Koleosho: Unto whom labour past hands the future
In the attempts to capture the essence of a great man, the parallel can often be stretched. With justification too. The temptation to see a Nelson Mandela in a man who is committed to the service of his people and is ready to sacrifice everything in the fight for their liberation can be compelling. It is also not out of place to see a Lee Kuan Yew in a man who dreamt up big dreams for the people but is practically weeping at the refusal of his successors to follow through with the vision he and his old colleagues laid down for their society.
Micheal Adeniyi Kolesoho, a political great who turned 79 two days ago draws these and many other positive parallels. Truthful, committed and dogged in his political struggles, he remains today the most respected politician in Nigeria and in Oyo State and the undisputed leader of the Oke Ogun people.
He speaks with the directness and urgency of an army general giving orders in battle. Especially when it comes to the under-development of Oyo State and the peculiarly bad situation of his native Oke Ogun, a region which he has fought for all his life, however, his words caries a very emotion and his pleas to leaders to do right by the people becomes a cry from the heart.
It is a known fact that nations and every human community have a way of producing men and women whose courage and selfless service inspire their people in their darkest hours or trying moments. Such are the people who etch their ideas and their entire being on the hearts of their people by speaking words of courage and acting out in total conviction those things they believe in. With such courage of conviction, such men plant their feet firmly on the ground, break down barriers, build bridges and speak out their honest minds on any issue, not caring whose ox is gored.
Very few, of course, are equal to Koleosho in shunning the path of convenience in the pursuit of the truth. The zone of comfort is one he readily detests once the fight is for the people and the cause is just. Such is the level of his commitment to integrity that even in politics, an arena brimming with dubious and duplicitous men and women in various offices, who parade themselves as leaders, that it is an established fact that you misunderstand Koleosho only out of your own dishonesty and you misrepresent him only out of your own mischief.
Born into the renowned Emi-Abata family of Saki on April 30, 1938, Micheal Adeniyi Koleosho had his primary Education at Baptist Primary School, Ajegunle, Saki before proceeding to the famous Olivet Baptist High School, Oyo, between 1957 and 1961 where he passed out as one of the school’s best students. He was at the School of Hygiene, Eleyele, Ibadan for the Ordinary National Diploma and the Advanced Certificate (RSII), equivalent to the HND, in 1965 and 1966 respectively.
Koleosho joined the civil service of the Western Region as Head of the Health Department of the old Saki District Council and spent some time in the service before venturing into business by establishing a company named Esmak Nigeria Limited. His business focus then was commodity distribution, transportation, real estate and hospitality. Such was his entrepreneurial ability that his level of success till date is the stuff of legend.
As a man whose lifestyle is characterised by order, balance and self-restraint, it was only natural that he would become a role model whose devotion to the people would take him into community leadership. Koleosho went into politics and was elected unopposed as a Councilor in the Ifedapo Local Government Area of the Old Oyo state in 1976. In 1979, he was elected a member of the State House of Assembly representing Ifedapo constituency on the platform of the Chief Obafemi Awolowo-led Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN. He was later appointed a Commissioner in the State Executive Council by Governor Bola Ige.
Koleoso’s efforts as leader and administrator speak of integrity and leadership with purpose. His courage remains a source of admiration and his political sagacity is well acknowledged across all political divides. He is one of the few repositories of knowledge and a fountain of wisdom from which current and future leaders drink to their own benefit or whom they can only ignore to their eternal regret.
He was the State Chairman of the Alliance for Democracy that produced the late Lam Adesina as governor of Oyo State in 1999. Chief Koleoso went on to serve as the Secretary to the State Government from 1999 to 2003. He later became the National Chairman of Alliance for Democracy AD.
A chieftain of the Yoruba political and social group, Afenifere and member of the Yoruba Council of Elders, Chief Koleosho’s supreme efforts in contributing positively to the socio-economic and political development of Sakil, Oke-Ogun, Oyo State, Yorubaland and Nigeria have not gone unnoticed as he was conferred with the chieftaincy titles of Babalaje of Saki, Are of Ogbooro, Akogun of Ijeruland, Amulutoro of Ojeland and Otun Bobagunwa of Gbongan in the State of Osun.
At 79, Koleosho is still a combatant in the trenches, his voice is still strident in the battle cry for justice not only in Nigeria but in his native Oyo State. And as he looks forward to his attainment of the landmark age of 80, there is only one man his people are looking up to for a future in which justice and equity reign: The Babalaje himself!
Moyosade is of the Oyo Renaissance Movement.