The newly elected President of D’ Core Club of Ondo, Chief Olugbemi Oyeneyin, in this interview with Ugo Aliogo, speaks about the future of the club under his leadership and what the new executive is bringing to the table
Can you tell us more about yourself?
My name is Otunba Olugbemi Oyeneyin. I’m from Ondo town. I am the newly elected president of D’ Core Club of Ondo. The election was carried out on February 11, 2018. I am also the Chairman Association of Telematics Operators of Nigeria (ATON). I am a fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC) and also a certified management consultant. I am the Group Managing Director, Mints International Group. I am the Executive Producer Forte taste Concert. I am a Chieftain of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo town.
What is D’ Core Club of Ondo all about?
Well, D’ Core Club of Ondo is a social club for Ondo indigenes in the five Ondo-speaking local government areas. It is a non-political organisation with the responsibility of providing economic development to the Ondo-speaking communities. The club started over 30 years ago and it was pioneered by Chief Akinmade. Since then the club has done a lot in Ondo town such as award of scholarships, installation of boreholes, and other areas. The main focus is for those of us who have left home to have something we are bringing back home to develop the place and better the lives of the people that is the key objective. This is why yearly we organise the Unity Cup Club competition for all the secondary schools which is something to encourage the young people who are interested in football. Two years ago, we carried out health programme where we distributed free eye glasses to people.
Who conceived the idea of setting up the club and when was it established?
The idea was conceived by Chief Akinmade in the 80s. In the 80s in Ondo State, water was a major problem especially when you realise the fact that Ondo State is located on rocky plain. Then there was no single borehole anywhere, people were going to the stream to fetch water. Therefore they decided to install boreholes for people in the five local government areas where people never thought that there would be water. That was breakthrough for the town, people and the club. It was after then that the rich thought they could actually sink a borehole in their houses.
Can you highlight some of the reasons driving the initiatives which the club has embarked upon over the years?
Basically, the objectives of the club is to maintain social relationship amongst members, foster both economic and cultural development of Ondo and its environs, setup good example for others to emulate in order to promote peace, progress and happiness in Ondo town and its environs, interact at clubs and social levels to enhance community and self-development, to search for avenues to raise funds and encourage provision of infrastructure for the economic industrialisation of Ondo town and its environs, to participate in development of Ondo, encourage health education sports, and cultural competition, give succour to the old and needy such as the widows, and aged, form cooperatives and encourage self-sufficiency, identify and encourage the industrialisation of local products, made in Ondo town, because there was a time when we encouraged people making shoes and bags, in order to exhibit their products. We engage these artisans to participate and help promote the cultural festival. We also participate in the Ekimogun Festival which comes up in December yearly. This is the biggest event in the town because people come from far and within.
Does the club have special intervention programme for youths in the community?
Every year, we select different projects. In the area of intervention, we have embarked on scholarships scheme for youths in the past, we have also created avenues where they can learn skills acquisition initiatives such as tailoring, carpentry, wielding and others. The place which was the initiation of Mr. Femi Akinmade is still running today and yearly they graduate students who have undergone skills acquisition programme.
Do you have a youth wing and are you training a crop of young people who will take over the mantle of leadership from you?
The club is a leveler. In the club, we are all the same. But with the old generation and the younger people that came in now (which is our own generation) the new executives are people within our age bracket because the founders and promoters are persons within their 60s and 70s. We are the next generation taking over the baton from them. The election that actually that took place replaced senior members of the club. There are some names worthy of mention. We have the outgoing President of the club, Chief Siji Olowosuko (J.P), and Pioneer President of the club, Chief Femi Akinmade. Other pioneer members include Hon. Tayo Fawehinmi, Prince Oyin Ogunrakinyo, Otunba Olu Akinmurele, Arc Biodun Akinrimisi, Engr. Rotimi Eso and Dr. Rotimi Adeola. The new executives include President, Otunba Oyeneyin, Vice President, Mr. Tayo Abiola, Secretary General, Mr. Kunle Olamuyiwa, Social Secretary, Mr. Seyi Fadayomi, Financial Secretary, Otunba Akinbobola, and the Treasurer, Mr. Dolapo James.
Now you have been elected as the President of D’ Core Club. What are you bringing to the table?
With the coming of this new generation, there is going to be new things that will be injected into the club. Basically, what the new executives are looking at is the rebranding of the club which is a major focus for us. This is the key for us especially because of the image and the logo. This will reflect positively in the way club is to be portrayed in a 21st century platform. We are already putting up a new website with members and a whole lot of integration with members who are in diaspora because we are planning to have the United Kingdom and U.S. chapters respectively. Therefore, we are actually taking the club from just being a localised to international because there are so many Ondo indigenes who will love to be part of this club and these individuals are in top positions in government and the private sector.
