From Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure

The Osun at 30 celebrations, themed: “Celebrating a Milestone, Building a prosperous Future,” may have come and gone. But the politics and issues associated with the events would remain a subject of analysis for politi- cal pundits and commentators for a long time to come.

The events which kicked off on August 26, with the governor of the state, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola, featuring on Radio and TV interviews was rounded off with a Banquet and Awards evening on Thursday, September 23, 2021, with all former governors but the immediate past governor and incumbent Interior minister, Rauf Aregbesola, on parade.

Although Aregbesola is yet to publicly say if he was invited or not, sources close to Osun Government revealed that he was duly invited through a letter personally signed by the incumbent, Oyetola. The copy of the letter went viral on the social media, shortly after the event.

Political pundits however believe that the seemingly political disagreement between the two political gladiators may have been responsible for Aregbesola’s action.

But personalities from all walks of life were on parade to witness the event. Among them were: Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu; Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; and Ogun State Governor, Dr. Dapo Abiodun who were represented; former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Lasun Yusuff; and Minister of Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare. Others are former Governors of Osun State, Chief Bisi Akande; Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola; Gen. Leo Ajiborisha (rtd.) who was represented; Col. Theophilus Bamigboye (rtd.); Navy Capt. Anthony Udofia (rtd); former Ogun State Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel; former Oyo State Governor, Otunba Alao Akala and former Oyo State Deputy Gov- ernor, Chief Moses Alake. The rest are first class traditional rulers, including the Alaafin of Oyo, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi; the Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi who was represented; Obi of Onitsha, His Royal Majesty, Igwe Alfred Achebe and Captains of industries.

In his address, the Chief of Staff to the Osun Governor and Chairman of the 30th Anniversary Committee, Dr. Charles Akinola, welcomed personalities to the gathering. He acknowledged the diversity of the audience, saying it deserves to be celebrated.

He said the diversity of the audience “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. “

The Jury Speaks

Dr. Bayo Jimoh, an Industrial Psychologist and immediate past Group Managing Director of Oduá Investment Company Limited, who was a member of the jury that came up with the 28 anniversary awardees said that the process of identifying the award recipients included defining the criteria for nomination of awards before nominations were received for the awards. He added that it was followed by an extensive research and debate conducted among the Jury to determine the selected awardees.

While noting that all the processes took place over a two-month period, Dr. Jimoh said: “It is instructive to state that our criteria focused on service to Osun and contribution to society and the world by indigenes and non-indigenes who have contributed to Osun. We placed no restriction to 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,” Jimoh added.

He also said membership of the jury is composed of such eminent personalities as Prof. Niyi Akinnaso – veteran columnist and a retired Professor of Anthropology and Linguistics from the Temple University, Phila- delphia; Dr. Segun Aina, an internationally- reputed banker and President, Osun Development Association; his humble self, Dr. Bayo Jimoh – Former GMD, Oodua Investment Limited; the Chief of Staff to the Governor, a foremost scholar and a development expert, Dr. Charles Akinola; Mrs. Funke Egbemode, former President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors and Honourable Commissioner for Information and Civic Orientation; Mr. Is- mail Omipidan – Chief Press Secretary to the Governor and Mr. Sola Imoru, Media Adviser to the Governor (Speech Writing).

The Awardees

The honourees are 28 in all under four different categories. The Osun Lifetime Achievement Award, had Chief Bisi Akande (former Governor, Osun State); Pastor Enoch Adeboye (General Overseer, RCCG world-wide); Sheikh Abdur’rasheed Hadiyatulla (President, Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria); and General Ipoola Alani Akinrinnade, rtd. (former Chief of Army Staff, Nigeria from October 1979 to April 1980, and then Chief of Defence Staff until 1981 during the Nigerian Second Republic).

Others in the lifetime achievement category are Asiwaju Hammed Omidiran, Comrade Hassan Sunmonu, Prince Tunde Ponle, Professor Olu Aina, Chief Akinwande Akinola, Joanah Olu Maduka, and Chief (Dr.) Benjamin Adigun.

Those recognised under the Legacy Award category are: Dr. Folorunsho Alakija (Chancellor, Osun State University and dynamic philanthropist), and the late Madam Susanne Wenger (a culture and tourism icon).

The Osun Merit Award honourees included Emeritus Prof., Ademola Oyejide, Chief Nike Okundaye, Professor Oye Gureje, Professor Isaac Adewole, and Mallam Yusuf Ali, SAN.

The Osun Distinguished Citizens Award honourees included Pastor Matthew Asimolowo, Alagba Yemi Elebuibon, Brigadier General Leo Segun Ajiborisha rtd (First Osun MILAD), Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, Asiwaju Khamis Olatunde Badmus, Prince Lawal Obelawo, Chief Moses Inaolaji Aboaba (First Osun H.O.S/SSG), Mr. Adewale Adeyemo (Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, US), Mr. Kola Adeniji and Mr. Mike Awoyinfa.

Akande, Akeredolu, Alaafin speak Chief Bisi Akande, while appreciating the honours done the past leaders, commended the government of Osun for recognising the services and labours of the former governors.

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He noted that the journey into the position of power was filled with the good and the bad as the past governors have experienced series of challenges while in power such as labour unrest and difficulties in payment of salaries of workers with the state’s meagre resources.

Chief Akande while congratulating and commending past governors for meeting these challenges despite the meagre resources that accrued to them from Abuja, also called on the people of the state to continue to offer the necessary support to the Administration of Governor Adegboyega Oyetola in order to take Osun to an enviable height.

On his part, the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, said by giving his Osun State counterpart, Oyetola, another four years in office, the state would gain more from him.

The Ondo State helmsman, who said achieving milestone of 30 years was worth celebrating, noted that “it has been a wonderful celebration having identified those who built the state, the founding fathers of this state and those who have contributed to the development of this state are now being given award, I think the government is doing very well.

“I believe this state will 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 after this four years, the state will stand to gain a lot from him.”

The Alaafin of Oyo, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, on his part, commended the government of Osun on the awards. He described it as a welcome development because of its potential to ignite high hopes and hunger for diligence and excellence in the youths. He urged the people of the state to continue to support the Oyetola’s Adminis- tration because the governor has shown that he meant well for the people.

Oyetola Speaks

For close to two hours, Governor Oyetola stood to honour each of 28 awardees who took turns to pose for a photograph with him after each of the session.

Speaking on the occasion, Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, who ensured a minute silence was observed in honour of the first civilian Governor of the state, the late Isiaka Adeleke, charged citizens to come together, irrespective of their political differences and sentiments to build Osun for a greater tomorrow.

According to him, state-building is a collective enterprise. He further said it was deserving to pay tributes to the illustrious men and women who have held sway as leaders of the people.

“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,” Oyetola said.

He also urged citizens to continue to collaborate with the government to achieve sustainable development promised and already being delivered.

“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”, he added.

One of the high points of the event was the decoration of the former Military Administrators and Governors of the State since its creation in 1991 by the incumbent, Governor Adegboyega Oyetola.

Governor Oyetola was in turn decorated by former Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola.

Before the Banquet and Awards event, the state had held a Colloquium, on the theme: “Celebrating a Milestone: Building a Prosperous Future,” where Chief Akande served as the keynote Speaker, while the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Sa’ad Abubakar, chaired the occasion. The Sultan remarked that “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.”

The colloquium which was moderated by Professor Akinnaso, had 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, as panellists.