I have been able to improve upon what we met on ground says Oyebanji’s Aide on Housing, Mortgage Dev.

In this exclusive interview with AYODELE ABERE, the Special Adviser to the Ekiti State governor on Housing and Mortgage Development, DR GBOYEGA OLONIYO who by his portfolio mans the Bureau of Housing and Mortgage Development, bares his mind on the role of the Bureau to the wellbeing of the people of Ekiti State. Excerpts!

Let’s meet you with a brief insight to your background sir.

I am Dr. Gboyega Oloniyo, Special Adviser on Housing and Mortgage Development in Ekiti State. I hail from Ilawe-Ekiti in Ekiti South West Local Government Area of Ekiti State. If they say people rise through the rank, I think that described to an extent concerning the portfolio His Excellency, Governor Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji has given me the opportunity to man on behalf of the good people of Ekiti State. I am the Chief Executive Officer of a real estate in Lagos state, named Home Gates Merchants and Brokers Limited It’s an organisation that is so prominent with Lagos State Government in Private Sector Participation Scheme, that was introduced by the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu when he was the Governor of Lagos State. We participated actively in that Scheme that he introduced which is Private Sector Participation In governance and my own area of strength then was to create wealth for government through private partnership with Lagos state government. I had buildings that were moribund that we invested in, on what they called build, operate and transfer from Lagos state government to my own company that I managed for many years. We were able to generate money for Lagos State Government through that partnership and many other involvements in Real Estate until I was called upon to serve. I had to resign and come to Ekiti to serve my people, and prior to that, I have been a board member of National Institute of Legislative and Democratic Studies in Abuja, a position I also held until I was called upon to serve in Ekiti State.

I started my Primary education at Holy Trinity Primary School, Ilawe-Ekiti, Ekiti State, which I later completed in Abeokuta, Ogun State. I also attended Mark Jones Grammar School, Abeokuta, before I proceeded to Ogun State School of Basic Studies. From there, I gained admission to Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, where I studied in the Faculty of Administration and proceeded for my post graduate in Financial Management. I am a member of many professional organizations as well.

How did you meet the Bureau you currently man when you came on board as Special Adviser to Governor Oyebanji?

Without casting aspersions on men and women that have manned the office before, I strongly believe that they did their very best but to the glory of God, where we are right now about eight months in the saddle, less than one year cannot be compared to what we actually met. Not to say that people that came before us didn’t do anything. If they have not done anything at all, we wouldn’t have had the jet speed for us to get to where we are now. We were able to improve upon what we met on ground when we came on board. I can say without sounding immodest, things have improved from what it used to be in seven to eight months down the line. I am in charge of Housing and Mortgage Development. By the special will and permission of His Excellency, Governor Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji, the administration he has been running is encompassing and he’s interested in every sector of governance. He has deemed it fit for me to man the sector on his behalf by advising him rightly and not only that, the support that we have been having from Mr. Governor ever since day one has been tremendous. Just of recent, I was even thinking how he was able to juggle his assignment with other pressures he has because memos sent to him always get quick attention and I was wondering, am I the only one sending memo to Mr. Governor? But you will see that he is a talk and do Governor and always eager to work for the State. So his support cannot be sidelined in how far we have been able to go.

Straight to the point now, on Housing alone, we have been able to meet the yearnings of our people, we have been able to get some of the Estates facelifted. Some of the Estates within the capacity, we have been able to change some obnoxious administrative flaws that we met on ground, trying to ensure that people get dignity for house living and we have been ensuring that the environment is decent enough for them to stay. We have gone round all the estates within Housing Corporation, particularly to know the needs and the aspirations they want. Through the contacts that we have, we have been able to fast-track some of the things that are yet to come to pass as we speak. For instance, some of the estates that are having problem with transformer, we have been able to get in contact with the distinguished people in National Assembly to assist them in getting them enrolled in the next bid of having transformer to solve some of the electricity problem. On the issue of road erosion and the rest, they are being looked into and most importantly, a lot of them are happier that they have a listening Governor that has represented them well in this . I think that’s what is going on all around, that they have a listening administrator in Housing today, and that is meeting their needs, trying to do the best for them within the little space that we have.

In the area of Mortgage too, I should give His Excellency, Abayomi Oyebanji, kudos because before I even came to the saddle, the outstanding payment that had not been remitted on Mortgage, I was told he did excellently by clearing all. His own pattern of leadership is of note. People do mention that when they served in a particular administration, maybe because they are there, they need to sing praise of the men in the helm of affairs but my own case is different. I have lived long enough on earth to know who to actually give accolades to. From the depth of my heart, I know that the Governor means well particularly for this sector and the mantra that we have for this administration is shared prosperity. A shared prosperity agenda is germane to the extent that he has mandated me that we should try to provide affordable, available shelter for the good people of Ekiti State, and that’s what we are doing knowing fully well the position of our purse that we are not as buoyant as many oil producing States.

My thinking is to think out of the box to see how we can assist our people with contacts from outside. So I have been speaking with the Federal Ministry of Housing under the Renewed Hope Agenda of Mr. President, they’re deemed to have shelter being built by Federal Government in each of the States of the Federation. So we are waiting and we are working tenaciously to ensure that we are the first recipient of such. I am also talking to Federal Mortgage Bank, I have met with the former MD and I am going to meet with the new MD also just to continue our discussion on how they could help by assisting us with funds. We have been talking to some of the developers too that mean well for the State to ensure that we get housing deliverable to our good people in Ekiti State in line with the thought of Governor Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji.

