Maryland–Ondo States Sister States Program: A Model
“Chair Maryland-Nigeria Sister State Executive Committee, Sylvester Okere noted that God has blessed Ondo State with rich natural and human resources in which the Sister-States Program will provide opportunity to tap into and utilise for great benefit of the people.”
By Tunde Fajimbola
Maryland (USA) – Ondo State (Nigeria) Sister States Program: A Model
It was historic moment for the State of Maryland in United States of America and Ondo State in the Federal Republic of Nigeria as friendship agreement was signed between the two states in furtherance of the Maryland USA Sister States Program.
The historic event took a delegation from Maryland to experience the rich hospitality of Ondo State government and the warmness of people of the sunshine state of Nigeria. The delegation led by John Patrick McDonough who is the Secretary of State of Maryland is made up of eminent personalities including the Deputy Secretary of State, Policy and External Affairs, Dr Rajan R. Natarajan, Executive Assistant to Governor Martin O’Malley, Linda Aldredge, Executive Aide, Zachary Feldmann and Chair-Maryland-Nigeria Sister State Executive Committee, Sylvester Okere.
Other members of the delegation include Chris Akinduro, Mr. Franklin Akinkoye, Dr. Felicia Bassey-Akamune, Kemi Fadojutimi, Dr. Oluremi Ilupeju, Olufunke Oderinde, Martin Segun Oni, and other members of the Maryland Sister-States community.
On arrival to Ondo State in the South West of Nigeria, the team was received and conducted round some landmark projects executed by Governor Olusegun Mimiko’s administration.
The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on International Relations and Diaspora Affairs, Mrs Remi Duyile took the visitors round some project sites and tourist centres in company of the Chairman of Board of Ondo State Radiovision Corporation, Chief Sanya Oyinsan.
Some of the places visited include Mother and Child Hospital in Ondo town, Caring Heart Mega Primary School in Akure, Neighbourhood Market, International Event Centre and Automart in Akure.
They were also the guest of various traditional rulers in the state. At the palace of the paramount ruler of Akure the state capital, the Maryland Sister States delegate were given a warm reception by the king, the Deji of Akure, Oba Adebiyi Adesida. Similar reception was also accorded them by the traditional rulers of Idanre, Oba Fredrick Aroloye and Osemawe, Oba Victor Kiladejo, at Ondo Kingdom.
The team had impressive and memorable experience at Idanre Hill Tourist Centre, a designate site for UNESCO World Heritage Centre. It took the Marylanders including the Maryland Secretary of State, John McDonough about half hour to reach the topmost of the wonderful mountain.
The Executive Assistant to Maryland Governor, Linda Aldredge described her experience on the mountain as highly rewarding, exciting and inspiring. Linda said it was a unique opportunity for her to see the wonders of nature as she looked around and surveyed the landscape and examined the historic monuments at Idanre hill.
Executive Aide, Zachary Feldmann described the climbing of the many steps on Idanre hill as great exercise.
Chair Maryland-Nigeria Sister State Executive Committee, Sylvester Okere noted that God has blessed Ondo State with rich natural and human resources in which the Sister-States Program will provide opportunity to tap into and utilise for great benefit of the people.
After the great exercise on Idanre hill, the team later paid a courtesy visit to Owa of Idanre Kingdom where the traditional ruler, Oba Fredrick Aroloye, honoured the Secretary of State, John McDonough with a traditional title, “Seriki of Maryland” where he performed all the rites of the traditional title.
The kings of Akure and Ondo kingdoms have honoured the Secretary of State also with different traditional titles as a symbol of acceptance, love, friendship and ties of relationship. Despite the busy day, November 18th which was the day two of the visit also had it on record that the team had business network meeting with civil community in Ondo State.
The meeting which took place in the evening at Sunview Hotel in Akure gave opportunity for exchange of ideas and interactions where an Associate Professor of Political Science, Dr. Femi Omotoso delivered a lecture.
Monday, November 19 was the day the two states signed a friendship agreement that covers areas of health, education, culture, and media as well as gender and development. The event whoich took place at Babafunke Ajasin Auditorium witnessed the presence of Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, Deputy Governor, Alhaji Ali Olanusi, Secretary to State Government, Dr. Aderotimi Adelola, Head of Service, Mrs Kosemani Kolawole, top government officials, political leaders, stakeholders in the private sector, non-governmental organisation, youths and elderly people.
