Why I established Oko Opo Foundation for widows - Dr Adeyemo, CEO, Pelican-Valley
Dr Babatunde Adeyemo is the Chief Executive Officer of Pelican-Valley Nigeria Limited, a Real Estate company.
In an interview with Great Achiever Magazine, Dr Adeyemo speaks on the establishment of Oko Opo Foundation, a Non Governmental Organisation that rekindles the hope of widows, in fulfilment of his life-long dream to give back to society.
You have just come up with a new initiative called Oko Opo Foundation. Please tell us what it is all about.
The proposed Oko Opo Foundation is one of my life-long ambitions and dreams. The Foundation is a product of my personal experience about life generally.
Being a journalist who had been in the profession for almost 15 years, and had covered many people, including about four governors in Ogun State; I've covered the rich and the poor; seen the mighty fallen; seen people at the peak and the lowest part of their lives. After much thought, I've come to realise that life is vanity and I realised also that no matter the amount of money you have, it doesn't secure the future of your children because money is like spirit which you can't tie down except you invest it on institutions and people.
Look at the high and mighty in our society many years back; where are their wealth now? When they died, their wealth went with them and now you start hearing some news that you've not been hearing before. So, I realised that the only way you can leave indelible mark on the sands of time is by building people and institutions.
For instance, I've told my children that substantial part of my assets will be bequeathed to the widows, orphans and less privileged people in the society.
So, Oko Opo Foundation is a step towards walking my talk, and also a reflection of my life experience, that life itself is vanity, but while alive one should build people and institutions which I've dedicated my life to do.
Secondly, I'm the type of person that has passion for adding value to people's lives. I love being a philanthropist; touching people's lives positively, and this propelled me to establish Oko Opo Foundation.
What does the Foundation want to achieve?
The Foundation is about rekindling the hope of the widows, widowers, orphans and the less privileged people in the society.
How do you intend to achieve this?
Definitely we can't do it alone. So, we are going to establish our presence on social media where we will seek support through partnership.
Again, I've earned a lot of goodwill in real estate and in journalism; I will deploy it in Oko Opo Foundation. I will also use my proficiency and integrity in Real Estate business to gather people of likeminds, while I also lead by example.
I have some properties which I'm donating to the Foundation immediately because the Foundation has been registered.
Equally, I'm building a mini multipurpose hall which is about 98% completed, and this will be used for the activities of the Foundation.
How do you want to identify and bring together beneficiaries of this Foundation?
We are going to look at it from the angle of direct assessment. We will make the entry open to everybody. People can just walk in; they will be interviewed and submit their credentials which will be verified. From the interview, we will determine their strengths, weaknesses and opportunities that can be available for them and also their various peculiar needs.
Some of the things we will do for them are; granting interest free loans; there is a few acres of land, part of which will be made available to them for farming activities; we will also raise an endowment funds to build low income houses with modern facilities to solve the housing problems of the critically vulnerable ones.
In addition, we are partnering with one of our clients in the United States who will build old people's home to cater for the elderly people. There will be a farm market and farm Estate which will create employment opportunities for the widows and elderly people who are still agile and want to engage themselves in physical activities to keep fit and kill boredom.
In a project of this nature, finance is always very crucial. Have you reached out to people who can support this initiative and what response have you got from them?
Like I said earlier, goodwill is very important. So, I'm not perturbed about finance. We have people of likeminds around the world. Presently, I have over 1000 Nigerians in the Diaspora who have keyed into the Pelican Real Estate project. If you are known as Mr Integrity, people will not hesitate to support and join you in what you are doing.
Don't forget that I'm not doing this for money. I thank God for what He has done for me, and this Foundation is an avenue for me to give back to the society. My goodwill will surely come in handy, as people are ready and willing to support the initiative. Once you are transparent in whatever you do, people will donate generously to a worthy cause.
Oko Opo will have a strong presence online where we will be engaging people via various online programmes and they will donate willingly. Once people realise that there is sincerity of purpose, they will want to be part of the success story.
I will definitely lead by example. So far, I've spent almost N70 million on the mini multipurpose hall which is about 98% completed and very soon a very big generator will be installed there, while I've also donated five acres of land in a prime location to the foundation.
Can you speak on the peculiarity of the Foundation's logo?
Yes, the Oko Opo Foundation's logo carries a caricature image of a malnourishly dieing child with a vulture standing behind. That image depicts the present state of an average Nigerian orphan and widow, which Oko Opo Foundation is here to rescue, God willing .
How soon will the Oko Opo Foundation kick off?
We are planning to launch by September, and mostly, we are going to have so much online presence. We will organise World Press Conference and invite people of likeminds to talk, do interviews and such other things.
I'm very optimistic that Oko Opo Foundation will be a success.