A celebration of Olawale Oshun at 70
Growing up at Oke-Bola Ibadan, behind the famous Ibadan Boys High School and Papa Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s House, and even attending the Primary School section of that School, exposed me to many generations of their Old Boys. From 1962 when I entered another Secondary School up till 1966 when we sat for School Certificate, I knew and related with most student in my set at Ibadan Boys High school. One of such unforgettable Old Boys of IBHS is Honourable Olawale Oshun. Even after more than 50years, my early recollections of Olawale Oshun is that of a complete gentleman whose White over White School Uniform always managed to be Whiter than most of others in IBHS. He didn’t talk much, but his charisma and attitudes always revealed a possible great Thinker in the Future.
Our next meeting point was at the University of Ibadan in 1969, where he studied Agricultural Economics. Ironically, he was resident in Nnamdi Azikwe Hall, where many of the “Toughies” were resident. How Wale Oshun, a complete gentleman to the core, would survive in such an environment, I still don’t know. That famous University Administrator and Deputy Registrar, Students’ Affairs, Mr. S.A.O. Odumuye, should have allocated him to Greater Halls like Mellanby Hall, Tedder Hall, Sultan Bello and Kuti Halls, where Super-Gentlemen like us were resident. He was something akin to a Fish out his Natural habitat, but he survived, concentrated on his studies and graduated with a B.Sc in Agricultural Economics in July 1973 and was part of the History Making Pioneers of the national Youth Service Corps, serving in Sokoto (including Niger, Zamfara and Kebbi States) as an Agricultural Planning Officer.
His one year stint in the Old Sokoto State gave him the opportunity to travel through out the Nooks and Corners of the State. It was during this one year period that a New Picture and Reality of the Nigerian State began to unfold before his very Eyes. Because of his Solid Muslim family background, he felt at Home amongst the Sokoto people, Culture and Religion. However, the wide disparity between the Super Rich and the desperately Poor, was a great and troubling concern to his conscience.
By the time he returned to his Parent’s House in Lagos after his Sokoto Youth Service Experience, a new, improved and Patriotic definition of the Nigeria State had been planted in his mind. This probably explains why he shunned several tempting offers from some Multi-National Companies and opted to join the Federal Civil Service, starting from the Federal Department of Agriculture Fertilizer section. He recalls with a passionate gratitude the opportunity to work under 2 great and highly Professional Civil Servants, Mrs. Olukoya and Alhaji Muhamadu Liman DOKKO. Those were the days, when high level Northern Civil Servants saw Nigeria and all Nigerians as their own and treated all Businessmen and Contractors from the West and the East with a Detriabalised Prism. I can testify to this.
Alhaji Mohammed Liman DOKKO was my mentor and the man who unconditionally gave me and my Company Independent West Africa Ltd Several Fertilizer Imports from 1978 to 1983 – all without any Demands or Preconditions. before leaving the Federal Civil Service, he was posted to the Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industry, where he played a vital role in the infamous but necessary Allocation of Import Licences to Nigerian Manufacturing and Commercial Institutions and Businessmen under the Buhari/Idiagbon Military Regime.
All the foregoing details is to give us a clear picture as to why and how he entered into the very murky waters of Nigerian Politics and how Fate Catapaulted him into functional Relevance, from 1988 at the Babagida Constituent Assembly, which, “Working to the Answer” was son disbanded, through 1992 Federal House of Representatives November 1992 to November 1993, where he was the Chief Whip of the most popular party, the Social Democratic Party, which again was rudely and diabolically dissolved by Gen. Sani Abacha. As a Pioneer NYSC member in the Old Sokoto Stater, his sojourn in the Federal Civil Service, his membership of the Constituent Assembly, his Tenure as Chief Whipe in the Federal House of Representative from November 1992 to November 1993, “plus including” that unforgettable his shock at the Annulment of Chief MKO Abiola’s glaring Victory at the June 12th 1993 Presidential Election, Hon. Olawale Osun had concluded that Nigeria has been deliberately and Masochistically structured to be a Complex and unsolvable Quadratic Mathematical Equation to which only God Almighty has the answer, or, if we prefer to put it this way…a Macro Version of the famous NTA Soap, “Fuji House of Commotion and Confussion.
