Addressing poverty: Olanipekun’s example
Sir: Ever before the recent #EndSARS protest, Chief Oluwole Oladapo Olanipekun, Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR), and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) had been warning, like other discerning compatriots, that Nigeria sits on a gunpowder. He believes everyday is one’s birthday. However, officially, today is his birthday, having been born on November 18, 1959 in Ikere Ekiti in Ekiti State.
Each time this writer suggests the idea of celebrating him on his birthday, Chief Olanipekun will discourage the idea, saying “I don’t want to expose myself to the raging pressure in the society. There is too much poverty, bitterness and anger in the land.” Hear him: “Nigeria is in a mess. People are in abject poverty. There are no job opportunities. There are so many intelligent graduates who have become frustrated on account of unemployment. Except we deceive ourselves, no one is safe in this country, only a few people can sleep with their two eyes closed. The bitterness is so deep. The sore in the country has become cancerous. We need a radical surgery to extract it.”
Olanipekun last Saturday, November 14, announced what he called “Wole Olanipekun Foundation” (WOF), established to provide succour for the society, alleviate the plight of underprivileged, bring relief to the indigent, extend helping hands to the needy, make life much easier to the aged and widows as well as assisting the youth to find their feet. According to the legal luminary, “WOF will commence on a humble note from Ikere Ekiti, the nativity of mine before this year runs out, with a special programme styled WOF Youth Empowerment Scheme geared towards supporting entrepreneurship developments among our teeming youth.” He hinted that 300 youths will be given a grant between now and 2021, while another 100 young persons will be added before the year 2022, as they would be given a non-interest yielding loan to be determined by the management team. This legal icon also announced the ad-hoc interim management team with a renowned banker, Prince Feyi Ogoji as the chairman.
The WOF is an addition to the Wole Olanipekun Scholarship Award which began in 1996 with 413 individuals benefiting from inception to date. The scholarship which has gulped several millions of naira from the pocket of the proprietor has produced medical doctors, lawyers, engineers and various graduates from various disciplines across the country. Olanipekun is renowned for his passion to assist humanity with his resources. He is indeed a man with a large heart whose source of joy is in the fulfilment and accomplishment of other people. With his kind heartedness, this cheerful giver shows love where there is hatred. He radiates hope in the face of hopelessness. And, where there is darkness, Olanipekun represents an enduring illumination. His philosophy about life is found in the words of Martin Luther King who declared that “an individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of humanity.”
Olanipekun reiterated this philosophy: “No man in history has ever been remembered by the extent and depth of the wealth he accumulated while on earth but on how he impacted positively on lives and humanity while alive. To me, the very essence of every religion is to do well to others.”
Sunday Saanu is media assistant to the Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan.