Less than twelve months to the 2018 governorship election in Ekiti State, stakeholders of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state adopted the resolute and articulate Deputy Governor, Kolapo Olusola, from Ekiti South Senatorial District, as the preferred candidate of the party.
Adoption of the deputy governor, who has also been referred to as a senior advocate of the masses, was the major decision reached at the party’s stakeholders meeting in Ado Ekiti on Wednesday.
Talk of one politician in Ekiti state, who pledged from day one to be loyal to his boss Gov. Ayo Fayose, and Dr. Kolapo Olubunmi Olushola’s name will be mentioned. He became the Deputy Governor to Dr. Peter Ayodele Fayose in 2014.
Until he ventured into politics in 2014, he was a graduate Assistant Lecturer who rose to the position of Associate Professor at the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Osun state. A few days back, City People’s ADEOLA SHITTU interviewed him in his Ado Ekiti office where he spoke on his career, his role as the Deputy governor and his political ambition.
Briefly tell us about yourself?
I’m Dr. Kolapo Olubunmi Olushola, I was born to the family of Pa. Joshua Olusola Eleka and Deaconess Eunice Ademolabi Ojo Eleka both are indigenes of Ikere-Ekiti some 49 years ago. I had my first degree in Building from Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), I hold a Master’s Degree in Construction Technology from University of Lagos and Ph.D. in Building Structures from Obafemi Awolowo University.
I started my career in 1990 as a lecturer when I was employed as a graduate assistant from where I rose through the ranks to become an Associate Professor in 2009. It was the position I held till 2014 when I came to Ekiti to contest as to Ayodele Fayose, my boss and the Executive Governor of Ekiti State.
Having spent most of your life in academics , how have you been able to cope with the challenges as a politician and Deputy Governor of Ekiti State?
Well, the two sides of this question are quite similar because if you are from the academic background as a Lecturer and a Researcher, you are expected to be diligent, hardworking and, of course, be disciplined and the same thing is applicable to anyone, who wants to become a successful politician. You are expected to be diligent and hardworking and also for one to really understand what he or she is doing. So, both engagements are quite tasking, but by the grace of God, I will say I have learnt much from my experience as a lecturer and as a researcher. So, I will say I’m bringing it to bear on my activities in politics today and as a Deputy Governor, I will say it’s a very simple assignment, simple task in the sense that it is as directed. My major assignment is to support the governor in all assignments assigned to me and by the grace of God, I have been doing that with absolute loyalty, and in all, I will say God has been good to us.
In 2014, it was gathered that your father was picked as the running mate to His Excellency, Gov. Ayodele Fayose, who later gave your name as a substitute. What was running through your mind when you father informed you of his decision?
I will like to correct that impression because my father did not even mention it to me that he wanted me to replace him. You see, my coming on the scene was just God’s doing or let me just say it was a divine arrangement. On this faithful day, I only called my Daddy when he was with Dr. Peter Ayodele Fayose and His Excellency got to know that it was one of his sons that called. So, it was right that it was at the point that the Governor got to know that I was a lecturer at Obafemi Awolowo University and he decided to speak with me. So, that was the begining of my journey into politics.
Much is not known about your political antecedent, how did you venture into politics?
As I just said, my choice as the Deputy Governor was the Lord’s doing and I will say I’m into politics today just by the grace of God and the wish of my Leader, my Mentor, Governor Peter Ayodele Fayose, who believes in my father, being a man of integrity, and equally believes that any of his children or anyone who comes from him must have inherited his integrity attribute. So on that basis, he reposed confidence in me that I would exhibit the same character as my dad. So, that was the beginning of my journey into politics. So I will categorically say that Governor Peter Ayodele Fayose brought me into politics through the grace of God.
This year marks your third year in office as the Deputy Governor of Ekiti State, has anything changed about you?
I’m still my very good self and I will say nothing has really changed about me. The Dr. Kolapo Olushola, who was known for more than 30 years at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) is still the same Dr. Kolapo Olushola now and by the grace of God, every good thing that the Lord has imparted my life, is still intact. And my experience here has been very peaceful as the Deputy Governor of Ekiti State.
How has it been working with Governor Fayose in the last 30 months?
Well, I will only mention a few things about him first, Governor Fayose is my benefactor when it comes to political experience. You see, Dr. Peter Ayodele Fayose is a man, who is grossly misunderstood by people, who are far away from him. One thing about him is that he is a very fearless and courageous man. His wife, Her Excellency Feyisetan Fayose once described him as a “man that has the face of the lion but the heart of a lamb”. You see those of us who are very close to him know that he is a very compassionate person, very generous. A person who is concerned when he sees people suffering around him. That is why he is being referred to as “Ore Mekunnu” (friend of the masses) and voice of the voiceless, who always stands for the less privileged.
He is very pro-active in all his things and nothing catches him unaware. He thinks far ahead and in terms of long-term planning, again I will say, he is someone that really cares about the welfare of the people. He actively governs and he is not a “sit tight in the office” governor. He goes out there in the field to see what is happening and I will say this is the type of training he gives to us his followers. He tells us that we have to be out there and see what is happening for ourselves. So, that is when he directs you to do something you want to make sure that you do it well and correctly.
