Senator Tolulope Odebiyi is a Nigerian politician from Iboro community in Ogun West Senatorial district of the Gateway State. He was elected to the Ogun West senatorial seat in 2019. He was former Chief of staff to Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun state.
On Sunday, November 28, Senator Odebiyi rolled out scholarship award to 50 undergraduate students. He bares his mind on why he is passionate about the educatoonal advancement of Ogun West people in particular and the State in general. Excerpts:
Q: You have gathered youths from your Ogun West Senatorial district for another round of Undergraduate Scholarship Award organised by the Tolu Odebiyi Foundation. What has been the driving force ?
A: First of all I must thank our leaders, traditional rulers, political leaders and everyone for identifying with us as we bequeath an enduring legacy to another batch of undergraduate students drawn from several tertiary institutions across Nigeria. I must say that the award is in tandem with my passion for the education sector. In the trajectory of my career, education has played a significant role, and this made me to come to the realization that no investment in education, no matter its quantum, is ever a waste. Education remains the bedrock of any society or nation, and it is a catalyst for socio-economic and political development of a nation. The words of the first President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”, suffice it to say that the success of many nations in tackling major development problems such as poverty, unemployment, among others can be traced to their educational system.
Q: Ogun West seemed to be the most impoverished when placed side by side with other Senatorial districts. To what extent do you think this scholarship award will help change the narrative ?
A: I have no doubt in my mind that this scholarship scheme will inspire the beneficiaries and the youths in general to drive the necessary change that will lead to a sustainable development in the Ogun West Senatorial District and indeed Ogun State. Permit me to say that I am an irrepressible advocate of the educational advancement of the people of Ogun State, particularly Ogun West Senatorial District. This is premised on my conviction that human capital development plays a vital role in the long-term productivity and development of any society. That is why education has continued to attract the highest priorities in my scheme of things, as the Senator representing Ogun West Senatorial District at the 9th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Q: Apart from scholarship award, have you given a thought to the posdibility of using quality legislation at the Senate to transform the educational fortune of Ogun West?
A: Presently, I have sponsored no fewer than five education related Bills at the Senate, which include: A Bill for an Act to establish the Federal Vocational and Skill Acquisition College, Ota, Ogun State. A Bill for an Act to establish the National Institute of Border Studies, Imeko, Ogun State and other related matters, A Bill for an Act to establish the Federal Vocational and Skills Acquisition College, Iboro. A Bill for an Act to establish the National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management, Aiyetoro, Ogun State, and A Bill for an Act to amend the National Youth Service Corps Act and other related matters. In the same vein, I have also embarked on several other constituency interventions projects at Egbado College, Ilaro; Alamuwa Grammar School, Ado-Odo Ota; and Community High School, Agada, Ipokia, amongst others.
All of these projects are geared towards improving the educational standard of our people. The Tolu Odebiyi UndergraduateEducational Empowerment programme, therefore, is considered as one of the numerous avenues to further advance the course of knowledge in Ogun West Senatorial District, and it was borne out of my desire to give back to the society.
Q: Since you commenced this laudable cause, what has been your impression regarding the beneficiaries ?
A: It is gratifying to note that the programme has recorded huge success since its inception in 2019. Indeed, it has metamorphosed from a mere scholarship scheme to a well-structured educational support service, providing mentorship to students, whilst also taking the financial burden off the parents. We have expanded the scope and operations of the scheme through collaborations and partnerships with some FINTECH companies, thereby making it a veritable platform, not just providing scholarships to deserving students of Ogun West Senatorial District, but also recommending them for internship and job placements.
