|Femi Ajayi's Outlook|
Monday, July 7, 2003|
fter the election of Obasanjo for his second term as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (May 2003), he swanked himself as the NEW BRAND President. At the Thanksgiving Service in Abuja, he also declared that he is a 'Born Again President', borrowing from the Christian book of confession. Nigerians waited faithfully to see where Obasanjo 'Akinlawon' has been reborn. The first step toward his rebirth is the selection of a new brand of Ministers he recently (June 2003) submitted to the Senate for confirmation. He retained some former Ministers as Advisers that is good enough.
After the names have been submitted to the Senate, there came petitions against some of 'Akinlawon' Obasanjo's nominations including Chief Cornelius Olatunji Adebayo, the former Senator, Executive Governor of Kwara State, from Oke-Onigbin, and Ms. Funke Adedoyin, the daughter of an Industrialist and business tycoon, from Agbamu. That is democracy at its best in Nigeria. Petitions are good information to assist the Senate in doing its job while making a fair decision about the President's appointees, suitable to do the job.
Going through the petition against the Kwara nominees, which was very funny to me, is that they are both from Igbomina. That puzzles me a little bit, because I thought that Kwara State has gone beyond the ethnic and religious groupings when it comes to getting who can do the job and for the progress and moving the State forward. I thought the petition would talk about their insane mind, or they were former guests at Aro Mental Hospital, or Yaba Psychiatric Hospital, which could prevent them from discharging their responsibilities. That is not the case with CO and Funke.
C.O., as we popularly call him, was invited by Obasanjo to help him search for suitable ministerial materials and he ended up on the list. It was like the US Vice-President, Dick Cheney who was asked to screen candidates for the VP position and he ended up being selected. 'Akinlawon' Obasanjo knew about Adebayo's knack before he selected him.
CO is not a stranger to any Kwaran, both at the academic and political corridor. I see him as one of the most reliable individuals, a seasoned technocrat and politician that have come from Nigeria, and especially from Kwara State. He would make a tremendous impact on what most Nigerians from Diaspora are yearning for, a true servant. The entrance of Nigerian technocrats in the rebuilding of Nigeria, which was destroyed during Abacha's regime, is necessary at this stage. Nigeria, not only the President, would find the finest and distinguished Nigerian in CO, and Nigeria is guaranteed that he would do well in any capacity that he might found himself to serve the country. Once again, Chief CO is an accomplished Technocrat, seasoned and reliable politician who always consider his public office as a service and sees himself as a servant rather than a semi-demi-remi-thin-god under the Government awning.
His University education took him through the four walls of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and University of Ghana (Legon). He taught at the then University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) in 1969. CO was given the shroud to head English Department at Kwara State College of Technology (Now Kwara Polytechnics), when the School of Basic Studies was established in Kwara State, and College of Education by General David Bamigboye (rtd).
I remembered that figure one good afternoon standing by the entrance to the make-shift office of the English Department while I was heading to one of my classes, taking fresh air, CO, returned my greetings with a wave of hand, after he had been named the new Commissioner for Education in Kwara State. I told myself this man would make a good public servant. He was later to become the Commissioner for Information and Economic Development until he went into politics and was elected Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 1979. He was in the National Assembly until 1983, when his Kwara people beaconed on him to serve the State as governor and he was so elected governor.
After his success at the polls to be the next Governor of the State, taken over from Adamu Atta, who went on head-on collision with Dr. Olusola Saraki, CO visited us in Oklahoma, (1983) the Education town of Edmond. I remembered that sunny afternoon when my good friend, Kayode Olorunnisola, and myself went to meet him at the TG & Y store to take him to our residence. His friend, and co-sponsor for the Governorship race, Dr. Ezekiel Abanishe, drove him all the way from Kansas City to Oklahoma just to say hello to us. His approach to Kwara teething problem then was to find those that could do the job and give them free hand to manage their respective Ministries with little or no supervision. When he got back to Nigeria, my father-in-law, Chief J. O. Daniel was appointed as the Chairman of the Local Government Service Commission and he told him, "Daddy I need your experience in this area, let me know what you need to make you succeed in this mission." He gave him his vision in reforming the Local Government and left him alone. Unfortunately, Buhari, the man who claimed to be a Democrat who never smells democracy in his life, terminated the good plans laid down by CO.
In 1993, CO shunned the ministerial offer by the military regime of Abacha having been involved in pro-democracy activism. He was later to be detained in Calabar Prison, along with Chief Enahoro by Abacha for championing Nigeria's return to democratic government as NADECO publicity committee chairman. CO would never forget how he left the country as a "Beautiful Bride, Thick Madam" with his colorful wigs, very nice high-heel shoes, expensive perfumes, thick lip stick, with the best make-up to escape to Canada. On getting to Canada, Kwarans, especially those in Washington, D.C. area, joined other Nigerians to make his life in exile a joyful and very comfortable one. We communicated on a regular basis while in Canada on Kwara issues.
