Otunba Jide Bello is a quintessential philanthropist with a passion for the less privileged who he sees as his constituents that must be taken care of. He is unassuming and a man of the people who loves his community.
In his interview with Bayo Awogbemi to mark his birthday, Otunba Jide Bello popularly known as OJB, speaks on his political experience, the Nigeria situation and his expectations among other issues. Excerpts:Let us have an insight into your family background in Igbemo Ekiti. i.e. father, mother, your place among your siblings?
I am from Igbemo Ekiti, my father is Alhaji Babatunde Bello Abdulraman from a reputable family of a Muslim background.
My father is also the Mogaji Adinni of Central Mosque, Igbemo Ekiti. My mother’s name is Chief Mrs. Seliat Bello. I am the first son of family of six.
Politics : Politics –what was your experience as deputy speaker of Irepodun/Ifelodun LG?
I enjoyed the little time that I served my people as the deputy speaker of Irepodun/Ifelodun Local Government.
The people in the Local Government Area really appreciated the little efforts I made during my tenure as the honourable councilor of Igbemo Ward.
I facilitated many projects not only in Igbemo but across the Local Government Area, like Igede, Iyin, Iropora, Eyio,, Iworoko, Are, Afao, and Igbemo.
Looking back, which event happened during your foray into politics that you will never forget?
The event that happened during my tenure that I will never forget is when we lost two of my colleagues in the council; we were so close.
One died through accident while the other was lost through sickness. It really touched me.
Work experience: I am a member of American Society of Ground Water Engineers and former Project Engineer of Sidiq Angineering Services Nigeria Limited
There is a bit of similarity in my work here and in America, though in abroad, you make a lot of money, even salary does not delay but there is no way you will not miss your people. The weather and food in America are different from those in Nigeria, same with the culture and many other things. Back home, we have a good weather as there is neither winter nor summer whereas there are times you will not be able to walk for five minutes outside because of intense cold weather. I am in Boston, Massachusetts.
How do you feel in celebrating your birthday and how are you marking it?
I feel very great and happy. I am a modest person and I don’t like lavish celebration, I like to celebrate with the people by reaching out to them.
By tomorrow, they will start distributing exercise books in all the primary schools in Igbemo Ekiti on my behalf and I am reaching out to all the charity homes to mark my birthday.
That is my own way of life from the onset. My brothers back home will be reaching out to the less privileged with token amount and food.
I also thank God for making me to survive all the vicissitudes of life in recent years. I lost some of my friends here in America due to Covid 19 but I am still waxing stronger.
What do you wish should have happened differently?
That was when I lost one of my beloved brother, a very loyal, brilliant, articulate and vibrant man. I lost him few years ago; his name is Muritala and he was my younger brother who was living with me in Lagos then.
He had just graduated with an excellent result and I still feel the pains of his loss.
As a one- time active politician, what do you desire to see in Nigeria in view of the fact that the people are going through hard times while politicians are bleeding the country dry?
I want to see a good Nigeria where everybody can enjoy the good things of life, parents/guardians can pay children’s school fees, where everybody can eat three square meals, good transportation, 24 hour- electricity supply, where ASUU will not go on strike for months; where the exchange rate will be reasonable and where you can move from one place to another without jeopardy.
Here in America, you can move 24 hours and nobody will disturb you and there is no fear of any attack. That is the Nigeria I like to see.
I am not happy with the situation of things in Nigeria. How I wish we can have reasonable leaders from the presidency, Senate, House of Representatives, States and Local government. I will like to see the vibrant youths who have something to offer.
What is your advice to Nigerians as campaign has started for the 2023 general elections?
I advise Nigerians to think twice and pray and decide to vote for the best candidates.
There should not be campaign of calumny, or involvement in any violence to avert tension in the polity.
Marital status: I am married and blessed with children and I have one graduate already
Hobbies Football and listening to music.