Segun Osoba: Beyond The Court Of St. James | Independent Newspapers Limited
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COLUMNIST, Omnipossibilities

Segun Osoba: Beyond The Court Of St. James

Posted: Jul 17, 2015 at 2:42 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

It has been proposed that following the 2015 governorship poll in Ogun State that saw the defeat of Social Democratic Party (SDP) of ex-governor Olusegun Osoba, some arrangement might be worked out to compensate Osoba. According to the revered academic and columnist Professor Olatunji Dare, the splendid skills of the politician can still find a flow into the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and subsequently into the blood stream of Nigeria. That way we would not lose the precious service of Osoba.

Making the suggestion in his column the other day Dare wrote: “In the winner-takes-all paradigm of Nigerian politics, the bell may well be tolling now for one of the most engaging and colorful careers in recent Nigerian politics. That will be a pity indeed. Osoba’s superb managerial skills, his suavity, his excellent social and public relations skill, his perspicacity, his graciousness and his quiet competence, not forgetting his regal bearing, recommend him powerfully for a significant role in General Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. He would make an excellent High Commissioner to the Court of St. James’s.”

The offer is seductive, spread in such superlative language not smattering of flattery. For both the President and the ex-governor, there appears to be an idea worth exploring for its potential promise.

But will Osoba, positioned in the books as an iron-cast man of principles, accept it if offered? I think he would turn it down even if he would make an excellent High Commissioner to the Court of St. James. That he would make a good success of such a posting matters little to a man who has never settled for a consolation prize as the position hints. Perhaps, if his SDP formed the government at the centre, a duty tour in the UK (or elsewhere) might receive a benevolent consideration. It would then be reckoned as deservedly feasting on the spoils of electoral victory, accepting merited honour.

But on what account would Osoba take a gift from the political party he left following a celebrated fray guided by principles? Does Osoba’s temperament accommodate the philosophy that as “the bell may well be tolling for one of the most engaging and colourful careers in recent Nigerian politics,” some soft superannuating compensation be packaged for him to take the place of what he sought for and failed to get?

Some may seek to bolster Olatunji Dare’s stand by the argument that Osoba should take the offer if made as it would be service for the nation and not for party. But one does not need to be in government to be useful to the fatherland. There are more people outside government chipping in their lot to help sustain Nigeria. Their contribution is un-hyped, unheralded, but it is nonetheless as fulfilling as the work those in government.

The country’s thousand and one backroom sectors, away from the political scene, afford more massive activities for the citizenry to participate productively in Project Nigeria.

Now I believe, along with several others, Osoba’s next move should be to give Nigerians the book he promised us. It is his next pre-occupation. Certainly this is beyond being boxed in the palace of the British monarch. It is the book not only journalist crave for; Nigerians who value history and biographies also want it. The inestimable worth of books is aptly captured by the American author Clarence Shepard Day Junior. He said: “The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man; nothing else that he builds ever lasts. Monuments fall; nations perish, civilizations grow old and die out. After an era of darkness, new races build others; but in the world of books are volumes that live on as young and fresh as the day they were written, still telling men’s hearts of the hearts of men centuries dead.”

When Mike Awoyinfa and Dimgba Igwe (of blessed memory) wrote a book on Osoba with the title Segun Osoba: The Newspaper Years, it registered a huge and instant success given the personality of the work. Acclaimed as it was, the book didn’t answer a horde of questions. Indeed it threw up more posers. Like the feeling you get after taking soft drinks when you are thirsty and yearning for life-giving water. Osoba himself gave an indication of a more satisfying book in the works. “I am going to tell (my) story in my memoirs,” he says. That would be my next reporting assignment…This one [Awoyinfa and Igwe’s] is a biography. I am working on my own memoirs which would be an autobiography. And then there would be plenty of stories to read.”

The upcoming book would be of interest to journalists and other Nigerians for a host of reasons. To a nation interested in the restoration of the theory and practice of principled politics untainted by illiberal party meddlesomeness, Osoba’s autobiography should hold out great hope.

His book will tell of how he practiced what I often refer to as trans-party politics. Under this, the ex-governor pursued an agenda that appeared quite antithetical to his party’s stand, but favoured the interest of the people.

His book would distill his ideas of politics and government thus: development is a political neuter. Whether your party is of the left, right or center, you need to introduce a programme of harnessing available resources (or creating them) in order to establish a platform to empower the people. And as you go about this process, you must watch against unhelpful encumbrances of party or political labels. All what the electorate or constituency wants from the elected public holders are to deliver the goodies of life to the society. In a word, you are accountable to the people in the long run.

His book will also be expected to talk about his heroism in the days of Sani Abacha. When the dictator demolished the country’s democratic institutions, Osoba who was then governor in Ogun State was alleged to have  declared that he would not vacate his office. The question most observers are asking is: how did the ex-governor intend to confront the dictator?

And for us journalists, a book on the life and times of a senior and illustrious colleague should give us limitless opportunities to upgrade the standard in the profession. It would guide us into priming ourselves for more dedicated service to society and the profession. If we lament today’s standards, could it be because we’ve failed to learn from the masters? Or is it the masters who have refused to drop some of their tricks for posterity through their memoirs?

Either way, we salute Segun Osoba as he marks his birthday on July 15, 2015.