Monday, February 17, 2020
Lagos, Nigeria

a Joshua Ogunlowo in his coveted high position in life, affirms my believe that a person can attain a high office, yet, with the enabling grace of God live clean, without corruptly enriching himself.

Until such a time when we have thousands of his like in exalted position, can Nigeria be free of poverty and until then can Nigeria catch up with the comity of progressive nations. Has the Bible not said it "Righteousness exalts the nation while sin is a reproach?" (Proverbs 14:34).

Born at Owa Kajola, Kwara State, it pleased God to have him attend the prestigious schools, which the best of brains, at every stage of his life attended. He was at Provincial Secondary School (PSS), later re named Government Secondary School (GSS), Ilorin from 1954 to 1960. High Schools lasted 6 years at his time. He afterwards proceeded to Government College, Keffi (now Nasarawa state) for the two years Higher School certificate course and ended with a degree in Public Administration at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) in 1966.

I cannot recollect what he did between graduation at ABU in 1966 and the time of creation of Kwara State in July 1967, when he was made private Secretary to the first military Governor of the state, late Brigadier General David Lasisi Bamigboye (rtd). He continued to climb the ladder in the Civil Service till he reached the pinnacle of the Civil service in 1985, as Secretary to the State Government and Head of Service, retiring in 1988. He afterwards studied at the Igbaja ECWA Theological College. He had earlier been ordained an Elder of the Church.

In my campaign for having a 'Great Nigeria' I interviwed him and Pa Deacon Chief S. S. Ayanda in March 2011 on why they did not to follow the popular trend of enriching themselves while in office. In particular I asked him why, when he held the highest civil office in the state, he did not ask any of the contractors who worked for the state to build him a magnificient home. I understand that the practice was common even among the officers who occupied lower offices because I knew he built his home with loans here and there. His first response was "A Christian has no business corruptly enriching himself" He added that a Christian ought to subjugate materialism to pleasing God.

I asked him what gave him the strength and he quoted the book of st Mark 8:36 "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" He even submitted that Christians occupying high positions should not accept gifts because those who offer it might in future expect some undue favour.

I knew he was not in the good book of some Christians during the period he was Secretary to the state Government and Head of Service. Why? He did not approve the use of government resources to sponsor Christians to the Holy land just as it was done for the Moslems. His explained that the duty of the government stops at making the Pilgrims Welfare Board operate effectively so that citizens have a safe, hitch free passage to the Holy lands, perform their pilgrimage safely and return home safely. But the government has no responsibility sponsoring anyone because any religious service is between the individual and his God.

When I reminded him that "Moslems are sponsored" His answer was "Two wrongs do not make a right" I asked him if he will do otherwise, if in future, he is opportune to occupy a high position, which allows him to approve it. Hear him "One can be forced, but left to me, the government will not sponsor anyone with a kobo"

I asked for his comment about some popular sayings, which people make to justify pilfering of government fund; sayings like "He who partakes at the altar eats of the altar" and "It is the person who is not in a position to pilfer the government fund that calls it 'haram' (forbidden). It is actually a Yoruba saying, which goes thus "Eni ti ifaa ko to si lo un pee ni haramu"

His answer was so simple. He asked back "Is the person who works at the altar not paid for the term of agreement of his service?" "If paid" he continued "He has partaken of the altar, any other besides it, is 'theft"

I asked the two elders, if they regretted the godly lives they lived. In chorus, they both voiced "No regret at all"

This one is very interesting. He was to be retired prematurely when he held the position of Secretary to the Government and Head of Service. He once had a boss, a Military Dictator who found him uncooperative. The Secretary did not understand the language of the day and his letter of retirement had been written. But before it was issued, the Military Dictator had an urgent call from his own boss, the Supreme Dictator in Lagos and he was located to another post.

But here is the interesting part of it. His Military Dictator boss retired. The Secretary also retired. The military Dictator formed a business company and he now invited his uncooperative Secretary to serve as a member of the Board of Directors!!!

In continuation of my campaign for a godly nation, free of poverty, our Mission organized a Town Hall meeting at Circular Hotel, Ilorin on May 18 2013. I invited some people who had occupied high public offices to showcase "Godly life" Pa Ogunlowo was one of them. Others included: Pa Justice Mustapha Akanbi (late) who retired as President of the Appeal Court of the Federation and who later in his retired life, President Obasanjo invited back to Chair the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) at its inception. Other invited guests at the Town Hall meeting were Chief S. A. Adeniyi, the first indigenous Principal of the great St. Paul's College (now Kufena College), Zaria and a pioneer Commissioner at the creation of Kwara State. Chief Deacon S.S. Ayanda of course was present. I was greatly honoured with the presence of quite a number of my High School teachers and old boys of my High school.

Pa. Ogunlowo (leftt), Pa Justice Mustapha Akanbi (late) rt at the Ilorin Town Hall meeting on May 18 2013

Chief Dn. S.S. Ayanda, (front left) at the Ilorin Town Hall meeting, May 18 2013, former Director of Operations, National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) who was the only one whose hands were not soiled in the days of the great scandal by the top officers of the NYSC in the 70's & 80's

Pa. Elder Ogunlowo was not a Christian by mouth. He lived it.

A very senior accounting Officer, some years ago, having no knowledge that I know him testified that, whenever Pa Ogunlowo went on official journey and the host provided accommodation and food, he retired his advanced touring allowance 100% i.e he returned back to the treasury all the advance touring allowance.

But was it all that rosy for him? Had he in surplus? He told me that as a Deputy Permanent Secretary, he sewed his singlet. In the circle of the ungodly, I believe they would have seen him as someone stupid.

Momo Ogunlowo certainly deserves a lot of credit. Her colleagues in the teaching profession could not understand how a wife of a Perm. Sec. would not push her husband to live flamboyantly. The believe of both of them is in the statement of the Apostle Paul in 1Timothy 6:7 "we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out"

Pa Ogunlowo, as I say good night to you from here below, I join the angels of God welcoming you to your eternal home, saying to you, well done, faithful servant. You have now entered into your rest, now in Abraham's bosom. You are now a member of the assemblies of God's firstborn children, now a member of the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have been made perfect, watching us from the gallery. Good night. Give my greetings to another godly man, who had preceded you, in the person of Justice Mustapha Akanbi. Had we thousands of your type, Nigeria will have been different. Nigeria would have not known poverty.