Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, on Thursday revealed that he had feared that he would die before age 30.
Makinde spoke at the thanksgiving service to mark his 52nd birthday at the St Peter’s Cathedral, Aremo, Ibadan.
He said his decision to declare free and qualitative education in the state was aimed at lifting people out of poverty.
The Governor said: “If I can be who I am today, then no child should be left behind in Oyo State. And that explains my passion for education. Once we give education to our children, the sky is their starting point.
“I thought I would join the Army, fight for my country and possibly get killed and that may be the end of the story. So for me, every year I have lived above 30 years is like a bonus.
“Quite frankly, I never thought I would live up to 30. I have a friend here and every time we were talking, we always thought that we would go into the Army, fight, get killed and that would be the end of our story.
“We actually went for recruitment into the Army but were rejected. But today, we are seeing Seyi Makinde at 52 and all I can do is to give thanks to God.
“When we were going through the electioneering period, people said the political terrain here is rough, and I could get killed. So, I looked at myself and said that I could take the risk since I am more than 30.
“That is why without looking back, I will continue to serve the people of Oyo State, without minding whose toe I will step on. Truth is, I will break some toes if I really have to and will continue to fight for the ordinary people of this state.
“My story won’t be complete without all of you and I thank you all. Today is the first time I am celebrating my birthday like this. In the area I grew up, the first time they would bring a cake for somebody’s birthday was when the last child of my family, Iyabo, celebrated her birthday. My parents kept delivering male children until they got to the 5th one.
“I remember after the delivery of the fifth child, who happened to be a female, my mother, in the labour room, was shouting for everyone to hear that she had a female child. For her, it was special treatment.
“Some of us who stayed in the area where I grew up, we used to eat in a communal setting. So, when they brought the cake for her birthday, it was strange to us and we suddenly rushed it. My mum cried that day. That was the kind of environment where I grew up.
“So, if I can be who I am today, then no child should be left behind in Oyo State. And that explains my passion for education. Once we give education to our children, the sky is their starting point.
“For the people of Oyo State, I want to thank you because we would not have achieved anything without you. People have been commending us that there have been changes within six months we came into government.
“I want the people to know that it is not only Seyi Makinde that is doing these but all of us. And you know that decisions overnight by consensus. We discuss, thrash out issues and superior arguments always win. So, in 2020, I look forward to a more robust argument, discussions, and alignments.
“This time last year, I didn’t know I will become the Governor of Oyo State but I prayed to God during my birthday and the last crossover night that if my wish to serve the people of Oyo State would be to their benefit, let it be so and God answered that prayer.
“So, I want to pray again today that all our wishes, in the coming year 2020, God will make them manifest.”