Wednesday, February 3, 2021 6:45 pm
By Adebayo Jimoh
The Yoruba culture expects most children born into royalty to exhibit some high level of native intelligence and wisdom. This indeed is very true of the latest entrant into the septugenarian club and erstwhile military administrator of Lagos and governor, Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola. In Prince Oyinlola, what you find is an exceptional royal blood who exhibits both high level of native intelligence and the wisdom of King Solomon.
To illustrate this, I will share few experiences I had working with him during my tenure as the Group Managing Director of Odua Investment Company, a conglomerate owned by the six South West states of Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Ondo and Lagos.
As the Governor of Osun, Oyin Ni o, as he is fondly called, got the Odua States Governors’ Forum to accept the principle of equal representation and fairness in the running of the affairs of the Odua Investment Company. Prince Oyinlola got his colleagues to accept this position and that led to the appointment of the first Osun indigene as the GMD/CEO of the Odua Investment Company in May 2005.
The journey to Lagos State becoming part of the Odua conglomerate also bears his imprint. The motion to get Lagos admitted into the Odua fold was actually moved by Prince Oyinlola at an Odua Governors’ meeting held in Ibadan in March 2008. He was able to put up a convincing argument spiced with appropriate Yoruba proverbs and profound counsel at the meeting which I had the privilege of attending in my capacity as the GMD. It was an intensely spirited session that threw up a compelling case for the inclusion of Lagos.
Having succeeded with his colleagues, the Prince also volunteered to lead the Odua delegation to meet with the significant decision makers in Lagos State. Our first appointment was with the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu. This was on a Sunday morning at 11:00am. Prince Oyinlola made himself available and together with Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, the then Chairman of Odua Investment Company and I, we drove to the Oba’s Palace where the meeting took place.
This was where the mustard seed that germinated into the inclusion of Lagos as a member of the Odua Investment Company Limited was planted by the Prince. Thanks to his wise counsel, that significant development might probably not have become a reality today.
As the GMD, I was expected to provide the Board and the Odua Governors the strategy and roadmap in the consolidation exercise of National Bank and Wema Bank during the Soludo’s bank consolidation exercise. Of course, it was a very challenging period that required exceptional managerial acumen to achieve that significant leap. Again, the wise counsel and leadership provided by Prince Oyinlola proved truly instrumental to the success we recorded.
I remember vividly how his networking and linkages saved Odua Group from losing out in the topsy-turvy consolidation exercise. He brought wisdom, moderation, passion and commitment to our being able to raise the required capital to get Wema Bank and National Bank consolidated as one strong bank to serve our people’s interest and become a key national player in the finance sector.
There was no door in Nigeria we needed to enter to achieve this goal that Prince Oyinlola did not help us knock to open. From the Central Bank of Nigeria to the Federal Ministry of Finance Office and lastly, to a 7am breakfast meeting with the then President of Nigeria in Aso Villa; the Prince, constantly armed with his repertoire of wise counsel and tact, was available to support the consolidation programme and to enable us meet with the deadline. Indeed, Prince Oyinlola’s patriotism to the Yoruba course remains highly commendable and inspirational.
As the Governor of Osun State, his tenure recorded a number of landmark achievements which would endure as testaments to his love and passion for his people. Standing tall among these, is the Osun State University, which continues to dominate as an emerging intellectual hub.
As he clocks 70, it his my pleasure to join his numerous friends and well-wishers to celebrate this inimitable wise Prince of peace and progress, and wish him many happy returns of the day in good health and happiness.
_Jimoh is the immediate past Group Managing Director/CEO, Odua Investment Company Limited, Cocoa House, Ibadan._