Solomon at 60: Not the Archetypal Politician!

1 a distinct class

Senator Ganiyu Olanrewaju Solomon, on Thursday turned 60 years. He remains a worthy example in leadership. Olawale Olaleye writes

Back in his days as the Chairman of Mushin Local Government, Lagos, Senator Ganiyu Olanrewaju Solomon, had a customary but curious line he always dropped in the description of himself and his people of Mushin, whenever he was making a speech.

“I come from Mushin – a very common, yet, uncommon set of people,” he would say, often times as the opening line of his speeches.

Of course, that was not to make sense immediately. But as time graduated into maturity, the import of that figure of speech began to add up.

Mushin is definitely not a regular terrain. Indeed, a turf for the steely-minded, where the street remains the greatest teacher of all times.

A typical ‘hood’, which boasts even the impossible, the indomitable spirit of her people – against all odds – is the reason ‘Mushines’ as they are otherwise called, are very uncommon despite their notoriety, which is their insignia.

An educated, cosmopolitan and widely travelled Solomon cuts the image of a true Mushine. His knowledge of his people, coupled with his ability to manage the various but unpredictable tendencies speaks very much to his staying relevance in that part of the state.

For one, who’s never worked in a structured organisation, to have such impressive administrative prowess, speaks directly to natural endowment. Upon graduation from the University of Lagos, where he studied Political Science, he started his own business and thereafter, moved into politics being his family’s standard volition.

A majority of those, who saw him function as chairman of the local government, when local government administration was still at its best in terms of autonomy, wondered where he learnt his leadership skills from.
With unmitigated attention to details especially, if the issue on the card was policy-related, his unassuming nature, enhanced by quiet mien as well as capacity to listen to everyone, no matter what they had to say, offered the kind of strength needed to deliver quality leadership at that level.

By choosing to identify with his people and often offering psychological relief as the ‘go to man’ for everything, he earned their trust and confidence, a situation that has hitherto made him the issue, not only the politics of Mushin, but the state in general.

Consistent, resolute, sincere and frank, his movement to the House of Representatives after just a term at the local government depicted focus, ambition and a man with plan. His stint at the lower chamber of the legislature was to birth a graduation to the upper arm, where in eight years, nothing changed about him in terms of his relationship with his people.

Battered, bruised and harassed, he has remained a consistent progressive, whose natural leadership inclination is arguably a threat to many in the state. But none of these would alter his path, much less his belief in progressivism.

Speaking uncomfortable truth to power with discomforting candour is his pastime. To put smiles on the faces of people is his calling. Consistency, however, is the philosophy of his politics. He is by all standards not the archetypal politician you see around. He finds it difficult to tell lies as a means to an end.

Talk about integrity, an insignificant few come close. He does not steal as his records speak for him. He honours agreement like his life depends on it. Above all, nothing is a do-or-die for him as far as life is concerned.

Some years ago, precisely in 2003, the late Yoruba elder, Pa Emmanuel Alayande, told the story of the idea behind Afenifere and its import to the Yoruba nation. This was at the popular Ota farm, owned by President Olusegun Obasanjo, when the former Nigerian leader was being ‘begged’ to seek re-election.

He said the idea came into being during a campaign rally in Ibadan, the political headquarters of the Western Region. According to him, the people had reservations about them and their campaign promises, which they reckoned were largely impossible. The people, he stated, therefore queried if it was possible for politicians to love the people more than themselves?

In reassuring them, they told the people “we are Afenifere, a group of people, who seek as much good for others as we do ourselves. So, all that we have promised, we will do and even more.” That idea, he claimed, sold immediately as the Afenifere revolution took an instant hit.

Very few, today, in this part of the country represent that description and Solomon is a distinct one. Not only does he love others more and seek their good at all times, he often personally ensures the delivery of such good to his people.

Giving, for him, comes with incomprehensible ease and overwhelming satisfaction, such that even after office, he has continued to live true to type, when in practical terms, many of his ilk would have shut their doors against the people.

Always at peace with himself, whatever are the misgivings of those, who detest his politics, hardly bother him for as long as he is able to clear issues with his God and conscience.

Solomon gives with great pleasure, complemented by intrinsic fulfillment. But his predilection for giving is not as much as the compassion that accompanies it. He is by every standard a good man – certainly not in the class of the bunch of liars, who currently dominate the turf.

Given the increasing anti-intellectualism in practically all facets of life, it is understandable while some pseudo-progressive leaders find a man like Solomon unfit to be in their circle. He takes no prisoners and would say it as it is. He would not sit in a place and agree on something and then go out to announce something else.
Needless to say this is very much connected to his upbringing. Look around those calling the shots today and juxtapose their disposition with their upbringing, the answer stares you right in the face. The political locusts that currently parade as leaders aren’t wired to embrace decency let alone live it.

Characters like Solomon, therefore, do not fit in their midst. When people steal with gaiety and reckless abandon, anyone capable of drawing their attention to such social misadventure is not worthy of their association. They ostracise such a fellow, decimate him politically and design his untimely retirement into oblivion.

But Solomon is a product of God’s abiding Grace hence his continued relevance, amid the conscious and unabated machination to yank him off the scene. It’s a question of time; he definitely is having the last laugh, not because he looks forward to the misfortune of anyone, but because Karma is not one to be dictated to when its time to unleash.

This is why at 60, life could not have been more beautiful. Not up to three people boast his political record and experience in the state of aquatic splendor. There is no doubting the fact that he still has a lot to offer and he would do just that to the awe of his adversaries, who think not good for just him, but evil across the land in order to satisfy personal aggrandizement.

Happy 60th to a truly distinguished Nigerian!