"I will soon Become An Evangelist"- Hon Olayato Aribo - Celebrates Six Decades with Thanksgiving Hon Olayato Aribo is an Imoru indigene from Ose Loc
“I will soon Become An Evangelist”- Hon Olayato Aribo
– Celebrates Six Decades with Thanksgiving
Hon Olayato Aribo is an Imoru indigene from Ose Local Government. He is an entrepreneur, community developer, and the CEO of Michmakin Nig. Ltd — the brain behind Oyato Bread and franchise owner of Chicken Republic spread across Ondo and Ekiti States. He is also the Honourable Commissioner for Forestry and Agriculture in Ondo State.
He recently attained the Diamond Age where he attributed all his success to God Almighty and the unflinching support of his Darling Wife, Mrs. Moji Olayato Aribo.
In this Special Interview with the Chronicle Magazine Crew, the founder of Oyato Bread revealed that his next line of action is to become an Evangelist after his political journey.
What exactly led you into politics sir?
Well, I had the intention to go into politics when I was in School because I was the Financial Secretary of our Students Union then. I also strongly believe that people should get involved in who governs them.
I told myself that I wanted to work in a Bank and would go into private business. From there, I would go into politics and also become an Evangelist. All these have almost come to pass. I’m now in the 3rd phase. I joined active politics in 2012. This is to allow me touch lives positively.
You contested to represent Owo/Ose Federal Constituency in the National Assembly twice and people thought you would come out again this year but didn’t. What actually happened along the line sir?
Well, you said I contested twice but I can say I contested once because election didn’t hold the second time. Even at that, I wanted to run, but a lot of people – my families, friends and political associates – came to me and advised me not to run. They said I couldn’t be in the ring all the time.
You are now a cabinet member in Ondo State and you used to hold a particular philosophy about the Government before now. Has your philosophy changed?
I won’t say it has changed. When you are outside, it is a different ball game. But now that I’m inside, I’m more informed and if I want to criticize now, my criticism will be more constructive and inclusive. If you are outside, you will not know what is going on inside and that’s why we must show interest in governance. Being inside will show you the enormous problems leaders face trying to make the state or country work for everyone.
Does it mean that the impression people have about government is misconception?
There are too many due process in Government. As a businessman, I can sit down, take my action and give my approval if there is a project and it will commence immediately. But, it is not so in government. There are layers of approval, so many protocols, so many desks they call due process. And then when you are relating with a civil servant, if they don’t want to do something, they have hundred ways of avoiding it but that’s not how it works in the private sector.
You’ve been a Commissioner for about six months. What would you say your achievements were since you came on board?
I’m the commissioner for Agriculture and Forestry. In Forestry, we created a forest management committee which was inaugurated by Mr. Governor. Luckily, I’m the Chairman of that Committee. Our mandate is to ascertain the true positions of our forest reserve. From the few analysis we have done, we have people building houses, schools and churches in the forest reserve. These people are not even indigenes of Ondo State. Most of them are foreigners, and they have taken over our inheritance. Some of them even planted cocoa and other cash crops on the land.
We have almost 100 illegal settlements in the forest reserve. We are trying to mark the place using GPS and ascertain the actual position before allocating the forest among the competing sectors. We just classified one hundred thousand hectres, out of the three hundred thousand hectres of land that we have. So, what we need to do now is to look into where they have greatly encroached, the areas to keep as forest reserve.
In the Agric sector, in April, we distributed some Agric inputs and other incentives to farmers. It was distributed by the Governor. We distributed Millions to people. We also had a programme sponsored by the World Bank in collaboration with the State, which we also paid our counterpart fund.
Last time, we trained about 250 people and we are currently training 500 people. At the end of the training, we will give them some money to start their own business. We notice that people go into Agriculture without knowing what to do. So, some of them failed half way, and they are discouraged. Our intention now is that, if you want to go into poultry, fishery or cassava farming, we will train you, and assign you under those that have done it, and doing well in their business. You will be trained for like 3 months, and also give you money to start your own farm. So, if you do well, we will also attach people to you. Our intention is to train about 4,000 farmers in the next 3 or 4 years.
We are also trying to create routes in the farms. Before the end of the year, we will have done more than 10 kilometers of rural roads so that the products from the farm can easily reach the market. We started it through our FADAMA program and we are also training farmers and giving them inputs.
As a successful business man, part of the reasons why Mr Governor appointed you as a Commissioner for Agriculture and forestry is to rejig the revenue generation of the state.
Six months down the line, how would you describe the IGR of the State from where and how you met it and now?
Well, the only area that we generate much IGR is the forestry. Till today, we have done slightly better than we did this same time last year. We must bear in mind that things like this take time.
So, we still need to block the loop holes before it can increase tremendously. That is one.
Secondly, you must also bear it in mind, that in terms of forestry, the place has been greatly encroached for a very long time. We have been cutting and not planting. I think what we really need to do is to plant more this time, and if you are planting we may not really reap it now because we are going to plant for the future. It may not necessarily increase the IGR now but we need to do it to sustain what we have in terms of IGR and also ensure that we plant for the future.
So, in a nutshell, the IGR has increased a little bit under your watch?
Yes a little bit.
Let’s talk about your private business.
Chicken Republic is all over the places; what is the secret behind it?
What we have done is to remain consistent. We didn’t lose focus, and the population is also helping our business because more people are in the city and not in the village. So, they always come out in the afternoon and eat. And also, the cost of our food is not too high.
Over time, we have seen that Oyato Bread has maintained its standard compared to other brands that come out and subside within a short time. How did you maintain the standard?
For Oyato bread, when we came in into the business , those top breadsellers told us that in most cases bread businesses don’t last for 3years but I told them that this one is different (Oyato), and today we have been here for more than 12 years now.
