The glamorised celebration of the 30th anniversary of Osun state and how some individuals were singled out for recognition is the thrust of this piece by ABDULRAHMAN ZAKARIYA.
It was a roll call of ‘who’s who’ in Osun state on Thursday, September 23 2021 when the state played host to prominent Nigerians to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its creation.
The event was the climax of activities lined up to celebrate the state’s creation three decades ago.
The colourful event tagged ‘Osun Banquet and Awards Evening’, had in attendance former governors of the state, serving governors and top class royal fathers which included Governors Rotimi Akeredolu, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Dapo Abiodun who were represented though.
The rest were former deputy speaker House of Representatives Lasun Yusuf, former governors of the state like Chief Bisi Akande, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Gen Leo Ajiborisha (rtd.) who was represented, Col Theophilus Bamigboye (rtd) and Navy Capt Anthony Udofia (rtd).
Also in attendance were former Ogun state governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel; former Oyo state governor Otunba Alao Akala; former Oyo state deputy governor Moses Alake-Adeyemo.
The royal fathers were first class traditional rulers like Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi; Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi who was represented and Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe.
Conspicuously missing in the crowd however was the immediate past governor of the state and current minister of interior, Mr Rauf Aregbesola whose absence could not be explained. Blueprint gathered that, like other former governors of the state, Aregbesola was invited via a letter personally signed by Governor Isiaka Adegboyega Oyetola.
Notwithstanding his absence, Aregbesola received due mention from Oyetola as accorded other former governors.
Welcoming guests to the event, the Chief of Staff to the governor and chairman anniversary committee, Dr Charles Akinola, said the diversity of personalities at the event was in itself worthy of celebration.
“This fully aligns with the inclusive and participatory governance style of Governor Oyetola. We must thank Mr Governor for his purposeful leadership, vision, large-heartedness, guidance and inspiration for this.”
Closely on the heel of Akinola’s welcome address was a goodwill message from Dr Bayo Jimoh, an industrial psychologist and immediate past group managing director, Oduá Investment Company Limited. For the record, Jimoh was on the screening panel that came up with a list of 28 awardees.
Other members on the jury were veteran columnist and retired professor of Anthropology and Linguistics from the Temple University, Philadelphia, Niyi Akinnaso; a renowned banker and president, Osun Development Association, Dr Segun Aina; the state commissioner for information/civic orientation and former president Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Mrs Funke Egbemode, chief press secretary to the governor, Ismail Omipidan and the governor’s media adviser (speech writing), Mr Sola Imoru.
Recalling how the jury came up with the list over a two-month period, he said, “It is instructive to state that our criteria focused on service to Osun and contributions to society and the world by indigenes and non-indigenes. We placed no restriction on age, gender, religion, ethnicity or tribe. After a most rigorous selection process, we ended up having a total of 28 nominees, covering four categories: Osun Merit Award – 7; Osun Distinguished Citizen Award – 13; Legacy Award – 2 and Lifetime Achievement Award – 11.
“The awardees, no doubt, consist of our finest individuals in the various fields of endeavours. As I conclude, I must note that a reality that confronted us during the jury process is the fact that our state is indeed blessed with some of our nation’s finest and most accomplished individuals. Of course, it was no mean feat arriving at the current list.”
The honourees took turns to receive their awards from Governor Oyetola who remained standing for two hours presenting and taking photographs with award recipients. The list included former Governor Akande, Pastor Enoch Adeboye (General Overseer, RCCG worldwide); Sheikh Abdur’rasheed Hadiyatulla (President, Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria) and General Ipoola Alani Akinrinnade, rtd for the Osun Lifetime Achievement Award.
The rest in this category were Asiwaju Hammed Omidiran, Comrade Hassan Sunmonu, Prince Tunde Ponle, Professor Olu Aina, Chief Akinwande Akinola, Engr Joanah Olu Maduka, and Chief Benjamin Adigun.
