Otunba Abayomi Odunowo is the Otunba Obalewu of Ijebuland. In this interview, the astute businessman speaks about his 60th coronation anniversary of the paramount ruler and Awujale of Ijebuland, HRM Oba (Dr) Sikiru Kayode Adetona. He also speaks glowingly about his mother, Chief (Mrs) Adebisi Edionseri, the socialite and business amazon, who clocked 85 years today.
Who is Otunba Yomi Odunowo?
Thank you very much. I am Otunba (Engr.) Abdul Falil Abayomi Odunowo. I am popularly called Yomi Cash in the political sector. I am an engineer by profession. I went to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. I actually had my secondary education at Mayflower School, Ikenne, which formed the ways and manner I do things in life. I am a citizen in politics. This is because some people assume politicians to be dishonest people. In other words, we need to get a lot of quality people on board in politics so that our political space will be occupied by those who have genuine interest of the people at heart.
At what point did you go into politics?
It has been over 25 years, but I was not active until about 20 years ago. I realize that most of the promises politicians make to the people are not been fulfilled. I later came into politics in Nigeria and I have seen that it is not as straightforward as people think. Despite this, we just need to get involved to change the trend for the good of our people.
You are also a prominent title holder from the office of the Awujale of Ijebuland, when did you become a part of the tradition?
There is the popular saying in Yoruba that ‘Ile l’abo isinmi oko’, which translates to ‘wherever you may go, you will return to your root someday’. So, Awujale is one outstanding father who is close to our family and he was also very close to my late father and my mum. Awujale is a blessing to Ijebuland. Apart from the regular advice he gives me and my brother, he is undoubtedly a father figure to us. He is a strong pillar of support to my mum, Alhaja Adebisi Edionsere. I will just continue to pray that God gives him the strength, the health and goodluck in life. Awujale is an institution who stands for justice, fairplay and peaceful coexistence of the entire Ijebu race. He is the solid rock behind the development of Ijebuland. I am also happy he is in support of the incumbent governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun.
The Paramount ruler and Awujale of Ijebuland HRM Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona is 60 years on the throne. What is your wish for him?
My prayer for him is to continue to be strong and I wish him good health. The wisdom he has been using to run Ijebuland in the last 60 years has been commendable. May we continue to have his blessings. To have a consistent ruler for 60 years is not a joke, and we hope to still have him around for more quality years ahead.
Awujale and your mother, Mama Cash Madam are two prominent Nigerians around. While Awujale is 60 years on the throne, your mum is 85 years old. What is your relationship with Mama, if we may ask?
My relationship with my mum is very strong, we are very close. I am the fourth of her seven children. It is amazing that I am not the first children or the last, but I am probably one of the closest to my mum. She has been the pillar of support all my life. If not for her, I would have probably derailed because I really was in a hurry while growing up. I was militant as I would want to do things my own way. But I am grateful to God; I have developed to a man she is now proud of.
What is your prayer for her at 85?
My prayer for her is to continually be blessed with good health. I pray for long life for her so that she can continue to enjoy the fruit of her labour, because she solidly stood behind all of us right from our childhood. Even while we were working, we still run back to Mama for support. I can remember about 10 years ago, when we had financial crisis, in our business we made some decisions, and it backfired. We had to run to my mum that gave us #20 million to be able to cushion the effect back then. She is all in all for me.
How does Mama still unwind?
She unwinds like every other person. She goes to all the quality events she is invited despite her age. She is a devout Muslim as she is the Iya Suna of Ogun state and Iyalaje as well. She goes to sports club, she goes to Omida in Abeokuta here where her paternal grandfather is from. She unwinds in her own way. People wont even know she is the one unwinding because of her age and status in the society. Above all, my mother is a quiet philanthropist.