NEWS ANALYSIS – Hindsight 2020 in Courage And Character: The definitive history of Osun State

NEWS ANALYSIS – Hindsight 2020 in Courage And Character: The definitive history of Osun State

Flash back – Nigerian Tribune Edition on New states’ creation

The recollections of Colonel Leo Ajiborisha are a must-read for reflections by contemporary occupants of Government Houses and the Legislature.

Ajiborisha was the first administrator of Osun State on its creation in 1991. Mr Moses Inaolaji Aboaba was the first Secretary to the State Government. Ajiborisha retired as a Brigadier-General.

He spoke to the team that assembled Courage And Character: The Definitive History of Osun State. “I called Aboaba and told him people must not hear that I was eating with N65,000! How much was I spending on food in my house? It was not up to N4000 or N5000 in a month with my wife and children”.

“He (Aboaba) said, “Sir, when they come, your crew will eat with you in the morning. Commissioners come in, Advisers come in, that is why it is N65,000. They tried to convince me to approve only N45,000 for one month. I hardly eat breakfast, yet you will see Cornflakes, Quaker Oats, Ogi, White Ogi, Ogi Baba, Yellow Ogi, Akara, Moin-Moin, Jogi, Sardine stew, Yam, Eggs- all types of eggs on the table, and I said who is going to eat all these? Wastages.”

The nine new states created in 1991 got N30m for take-off. The administrators exercised prudence. Compare and contrast.

Two people from the Adeleke family of Ede have governed Osun State. Senator Isiaka Adeleke, renowned as Serubawon (shock and awe them), was the first civilian governor. The military truncated his administration with their coup. Senator Ademola Nurudeen Jackson Adeleke, his much younger brother, governs Osun State currently.

Both were senators. Both became governors. What did they do right?

Prince Clement Adesuyi Haastrup, deputy governor to the first Adeleke, shares an insight.

“The Adelekes spent almost 95 per cent of the money during the election. He was well prepared. The use of helicopters, which caught voters’ attention, was pre-planned. And that is where they got a lot of exposure. He and his brother studied in America and took advantage of their exposure.”

Where in the world is Colonel Abel Akale? General Sani Abacha appointed Akale administrator of Osun State on 8 November 1993. He was then Commanding Officer of the Army Engineering and Construction Regiment, Ede. He served only two months, a real fidihe.

Akale stood out as an exemplar of integrity and anti-corruption.

‘In February 1994, a military tribunal headed by then Brigadier-General Oladipo Diya probed Akale and four other military caretakers/interim administrators who served in the states created alongside Osun – Borno, Kano, Akwa Ibom and Yobe. Akale was the only one found not to have embezzled public funds.”

Courage And Character is a book of mini-stories. Many of them speak to the Nigerian condition today. To reprise a saying, they indicate where the rain started beating us. Or the many instances where our forebears got it right.

Take the story of Captain Anthony Udofia, a military administrator. The book reports. “The Osun people were cordial to him at first, but the agitators soon indicated that he and the Sani Abacha-led government in Abuja were unwanted meddlesome interlopers. The first six months were difficult as the people constantly revolted against the military.”

Udofia’s response? “After about six months, I had to call all of them. I told them, ‘I am not from this state; I have been sent to work with you to develop this state. If you do not want development, no problem. I will stay here, and when it is time to go, they will ask me to go, and that is how I will leave the state. You will continue to get your salaries, but the government will not lift a finger. I told them the money I was supposed to use to develop the state I would send back to the Federal Government.’

When they saw that he meant every word, their attitude changed. “So, we started working. It was tough; people lost their lives and property”.

When he gained their support, the next task was to constitute his cabinet. But this also required special care as he could not identify the Afenifere and NADECO activists.”

Birthed in the rebellion against maltreatment and disrespect by the Ibadan nobility against Chief Salami Agbaje and their first-class traditional rulers, Courage And Character tells the riveting many stories and narratives of Osun State over nearly a century.

The 460-page book is rich in anecdotes and draws on primary and secondary sources. It is highly visual and graphic. There are source documents such as the epochal Butcher Commission of Inquiry report, first-rate photography and all the materials that make history enjoyable.

The Erudio Alphabet Company published Courage & Character (2023) and has brought it out as Osun State marks 32 years of its creation alongside others created by the military on 27 August 1991. Other states announced on 27 August 1991 are Kebbi, Jigawa, Yobe, Taraba,

Abia, Anambra, Delta, and Kogi. They raised the state’s count to 30 before another exercise took them to 36.

Courage And Character book is the first part of a trilogy. Former President Muhammadu Buhari wrote the foreword and called it “A roadmap for the younger generation.” Former governor Rauf Aregbesola commissioned the work and wrote the preface reiterating “The importance of telling our stories”. The book has ten chapters and appendices.

Temitope Lakisokun, publisher, says of Courage And Character, the Osun book: “It is an epic story that begins in pre-colonial times and documents the great work of the founders and those who have had the privilege to lead the state. The Osun story is about a people’s rejection of subjugation and oppression, their quest for independence and sovereignty, and the struggle for survival and relevance.”

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