Otunba Ade Adeshina, DG BTSO UK
Otunba Ade Adesina is the Director General of the Bola Tinubu Support Organisation in the United Kingdom (BTSO UK) and Diaspora Grassroots Support for better governance. A one-time APC UK Strategic Planning chairman reveals that the group was created to enable Nigerian professionals support the president-elect to work towards making Nigeria as great as the Britains and Americas of the world.
He also emphasises the need for thorough-bred professionals making an impact in the diaspora to bring their great minds together to work for the country of their birth. In addition, he broaches on the topic of Nigeria as a cashless economy, explaining that it is a meaningful idea wrongly implemented.
How did BTSO come about?
I’m a hardcore APC supporter, and I have been a member as far back as it was Action Congress. My uncle was a House of Assembly member for Lekki, Olumuyiwa Ogunbekun, who died as the regent of Ibeju Lekki.
Since he became a member, it has been part of our family to be supporters of the political party. In 2015, I told my executive colleagues in the UK that though Tinubu wanted Buhari to become president, by 2019, Tinubu would come out, and even if he does not, we should start rooting for him.
I was the first person to paste it on the APC UK executive platform. Then, I was the APC UK chapter strategic planning chairman.
At the time, people said all sorts of things, but I ignored them. I called on like-minded members of the APC like Muyiwa Adeniyi, Rev. Adewunmi, Gbolahan Sodiya and the rest. I told them I would set up the BTSO and asked them to join me on the journey.
I checked out their skills like political analysis, media and other things. Others like Pastor Soyinka were also brought in by Gbolahan.
I wanted us to come out as a force not mediocre, but as professionals with skills. My initial degree is in automobiles, and when I got here, I studied Mental Health, and from there I went on to do International Politics and Global Governance and Sustainable Development as a Masters.
This is coupled with the fact that I run a consulting firm for the London Bureau on Community Economic Regeneration for the past three decades.
In 2009, UK Prime Minister James Gordon Brown gave me an award as an unsung hero on community economic regeneration.
With all these in us, we decided to lend a hand to our own country, knowing that under the right leadership, the leadership of Tinubu, things will go well in the country.
We brought in professionals for about 24 departments to make things move. These people were not chosen by religion or ethnicity, they were chosen for their skillset, so we are a multicultural group.
What is the current strength of the Organisation?
Before the elections, we were over 4000 strong in Nigeria. In the UK, we have 40 executives, and the people on our general platform fluctuate between 150 and 300 that are active.
You were active in the last elections that Nigeria had. What were you trying to achieve?
We have been active in elections as far back as the beginning of the last democratic system.
This means that none of our members is a novice in this game, and we all have something in common; our idea.
We have seen the way the country is run, and, if you want to talk about those that helped make this country great, we are one of those people. We have the experience, we have the ideals, we have worked, we are professionals in all our diverse fields and we all have many years of experience.
All of these things can be used for the benefit of the country.
We are already talking to one or two people at the helms of the affairs from the Federal to State level, but what we wish to do is to sit down and articulate an idea, the kind that made Great Britain and many European countries great.
The idea is that many Nigerians in the diaspora doing a lot of great things out here.
If you look deep down, the head of the treasury in the United States is a Nigerian and many Nigerians are running those departments in the United States. In 2009, I went to Europe to get funding for England to do community economic regeneration in England.
That’s because England did not have that money. They were neck-deep in debt and needed economic regeneration.
So, I had to go with a couple of people to Europe and we got the money from London to spend and spent it across several London bureaus.
If I could be bringing such benefits and the UK government is acknowledging that fact, why not do it for the country of my birth?
If I have friends and like-minded people around me who are ready and want to work with us for the betterment of our nation, then it stands to reason, that is the drive.
And what we are looking for is the opportunity to be able to implement what we do in the UK, America and other places. We have branches here in the UK, America, Canada, Australia, South Africa and Ghana and then Nigeria as a hub.
So if all of those experts around the diaspora can come together and say we want the BTSO to thrive as a platform to create the better Nigeria of our dreams, then we are ready and prepared to engage.
Nigeria is seen as the giant of Africa, so we need to start that journey and make it the great country that it should be.
What is BTSO’s agenda for the president-elect and other elected candidates at state and representative levels in APC?
Our agenda and what we expect the president-elect to do is to give us an action plan.
Knowing him as a man of timber and calibre, he is a thinker, a dreamer and a doer. We believe he will be able to achieve even the barest minimum of what he sets out to do in his first four years.
Then if there is an opportunity, we are ready to help with certain implementations. We have the expertise and the skill to assist.
To the vice president, we know he is from Borno State, and there is a lot of community economic regeneration required.
If there is better economic regeneration in the 774 local governments of Nigeria, there will not be riots and all the negativity we see.
It will address poverty, and unemployment, businesses will thrive. And people will look up to Nigeria as the giant of Africa.
To all the governors, if you mind your state very well, you will eradicate insecurity and many of those associated issues.
For all the House of Reps, and Assembly members; you have local government allocations and state allocations, you have all sorts of allocations.
Let the people fill the dividends of democracy. Let the people know that you are working for the betterment of the people. And if you are there to represent the people, do what it is that will make our country great.
All of these people travel to the UK and see what is happening here. All they have to do is replicate it and make Nigeria a beautiful place, a beautiful bride-to-be-wooed.
You would attract inward investment to make a better life for everyone.
Last, but not least; the introduction of a cashless society is something I believe is a meaningful idea with the wrong implementation.
Nowhere in the world as I am speaking to you do they have a cashless society. No single country in the world has a fully cashless society.
Even Britain and America which pride themselves on using electronic transfer mediums still enjoy and transact in cash. Britain has the infrastructure to back it like an uninterrupted power supply.
Also, internet connectivity is solid. Yet, Britain is still using cash. Nigeria does not have an uninterrupted power supply, and then you expect them to do transactions all the time.
It is a meaningful idea but wrongly implemented.
I think the president-elect and all the people around him should think wisely about the implementation procedure. Britain still allows cash in almost everywhere you go.
And Nigeria which doesn’t even have electricity in the rural area then expect them to use cashless. Do you want them to die in rural areas? That idea needs to go back to the drawing board and then re-strategise and re-implement.