Interview

Why I Introduced PROWPMAN in Ondo State- Ajayi Oluwafemi

By Dupson Collins, 25th August, 2023

Mr Ajayi Oluwafemi Micheal is the Ondo State Chairman of PROWPMAN. He speaks with the PATH NEWS on his growing up, timber business, PROWPMAN among others.

Can you lead us into your background?

I hailed from Ilu Titun, Osooro in Okitupupa Local Government of Ondo State. I attended Community Primary School Aiyetoro 1 under Okitupupa Local Government and later Community Grammar School Kajola along Lagos Express Road in Odigbo Local Government. After my secondary education, I ventured into business. I started the business of timber in 1990, I was in Primary three then. My dad who was around 87 years of age needs somebody to manage his business. He was into timber business. Whenever I am back from the school, I help monitored his business, transport timber to Lagos. When he retired from the business, I took over from him. While doing this, I was still in school. After my secondary education, I registered for JAMB with intention of furthering my education but I couldn’t make the required mark that will secure university admission for me. Having tried several times, I decided to forgo it and face my business with hope of continue in the future. Age is not a barrier to Education, I can continue anytime.

What informed your decision to introduced PROWPMAN in Ondo State?

As a business man that is well traveled, I knew about the association in 1997. The association originated from Ogun State. At that time, we used to supply Ogun State and we knew the way they ran the association. While transacting business in Ogun State, the taxes placed on us was much through the association. We were not too comfortable with the heavy tax burden, I brought the idea of getting our own state chapter of the association in Ondo State and I called a friend Nduka who was also a timber trader and I told him that we can also established PROWPMAN in our State. He keyed into it and we started making move on how to have Ondo State Chapter. We approached the leadership of the association in Ogun State making our intention known to them. It wasn’t easy inticially but we summoned courage. We called Mr Jeff who happened to be the first Interim Chairman about our plan to float an association, with Mr Friday now late, we were four in number that started the association.

Did any existing Timber Association troubled you as you introduced the association to the state?

Within the state, association like Sawmillers Association, Timber Trade Association (TTO) were not comfortable with our new association, they taught we are working against their interest but along the lines, they reasoned with us knowing fully well that we are not out to break the existing association. As earlier said, we started with two later four until we get to fifteen members. PROWPMAN is a national association that is not restricted to a particular region alone; we later approached the national body of our intention to establish the association in Ondo State.

Did the National Body supported the formation of Ondo State Chapter of the association?

The leadership from the national listed creteria for our registration to include creating awareness in the state, get the consent of Ministry of Forestry, traditional rulers across the state and stakeholders in the industry. We sought the consent of Ajobu of Araromi Obu, Abodi of Ikale Land, Akapinsa of Ipinsa, Owa of Idanre, Saki of Arigidi and all these traditional rulers supported us. We informed the national body of the widely acceptance by the traditional rulers and other stakeholders, that was when they agreed to inaugurate the state Excos of the association in Ondo State.
New Officers were inaugurated because the association was under Interim government, we have to conduct election. Having seen the role l played in the formation of the association, I was elected unopposed by my members. No member obtain form again me and to God be the glory, I am the first elected State Chairman of PROWPMAN in Ondo State.

What are your achievements and challenges since assumption of office as the State Chairman?

Challenges are part of leadership most especially when you are dealing with different people of different backgrounds but I thank God for His guidance because it takes wisdom, knowledge and understanding to lead. To manage human being is not easy. When I resumed office, I started what no association in the state has done before, willingness to generate revenue for government. Without forcing or asking us, we approached the government through Ondo State Internal Revenue Service and Ministry of Forestry, telling government that we want to help them to generate revenue. When we approached the Director of Forestry, Alhaji Obadu and the Permanent Secretary then, we were asked to write a letter to that effect which we did. The Commissioner of Forestry and Agriculture, Hon Olayato Aribo was happy and commended our kind gesture which is a rear feat in the ministry. Our major challenge is the closing of the port which is really affecting our business within the period such action is taken by the government.

What other businesses are you into aside timber business?

I am also a produce and palm Kernel Buyer. Aside this, I am into iron scrap business.

Your charge to your Members who are looking up to you?

I can only charge my members not to relent in their humanitarian service to the less privileged in the society. One thing stands our association out, we are found of assisting one another. Any of our member that has challenges, we rise up as a team to extend hands of assistance. Let’s continue to be our brothers keepers always. I pray for God’s upliftment and blessings for all our members.

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