Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Untold Story of Dr. Dapo Williams; President Buhari’s Chief Campaigner in Diapora + Why Queen of England honored him

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Two things will hit you if you come across the profile of Nigerian born British Technocrat, Dr. Dapo Williams. One, you feel a sense of loss due to the massive impact of brain drain on the scarce manpower economy of your country.
Two, you equally get a fare relief for what his brain gain of over 26 years’ experience in the UK Property Economy could do for a country like ours under a newly enacted regime of President Muhammad Buhari’s brand; and that is, if the government is willing to re-import his brain back home.

His Profile
 Dapo Williams, a Lagos born has a diverse background in building related disciplines including building developmental Projects, Mechanical Services Surveying, Plumbing, Electrical Installation and Computer aided architectural draughtsman ship (CAD) with a discipline in building security system.
The Ph-D holder in Forensic Property is also a generalist building construction maintenance and facilities project management expert with additional experience in providing in-house and outsourced building Facility Management Services in owner/Occupied and Multi-let high tech premises. An alumnus of several institutions in Great Britain, Dr. Dapo Williams has his Ph-D from University of Salford, Manchester, United Kingdom.
His stint with the Buhari/Osinbajo project in recent times has brought him out than his recognition by Her Majesty, the Queen of England- Queen Elizabeth II couple of years ago. This versatile technocrat and real estate genius was one of the leading Nigerians in Diaspora who sold the candidacy of President Muhammad Buhari and Professor Yemi Osinbajo in the UK during the 2015 Presidential election. Dr. Williams was the Chairman of the famous London based socio-political organization known as Buhari-Osinbajo Diaspora OrganizationBODO.
Apart from carrying out an intellectually prim campaign strategy in the Diaspora for the Buhari/Osinbajo brand, Dr. Dapo Williams and his group were also very instrumental to some of the high class and intellectually sound campaign jingles on both Radio and Television for The Buhari/Osinbajo presidential dream which gave their campaign and by extension their victory an edge over other contenders.
In an exclusive online encounter with Your Africa’s number 1 Celebrity Encounter blog, Asabeafrika, the former Chevron Oil Rig Engineer who left Nigeria in 1989 and who is currently the Group estate and facilities Manager of Prospect Services, a top-notch United Kingdom based real estate and property Development Company gave us the movie-like story of his life and how fortunes smiled on him while on a summer holiday in London sometimes in 1989.
He opened up for the first time since he left Nigeria for the United Kingdom on the inspiring story of his sun to success lifestyle Enjoy!
Lagos Days   
Who is Dr. Dapo Williams? Can you give us a background of your profile?
I am a Nigerian citizen from Lagos state. Born and raised in Lagos. During my early years in Nigeria, we lived at IDH medical Quarters in Yaba Lagos, bordering the military Barracks and Federal Technical College. I grew up in a multicultural environment where we all lived in harmony and peace with other tribes. This childhood experiences make me a detribalized Nigerian and I speak a few of other non-Yoruba languages.
A lot of us had great upbringing and some didn’t. A lot of the problems in the world could be attributed to poor parenting. This is not to say that we blame our parents for our sorry situation in our adult lives. I will continue to be grateful for the discipline and morals I was taught in my early years by my parents.
Most of us don’t remember our first few years of life but our earliest experiences may stick with us for many years and continue to influence us well into our adulthood.
Ambition & WAEC Work @ 22
When I was a little boy, my ambition was to become an engineer. I had always enjoyed fixing things in the house at an early age and my parents encouraged me through primary and secondary education. I impressed them a lot; I won prizes at every educational event and was very active in sporting activities. I was a member of the Lagos State Amateur Cycling Association, won many prizes. I played Lawn Tennis, I started as a ball-boy; I could remember being a ball-boy for the great Lawrence Awopegba, Agori et al. My Parents supported my actions because they know that I will not let them down come examination period. I won scholarships and prizes. I became a benchmark in the area but I give glory to God that I didn’t let my parents down. I am now passing the legacy onto my children; I hope they would be better than me by the grace of God. I was appointed as an examiner by WAEC at the age of 22. The record is there go and check. I attended questions setting meetings, moderation sessions, and marking of practical examinations assessments for the WAEC / C&G of London Institute.
I am a proud Nigerian and I support, promote and raise the awareness of the culture of Nigeria in the Diaspora. I belong to so many organizations in the UK including non-Yoruba associations. You cannot be my friend if you don’t like the academic world and don’t believe that your education, skills or passion for legit business can provide meals on the table for you and your family.I mentor a few young Nigerians and monitor their progress academically and their behaviors socially in the community with the knowledge of their parents. I have multiple professions which gives me the confidence to go into the employment market and try myself out from time to time to see how competitive I am.
My UK Experience
 What circumstance led to your exit from Nigeria?
I came to the UK in 1989 whilst I was on my off duty after a few weeks on the oil rig. My last employment in Nigeria was with the Gulf Oil Nigeria (now known as Chevron) I worked in the engineering maintenance department. I regularly visit the oil rig platforms at various locations such as Escravos, Warri and Port Harcourt. We do on-and-off duties known as back-to-back. During my resting days, I travel out of town to enjoy my off days. On this particular off period, I visited London and went to shop on Oxford Street. On my way back, I bought the evening newspaper at the station. Then we used to pay 10p. As I was on the tube reading the Evening Standard I glanced through the classified pages where I saw a vacancy advertised. I marked the page for follow-up. When I got back home I just called the number just to see if I am still competitive in the job market, the interviewer on the other end of the phone was impressed with my skills and experience in the field of building and mechanical services. He invited me over to the office on Liverpool Street. When I got there, the guy introduced himself as the Contracts Manager and produced a drawing to me and he asked me to interpret the drawings. I was able to interpret the drawing, produce detailed and sectional views of the drawing and also came up with the Bill of Quantities (BOQ) The guy was amazed and he immediately contacted the Site Manager to see him in his office. When the site manager came, I was introduced to him as an ‘all-rounder’ HVAC technician meaning; I can produce drawings, including ‘as built’ detailed drawings, carry out the take-offs, manufacture the ducts and install on site. The site manager wasn’t happy with this because I immediately became a threat to him and the contracts manager understood his body language and said to me to go home and that he would get in touch with me the following day. Before I got home, the guy had left a voice message for me to meet him in the morning and said to me that there is a big project going on in London at that time which was the Canary Wharf Development in Docklands. They needed to employ about 200 skilled technicians and engineers to work on the project.

