Olufemi Akosile, a young and well accomplished Mechanical Engineer based in the United States of America is a philanthropist par excellence, and many within Ikeji –Ile Ijesa, his birth place in Oriade Local government of Osun state, and the entire Obokun Federal Constituency are already testifying to this. As he does it for his community he also does for his alma mata, Ajayi Crowther Memorial Grammar School in Bariga, Lagos and Obafemi Awolowo Univeristy where he graduate with first class in mechanical engineering. He shares here with PTL news on what inspire and motivated him in taking care of the poor and the less privileged and looks into what he can do more if he had a greater opportunity.
Ikeji-Ile community looks up to him as a beacon of hope to alleviate not only the community but its neighbours out of poverty and want.
As a young person who did not grow directly from Ikeji Ile Ijesa, what is your motivating factor to see that the youth in the town and the larger Ijesaland know development?
As a young man born in Ikeji Ile, though I did not grow up there, but when we were young our father used to take us to Ikeji Ile. We realized, later in years after I had left Nigeria, and had the opportunity to visit the community after my grown up years I realized that the town was still at the same spot as we left it then. I also realized that many other towns in the locality were almost on the same spot; especially I also discovered that the education among the youth was still nothing to write home about to what is obtainable in America here and of course other parts of the world. That was what really jeered me up that something could be done to help the young ones in the locality to give them the right education as one thing that can lift them out of poverty and stagnation. If each and every one of us can contribute our quota we would help the community. But if they don’t have good education they would not be able to have good jobs and they would not be able to move up and develop the community. All they would be able to get is to have more of local farmers, okada riders who would not be able see and grow beyond the community. For example my children are in public schools here in America, and I know what is obtainable in public schools here, but we cannot obtain the same thing in Nigerian public schools; that is why our empowerment programmes are towards public schools. If we can replicate what we have in this kind of environment on the systems in Nigerians, it will help the people to send their children to public schools even when they don’t have much money. Somebody like me I went to public school when I was in Nigeria, but I was able to get assistance from somebody like Chief Akinmokun. Without somebody like that who helped me I would not be what I am today. So why can we not do something like that for people back home? That is what really jeered me up.
Since you started some of your empowerment programmes, have you been making some of your expected impacts?
I believe so because in 2016, I started with exercise book donation for Ikeji-Ile High School students. Even before then I have been assisting financially when they called on me to make one contribution to the development of the community. But then I said that money could only get to some privileged few especially those whose parents were not resident with in Ikeji-Ile. I did not see that as my best preferred approach because what I wanted was to see how the less privileged and those without connection could benefit from the little I could provide. That was why I brought writing books and shipped it to Ikeji without my name on it.
If students from primary one to SS three could have a share of the exercise books at least it would show that the benefits go round. I know there would be some families who could not afford those textbooks. From the responses I had about it, people liked it and commended the idea, and I believe I will continue with it from what I heard, the people love it and they began to pray for me.
Another impact I saw was when I went to Ikeji last year, I got to the school and discovered that apart from the Principal and the Vice Principal, they only had two teachers in the whole school. How could they have two teachers in the whole school? They said the government did not post teachers there and that the teachers were not willing to stay. Besides the Parents Teachers Association did not have money to pay for private teachers’ salaries. I then asked what it would take to have a teacher, they said N15,000 and I said we would do something. I told them to get three teachers and I would be paying their salaries. They got the three teachers, I also thought about the use of NYSC members and I advised the Principal to get some of them. He has been able to get five Youth Corpers, making the school having 10 teachers in all. That is part of the impact which I think I have on the community and those of other younger ones. So far I hear good news about them the teachers are very happy, and the Principal updates me all the time. They get their salaries as at when due. It even makes me happy that I am making impacts on the lives of the students and the youth in the community.
What about your other programmes to the widows and the less privileged in and outside Ikeji-Ile?
Having done the above in Ikeji, my mind was like Ikeji is my place, what else can I do to help other kids too? I have this NGO which myself and my wife registered while in Nigeria. The NGO is all about educational support for students in Osun state. But before then I was thinking about the scholarship thing, I also realized that there would be some students who would not be able to provide some basic things for themselves. That was what led to the scholarship I launched last year then as an engineer I have special interest in science subjects, technology and mathematics. I am sure you must have seen some of my fliers about STEM Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics. That was what informed my decision to start a mathematics contest. That mathematics contest is just about two things-to give scholarship to students, and also I want to awake their interest in Engineering, not think to have somebody like me only, we can have other people as engineers too. Those who can say yes I know Engineer Akosile I want somebody to be like him too. It is not going to be limited to Ikeji but to make it competitive by extending it beyond Ikeji-Ile community. We want to try it in Oriade and Obokun to see how it would look like. I am very happy because a lot of people turned up for the scholarship, we have about 420 applicants both in Oriade and Obokun Local Governements for the scholarship alone and that is being analyzed by two Professors in Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife they are going to pick for us the best student to give that award to for the Mathematics Contest we have about 200 students to sit for the exam, right now and we are working on how to come up with the best student in Mathematics for the two local governments with awards.
