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And they turned threescore

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In the month of July, the first month in the second half of the year 2020, which would mark the 60th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence, some emergent leaders came of age. If life, as they say, starts at forty, these men, who were born in 1960, could be said to have attained full adulthood by arriving at the elegant age of 60.
   
They include Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Wale Babalakin, politician and former Minister, Alhaji Musliu Obanikoro, Economist and former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Professor Chukwuma Soludo and Physician current Health Commissioner in Lagos State, Prof. Akinlola Abayomi
 
These four men have by sheer dint of hard work, determination and vision, been able to distinguish themselves unlike Nigeria, their country, which has continued to totter and fumble in the face of socio-economic challenges.
 
Their story has been different due to a singular feature, which amounts to a reiteration of the fact that education is the key to success and worthy of national attention. Without a doubt, young Nigerians would have some useful self-development lessons to learn from these sexagenarians.

ABAYOMI: Physician. Researcher
Prior to his appointment by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to serve on his cabinet as Commissioner for Health, Professor Akinlola Emmanuel Abayomi was Professor of Clinical Medicine at the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research.
   
Perhaps, it was as a result of Abayomi’s work as Emeritus Professor in the Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, the University of Stellenbosch in Cape Town, South Africa, as well as Principal Investigator of the Global Emerging Pathogens Treatment Consortium (GET), which was set up to address biosecurity concerns in Africa at the height of the Ebola outbreak that recommended him for his present assignment.
 
The success recorded by Lagos State in the handling of the ongoing CORVID-19 pandemic could be ascribed to Abayomi’s research efforts and work experience over the years.
 
Most commentators express the belief that Governor Sanwo-Olu would not have made a better choice than selecting Abayomi to head the health ministry, especially at a time of coronavirus anxieties, challenges and casualties.

 
Not that alone, being an experienced Medical Doctor with teaching and practical experience in Africa and West Indies, Abayomi’s countless research publications on such medical cases as Cancer, Diabetes and Sickle Cell Anaemia, have made him a blessing to his generation.
   
At the age of 49, Prof. Abayomi was already the Head of Division, Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa. Before then, he was a Consultant Haematologist and Lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe Medical School from where he went to serve as Chief Physician at the Princess Marina Hospital, Gaborone, Botswana in 1998.
 
The Lagos State Health Commissioner got his Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBBS) degree from the University of London in 1983 and followed that up with a Master of Philosophy (M.Phil) in Ecology and Environmental Health Management from University of Pretoria, South Africa in 2006.

He is an able captain in the onslaught against the deadly coronavirus in Lagos and Nigeria at large.

SOLUDO: Economist. Politician
WHEN President Muhammadu Buhari enlisted Professor Chukwuma Charles Soludo as a member of the eight-member Economic Advisory Council (EAC), most Nigerians heaved a huge sigh of relief that at last, the President was considering square pegs in square holes.

   
On that fateful September 16, 2019, when President Buhari made the appointment, Nigerians recalled how as CBN governor Soludo engineered the consolidation of the country’s commercial banks, which stave off the major impact of the global economic depression that ensues later. 
 
What stands Soludo apart from his peers is not just his intellectual profundity, but the fact that he is a made in Nigeria intellectual and technocrat.
   
The former CBN governor got his three degrees, masters and doctorate from the University of Nigeria Nsukka, where he also lectured and attained the status of Professor of Economics. While in UNN, the young Soludo won various academic prizes as the best student during his first degree, masters and PhD programmes.
 
His appointment as professor of Economics in 1998 was followed up by similar appointment as visiting professor at Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, the USA in 1999.
 
Perhaps his training and involvement in research, teaching and auditing in multi-country macro-econometric modelling, techniques of computable general equilibrium modelling, survey methodology and panel data econometrics qualified him as a visiting scholar at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), University of Cambridge, the Brookings Institution among other prestigious institutions.
   
Soludo has remained Nigeria’s intellectual export to a number of international organisations, particularly the World Bank, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the United Nations Development Programme.
   
As a core professional in macroeconomics, Soludo’s graduation with a First Class Honours degree in 1984 opened many doors of leadership and influence across the world; thereby attesting to the veracity of the saying the readers are leaders. 
 
Inspired by the man’s rich intellect and experience, some notable political leaders, including former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, enjoined him to seek political leadership to affect his state and country.
   