 “I take my time to make friends. I don’t judge people by their looks or the material things they possess. I have loads of friends and my friends and I share the same principles and values. Remember the saying ‘show me your friend and I will tell you who you are’ I don’t deal with people of questionable character”.

I was now given the responsibilities of interviewing all the skilled staff and sub-contractors. I was later moved from the office to head the project in Docklands as Project Manager. I was the only black project manager on site then and I was managing the tallest building in Europe at the time which is now the European financial headquarters for most Banks namely Barclays, HSBC, Citi etc.
The Queen’s Honor
 From available facts about your person, this blog learnt the Queen of England unveiled a historic building in your honor and we equally saw one of your pictures with the Queen. How did you acquire such a massive goodwill in London and particularly in the court of Queen Elizabeth?
During my employment period as Facilities Manager, at St Martin in The Fields Girls High School, I was officially presented to Her Majesty by the Chair of Governors because on my efforts in maintaining the property to a high standard. Here in the UK, there are some buildings that are regarded as Listed or Heritage buildings. These are buildings that form part of the English Heritage. These buildings are very old. Some are over 1000 years old and you cannot just maintain them like any modern buildings, the Town planning officers will not let you do certain things to the fabric or alter some of the characters etc. During the preparations for the Tercentenary celebrations (300 years of the school) I was able to do some charity work with local businesses and other groups to raise funds and donate resources for the refurbishment of the school and the construction of the new Arts and Technology building. The board of Governors were all impressed and decided to let Her Majesty know that I was the brain behind the good looks and condition of the school buildings. That was when I became a little bit ‘famous ‘in the UK as the event was aired live on the TV and pictures of me were all over the newspapers.  Shortly after that I left the school on a high after spending about 5 years at that school, I was head-hunted by a professional recruitment agency on behalf of the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) to manage all their properties all over UK
For how long have you been in the United Kingdom and do you have a family there?
Like I said earlier, I came to the UK in 1989. Yes I have my family with me in London. I have three kids, my first son lives in the US with his mum and my other two daughters Simi and Wemi are here in London.