In Wale Oshun’s mind however, he was convinced that Confusion, Commotion and Unsolvability need not be the Portion of the great and well meaning peoples of Nigeria from all Tribes, Languages and cultures. That is the main motivation and summary of his Famous and Intelligently Captured Book, Clapping With One Hand, which in a Nutshell summarises General Ibrahim Babangida’s Maradonic manipulation of Nigeria Politicians and Nigeria’s Political Process, which in sum has led Nigeria to a Political Blind Alley, out of which, a way out and a way forward has up till date not been found. Clapping with One Hand questions the emergence of Chief Earnest Shonekan as the Interim head of State, worse still, the “Arrangee” emergence of General Sanni Abacha and the many “Rofo Rofa” Fights he waged against all sections of Nigeria especially NADECO, whose members, including Hon. Wale Oshun Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, General Alani Akinrinade, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, Papa Enahoro, Dr. Fayemi, Prof. Wole Soyinka etc Chief Olu Falae were hounded into reluctant and Exiles, until they all began to return Home to Nigeria in 1998/99 after the death of Gen. Abacha.
From 1999 to date, fate has been smiling on Hon Wale Oshun in such a way that has assuaged the Pains of the past. He was a Founding Member of Alliance for Democracy, a Member of Afenifere. Behind his Ever Cool, Calm and Gentle disposition is a steely mind that never shies away from insisting on what he is conviced to be right for the Common Good. This possibly explains why he opted to gather some like minded South West professionals and Interest Groups to found the Afenifere Renewal Group – a precurssor to the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria DAWN, and, by implication the main Resource Group that established “Amotekun” and are aiming higher for the Region. Let us celebrate Hon. Olawale Oshun’s quiet but nevertheless great contribution to Nation Building through his brilliantly coined Book Title, “CLAPPING WITH ONE HAND”, which was, essentially a diasrisation of the half-hearted and mishcheivous programmes of the Military towards Democractic governance and the ordeals faced by various opposition Groups and Personalities who stoutly stood against general Ibrahim and General Abacha.
After 20 years of an unbroken Democractic Government, we should now begin to ask ourselves – Are We Now Clapping With Both Hands? Everyone knows that clapping with One Hand is an Exercise in Futility. But, now that the Military has been (officially) out of the Scene since 1999, can we now conclude that we are now clapping with 2 hands? Me thinks NO. We are still Clapping with One Hand but assuring the whole World that we are Clapping with two Hands instead. If the Truth must be told, we actually started Clapping with one Hand since January 15th 1966 and the subsequent Promulgation of Decree 34 by the most powerful section of the Military at that time. This was the main motivation of the revenge Coup of July 1966, but, when the new most powerful Group in the Army took vover in July 1966, they took another close look at the decree and opted to a 2nd look at that Decree, opted to Sustain It Expand The Frontiers To ITS Maximum Limit.
A derivative of that Impunity is the Mindless distribution of National resources in a way that is deliberately structured to promote Underdevelopment, Indiscipline Corruption and Arrogance of Power. That was the real beginning of Clapping with One Hand. It was the main Mindset that led to the Selfish manipulation and imposition of the 1999 Constitution on a whole country of different Tribes, cultures and religions. It is because of that Faulty and unworkable 1999 Constitution that has led to so much Instability, Banditory, Resentiments, Kidnappings, Ritual Killings all over the country and Boko Haram. Hon. Olawale Oshun has “said his own” It is for all concerned to sit down and bring out a Bold Plan that will rectify the situation for the future. Hon. Olawale Oshun, the Super Gentlemen, a Charismatic Political Leader, a Thinker, a team Player and above all, a happily Married man surrounded by good and upwardely mobile children, Congratulations on your 70th Birthday. As you step into the future, I pray for Long Life, Peace and Good Health for You. May your shadows never grow less and may you continue to contribute meaningfully to crafting out a better Nigeria in the future.
Chief Runsewe wrote from Lagos.