Nigeria’s Ayo Owodunni, who was just lately elected a Councillor in Kitchener, a metropolis within the Canadian province of Ontario, speaks to TEMITOPE ADETUNJI concerning the course of that led to his emergence and varied different points
Inform us a bit about your self.
My identify is Ayo Owodunni. I’m from Ojodu, Lagos. I’m a son to Mr and Mrs Owodunni and husband to Folake Owodunni. I’m a administration marketing consultant and facilitator who brings to the desk over 10 years of expertise in teaching and strategic path. My purchasers’ record spans a wide range of industries and famend corporations.
The place did you go to high school?
I attended Rider College within the US; I did my grasp’s, my MBA on the College of Waterloo in Canada.
What was childhood or rising up like for you?
My childhood was very enjoyable; my mum owns the varsity I went to. The identify is Ona Ara Prismoni Faculty, Aina Avenue, Ojodu, Lagos. The varsity was not removed from the home and I used to be the infant of the home, the final of my mother and father’ six kids. I loved childhood; I don’t have any unhealthy reminiscences in any respect from my childhood.
What yr did you relocate from Nigeria to Canada and what knowledgeable that call?
My spouse and I left Nigeria in 2016. There was a day I used to be driving with my pregnant spouse and there was gasoline shortage in Lagos. As you already know, gasoline shortage within the nation comes with stress, typically worsening the already unhealthy visitors scenario. My spouse was a month pregnant then; I bear in mind it was about 10 o’clock at night time and we had been nonetheless on the expressway, driving dwelling. The truth is, it was nonetheless like an hour and a half’s drive to our dwelling in Ajah. We had been driving on the specific when my spouse requested me: ‘Do you actually need to elevate a baby right here? Do we actually need to proceed like this?’ These had been the 2 questions she requested me. And what triggered the questions was the sort of stress we had been by, being caught in visitors for 4 hours and we each simply felt it wasn’t for us anymore. That was the day we took a call. We each had good jobs then and we had been doing nicely; so, the choice wasn’t vital a profession transfer for us. We wished one thing higher for our household, for our youngsters. Think about leaving the home by 5:30 within the morning and coming again dwelling by 9pm; when will you’ve gotten time to say howdy to your kids? We wished to have a detailed household; we wished to see our youngsters recurrently, so we determined to make that whole transfer. Inside just a few months, my spouse left whereas I went to affix her later.
How was your expertise settling down in Canada?
It took me 5 years to completely get settled down in Canada. A credit score rating is important to beginning a brand new life in a brand new nation. For brand spanking new immigrants, establishing a strong credit score document could be the important thing to discovering a house, gaining access to loans with higher charges, and even having a bank card to make use of within the parking zone.
You had been just lately within the information for rising a Councillor in Kitchener, a metropolis within the Canadian Province of Ontario. What influenced your curiosity in Canadian politics?
I’ve all the time recognized politics to be a chance to serve the group. I remembered whereas rising up, I might go to Ibadan to spend some holidays with my grandma in Amunigun and many individuals within the neighborhood would come to hunt her intervention to resolve one concern or the opposite and I noticed how she was all the time serving to folks to resolve their issues even at her previous age. It’s simply the identical with my mum. She is well-known within the Ojodu space for that; with folks coming to her for recommendation and suggestions. It wasn’t that they’ve run for any public workplace however they’re serving in the neighborhood. I believe that’s only a worth that has been handed down from one technology to a different. So, offering resolution is one thing in our household, ensuring that these round us are okay and are taken care of. So, that could be a worth that has been handed onto me and I’m hoping that I can go it onto my kids as nicely, that mindset that we’re liable for our group.
It’s not nearly earning money and residing massive as all of us wish to be acclaimed for however while you go away this earth, folks ought to know that you’ve got added a major worth. They need to know that somebody has left.
Inform us concerning the course of that led to your emergence as Councillor in Kitchener?
I need to thank those who voted for me and gave me an opportunity. There should not many Nigerians within the ward that I ran in however I’m glad that after so many conversations with so many individuals, they felt that they might belief me. I’m grateful for the chance; and my aim is to have the ability to serve them nicely.
How eager was the election?
Nicely, with each election you by no means know. After we began, we did our SWOT evaluation simply to get an understanding and the panorama of what was on the market and we felt we had a shot however weren’t hundred per cent certain due to the formidable rivals we went in opposition to. There have been 4 others that I contested in opposition to. One is Jon Massimi. There’s Ajmer S. Manddur, who has lived in the neighborhood for 40 years and he’s well-known. There’s one other particular person named Naveed Najmuddin and likewise Farah Jabeen Muhammad. These are folks which can be well-known in the neighborhood. One has lived in the neighborhood for 40 years; one has labored right here for 20-something years. So, they’re well-known; they’ve been round for fairly some time in comparison with us which have solely been right here for simply six years.
So, we needed to research the scenario on the bottom after which developed a technique. We simply targeted on our technique and hoped for the very best. We put collectively a good group and we actually simply put our heads down and labored actually arduous and success got here by.
Was that the primary time you’d contest election into public workplace in Canada?
Sure, that was the primary time and that got here with its challenges, like some other factor you might be doing for the primary time.
