“He was very articulate, very organised, diligent, hardworking, to the extent that all of his peers said he was out of this world because he wasn’t within the realm of what people ordinarily expected from him.
“We were looking through one of his things and we saw a picture he took in 1937. He recorded the time that the picture was taken, not just the date. If you asked within our community in Abeokuta to know something, they would tell you to go to him because he was amazing in his sense of organisation.’
“When we were growing up in the school, if you saw him 100 times, something must be wrong with you. It could be about your dressing or books and for every offence, there’s a penalty of six strokes of the cane. “He was a perfectionist and a very religious man. Whatever he believed in, he was a stickler for it.
“Growing up under his watch was a challenge; as children, we didn’t cherish those qualities but it was as if he should no longer die when we attained adulthood. If you see me as hard working, then you can understand. My dad would be the last to sleep.
“He didn’t have so many friends but he was very social. He had a record of everything, including the days he bought clothes, the price and the place of purchase. You can’t be Amosun and be lazy; nobody would accept that from you.”
That was Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State speaking about his late father, Alhaji Abdul Lasisi Oyedemi Sanusi-Amosun, during the 20th remembrance event on January 21, 2017, exactly a year ago.
For those who regard the word “perfectionist” as disapproving, here are excerpts of the meaning from some dictionaries.
Oxford Dictionaries: A perfectionist is a person who refuses to accept any standard short of perfection.
Cambridge Dictionary: A person who wants everything to be perfect and demands the highest standards possible: She’s such a perfectionist that she notices even the tiniest mistakes.
Collins English Dictionary : Someone who is a perfectionist refuses to do or accept anything that is not as good as it could possibly be. A person who strives for or demands the highest standards of excellence in work, etc.
Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary: A person who likes to do things perfectly and is not satisfied with anything less. He was a perfectionist in his art and could be difficult to work for.
Of all the authorities above, the definition that appeals to me most is that of Collins English Dictionary: “Someone who is a perfectionist refuses to do or accept anything that is not as good as it could possibly be.” OR “A person who strives for or demands the highest standards of excellence in work, etc.”
The governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, “strives for or demands the highest standards of excellence in work.” Little wonder he enunciated in early 2012 a concept called “Ogun Standard,” which demands that every project executed or service rendered must comply with international best practices; it must be a model for others to emulate.
Amosun “refuses to do or accept anything that is not as good as it could possibly be.”
We were once in Ijebu Ode to inaugurate a project. The governor had to call it off because it was “not as good as it could possibly be.” At Ota, Amosun once shook his head in disapproval and muttered, “This is not Ogun Standard!” On a number of times, brochures or pamphlets for events had to be reprinted at the last minute, into the early hours, because attention was not paid to details or some of the pages were defaced with ink or the entire booklets were not of excellent workmanship?
“Let’s manage it like that,” the usual refrain in our clime – a product of mediocre mentality. And you expect Amosun to accept that, to manage it? No. He won’t. And that’s the problem. Here in Nigeria, we tend to accommodate anything but the ideal: “Oh, it’s a minor mistake; let’s manage it!” No, Amosun will not “manage it” with you. You’ll have to correct the mistake. “Oh, it’s just a small error; nobody will see it!” No, Amosun will notice that error; he will see it. So, you’d better correct it.
As in the example above, Amosun is “a perfectionist in his art and could be difficult to work for.” Yes, he will be difficult to work for because he won’t accept your mediocrity. He won’t accept anything second-rate from you. It’s either we do it well or we dump it! That is why you see the governor almost everywhere inspecting projects all over the state, raising issues on work not done in line with the design or frowning at any attempt to shortchange the tax-payers through slap-dash jobs or structures of average workmanship. “We just have to be there to see things for ourselves otherwise they may do rubbish!” he keeps charging. Here in Ogun, the fear of Amosun is the beginning of wisdom for any contractor. You’d better do it well else you will start all over again! Amosun will not accept any excuses from you.
Being a perfectionist does not mean you are perfect. It’s just that you strive for perfection in everything you do. Perfection is the goal and your eyes are fixed on its attainment in every aspect of your work.
Change is constant, yet it is usually difficult for people to accept change. To be more charitable, it also takes some time for people to imbibe new qualities or new ways of during things. During the 2015 electioneering, we passed through a road leading to a particular higher institution where the Amosun administration had invested a lot. The sign board was literally in tatters. Yet, inside the school were first class structures. I shook my head in amazement and soliloquy, “Is it the governor that will come here to teach this institution about Ogun Standard? Do they need a lecture to know that the image of the institution is reflected also in its sign board?”
At another time, I saw a very good poster of an event on a large billboard, somebody trying to impress the governor. But the billboard had dents and undulating edges. The man had simply wasted his money. But I then empathized with the governor: “These people have not imbibed Amosun’s culture of excellence!”
The point is not lost on the governor himself – absolutely not. Sometimes he will shake his head over some “average” work and then whisper, facing another direction or people: “Ko get e!” (He doesn’t understand!) He allows it to pass because he’s human, hoping that next time, you will come with an excellent job. That is when nothing too serious is at stake. Otherwise such is only excused once in a blue moon.
Of course, the governor cannot see everything. I reckoned that some people might not see anything really wrong either with the institution sign board or the billboard. Change is necessary. It also takes time for people to accept and practise the change.
The good news is this: We’ve seen more and more of Ogun Standard displayed every now and then. We won’t get everything right at the same time. But it is noble to be seen to aspire to the highest ideals, to strive for higher standards in our work – the Ogun Standard. ß Let’s imbibe Amosun’s sterling qualities of being industrious, meticulous, disciplined and highly organised. Let’s imbibe the governor’s culture of excellence in every of our work.
This is the best gift we can give to Governor Amosun, the modernizer, as he turns 60 on Thursday, 25 January, 2018.
–––Soyombo, media aide to Governor Amosun, sent this piece via firstname.lastname@example.org