And he is a very lovely person, but then he is highly principled and disciplined. So in a nutshell, I will say working with him is like running with a horse and he does not play or joke with any assignment he gives to you as you have to do it rightly and timely. He is man that has a high taste for aesthetics, and that is why you see most of the infrastructural projects that have be executed under his administration, have a touch of excellence compared to what we met on ground, so after our tenure, generations to come in Ekiti State would definitely see the clear difference between the taste of Governor Peter Ayodele Fayose and that of his predecessor.
What has being your impact on Ekiti South Senatorial District politics and Ekiti State in general?
You see, when you talk about my impact and contributions, I’m the Deputy Governor by the grace of God and the highest political officer holder in the Ekiti South Senatorial District. You see if you want to know whether you are making impact or not, you need to find out whether you really have followership. My major role is to support our Governor, Dr. Peter Ayodele Fayose, which I have been doing faithfully by the grace of God and in very place where we go to, we promote this government and today, I will say my people from Ekiti South Senatorial districts are with this government. And on personal level, I have rendered assistance and support to many people and organisations, which I believe is my own way of giving back to the society. I will say, you can gauge your impact by the acceptance you by the people and I thank God for providing me a large acceptance.
Sir, considering the fact you have been loyal to your boss, there is this insinuation that you will be contesting for the 2018 gubernatorial election, going by the fact that, people of the Ekiti South Senatorial district are agitating for power come 2018.
Let me start from the angle of Ekiti South Senatorial District producing the next governor. I think we have the right to agitate for it. Likewise, every other senatorial district also has the right, but if we want to be fair the Central and the North senatorial districts have produced governors respectively and since the inception of Ekiti State in 1996, none has come from the Ekiti South Senatorial District.
So, I believe if fairness is game to be played, Ekiti South should be allowed to produce the next Governor in the State. And as regards my very good person, according to Lamentation 3v37 that says, “Who is he that says and that comes to pass when the Lord has not commanded a thing”. It will surely come to pass if the Lord commands it, though it is too early to start talking about this. But the truth of the matter is that I have the right to contest. I’m from Ekiti South Senatorial District and beyond that, Ikere people on the 5th of December 2016 said, being the largest Local Government in Ekiti South Senatorial District, they are qualified and are interested in producing the next Governor in the year 2018. So, it is not a crime to show interest, but for now we are waiting unto the Lord to give us the go ahead because when he says ‘go ahead’ nothing can stop it.
As a Christian, and a pastor for that matter, what is your view about Nigerian Politics?
You see, in the Bible, we have Politics. That is the truth. Politics in a way has to do with the way you relate with and manage people to ensure that they get the best from a system. So, I believe there is politics in the Bible. We play politics at our place of work, among family members and everywhere we find ourselves and the most important thing is that, in everything we are doing, we should put God first and other things come next. By so doing, you can rest assured that He will guide you and lead you aright in all ways.
You see, God is everywhere, He is in politics, academics, education, business world and in every human existence, so when you put God first, He will always lead and guide you. For instance now, there is nothing wrong in you being loyal to your boss. An average politician, who becomes the Deputy Governor will want to put on the garment that is not made for him, so, why acting as if you are the Governor, it is very wrong. You see if you are a Christian and you understand your Bible very well, you would know that as the Deputy Governor, you are bond by the law of God to be loyal and faithful to your boss and that is how the law of God has been guiding me in politics. So, if you are disloyal to your boss, you are also disloyal to God. Remember Joseph in the Bible when he told his boss, wife that, “for me to do this and sin against God, Joseph was referring to God. So for anyone to be successful as a politician or in any profession, we should be concerned about placing God first in the scheme of things.
Until your appointment as Deputy Governor of you were the National Leader of CAC Student Association Fellowship. How has this prepared you for the leadership position you currently occupy?
Let me correct this, I was not the national leader. When you talk about the national leader, you are talking of the Number 1 person. You see the Association is the evangelical arm of Christ Apostolic Church which God established through Late Pastor Samuel Olubusuyi Arijesudade in 1970 and we have different Directorates. Pastor (Dr.) Babatope Joseph Adeyemo is the current national leader or better say President of the Evangelical Team. So, we have different directorates and I was leading the Directorate of Higher Institution, NYSC and TEENS Affairss for 10 years (2004-2014). My role was to mentor students and take them expose them to leadership issues and ensure that they are doing what is right in their various fellowships. So, I travelled from one institution to another where we have CAC Student Association fellowship in the various parts of the 36 states. So one, of the things I have learnt, which has also helped me in my current leadership position was that before, I was their teacher, teaching them integrity, faithfulness, diligence and so many other aspects of leadership traits and of course teaching them faithfulness and loyalty ways to be effective and productive leader. But today I will say I am now a student learning under Dr. Peter Ayodele Fayose and most of those things I have learnt from School of Leadership have also helped. So, some of the things that I am experiencing are not strange to me as they are already part of me and I learnt them through the training I got from the Christ Apostolic Church.
Your Excellency, how do you unwind?
I hope and pray there would be time for relaxation sha, but not withstanding, you could always create time. Well, my style of relaxations is by watching Christian films. I also watch some secular films. I love reading and traveling. Though traveling has always been part of me. I watch football matches, but I’m not a sporting type.