Olayiwola Abimbola is an educationist and politician who was recently appointed Supervisory Councilor for Education in Ojodu Local Council Development Area. The aforementioned LCDA is in Lagos State.
In this interview with Happenings , he spoke on wide range of issues bothering on his first love, educational consultant. Also his involvement in politics.
Please tell us about yourself?
I am Abimbola Olayiwola, an educationist. I worked at Educational Advisory Council (EAC) on Broads Street in Lagos Island for about a year and a half. I also started my own company in 2002, Baltidon Consultant.
We are into educational advisory for students who want to study in the United States of America. Part of what we do is training for SAT, Scholars Aptitude Test. We also give advice on schools that give scholarships to those who are very brilliant, and for those who have finances.
What prompted your incursion into an educational advisory job for students?
I realized that going to study for my Master’s Degree in the US took me a lot of efforts. I used to have this consular, Mr. Lawani, he was one of the founders of foreign education in Nigeria. He had been there for almost about 40 years. I saw a lot of students who had to search for schools, who had to go through rigorous means trying to get scholarships, send documents to schools.
I had that feeling then there are a lot of Nigerians who want to do this and need someone to put them through. A lot of Nigerians don’t even know that studying abroad has nothing to do with so much money.
I paid for my Master’s Degree programme though, people who came for the same purpose – scholarships. And immediately I finished my programme, I had an opportunity to stay back in the US.
But I felt it was going to of service to people who intend to have a good Master’s Degree abroad. Thus I decided to come back to Nigeria and start my educational advisory job for legitimate Nigerians who want to study abroad.
What are those challenges who faced while setting up your firm?
It is the same challenge every other Nigerian will face. I started from a room apartment in Obalende area of Lagos.
What I did then was that I had to roll adverts, share handbills to people. I had to go as far as Victoria Island to do that. When people failed exams we gave them handbills. Even told them to try us that they will pass, we gave them lectures and so on. That was how I started.
Since then, people trust us and we also give them advice on the school they can go to. After a year or two, we stopped adverts, we had referrals. One would refer two, two would refer six etc, and that was how it went on.
Why go abroad to study when we have schools and competent lecturers here in Nigeria?
My background was Nigeria, and I am proud to be a Nigerian. But I tell you this, in terms of research opportunities, hands-on research we are not yet there in Nigeria.
A critical example is that of every Nigerian student who will study communications. When I was at Bayero University, Kano, we had good lecturers, because I studied English literature. All through my years, I had friends who did Communications, but I don’t think they saw what the four walls of a radio or television station looked like.
If you study in the US for example, that is not the case. In the US, there is what they call students to lecturer ratio, and this is part of the reasons you see a lot of people, even from China go to the US to study.
For every class, you see a student lecturer ratio at 19 to 1. When it comes to a Master’s class you see ratio 3 to 1- where there are three students and a lecturer is teaching them.
Why won’t you be interested in such an experience? Why won’t you excel in what you came over there to study? So, for me, I am not saying Nigeria is not blessed, we have wonderful teachers, lecturers. But some of these lecturers go out of Nigeria for a sabbatical, and they go to schools in the United States, Canada, UK and this is because their research is top-notch.
So, for me, I think going for a Master’s Degree abroad is wonderful and a great idea.
If you are not into the educational advisory job, what would you have been doing now?
Even though I will say I was born with a silver spoon, because my dad was the Managing Director of Ikoyi hotel, now Golden Gate hotel.
I will still tell you that it was rough because I was that child that believed that I could do it myself. I can tell you comfortably and confidently that I was the first person who took the then musical group, Plantation Boyz to Kano to perform.
When I was in Bayero University, I came to Lagos and took Plantation Boyz to Kano to perform live. In those days while I was in school, I was involved in entertainment.
Don’t forget that I was born to be an entertainer, I remember when I left Secondary school – Government College, Ikorodu, I was always at NTA. I had participated in more than 200 episodes of ‘Tales by Moonlight’; I featured in ‘Wings of Destiny’. I was ‘Yaro’ to Saheed Balogun in ‘Wings of Destiny’.
Thus, if I am not into the educational advisory business, I would have been an actor. However, I enjoy what I do right now. I can tell you for free that between 2003 and now, I have had more than 200 graduate students. I mean students who are performing excellently well in the US with scholarships. I am proud that I am involved in people’s life.
As a young man doing well in your chosen career, what informed your incursion into politics?
The fear I had going into politics, is the fear every young Nigerian has. The people we call our leaders now were once young back in the day. There was a particular photo I saw where Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was always at the back of late M.K.O Abiola. Believe it or not, then he was a young man and he ventured into politics fully against all odds. He used to say “Power is not sabbalacat” meaning power is not served. You fight for power. When you fight for it and do something, people will fish you out.
What are those challenges you have encountered politically?
I have had challenges in politics that made me say, I don’t want to get involved in politics again. However, politics is like marriage because my parents would tell me that even at 75, they were still learning to know each other. Politics is like learning everyday. You will take some steps in politics and be questioned. They will tell you somethings are wrong politically. Even though you made these decisions because you felt it would better people’s lives.
I have had a situation where a leader called me and told me “Bimbo you must back out”. When I dropped the phone that day, I cried. And I said to myself that this is not going to happen, I am going to follow this to a logical conclusion and I did.
What are the things that make you happy in life?
For me, it is work, work and work. But one thing I have always dreamt of when I was young, was the day I would meet K1 , Wasiu Ayinde.
I had always dreamt of the day he will sing at my praises. I love his music. I have always looked forward to a day he will call my name and it happened.