By Gbenga Olarinoye, Osogbo
Yoruba people have wise sayings for all occasions and situations. One of such sayings, apt to the subject of this piece, is that one that is literally translated as “big masquerade will, often, be the last to emerge from the sacred forest.”
As if the ‘inventors’ of the above were somewhere on Oke Pupa Hill, Osogbo, watching over the bank of Osun spring, long before the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced September 22 as the day Osun people will be voting for another governor, almost four years after the last of such exercise was held, several indigenes of the state have signified intention to serve at that level.
Not only this, many of the aspirants have gone ahead to explain to the populace what the incumbent governor has done well, what he has not done perfectly and how they intend to go a notch better than what he has achieved.
Narrowing the struggle to succeed Mr. Rauf Aregbesola to the fold of the main opposition party in the state, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) alone, about 23 aspirants have formally written the leadership of the party, intimating it with their intention to vie for its governorship ticket.
From former and serving lawmakers to former council bosses, private businessmen and community leaders, the roll-call of aspirants seeking to run on the platform of the party is not beret of quality.
Taking a peep into the fold of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), the list of aspirants seeking to take over from Aregbesola is no less impressive, even as more aspirants are daily signifying intention to run on the party’s platform.
However, since the name, Dr Akinade Aremu Ogunbiyi, surfaced among the ‘possibles’ that may get the nod to fly the PDP flag, the permutations appear changing, and like the proverbial ‘big masquerade’, the financial and insurance guru could not have better timed his arrival on the political scene in the state.
Since the beginning of 2018, there has been, albeit almost inaudibly, insinuations about an impending arrival, on the political scene of the state, of a man with all attributes to redirect the largely desultory, all motion no movement ship of Osun back to the right path and provide purposeful leadership, as the ship finds better, prosperous route to harbor of plenteous.
And as the year wears on, the picture is becoming clearer and, in the last few days, as it appears, the right man for the job may be showing up eventually.
An indigene of Ile Ogbo, the headquarters of Ayedire local government area of Osun State, Ogunbiyi, who is the Group Chairman, Mutual Benefits Assurance, is an innovative leader and well- grounded scholar who identifies opportunities and creates great and highly beneficial values from them through entrepreneurship.
A PhD holder in insurance and risk management, he has accumulated, over the years, unique skills and capabilities through his insatiable search for knowledge.
This notable enterpreneur left University of Ife, Nigeria (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife) in 1986 with Second Class Upper Division in agricultural economics, and followed up with an executive master’s degree from the University of Nevarra, Barcelona, Spain; Global Executive Leadership Certificate from Yale School of Management; Certified High Potential Leader Education from Harvard Business School and a Graduate Advanced Management Leadership Course from Said Business School, University of Oxford.
His career development in insurance started during his undergraduate studies, when he ventured into agricultural insurance as his choice of specialization. Soon after graduation, he was employed in 1988 by the National Insurance Corporation of Nigeria (NICON PLC) as Research & Planning Officer.
He worked in various strategic capacities in the corporation, including the training of chief executives of insurance companies from African countries.
In his entrepreneurial pursuits, he has taken quite some risks. He gave up an impressive and promising career at NICON to go into insurance consultancy– a business hitherto unexplored and without a precedent of success in Nigeria.
He was the pioneer Chief Executive of Finance & Insurance Expert Limited, a firm of finance, insurance, environmental and management consultants, as Managing Partner/Chief Executive Officer in 1992.
Over the years, Ogunbiyi has proven to be a resilient business manager and has continued to create wealth for the nation through the establishment of many viable and well-managed businesses.
The Mutual Benefits Group he currently heads has nine subsidiaries and over 5,000 employees. Ogunbiyi is also the Chairman of the USIG, a real estate investment firm, and Charles Enterprises LLC, both in the USA, and CIL (Inc) UK.
Going by these snippets from Ogunbiyi’s intimidating curriculum vitae, he, no doubt, catches the picture of the man specially prepared by an Unseen Hand, over the years, to take over the affairs of Osun and pull it out of its present quagmire.
No doubt, leaving his cozy official seat in a multi-billion dollar business conglomerate to serve as Chief Executive Officer of a state struggling to breath, like Osun, is tantamount to needless risk, but, in Ogunbiyi, Nigeria has got a smart risk-taker, one of the very few reliable ones with myriad of successes, traversing the surface of earth at the moment.
Ogunbiyi towers above others in the race. The mere fact that he hails from Ile Ogbo, a town in Osun West, a section of the state demanding that the seat of the governor be given to it, speaks volumes. If he is eventually given the ticket, that will bring to a fruitful end to the agitations for the governorship seat of the state to be ceded to the West.
Besides after almost eight years of Aregbesola, a Muslim from Osun East in power, allowing a Christian from the West to succeed him will save Osun needless agitations and fear of domination by believers of one religion.
All that said, even when monthly allocation from Abuja was bigger, Osun hardly gathered enough to pursue infrastructural revolution, without plunging the state into unimaginable debt.
Now that neck-bending debt repayment, coupled with dwindling monthly allocation to the state, could not even allow payment of full month salary to workers, let alone tarring a kilometer of road in Osogbo, the state capital, bringing on board a ‘no-testing’, career politician will not only sound the death knell for the state, but it would also make the current frying pan-experience Osun is in a child’s play.
In all of these, a private sector big player with antecedents of squeezing water out of stone is the right kind of leader Osun needs. The state also needs that man with capacity to draw investors from all over the world to explore various business opportunities that abound there. Should all agree that Osun is in quagmire as posited by no other person than Aregbesola? Then there should be no further search for a pathfinder beyond the state’s biggest gift to the private sector world, Dr Akinade Aremu Ogunbiyi, the game changer.