My next contact with him was in June 1999. He accompanied late Chief Bola Ige, Chief Falae, Gen. Akinrinade, and Dr. Faseun to Atlanta for Isokan Yoruba's convention. In the midst of my friends talking and chatting, somebody pulled my 'agbada', turning back, it was CO who spotted me in the crowd and abandoned the procession of the dignitaries being led to the high table just to talk to me. Since then we have been in close contact, thanks to the modern technology of World Wide Web through e-mails. Our discussion has been focused on taking Kwara State out from its crippled position.
He is a man of principles, whose believe cannot be thwarted by anything. At the launching of the Kwara State Association of North America in Washington, DC, September 1, 2001, CO completed his long address to the audience. At a point he was going to start his address all over again to get the message across. He scolded Lawal, who was present at the launching, for his poor performance in the State. He was plucky to say what was wrong with Kwara politics. Nigerians could get a lot accomplished with CO because he stands for what is right for the people.
Our discussion is always very interesting as if we were age mates, he stands on his principles and I stand on mine without offending one another. We respect one another. He never looks at me to shut me off during our discussion to tell me that I was once your teacher, I was this, I was that, and I am better off than you. What is that we are looking for from a man who respects your opinion and gives you ample time to proof yourself and convince him to accept your view? He is ready to defend his opinion to the last blotch to convince you that his opinion could be a better alternative. Based on his principles he declined to be AD's Party chairman.
As for Ms. Funke Adedoyin, my disappointment about the lukewarm attitude of the wealthy Igbomina, whom I consider the 'Jews' and 'Ijebus' of Kwara State, has centered on her father, Chief Samuel Adedoyin Agbamu, as we call him. The refusal for the Igbomina to invest their money on politics like Dr. Olusola Saraki is doing is frustrating. This is the man that I knew while I was teaching at Ijan-Otun Elementary School, years back. I have a co-teacher, who later became my best friend; and as a matter of fact, he was my Best man when I got married to my lovely wife. I used to go to Agbamu during any festivities especially when I knew Sam Agbamu would be around. We would go to his house and would ask myself then, what prevented this man to get into politics with all his wealth.
I had him in mind also when I expressed my frustration about the unpatriotic attitude of the Igbomina in Lagos by not establishing any industry in Kwara State. He has established some industries in the State. May be I have been proved wrong, or, the word is getting out to him that he has to be involved in politics. Good enough his daughter has been nominated to be a Minister. What a good development. Little did I realize that Funke was to be the Deputy Governor, Kwara State under PDP. Because of the age factor, Chief Joe Ogundeji was selected instead of Funke to boost Dr. Bukola Saraki's ticket.
Now that Dr. Olusola Saraki is retiring from politics, I don't belief anyway, you can never retire from politics, some people have to take the political baton from Dr. Sola Saraki. Before Funke Adedoyin was to be considered for the Deputy Governor, I believe there had been some underground co-operation between Saraki and Adedoyin. The message is getting clearer.
Then who are the sycophants that complain about the two appointees coming from Igbomina? Somebody says, it's me. That person must be kidding me. I know some of my friends reading this would be saying that this man is crazy. I am not. I have said this on numerous occasions, it does not matter where good servants come from, we need individuals that would make Nigeria proud once again. 'Akinlawon' found two individuals from Kwara State, from the same group, so be it. It does not matter if it is in Obbo-Aiyegunle, Ekiti Local Government, Kwara State, that you could find the Minister, Senator, House of Representatives member, the Governor, Deputy Governor, Speaker of the House, the Finance Commissioner, the Chief Justice of Kwara State all in the same administration, it does not matter. If they are the best, go ahead and pick them. The time of picking idiots, morons, coconut heads, blockheads, 'oloriburukus' according to the Guinness Book of 'Akinlawon' that could hardly differentiate between their right and left hand is gone. It is time to seek for those that would get to the office and see themselves as servants.
The petition on CO and Funke as both Igbomina becomes irrelevant to me when it comes to providing services to humanity. Ekiti might have not been considered to be the Governor, Speaker of the House, a Senator, House of Representatives member or Commissioner, but just remain as very loyal and obedient civil servants, is good for the State, their time is coming. In as much as they keep the Kwara Civil Service functioning, shikena.
The Senate should endorse and confirm the nomination of Chief Cornelius Olatunji Adebayo and Ms. Funke Adedoyin as Ministers at the Federal level. I believe most Kwarans in Diaspora are sturdily, like a rock, in full support of Adebayo and Adedoyin's nominations. I know that they will represent Kwara State to the best of their abilities far beyond the expectations of the skeptics.
The Senate should confirm Cornelius Olatunji Adebayo and Funke Adedoyin as Ministers for the Federal Republic of Nigeria.