By Simon, A. FAKEYE
Engineer Oluyinka Temilola Akintomide popularly known as Baba Tommy clocks 80 years on the surface of the earth on Tuesday, June 1, 2021.
Celebrating the milestone, the duo of veteran journalists; AbuSatar Hamed (Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, StarTrend Int’l magazine, online & print) and Simon Fakeye (RazorTimes Magazine) held a no-hold-bared interview with the Electrical Engineering Genius. Enjoy the Exerpt:
- FAMILY UNIT –
Your wives, children, relatives, business associates and friends would like to know your feelings towards them today @your eightieth birthday?
Honestly, I thank God. I am happy with my two wives. One of my children is in Texas. She is a senior engineer in one of multi-nationals, though not the only engineer. I have one veterinary doctor with Ph.D. They are all happily married except three of them. In fact, I’m grateful to God Almighty.
Early this year, I lost my elder brother at 90 something years old. About three years ago, his elder brother died. About six years ago, Baba Ijo of Iwoye-Yewa, our eldest brother died. I am in between two females who are still alive.
I am indeed grateful to both my immediate and extended families for their unflinching supports rendered at every stage of my life.
To my business associates and friends, I sincerely appreciate their individual and collective contributions in my life. May God continue to be with each of them.
I pray that God in His infinite mercies continued to bless, guide and protect each and everyone of us.
I am also using this medium to express my gratitude to the Almighty God, the Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnivorous for His mercy and kindness over me and my family.
- FRIENDSHIP –
As an Octogenarian without cane for walking, there must be someone somewhere to whom you owe gratitude?
It was Professor Afolabi Olabimtan.
Before his death, he played a very important role in my life; he was my political mentor. In fact, he fought a lot of battles for me. Since his demise, I have trusted my God. If you look at the poster on the wall, it says, “since human being are so unjust, I doubt who to trust. I have trusted many to my sorrow. My friends today, enemies tomorrow. They are my colleagues today, my distracters tomorrow. That has always been the situation. I am telling you the bitter truth. I had never had any single cause to regret knowing Professor Afolabi Olabimtan. He became my guide.
Professor Olabimtan’s son is now the Honorable Commissioner for Budget and Physical Planning, what is your relationship with him?
Olaolu is my son. I’m the Chairman of Olabimtan Foundation.
- POLITICAL EXPEDITION –
We’re aware that the intimacy between you and former Governor Olusegun Osoba have become unpleasant, what are you doing to restore it sir?
There is no much strain between former Governor Olusegun Osoba and I except that that transpired during the build up to the last governorship election. For years, Governor Osoba is known for his interest in Yewa/Awori person becoming the Ogun State governor but for a known reason, he decided to reject the Yewa man supported by former Governor Amosun. He eventually teamed up with Prince Dapo Abiodun which actually inserted a wedge between us because I don’t see any genuine excuses for his refusal to allow Yewa/Awori to become the governor knowing full well that the Ijebus and his Egba District have been enjoying the number one seat as if it is personal to them.
However, former Governor (Akinrogun) Olusegun Osoba remains my mentor, I love him with a lot of respect. Infact, I spoke with him a week ago; we chatted, I said you have forgotten your son and he said his son forgotten him, we laughed it off.
You worked for former Governor Ibikunle Amosun when he was the governor of Ogun State; infact this photograph on your wall speaks volume, to what extent did you agree with him to neglect this part of the state during his regime?
The photograph you referred to was when I was a member of the Governing Council of Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta. Iyalode Alaba Lawson was the Chairman. Infact, I can tell you that I eventually withdrew my membership from the Council because I had reasons to disagree with the former Governor. So, to avert any ugly incidents, even as the Tender Committee Chairman, I left the Council.
But sir, you were later seen strategizing together?