Did you employ the strategy of Public- Private-Partnership in running this portfolio?

I am a product of Public-Private- Partnership like I have introduced myself. With my experience with Lagos state government, the Public-Private- Partnership is keen and is part of what we are looking at. For instance, the one that I said we are working with Federal Mortgage Bank is Public-Private- Partnership. The promoter of the company is from Ekiti State and the company is the one we are using to speak to the Federal Mortgage Bank for the funds they want to provide so that we will be able to build in all the Senatorial Districts across Ekiti State and while doing that, we believe there must be local contents. The local contents will take care of our people. The Governor is of the opinion that when housing sector takes off fully, it is still going to palliate the economy because palliative is not giving gari, rice. When activities are happening within the State that you see the bricklayers, the carpenters, the electricians, the painters, the water suppliers, the cement sellers busy, that’s a form of palliative. Palliative doesn’t end in just wrapping rice and gari. When you give people work to do, they will produce for the State and it’s going to assist our GDP as well when people are earning income from activities. Activities based governance will make a lot of people to have means of livelihood that will assist them a great deal. So Governor Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji is of that thought. When the mantra is even shared prosperity, we need to share prosperity within our people and the way to go about this is to get the House sector busy and that’s what we are trying to do even within the little funds that we have. We can’t look inward and say we want to start building with the Ekiti State fund alone because we know how much the cost of building is now. We don’t have low cost housing anymore, we can only have medium cost housing because things have gone out of reach for builders.

How affordable would the houses be particularly in the interest of the man that does not have deep pocket

Sincerely, if you look at the three basic needs of life which are shelter, food and clothing, you will agree with me today that none of these basic needs is still cheap. If you talk of common Ankara that we wear now, if you know how much you bought it two years ago to what you have now, it’s a lot. The same applies to food. Now to talk about shelter which has to do with a lot of components. They might not come so cheap. But Governor Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji, few times we had interacted on this issue of housing delivery, some investors would come with highfalutin building projects, he will tell me that he’s not interested in those highfalutin projects, that he’s rather interested in the ones that are affordable to people. So Mr Governor is not unaware that our people should truly be considered when it comes to housing delivery in Ekiti State and he’s so much aware of the fact that the availability of funds to these people is low. So that’s why he has been asking us to go through some lean process to get these things done without any compromise. For instance, let’s get to basics. You want to build houses and you know that it’s going to cost so much, there are some options you can opt out of and you allow them to do it according to what they want. Exterior could be well done, while you leave the interior for people to do according to their own taste. In such an arrangement, everybody that really needs accommodation will be able to afford it because they know is not a biscuit on the shelf that you just pick. And the gestation period of providing this could take a while. So it’s something we need to consider at the same time. All we need to do is just to see how we can balance it up to see how we can ensure that our target is not to build four or three bedrooms, we could be looking at one bedroom apartment that is convertible to two when the time comes. So we are not unmindful of the deep pocket. There’s no deep pocket anywhere now in Nigeria unless we want to deceive ourselves. People are just managing to get things done. But I know that better days are truly ahead.

A sort of digression here, the Leader of the Senate, Senator Opeyemi Michael Bamidele (MOB) recently named one of his constituency projects after your dad, Bishop Gabriel Babalola Oloniyo of blessed memory, what’s reaction to this sir?

I felt so honoured, I felt so elated, I felt so concerned that the distinguished Senator, the Leader of the Senate could think along that line. We have actually come a long way together. We were both students under the late Bishop Gabriel Babalola Oloniyo that happens to be my biological father who is also his own father and a mentor. I realized that it’s good to do good. When none of us knew what anybody could ever become in life, that you don’t look down on anybody. I appreciate that gesture and most profoundly from the distinguished Senator that deemed it fit despite the fact that the departed primate didn’t emanate from his own Senatorial District. Though, he thought of it that he’s more of a global icon that could be named for any good deed done to anybody anywhere in the entire state even in the federation. So I thank God for his life. I appreciate him. It was a bit emotional. In the presence of Mr Governor, himself and I, we witnessed that pronouncement. I give God the glory for that. Even the Governor promised to put a police post there and do a lot of things to make sure the library stands because if a teacher that impacted into your life as a mentor could be remembered like that, he must have done something extra ordinary because we all have past teachers, we all have past lecturers. I thank God for the life of the departed primate for doing the right thing at the right time. He never spare the rod, I am a living testimony. At times we take our canes in turns. So I think the product of it is that all is well that ends well. And today, we can look back and say yes, we passed through the right tutelage. I give God the glory and I thank the distinguished Senator.

Your message for the people of Ekiti State in general.

I want Ekiti people to know that we are very fortunate at this particular time that we are having this kind of administration in place to steer the affairs of the State, most especially am grateful to God that I am also part of the success story of this imagined people’s administration in Ekiti State. We never had it this good before. We have a leader, an icon and amiable governor that is transparent, that is truthful. He can be blunt at times but he knows how to pick his onions and I can tell you without any doubt that he actually means well for the State. My interactions with him both publicly and privately depict that. And he is eager to do all things possible to ensure that the common people in Ekiti State are touched by this administration. So my message to Ekiti people is to continue to support, cooperate with the administration that is in town and also continue to be hopeful that the things that are tough now will surely get better. I want them to agree with me that we are in a new normal in Ekiti State under the watch of Governor Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji.

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