Presently, the world is a digital community and everything is going online. You don’t need to visit people to get them involved in whatever you are doing, but through your social media account you can get them involved. The website is expected to increase membership and create more awareness on what the club stands for and what we are doing and propose to do. The rebranding idea was conceived by the new executive. The focus for us is to become the number one Ondo club in the near future that is our drive. Before now, the club used to be number one, but things happened along the line so our position as first was lost. You must rebrand to bring in new changes and remain relevant to the changing world.
How do you intend to raise funds for this project?
The club is made up of a lot of wealthy persons. Raising funds is not a problem, but by the time the club expands with more members coming in, there will be more funding. We plan to have different categories of honorary members, who may not necessary be Ondo indigenes but love to support what we are doing. We are going to have a lot of support from that, from different sectors because the idea is to be able to do more. It is also premised on the fact of giving back to Ondo as there are newer challenges.
Unemployment is a serious issue in the country. Regarding the issue of unemployment, we are looking at what we can in this area. Will it be possible to attract investors into the town? This is part of the rebranding project and this will help the town especially the young people. Employment will bring back investments in the state, empower youths and drive growth. We are also thinking of an industrial park which is under investment and create millions of jobs. This is what will take us to corporate organisations. For instance, there may be companies who might want to go into agriculture and they will decide to settle in Ondo State because of the presence of arable lands. These are kinds of investments we are focusing on because presently, there are no industries in the town.
When is the campaign kicking off?
The timeline for the programme has not been fixed. We came onboard few weeks ago, so we need to settle down and put things in place. Our swearing-in was second Sunday in March, before then we would have drawn the timeline for the activities we will embark on and see what is possible this year and next year.
Are you planning to inherit any of the unfinished programmes from the past administration?
Definitely, I will inherit their programmes; we have been part of it all along. I have been a member of the club since seven years ago. Some of the programmes we will inherit are the youth D’ Core Cup, participation in annual Ekimogun Festival, the free eye glass programme, scholarship and awards.
For these initiatives that the club would be embarking on whether monthly or quarterly. How do you intend to raise funds?
We raise funds through members, through levies and contributions. If there is a project, we ascertain the cost of the project, some will sponsor and others levied. This is how we do it. We can send out appeal letters maybe to the honorary members who will be willing to support the programmes.
What were the challenges in the past administration and how are you willing to address these challenges?
The key challenge was funding. There were so many things that the club could have done, but because of insufficient funds they were not able to do. During the economic downturn, members who could do 5-10 million before were doing less. It really affected everybody and a lot of projections were not met. Some of the projects we wanted to execute were not executed because of the increase in the price of dollars in the forex market last year. We are taking over to ensure that there is a new assessment of these projects.
You talked about the projects you jettisoned. Are you bringing back some of these projects?
There are projects we want to do it is not that we will not do them. For instance, the beautification of the major roundabouts in the town, the renovation of schools, and awarding of more scholarships, if we are doing 10 students before, due to the economic situation of the country, presently we want to triple that figure, because we know that some students cannot afford to go to school anymore. Currently, we pay some teachers to teach some students in primary and secondary schools. We want to expand on the scope so that we can affect more lives because as it now, we don’t have a government.
Do you have a monitoring team that monitors some of these initiatives you embark on to see if they are functional and if people are deriving benefits from them?
For each project, there is a monitoring team because each project has a chairman. The chairman reports on that project at every meeting. We go to Ondo once in two months to check on some of those things. We have chairmen for projects such as scholarship to less-privileged, provision of recreational parks in Ondo, free community development and Health Advisory Services, Organising Gala Nights to raise funds and other projects. Before the execution of the project and after there is a report because we want to build this project for continuity, if it does not continue it will not be nice. The organisation is a continuum so it must outlive everyone of us.
What is the support of the traditional rulers in the community and the people towards these initiatives that you carry out?
For Ondo, the Oshemawe, Oba Adesimbo Kiladejo (Jito III), is the supreme Oba. He is the 44th Osemawe. He was crowned in 2008. The Ekimogun event is organised by the Oshemawem therefore our support and contributions goes into that event. Two years we chaired the event. Everything we do is to the glory of the Oba, the free eye glass was in the Palace of the Oshemawe. We pay courtesy visits to him yearly and when we go for the Ekemogun Festival.