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How I Got The Nickname, OZOGULA – Ogun Ex-Commissioner, BUKOLA OLOPADE

•Set To Become OSI ASOJU OBA Of Egbaland

Everybody calls him Ozogula. But his real name is Bukola Olopade. He is a Gbagura Chief. He will soon pick up another chieftaincy title from the Alake of Egbaland in June.

He was the Sports Commissioner in Ogun State during Otunba Gbenga Daniel’s tenure. And he gave a good account of himself during that period. He left public office to go and run his private business. He is the MD of Nilayo Sports, a thriving sports management company with an excellent track record in organising and hosting world-class sports events.

Bukola Olopade first made headline news when he assumed office as one of the youngest commissioners in Ogun State. Like many have said, his magic ward turned around the Sports Sector in Ogun State in less than 4 years.

Some of his legacies include, the hosting of the first-ever Ogun State National Sports Festival, tagged Gateway Games, the establishment of the State-owned football club, called Gateway FC and so many other accomplishments. His achievements in Ogun State paved way for bigger roles at the national level.

He is the one behind the success story of Access Bank Lagos City Marathon which has become an international event. With the resounding success recorded with the Lagos City Marathon, Olopade’s Nilayo Sports Company has concluded plans to take Sports development to other South West cities like Abeokuta, Remo, Akwa-Ibom, Asaba and Abuja.

Many have wondered why he is called Ozogula. His alias is more popular than his real name. Others have wondered where he got the nickname from. He told City People the reason. It dates back to 1984, during his days as a student at Baptist Boys High School In Abeokuta when he used to play football. From his youth, he has always been a Sportsman. He played football at all the higher institutions that he attended. He used to play like Samson Ozogula a popular footballer in the country then who used to score with headers. Bukola was known to be like Samson Ozogula, and it was some of his fans that started calling him Ozogula and that was how the whole of Abeokuta started calling him Ozogula or Ozo.

His dad supported his passion for Sports, but his mum did not. She was opposed to it. She was always telling him to leave Sports and go and read his books. It is on record that he played football for all the higher institutions he attended. That he loves Sports can be seen in his activities, as he is a member of so many sporting organisations.

City People got him to talk about his success story a few days back. Our interview appointment was for the morning of Sunday, 10th April 2022 at his Lagos home. Trust Bukola Olopade, we met him at his living room watching the 2022 Rotterdam Marathon on Super Sports. He is a man who loves to watch Marathon and Road Races. He is quite conversant with the various marathon races all over the world. As he was watching over his cup of coffee, he was taking notes of striking things that can be done to improve the annual marathon race he hosts here.

What sort of a person is Ozo? Is he the tough guy many say he is or an easygoing guy? These and many more were the questions we asked him. We got him to talk about his Egba heritage also. We also got him to talk about his forthcoming chieftaincy title. On the 24th of June 2022 in Abeokuta, Chief Olawale Adebukola Olopade and his pretty wife Yetunde will be installed as the Osi Asoju Oba of Egbaland & Erelu Osi Asoju Oba of Egbaland. How does he see this honour coming from the Alake, we asked him?

How did Ozogula fall in love with Marathon races and Sports in general?

“Yes, there are 2 different aspects. By that I mean my love for sports and my love for races. It started as a natural passion, which dates back to when I was a boy and it developed further when Otunba Gbenga Daniel made me Commissioner for Youths & Sports, the passion developed and I decided to use it for humanity, entertainment & enjoyment.  There is also the business side of it. You must love watching the Rotterdam Marathon and I was studying some of the things that go on out there that we can also bring here to improve on the road races we do here in Nigeria”.

How easy was it also for you to transit from public office to private business.?

“It wasn’t as if I just went into business for the first time after I left public office. I have been in business before I was made Commissioner. Running after money and making money in a constructive manner was something I was brought up with. My mother was a very successful businesswoman and my father was an Engineer with Shell. I learnt and watched the way my mother used to multiply naira. I grew up with that. Of all my siblings, I was the only one who didn’t go to burden school. So, I was always with my mum and I saw how she ran her various businesses. It was from that point that my eyes were set on doing business”.

“Going into government I met a capacity builder in Otunba Gbenga Daniel who will at every point tell us it is important for us while in government that we should think of having the 2nd address so that when we leave office we can stand on our own. He also told us that it is important that while in government we should build the capacity and the network so that when we leave government we would be able to survive without thinking of the perks of office which are no more.

That way, my capacity was built. That was why immediately we left government, the first thing I did was to go back to school to do a Postgraduate degree abroad in Sports Management and that actually opened my eyes to the growing phenomenon called Road Running (Marathon). And that also ignited the business aspect of Sports in me. And that has led to where we are today”.


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