An Exclusive Interview with Hon. Lukmon Abayomi Olajide popular known and refered to as Royal Umbrella
Royal, Royal. How did you come about the name Royal Umbrella? What is the origin?
My late father, Alhaji Lamidi Olajide popularly known as ‘Baba Alaburada Oba’ was into the craft of royal umbrella production. I was one of his apprentice and took over the trade after his demise. It was the late Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade Olubuse III who started calling me Royal Umbrella and since then the alias became my second name. So today, everybody calls me Royal Umbrella or Royal especially within social and political circles. Very few people know my real name.
I am Lukman Abayomi Olajide from NW3/340A Ogodu Compound Abebi in Ibadan North West Local Government. My parents are both from Ibadan. My mother hails from Ile Delesolu, Oje in Ibadan North East Local Government. For those who don’t know, any Ibadan man that has both parents from Ibadan can claim up to four Local Governments.
I presently live and work in Ibadan North. I have been here since 1991 when Ward 12 was Ward 10. My father’s second house is at N6/625 Aba Abere, Agbowo but since I ply my trade at Mokola I decided to move to Ward 9 in 1998.
My father was one of the few, if not the originator of the royal umbrella craft. He began fabricating these customised handmade royal umbrellas immediately he returned from Second World War in 1945. He told us he got the inspiration through dream he had at the war front and that was all he did it till he departed on Nov 6, 1993.
Many also refer to you as Ore Gomina, for those who don’t know, can you tell us more about this…
The story behind ‘Ore Gomina’ is both sour and sweet but I thank God for everything. During the campaigns in 2019, my Bus which I later customized for GSM developed a mechanical fault close to the flyover at Mokola roundabout and I had to plead with passersby to help me push it off the road. It was while pushing it that someone inside a commercial bus shouted to make jest of me that, “E wo moto Ore Gomina. Ore Gomina, e lo so si Odo Ogunpa” (meaning: Look at the Governor’s friend vehicle. Governor’s friend, go and throw this vehicle in Ogunpa River). I laughed but also cried inside but since that day I decided to call myself ‘Ore Gomina.’
However, it is true, His Excellency, GSM is my childhood friend and so I am so the name ‘Ore Gomina’ is permanent.
Moreover, some people have even labelled me several other unprintable names like ‘GSM’s Dog, Smiling & Suffering Ore Gomina’ e.t.c. but today GSM has turned my life to a good one as those who mocked me now beg me for assistance. .. ‘Ògo ní fún Ọlọ́run nítorí gbogbo yẹ̀yẹ́ ti di ayẹyẹ.’
Growing up, how was your early childhood?
I was born at NW3/340A Ogodu compound, Abebi in Ibadan North West Local Government into the Olajide family. I grew up in a typical polygamous home. My father was the owner of the popularly “Ile Alaja Meta” (2-Storey Building) very close to late High Chief Ladapo’s house.
I attended St. Patrick Primary School, Abebi, IMG Primary School, Orita Aperin and then Lagelu Grammar School, Ibadan. I was at The Polytechnic, Ibadan for my OND and HND in Quantity Surveying. My NYSC was at Abeokuta South LG in Ogun State.
After some years, aside my profession as a Quantity Surveyor, I decided to take on the Royal Umbrella venture which I inherited from my father and repackaged it. Royal Umbrella making for me is a generational heritage and has exposed me globally. I have been to places like the UK, Abu Dabi & America. It was this craft that made me travel across towns and cities in Nigeria. I know practically every major traditional ruler in Nigeria, particularly in Yorubaland. I also make royal umbrellas for Emirs in the North and other traditional rulers in the East and Niger Delta.
I also got a few traditional and religious titles from this craft. For instance, I am the Otunba Sobalewa of Erin-Osun; President, Ago-Tapa Central Mosque, Mokola; Otun Adeen of Aba-Abere Central Mosque, Agbowo, Ibadan e.t.c. but I prefer to be addressed as ‘Royal Umbrella.’
I joined the PDP as a foundation member in 1998. I was appointed a Caretaker member of Ibadan North LG in 2007. On several occassions I attended party congresses as a delegate. Between 1998 and now, I have been opportuned to serve in several PDP committees both at the Local Government and State level.
What led you into politics? Some people have said you have no base and that you are a paperweight politician. Some even said nobody knows you in Ibadan North…
(LAUGHS) Politics is part of our family as my father was an unrepentant Awoist who believed in the doctrine of the then Action Group and UPN led by the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. He never left the Awoist fold till he died.
My interest in partisan politics started at The Polytechnic, Ibadan. I was at the Saki campus in 1989 where I played a role in who became President of The Students’ Union. So politics for me started from Students’ Unionism. It was the same passion that I brought into partisan politics.
At the ward level in my Local Government, I registered and joined the defunct National Rebulican Convention (NRC) with my senior brother Mr. Bimbo Yusuf who I used to follow to Akogun now Senator Sharafadeen Alli house. Eventually as fate will have it, he (Alli) became the pioneer Executive Chairman of Ibadan North LG in 1991.
Most of those who call themselves politicians today and will discounteneance my involvement in Ibadan North LG would be new comers or those born in the 90s. The problem people have when they say these things to run down others is because some of us have never come out openly to aspire for elective offices or paste posters to canvass the electorate for votes in elections. By the grace of God, I have been very active in politics since 1998.
All critical stakeholders in Oyo State politics across party lines know me very either as ‘Yomi or Royal Umbrella.’
I have a very cordial relationship with many in the present PDP, APC and Accord Parties and we have known each others for decades. We may have different allegiance but we are not playing bitter politics and that is what defines a politician of note.