You also mentioned about my widows programme. I am very close to the Kabiyesi of Erin Ijesa, the Royal Majesty Oba Akinla he has this his Royal Foundation, we have what we donate to support him, under which he empowers and feeds widows. I picked it from him that if Kabiyesi can do something like that for he shares his experience with me. That also informed my decision to form widows and old people’s assistance programme. It is for old people who have no capacity and are too old, as an assistance programme. The last one we had in December showed old people recommended by their traditional rulers, Pastors or Imams. We think of affecting people like that.
Now with all you are doing, does it have anything to do with political interests?
Initially I didn’t have any interest in politics I just wanted to do my empowerment with the people. I am a Salary earner and I work with BP here in the US. There is a limit to what my personal resources can do. If I have political influence I will be able to reach out the more. A lot of people seeing what I have been doing with my personal resources believed if I have political influence I will be able to do more. They said as a man with good heart I would be able to do more. Today I still receive mails and requests from many of our graduates with many of them as okada riders. As the country is today you may not get the right job without the right people and the right connection. It is the combination of those things that jeer me up that if I can be in that kind of position I will help more people in the community. I will be able to sit with them, discuss and guide them on how to succeed in life. that political influence will be able to help more people, and not that I am looking for money or any fame it is about helping people build them to do more for the growth and development of our community.
Let me also add this, for a long time our people believed they have also been denied of good representation in the political space and they think if they are able to persuade me I would be able to give them good representation, knowing my antecedents.
How do you think your people in Ikeji-Ile and the larger Oriade and Obokun Federal Constituency have been responding to this?
When I started this, I did not know how to go about it at all because I had not been involved in a thing like that before. I have not been involved in politics, I did not live in Ikeji, and I was not in Nigeria, I left Nigeria about 20 years ago. So I didn’t know where to start from but interestingly, with many of our people that I have been meeting online, for instance Elder Awe came to me that they had been seeing all I have been doing and they think I could go for the House of Representatives from the community. They suggested I could start from a Vanguard which can cut access all the communities in the local government, Elder Femi Awe started that Vanguard and launched it on my behalf. Starting from the Vanguard it was believed that if our people from Ikeji supports us, they would be able to see our ideas beyond Ikeji-Ile. Luckily I got some people contacting me on facebook, and some of the leaders there. That was what started the movement from Ikeji and others began to follow. They are very excited about it and they promise to support, and the response has been very encouraging and over whelming beyond my expectations. I am very happy about it for the whole community. It is like a good thing coming to us and they want to queue behind me. I appreciate all the supports from my people.
How prepared are you for the tasks ahead?
Everything is the hand of God, but for me I believe this is what my people demand and what they want I won’t let them down. I have seen it in what they want and I will not reject their offer since they are ready to stand behind me, and I am ready for it. if they give me that support, I will move from Ikeji-Ile to Ipetu, to Erin, Ijebu, Jesa, Esa Oke, Ibokun for more supports. I am ready for it.
Have you been able to pitch your interest in any of the parties?
Right now, the answer is no sir. Because I don’t belong to any political party right now but we want to create that awareness that we can see how the people will respond and at the end of the day it is the people that will decide that this is the place to go to. i have a lot of advisers and followers from APC, from PDP and the Elders who have been in politics. I get across to them and the advise me from time to time. There is no party of choice for now.
Do you have any other things to add now?
I just want to say thank you for helping me to do this, but again I appreciate the supports people have been giving me so far. Again I believe we still have more hardwork to do because we want more people to buy into the movement to see what more we can do. I believe it is also time for Oriade to enjoy what Obokun has been enjoying for a long time.
So far we can see that Obokun has produced candidate for the past five elections. It is time for us in Oriade to have a representative and I believe in being led and in the way things work here in America I will be able bring more development, that people will like and enjoy, if elected.
God will help you.
Let me also add that I have enjoyed a similar assistance from Chief Isaac Akinmokun. When I wanted to go to the university Chief Akinmokun took me up. I did not have money. My parents didn’t have money. When I went to Chief Akinmokun in Ibadan and said, ‘Daddy please, I never knew him, I just went to Isoglass to show him my result, that I wanted to go to University but my parents did not have the means, and I did not want to waste, and he agreed to support me. He began to give me money, year one to year five. I went to OAU Ife and I graduated with first class honours. For me it is a way of giving back to my people. It is a way if helping others from the same situation I found myself then. They may not know the Chief Akinmokun to go and meet, for Baba is even old now but we pray for long life in good health for him. But we can do a similar thing for those coming behind us. That is part of my motivation in the educational empowerment programme we do.
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