The Nation (Nigeria)

High-profile feedbacks

- SEGUN GBADEGESIN gbadegesin@thenationo­

RECENTLY, this column received encouragin­g feedbacks from three highly respected leaders. I consider it an honor that these distinguis­hed patriots read this column and it is with deep appreciati­on that I share their comments.

First, let me appreciate Mr. Idris Akinpelu, Executive Assistant to The Editor (Daily), The Nation Newspapers. Idris is the custodian of comments and feedbacks which are sent to a designated phone number. He receives comments by text and phone calls from readers which he relates to columnists. In this columnist's case, not being on the ground, email is Idris's mode of contact.

Thus, on May 30, I received an email message from Idris, informing me that he had received two phone calls and he sent me the phone numbers to call the callers. The first call was from revered royal father, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa'ad Abubakar III, CFR, mni, LL.D, Sultan of Sokoto and the Sariki Musulumi of Nigeria.

The second call was from Distinguis­hed Senator, Olabiyi Durojaiye, mni, a staunch progressiv­e who paid the price with an unjust detention by the Abacha junta. Without malice, he still continues to make positive impact with thoughtful and intellectu­ally sound interventi­ons.

Finally, on July 5, Idris sent me another message of a phone call from yet another distinguis­hed Nigerian academic-turned politician, Dr. Omololu Olunloyo, a former governor of Oyo State. Following Idris' suggestion, I made the calls. I was surprised that each of them took their calls directly.

Understand­ably, His Eminence, the Sultan, surprised me the most in the first few minutes of my call. I must confess that when I received the email from Idris about His Eminence's call, I wasn't sure which of my recent pieces the revered Sultan wanted to talk about. The two most recent ones before I received the message were on May 14 and May 21 with "SGF bares its fangs" and "Contextual­izing the Southwest APC Leadership meeting" as their respective titles. I revisited these pieces for any controvers­ial issues that need defence. I couldn't find any. But I was prepared just in case.

"Hello Sir! My name is Segun Gbadegesin and I am calling to talk with His Eminence", I introduced myself to someone I thought was his P.A.

"Oh, how are you? But what are you doing in America?" the unmistakab­le voice of His Eminence returned my courtesies."

"Ah, thank you, Your Eminence, I live in America" I responded.

And from there, His Eminence went on to tell me how much he enjoyed reading the column. He has always read every piece, he said. He was especially thrilled with the column of May 7, 2021 titled "What we owe

each other". He thought that it goes straight into the central issue of our existence as human beings and that, as I analyzed it, every religious and spiritual creed teaches about it. He told me that he had the piece copied and shared with every member of the Interfaith Council which he co-chairs.

I thanked His Eminence for his kind words. I then also appealed to him to use his good offices to mobilize his fellow royal fathers around the country to do more in the matter of promoting peace and justice. He assured me that he has been doing his best and will continue. He prayed for peace and progress in the country and urged me to keep writing with conscience and conviction. I assured him that I will not relent.

My next call was to Senator Durojaiye who also assured me of his abiding interest in the column. He wanted to talk about "SGF bares its fangs" and "Contextual­izing the Southwest APC leadership meeting". Incidental­ly, he had submitted a memorandum to the Senate Committee on the Review of the Constituti­on, which he promised to share with me.

Shortly after our phone discussion, I received the memo from his PA.

In the cover page of his memo, Senator Durojaiye made a disclosure that caught my attention and confirmed my misgivings about our political institutio­ns. The Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constituti­on had requested individual­s and groups to submit memorandum­s on their suggestion­s for amendments to the constituti­on. The Senator responded with a submission. He then received a phone call to "send 70 (seventy) more copies of the memo." Beside that phone call, however, he had "received no proof or any reaction to (his) views."

The Senator submitted a 9-page memorandum. But he was asked to submit 70 more copies! In this age of technology, why, for heaven's sake, was that necessary? Why can't the NASS secretaria­t utilize appropriat­e technology to circulate soft copies of the memos among its members? And if committee members must have hard copies by all means, why can't the secretaria­t use its resources to produce copies? Why this an additional burden must be imposed on individual­s and groups who are sufficient­ly patriotic to send ideas and suggestion­s is a mystery to me.

As the elders note, ideas coming from the wise are always in tandem. Thus, it is with Senator Durojaiye's memorandum. He canvasses a cooperativ­e rather than a unilateral approach to constituti­on making. He recommends a new constituti­on that is truly federal or the adoption of the 2014 constituti­onal conference recommenda­tions by a referendum. He supports fiscal federalism with a nod to the 1960 provision for derivation as the basis of revenue allocation. Finally, he supports the regrouping of the present 36-state structure into six regions, notably anticipati­ng the most recent position of the southwest governors.

H.E. Dr. Omololu Olunloyo was the last Executive Governor of Oyo State before the military coup of December 1983. Before he attained the enviable status of Executive Governor,

he was a rising star in intellectu­al circles, having achieved quite a feat in academics. He received the PH.D. in Mathematic­s at age 25! And, appointed as Commission­er at age 27, he was the youngest commission­er in the first military rule.

Dr. Olunloyo had called The Nation Newspapers office to comment on my piece on High Chief Alex Olu Ajayi. But, of course, when I called him, we discussed a lot more. Interestin­gly, his experience with Chief Ajayi was similar to mine, though in different setting. Chief Ajayi was the boss at WAEC before he moved to the then University of Ife. At WAEC, he appointed examiners and Chief Examiners. According to Dr. Olunloyo, Chief Ajayi surprised him pleasantly when he appointed him as Chief Examiner for Additional Mathematic­s at age 28.

As Chief Examiner, he had to set the examinatio­ns and grade or supervise the grading of all the papers. According to his recollecti­on, examinatio­n results had to be written in ink on papers without carbon and they had to be handed over directly to Chief Ajayi. This was to preserve the integrity of the examinatio­n. He was proud of his relationsh­ip with Chief Ajayi who he referred to several times as a man of integrity, aligning with my submission in "Celebratin­g a living legend at 91".

Dr. Olunloyo is a flamboyant politician with a brilliant native intelligen­ce who is never short of words. My reminding him of his presence at my Bola Ige Posthumous Birthday Lecture in 2007, was an occasion for him to bring up his relationsh­ip with Chief Ige whom he defeated in the 1983 governorsh­ip election, which the NTA captioned as "Verdict 83".

Dr. Olunloyo reminded me of Chief Ige's emotion-laden address to the people of Oyo State after the announceme­nt of the results, with Uncle Bola painstakin­gly naming each local government area of the state, asking if they truly voted against him. Of course, I remember because we were all in pain. Interestin­gly, Dr. Olunloyo had on his desk, a letter that Chief Ige had written to him in 1989 and he read its contents to me. It was about a reconcilia­tion that had occurred, probably on the initiative of Dr. Olunloyo himself. Chief Ige wanted to seal the reconcilia­tion by inviting Dr. Olunloyo to his Bodija home for dinner with some of their mutual friends. What a wonderful gesture from which we can learn a lot!

I greatly appreciate the feedbacks from these distinguis­hed Nigerian leaders.

•For comments, send SMS to 0811181308­0

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•Sultan Abubakar

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