The Legacy Award recipients were Dr Folorunsho Alakija and the late Madam Susanne Wenger (a culture and tourism icon) while Professor Emeritus Ademola Oyejide, Chief Nike Okundaye, Professor Oye Gureje, Professor Isaac Adewole, and Mallam Yusuf Ali (SAN) were all recipients of Merit Award.
In the Distinguished Citizens Award category were Pastor Matthew Asimolowo, Alagba Yemi Elebuibon, Brigadier General Leo Segun Ajiborisha (rtd), Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN); Asiwaju Khamis Olatunde Badmus, Prince Lawal Obelawo, Chief Moses Inaolaji Aboaba, Mr Adewale Adeyemo (Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, US), Mr Kola Adeniji and celebrated journalist, Mr Mike Awoyinfa.
Addressing the gathering, Governor Oyetola urged citizens to put their collective strength to work, irrespective of political differences and sentiments, for a greater tomorrow, saying state-building is a collective enterprise.
The governor, who requested the gathering to observe a minute silence in respect of the first civilian governor of the state, the late Isiaka Adeleke, said it was necessary to pay tributes to the illustrious men and women who at different times, held sway as leaders in the state.
“On behalf of the government and the good people of Osun, I thank our awardees for their monumental contributions to our dear state, the nation and the world and for leading lives that inspire us and our posterity to build a greater Osun.
“State building is a collective enterprise; therefore, we all must, more than ever, pull our collective strength to work irrespective of our political differences and sentiments, for a greater tomorrow.
“We must consider it an urgent task to galvanise our diverse strengths, goodwill and resources to chart a pathway that delivers the Osun of our dreams. That is the least we owe ourselves and the generations coming behind us. We cannot afford to fail.
“I call on all to rise and let us build a better Osun that is reflective of our true potential as the cradle of humanity.”
At this point, the governor said: “Let us drink and toast to our collective success and the avowed resolve of our administration to build a solid structure for trans-generational development in Osun. The journey to building a stronger and more prosperous Osun continues with greater resolve and hope from here. I invite you all to come on board.”
Akande, Akeredolu, Alaafin speak
Speaking on behalf of the awardees, Chief Akande appreciated the government for recognising the services and labours of former governors.
Akande noted that power is usually characterised by the good and the bad, saying past governors in their time experienced series of challenges such as labour unrest and difficulties in payment of salaries with the meagre resources.
He congratulated the former governors for meeting up with the challenges and urged the people to support the present leadership in the state.
In his remarks, Governor Akeredolu said, “I believe this state would turn around totally because the state is in very good hands now and as you can see, change is what is happening in the state. So, I am sure that with this foundation and giving the governor another four years, this state would stand to gain a lot.”
A royal commendation came from Oba Adeyemi who lauded the Oyetola administration for recognising the individuals. He said the awards would fire high hopes and hunger for diligence and excellence in the youths.
A major highpoint of the event was the decoration of former MILADs and governors of the state since its creation in 1991 by Governor Oyetola.
The governor was in turn decorated by an awardee and former governor, Chief Oyinlola of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Prior to the award
Just before the event, there was a colloquium on the theme: ‘Celebrating a Milestone: Building a Prosperous Future’ with former Governor Akande as keynote speaker and Sultan of Sokoto Sa’ad Abubakar as chairman.
“The massive and sustainable development strive and inclusive governance strategy of the present governor of the state is obvious. Osun is in the right hand and is headed in the right direction. I throw it as a challenge to the government and people of the state that they should prepare for that task of state building ahead,” Sultan Abubakar had said.
It was moderated by Professor Akinnaso while Dr Segun Aina, Professor Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, Dr Yemi Farounbi, Dr Reuben Abati, Ms Bamidele Ademola-Olateju, Professor Siyan Oyeweso, Mr Babajide Kolade-Otitoju, Mr Steve Nwosu and Zainab Okino served as panellists.