Last week, on Inspirational personality page, we brought to your read, the story of the Anambra State Coordinator, National Youth Service Corps, Mr. Kehinde Aremu. In this edition we publish the final part of our interview with him. Daddy Aremu, as we fondly call him, who will be leaving the state to serve in another capacity in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, built a strong network of relationships during his three-year stay in Anambra State. During the interview with him, coordinated by the Fides Trends in Anambra (FITIA) team, he spoke on a wide range of issues. Excerpts:
By Mercy Hill
I built a cordial relationship with Corps members.
Make them to love their country through good relationship with them, it is only then, they will learn to work with their hearts. I have a relationship with every Corp member in the state. You all know how it was in camp because some of you served here (referring to the FITIA team).
And that is the relationship we have nurtured to this level. My wife was complaining that Corps members were always flocking around me, and I told her it was the nature of my work. The nature of her work as a senior Road Safety officer, she must frown at the offenders, but my job, we must understand and be free with our corps members, to be able to elicit what you want from them.
You have shown so much dexterity in agriculture. Are there some of your staff here who have toed this part?
What I did for them here is to set up a cooperative society, for those that were interested in agriculture. We started with a club they had here, they called it ‘Unique Friends’’. Although I was not too ok with what I saw in their constitution, I deliberately joined. They always went for parties- burial ceremonies, weddings, etc. After a while I hosted the group in my own house, because I did not want to impose my idea as the Coordinator, on them, I had to come in by being a member too.
After much merry at my place, I told them, we must have to refocus this group, because its is an informal organization within a formal organization. I told them it was good to celebrate and mourn with fellow members, but what other things are we taking from here. I had to introduce them to agriculture and most of them were very excited. I went on by telling them that before we could get anything from government we would have to register as a cooperative, I paid the money for the registration.
We then got a ‘’Unique Friends Cooperative Society’’ that the land given to us for the purpose of building the skill acquisition centre for the NYSC southeast region, which is not yet built. I told them, before NYSC is ready to build it, lets make good of it. We, the seventeen of us that are members, contributed money and then began farming in that land. While the proceeds from the farm comes back to the cooperative society. Right now, we are into large scale cucumber planting, we intend to go into cassava planting.
How do you intend to manage all these projects when you move to Abuja?
Well, I have already written my handover notes and I will be speaking with my successor, Mrs Yetunde Baderinwa, and then emphasize the key points to her; especially about the completion of the NYSC secretariat in the state, which I have already finished building. What is left is painting and arrangement. It is a big place and I am sure they will be excited to finish it.
What are your plans for the next office?
Well, I know for now that what they have asked me to come and do is human resource management, but I can tell you for free that it is not the ultimate. I am going to do more, and you people will hear it by God’s grace. I am a specialist in human power planning, and I have undergone so many courses.
You have done a lot of mind-blowing things in Anambra State as the NYSC State Coordinatior. What was the driving force?
If you know my background, you will know that I come from a certain family from childhood. We were told that the name we bear is not just our names and incidentally I find myself telling my children the same thing now. From childhood, we were trained to be kings, I started receiving training to be king from childhood. If you must be a king, you must be selfless, uphold integrity.
I remember when I was around fifteen years of age, I went to the village, and then someone called me, Babalola, I need a bottle of beer. I dipped my hands into my pocket and realized I was not holding any money. My uncle pulled me aside and said do not ever walk around without money in your pocket because, you cannot be a ruler and then people who look unto you to ask for your help, and you do not meet their expectation.
That means that something has been taken away from your personality. I was fifteen then, from that day till today, I have never moved around without money. I may not be able to solve all problems, but I must contribute to get a solution.
It does appear that you already know who is taking over from you. In your opinion, does it feel like you are leaving a big shoe for her?
With all sense of modesty, I do not think I should be the one answering this question. But one thing I know about Baderinwa, and what is making me positive about her is that she is not taking over this position poor. Because poverty has a way of bringing out the worst side of some people. Baderinwa is a very pleasant woman. She has a natural propensity for caring for people.
Its three years sojourn in Anambra State. What would you tag your greatest achievement in the State?
What gladdens my heart the most is the way NYSC Anambra State staff now carry themselves with dignity. They went for a programme recently in Abuja and they were the most outstanding. They went for a course in Enugu State two weeks ago, the organizers called me to commend the difference they saw in them. The team leader for the course called me and said ‘’now we know that you have been in Anambra state”.
The analogy he used was, ‘’when people encountered the apostles of Jesus Christ, they said, these ones have been with Jesus Christ”. “When your staff came to Enugu”, he said, “I knew that these ones have been with Aremu”. That is gladdening for me. There is something we call JSC, that is Junior Staff Committee. My head of human resource management here went to Ebonyi to represent the junior staff committee in the southeast and he became the teacher for all the HRM officers in Nigeria.
My staff have upgraded, and this has its effects on the Corps members. I am also excited that it has become possible that when you gather one thousand Corps members here from all over the country, I can know my own Corp members if I enter there. It has become like that; I can know the ones that are not my corps members by their level of composure and behaviour. There is no way you can be in touch with me, even if it was just for the three weeks orientation and you behave anyhow, it is not possible.
Any low side?
Honestly, I cannot think of any low side right now. I am somebody that takes things as they come.
My life is an evidence of that man God has helped. Let me begin with my birth. My mother gave birth to twins two times and I am the only one of the four alive. Others died at birth. Fast track to here, look at me, a small man like me, and God is still helping me.
Both the Igwe of Mbaukwu and Umuawulu are in good relationship with me. The Anambra state governor too is a good friend of the National Youth Service Corps, as well as many others.
So, I am happy and thankful!