It was an emotional re-union in Ilorin on Monday as loyalists of former Presidential Candidate and a chieftain of the ruling All Progressive Congress, Mr. Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim converged as he received a Merit Award from the Youth Assembly of Nigeria, YAN.
The Award was given “in recognition of his pedigree as a successful entrepreneur, a student/youth activist, and a progressive politician” as part of the activities to mark this year’s edition of the National Youth Day and the inauguration of the third Assembly of YAN.
The loyalists who are mostly youths he had groomed and mentored in politics used the occasion of the award to publicly acknowledge his impact on their social and political trajectory in the state and beyond.
One of the mentees, Alhaja Mariam Wasiu from Moro said she lost her marriage for attending Olawepo-Hashim campaign rally in 2007. Now, a Commissioner in the Sate’s Local Government Commission, Mariam disclosed that her husband was livid and never forgave her for leaving their 14 day baby to attend a campaign rally.
Another loyalists, Hon. Musbau Eshinrogunjo, who described himself as “Gbenga Olawepo’s first son” at the occasion, is presently a Special Assistant on Rural Mobilisation to the Kwara Sate governor. He was a former member of Gbenga Olawepo’s Youth Vanguard in the state.
Another “son” who publicly identified himself at the event is Ambassador Yahaya Seriki, a gubernatorial aspirant in 2019 and a House of Representative candidate for the Democratic People’s Party in the 2011 elections.
The present Deputy Chief Whip in the State House of Assembly, Honourable Alli Jimoh was another “son” in the Gbenga Olawepo Youth vanguard of more than 10,000 members across the state. Folasade Aransiola, an APC chieftain from Irepodun Local Government of the State was among ladies who also publicly identified themselves as “Gbenga Olawepo’s “daughters” at the occasion.
The loyalists gleefully recalled his Social Responsibility and Charity in the past which include the following: Micro business grant given to 500 women and youths of the sum of 20,000 to 30,000 naira each the state; Scholarships for indigent students; community development contributions; rehabilitation of neighbourhood roads in some communities and sponsorship over two hundred youths in the acquisition of digital skills in year 2021 alone across Nigera with 15 participants from Kwara.
According to them, “Olawepo-Hashim has also contributed to Islamic fundraising in Offa in 2006 being the highest donor at such events. His annual provision of food to many during fasting seasons in the past is still well remembered .Even though a Christian, he sponsored many on pilgrimage to Mecca.
“To advance the works of Christianity, he has built many churches and donated lands for many. Between 2017 and 2019 he built 11 churches in Osun, Niger and Benue States.”
In his speech at the ceremony, Mr. Olawepo Hashim thanked the group for the honour and encouraged the youth to awaken the spirit of entrepreneurship and resourcefulness in them to be able to stand a better chance in the present digital age.
He maintained that entrepreneurship remains the shortest route to break the glass ceiling in today’s digital age and implored the youth not to indulge in wanton luxury but to invest their earnings to secure their future.
Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim Media Office