Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde was Mrs Biodun Adegboye’s student at Bishop Phillips Academy. In a chat with this writer, the teacher, now a Pastor spoke on Governor Makinde’s leadership capabilities . She also believes the Governor has ideas that can help transform the state.
You taught the Governor at a point in time, what sort of student would you say he was?
He was not quiet, a bit troublesome, but you know what? He matches that with brilliance. He was a brilliant student, he was actually the head boy in his set and I think you would have observed that leadership skill that was already inherent in him, he carried that through his career, through what he is doing. It shows that he is self-motivated, purposeful. That was why I was not surprised when I read in the papers years ago, even before he started wanting to become the governor; he was doing a lot of things for the masses. I kept reading a lot of things he did.
Was he in touch with you?
No, but the times he contested and lost, I used to talk to some of his classmates and of course teachers, some of us still get to see each other. So it was always ‘oh, this boy, he wants to be Governor; that will be good’. And I believe he will do well because he was already doing great things even before he became governor.
Back in school then, what subject did you teach him?
It would have been Chemistry mainly, but I taught some Maths as well.
If you can cast your mind back, when you heard that he became Governor, what went through your mind?
I was already praying and talking to people that this is the candidate for Oyo State, not just because I taught him but I felt this guy that has done a lot of philanthropic efforts already, that is doing a lot for the masses, I believe we need such people. Even before he ever became governor, he was already doing things.
You know many people just come in and some of them don’t even have ideas of what to do but he already had ideas and he is already implementing ideas on that scale, how much more? These are the kind of people we need as leaders. So I was thankful to God to start with, that God has answered our prayers because I was praying for him.
There was a time we were having a debate in church about leaders and I was one of those who were very vocal. My husband was making fun of me. I said ‘we need new blood, we need new people and if you don’t mind me being specific, Seyi Makinde. Let’s do away with the old people who don’t have ideas, who are living on borrowed ideas’. So I was thankful to God that he is the answer to the prayers. Also for Oyo State, we have been praying that God will give us good and righteous leaders who have the heart of the masses. Not just people that want to come, they have spent a lot of money during the elections and they need to get that money back; so I am thankful to God.
If called upon to advise him, what advice would you offer, considering the fact that you are a teacher?
I think more importantly, I would want him to have a servant spirit. Despite all previous achievements and future achievements he is going to have because it is possible you get there, people start hailing you and then you lose your head or it gets into your head. One thing people have to realize is that God hates a proud look; the Bible tells us that. Not only that, the Bible says God opposes the proud. And if God opposes the proud, it means whatever they do, even if it is an achievement, can look insignificant simply because you are proud.
I am not saying don’t say what you’ve done; our leaders have something, they keep putting signboards on the expressway, you see signboards telling you he has done this road, and they haven’t completed it; even at the federal level. They will say he did this, he did that, excuse me, it is your job. That is your job, to do it. Did you use government money or did you use your personal money?
If you used your personal money to do that project, fine, you can put it on a signboard that you used your personal money to do this task, to provide services, education, provide hospitals and all that but if it is government money, please don’t sing about it. It is what we elected you to do.
That is the first thing I will say, have a servant spirit and don’t allow sycophants around you that will give you negative feedback; that will say you are okay when things are not okay. I believe that he needs a feedback system. There are people on the ground to feed him back what exactly is happening, what are the effects of his policies. You know it is possible to have people around you that will say you are the next best thing that has happened, there has been nobody like you before. Okay, fine, there has been nobody like you before, what about areas where there are still issues?
Let him have sound people around him. I pray that God will help him and we will continue to pray for him, he will do well by the grace of God.
You taught in a public school but these days, lots of parents won’t even consider sending their children to public schools. Where did we lose it?
We cannot retrieve that anymore. I remember I went to a Muslim school, Ansar-ud-Deen Secondary School, Lagos, primary and secondary, if there was a Muslim university, I would probably have attended. My grandfather was the Secretary of Ansar-ud-Deen in the 1960s and 70s. I think the major mistake the government made was taking the schools from the owners. So we cannot retract that.
When it was in the hands of the owners, like Chief Adeniran who owned Bishop Phillips Academy at the time I was teaching there, some of the chemicals we used in the 80s in the Chemistry Lab, the government could not afford them. They were chemicals that he had bought way back.
So, that was a major mistake and because it was difficult for government to replicate that in all schools, there is only so much funds available. I want to believe that he is coming from the private sector so I am sure he already has ideas; but I believe he can tap into the private sector; not through tax, indirectly and get the private sector involved in public school education to make sure that infrastructure, services, training of staff, ongoing, momentary are implemented.
One of the things I would expect, you know I taught abroad for a few years after I finished from Bishop Phillips; when I say a few years, I mean about 20 years, one of the things they do, they ensure that there is termly staff training. I am talking about public sector, I taught in public sector there, not private. There is termly staff training; there is internal and external inspection, without notice. That means inspectors can walk in and they are not expecting amala, and they are not expecting the school to provide any food for them as it happens here.
They step in, the whole point of that is not just to catch problems, but also to correct. If you are going to correct, you have to first of all know what the problem is. You cannot know what the problem is if you have already told them you are coming because they will dress things up. But if you have termly inspections without people knowing when anyone is coming in, and also providing things like ICT, I read recently on JAMB that a sizeable proportion of students from public schools did not know how to use the mouse. Even though JAMB had provided ABC, just press your key, they couldn’t do that.
I know the government might not be able to afford everything but they can tap into the private sector to do that.