In obedience to such calls, Soludo entered into the race for the governorship of his home state, Anambra, in 2010. Although he was pencilled as the candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), 23 out of the motley crowd of 47 governorship aspirants challenged his nomination in court, citing breach of due process in his choice as a consensus candidate.
 
Repeated attempts by Soludo to govern Anambra State have continued to experience hiccups, thereby proving true the assertion that excellence in education or the boardroom does not translate to success in partisan electoral competition.
 
His towering intellectual capacity showed in his manifesto and campaign themes, which presented him as Mr. Solution, just as his perceived solid performance as CBN governor, continue to stand him out as a respected authority in economic policy in Nigeria.

OBANIKORO: Administrator. Politician
MUSILIU Olatunde Obanikoro was trained as an administrator; it was his exploits in the field of multi-party activism that threw him up as an emergent leader.
 
Koro, as he is fondly referred to, has crisscrossed many political platforms, earning laurels across the various divides. In 2003, at the age of 43, Obanikoro was elected to represent Lagos West Senatorial District in the Senate on the platform of Alliance for Democracy (AD).

 
Before Nigeria’s return to constitutional democracy in 1999, Obanikoro was a member of the Grassroots Democratic Movement (GDM) during the ill-fated General Sani Abacha transition to civilian rule programme.
 
At the tail end of his tenure in the senate, Koro moved over to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), where he contested unsuccessfully for Lagos State governorship. The empathic leadership Obanikoro demonstrated through the execution of his OPP (Obanikoro Priority Projects) must have endeared him to Lagos PDP leaders, who invested him with the captain’s band to contest the 2007 governorship election.
   
At the point of renewing his interest in contesting the governorship primary in 2015, Koro was appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan as the Minister of Defense.
 
Three months after denying his plans to defect to the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) in March 2019, Koro joined APC, even as he resolved his political differences with former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
 
Speaking while receiving Koro and other PDP chieftains that included Mrs. Modupe Sasore and Kola Balogun, to APC, the Lagos State APC chairman, Chief Henry Ajomale, said: “Obanikoro is politically experienced and sagacious. He is an asset and he will no doubt add value to our party.’’
   
A product of Bakare family of Ita-Ado in Isale Eko, Ikare and Ilashe in Amuwo Odofin Local Government of Lagos State, Senator Obanikoro attended Saint Patricks Catholic School, Idumagbo, Lagos and Ahmadiyya College (Anwar-ul/Islam College) Agege.
 
Obanikoro got his Bachelor of Science degree in Public Affairs and Master’s degree in Public Administration from Texas Southern University, USA.

BABALAKIN: Lawyer. Philanthropist
BORN on the first day of July 1960, Dr. Olawale Babalakin is a specialist in construction law. Twenty years after he was called to the Bar, Babalakin was conferred with the prestigious title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) as a testimonial to his prodigious law practice and development of Nigeria’s jurisprudence.
   
The Oyo State-born legal luminary is a sought after authority in real estate, oil and gas, telecommunications, maritime, banking and financing.

 
He made history when his company Bi-Courtney applied for and secured the concessionary rights to restructure and manage the Murtala Mohammed Airport 2, Lagos after it was gutted by fire. In three years the company executed the mandate.
     
As part of his interest in hospitality and leisure, Babalakin serves as chairman of Stabilini Visinoni, while his company, Resort International Limited secured a development Lease Agreement to convert the former Federal Secretariat in Ikoyi into luxury blocks of 480 flats in 2007.
 
A man of many parts, Babalakin received his education and training from both home and abroad. From Government College Ibadan (GCI), he went to the Polytechnic Ibadan, where he got his ‘A’ Levels, which enabled his admission to the University of Lagos in 1978.
 
Graduating at the age of 21, Babalakin went to the Law School. And while he was called to the Bar in 2002, he was among the only three Africans admitted to Corpus Christi College at Cambridge University for the institution’s pioneer Master of Law degree. On the eve of his 26th anniversary, Balakin earned his PhD.
   
The lawyers’ lawyer born of a lawyer is married to a lawyer and remains a bid role model to tomorrow’s people, the youth of today.
   
With a good education, Nigerian youth will conquer the world, just as these four eminent personalities have stooped to conquer as they attain threescore.

 


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