You are right. You will recall that at the last governorship election, former Governor Amosun did not only pick but strongly supported Yewa man; he supported us morally and financially to an extent that he risked his life. So, since my yearnings have been about a Yewa/Awori man becoming the governor, what will you expect of me when Senator Amosun invited me to join him in strategizing for the emergence of Yewa/Awori as governor?
My disagreement with former Governor Amosun was when they brought Senator Solomon Adeola (Yayi) to my house, I thought we have seen what I would call a Saviour since the problem has always been Yewa/Awori don’t have the money, hence when I met Yayi, I thought we have got to block any side talk on that.
Along the line, I deployed everything within my capacity to promote Yayi’s agenda and that was not to the pleasure of Senator Amosun. Infact, the enmity was real.
Sir, you are popularly known as Yayi’s father, (Baba Yayi) are you still proud of him?
Four years ago, I was nearly assassinated because I opted to be Yayi’s father. Unfortunately, for about three years now, Yayi himself didn’t care about my wellbeing. At a time, after a discussion, he apologized but then, there had been no changes in his attitude. Oh, no, I don’t like discussing him. It was at my backyard here that the acronym, “Yayi ni Joo, Yayi ni jaye” was birthed.
It got to a stage that his name became a statewide issue, prompting people to come here from Egba and Ijebu. He was dashing out millions to them and the people here were just left to watch. He will always say, “they are my people”. As a leader, I felt their pains, but how much can I give even as a leader? It wasn’t that I was earning salary from him. There was a time my supporters, who became his hardcore loyalists, were not happy even with me. They felt been sidelined. They complained and to no effect. I realized that I have embarked on a wrong course, unless I am very selfish?
It dawned on me that even if Yayi become the governor of Ogun State, those of us from this end who probably suppose to reap the benefit may not get any better things in return. I reasoned that the stress doesn’t worth it.
- HUMANITY –
For about two decades, I have been silently extending helping hands, on monthly basis, to good numbers of underprivileged. They are all over Yewaland.
In fact, my Electric-Pole Factory at Iwoye-Yewa was deliberately situated for the benefit of Yewa people.
For example, sourcing the raw materials (granite and iron rod) from Abeokuta doesn’t come cheap, but the overall advantage of the location to my people is better imagined; they get employment by which they can easily pay house rent, send children to school, feed and even build their own houses.
- REGRET –
Now that you are celebrating eighty, what do you think you could have done better?
I shouldn’t have supported Yayi. He believes that with money, nothing is unachievable. And to somebody like me, it’s not just about money. It’s not that I don’t need money, but not such controversial money. For example, whoever desires to mobilize me must firstly empower my supporters, it’s then, I can comfortably feel safe because they are my foot soldiers.
However, I have been unlucky when it comes to politics. Many who have achieved their dream through my support have rather turn opposition.
No matter what, I thank God for everything. He only deserves the glory, honour, and all adorations.
- DAPO ABIODUN LED GOVERNMENT –
You have not acknowledged Governor Dapo Abiodun?
In what way? Well, I am not with him, but despite that, I will rather say this; I know in Abeokuta and Ijebu, he has done some projects. I know of the Ijebu-Ode/Epe standard road, yes, he is trying. Just like the previous government, Yewa South is completely abandoned. I would even say Ogun West but I haven’t been to Ota recently. Fortunately the Deputy Governor is from Ota, and if she doesn’t take care of her area, it’s left to her. But our area here, it is a complete neglect. Look at our major roads; Ilaro-Owode road. I don’t know what is wrong. It’s sickening. For many years, even during late Chief Onabanjo, the contractors would collect the money and nothing would be done.
I remember five or six years ago when FERMA gave out contract along that road, one of the contractors contacted me, a woman who was not an engineer, who didn’t have knowledge of construction, asked me to find her an engineer. I referred one of our council’s engineers who have everything needed for such construction. She later told me that the money the contractor wanted to collect is too much. And the money was paid to the woman eventually without the road been done. Since this government came in, the impact I have seen is at Owode township; drainage and less a kilometer tarred road. I think we deserve more than that. What have we done? Even if you are coming from Abeokuta, whichever ways you choose to ply to Ilaro, being the capital of Yewa South, one is bound to regret.
