Friday, July 13, 2018

New Jersey, USA



TITLE OF BOOK: The Biography of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Gov. State of Osun, Nigeria With Special by His Royal Highness, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, The Alaiyelua Alaafin of Oyo
AUTHORS: Dr Moshood Ademola Fayemiwo & Dr Margie Neal-Fayemiwo
PUBLISHERS: Neal & Associates Consulting Group Books, TX USA
ISBN:- 978-1-63263-820-5.-
PAGINATION:- 389 pages
FORMATS:- Hardback and Paperback editions
PRICE:- Not Stated
REVIEWER:- Dr. Gerald Onyewuchi Onukwugha, New Jersey City University, Jersey City, NJ, United States of America

Hardback: ISSN: 978-1-63263-820-5.-                        Paperback: ISSN:

hey have done it again! What motivated an international award-winning writer, author, biographer and a former university teacher; Dr Moshood Ademola Fayemiwo and his talented wife, a former university professor, teacher and an author; Dr. Margie Neal-Fayemiwo to write an astonishing exhaustive detailed 389-page biography of His Excellency, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, the first democratically-elected chief executive of the State of Osun to govern the Land of Virtues for two terms? As the Texas-based; Buckholts Book Review aptly noted of their latest work: "Margie and her duumvir author; Moshood have added yet another literary tour de force to their oeuvre. The duo, fast becming biographers of contemporary Nigeria's newsmakers have released a masterful scribal of the life of a former leftist rabble-rouser from variegated chiaroscuro of pro-democracy and militant trenches to political power. The authors, albeit biased, leave the reader the censorial conclusion of their subject... Omoluabi is crisply optime, readable and beautifully presented…" The authors began this biography by tracing Rauf's lineage, his conception, how he grew up, his mentors, the forces that honed his political horizon, his election to the Bola Ige House in Osogbo, his eight-year supersonic transformation of the State of Osun, while capturing the culture of the Yoruba people from many trajectories. The fact that one of Yoruba's most cherished and revered traditional rulers; His Royal Highness, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, Alaiyeluwa Alaafin of Oyo Nigeria considered this work outstanding to write a Special Foreword is a big deal. In addition to the short history of the Omoluabi ethics in Yoruba rich cultural mosaic, this book also tells the micro- history of contemporary Nigeria -her political topsy-turvy and the succession of leaders who presided over Africa's most populous nation in post-independence era. It was obvious that the lead author, Moshood is an academic familiar with the Yoruba people and their culture-a fact noted by the Alaafin of Oyo- along with his American wife, who is an educationist. The protagonist is Governor Ogbani Rauf Aregbesola who was admired for his "…love of the masses and his support by the grassroots…He is sharp-witted, highly cerebral, and disciplined, and the authors were not taken aback by Ogbeni's ascetic and frugal lifestyle." (Omoluabi, p. 44)

Governor Aregbesola is a Yoruba man in its entirety warts and all. According to the authors, the Yoruba people are grouped in tribes by occupation - such as goatherd, cocoa farmer, and regular farmer. They settle in towns from which a King Oba emerged. They live communally - what affects one affects all. They have an oral tradition of education, and part of that is the teaching of cooking, farming, and tool making. The daughters are prepared by the parents for arranged marriages. They keep a lid on crime by banishing the guilty parties and exiling them from the land. The Yoruba people mark time by the dates of disasters, such as WWI and WWII and the influenza epidemic. The Yoruba people are hard workers, and very self-sufficient. They are the second largest ethnic group in Nigeria. Historically, they settled in Dahomey, Togo and the Ivory Coast and Ghana, as well as in the United Kingdom, the Caribbean, Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, The Barbados, and the Dominican Republic. The two cities in Nigeria that have a lot of significance for the Yoruba people are Ile-Ife and Oyo. While the ancient city of Ile-Ife is undeniably the autochthonous ancestral home of all Yoruba christened as the "Source," the ancient city of Oyo is the political capital of the race. (Omoluabi, p. 24). They tend not to mix with other ethnicities or races in times past. One word can be utilized to describe the totality of the Yoruba experience summed up in the Omoluabi Philosphical belief, which the authors explained thus: "This identity can be summed up in one central motif known as Omoluabi…..Before the white men landed in the shores of Yoruba land, the natives had their forms of central and local governmental system, the enforcement of rule of law and administration of justice, sharing of political power, defense system and security arrangement, the education of the children and the promotion of family values. Although these institutions may not be formal, yet the natives had its in-built mechanism of news information, punishment of offenders, non-formal marriage institution and the passing of customs and traditions from one generation to the other." (Omoluabi, pp. 11-12). The family has a sacred value in and among the Yoruba. Again, the authors explain this home-bringing and culture this way: "There is a well-known and popular saying among Yoruba people: 'Ile latinkoeso rode', which literally means 'Charity indeed begins at home.' There were certain behavioral traits a well-brought up Yoruba person was expected to exhibit anywhere in the world, even in the age of western education and when and where those traits are missing, a maladjusted Yoruba person is spotted." (Omoluabi, p. 15)

