Bolaji Abdullahi: The most fit for our drive for a modern democracy


Soliu Ismaila

Nigerians have begun countdown to the 2023 general elections in the country. However, in Kwara State lies the biggest political, as no moment is more crucial than this period for Ilorin politics.

At the moment, so many people are at cross road of philosophy, for the atmosphere has been polluted with money and ideas. People will only settle for what is consistent with their principle, belief and ideology. Unfortunately, so much remains unanswered by people who have traveled far and wide, experienced culture of excellence and enlightenment, only to return home and become culture vulture. They merely settle for interest despite having opportunity to compare and contrast what is at home with what they see outside.

Imagine Bill Gates running for America’s President tomorrow and what he rolls out as profile is what Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has done for the world; above discussing how he will contain Russia’s aggression, North Korea’s provocation and nuclear drive, Iran’s nuclear aspiration, Europe’s unstable loyalty and managing China’s drive for dimination. I doubt Americans will vote Bill Gates based on his philanthropic gestures alone for they know goodwill is never a bedrock for good governance.

Another example is Obafemi Awolowo, till date Awolowo’s legacies in administration are here and continue to influence the life of our nation. The philosophy of Awolowo on education is being studied in our continent. While the philanthropy of many have become legend. No doubt, some had their place in history, but it was Awolowo that was instrumental to administration in our country, beginning from Independence till his death. I doubt anyone today remembers Awolowo for his money. In fact, his signature cap worn by Professor Yemi Osinbanjo is synonymous to intelligence. Some argue till date that Awolowo came at the time Nigeria’s couldn’t accommodate his politics, he was ahead of his time. Awolowo was an opposition and yet, earned his place along with Tafawa Balewa, Nnamdi Azikiwe, he is never missing. The naira being thrown around was a product of Awolowo’s big idea. Awolowo had everything in intelligence and academics, yet politics was very important to him.

Nigeria’s drive for modern democracy is gaining momentum day-by-day, and advocacy for open voting and transparency in the decision making process of the National Assembly is very much alive. The difference between Athens democracy and that of Rome can’t be denied or exiled, the reality of Roman democracy forced Aristotle to abandon some sentiments against Rome and admit that the Republic needed a new approach in their administration, and governance. Those who live in Athens yesterday must come to terms that we are heading towards Rome in Nigeria, and philanthropy replacing ideas and innovations is a threat to collective prosperity.

When innovation is mentioned, people perhaps think of only science, but democracy is perhaps the most important invention of mankind and remains open to change, but it’s survival and quality equally relies on human intelligence and experience gathered over the years to improve it. One of Saliu Mustapha’s ardent supporters used the “ode fila ode igo” of Awolowo while contesting for ordinary campus politics. There was another who was eventually disqualified from the race, but he was at the University Auditorium to convince voters, if philanthropy is everything that is needed for governance, why was he at the Auditorium along with other contestants despite being the only candidate at the time struggling to pronounce a particular word before thousands of students?

Bill Gates was never a Senator, it was Barrack Obama without a philanthropic foundation that made it to the parliament, and subsequently the White House primarily on his intelligence. Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi’s story is part of the larger Ilorin story, his father and mother are like any of us, and he remains a living testimony of what an individual can attain. It is left to individuals to pick what they consider as asset between money and intellectuality. As for those who propagate that as soon as he left the lower class, he forgot the misery of those he left behind, and exiled the responsibility of raising others. I beg to ask, how many immigrants did Barrack Obama send money to their account directly, or how many blacks did he elevate out of poverty by dashing them money? It was his office as Senator and later President that shaped policies, the atmosphere and attitudes towards black Americans. In fact, it had larger influence in the world that Africans who were anti-America went soft on the country, because he was a black President. Administrators design policies for community development, individuals are allowed to contribute and donate towards it, Bolaji fulfilled his role. In philanthropy, he is not entirely missing either.

Evaluation and assessment of those who served in public service must be based on delivery of their mandate and assignments, not philanthropy, the question is when they had the opportunity, did they deliver? Those who write today had their best education under the man’s watch, and even if they deny today, their conscience won’t forgive them, as everyone aspires to go back to that era where education was true education.

Make no mistake about it, Bolaji Abdullahi is not the best human being alive, but when did philanthropy become a framework for combating poverty? Did Donald Trump with his billionnaire profile made it to White House on his financial strength or his ability to convince larger Americans on his Make America Great Again (MAGA) idea? Kwara Central must think it through, its intellectuals who are polluting the atmosphere and making frantic efforts to replace the criteria for governance with money should thread carefully – for four years is 4 days in the political space, it will be your turn one day!

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