Seun Fakorede, 27 year-old Commissioner for Youth and Sports in Oyo State Speaks on how he was appointed by Governor Seyi Makinde and the challenges ahead in this interview with TOBI AWORINDE
How do you feel about the appointment?
I feel good about it, especially because it’s a call to service and all the things I’m practically going to be doing are going to be a continuation of things I have been doing for years, only on a larger platform and to a larger audience — primarily the Oyo State youths; not only the youths, but the young and the old, as long as you are an indigene of Oyo State. It’s a big responsibility but we trust that God is going to help us, and with the help of all the indigenes of Oyo State, it will make the work easy.
You are the youngest commissioner in Nigeria. With the clamour for more youths representation in governance via the ‘Not Too Young to Run’ law, the aspirations and hope of millions of youths are resting on your shoulders. Do you feel this pressure?
The pressure means that the youths are tired and they really desire something better. A lot of those people have been able to see the potential in this guy, even for those that don’t know much about me, and this potential they see they can start with. The pressure is there but it is only going to make one thrive. There is a lot to do and there is no time to play. So, there is pressure, I see it as a positive thing.
Have you ever done partisan politics before?
So, how did you come in contact with the governor?
Anytime you see anything that is valuable, I tell people that your opportunity and responsibility is to be able to serve. Like I said, I’m not a card-carrying member of any political party whatsoever. There are a number of individuals that feel that they have what it takes to take the country to the next level. So, all I will do personally is think of them in assisting them to serve, especially the youths. Those are the things that I would say to them.
It is just worthy of mention that His Excellency is someone that when he says something, he actually stands by it. It’s not like this was as a result of ‘oh maybe I met him.’ No. If you don’t have the capacity, nobody will commit things into your hands. People will says ‘Let us look at the things that he has done. Let us see if he actually has what it takes to be able to man this ministry.’ That’s what I think we are here today.
When the governor and I connected — we connected via LinkedIn — it was without the intention of this at all. All I said to myself was, just like I said, when I see people that could actually offer service to the country, I like to just volunteers. I have been into public service since as far back as 2003/2004.
How long ago did you connect with him on LinkedIn?
This was sometime in March 2018. I contacted him and told him I had been following his style of politics for quite some time and I was willing to volunteer in his campaign and that was how we started.
So, would you say that youths should first start by volunteering instead of looking for monetary gain if they actually want to achieve what you have achieved?
I feel the most important thing you can do is build value and one of the ways you can build value is by offering services. Youths can actually learn how to go through the process. All these things are not rocket science. The process it takes me may be different from the process it takes you. But stick to the process and you will definitely hit your target.
You are in your 20s and you are going to be running a ministry with a permanent secretary and directors, some of whom are old enough to be your parents. How do you plan on going about it, knowing the kind of society Nigeria is?
I feel it is not just the country. I feel that if you run a particular organisation or establishment, it is not a function of how old you are. You have seen men in their 20s and you have seen boys in their 40s. It’s not a function of age as it were. If you can coordinate, manage and administer a system, it is a function of wisdom. The wisdom of dealing with them is what is required to run that ministry. As a Nigerian, there is a place of honour and respect. At the same time, there is a place of attending to your responsibilities the way it should be. By the special grace of God, I am going to act with responsibility in the assignment that has been committed to my hands, honouring everybody while being humble.
The most important thing is that I have to be able to adhere to the governor’s agenda. What I want to be is basically the loudspeaker. And what does the loudspeaker does? It simply amplifies what the speaker is saying. The only speaker here is His Excellency. Anybody that sees me shouldn’t see a 27-year-old. They should see His Excellency because I am representing him in that ministry. I am not there on my own accord; I am just a messenger. So, you respect the message. It is just like a king’s staff; irrespective of who is holding the staff, it is the symbol of authority. When you see the staff, you see the king. I think that is the way things should be considered.
If you have people who understand this, then you will be able to work together. If you want the progress of this state, you are definitely going to leave every form of bias so we can do whatever we need to do.
The Not Too Young to Run Bill was signed into law less than two years ago and naysayers believe that the beneficiaries of the bill are the children of the elite, the likes of the Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly who is in his early 30s and yourself. How can those at the grass roots achieve some of these things with their poor backgrounds?
The reason you have people like us there, people like the speaker and a few other young people in the system who understand how things are meant to be is that the responsibility is on us to be able to make an inclusive government, as it were. Irrespective of your background, I believe that what we are bringing into the system is a level playing field. I thank God that we have a man in His Excellency who is not biased.
This is someone that is not looking for which background or orientation you are from. Can you do the work? Can we make things happen? The plan of His Excellency is to run an inclusive government, irrespective of your background; everybody has a stake as long as you are an indigene. It is not a function of if you are primarily in the PDP, the APC or whatever. He is not the governor of the PDP indigenes in Oyo State; he is the governor of Oyo State. So, where you have the PDP, you have the APC and other parties.
Some party people went about protesting last week about your nomination. They complained about your age and that you didn’t work for the party when they were struggling. How do you respond to these criticisms?
We need to understand that when there is a change, you don’t expect everything to just go smoothly. As a matter of fact, if you are bringing an alternative to the status quo, it is definitely going to be a challenge. You also need to understand that because things happen like that do not necessarily mean that they have an intention that is not pure or good. Just as I addressed the media, these people are my leaders; they are my fathers and mothers. So, there is no tension whatsoever anywhere. By the special grace of God, all these things are being settled already. It is not an issue at all. It is an internal thing.
Being the youngest commissioner in the country, a lot of women will be chasing after you. How will you be able to separate the good one from the bad ones, or do you already have a steady woman in your life?
The thing is even before the office, there is no how you would not have advances as a public servant from a lot of women. The most important thing is the content of your character and the conviction that drives you as a man. Whether you like it or not, the way you have distractions and other things in your life is the same way there will be women like that. It is now your own decision in handling these things. Are you going to handle it well or not? For me, I am not in a relationship. The most important to me now is executing the assignment that has been committed into my hands and to let His Excellency and other well-meaning Nigerians see that this opportunity is the right one. One of the things I have learnt over the years is being able to discipline myself and go for exactly what I want. There are priorities and getting a woman is not a priority.
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