been able to discipline myself from unnecessary distractions.