By DR (HON) MUYIWA & PROF (MRS) B.Y OLADIMEJI
Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before Kings, he shall not stand before mean men — Proverb 22 vs. 29.
IN truth by any socio-economical–political classification, the man Olagunsoye Oyinlola, himself is of blue/royal blood as a Prince, but by the experience/history of his life as an orphan from childhood, he has definitely had to learn to climb to the top.
There is no doubt a comprehensive tribute of the man Olagunsoye Oyinlola can’t but be voluminous, however, since my interactions/knowledge of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola is less than half of his 70 years, this may not be a sufficiently wholesome tribute. Although by some twist of fate, one had related to the Oyinlolas for over 50 years, my cousin (sister Shade – nee Ayodele) who used to baby sit my brother, now Dr. Femi, when we were kids and mummy was busy at her chores later married late Prince Duro Oyinlola and Egbon Dipo Oyinlola (now Dr. Dipo Oyinlola) was a classmate and very close friend to my late Bros, Tunde Oyegoke at Osogbo Grams.
In the very early sixties when I entered Government College, Ibadan, Bros Dipo was at the Ransome Kuti College of Education. He and Bros Tunde used to drill me during holidays in the Sciences. Bros Tunde was particular about Mathematical Sciences whilst Bros Dipo about the Life Sciences.
There’s no doubt the duo have a positive influence on my academics but before long they both eloped to Europe: Bros Tunde Oyegoke to the UK to study Engineering and Egbon Dipo to USSR to study Medicine (coincidentally in the same university where I entered the year he graduated).
Then Col. Oyinlola the Millitary Administrator (Milad): The military man Olagunsoye Oyinlola, however, was not in my radar of interactions until he was a MILAD in Lagos State. Those were the Abacha years. Prior to that I was an SDP member of the National Assembly, NASS, and a June 12 activist before we were kicked out, hence I saw the IBB/Abacha subjugation of democracy by Kakistocracy as an aberation and regarded most military people in power then as predatory political power usurpers, dictators and unpatriotic elements.
This feeling was further fuelled when during the constitutional conference my Apo Residence was bombed ostensibly because of my bimonthly newspaper articles calling the Abacha Junta to vacate Aso Rock Villa for MKO Abiola. Shortly after the bomb blast, I was drafted into a seven-man group of Southwest (SW) constitution conference members to meet with the (SW) MILADS. I pleaded to be excused from the group but Dr. Bode Olajumoke, the late Chief Dayo Abatan and the then Minister of State for Agriculture, the late Prof. Demola Adesina insisted I should be in the group to represent Osun State.
Dr. (now) Senator Bode Olajumoke was chairman of the group. Contacts were made, the MILAD of Lagos State (Col. Oyinlola) was due in Abuja and a meeting was arranged with him in his hotel suite at Abuja Sheraton & Towers. Col. Oyinlola requested we should be punctual for the meeting because he had earlier arranged for another meeting about two and half hours after our meeting.
I had expected the meeting was going to be with a garrulous, bossy ITK (I too know) military officer but surprisingly Col. Oyinlola was of a humble disposition and a very good discussant even anecdotal rather than being angry in responding or contributing to what might be considered condemnation and provocative comments on the Abacha government or functionaries.
That meeting thereby ended amicably rather than abruptly and he invited us to join him at dinner with those he had told us were scheduled to meet him two and half hours after our meeting started. Dr. Olajumoke in his closing remarks felt it would be uncharitable if our meeting were to prevent him from honouring the earlier scheduled meeting he already told us about.
But Col. Oyinlola passionately appealed that it was a dinner meeting with Chief Oba Otudeko and two others at one of same Sheraton Hotel & Towers restaurants. He instructed his aides to ensure that the dinner table be arranged for 12 people instead of for himself and three other people as earlier planned.
Oyinlola the politician: This second phase of interaction was to begin years later when the now Brig. Gen (retd) Oyinlola was the Osun State PDP candidate for the gubernational election against the incumbent AD governor – Chief Bisi Akande in 2003. The PDP primary that ushered Brig. Gen. (retd) Oyinlola in as our candidate was either tumultuous or rancorous depending on which faction of the party members belonged. It is common sense that in any political contest a party divided within itself, ununited and in disarray stands little or no chance of victory.
Therefore, efforts needed to be made to soothe frayed nerves and reconcile different factions of the party. A Peace and Reconciliation Committee was inaugurated by our leader and elder statesman, Chief S.M Afolabi. Dr. Yemi Faroumbi was appointed chairman and I was appointed secretary.
The task of that committee was to interact with the major dramatis personnae of the different factions in the party. Details of the modus operandi of that committee are too elaborate to be the subject of this write up; essentially we met with different leaders of the different tendencies privately until we reached a stage when we arranged for joint meetings. The chairman, Dr. Faroumbi’s place was in Ibadan and it was agreed that the meetings should be held at my residence in Osogbo.
At the meeting Brig Gen. (retd) Oyinlola, unlike many politicians, was usually very punctual. He neither ate nor drank anything. He was usually soft spoken and seemed never easily provoked or angered. Even when others appeared angry or shouted at him, he would neither smile nor frown but calmly and sometimes anecdotally made his remarks.
Gladly to the glory of God and thanks to the maturity, discipline and sense of party loyalty of those leaders, tension was reduced and Osun PDP went into the 2003 election as a united front against the AD; the gentleman military officer Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola won to become Governor of Osun State.
It was interesting to observe how the governor elect’s private residence became “Mecca” to all sorts of persons and lobbyists, while some others became “emergency golfers” so as to have access to Prince Oyinlola.
Invariably some of these opportunists/lobbyists along with some other genuine dedicated PDP members got appointed by Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola at one level on the other in the government of Osun State.