“There is no place like home. It would be a great pleasure and honor if the opportunity comes, of cause, I would like to be part of the change agents that will use the skills and knowledge we have gained over the years in the Diaspora to help reshape our dear country”

The Buhari/Osinbajo Project
We equally learnt you were one of the very few Nigerians in the Diaspora who promoted the candidate of Nigeria's new Commander-in-Chief President Muhammad Buhari through your organization, BODO. Why did you have to do that for PMB?
It was a great pleasure to be invited by the Buhari Support Organization (BSO) The convener, in the person of Chief Wale Kalejaye, a very good friend of mine (people call us twins) Chief Wale Kalejaiye lives both in Nigeria and in the UK where his family resides very close to me in Kent. We share common beliefs and values. The call to join the movement was approved by my Royal Father, HRM Oba Rilwan Akiolu - Oba of Lagos. When I joined the campaign, there were so many individual Buharists and Buhari Support groups all over the place so we decided to consolidate the groups into one and this was coordinated by the Diaspora Coordinator Dr Odaro Omorege who worked at the BSO office in Abuja. The groups merged into one and we called the group BODO meaning Buhari Osinbajo Diaspora Organisation. I was elected first vice chair by the members of the group. I share the post with Hadjia Khalifa, a seasoned political scientist with Malam Sanni Garba a technocrat as the chairman.
 I was responsible for the design and production of most of the campaign jingles and electioneering materials.  We met with the President in London during his visit to the UK. We also met with the Campaign Director General and his team in the person of Hon Roitimi Amaechi (Former Governor of Rivers State) with other eminent personalities like Dr Kayode Fayemi, Mrs. Lola Shoneyin-Soyinka and all the heavy weights in the campaign team. We had several strategy meetings. We also liaised with the team on the grounds in Nigeria, people like Senator Mamora (the Deputy Campaign director) et al. We campaigned tirelessly both day and night in the last few months, weeks, days and hours leading to the elections.
At that time there are two or three factions of the APC in London but we were recognized more than the APC group members, although they were doing their own campaign too, we sometimes meet at big events such as the Chatham House event where there was a fiasco between the APC and PDP supporters.
From ‘Brain Drain to Brain Gain’...
After the presidential elections, we continued with the gubernatorial elections for all the APC candidates. We teamed together with the HOPE Movement; we went to the Canary Wharf in Docklands, Trafalgar Square, The Nigerian Embassy and other locations. The toughest was the ‘battle for Lagos’. Ambode’s campaign was a big one! The reason for joining the campaign team was to be a part of the change movement and to help contribute to the success of the candidates that will transform my beloved country Nigeria to a place to be proud of and to become a great nation. I have lots of friends here in the UK that are experts in their chosen professions but the chances and opportunities are not there for us to return back to our country to help develop the country. We intend turning the brain drain back to ‘brain gain’    
With General Buhari winning his election and becoming the President of Nigeria, do you feel happy?
We celebrated the victory in London where members of the party, support groups and well-wishers all attended at a famous joint called ‘The Broadway’ owned by a fellow Buharist. We partied into the wee hours of the day. It was not the masses that brought PMB to power, it is God
From a Diaspora point of view, what do you think is the problem with Nigeria?
There are so many problems with Nigeria such as; lack of basic amenities, youth unemployment, corruption on a large scale, lack of security, Boko Haram insurgency, I could go on and on….. But with time PMB will turn the situation round for good
Why we sold Buhari/Osinbajo Abroad
From available facts we have here, it was rumored you were one of the power brokers behind General Muhammad Buhari's Chartam House talk in February, can you specify some of the things you benefited by selling PMB abroad?
