Bimbo Ashiru, Group Chairman, Odua Investment Company, has said that the newly inaugurated Odua Investment Foundation (OIF) was targeted at positively impacting directly the people of South West geopolitical zone, especially the youth, women and the elderly.
Speaking at the official launch and inauguration of the foundation’s advisory council, Ashiru said that the Foundation would direct the resources pooled together into projects and initiatives that will improve the welfare of the people.
The OIF has seven-member advisory council with daughter of the late sage, Obafemi Awolowo, Olatokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu as chair person.
Other members are Wole Olanipekun, SAN; Onikepo Akande, former minister of industry; Olusegun Olugboyegun Aderemi Makanjuola, Victoria Adunola Samson and Biodun Shobanjo
According the chairman, the Foundation focuses on three areas- youth empowerment, education and healthcare, adding that “We want to impact positively the people of the region and the exigencies of growing our businesses may otherwise have prevented us from reaching as quickly as possible.”
Ashiru pointed out that the Foundation would tap into the collective economic and social capital available to the Southwest region and direct the resources to projects to enhance the welfare of the people.
To achieve the objectives, he pointed out that the Foundation would rely heavily on collaborations and partnerships with individuals, businesses, public and private institutions, non-governmental organisations, development agencies and multilateral bodies.
He however, disclosed that Odua Investment Company has committed one percent of its profit-after-tax to the Foundation.
“Our hope is that this will provide the Foundation with the seed money required to attract additional external funding and resources needed to achieve the necessary impact and reach,” he said.
With the calibre of people in the advisory council, he said that the Foundation would leverage their wisdom and experience in the formative years.
Seni Adio, non-executive director of Odua Investment who worked with Foluso Olaniyan, an independent director to put up the Foundation, explained that the Foundation’s focus on education would include e-learning, scholarships, and contemporary content to equip youths for a knowledge-based and digital economy.
On youth empowerment, he said that OIF would be providing opportunities to participate in socio-economic initiatives to keep them responsibly engaged in commerce and vocational activities.
He also added that it would provide readily available primary healthcare for the teeming youths, emphasizing that “health is wealth.”
In her address, Awolowo-Dosunmu said that by setting up the Foundation, the Odua Board has intentionally introduced an additional avenue through which the company can further impact the lives of the people positively.
“In other words, rather than neglect or erase the legacy of our founding fathers, they have elected to maintain and, even, propagate it. I commend them once again for taking this bold step. I note with great joy that several decades after the group was set up and more than three decades after the transition of the prime legator, Awolowo, the legacy has remained in very safe hands. The journey may not always have been particularly smooth but it is important to note that in spite of all odds, and as a testament to the solid foundation upon which it was built, coupled with the commitment of its board, management and staff over the years, the house of Odu’a Group is still standing tall, sturdy and safe,” she said.
While expressing her profound admiration for the, evidently, meticulous process that has resulted in the composition of the pioneer Advisory Council of the Foundation, she said: “It is a most impressive line-up of personages and is, undeniably, made up of some of the brightest and best minds in the land. These are persons of exceptional knowledge, eminent social pedigree and impeccable integrity. They also possess considerable influence and networks, nationally and internationally, which I have no doubt they will fully deploy for the benefit and success of the Foundation.”
Ayo Adebanjo, Afenifere leader, eulogised the board of Odua Investment for setting up the Foundation and not letting the “legacy of our forefathers to die.”
He however, said that there was need to restructure the country to true federalism, so that every region would develop at its own pace.