Osi Samuels@55: Celebrating a Patriot

Samuel Ajayi

When Dr. Jay Osi Samuels, a Harvard-trained public health specialist and the deputy chief executive officer in charge of programmes of APIN Public Health Initiatives, clocked 55 earlier in the week, January 3rd to be precise, there was no fun fair. No clinking of glasses and there was no ordinary gala night to mark the epoch. In fact, didn’t even know he was out of the country then.

And when this reporter reminded him of the milestone, in his characteristic manner, he smiled and stated there was no need for any celebrations as the job at hand is more than clinking of glasses and sharing of bottles of wine. According to him, the job of nation rescue he set himself to achieve about six years ago is far from being achieved. 

In 2017, Samuels had burst into national limelight when he formed the Alliance for New Nigeria, ANN, which was later registered as apolitical party at the end of that same 2017. The idea, according to Samuels, was to galvanise Nigerians who are in the corporate sector to get involved in the political process and stop staying aloof and be criticizing politicians and accusing them of messing up the country. According to him, politics had been seen as what should be left for those who did not have principles and hence, Nigerians in the corporate sector would just stay in the confines of their homes on election day and won’t vote not to talk of getting involved to the point of contesting for elective positions. 

Samuels himself alluded to this during an interview with THISDAY in 2017 that he too could have stayed within his comfort zone and be lamenting like others and then chose not to do anything. 

“I could have stayed in my comfort zone and be watching,” he said that time when explain his reasons for stepping up and deciding to be counted and try to take the country back from the rent seekers that have held it hostage since independence.

“But I felt there was the need to get those in the corporate world and technocrats to get involved in the political process. I believe we could retire these old politicians if we are determined. If all of us keep saying it was not possible, then it won’t be”.

He expatiated that ANN as an idea came after several meetings of young and patriotic Nigerians, professionals, Doctors, Engineers, Lawyers and others who were concerned about the state of decadence of governance in Nigeria.

“We felt it was right for us to play our role, hitherto even though most of us have not been involved in politics. We felt that we can’t just sit on the side line and be complaining instead of being part of the process. So, a group of us started coming together. We were initially 10 in number, but with time, we expanded with the original founding members of ANN, we are 10 and we cut across all professions and age. I happen to be one of the oldest among our group at that time.”

Samuels came with the political ideology called ‘technoticianism’ and those who subscribed to this then were being called ‘technoticians’. When asked how he came about that word that time, he said it was a combination of two words-technocrats and politicians. He explained that those who were technocrats and chose to be part of the political process were to be called technoticians. 

The party was eventually registered but unfortunately some external forces conspired with some of those Samuels thought shared same ideals with him to truncate the dream. On the experience, Samuels said it was very devastating but he also learned some invaluable lessons that he would always make use of as he navigates his future involvement in partisan politics. 

As 2023 approaches, Samuels has not been fully involved as he was in 2019 but even at that, he believes the nation needs a new breath of air and it was high time the old politicians in the two major parties were sent into permanent political retirement. According to him, the nation was where it was in 2014 when people were tired of the then ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and started rooting for the now ruling All Progressives Congress, APC. 

“The people are tired and the mood now is like what it was in 2014 if not even worse,” Samuels told THISDAY earlier in the week. “The people are tired of both the APC and the PDP because they have since realised that these two political tendencies are one and the same. Nigeria needs a new lease of life and that is represented by no other person than Peter Obi of the Labour Party.” 

He explained that the bimodal voter accreditation system, BVAS, has almost made rigging impossible and that is why the career politicians are jittery. He added that the new policies introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, would also make vote buying almost impossible. 

“That is why they have been attacking both INEC and CBN because the polices of these two critical bodies are game changers. Votes must count and the wishes of the people must reflect in the person that emerges at the end of the day,” Samuels said. 

It must be noted, however, that involvement in partisan politics has not prevented Samuels from focusing on his first calling: providing assistance for governments in the area of strengthening public health institutions. As deputy CEO, programmes of APIN, his jobs include provision of strategic leadership, direct program strategies and lead the implementation of donor funded interventions. Identify and lead the process for new business development and support the alignment of organisational achievements with adequate fiduciary management. And the success stories of the organization have largely been due to a team of core professionals who have worked their socks off to ensure that the organisation’s aims and objectives, especially as spelt out by donor agencies, are realised. 

Today, the agency is present in almost 10 states and has recorded verifiable successes in these states. 

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