The students of Unity Secondary School, Akure and pupils of Caring Heart Mega Primary School and Olufunmilayo Nursery and Primary School, Akure added colour to the ceremony with songs of inspiration and cultural dances. The ceremony was an exchange of ideas by Ondo State and Maryland.
While witnessing the signing of the program, Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko described it as a dividend of good international relations as he declared that the state government would continue to collaborate with international communities and agencies with a view to drawing reputable investors to the State.
The secretary to Ondo State Government Dr Aderotimi Adelola and the Secretary to the State of Maryland, Mr. John McDonough signed the friendship agreement on behalf of the two States.
Governor Olusegun Mimiko noted that his administration would continue to leverage on the abundant human and material resources to develop the State through collaboration with reputable organizations. He highlighted the education sector and the health sector among other areas of collaboration for sustainable development.
He said: “The vision of our administration is to position our dear State as an institutional brand having unparallel credentials that would automatically open the multiple doors of opportunities for it in the international arena and Diaspora.”
Mimiko however appreciated the government of Maryland State, USA for its interest in the development of the State. The Secretary, Maryland State, Mr John McDonough and the Deputy State Secretary, Dr Rajan Natarajan in their remarks said the collaboration was as a result of the people-oriented programmes of Governor Mimiko’s administration, which they believed would further add values to the lives of the people of Ondo State.
A Phenomenon at 50
Hitting the age of 50 is a landmark and a milestone to be celebrated. Fifty years and still counting, Aremo Olusiji Balogun, is a phenomenon and a case study in humanity.
He is an Associate Member, Chartered Institute of Personnel Management in Nigeria among others. He is the Founder of Ase Youth Association and several other organisations.
His company Promec Innovative Concepts was a child of necessity when his attempt to register Prince Royal Media Concept (Promec) at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) met a brick wall.
Olusiji Balogun is a media guru and an organizational growth and business development expert with adaptable skills. He is able to use own initiative or work as part of a team. An efficient and effective Human Resources Manager, community worker, excellent communicator at all levels within and outside organizations; he has good problem solving and analytical skills with pioneering spirit.
Olusij’s specific interests include teaching and learning for new product development, business development, participatory social activities, keen insight into the needs of others and with high energy, initiative and focus, proven leadership skills including managing and motivating others to achieve objectives.
An effective community and social worker, he is fluent with information technology and capable of handling executive assignments and leadership. His other qualities include being positive with potential ideas, he has the ability to work with anyone under any condition or situation and contribute greatly to achieving the best goals of the establishment.
Oluwasijibomi Gideon Balogun was born on the 8th September, 1972 in Ondo town to the family of Samuel Olusegun Balogun and Mrs Grace Remilekun Balogun of Ase Akoko in Akoko North West Local Government Area of Ondo State. Both parents are retired Civil Servants. Olusiji was raised up with strong Christian virtue.
He had his early education at St. Luke’s Primary School, Akure but finished at Muslim Primary School, Ikaram Akoko, all in Ondo State, where he obtained the First School Leaving Certificate. He subsequently earned his West African Senior School Certificate in 1990 after attending Omoluorogbo Grammar School, Akure before proceeding to Ala Community Comprehensive High School, Ala-Elefosan, Idanre Local Government Area of Ondo State.
He also attended the Institute of Journalism and Nigerian Institute of Journalism, (NIJ), Akure Campus for his Diploma in Journalism and Public Relations, after a sojourn at Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) briefly in the Institute of Science Laboratory Technology. He also went to Akwa-Ibom State Polytechnic, for his Higher National Diploma in Business Administration.
He later proceeded to the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State for his Bachelor of Science Degree in Public Administration.
He is a Member of various professional bodies.
After leaving school, Olusiji started working as a freelance Journalist and Printer. He started Eminent Leaders Magazine in 1996 and registered Prince Royal Media Concepts with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), in 1999 which he upgraded to Eminent Leaders World Communications Limited publisher of Eminent Leaders magazine.
He worked with several organisations where he left indelible footprints of punctuality, hard work and professionalism. He worked with Mentors Communications, Abuja in different capacities. At Mentors Communications, he was the pioneer Editor of Rootswatch Magazine. He was Technical Assistant to the Managing Director of Quarry Managers Company in Abuja, headed by the late Abdulhakeem Amao. He was Special Event Manager with ITAD/MotMacdonald/PWC in Calabar and Water Supply and Sanitation Reform Programme (WSSRP) in Abuja. Both projects under the Integrated Water Resource Management European Commission.
