-by Emmanuel Ajibulu
Within the prism of life realities, the qualities of a great man are vision, integrity, courage, understanding, the power of articulation, and profundity of character, factually so.
It is as well incontrovertible that contemporary challenges of development in our country, Nigeria, demand a critical and deliberate re-invention of the philosophy of governance and political leadership which must reflect a profound understanding of the very great tasks ahead of us as a nation and as a people.
The liberation of the African continent at the moment would require that leadership considerations are determined by such virtues as strength of character, intellectual depth as well as dedication and commitment of the personages involved.
Having said that, there is no better time than now to assess the quality of leaders Nigeria has had in the last 59 years of her independence. The late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, was the best manager of men and resources and also crowned in death as the best president Nigeria never had, as testified to, by the late Ikemba of Nnewi.
Awo chose to pursue a national interest rather than solidifying his base. He came, led and left his imprints on Nigeria political landscape. History will continue to judge him kindly as to the roles he played in shaping Nigeria in readiness to an enviable 21st century wonderland.
After this remarkable leader, (at least that we know in Yorubaland), the country had grappled with both military rulers and their civilian counterparts with little or nothing to show for their efforts, in terms of physical development, institutional growth and economic advancement that commensurate with the large amount of billions of dollars generated from our God given resources.
Among the pack however, is one man who stands conspicuously taller than the rest in character, honesty, integrity, achievements and personal examples as a leader and as an unassuming leader in the quest for nation building. He is no other person than our indefagitable Hon (Comrade) Joseph Iranola Akinlaja, a member of 8th Assembly of House of representatives, who is currently representing Ondo East and West Federal Constituency and Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources Downstream, a chieftain of one of the fastest growing political party in Nigeria, Zenith Labour Party (ZLP). It should however be noted that under no guise could the outcome of the last February 23, 2019 general elections which Hon Akinlaja participated in serve as grounds to calibrate this unbiased narrative of his political maturity and cerebral disposition.
Hon Joseph Iranola Akinlaja’s meticulous national and international rise became noticeable ever since his trade unionism days, having rose to the position of General Secretary of the ever vibrant Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and simultaneously holding sway as Deputy National President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) (under the leadership of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and subsequently his foray into mainstream politics. Hon (Comrade) Akinlaja’s integrity and averse to greed and corruption was also conspicuously spotted in all his private, trade unionism and political engagements, what a rare breed!
At a time when it was fashionable to sell integrity and honour for a paltry some of naira or hard currency, this adorable man stood his ground, put his life and career on the line, paid his dues in ensuring that a good name is better than riches.
It is instructive to stress that a good leader is not made overnight, while charity begins at home; Hon Akinlaja is a product of good marriage, family life and dependable allies, the reason he enjoys peace and supports both at home front and at national and international levels. It is for these reasons and many more the space and time would not allow one to write about this iconic leader of all leaders, a political generalissimo and ever smiling, ever loving and ever hard working leader. Political historians would have some stories to tell in the nearest future. Akinlaja’s integrity, competence, exposure, wealth of knowledge and experience will still do Nigeria a lot of good at a time like this, and also when call upon by those at the helms of affairs. God bless Nigeria!
-Emmanuel Ajibulu wrote in from Lagos; he is Head, Media & Strategy office of Hon Joseph Iranola Akinlaja