Femi Adebayo Oluwafowokanmi is the People’s Democratic Party’s House of Assembly candidate for the Ibadan South West Constituency II seat in the coming Oyo State House of Assembly election. Oluwafowokanmi, a famous baker, runs the Better Life Bakery popular in the Ring Road axis of Ibadan. WOLE ADEJUMO encountered him recently and asked him a few questions concerning his aspiration. Femi Oluwafowokanmi, who once served in the army was quick to point out that the ‘Sai Baba bandwagon effect’ that helped many current office holders to win the 2015 elections will not work this time.
Why are you starting your political career with a plan to go to the House of Assembly? Why not Local Government Chairman or councillor?
I observed something about this nation; the major fault that we need to rectify first is our constitution. That is where all the problems we have in this nation come from. The constitution gives room for corruption, it takes too much care of the leaders, leaving the masses alone. We have to work from that, we have to amend the constitution.
Even if you want to go to the national level, you have to start somewhere. When your impact is felt from the state level, easily you will move to the national level. We have people who will get there and fight for ways to amend the constitution in such a way that it will enable the government to take care of the masses. That is what prompted me to start my political career from the state House of Assembly and I believe God will help me.
Qualitative education is one of your cardinal programmes. Why did you choose education?
For us to have a new nation, we need to work more on education. That is where every structure comes from. To effectively make a change, we must ensure everybody is literate, at least almost everybody. In the Western world now, things are easier, it will even help our electoral system because if you understand that why you are voting is to choose the people that will lead the country you live in, you will know who to vote for. People will understand better the kind of system we run.
That will also enable the children of the less privileged who are everywhere doing social vices to be educated. They have been left uncared for by the government because most of their parents cannot afford private schools and when the children go to public schools they go and join the touts and hoodlums who smoke about. In no time, they will be lured into all these vices that are causing unrest in the nation.
If elected as a lawmaker, how do you plan to make this work because basically your job will be to make laws?
There is something called lobbying and lawmaking is about lobbying too. When you have 32 members in the House and you want the Governor to sign a certain law, you will lobby. You will lobby your colleagues to enable a certain bill you are sponsoring to be assented to by the Governor and when majority take it up, it will become a law. The Governor will not have a choice but to sign it.
When you look at our public primary schools in Oyo State, structurally they are nothing to write home about. And the quality has fallen, go and check it. You need to think of how to restructure them and improve the quality. I have a unique idea of how to do it. I am keeping it for now.
By God’s grace when I am in the House, I will bring it up.
The Sai Baba tsunami eroded the political space last year. What chances do you think you stand?
It is obvious now that the issue of Sai Baba tsunami is no longer anywhere. It is not about being a party man, it is now about voting for the man you know. Some of those who voted in the last election are even saying they don’t want to vote this time. The fact is that we should be giving our leaders a chance, every four years. If in four years you cannot perform the miracle we need, don’t waste our national time by going for another four years. Let somebody else come in and we will keep trying till we see the man who will lead us to the Promised Land.
Sai Baba issue cannot affect me because even the APC is struggling so that they will not be sent away. And they will be sent away by God’s grace. Atiku Abubakar is coming to power.
You are contesting against an incumbent lawmaker who has been there for eight years, he is contesting again. What makes you think you will win?
As you can see a lawmaker has served Ibadan South West Constituency II for eight years and the constituency is still like it is. Most of them are not prepared to be there, most of them go there to become wealthy. They don’t have a primary mission to affect lives. If a lawmaker is there for eight years and the average poor man does not know him, and they keep asking who he is, forget about who is serving there. I am taking over by God’s grace. I am already anointed for that by God’s grace.
I wonder how I would serve for four years and I would not be called in by my party for a higher post. With the service I will offer in four years by God’s grace, the name will spread across the whole constituency to the whole of Oyo State.
There is this belief that people change when they get to office. Your friends change, you become a bigger person, you are richer and pride sets in when you become a public office holder. How different will you be?
When God wants to use a man, he takes him through long experience to prepare him. Go and check the scriptures. He doesn’t pick a man overnight and use. When Joseph dreamed that his brothers would bow before him, he thought it was overnight. He didn’t even know it would take him almost 12 years. From 12 years to 30 years. He dreamt when he was about 12 years old and he became Prime Minister when he was about 30. For 18 years, he had to pass through God’s factory. You have to put away all the pride in you. God does not pick a leader overnight; he takes him through a process.
I am still going through a process. The bakery I am into now, Better Life Bakery, people know its origin. I started from nothing and thank God today it has grown into a bakery that has over 200 staff, with branches in some other places beyond the South West. With what I have gone through, God is training me to be a good leader and to be humble. Humility matters if you are to be a leader. Once you are a leader, you become a servant. With the very humble beginning that I had and where God has taken me to, He is calling me for a service and by God’s grace, my political enemies will become my friends.
You were with Accord Party in 2013, most members of Accord are now with ADC, why did you leave Accord and why are you not with your people?
You have to be led by God in most cases. God led me to Accord Party; initially, I was in Labour Party, so God said I should go and join Accord and I did. After I spent so much to take care of the people, to launch myself, I was not given the ticket. It was given to another person but all through the election period, I was with them. When they moved to PDP, I moved along. When they were leaving, I asked God, who knows tomorrow that where will I move to so as to be in the limelight and He said I should wait in PDP. See how it happened. They gave me the ticket in PDP, you know when God is leading you, His leading is higher than that of man. But it is not like you will just be following without playing your own part. You need to hear from God when you are following Him. That will make it easier.
He said I should remain in PDP and I got the ticket, I hope you saw the crisis in ADC; I would have been involved in that crisis too. Do you know that there are enemies fighting the party from within and that is the most dangerous thing in politics? That means God who said I should remain in PDP knows tomorrow.
Your journey has been an interesting one; you were in the army, you worked in a bakery and now you work in a bakery. What has all these taught you?
It clearly shows that God will take me through the process to make me a leader, but leadership is not overnight. Sometimes they say leaders are born but I believe leaders are made. The training and knowledge you have acquired will make you a leader. All that while, I didn’t know I would get into politics. By the time I was 19, I was already in the Nigerian Army in Zaria, serving as a soldier. I joined the army as a recruit soldier and when I couldn’t go to the Nigerian Defence Academy, I left and I had to go to the university. I had to look for what to do to help myself to pay my school fees through the university.
I left secondary school at 17, entered university at the age of 22 because I had to fend for myself; no parent, nobody to fend for me. People ask me if I am making money from politics and what I usually tell them is that when God gives you a vision, He will push you to its fulfillment.
So my journey of life is teaching me to be a leader because the policy of this country is not stable.