By Robert Boroffice
When Ayi Kwei Armah wrote his novel “The Beautifuy Ones Are Not Yet Born,” it was a mirror of the dawn of post-independence Ghana.An era characterised by despair and political disillusionment among Ghanaians. It was a prevalent situation nurtured by embezzlement of public fund and lack of patriotism.The novel was borne out of a yearning for a generation of leadership -the beautiful ones, that will rescue Ghana from the clutches of corruption. Several decades ago, when this novel was written, many countries including Nigeria shared with Ghana this state of hopelessness generated by corruption. Over five decades after independence Nigeria is still confronted with a systemic corruption which has almost become enigmatic. A nation that is so blessed with natural resources fertile landmass and clement climate continues to grapple with poverty and underdevelopment.The impact of corruption has been compounded by insurgency provoked by religious and tribal myopism. I couldn’t contradict a friend who said Nigeria is full of contradictions.Those who are supposed to be excellencies turn out to be excellent thieves, ‘the honourable are far below honour and the distinguished are far from dignity. While I could not argue with him is because be backed up his view with concrete examples.
Yet, I believe that some beautiful ones have been born. One of them is Professor Ben Ayade. The governor of Cross River State. Ayade was my student at the University of Ibadan and he was my colleague as a senator in the Seventh Assembly. He has built on what he learnt in my genetics class to move governance to a higher level in his state.Genetic evolution produces new characters that advance development propelled by natural selection. Ben has utilised intellectual selection to prioritise his development objectives and goal for the socio-economic development of his state.The trajectory he has charted for his development strategies will lift up Cross River.
Professor Oloyede, who is the Registrar of JAMB is another beautiful one that has been born.I have known him as far back as when he was the Vice Chancellor of University of Ilorin.Among the vice chancellors he was in a class of his own in terms of foresight, hard work and commitment to the ideal of an academic institution designed for learning research and building of character. As a member of Senate Committee on Education, I was excited to find out that Oloyede is the Registrar of JAMB. In the 2017 budget hearing, our committee challenged Prof Oloyede to fund his agency from internally generated revenue. He accepted the challenge and I assured the committee that he would achieve to succeed in that project. I am therefore not surprised that JAMB has generated a revenue of N7 billion.
This leads me to the most beautiful of them, governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State. Two years before he was elected as the governor, he never dreamt or prayed to lead the State.Divine destiny bestowed on him that burden.
When I attended a book launch in Lagos where his governorship ambition was made public, I had an insight on his personality. I saw him as an engine of a Mack Truck in the body of a Volkswagen. He was struggling to contain his energy for work for passion to transform Lagos, fury of anger to combat corruption. As a Governor he has worked tirelessly do what is in the overall interest of Lagos. He tackled the Mike 2 manace without succumbing to tribal sentiment. He faced the problem of Tejuoso Market without bothering about insinuations of tribalism.The roads and bus terminals constructed are a beauty to behold. Lagos state is better for it.
His decision to contruct a befitting Lagos Airport road came like a meteorite that illuminates an eclipsed hope of a nation.Airports all over the world is the gateway to a nation. It gives a first-time visitor an idea what the country looks like. What we have as Lagos Airport road is an embarrassment to the nation an indicator of misplaced priority. I hope that the new road will eliminate the taxi park on the right side the road.
I have no hesitation to reach the verdict that with Governor Ambode, Governor Ayade and Prof. Oloyede, some beautiful ones have been born.
–––Boroffice is a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.