Nurudeen Temilolu Ashamu is the pioneer commissioner for energy in Oyo State. In this interview with OYO INSIGHT Publisher, Sikiru Akinola, he speaks about his vision for the ministry and policies will be proposed to achieve sustainable energy sources. Excerpts:
Did your appointment come to you as a surprise?
I’m not sure ‘surprise’ is the right description of my feeling on hearing the announcement of my name as a nominee. A better adjective would be ‘privileged’ because it is a privilege to be selected among the circa eight million citizens in our state.
What are you bringing to the table as a commissioner?
First and foremost I believe I offer a youthful mindset in today’s ever changing society, particularly where technology is positively disrupting age-long norms. Personally, I have experienced many of the good things countries we often aspire to be like have to offer and I believe with that experience, amongst others, we can drive Oyo state forward. Our state’s future will be built with the wisdom of the elderly and the strength of the youth; and, I believe Governor Makinde is in the position to strike the right balance in this regard.
What do you think is the major problem confronting Oyo and how can it be tackled?
The cardinal objectives of any serious administration must undoubtedly be security and the protection of lives and property; quality education; accessible healthcare and ultimately to create an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive, in the interest of the people, thereby creating jobs and the needed social amenities. All of these issues are very closely intertwined. That means that there must be clear direction and certainty of government’s policies.
It goes without saying that state finances need to be well managed and an increase in IGR achieved too.
How has it been manning the ministry of energy as a pioneer commissioner?
The Energy ministry is a new ministry in Oyo state, which essentially means we are going to start from scratch. There are certain administrative processes to go through, but it’s been an interesting learning curve.
Broadly speaking, the mandate of the ministry is to develop and implement sustainable energy policies using conventional and renewable power solutions.
The world is fast moving toward renewable and sustainable energy sources because we now have an appreciation of the damage traditional carbon fuels have and are doing to the environment. Don’t forget that Nigeria is a signatory to the Paris Agreement, committing us to a decrease carbon emissions, so we are going to explore new technological innovations.
We will consider and explore different types of renewable and sustainable energy options to ensure efficiency and cost effectiveness. Options include, but are not limited to, waste, bio-fuels, solar, hydro, wind and even greener fuels such as gas etc.
Fortunately I have some experience of industry as I was actively involved in the negotiation and structuring of a renewable power facility in collaboration with one of the biggest power companies in the world.
The key will be do adopt a feasible, renewable, sustainable and green energy plan; and, the Ministry under my stewardship will work tirelessly to propose a policy to achieve that vision.
What is your assessment of the Seyi Makinde administration?
Great leaders don’t make it about themselves; they understand that to achieve significant success, it has to be bigger than just one person. Governor Makinde is a very humble and unassuming gentleman that has a clear vision for the state. Of course, only God Is perfect so we shouldn’t expect perfection from any administration, but we can all be rest assured that he has the best interest of the state at heart and will not relent in his efforts to ensure the greatest good for the greatest number. He is doing well.
Oyo, like many other Nigeria’s state, depends largely on federal allocation. What do you think can be done to improve the IGR?
The typical answer would be to widen and deepen the catchment of those who pay taxes. However, I am of the opinion that an efficient system that plugs leakages in itself will go a long way to increasing IGR.
Furthermore, around the world, big business pays the highest amount of tax, so what government needs to do is attract industries back to Oyo state. This can be done by creating an enabling environment, where there is certainty of policy, in which the private sector can thrive. Where the private sector thrives there’s income tax as more jobs are created. It’s a domino effect.
Don’t forget that in the area of personal income tax, when people are able to see what their taxes are spent on they will willingly pay their dues.
You were a member of Governor Seyi Makinde’s transition team. You are one of the youngest of the commissioner nominees? How did you warm yourself into the heart of the Governor?
Diligence and dutiful service. I ensured that I performed my assignment as a member of the transition committee to the best of my ability. It’s about doing what needs to be done, at the right time, and to the expected standard.
What came to your mind when you were announced as a nominee?
Quite simply, what came to my mind was that it is time to serve my people and ensure the greatest good for the greatest number.
Are you not going to miss court?
Well, in recent years I had migrated more to the solicitor side of practice; negotiating and structuring transactions, as opposed to going to court on a daily basis. The beauty of the profession is that there will be the opportunity to attend court sittings in the future. Don’t forget, the cabinet comprises about five other lawyers, so we are well equipped to tackle many issues.
What message would you like to pass across to the youth?
Work hard. Be prayerful. Expect and deliver the best. Learn from those with experience and make adaptations where necessary. Start by making a difference in your immediate locality and grow from there. The future belongs to us and we have to make our country be the admiration of others.