What we did is that we maintained that quality, even when things are costly, we don’t reduce the quality. And since then, we have been sustaining and retaining our customers. We started with 1 bakery but today, we have about 6 bakeries. We have one in Akure, 2 in Ekiti, 1 in Okitipupa, 1 in Ondo and 1 in Ikare, then, the 7th one is in Owo which would have started production if not for the issue of high price and scarcity of diesel.
The essence of these Bakeries is to move it closer to people instead of baking in Akure and be distributing it, where most people are not getting it. We also sustain it with our weekly radio program.
People say that Mickmakin Nigeria Limited is one of the greatest employer of labour in Ondo and Ekiti States. Can you give us the number of staff that you have?
We have over 600 staffs for both Bakery and Chicken Republic and we are still counting because today we have about 14 stores of Chicken Republic in Ondo and Ekiti States.
Apart from the issue of Power, what other business challenges do you face?
High cost of diesel and indiscriminate hike in prices. It is difficult for us to change the prices of our products according to the dictate of the prices in town because we can’t change the price immediately for the consumers. We can’t wake up in a day and change the price. This is a big problem we are just coping with.
Staff infidelity is another issue. Stealing, pilfering and dishonesty, which we call human resources problem, have become the order of the day. It is a big problem that we are battling with, even more than the issue of power. The worst is that the security personnel are the one stealing and that is the main reason why some businesses don’t rise in this country.
In the next 10years, where do you hope to be?
Well…..in the next 10 years, what we intend to do is to ensure that we are in all the major towns, in the country. We also intend to go into properties, probably building Housing Estates for the people.
Your aspiration is to retire to become an Evangelist. Now, considering the security challenge in the country, how do you intend to cope with that?
Well, I’m sure this security challenge will not continue. For example, what happened in Owo, we never dreamt or imagined it. Though, we have been hearing it on TV and Radio, but none of us ever thought that it will happen here. However, what we need to do now is to take proactive measure to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. We have to be more careful.
I don’t really know what the Federal government can do now because they are rounding off but the next government should take security issues serious and I’m sure the next one will get it right.
We are approaching another election period in Nigeria. What are your advice to the Electorate and the Politicians?
To the electorate, I will suggest that they should vote wisely. They should look at people that will take care of their welfare and vote wisely for them. For example, here in Ondo State, we know this government has tried seriously in the area of security, compared to other states. But, there is usually a collaboration between the Federal, the State and the Local Government. So, it is very important we sustain the central Party to our good.
For the Politicians, the only reason why you are in politics is to help your people, it is also to alleviate the suffering of your people. If you are not doing that, you are just doing business and you don’t need to be in politics to do business to make money. Go there to work for your people. They should not see it as a means to enrich themselves but to stand a gap for their people and work for them and ensure that their own people benefit from the national cake.
You are celebrating your Diamond Jubilee. How has been the journey so far?
I feel good and I give glory to God for his grace and protection over my life, and for his provision. It’s not easy to be 60 years, I remember when we were young, when we saw people at 40 years, we will say this person is old, but today if you tell me you are 40 years old, I will say you are still young.
60 years is not old age. So, I’m just starting the youth of age. I give glory to God when I look back because God has been very kind to me and in the last 3 decades, God has been faithful. I joined the Bank at 35 years as AGM, I left the bank around 40 years and started this business, and God has been able to grow the business to a certain level. Now, I’m in politics, and I pray that this will not be the last year that I will see by God’s grace.
When I’m 70 years, I will leave active politics, probably retire home because at old age your achievement will not matter, and the only place you can make effective achievement is your home town, not here and if I stay here, I will be lonely because even now my children are not here, and I don’t pray that they should send their children to me. Even some of my friends would have also retired to their various home town and some will be with their children. So, the best way is to retire to your village, and help with the community development, and also work for humanity.
In the journey of your life, 60 years down the line, who are the people that have helped you to get to where you are today?
Like I said, I give God the glory because it is by his Grace. The first person that God used was my Grandmother. I lost my mother at a very early age and I lived with my grandmother, Madam Omokeyo. She thought me village wisdom which is key to success in life. Also my uncle, Chief Dr. Solomon Olayori Aribo. He was the one that took me from my village to Lagos and trained me. The foundation that I had in the village, the native intelligent actually built me up. He was the one that sponsored my wedding. Those were the two major people in my life.
In my career, it will be Mr. Bankole Akingbola former MD of Intercontinental Bank. When I was in First Bank, I wanted to move to first Marchant Bank, though he didn’t give me what I applied for, but he was the one that advised me that I could move faster through Marchant Banking than Commercial Bank. Then he advised me to take up the job, and that after 6 months he will confirm me and promote me which he did even though he was not the owner of the bank as at then. But he did it. He also advised me to enroll for ICAN instead of Chartered Institute of Secretary (CIS), and that after I finished my ICAN he will employ me which he did. So, I had a rapid promotion with that, and he was monitoring my progress until I became GM before I left the Bank. So, he was my mentor.
Those are the three people God actually used for me.
People say behind every successful man, there is a woman. How would you describe the kind of support your wife has been giving you so far?
What I married is my mother. She is the real Oyato. I’m just bearing the name; she is the one doing the job. Sometimes, I don’t have patience for details; the real management of the company rest on her shoulder. She is cool, calm and has listening ears for details. Completely, she has been very supportive, and my prayer for her is that she will eat the fruit of her labour. My advice to every woman is to do well because what they do is what their children will reap.
On the final note sir, how would you advise those of us that are still coming behind and looking forward to attaining Diamond Age someday?
All you need to do is to leave all things to God and work hard. Whatever you get, take it, it is what God has given you. Don’t force anything. What will come will surely come.