Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Mission to Ibadan


For nearly five decades, the Nigerian experience has been a potpourri of events orchestrated by the actions and inactions of her citizenry. Within several narratives, the stories have been told from different perspectives, leading to the emergence of a crowd of voices, ideas, and initiatives proclaiming and advocating for the rebirth of a new order. However, in the midst of the mounting consensus for change, the prevailing paradox is a flurry of excitement about the dream of a new Nigeria, an overwhelming zeal without knowledge, activity without productivity, glamour devoid of substance - a mere dissipation of passion without action. The truth is, in this journey towards national greatness, talk is cheap and will never be enough. So much has been said recently about what could be done to properly reward, honour and empower our national flag designer Pa Taiwo Akinkunmi. His story has been told over and over again. Over the years, numerous promises have been made by government, a few corporate bodies and individuals about how the old man and his family can be given a befitting treatment with a lasting impact on his health, welfare and the essence of our national heritage which he and many others who have also added value represent. A few good men and women have kept their promises and this has been helpful to Pa Akinkunmi. But to what extent?

Hence, upon the realisation of the need to match words with action, a team of young Nigerians led by renowned IT expert and social entrepreneur ‘Gbenga Sesan, visited the Ibadan home of Pa Akinkunmi on the eve of the October 1st Independence Day celebration in a bid to set the tone for a constructive agenda that will put an end to the unpleasant tales of indigence currently surrounding the unsung national hero. The meeting with Pa Akinkunmi and his family was hinged on a two-fold agenda:

1. A Nigerian Flag Foundation that will promote patriotic values among Nigerians while ensuring that no national hero (regardless of how minute his/her contribution) is forgotten. The Foundation may also cater for health and other welfare matters affecting Pa Akinkunmi, his family and other “forgotten heroes”.

2. A book on the life and times of the national flag designer, the proceeds of which will go to the Foundation (Trust) managed by a proper Governing Council or Board of Trustees.

Although Pa Akinkunmi was unavoidably absent as he had to leave earlier than planned for Benin City on that day, his eldest son Akin Akinkunmi stood in his place. It was a deeply emotional meeting which revealed how much help the family needed from well-meaning Nigerians who would be willing to assist. Akin, a 33-year old HND graduate of Building Technology is still unemployed and practically stays at home with Baba. He also recanted details of how early this year, his father was invited by the Governor of Oyo state, Otunba Alao Akala, on the premise that though he was an indigene of Ogun state residing in Oyo State, plans were being made to give him a deserving reward and honour soonest. Akin, his eldest son who accompanied him to the meeting was also promised a gainful employment by the governor. That was in February 2008. To date, several efforts by Akin Akinkunmi to reach the governor on behalf of his father have proved abortive.

He also spoke about how resources from a popular TV game show have helped them procure and renovate a property in Ibadan. As the meeting progressed, it became apparent that for any meaningful and sustained repositioning of the Akinkunmi family to occur, the first son of the family would need to be established on the pathway of responsibility and enterprise. Without probing further to get more information about why he hasn’t been able to apply his hands to work in a bid to help his dad and family, we knew it would be impossible to suggest anything constructive about empowering this young man – who can in turn build and sustain his family’s legacy. It was then with great relief and a unanimous bodily expression of ‘eureka!’ that we all jumped up the moment Akin revealed to us his passion. What was it about? He loves machines and would love to build capacity in the repair of generators, and has had plans to resume apprenticeship with a “generator house” but was held back by the need for funds to take care of his family while learning more about generators. We were happy that Akin opened up to us in a way that helped define what next needed to be done. At this point, we had spent about two (2) hours deliberating with him on the purpose of our visit to his family and the need to help him find purpose.

As the meeting drew to a close, the gathering resolved as follows:

1. That the “delegation”, working with others with interest in this cause, will commence work on the book project and, the Nigerian Flag Foundation initiative;

2. To help connect Akin with an employer (and mentor) who will provide him an environment where he can pursue his passion (generators);

3. That one thousand (1,000) letters be written and signed by one thousand (1,000) concerned Nigerians addressed to the Executive Governor of Oyo State, reminding him of his promises to assist Pa Taiwo Akinkunmi and his family. The letters should be sent on or before November 31st, 2008.

The following persons were in attendance at this historic meeting:
1. ‘Gbenga Sesan – Convener
2. Jide Adeyemi
3. Ohimai Godwin Amaize
4. Tayo Opatayo
5. Femi Giwa
6. Ferdinand Adimefe
7. Oreoluwa Ladokun
8. Akin Akinkunmi

1 comment:

Reginald Bassey said...

Great job guys. We ought to know better on celebrating our own.