By Mercy Hill
Fides: How do you manage your family, job and agriculture?
Mr Aremu: I have always had my concept about family from a very young age. While I was new in service, girls flock around me all the time and most of them were interested in me. But I cautioned myself, I told myself to be successful in this job, one of the first things to do is to marry. Then, I got married to my friend. One of the things that you should know is that public servants are not supposed to do business except farming. So, if I must play the integrity card, I cannot do any other business apart from farming. It is not easy, but all I do is to prioritize, I allot time to everything, I do most communication online especially with my farm manager and workers; as for my wife and family we speak at least three times a day.
Fides: Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
Mr Aremu: In the next five years, I should be preparing to leave service. I am just grateful to God for the change we brought to the scheme. I wrote some of the conceptual papers of those things you now learn in Orientation Camp, like the Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurial Development (SAED), the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and that of Ventures Management. I am opportuned to have worked in the thinking Caucus of most NYSC Directors-General except the current DG, Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim, because I was already here when he came in as DG. As we speak, I just wrote a concept paper for him, the current DG, to turn the NYSC skill acquisition center at Gombe to NYSC training school. I also have plans to make my farm at Kwara State a skills acquisition center for young people who are unemployed, the uneducated who want to learn agriculture and the aged who must have retired from service. In addition to that, I have an agreement with the First Bank in my place that anyone I certify from my farm is eligible to get loan from the bank to start up their own farms. My plan is just to spread wealth across my town.
In a nutshell, I see myself giving back to the society through Entrepreneurship in the next five years. I see it as an empowerment for greater number of people. Farming is a very lucrative job but people do not know. People think farming is for people that did not go to school, but I want to change that narrative around Nigeria using my farming initiative. I get paid huge amount of money every month just from selling snails from my farms. I am not there. I have agreement with hotels, they go to my farms, pack as much snails as they would be needing in the month and they credit my account every month at zero cost for production. I do not spend money for their production. In fact, what I feed them with are grasses and leaves from family wastes, that when I pack them, people will appreciate me. I also have a beef fattening facility, an oil palm plantation and many others.
I wish to have a resort for people to read and visit during leisure, I’ll be having a lake soon as well.
Fides: How have you been able to build a cordial relationship with the Anambra State Government?
Mr Aremu: I may not be perfect with this but one of the things I found out early when I arrived is that their Igwes are very powerful. I can tell you that I have seen all the Igwes of the over one hundred communities in the state. I am at first time call to everyone of them, I can call them anytime, they can call me anytime. I made friends with all of them even the oldest, Igwe Orizu of Nnewi. One of the things that has helped me was that I am from a royal family, even the one that seemed tough among the Igwes when I introduced myself as a member of the royal family and explain that my brother is even the King of my community, we became friends. I became friends with the Igwes and they were available to help me build a relationship with the state government. The government has a lot of respect for the traditional institution of the Igwes, and that has helped me.
Fides: How have you been able to win the interest of the various agencies and organizations?
Mr Aremu: You have to have something they call political sagacity. I have a popular quote which is “Everyone has a key, find that key, open him or her and enter”. You do some searching, ask who this person fears and who he respects and get what you want through that person.
Fides: What is your word of advice for youths and corps members in Nigeria especially in Anambra State?
Mr Aremu: Anytime I get to answer this question, my answer is the same. Nigeria is the best place you can make it in this world. Oil palm is also a very profitable business. Just get oil palm for a thousand Naira, plant them, suffer yourself, deny yourself some comfort to nurture it for six years. Then, you can begin to sell, they are many things you can sell from the palm trees. If you don’t have money for oil palm, just get cashew seeds, go to your village and dip it in the ground, maintain it; then, go back in six years and see the result. I started with a hundred snails in my backyard, when it became too many, I moved them to the farm, I’ve not gotten extra snails today, I only take from the one that is hatched, and that is what I nurture.
‘I have a popular quote which is “Everyone has a key, find that key, open him or her and enter”‘.
My candid advice to young people is stay here; all this running to Malaysia, UK, you will just get into a strange culture, you’ll be good looking for a while, but there will be little or no difference on how much you are bringing home. There is so much wealth in Nigeria, stay here and enjoy yourself.
Fides: People would think someone who reasons this way had at some point in their life left the shores of Nigeria.
“I wrote some of the conceptual papers of those things you now learn in Orientation camp, like the Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurial Development (SAED), the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and that of Ventures Management.”
Mr Aremu: I am from an average family, but we were not poor. I have had the privilege of visiting different countries on holidays, tour and all that. One of the biggest countries in the world today in terms of wealth is China. I was a student of Ningbo Polytechnic, China, where I studied Entrepreneurship. In studying the economy of China, I had access to all the books I needed. I read books from poverty to prosperity of that country. What transformed China to prosperity is what we call the SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises). Some of the things we see in Nigeria today that came from China, the factory might be a very small place. They just make sure it’s a well-organized place. SME is what drives a country. This is what I’m prescribing for everyone. You do not have to have a big factory, just make your small thing in your small place and continue production. Most people do not understand this, they want to start big and that is where the problem is.