I would have written this article last week, but I decided to wait for the latest COVID-19 escapee, Otunba Yinka Agboola, to fully recuperate before celebrating God’s demonstrative almightiness in his life through the instrumentality of Oyo State Governor, Engr. Oluseyi Abiodun Makinde, whose compassionate rescue mission resulted in Yinka’s currency of health optimality with a public aplomb of heartiness! It is apposite to point out at the outset that I have never met Makinde in foreclosure of asinine misperceptions about the chemistry of this intervention.
For those who may not know, Yinka is a journalist/publisher based in Ibadan. In the build-up to the popular election of Makinde, Yinka had hyper-critically pitched his tent against Makinde’s candidacy for personal reasons.
According to the marketing communications czar of Globacom Unlimited, Bode Opeseitan, a former Ibadan “boy” for decades who should know, immediately Makinde heard of Yinka’s invasion by the pandemic, he mobilised the entirety of his executive medical team with a mandate to ensure his fleeting critic’s survival at all costs.
I also discovered that Makinde has a reputation for this kind of humaneness extrapolated in philanthropic satiety. Yinka’s case became public knowledge because of his occupational circumstances. Makinde’s gesture rarity towards Yinka is almost unimaginable in a clime where assisting one another is defined by extraneous considerations and anticipatory beneficence. In Yinka’s case, Makinde—going by most Nigerians’ ways of doing things—had no business serving as a channel for the emancipation of Yinka from the manacles of lethal COVID-19.
Alas, Makinde showed the world—particularly all those in positions of authority—that power is transient and that noble men are known by the way they treat minions. Life remains transient. Other governors would have turned a blind eye to the potential tragedy that Yinka found himself in. If Yinka had been based in the South East, it is possible he could have become history by now because Makinde’s peers over there are nonchalant, haughty, unforgiving and inhuman! I should know because my community and this writer had been serial victims since the revalidation of democracy in the country.
Recently, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State sent a condolence letter personally signed by him to a veteran journalist-cum-editor emeritus, Gbenga Oni-Olusola, whose father had just passed on. This may appear intangible, but it means so much to the Fourth Estate and—by extension—the society. Such executive empathies go a long way in the public perception of office holders.
During the tenures of Dr. Sule Lamido and Dr. Shehu Shema of Jigawa and Katsina states, respectively, their subjects and the media had very cordial relationships with them: I experienced the prodigious goodwill of both men copiously. The obverse was (and still is) the case in the South East! Most governors pan-Nigeria, particularly South East, have little or no regard for those they govern.
Just three memorable encounters with the former governor of Ogun State and Life Chair of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Chief Olusegun Osoba. Sometime ago, when I presented my first book at Airport Hotel in Ikeja, Lagos, I invited Aremo Osoba to the launch. His tight governorship schedule that day incapacitated his attendance. Knowing full well his robust professional antecedents, particularly in the heyday of our Daily Times, he would have obliged me with his eminent presence on the occasion, if it were possible. He delegated his Information Commissioner to represent him with all due protocols.
My second encounter with the only celebrated “life reporter” on these shores: consequent upon one of my no-holds-bared articles on developmental issues in this country, Chief Osoba invited me to his Bourdillon, Ikoyi, Lagos, aristocratic home situate in Romanesque splendour just to profoundly appreciate me for my scholastic contribution to national transformation.
The last encounter with this man of unparalleled humility—who was accused of committing a “journalistic coup” before becoming the editor of the Daily Times—was during the serially-postponed presentation of my third book at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs in 2015: he had accepted to attend the event on the first date. Logistical reasons caused a third and final change of date. His overseas appointment (which he had earlier rescheduled because of the launch) fell on the day of my book presentation. On his way to the airport en route to London, he called and wished me well the next day. In all of the foregoing, the uncommon thread of associational beneficence and superfluity of kindness to people he expects nothing from is the kernel.
From Aremo Osoba to Mr. Peter Obi, the vice-presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party and former governor of Anambra State. Even as a governor, Mr. Obi mingled more with the less-privileged than his opulent peers. He still does it. On so many occasions, he would attend events even without invitation except the ones he didn’t know about or had no relationship whatsoever with the organizers. This characterization cuts across social strata. When he is now invited, his involvement takes a deeper dimension. If a journalist is involved, the matter assumes another perspective entirely. He has assisted and still assists colleagues of mine more than any past or serving governor. His love for the downtrodden is inimitably confounding. Above all, Okute is humble to a fault.
One “relatively unknown” journalist lost her mother when Obi was governor and, on the day of burial, Obi went to the lady’s village to be part of the mourners without any invitation, to the amazement of one and all present, particularly, of course, the bereaved press girl! Can any governor today do that—except, perhaps, Makinde?
From time to time, this former chairman of Fidelity Bank PLC intervenes in the renovation and equipment uplift of schools in various parts of the South East, to the envy and discomfiture of sitting governors in this zone who care less about the overall degeneration of social infrastructure in the grossly underdeveloped axis—particularly in schools—both private and public. The unprecedented complex of Mr. Obi’s post-governance initiatives should be a subject for sociological inquisition presently.
As for Makinde—a fellow Great Akokite and an icon of illuminative leadership in these warped times worsened by an institutional regime of governance poverty amid official naivety and thievishness—only God who made him a governor will recompense him more at the opportune time. Makinde’s widely-acclaimed humanistic candour hallmarked by his unparalleled empathy with people has put him on a stead of ultimate incomparability.
Makinde’s followers and observers assuredly expect his continual redefinition of leadership.