When Big Brother Naija graduate, Olamilekan Moshood Agbeleshe, aka Laycon, was announced winner of the contest and was instantly made Youth Ambassador by the Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, dashed a house and a cash gift of N5 million, this writer lamented the loss of values among Nigerian leaders. My argument was that in a queer game where nudity and other flimsy indices, other than mental achievements, became a governor’s index for splashing such whooping sum on a state indigene, the leadership was merely underscoring the fact that what excites our society was beyond excellence.
Last week, my excitement knew no bounds when the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, awarded scholarships to two graduating students of the Lagos State University, Oladimeji Shotunde, a BSc graduate, and another MSc graduate. While saying that government did it to encourage excellence, the governor commended the awardees for “raising the bar in our university,” promising that “the state government will be providing scholarship for you into whatever university you wish to pursue your academic excellence at whatsoever level.” Sanwo-Olu was also to “be making a personal donation of five million naira for your further work to help you to be able to settle you to continue to be a source of inspiration to others.”
There is no doubt that the Sanwo-Olu way is the path for Nigerian leaders to trek if this country wants to encourage the millions of toiling youths who, right, left and centre, all they see are indications that it does not pay to go to school. Even among themselves, especially in songs sung by those artists they deify, the monstrous power of illicit wealth is trumpeted to high heavens. Some of them also sing about the Machiavelli of financial achievement, no matter the route the one who gets this wealth treads.
These songs have dispirited many youths about going to school. They no longer want to walk that tortuous path of schooling, excelling and becoming leaders in mental exertion. I hold strongly that the splashing of such huge sum and others on Laycon is wrongly placed and could metastasize the already cancerous route to “making money” in our society.
Other governors and leaders of society should follow the Sanwo-Olu example. Enough of politicians giving motorcycles as empowerment. They further worsen the dependency on quick money. Let them pick brilliant students of institutions and give them scholarships. With this, we will be showing the youths that education is one of the most important paths to achieving societal greatness.
Onpetu, Aremu, Adiyeloja: A troika and diamond
Three Nigerians clocked 60 years in the last couple of weeks whose strides I needed to extol for posterity. One is the Onpetu of Ijeru in Oyo State, His Royal Majesty, Oba Sunday Oladapo Oyediran, Lagbami Osekun III. One of the traditional rulers who first underscored God and not divinities as the source of his existence, the Onpetu was one of the first variant of kings who openly worshipped God in church and confessed that he was a born again Christian. Humble and cerebral, his 21-year reign on the stool of his forefathers has brought a lot of developments to his Ijeru, Ogbomoso kingdom.
The second person is Comrade Issa Obalowu Aremu. A Nigerian trade union activist and one of Nigeria’s respected labour leaders, Aremu is the General Secretary of the National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria. He also doubles as a member of the executive of the Nigerian Labour Congress. As Aremu clocked 60 on January 8, labour unions and even the Nigerian presidency rose in celebration of a man who is seen to have paid his dues in union activism and one who has contributed immensely to the moulding of persons and society.
The third is respected broadcaster, Fatai Adiyeloja. Journalist with the Nigerian Television Authority, Adiyeloja’s years of broadcasting were marked with commendable strides, especially his knack for underscoring professionalism. January 3, the day of his retirement, which he celebrated in Osogbo, his “last command,” also marked the day Adiyeloja bowed out of the NTA. He was known while in service for his humility, depth and quest to do things differently, a knack that made him veer into photography.
Congratulations on your 60th birthday, compatriots.