Ashiru: Tired of Playing Second Fiddle

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After helping to transform Ogun State into an industrial hub, Bimbo Ashiru, Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, is no longer satisfied with being the underdog. Now he wants to be the governor, writes Femi Ogbonnikan

At the inception on May 29, 2011, Sen Ibikunle Amosun, the executive Governor of Ogun State was primarily concerned to change the face of governance from the once-upon-a-time civil servants – driven economy to an industrial hub of the country.

Without wasting time, he raised a kitchen cabinet which comprised of technocrats and seasoned professionals, with core competence and proven track records to draw a master plan to harness the economic potentials of the state.
Notable among members of the kitchen cabinet is Chief Bimbo Ashiru, who was assigned the responsibility to head the Ministry of Commerce and Industry portfolio.

Armed with intimidating credentials, Bimbo, as he is fondly called by his friends and political associates, has brought his experience to bear by turning around the fortunes of the state for the better. He also broke the jinx, by emerging as the first ever ommissioner to change the ‘bad image’ of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry as a ,dumping ground’ of non-performing cabinet members.

Under his stewardship, Ogun State attracted several companies which translated into over 1, 279.84 percent increase in the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state.

‎The 54-year-old banker-turned-politician who has been adopted as by the Ogun East APC as its consensus candidate for the state governorship election, was born to late Pa Simeon Adeyemi Ashiru and Princess Moradeun of Fidipote royal family in Ijebu Ode.

The World Bank, in its ‘Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria 2014 Report’, ranked Ogun State as one of the best five states in the country, in terms of ease of doing business as against the 36th position in it was in 2010. That was an acknowledgment of Ashiru’s forsightedness.

As a result of ‎the business friendly environment which he helped to create working with his boss, Ibikunle Amosun, 304 new companies, representing 54.5 percent of direct investment, with a cumulative investment profile of about N691.77 billion moved to Ogun State in 2014 compared with N377 billion of the previous year.
This has turned around the fortunes of the state. When allocation from the federal government took a plunge, Ogun State was one of the few states least affected.

Ashiru facilitated the creation of a one-stop-shop investment centre which is located within the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in order to assist potential investors and fast track the process of investing in Ogun State. Documentation which often discourages investors was made simpler.

In order to reduce ‎ the state’s debt burden sand avoid incurring further debt, he championed the establishment of a due process monitoring committee that reports directly to the governor.

With his commitment to fiscal responsibility, due diligence, accountability, honesty, and efficient utilisation of resources, many believe that‎ the legacy of Amosun will be better sustained and protected by Ashiru as governor.

He emerged the Ogun East APC consensus governorship candidate on Wednesday, November 17, 2017, following an intense and rigorous screening exercise conducted by eminent and distinguished Ijebu and Remo sons and daughters under the aegis of the “Ijebu Agenda”, chaired by Dr Gbolade Oshinowo, an erstwhile Special Assistant (SA) to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo on Political Matters and a one-time Acting Chief of Staff to late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. Other notable members include Basorun Adebisi Adesanya, Chief Olu Okuboyejo, Sen Dipo Odujinrin, Aare Olu Teslim Dawodu, Chief Bisi Rodipe, Chief Olusoga Adenusi and an a former Deputy Speaker, Ogun State House of Assembly, Dr Tokunbo Oshin.
A product of Adeola Odutola College, Ijebu Ode, Bimbo is a man of many parts and loved by many, both young and old.

Mr Tunji Folami, his secondary school classmate, described him as an easy going person who abhors deceit, pretence and inconsistencies.
“Bimbo, I have known when we were growing up in secondary school at Adeola Odutola College, Ijebu Ode is an easy going person and he still maintains the disposition. He is not quiet and mixes with people of like-minds. In a nutshell, he is very intelligent and trustworthy. He maintains cordial relationship he builds and he neither forgets nor despises his friends. It is this same traits he has carried over, while we were in secondary school till this present moment. Also, Bimbo wasn’t below the bottomline of the ladder of brilliance, rather this performance saw him to where he is today, having risen through the ranks to become director of a bank before his call to serve his home state, as Ogun State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry in 2011”, said Folami, a public relations practitioner.
Also, Mrs Mopelola Baruwa, another secondary school classmate of Bimbo, spoke glowingly ‎about him.
“He is very nice, quiet, submissive and respectful. Whatever the problem is, he is ready to help, if he is in the best position to do so. In short, he is a humanist. We have started our friendship since our secondary school days and till date, we are still in touch with each other.”

Also speaking, Mrs Sola Osikoya-Adesanya described him as reliable, intelligent and trustworthy.
“Bimbo is a nice person. During our secondary school days, we were very close. We would study and discuss together. One thing I notice about Bimbo is that, wherever he finds himself he would always make a remarkable difference. He is humble, caring and agile. That is just it”, said Osikoya-Adesanya, an Ogun State government retired civil servant.

To his bossom friend, Mr Tade Adegboyega, President, Nigerian Referees Association (NRA), “Bimbo didn’t like sports but he was always in the classroom, studying. I think his inactive to sporting activities has to do with his shortness in height. But he has increased in height now. Whenever we were playing football on the pitch he was always a spectator. But in the school activities, such as the ativties of the literary and debating society, he was very much active in them and he didn’t joke with them. He also belonged to the “students’ representative council”. Despite coming from one of the illustrious families in Ijebu Ode, Bimbo was a day student, while we were in boarding. He was brilliant. Because our school was a mixed one, he was always in the midst of girls and boys, engaging us in intelligent conversations. Administratively, he was very sound and I think that was one of the things that propelled and even shot him into limelight to have found himself in the position he is currently saddled with.

I have never seen him frowning his face or formenting trouble, but he was and he is always smiling to whoever he comes across with. May be, he has a set of teeth that are white. He is very nice because we have been friends since 1974 when we both gained admission into Adeola Odutola College, Ijebu Ode and also, we both passed out the school in 1979.
“Even after we passed out of the secondary we still continued with our friendship in Lagos because his father had a home in Lagos Island while I also stayed on the Island. So, we both saw each other and the friendship still continues till date”, said Adegboyega.
While many consider him as the person to beat for the race to the Ogun State Government House, his boss has ruled out his (Ashiru’s) senatorial district and instead had vowed to handover to someone from Ogun West in a move that has the potential to alter the zoning arrangement in the state.

Based on his confidence and leadership skills which distinguished him from other aspirants, Bimbo is considered as a best bet and an aspirant to beat in the upcoming Ogun State 2019 governorship race, if given the party’s ticket.
Bimbo is also well read. He has a degree in Marketing, Purchasing and Supply and a master’sdegree in Strategic Management. With this background, he joined the employment of the then, Chartered Bank in 1989. After a successful career in the banking industry that spanned two decades where served in various capacities at the management cadre, such as Head, Private Banking Unit; Branch Manager; Head, Institution and Professional Banking; Regional Coordinator, country director, personal and business banking; director, corporate affairs and corporate social investments and until his last position as Group Head, Public Sector with Stanbic IBTC Bank.
In recognition of his selfless service to the society and having distinguished himself as a true son of Ijebuland, Bimbo was honoured with the royal title of Otunba Adeona Fusigboye of Ijebuland in December 2006 by the Awujale, the Paramount ruler of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona.
He is a member of the Metropolitan Club, Ikoyi Club 1938, Ijebu Heritage Group and Ijebu Renaissance Group.
Bimbo is married to Olukemi. They are blessed with two children.

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When allocation from the federal government took a plunge, Ogun State was one of the few states least affected.