Mr. Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu
Other Cabinet members of the Ondo State Government here present
His Royal Majesty, Olowo of Owo, Oba Ajibade Ogunoye
Other royal fathers here present
Top government and political functionaries
Members of the Academia
Gentlemen of the Media
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
It is with a grateful heart, filled with joy and nostalgia that I stand before you on this special day in my life, to give this address. Counting up six decades to make me a Sexagenarian is, no doubt, an exciting privilege; and I return the glory to the Almighty God.
As I celebrate my 60th birthday, I particularly thank the Almighty Who has seen me through the thins and thicks of life and Who has charted this course for me, for which I look back with no soul-dampening regrets.
Also, I take this occasion to celebrate the astounding roles played by my late parents, who toiled hard to ensure proper tutelage for me and my siblings. No eulogies can be sufficient to explain the contributions of my late Dad, Prince Williams Fasua, and Mum, Mrs…..Fasua, to the growth of Boy Peter Oyeleye.
In the journey of life, there has been a concatenation of events that affirms my belief in the unseen hands of God in the affairs of men (and also of women). As a young man from Akure, the present-day Ondo State’s capital, after leaving high school, I never thought of clutching a file containing my curriculum vitae, in search of a white-collar job.
Instead, I gave vent to self-reliance, as I was determined to do any job for as long as it is legitimate. My age-grade friends here seated today can attest to the fact that I was at a time the king of the lens in Akure and its environs. As a photographer, your occasion was not complete without Oye, the Photographer.
I organised my time so well that I could be a photographer today, event organser the next moment, and at another time, a private school coach. Yet, it may surprise you to know that I also took after my father who was a big-time farmer in Akure. After helping my father in his farms, I would also tend my private farmland as “an independent farmer”.
With time however, the opportunity came my way to travel abroad. I journeyed down to the United States of America (USA) where I advanced my education. There, I became a private investigator and a security expert in New York City.
Back home, I was armed with my experience in diversification of experience as I invested in security services, education, and agriculture.
It is today benumbing that Nigeria is grappling with domestic security challenges of great proportion, such as kidnappings, herders/Farmer’ clash, banditry, insurgencies and robberies. While I appeal to our government at all levels, especially at the federal level, to double up, individuals as well should collaborate. Fitting homes and offices with security gadgets, and being generally security conscious can be very helpful.
As for education, the time has come for the country’s Education Trust Fund agency to invest more in technical education, as this is the best way to drive our industrialisation quest, and also take our teeming youths out of the labour market.
At the All States College of Education, Edo, Akure, which I founded, apart from theories, practically application is watchword.
Same goes to agriculture. By now, each State in Nigeria should be boasting of at least three Farm Settlements located each, in its three senatorial districts.
All these, I must confess, formed my passion to go into politics. I believed that as an individual, getting this achieved for my people in my lifetime can only come to fruition if I join the political train.
And to the glory of God, I am today in politics. However, our politicians should learn to sink personal ambition where necessary, for the common good. In 2016, I was the governorship candidate of a political party. In last year’s governorship election too, I was the candidate of another party; this time, a stronger party.
But in coming out to contest the second time, I saw well through our political smokescreens in Ondo State. I knew that Mr. Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), had performed well in creating big industries, bringing the traditional rural-urban gap through massive roads construction and many more.
But some political hawks, who are out to use politics to do business, were ganging up to edge him out. So I had to come in to frustrate their game. To the glory of God, they all failed in their tracks.
Now, there is still a remnant of such opposition, which sees an avenue in litigation as continuation of their type of political business. It is simple arithmetic: if you are contesting a resounding victory in court, some tomfooleries who are moneybags will be contributing money for you to pursue your dream while you as the Smart Alec, will in turn promise them juicy political appointments, and fat contracts!
But I will only advise that our politicians should desist from such practices. We should see politics as a privilege to serve the people and not a tool for merchantilism. Governor Akeredoku, no doubt, has taken Ondo State out of its haitus and has set it on the path of progress. Let us come together and support him. Aggrieved contestants should act as sportsmen, and just like the Governor himself once said, the Ondo Project is a team work.
Once again, I thank you all for honourung my invitation to be here, to celebrate with the Birthday Boy. I wish you all success in all your endeavours.
Thank you and God bless.