Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN (Lawyer)
Interviewed by Funke Olaode
What was your growing up like?
I grew up in Owo, Ondo State. I am from an average and respected family. My father was a primary school headmaster. He was a disciplinarian. We viewed the strict upbringing as punishment and we didn’t enjoy it.
How did that discipline shape your life?
It became a guiding principle to moderate my views and to be modest as we grew older. My father was very courageous and I imbibed that courage. For instance, having a father who was a teacher placed my foot on the pedestal of education early. I had my early education in my hometown in Owo before proceeding to Loyola College in Ibadan, which was one of the best colleges then.
I later went to Great Ife, University of Ife now Obafemi Awolowo University where I studied law. I am a practicing lawyer and I have been a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) for almost 20 years. The influence to study law was inspired by a teacher who noticed my argumentative prowess during Higher School Certificate in Aiyetoro. This guardian and counsellor saw that I loved to argue, I loved to express myself and he advised that the best career choice for me was law.
Does your hyperactive nature influence your personality?
It has been part of me since my childhood. I am approaching my 60s but nothing has changed. I like being active, happy and making people around me happy.
As a successful lawyer, why did you embrace politics?
Going into politics is a service to humanity. I have occupied all the positions anyone can be in this country. I have been a member of the Body of Benchers and the rest. And when there was a clarion call from my people who suggested that I should to go into politics, I yielded to their call.
But it seems the opportunity to become Governor of Ondo State is eluding you?
I almost won the last time. I have not lost hope because I have studied the terrain and by the grace of God Almighty, this time I am going to win. Politics has not seen the last of me in Ondo State. Then, I was more of a professional in politics. I have the support of my people and I know when the time comes, they will support me.
Given the opportunity, what would you do differently?
I plan to focus on job creation. A government must be concerned about empowerment and security of its people. I believe that a stable economy and infrastructural development will help the growth of my state. Provision of accessible and affordable medical care for the people is also important. Also, the rural areas should be opened up; so that they can have access to qualitative education, health care services and good roads to access their farms. The nation is tilting towards farming as another reliable source of revenue. I will ensure that cocoa, which Ondo State is known for, is resuscitated.
How do you intend to realise your ambition since you are in the opposition?
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo State does not have an upper hand. We thrashed them in the last presidential elections. Today, my party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has two senators and members of House of Representatives. We are on ground. What you see from the opposition is fantasy. By the grace of God, I am the next Governor of Ondo State.
What lessons have you learnt in all of these?
The great lesson I have learnt in my life trajectory is never to take things for granted. You don’t put trust in people. What one needs to make a success out of a particular endeavour are trusted people, people who believe in you and your ambition, especially in politics.
If you could turn back the hands of clock, are there things you would do differently?
Probably there are. But I have no regrets about life because God has been good to me. If I could turn back the hands of the clock? I will continue to give thanks and praises to my Maker.
What is your philosophy of life?
You must be prepared to serve, give your best in the service of your people bearing in mind that the lifting of your people is worth your efforts. Give what you have and have the conviction that God, in His own time, will reward you.