If you are coming to Ilaro from Lagos through Owode/Iwoye it’s horrible. If it is by Papalanto, it is not good. From Itori to Papalanto, it is bad. If you are coming through Itori to Dangote factory, it’s deadly because gridlock on that axis has become a routine. So, what is our offence? I am not blaming the governor but successive governments even my friend, Senator Amosun did the same thing to us. Which other roads can we point at; Yewa North is the worst. Look at Atan-Agbara road, the last time I plied it, I regretted ever going there. Meanwhile, some of us voted for them.
- YEWA POLITICS –
As an elderly politician, is there hope for Yewa person becoming the governor?
I will answer your question with a question. Is there anything impossible for God? Despite all odds, I still believe that before I die, and I know I am not dying now, the next elections, God be on our side, we will occupy that seat at Oke-Mosan.
Is there any precaution comes 2023?
Presenting two, three, five contestants competing for a single seat from a District is a serious challenge. But I still believe God performs miracles. It might even sound unreasonable for anybody to suggest that all Yewas should be in one party and once we are not in one party, each party will produce its own candidate. My believe is that this time around, there will be discussions that could lead to adoption of one consensus candidate or enjoining people to join a promising party. I believe the miracle we are expecting will still happen by God’s grace.
What exactly do you think has been responsible for Yewa not becoming the governor, as an elder statesman and a participant?
We are very unfortunate in this part of the country. Everybody wants to be the leader. Everybody wants to be at Oke-Mosan, even those who know that they can’t be there. I remember we had series of meetings among intra party trying to fix consensus candidate. It has always been like that, we are not united, until such a time when we have a rallying point, perhaps the Paramount Ruler and that’s even when our monarchs are one, speaking in one voice. I am sorry I have to say that once Awujale says this is where we are going, it’s almost a golden rule. That’s where they will go. I think by God’s grace we will get there. We have learnt a lot of lesson.
- NIGERIA ETHNICITY –
In Nigeria today, there are two issues, some are clamouring for breakup while some prefer restructuring, what is the way to go sir?
I think all we need is divine intervention. If it can be by true restructuring, it could have been an ideal thing but can we really be sincere to have genuine restructuring? If yes, then it’s better for us because we can sit down to correct many errors. For example, look at all the appointments, both at the Ministries and Departments, we know it’s not fair. Just like those of us from Yewaland have been lamenting the marginalization or neglect in Ogun State, the same thing is happening in the South-South. The same thing is happening in the South-East. But if genuine restructuring can’t take place, what is wrong with Oodua nation? And if it’s compulsory that Nigeria should stand, let’s have a weak centre. Let other regions or states decide what they want.
Recently, Southern governors held a meeting and came up with certain decisions, but in less than twenty-four hours, opposing opinions emerged that the restructuring they were asking for is wrong, that they had better start the restructuring from their individual states by allowing local government autonomy so that dividends of democracy can get to the grassroots. Do you agree with such opinions?
As a matter of fact, I support it 100% even more. The reason is what we all know. Look at our local governments. They are no more governments. It’s not just with the present governor. It has started long time and I think the last time local governments have autonomy was during Chief Osoba’s regime because I was part of the system as the Vice Chairman and we were truly functioning. There is nothing left for local government now as source of revenue. The only source that would soon be taken away from them is market. Every other thing has been taken away by the state government. The worst thing is that the Federal Government’s allocation to the local government does not come to the local government purse. The state government pays the local government workers, and from the balance, they dash chairmen whatever they deem fit. I don’t know why we are still calling those councils local government. It is very difficult for them to grade roads.
