April 1, 2015 – It all started like a play at a Friday Social Forum meant to interact and unwind with friends. The discussion was about the multiplicity of challenges in Nigeria and how it was difficult to change the status quo.
After various arguments and mudslinger, reasons prevailed and it was agreed that rather than dissipating needless energy lamenting about our current predicament or cursing inapt leaders, we should work within our sphere of influence to see how we can make a difference and engender good governance at both the local, state and national level.
This thus led to our resolve to have a Social Forum amongst like minds, to support positive causes that will engender authentic leadership and good governance in Nigeria, even if this will start by taking baby steps. The forum comprises of professionals from different walks of life, who expend their resources, time and energy in supporting initiatives that will rekindle hope and arouse positive change in the polity.
Consequently, the identification of a credible governorship candidate in Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode for Lagos State and the emergence of General Mohammed Buhari as a presidential aspirant further fuelled the enthusiasm of members about the project of re-inventing governance especially at the national level.
Because majority of members are from Epe division, Epe which was hitherto deserted and quiet, despite its numerous natural potentials as a tourist’s destination and industrial cluster, became a mecca, where both indigenes and visitors converge.
This started revealing the challenges in the town which ironically are windows of opportunities for discerning investors. This much was revealed on a weekend when an event dragged late into the night and we had to drive as far as Ijebu Ode at about 12midnight to secure hotels for our guests because the few hotels in Epe were fully booked.
This adventurous move however almost cost us our lives as we ran into the hands of Neighbourhood Guards who unknown to us, had imposed a curfew because of the high incidences of crime in Ijebu Ode. They asserted that they could have opened fire on first sight, but only gave us a benefit of doubt to identify ourselves on instinct and thereafter released us after they were convinced we were not criminals.
Unfortunately, on Saturday 28th March 2015, some of our associates namely; Olakunle Adewale, Olawale Mogaji, Gbolahan Mogaji, Muiz Bello and Shamsideen Agoro, who were equally on humanitarian cause by volunteering themselves as election monitors to ensure that elections were conducted in an orderly and peaceful manner, especially in challenged terrains, were not lucky, as their boat capsized at the lagoon, on their way back from Ereshe, a riverine community in Epe, where they had gone to monitor the presidential elections and they all lost their lives.
These gentlemen were creative, dynamic and thriving individuals, who on their own would have always kept their heads above water irrespective of the situation of Nigeria’s economy. They have, however, elected to make their contribution towards a better Nigeria to salvage the deteriorating state of affairs in the country through the support of the candidacy of General Mohammed Buhari, a man who they share some ideologies with and believe possess some positive values required to rejuvenate Nigeria, which is lacking in most of our leaders.
Prince Kunle Adewale, for instance, until his death was a Deputy Director with the Lagos State Government, while Mr. Wale Mogaji who recently relocated to Nigeria from the Republic of Ireland is a Public Relations Consultant. Mr. Gbolahan Mogaji, also only recently relocated from UK to Nigeria to contribute his quota to the development of Nigeria. Muiz Bello, on the other hand, resigned from his plum job at Chevron to venture into politics and was aspiring to be the Chairman of Epe Local Government.
They have chosen to be different from the crowd who merely sit on the fence and complains about Public Affairs without acting and rather acted as change agents by advocating and canvassing their ideals, a posture that has infected a lot of hitherto apathetic and apolitical minds including me.
Consequently, while we celebrate the contributions of some political bigwigs such as Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Rotimi Amaechi, amongst others, to the emergence of a formidable opposition which eventually culminated in the emergence of General Mohammed Buhari as presidential candidate and subsequently president elect, the least we can do for these silent heroes and unseen hands in the struggle for authentic leadership in Nigeria, is to ensure that the ultimate sacrifice they have made in deepening democracy in Nigeria, is not in vain through the entrenchment of good governance.
May their gentle souls rest in peace. Amen.
Public Relations Consultant
Author: “Evolving Competitive Public Sector in Nigeria”