We give glory to God that all our efforts were not in vain. I was later appointed the Chairman of the group (BODO) where I positioned the group strategically in the Nigerian community where we became a force to reckon with. We were able to sell the qualities of our candidates to the electorates back home; we worked with another support group known as 9jadiaspora led by Honourable Deen Oduniyi – a great guy. We met with the President and had one-to one closed door meetings with him and Professor Yemi Osinbajo on different occasions en route to the United States.
There is a massive campaign in some quarters in Nigeria at the moment that Diaspora experts like you should be invited home to run the government with the Buhari/Osinbajo team, if an invitation is extended to you, would you be willing to dump your comfort zone in the UK to chart a new course in a rough end like Nigeria?
There is no place like home. It would be a great pleasure and honor if the opportunity comes, of cause, I would like to be part of the change agents that will use the skills and knowledge we have gained over the years in the Diaspora to help reshape our dear country. A lot of Nigerians are holding top positions in corporate establishments in various disciplines such as medicine, technology, finance, administration and so on…..
How Dad ‘Hired’ his Surname
Some people we spoke with about your person described you as a well pedigreed man, how did you achieve that despite living such a long time in Britain without enmeshing yourself in credit card scam or drugs?
Thanks to those qualifying me with those kind words, when I was leaving Nigeria, I always have it at the back of my mind a common but meaningful statement from my parents ‘ remember the son of whom you are’
Our parents were strict disciplinarians. When I was growing up, we were then regularly told that our family name means a lot as such we should not bring the name to shame. I remember my father used to say that his father gave him the family name to keep, cherish and pass on to his children unstained. So my siblings and I are trying our best to continue the tradition of keeping and protecting the name and passing on to our children unstained and make the name famous for good reasons. I remember when the picture of my meeting Her Majesty was sent to Nigeria, our house became a museum for the locals – my parents were very proud to the extent that they reproduced a giant-size of the picture and placed it in our living room. I take my time to make friends. I don’t judge people by their looks or the material things they possess. I have loads of friends and my friends and I share the same principles and values. Remember the saying ‘show me your friend and I will tell you who you are’ I don’t deal with people of questionable character. I believe that the work of my hand should provide roof and food for me and my family.
How to Solve Nigeria’s Mass Housing Deficit
 Your profile on LinkedIn described you as a building forensic expert with strong background in architecture and Quantity Survey. Please, how do you think Nigeria can solve her building deficit challenge vis-a-vis low cost housing scheme for the poor?
To God be the glory. My profile on LinkedIn is exactly what it is. People used to ask me ‘what the meaning of DAPO is, I always tell them it means ‘Do All Possibilities Okay’ I have a passion for the built environment and that was why my PhD research was about the effects of climate change on buildings. My friends, family members as my employers know me for one thing, I don’t do things in half-measures; I believe that anything worth doing at all is worth doing well.
I think there are lots of solutions to the housing deficit in Nigeria. We can actually have affordable housing scheme supported by the government at all levels. In providing shelter for the masses, it has an added advantage in terms of job creation and more taxes coming back to the government. The government should adopt a long-term housing strategy. We should be building about 250,000 homes per year nation-wide. It is not a rocket science; we have experts on our BODO professionals’ database. One of our members is an internationally recognized housing practitioner in the person of Adetokunbo Adejumo.
 If you are to find yourself in a position to solve the over 21 million housing deficit problem in Nigeria, how would you go about it?