He also had a stint with Hatlab Delight as a Business Development Manager and Head of Administration, O.T. Otis Engineering Limited. He resigned his appointment with Successory Nigeria Limited, Abuja, as Head of Project Management, in year 2019 to move his outfit forward.
Olusiji Balogun experience in politics is vast. His team helped installed Olusegun Agagu and Olusegun Mimiko as Ondo State Governors. He was the nucleus of Olusegun Mimiko Campaign Organisation for his second term when he was Editor of Grassroots Vanguard Newspaper of Grassroots Network.
He attempted to contest for the coveted seat of Ondo State Governor in 2020.
His experience in administration is versed as he is an Associate Member, Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM), Full Member Institute of Professional Administrators and Managers (IPMA) and many other professional bodies. He is a partner in many companies and Chief Executive Officer of Promec Innovative Entrepreneurship and Science Academy (PIESA) and several other firms.
He currently has his hand in farming as he started Ase Farms Nigeria Limited, asefarms.com.ng.
His hobby includes travelling, reading, surfing the internet and adventures.
Ambassador Bayo Lawal Appointed American Diplomatic Representative in Brazil Ambassador Bayo Lawal, is truly a chip off the block. Born in Osogbo, Osun State of Nigeria, into the royal house of Olumodi Oyipiloye and Asuni Compound (Maternal) Osogbo. Bayo Lawal has become the first Nigerian to receive an American diplomatic status in Brazil. At a diplomatic ceremony held on the 17th of December, 2021 in the executive auditorium of the State Legislative Council, Saopaulo , Brazil, the American Government, through its Diplomatic Mission of International Relations (ADMIR) sworn In Ambassador Bayo Lukman Lawal as one of its appointed diplomatic representatives of the American diplomatic mission in Brazil. The humanitarian and diplomatic mission , which for the first time, included a Nigerian living in Brazil, inaugurated other important personalties in Brazil as members of its humanitarian project scheduled for Africa and Europe in the year 2022. Bayo Lawal is from a royal and polygamous house where hardwork is the hallmark. Though born by a successful business man popularly known as “Were Nise Oluwa”, Bayo Lawal has been a focused, hard-working and persevering youngman. His stint with the Osun State Board of Internal Revenue after his days at The Federal Polytechnic, Offa, set him in a progress pedestal. At the Board of Internal Revenue, his hardworking nature, made him a darling of all. Ambassador Bayo Lawal, before leaving the shores of Nigeria, originated the idea of honouring women in Nigerian society in 1999, tagged “Women Entrepreneur Merit Award” organised by Spotlight Media Ventures. He was then the PRO and Reporter for the firm. Ambassador Bayo Lawal and other personalities like the notable former Brazilian football captain, Capitão Cafu , the Saopaulo State First Lady, Mrs. Bia Doria, the Director of Federal Police, the Honorable speaker of the House of Assembly in Saopaulo , Representatives from several African and European countries witnessed the event. According to the President of the mission in Brazil, Dr. Fernando Navarro, the principal function of the American diplomatic mission of International relations is simple, it is humanitarian, it is helping to make the world a better place to live, he said the mission is to combat hunger and help the needy. Ambassador Bayo Lawal, who has lived in Brazil for over twenty years has worked in different functions in the international relations, he is an administrator who has led his team of excellent professionals within and outside Brazil. He is the presently the CEO of Mab Consulting Services, an International Trade and Business Development company with spread in the South America, Africa, China, USA, Europe and UAE. Bayo Lawal, who served as a Business Consultant at Grupo Empresarial Costa Negocios, taught courses in several English Schools in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He was Business English Teacher For Executives between 1999 – 2014. He worked at the Costa Negocios Group, FGV Projetos, Bimex Comercial Ltda., and many others. In his interview with Heritage news, Ambassador Lawal said “I am dedicating my achievements in Brazil to the Almighty God and also to my late parents, Prince Yekeen Lawal and Mrs. Bolanle Lawal. I also owe this success to my family in Brazil , my friends and colleagues who are always by me.” Ambassador Bayo Lawal said he is ready to work with all humanitarian organizations in Nigeria and overseas, using his office as an ambassador to help better the standards of every Nigerian, African immigrants in Brazil and around the world. He promised to lead projects of housing estates to Osogbo and other necessary locals in Nigeria.Ambassador Bayo Lawal is married to an Italian descendant Brazilian, Mrs. Sara Guerino Lawal and blessed with three children; Nathalie Mariam Oyenike Lawal, Derick Afeez Oyewale Lawal and Allan Khalil Babatunde Lawal.