Just before the 2023 Primaries, a movement which you coordinate, The GSMists suddenly emerged from nowhere and took the frontline in promoting Governor Seyi Makinde, how did you come about this and what is the motive behind it?
Thank you for this good question. You see, there is a trajectory. The unifier here is GSM. We use to have conversations with people of like minds who believe in the ideology of GSM especially his mantra of taking Oyo State from Poverty to Prosperity. So at a point, we came together to form a platform we call, Late Hour Discussion (LHD).
I later created a loop known as ‘GSM Direct’ where we had key personalities. There we had conversations on how we could do more to support our principal, Governor Seyi Makinde. This was just one year into his first term.
But reflecting at a point, looking back at history, how the late sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe had their ardent loyalists called ‘Awoists’ and ‘Zikists’ respectively, I decided along with a few others that since we are lovers of GSM we can be refered to as ‘GSMists’ irrespective of your groups or political party affiliation. So, as long as you align with the orientation and style of governance of GSM, you are a GSMist.
So the motive behind The GSMists was to have a movement spread across the 351 wards in Oyo State promoting the good works of Governor Seyi Makinde. Every leader deserves to have dedicated canvassers to tell others and educate people about the activities of the leader.
We matched our physical spread with a monthly publication called ‘The GSMists’ and it will interest you to note that this satrted long before the Governor even declared his intention for a second term. Let me state for the records that our movement is not funded by GSM. We have a formidable support base and everyone has an input especially in the production of the monthly magazine. Let me use this medium to thank those who support us on a regular basis. What we are doing is voluntary. Our mission is for GSM to succeed and bring the dividends of democracy to our people.
A tree cannot make a forest, the movement has a structure at the State, LG and Ward level, I am fortunate to be the State Coordinator. We have a Director General and Coordinators in each LG and at every ward in Oyo State. The brand continues to wax stronger everyday through the support and inputs of good people because the foundation was not built on political patronage or monetary gains. The GSMists is solely a dedicated support mechanism for the government of our principal, Governor Seyi Makinde, FNSE
Your aspiration for the 2024 Ibadan North LG Chairmanship came to many as surprise, it has generated a lot of conversations across the wards. You will agree with us that your candidacy has heated up the polity in your local government, why Chairmanship? Why are you contesting?
I have said it repeatedly that there is no crime in aspiring for any post in politics because in the first instance, it is an act to serve humanity. Politics is not my first address or my day job. I have a verifiable means of livelihood, my small office at Mokola is accessible to all.
Having said that, let me quickly let you know that this is not my first time of making an attempt to contest for the Chairmanship in Ibadan North LG. My first attempt was in 2007 but I was placated and given a slot as a Caretaker Committee member. Some of those we served together are still alive. Some got appointed by GSM under Omituntun 1.0.
In 2019 when the GSM’s administration took off, I also made some moves for the LG Chairmanship alongside the likes of the late Gboye Ibo, Hon. Biro, Hon. Egbende and a few others but eventually, my brother, Hon. Biro was appointed as Caretaker Chairman for Ibadan North LG while another good brother of mine, Hon. Kazeem Oshoniyi was appointed to head the Aare Latoosa LCDA. I accepted my fate because I know that was how God wants it. It is politics, it is always 50:50, no issues. My slogan is ‘one love,’ you can’t win all the time.
Coming out now for the 2024 LG elections is another opportunity to offer my service to our people in Ibadan North LG. I believe I am prepared and I have all it takes to serve diligently in that capacity and compliment the good works of His Excellency, Governor Seyi Makinde FNSE, especially as regards Sustainable Development at the grassroot level.
Looking at Ibadan North LG, what will you bring to the table if elected as Chairman?
If I am elected as Excecutive Chairman of Ibadan North LG, I will make sure I implement development programmes in alignment with the plans of His Excellency, Governor Seyi Makinde FNSE. I am talking about his sustainable developmental programmes in the areas of social amenities, infrastructure, basic education, primary health and most importantly job creation.
I will allow for synergy with all stakeholders for the benefit of residents of Ibadan North LG. I will also improve on avenues for IGR and make sure all departments in Local Government operate and deliver services to the public as expected. I will entrench a periodic accountability system were political office holders at the LG will render stewardship to the residents in townhall sessions. This I believe will drive development further.
Recently, the Governor made it public that there will be a seperate Ministry for Culture & Tourism. From your experience as a culture enthusiast what do you think about this new Ministry? What is your general assessment of the GSM administration in Oyo State and what are you expectations?
During the campaign trail for the last governorship election, at almost all, if not all campaign ground and town hall meetings where we met with different communities, GSM promised that Tourism would get full attention under Omituntun 2.0.
So, when His Excellency, Governor Seyi Makinde FNSE announced the separation of Culture & Tourism from the Ministry of Information, I knew our Governor meant business. Now we will be having a full fledge Ministry for Culture & Tourism. My hope is that this Ministry win get the quantum of support and logistics needed to harness the tourism potentials sleeping dormant in Oyo State. I am confident that GSM with the magic wand will make it happen.
As to my, general assessment of this administration, I wont be bias if I say emphatically that Mr Governor is doing what the people of Oyo State voted him to do. He is working according to the peoples mandate and that is why you saw the turnout of votes to reelect him for a second term.
Gradually, Oyo State is transiting from poverty to prosperity under the leadership of GSM.
My expectation is that God will help GSM to finish all these landmark projects like the circular road, the remaining bus terminals now under construction, the farm settlements in Akufo and Eruwa, and all the big ones to be unveiled under Omituntun 2.0 before the end of his second term and this will engrave his name in the annals of history as a shining light in governance and make his tenure indelible in the hearts of the populace. I am confident that GSM will be remembered for good on the positive side of history.