Despite his recent distasteful experience with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Tokunbo Modupe, founder of TPT International Ltd, has taken a defiant entry into Ondo State’s political firmament, writes Olawale Olaleye
At best, he is known and described as the brain behind Africa’s topmost public relations agency, TPT International, an otherwise successful reference point in Nigeria’s marketing communications sector. This is understandable, because for an upward of 20 years, Modupe has personally tended the now towering image of his company, founded in 1998.
An otherwise stylish personality with his dotting dress sense, Modupe’s very essence can be said to be ensconced in the kind of philosophy that speaks directly to life, beliefs and business, anchoring it all on the service to people and patriotism to country.
It was not unexpected, therefore, that when the news of his ‘transaction’ at the EFCC became public knowledge, many had queried how a man with an enviable finesse, exposure and education found himself in such a sleaze. But since that is already a matter for the courts to decide his culpability or innocence as the case may be, time will definitely tell.
Of interest and curiosity, however, is the optimism and courage with which Modupe has since picked up the pieces of that rubble therefrom, ready to dare that for which many insinuated was the reason he was sent to the infamous school of political baptism.
No doubt, a marketing communications expert, very little is generally known about Modupe’s activities on the political turf outside of his business and its impact on business, politics and governance in the country and beyond.
For a man, who conceptualised and marketed the ‘Heart of Africa’ project, a strategic international perception management initiative that was deployed to launder Nigeria’s image at the time, with plain emphasis on her positive attributes to the rest of the word, it was likely that his political engagements might have been dwarfed by such a titanic initiative.
But Modupe would rather that his many parts were treated exclusively and this, he has embraced with conscious disposition too. His appointment as the Director-General of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign committee in Ondo State was the one move that confirmed to many his incursion into politics. Although this was not without some natural political resentment from those who felt short-changed, his successful handling of that vast brief eventually proved that his choice was well-thought out ab initio.
Speaking stricto sensu, what more political recognition would anyone have needed other than the one that made it possible for Modupe to genuinely support many people in his state, assisting them in both elective and appointive positions at all levels of governance in the state and the centre, obviously riding on his relationship with former governor, Olusegun Mimiko. As at the last count, he was said to have single-handedly secured enviable appointments for not less than 46 people in the state.
Therefore, when his people of Ondo North senatorial district started to encourage him to represent them at the senate in 2019, it was understandable where they were coming from. He has provided a good voice for them in the politics of the party and state; he was directly connected with them and genuinely identified with their conditions as one who rose from amongst them, thus assisting in the overall development of his place.
It could, however, fall within modesty to infer that Modupe might have become, albeit not by default but conscious design, the most qualified person to run for the Senate from his place in next year’s election in Ondo North.
Modupe’s candidacy also comes with an advantage, although eerie. He is about the only one aspiring to that office with roots in two of the six local government areas making up Ondo North senatorial district. One, he is both a son and chief (Akogun) of Owo in Owo Local Government Area, being his paternal homestead. Two, he is of Ute, his maternal ancestral home in Ose Local Government Area, also of the same Ondo North senatorial district.
Good thing is that Modupe comes on stream with a liberal approach to the concept of human development as well as politics and its intrigues, which many consider the catalyst for his large followership, sustained by a network of friends across the state, a majority of whom he was believed to have played one role or the other in their lives.
Although there were those who thought that the office of the governor was more befitting for Modupe as a young, educated and energetic person with requisite exposure, that however remains a tall ambition with Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, who hails from the same place with him.
With that effectively knocked out, many still see him as a good counterforce to the ‘Akeredolu effect’ in the senatorial district. In Owo, for instance, Akeredolu is generally seen as not doing well in terms of his relationship with the people. For starters, he is said not to be in good terms with the Olowo and by implication, may not have the support of the people. As a result, he might be unable to deliver Owo.
Again, in Akoko, Senator Ajayi Borofice is considered not to be friends with Akeredolu. What this means is that he might not get the ticket in the party. While Borofice is close to a faction of the APC with strong root in Lagos, Akeredolu is believed to draw strength from Abuja. Should their disagreement escalate (which is likely), then, the seat is therefore up for grab by the opposition.
This is also not forgetting that Akeredolu’s main challenge in the governorship election, Olusegun Abraham is still in court. The situation therefore remains fluid until judgment is finally delivered. But before and after the judgment, the likelihood that Abraham’s people of Akoko may not compensate Akeredolu’s APC is equally high. It is rudimentary politics that they may not vote the APC so Akeredolu does not consolidate since it is not in their interest to do so.
When put together, these non-static equations do not look good for the APC in Ondo North and could work as a positive consequence of the current politics of the state for Modupe in the election. Whilst it is instructive to state that it is not already a done deal for Modupe, that the odds greatly favour him is equally not in doubt, providing a solid ground upon which he could confidently erect his senate ambition.
Harvard-trained, Modupe is a public relations professional and marketing entrepreneur of over two decades. Otherwise known as Toks by friends, he founded the TPT International Ltd, one of Nigeria’s leading PR agencies, about 20 years ago and had since grown in leaps and bounds.
Creative and ambitious, Modupe has made his marks in the industry hence he was able to successfully alter what was then known as the standard practice in the industry with his revolutionary drive and innovations that sent jitters down the spines of others. With a clientele that plays top league in the private sector and the political circle, Modupe was at a time the Secretary General of Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria (PRCAN). He is an alumnus of some of the great institutions of the world, including Harvard Business School, Lagos Business School and Strathmore Business School in Kenya. He also holds a Master’s degree in Leadership, Innovation and Change from York St. John University, United Kingdom. As he picks his interest and intention form this week, there is no doubting the fact that this political decision would come at a very high cost to him in many respects; it may also be correct to infer that the election might as well be his to lose.