I remember when I was the Vice Chairman of local government, I was in charge of Local Government Education Authority, we were building schools, classrooms even hostels in schools when there are accommodation challenges. During my tenure, we tarred roads, we dug boreholes, in fact many things. The councils are no more what they are supposed to be but as much as I would agree with the opposing thoughts, the problem is with the federal government. I remember sometimes last year or two years ago, the federal government issued a circular directing local government to be autonomous, that was all we heard. What is the federal government doing? Is it not the FG that gives the money to the state to be given to the local government knowing full well that state would not release the money? Why are we wasting money on elections?
- GENESIS –
In 1971, at age thirty, who was Oluyinka Akintomide?
I was doing well with the AfPrint Nigeria Limited at Iganmu, working as the Maintenance Engineer.
How was your growing up years?
My parents were not rich; my father was a farmer while my mother was a housewife in Iwoye-Yewa where I was born on Sunday, 1st June, 1941. My parents had lived in Iwoye for years before giving birth to me. I had my Primary School at Iwoye. I proceeded to MayFlower School, Ikenne for my secondary school education, one of the most difficult secondary school to gain admission into. In those years, you have got to pass the entrance examinations, attend and passed an interview in order to qualify for admission.
I was fortunate to be among the seventy-eight students admitted for the second set of MayFlower School; my admission number was 96. Tai Solarin was the Proprietor and Principal of the School. We learnt a lot from him, he taught us to make use of our brain in our heart. When he founded the school, he said his students will sit and pass the West Africa Exams in their first four years instead of the traditional six years stipulated for all secondary school students.
The Ministry of Education, then under Dr Awokoya, disagreed but later tried to shelf one year by allowing MayFlower School students to sit for the exams in their fifth year of secondary school education. Still, Solarin insisted that it must be four years. After the four years of the first set, Solarin took them to Ghana for the registration and the exams as Nigeria would not allow them to sit for the West Africa Examinations because they had not sat for the qualifying test as requested by the Nigeria body, though an omission on the part of Solarin.
So, the following year when it was our turn as the second set, we had the privilege to write the qualifying test in which we all passed and took the GCE in the same year having spent four years in Solarin’s secondary school.
After the exams, Tai Solarin offered me employment opportunity as Mathematics teacher even with School Cert, haven attested to the fact that I was very good in Mathematics. So, I returned to the school as a teacher. I taught in the school for eight months before I got admission into the Technical College now the Polytechnic Ibadan. I entered in 1962 without having a kobo to pay. My parents couldn’t afford the tuition fee. But I applied for admission. Fortunately, two organizations had approached the institution to offer scholarship to brilliant students; ECN and the Ministry of Works.
Another examination was given to us, and haven performed brilliantly, I fell into the group to be sponsored by the ECN. After my graduation at the Technical College, I was posted to Jos under ECN for almost a year, then I was transferred to Yola until the political crisis of 1965/66. I fled leaving all my belongings behind, I was lucky to arrive Lagos safely. I was posted to Yaba. I stated working as Assistant Technical Officer. Along the line, I got admission into the Yaba College of Technology where I obtained HND. Thereafter, I got employment at Afprint Nigeria Ltd as I said ealier. I worked for five years. I tried my luck at West Africa Breweries and got employed. I worked for five years where I rose to the position of Senior Maintenance Engineer from where I resigned to establish my company – Toks Electrical Enterprises – in the year 1981.
- REMINISCENCE –
When was your happiest moment sir?
I was so elated and happy on the day I became the Councilor for Iwoye-Yewa Ward. It was then on personal merit non-party basis, that was in 1998. It was a very tough contest, but I was victorious. I didn’t prepare for it but my community; Iwoye Community wanted me, especially the then Baale, so I agreed to do their bid.
- NEXT LEVEL –
From now on, I have resolved to devote my life to service to humanity. That’s why you likely seeing me with organizations such as Red Cross, Road Safety Marshall, Rotary and trade organizations that are service clubs.