Primary, we didn’t have any political expertise, so we ran purely on grades. Quantity two, I might say we made many errors similar to anyone doing issues for the primary time. Quantity three was the problem of elevating funds as a result of to run an election right here in Canada, it’s a must to elevate funds; it can’t be simply your individual private cash; it must be cash raised; folks must imagine in you to place cash into your marketing campaign and there’s a restrict that every particular person can provide. It has to do with the foundations and rules that include operating for an workplace right here.
The thought is to place collectively a group and put every member of the group answerable for one thing. So, everybody simply works on totally different points in the direction of our frequent aim. We simply tried to push for it. I might say a lot of errors had been made however we’re grateful that on the finish of the day, we had been nonetheless capable of push by.
And my colleagues that I ran in opposition to, all of them pushed as nicely; we pushed each other. I might say that we introduced the very best out of each other by the method. So, kudos to Jon, Ajmer, Naveed, and Farah.
What’s the dimension of the marketing campaign group you place collectively?
We’ve about 15 people who had been a part of the marketing campaign group. We had males’s pressure that had political expertise; they supplied strategic path. The ability of consistency additionally helped, whether or not we had been making errors or not, we had been guaranteeing that there have been deliverables each day.
Does it take a lot contesting for a political workplace in Canada, by way of finance?
Nicely, there are totally different ranges of presidency and for each stage, the sum of money that’s wanted is totally different. Nonetheless, for each stage, it’s essential know folks; you want to have the ability to persuade folks to spend money on your marketing campaign. It comes all the way down to, primary, are you plausible? Quantity two, are you able to promote your thought? Quantity three, have you learnt sufficient individuals who can put cash into your marketing campaign? With the best way the system is ready up right here, every particular person can solely give a restricted quantity. So, you possibly can’t ask somebody for $50,000 or something like that; there’s a restrict to the quantity they can provide.
In my ward the place I ran, the restrict anyone can provide is between $1,000 and $100,000. Even when that particular person is the richest particular person, that’s the restrict they can provide. On the finish of the day, it’s a must to be conversant, it’s a must to be a capable of promote a imaginative and prescient and you’ve got to have the ability to construct good relationships. It’s a stage taking part in area for everyone; anyone can do that, in the event that they actually need to.
What precisely is the rationale for placing a cap on the sum of money a person can donate to a marketing campaign?
Sadly, I have no idea why; that’s simply the regulation. While you say you need to run for workplace, there are a algorithm and your job is to observe the foundations.
So, how a lot had been you capable of elevate and the way a lot did you spend to prosecute your marketing campaign?
I’ll desire to not share (this info) proper now as a result of we’re nonetheless going by our audit course of. What meaning mainly is that on the finish of the marketing campaign, it’s a must to submit all of your bills, receipts of the belongings you spent cash on, how a lot was raised, and the names of the folks (who made donation). I don’t really feel comfy sharing all of that info (for now). After the entire course of, I can share.
Are you able to examine politics in Nigeria to that of Canada?
(Laughs) My response to this query will likely be that Nigeria has plenty of extraordinarily proficient folks. I’m a administration marketing consultant, so I get to work with totally different corporations each day and I get to know that there are Nigerians working in banks right here and they’re already transferring into nice influential positions. So, we have now a lot of sensible and clever folks in Nigeria. Our instructional system, we’d not realise it, however is one which pushes us. It won’t be the very best however we have to recognize how we’re raised as Nigerians. I believe we have to belief our folks, we have to give youthful folks management alternatives; we’d like leaders to have the ability to discover younger folks, and supply mentorship for the subsequent set of individuals that may are available. If we put within the work to assist folks, in about 50 years from now, we’d have a lot values, even 10 years or 5 years from now. The folks I met 5 years in the past had been the folks that actually ready me for right now and I’m grateful for that. I hope we’d be capable of have the identical factor that comes as nicely.
What are your duties as a councillor in Canada?
If you happen to Google the duties of a councillor, it ought to come up.
How lengthy is your tenure of workplace?
It’s a four-year time period.
How a lot is a councillor paid in Canada?
It’s public info. Right here in Canada, it’s $60,000. That’s what we’re paid on this metropolis. It’s totally different from metropolis to metropolis, relying on the scale or the variety of folks and whether or not they (roles) are part-time or full-time. The quantity paid in Toronto is totally different from that of Kitchener.
Can you mix the function of councillor along with your non-public job?
Nicely, proper now, I’ll proceed in that place as a result of public workplace is a part-time function; 20 hours in every week is anticipated from us in the neighborhood. It’s not a full-time function; I do proceed my work.
The primary few weeks had been a bit more durable due to coaching and orientation. Nonetheless, as time goes on, as soon as I set right into a routine, it will likely be simpler for me to stability the 2, however proper now, it’s a bit robust however it’s what it’s.
How do you stability your work and household life?
Household is essential to me; so we ensure that we have now devoted time for each other to spend time collectively. Our aim is to maintain and keep related to 1 one other, supporting each other. For us, that’s essential however we’re praying that we’re related to the method.
What recommendation do you’ve gotten for brand spanking new immigrants in Canada?
The sky is the restrict, you’ve gotten a lot worth so as to add to Canada; you might be tremendous sensible, you might be coming from a rustic crammed with super-smart folks, proficient and wonderful folks; imagine in your self, work arduous and provides Nigeria an excellent identify.