By FEMI ADEOTI.
He did enter Nigeria’s murky waters of politics with great passion and uncommon commitment. He stepped in with determination in 1977 not minding whether it was cloudy or foggy.
What was and still upper most in his mind is service, nothing else matters. He was damn down-to-earth. The reason he went to the grassroots to launch his political career.
Since then, there has been no looking back. No retreat, no surrender and no regrets. Instead, he continues to soar like an eagle in leaps and bounds. Chief Sarafa Tunji Isola is it!
His background and upbringing speak volumes. Isola was born in Abeokuta, Ogun State, on November 25, 1960. After his primary school in 1971, he attended Nawair-Ud-Deen Grammar School, Obantoko, Abeokuta, between 1973 and 1977.
He travelled to England in 1978. He attended Chartered Institute of Marketing, England and South West London College, Tooting Broadway, London, from 1978 to 1981 for Principles of Investment Course. He was in the US in 2002 for a Financial System course organised by the Department of State, Washington.
He is also well groomed for leadership roles. He was at Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, in 2009 for “Leaders in Development Course.” Not satisfied, he enrolled at the University of Ilorin, Kwara State, between 2009 and 2011 where he obtained his Masters of Business Administration degree.
Isola took a shot at politics and his was an instant success. His entry into politics was not accidental. It was well thought out and calculated. He went down straight to his people for their mandate and was graciously obliged.
He was elected Chairman, Abeokuta North Local Government between 1997 and 1998. He became Chairman, Conference of Local Government Council Chairmen, Ogun State, during the same period. Within such a short time, he made his remarkable marks, still indelible till today. That at once thrust him into the limelight. He has continued to occupy the public space positively since then, almost uninterrupted.
The message was not lost on Senator Jubril Martins-Kuye, JMK (of blessed memory) Minister of State for Finance. Ignoring the burning vibrancy in Isola could be a monumental disaster. And JMK was not prepared for that. He recognised a good hand in Isola.
Without hesitation, he picked him as his Special Assistant. That was between 1999 and 2003 in President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government. With foresight, Isola knew the sky is the limit. So, he grabbed the rare opportunity with all his heart. It must not be wasted away carelessly.
He then applied exceptional wisdom to consolidate. He brought to bear his local government experience, after all, no knowledge is lost. It will come handy one day, somehow. It did richly for Isola. He never betrayed the implicit confidence JMK had in him.
Unknown to him, people were monitoring his activities. They saw loyalty, diligence mixed with humility in him. Those are the essentials of quality leadership and service. They were meticulously taking notes of his exploits.
The stark reality soon downed on Isola. Things naturally fell into pleasant places for him. A type of Isola could not be hidden. And truly he was “exposed.”
From the blues, a higher reward came, courtesy: Otunba Gbenga Daniel, former governor of Ogun State, Isola’s home state. He spotted Isola and refused to let go. He couldn’t have gone unnoticed.
He gave him a far higher responsibility. He appointed him Secretary to the State Government (SSG) between 2003 and 2007. Again, Isola never disappointed, he never let himself down. He stoutly displayed the hard and quality stuff he is abundantly made of.
I once or twice came in contact with Isola while he was SSG. He probably would not remember now. They we…