All we need to do is to carry out research into affordable/low cost strategy that will suit the Nigerian people. The repayment system must be affordable and the Mortgage Banks would be carried along or the state becomes the landlords. We can even introduce part-tenant part landlord’s scheme. There are so many ways we can go about providing shelter for the mass of people in Nigeria but this is not what I can discuss in an hour.
 Do you think Nigeria your country is really in danger and needs help?
I think so, we need prayers for our leaders, we need to support them, and I believe the country is in a position to get assistance from world powers to tackle the insurgency. With the great recommendation President Muhammad Buhari got during his recent trip to America, you can see that Nigeria is on the way to success. In general, we need change of attitude by the Nigerian people. If we can go back to the WAI era, Nigeria would be a fantastic place to live – I can see it coming.
 What is your philosophy of life?
Life’s too short – make a positive impact that would benefit mankind today, tomorrow. I don’t believe in being a passenger in this world – I want to be one of those drivers that take people to their destinations – seeing smiles on people’s faces gives me joy!
Tell us about your family, wife and children?
I have five brothers and a sister. Two of my brothers live in Nigeria; King Joe and Abdul who is a councilor in Shomolu, my little sister Mope Adamson also lives in Nigeria and happily married. I also have some of my siblings and extended members of the family in London and other parts of Europe. My elder Brother Yinka is in London, I also have other siblings in Europe; Abiola is with his family in Ireland and Owolabi T- Junior Lives in Germany with his family. My family live with me here in the UK .We visit Nigeria whenever it is necessary and I hope to spend my retirement years in Nigeria God’s willing.
How do you view the Buhari/Osinbajo government? Do you see them turning Nigeria around for good?
I know that our candidates are sellable products so, I was proud to sell them to the Nigerian community in the UK and in Nigeria through social media. They are perceived as winning horses that was the reason why I became a stakeholder. If I didn’t have strong belief in them, I wouldn’t join the campaign team. PMB’s past records on war against indiscipline and corruption are there for all to see. I have a strong belief in the team and I wish that Nigerians should give them time to turn things around, the problems of Nigeria cannot be fixed overnight, it will take time but we shall get there by the grace of God.
 What is your worst fear for Nigeria and what do you think is the panacea?
My worst fear is the insurgency in the North Eastern part of the country and the kidnapping and bombing going on around the country. I believe President Muhammad Buhari will use his military training and skills coupled with the assistance from countries like the US, Britain and Germany to eliminate the crisis.
Favorite + Favorite = Good Meal
 Tell us about your fashion sense, holiday delight, meal and hobbies?
I like to be seen in good clothes, it doesn’t have to be expensive but fashionable and classy.
My favorite meal is my wife’s Jollof rice. I don’t eat solid foods like eba, amala etc but I love a well prepared vegetable soup (efo riro) with some good students in the ‘classroom’ like Cow foot, snail, giant prawns and dried fish flushed down with a good South African red wine Gbam!  Another thing is that I love parties – good ones though, with nice people around. My Hobbies are Golf, Tennis, football and car racing. My teams are; Arsenal for footie, Schumacher for driver’s any day, Ferrari racing team and Tiger woods’ my man on the course.
I holiday with the family annually in the US, Spain, Germany and Ireland where I have family members. We also take some short breaks in countries like Brazil, Thailand, India, the Maldives and English countryside if I have the time!
Can you recall your saddest day on earth?
I had two and that was when I lost my dad in 1977 and my mum in 2005. May their souls continue to Rest in the bosom of The Lord.
What about your happiest day on earth?
Happiest was when I met Her Majesty the Queen of England and the Head of the Commonwealth nations.
   Thank you granting us audience
Thanks for having me. May your tribe increase!

Gbenga Dan Asabe

Africa's Number One Celebrity Encounter Blog


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