By Oluwagbenga Ajongbolo
‘For you shall find a way to the top if you diligently seek for it; because nature has placed not so high that it is out of reach of industry and valour’.
I really cannot confirm what Alexander the Great saw when he made this statement. I guess he must have sat somewhere close to the pier looking out to a Macedonian sea, crosschecked the map of the conquered kingdoms under his command and declared anything is achievable as long as you go for them. Could this popular Alexander’s quote be the driving force for Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo(BTO) on his political journey, from representing his people in the Federal House of Representatives and now a member of the Federal Executive Council in just four years?
Bred in Akoko Land, BTO travelled the world, studied in the best places, became a ‘tech bro’ and returned home to the everyday struggle of typical Nigerians. Transversing the length and breadth of the country, consulting for government agencies, parastatals and departments, organizations and multinationals and supporting their transition to new age technologies, BTO saw, firsthand, the sufferings of Nigerians and the attendant effects on our education, health, security and total well-being. This must have informed his decision to join partisan politics.
After many years meandering through uncertain and uncharted political routes, BTO, in 2019, became the candidate of the All Progressive Congress(APC) in the House of Representatives election in Akoko North East/North West Federal Constituency of Ondo State. He would go on to win the election with 36.4% of the total votes, defeating his closest opponent with over 8,000. This young, smart, intelligent and politically sound man quickly got involved in the politicking at the Green Chamber and subsequently created and chaired the Forum of First Timer Lawmakers, an association that mobilized 246 legislators for the emergence of Rt. Hon. ‘Femi Gbajabiamila as the Speaker of the 9th House of Representatives Assembly. He repeated the same feat in the 10th Assembly as he ensured the election of Rt. Hon. Tajudeen Abbas as the Speaker.
For over 20 years the Niger Delta Development Commission(NDDC) has been operating, the commission has worked below expectations. The oil producing states, which are the primary mandates of NDDC, have seen little or no development. Substandard projects littered the creeks of Niger Delta. Projects were either abandoned or finished with low qualities. So, when BTO was named the Chairman, House Committee on NDDC, he ensured the commission woke up from its slumber. The committee’s probe into the alleged #80bn malfeasance at NDDC marked the first time anyone would be looking into the books of the commission. These led to the completion of its headquarters in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, inauguration of the Nigeria Police Barracks, Special Protection Unit (SPU), Base 6 Project, Rivers State, commissioning of the 1050 Bed- Space Hostel, donated by the commission to the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
In March 2021, he proposed a bill to repeal the NDDC Act which will make abuse of office impossible. Other bills proposed by the BTO include Minerals and Mining Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021. This bill is to help attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) through a well-articulated and coordinated incentive to prospective investors; Tertiary Education Trust Fund Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021, a bill that will ensure that colleges of agriculture alongside Universities, Polytechnics, Colleges of Education are beneficiaries of the fund from TETFUND; the Employees Compensation Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
As the friend and lover of the masses, BTO has positively touched the lives of the people from his constituency, region, district, state and the country at large. A selfless political leader and cheerful giver, he has empowered many youth from the state with mouthwatering skills both home and abroad and helped families, businesses, entrepreneurs and artisans stand solidly on their feet. I recently saw a documentary of his developmental strides in the constituency on national televisions and this endears me more to him.
Who then is afraid of BTO?
This question, ringing in my head since the army of blackmailers started their battles, begs for an answer. Who is actually afraid of BTO? The ministerial nominee hopefuls who thought they were firmly placed to represent the state at the Federal Executive Council? The 2024 Ondo Governorship potential aspirants who fear BTO would be too powerful for them as they eye the highest seat in Alagbaka? The political heavyweights in the state who cannot believe a 41-year old will now be a minister? The perpetual political businessmen and women angry at a young man who rose to national prominence in just four years? Or the combined forces of the ‘enemy of my enemy’ who have now turned emergency friends?
The recent brouhaha against the nomination and eventual confirmation of BTO as minister, sponsored by the political veterans in Ondo State, is not new. He is out fighting a generational battle; a fight for his generation to relegate the oldies and bring into center stage, young and qualified minds to steer the ship of our land in the right direction.
Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo has distinguished himself as a trueborn Akoko man, one who has been trained and duly disciplined by the whole community. He espouses the virtues of a well-bred, all-round developer, who will continue to add to the glory of his place of birth and place on high pedestal, his place of origin. Soon, we will know who is afraid of BTO but as it is, just like Alexander the Great, he is conquering grounds and charting his path. He sure looks undaunted and unshaken as he takes up his new office.
Oluwagbenga Ajongbolo, Convener, Ondo Youth Arise Movement, writes from Akure, Ondo State.