My 'Oga at the top': NSCDC’s Obafaiye Shem talks about his Channels TV interview
NSCDC's Shem Obafaiye who became very popular after his 'Oga at the top saga' on Channels TV in a recent interview finally revealed how his life has changed.
What is your assessment of the security situation in Ibadan and Oyo State in general?
The security situation in Oyo State is relatively peaceful and I must tell you that the synergy among the security agencies here is very superb. We relate well; the Commissioner of Police carries me on well and indeed refers to me as his brother. I do the same to him. Anything that affects one affects all.
At a time, there was a clash between my men and the police. Immediately I told him about it, he promptly took it up and resolved it. My bosses were amazed. That’s the level of rapport that exists between us.
How would you compare the work situation in Lagos to the one in Oyo State?
Lagos is very riotous. What I am trying to say is that there is so much stress in Lagos State when compared with a state like Oyo. Oyo State is a more peaceful state. Ibadan is particularly peaceful. Life here cannot, in any way, be compared with life in Lagos. But just as God backed us up in Lagos, He is still doing the same here in Ibadan. The way He made me succeed in Lagos, is the same way He has started making a success of my work here in Oyo State.
My achievements have been positive. It has always been my desire to do my best as much as possible on this job and wherever I find myself, and God has been good to me. This is what I always tell my subordinates. Since all of us cannot be president; we cannot all be Commandant General, we can all contribute our quota to the growth and development of Nigeria in whichever corner we find ourselves.
This is what I always tell my subordinates. I always tell them that if they are cleaners, they should clean well. The Bible instructs us to do our job as unto the Lord. We should do all with the fear of God. That is, if no one is watching you, God is. My wish is to do my best, to leave a good legacy behind for my generation and everyone coming after me.
Would you rather work here or in Lagos?
Our job is with the federal government. So, it is not about where anyone prefers, it is about where we are posted to. And the rule is that we must be ready to work anywhere; we must adapt to whichever environment we find ourselves. It is a service and we must do it well at all times. There is nowhere I cannot work.
You were posted to Ibadan shortly after the “My Oga At the Top” interview. How about your family? Did you move them down to Ibadan or they are still in Lagos?
They are here. They joined me barely a week after I resumed here. It makes the job easier because there won’t be any divided loyalty.
What are the challenges of your job?
Life is a risk and so is every job. Our own job is no exception. Even the Army, advanced as they are, they still have challenges. In our own case, we are making do with what the federal government has been giving us. We have men on ground and with good leadership, we are showing commitment and doing well. God has been very faithful. In the course of our job, we arrest tankers with arms and ammunition among other major things. We have challenges, but they are minimal.
How would you rate the success of the NSCDC so far?
Am I not too small to rate the NSCDC? Generally, I would say, of all the agencies, ours is the closest to the masses. We live with them, interact with them and we have a good intelligence gathering network. We are doing well in all ramifications. On some different occasions, we are the first to get to scenes of fire incidences. In the area of disaster management, we help manage situations, rescue and rehabilitate. In the area of preventing the activities of pipeline vandals, we are also doing well. If I am to give a mark, I would give 75%. That is an A.
As security officer, what tips would you give to individuals for safety?
We must observe personal security in our homes. It would be wrong to switch on your light before leaving home; people should be conscious of strangers around where they live; they need to call the attention of neighbours if they see strange faces; they should put bulbs in their surroundings to illuminate the environment. I would also advise that you don’t just leave your gate open. Your security man should be registered with a security outfit so that they will be able to capture his data.
This is to enable them to trace him. It is risky and not ideal to just employ somebody just because he claimed to have worked as security officer in some place before. He might have been sacked for one misdemeanor or the other before or may even be telling lie just to feed himself. He may not be able to handle the job and you may end up suffering for this at the end of the day. And for those who employ house helps, they must be careful of who they leave their children with. A lot of underground work need to be done to have these kids placed in safe hands.
What is your opinion about the Channels Television interview that brought you instant fame?
I have nothing much to say other than to bless God for everything. I thank God for all that happened; I thank God for my boss, his support and love. He is a good boss and I appreciate him. As far as I am concerned all things work well for those who love God and in all things, the Bible says we should praise God.
The people that thought they were going to ruin me did not know that they would end up in announcing my destiny. In the history of humanity, there had never been any human being that had instant fame like I did especially in a case that was meant to end negatively. My brother-in-law in London is even so excited about the incident that he promised to assist me make big money out of this supposed mess. He had already handed the matter to an agency over there to trade mark “Oga at the Top.” But I just asked him to forget it. There is no need for that.
Many of my class mates are in top positions in Nigeria currently, yet, they said I did not go to school. I can mention a lot of them here, including the Attorney General in Lagos State, Ipaye.