Historically, the Yoruba people have never tolerated a dictator or any leader who usurps too much power, or uses power for personal advancement and falls into corrupt ways. The Yoruba people detest being ruled rather administered and would not allow a dictator to preside over their affairs. While they equate the "Oba" "Oba Luwaye Ekeji Orisa" literally, "The supreme man next to God" and sub-angelic human representatives as next to the pantheons, they are also conscious of the tendencies of human beings to aggregate too much power to the detriment of the collective will" In order to prevent autocratic rulers taking power, the women rose up against any prospective rulers with these traits, and that is why the main central market lies geographically next to the Oba's palace in many Yoruba villages, towns, and cities. To forestall the emergence of autocratic rulers, certain traditional rites were put in place to depose Obas that exhibit tyranny. The women groups play a prominent role in this regard and that is one of the reasons the main central market is situated next to the Oba's palace in many Yoruba villages, towns and cities. (Omoluabi, .pp. . 13-14)Yet, there is a supreme ruler in Yoruba culture, entitled the Oba, and he governs and administers justice among the people with his chiefs-in-counsel-council. He, however, does not choose his co-governors; they are decided upon by 'kingmakers' who hail from other clans in many Yoruba cities and towns. The telling the story the authors revealed some flaws most noticeable within Nigeria, such as the dilapidated state of the nation's roads and highways. Contrary to what the Yoruba believe, there are many individuals in the government who adopt arrogant attitudes and act very rudely toward visitors with habits such as keeping them waiting for hours or even days in some cases. However, their meeting with Governor Ogbeni Rauf Aregbasola and his deputy went very well. The authors did not find him neither possessing nor exhibiting these negative traits as reflected in these words by the co-author, Dr Margie Fayemiwo, who as an American visiting Nigeria let readers into her impression of Africa's populous nation: "We were very late arriving to meet the governor and his deputy, a very pleasant and warm woman; Deputy Governor, Titi Laoye-Tomori who called a few times to check on our well being along the road. When we finally arrived at the state capital, Ogbeni attended to us right away devoid of officialdom, which is rare in Nigeria I am told." (Omoluabi, pp. 8-9). In addition, readers will get glimpses of different narrative vignettes of Dr Margie in this book as a foreigner married to a Nigerian and how different cultures clash in her endeavors to juggle both worlds; American versus Nigerian culture.

Dr Onukwugha teaches in the School of Business, New Jersey City University, NJ USA

Nigeria, like most countries in Africa has been haunted by political instability and internecine skirmishes between and amongst its disparate groups till the year 1999 when democracy became a reality. The authors walk the reader through the timeline of Nigeria's political labyrinth. Beginning around 1983, amidst a lawless atmosphere in the nation, the ever-resilient Nigerian Pres adjudged as the most resilient in the African Continent rose up to its responsibilities as the guardians and conscience of the nation, against the rapacity of the politicians. Under such dolorous ambience; Mr. Shehu Shagari of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) was sworn-in for a fated destructive second term in 1983 Two months later, a coup d'état swept the NPN and civilian administration out of power, taken over by the military. The authors disclosed in the biography that one of Nigeria's former military leaders and his wife were labeled by the America's CIA as drug runners. In the 1990's several political parties were formed, but Babangida disbanded them all, for variety of lame and dumb excuses. He then formed two parties of his own.