Iyalaje Tolulola Olajibike Bayode was born in Akure and hails from Oba-Ile. She’s the daughter of Chief Joseph Bayode and Pastor Mrs Bayode.
Tolulola Olajibike Bayode, RN, BSN, MD, is a trained medical professional but with an unusual passion for the well-being of the less privileged. Having travelled far and wide,Tolulola share an uncanny obsession of giving abandoned children and widows another shot at life,employing both her professional training and God given resources in assisting the less privileged at will leading her to initiating Dorian Home for Displaced Children & Mothers Initiative.
The African Union Economic, Social and Cultural Council appointed this Akure born philanthropist Dr. Tolulola Bayode as Head, Social Affairs and Health Cluster Committee. The job description entails implementing the overall goals of the Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development portfolio in line with the AU Agenda 2063, Sets annual performance targets for the Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development portfolio and report on annual progress to Specialized Technical Committees and AU Policy Organs.
In 2009, Dr.Bayode established Dorian Home for Charity and Social Development as a Non-governmental Organization (NGO). She’s the CEO/ President. Her personal encounter and experience in the course of discharging her professional duties, most especially in the Internally Displaced People’s (IDP) Camps, Community/Rural Medical Outreach programs, just to mention a few, afforded her a first-hand and comprehensive understanding of the plethora of unsavoury plights of women and children in our society.
Dorian Home is the biggest orphanage home in Africa, consisting of 700 homes for children,500-capacity skill acquisition centre for women, large hall for events, modern clinic and a worship centre. Dorian Home for Charity and Social Development is situated at Akure, the Ondo State capital.
Described as the biggest orphanage home in Africa, the ultramodern facility worth $5million and was finally commissioned on the 14th of October 2021.
Dorian Home is not limited to taking care of just abandoned babies and widows but also focused on research, training, empowerment and mobilize women towards self-emancipation. A glamorous persona imbued with the philosophy of giving hope to the hopeless, creating a better living condition for the abandoned, Tolulola is in the forefront of Safe Haven Law in Nigeria – the leaving of unharmed infants with statutorily designated private persons so that the child becomes a ward of the state with proper upbringing.
At the commissioning of the home, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice-President of Nigeria, called for the provision of adequate welfare for vulnerable children and women in the society. The vice president commended Bayode for making provision of the basic needs of homeless children and women her passion. He said that about nine per cent of Nigerian children were homeless; a figure Osinbajo said seems to be growing rapidly. The vice president, however, called on well meaning Nigerians to join hands with the government to provide adequate care for the homeless children, saying that government alone could not do it. Osinbajo described the laudable project as one that would stand the test of time for the less privileged and empowerment for women in society.
During her speech, the Founder and President of Dorian Home, Dr Tolulola Bayode, said that vision of the project was about leaving a legacy of hope for the orphaned children, widows and less privileged women in the society. According to Bayode, reality dawned on her after the shocking demise of her elder brother, the purpose of man on earth is to touch life and uplift humanity. Bayode said the covenant she had with God to have the home was based on her love for humanity, widow, indigent and displaced children to live a better life. She also appealed to the government to provide adequate security checkpoints along Akure/Idanre Road, adding that the future of any child should not be toiled with. She emphasised that not that she has the resources but has a heart of giving.
Represented at the ocassion, was the governor of Ondo State represented by his Deputy, Mr Lucky Ayadatiwa, who said that the project compliment the administration’s REDEEM agenda of Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu. He commended the Founder of the home for her initiative. Akeredolu described the project as unique because it focus on the neglected section of the society. Akeredolu said the project would receive the support and patronage of the state government. He said the state government would continue to support the social initiative programmes of the Dorian Home.
Also, speaking at the ocassion, Senator Tayo Alasoadura, the Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, urged people to emulate the kind gesture that counts for the good of humanity by trying to make the society a better place for humanity. Alasoadura said that Nigeria would be a better place, if everyone tried to provide a home like heaven on Earth, especially for the displaced and indigent children, just as the orphanage.
Tolulola Olajibike Bayode, as a natural social and talented care giver has continually provided training, education and health consultations in the non-profit entrepreneurial sector to youths in different parts of the world and has successfully maneuvered the delicate balance between dedication to mission in a wide range of settings. Aside her passion for the creating a better living for commoners, she has years of extensive managerial experience in the non-profit sector, with outstanding records in getting initiatives off the ground and flourishing.
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