My driving force is in the multifaceted success which the scheme has recorded since its inception. Let me add that the competitive nature of the scholarship scheme has positively affected the performance of many undergraduate students in their respective institutions of learning. A lot of them, who hitherto approached their studies with kid gloves, are now giving it the seriousness it deserves. Indeed, the payment of school fees, which could have naturally been a major constraint and distraction to these students, are being taking care of through the Tolu Odebiyi Undergraduate Scholarship Scheme. It is also worthy of note that the economic fortunes of many parents whose children are direct beneficiaries of the Tolu Odebiyi scholarship scheme, are beginning to record significant improvements. This is because the Foundation has taken away what could have been a financial burden, from these parents. Scarce resources which would have hitherto been expended on school fees of their children, are now being channeled into productive business ventures.
Q: Really ?
A: What this implies is that, as the Tolu Odebiyi Foundation is building a better tomorrow for the students and the generality of the youths of Ogun West Senatorial District, so also, it is providing an enabling environment for the economic emancipation of a larger spectrum of the people of the area. At this juncture, let me reiterate that the Tolu Odebiyi Undergraduate Scholarship Award scheme is non-political in nature; it is a scheme instituted to support all Undergraduates students of the Senatorial District, irrespective of class, religion, or political considerations. The scheme is meant for students of the senatorial district who attain a minimum class of grade of 2.1 GPA in their academic programmes.
Q: What message do you have for the beneficiaries ?
A: Let me congratulate the fifty (50) beneficiaries of this year award ceremony for standing out among their contemporaries. I must commend them for making Ogun West Senatorial District and indeed Ogun State proud through their educational pursuits. Indeed, their emergence, having gone through the painstaking screening and selection process, supervised by educationists of proven records and integrity, is an indication that our Senatorial District is blessed with highly industrious and exceptionally brilliant students. I commend them for sustaining the tempo of their academic programmes, and also for breaking new grounds. I therefore enjoin them not to rest on their oars, but rather, be more committed to respective educational pursuits, in order to guaranty continued inclusion in the scholarship scheme. They have truly distinguished themselves as the best brains and scholars of our time.
I urge all of them to see themselves as the Pride of Ogun West Senatorial District and Ogun State in general. As they journey ahead in life, I encourage them to be unwavering in their quests to attain full potentials in their educational programmes. The onus is on them to remain a worthy ambassadors of the district by constantly championing courses that will further engender the desired growth to our area. They all must see themselves as critical stakeholders in the Ogun West Project, so that we can collectively take the district to the highest pedestal. To achieve these set goals,however, requires that all of you, our beneficiaries, take some pragmatic steps that will enhance your knowledge base, particularly in the area of Information Technology. I must say that the time is ripe for all of you, and indeed, the teeming youths of the area, to embrace the emerging technological skills and the vast opportunities of digital economy, for the transformation of our area. For us at the Tolu Odebiyi Foundation, we are not oblivious of these inherent opportunities. That is why, we have made it a point of duty to always support our beneficiaries with tools and the enablement for them to be technologically inclined. You would recall that during the previous editions of the scheme, each beneficiary went home with a brand new higher grade HP Laptop to enhance their knowledge of Information Technology. We are set to replicate the same gesture during this year’s edition. Another set of 50 brand new Laptops were distributed to our beneficiaries on Sunday. The message we are passing across at the Tolu Odebiyi Foundation is to encourage our beneficiaries to be technologically savvy, so that they can leverage on the numerous legitimate opportunities associated with information technology, to improve the society.
It is commendable that you’re making ICT a component part of your scholarship award not minding the cost implications.
There is no gainsaying the fact that Technology is the future. Even, experts in the field have predicted that in the next few years, technology might take over most jobs in Nigeria and across the world. That is why, it is expedient on all of you, our beneficiaries, to wake up to this challenge. You cannot afford to lag behind, the time is now; you must be ready to embrace Information Technology. Let me once again, thank our guest speaker and other invited guests for finding time out of your busy schedules to attend this epoch-making event. They are all highly appreciated. Let me also use this news platform to thank my beloved wife, Mrs. Folashade Odebiyi, and the entire members of the Tolu Odebiyi Foundation for their painstaking efforts at ensuring the success of this programme. I commend them for a job well done.