In 1992, for the first time in a decade, political elections were held. President Babangida's friend, Chief MKO Abiola ran on the ticket of the Social Democratic Party in 1992, and won the June 1993 Presidential Election. However, General Ibrahim Babangida, who was Nigerian president at the time, annulled the mostly-adjudged free, fair and transparent presidential election results in Nigeria's chequered political history. According to the authors; "The provocative press release, undated and un- signed simply announced that the results of the June 12, 1993 presidential election should be discarded and discountenanced. It called on media houses in the nation to halt further announcements of the election results from the various polling stations across the nation. The apex electoral body; NEC was ordered by the junta from certifying further elections. The reason(s) for the gag was completely obfuscated. Nigerians were taken aback and a state of farrago gripped the Nigerian landscape. Bedlam ensued. There was tension across the nation." (Omoluabi, pp. 196-197). The remainder of the book is about various corrupt regimes that governed Nigeria at different times as well as how eventually, Governor Aregbesola became the governor of the state of Osun in 2010 after yet another corrupt official had been ruled unfit by the judicial system, a ruling that took three years to be decided.

What the authors conveyed in this book is that although the Yoruba are a people possessed with a lot of integrity, skills, and a great sense of family and compassion for others, the individuals who gained power were hopelessly corrupt, with the exception of a handful. Like many other emerging and developing nations, Nigeria still has not been cleansed of many corrupt and powerful individuals, such as warmongers and arms dealers who are incredibly rich and care nothing for the welfare of the people, nor do they abide by civilized conduct, behavior and customs. Nevertheless, the authors indicate that, Governor Aregbesola is an exception to this culture of corruption as could be seen in these postulations- "Aregbesola is the first governor in the history of the state to pay 13th month salary to workers when the state was financially okay. He increased the workers car loan, without demand, from N250, 000 to about N1million. There are many good packages the governor provided for the workers with no question asked. Before the state ran into financial problem, he paid salary on or before 24th of every month. We understood the governor's predicament, and we are in support of his government. The last labor dispute was not because we want to fight the governor but just to secure the interest of the workers." (Omoluabi, p. 290) The governor also initiated social welfare programs and pension schemes for the elderly and the aged population. He did not appoint a cabinet in the interests of saving money, and the people of the state of Osun respected him for all these beneficial changes. As for the governor himself told the authors, his administration's desire was to promote healthy living among the citizenry and also creating a high sense of bonds and fellowship, including interactions between and among government officials and the grassroots." (Omoluabi, p. 316)

Omoluabi, the biography of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola is no hagiography. In page 314 of this incredible opus, the authors described one of the criticisms of Governor Aregbesola in these words; "The crisis over wearing of veil by Moslem women was one of the most potent religious crises faced by Ogbeni in his eight year administration. Tagged by the Nigerian media as "The Hijab Controversy," it was alleged that Ogbeni ordered that all Moslem girls in the state's educational institutions should be compelled to wear "hijab" or "buqar"-the Moslem veil- to school as part of their religious injunctions."(Omoluabi, p. 314). His almost eight years in the Bola Ige House-Government House-Osogbo, has revealed all too clearly that Governor Aregbesola is a man of noble character regardless of what cynics might say. He is on the positive side of the aphorism that "it is easy to forget who you once were if you have never known who you are."