But why should I do all that. All the same, I give all the praises to God. It was not the first interview I would be having with them (Channels Tv). After that interview we shook hands and I even gave them my complimentary card. I could see that they were not really cheerful. If there was any effect, it was on them and not me. It was the same day I met with Governor Fashola of Lagos State.
Theirs took place in the morning and I met Governor Fashola later in the day. Some people believed they were up to something, but I did not know. I was only being careful with words as a security officer. We apply caution in all that we say and do. It was a live programme, the whole world was watching us, so, I did not want to be too free.
But like I said, I thank God for everything. I blame nobody for anything; I see everything as an act of God. They believe they would use it to destroy my destiny but God turned everything around for me, for the better.
How did your family take the development?
The day of the interview, 16th of March, 2013, was the day my father was buried. It was as if it was designed to destablise me on the day of the burial of my father, but it was not so. It was three or four days after that they apologised and said it was not meant to embarrass me.
Channels felt bad because it backfired. Anybody that wants to go for an interview in Channels will be very skeptical now and henceforth. I just felt it was my time for divine announcement, so I did not take it the way they thought I would take it.
In fact, when I saw the T-shirt, I wanted to buy one. Some had thought that my transfer to Ibadan was a demotion, but they are wrong. It is not. They also claimed that my wife went to Channels over the issue. The question I asked was, to do what? She did not. The whole thing has only turned around to be God’s glory in my life.
What is your philosophy of life and how did it apply in the case of “My Oga At The Top” case?
My philosophy of life is to impact positively on this generation. I want to leave a legacy, a good and worthwhile legacy behind that will not make my family live or walk in fear when I am gone. I want to sustain my good name; and that is what I preach to my staff every day.
I tell them to be open-minded; be determined; do what you will do with your best ability whether people are there or not. Note that there are people watching you and your work will speak for you when you are not there. This is what I always tell them.
What is the lesson to be learnt in your “Oga At The Top” issue?
Everyone should identify a lesson out of the whole saga.
What is your childhood ambition and where were you born?
My dream was to become a military person. In the village, they called me a Soldier because of the way I walk. Talking about where I was born, I was born in Ayetoro Kiri in Kabba/Bunu local government area of Kogi State.
What influence do your parents have on your life as an adult?
My parents are very hard working and well-disciplined. My father was a farmer and made us to work on the farm as early as 4 a.m. and wouldn’t come back until 10 p.m. They were very strict. My father was not that rich, but he was determined and loved his children to go to school. The two of them are dead now but they left a good memory of themselves behind. And you know like it used to generally be in those years, we lived a communal life.
My father lived a very selfless life. He wished all other children that were not even his own the best that he wished for we his children. He wouldn’t let any child that he found at home when others were in school be. That earned him the name- “Baba ki lo n se n le.” He would ensure that the reason why the child was not in school got fixed as much as possible.
This and others we learnt as we grew up. He taught us the essence of hardwork. He was not rich, so, we had to work on the farm very hard to get money to take care of our school fees. My mother was also hard-working.
She was a strong-willed woman who was a popular garri maker of her time. She died in 2009 while papa died in February 2013. They taught us to be solution givers and we thank God that we are on that path. He believed in the power of cane. I remember a time that I and one of my brothers went to work in the farm and we covered so much ground and without food. When he came, we thought he was going to be excited and commend us. He, instead, went wild when he found out we did all that we did on empty stomach. He caned us in anger.
Would you recall any of your childhood pranks?
I was a serious student in UNILAG and so wouldn’t joke with my books. I came from a poor family and I didn’t want to disappoint my parents and myself. I think I entered the female hostel twice throughout my undergraduate days. My success was more important and I wouldn’t want anything to distract me.
How would you describe village life?
It was a communal life. People do things together, but in the city, they want to do it by themselves. There were good and healthy foods in the village. Everything was expressly from nature, the air, water, vegetables and all. Even herbs came handy for ailments that would have cost a fortune in the city. City life has caused crises to marriages whereas this is not common in the village. There is a huge difference between life in the village and in the city.
What attracted you to your wife?
She is beautiful and a good singer. She was leading a chorus at a crusade when I first saw her. She is an evangelist.
How would you describe marriage?
Marriage is a beautiful thing. That is the way I would describe it.
How do you unwind?
I am married to my job and my wife complains about that. When I am not working, I am in church. The last time I went on leave was in 2009.
What is your general advice for people?
Let every individual do his work as ordained by God, believing that he or she is accountable at the end of the race. People should be contended with what they have; they should use all their strength to do whatever is given to them and wait on God for reward. People should put their trust in God and not in human beings. Today, we have so many people derailing because they expect so many things from human beings. Wait for God at the appointed time. Do what you are doing with the fear of God.