The Authors: Dr Margie Neal-Fayemiwo and Dr Moshood Ademola Fayemiwo with His Excellency, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Gov State of Osun at Government House, Osogbo during discussions and the field work for the Omoluabi Biography

There were dozens of Governor Aregbesola's associates interviewed by the authors for this work and starting with his subordinates when he was in the private sector at the Ikeja Airport Hotel, Lagos and expressed their admiration for the future governor as a young man. One of his classmates, Mr. Kolapo Oginni reminiscences about Rauf's feats: "We're all shocked that Rauf came on top of the class wondering how this boy could come from nowhere to top the class"-during their secondary school years at Akoko Grams, Arigidi-Akoko in the 1970s. Oginni is also from Ilesha and a classmate of Rauf and a neighbor where both Oginni and the Aregbesola families had bonded together since childhood. In another section in the biography, the authors portrayed the character of Governor Aregbesola as told by the narrative of his high school mates. Thus, as the authors disclosed: "During the teenage years of Rauf at Ako-Grams, three character traits began to emerge namely: empathy for the weak and populist disposition, simplicity combined with stoic lifestyle and religious devotion. In the secondary school of those days, junior students were always paired with senior students to serve and cater to their needs such as fetching of water for seniors to bathe, look after their food in the hostel and do such little chores that distinguish junior students from their seniors. Rauf was one of such senior students who forfeited and would have nothing to do with such "class categorization." As one of the classmates disclosed: "Rauf treated both junior and senior students rather equally; He hated to see junior students punished by the seniors and often pleaded on behalf of the junior students serving any form of punishment," According to the classmate: "As a senior, he'd ask a junior student in his hostel to fetch his water for him to bathe like the rest seniors, but Rauf preferred to fetch his own water rather than engage in such luxury." (Omoluabi, pp. 53-54). In line with the portrayal of Governor Aregbesola as a man of diligence and integrity, a resident disclosed to the authors in Osogbo; "There's no one who left Osogbo about ten years ago and now returns that would not be surprised by the overall transformation that has taken place under the leadership of the Aregbesola-led APC government." Other people who testified to the great achievement of Governor Aregbesola in the State of Osun in eight years have the following to say;

"The Aregbesola Administration has done what we never expected or dreamt of in Osogbo land. Osogbo is now gradually becoming one of the most beautiful cities in Nigeria because of the efforts of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. The roads and schools are of high quality and standard which we are so sure will stand the test of time. He has also done so much in the health sector. Osun is also very safe and secure…"----HRH Oba Jimoh Olanipekun Larooye II, Ataoja of Osogbo, Osogbo, Nigeria.

"Osun state under Gov. Aregbesola is on a steady growth. I so much appreciate the good road networks; the state is investing in infrastructure and it is very good for the future and overall development of the state. Another good area is the administration's various social intervention programs which the governor is helping in creating jobs and wealth. No wonder people always come to Osun state to learn."---His Excellency, Mr. William Stuart Symington, United States Ambassador to Nigeria (2016- ), Oshogbo, Osun state, Federal Republic of Nigeria.

"Gov. Rauf Aregbesola is our Governor of the Year 2018, because he has created gold from stone and brought out the best in the most difficult situation. In the year 2017, we have found a man whose energy is unlimited, a man whose vision is unimaginable and his courage in the face of adversary situations tough and cast in iron. A good leader must be thorough, decisive and intelligent. He must be able to withstand the wave and the tide. He must be able to confront difficult economic situations with uncommon creativity backed with unlimited power of imaginations. These are the exact characters Aregbesola has demonstrated"---Chief Olusegun Ajibulu, President, South-west Professional Forum (SOWPROF), Lagos, Nigeria.

All in all, Omoluabi is an epic triumph of a personal and political biography. Two great and gifted authors, researchers and story tellers, Dr(s) Moshood and Margie succeeded in keeping the reader's attention across this captivating work. This is a book that will be an invaluable reference for future historians of Nigeria politics, the State of Osun in governance and an accurate Yoruba contemporary history as well as their culture, which is reflective of their desire to be run by egalitarian, humane and honest leaders, while overcoming many challenges that beset both the country and the people. This work is a tour de force when it comes to Nigeria political volatility, resilient exhibition and professional appreciation. The language is crisp, elegant and the narration flows ceaselessly making an average reader to enjoy the story being told. This work is indeed, a vade-mecum as observed by the iconic Yoruba traditional ruler; Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, the Alaafin of Oyo who, in his Special Foreword recommended that in order for Yoruba nay Nigeria history to be preserved, copies of the biography should be made available to secondary school students in the State of Osun as History Textbook. The reviewer agrees.