By Habib Arunai
Dr. Olorunnimbe Adeleke Mamora, a medical doctor, politician, patriot, humanist, one of the finest omoluabi and the current Minister of Science and Technology, just stepped on the seventh floor and has decided to roll out the drums to celebrate the day. He will not only be marking the day with family, friends and associates, he will also deservedly be launching a book, an autobiography, where he detailed his sojourn on earth in the last seven decades.
Mamora became famous when he was elected the Speaker of the Lagos State of Assembly in 1999, at the beginning of the current democratic dispensation. As the lawmaker who was elected under the Alliance for Democracy (AD), representing Kosofe Local Government, Mamora’s democratic credentials and political sagacity was easily noticeable among the party’s establishment in the state and his colleagues in the house, that it was not difficult for him to emerge as the Speaker.
It was always a delight anytime we were at the gallery watching him preside over the plenary sessions. His comportment, deep knowledge of legislative procedures and the maturity he always exhibits were topic of discussion among journalists covering the House. Besides, Mamora was always ready to throw more light on any issue of importance to the state when we (journalists) approached him, either on his way to the office, or in his office.
I became very close to him at that time and the friendship has blossomed to this very day. He sees me as an aburo before a journalist; and I see him as an egbon, a confidant and veritable source of getting information before a politician. It was thus not a surprise when his party gave him a ticket to represent Lagos East Senatorial District at the Nigerian Senate at the end of a successful four years at the helm. Mamora went on to win the election in a landslide and he became a philosopher-king in the Upper Chamber.
At the Senate, he was very vocal in championing progressive agenda and was always in the forefront, using the legislature, to fight on issues that will improve the quality of lives of ordinary Nigerians. You can be sure that Mamora will not sit on the fence when it comes to issues of national importance or matters that bother on development and growth of the country. He was neither a passive legislator, nor one that will be absent at duty post. He gave his constituency a robust and effective representation. He was indeed, many times commended by Nigerians as one of the stars at the Upper Chamber.
It was therefore not a surprise that in 2007, he was reelected to the Senate. After resuming his seat he was appointed to committees on Upstream Petroleum Resources, Selection Committee, Health and Federal Character & Inter-Government Affairs. In a mid-term evaluation of Senators in May 2009, ThisDay newspaper noted that Mamora had sponsored bills on Tenure of Office, Surgeon-General of Nigeria and repeal and amendment of the Tobacco Control Act. He sponsored or co-sponsored motions, including one to amend Senate rule 111 to bring it into conformity with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He was also aptly described as a master of parliamentary procedures by the newspaper.
After two terms in the Senate, Mamora was denied his party’s ticket and could not return to the Upper Chamber. It was evident and discernible to more than casual observers, that he was a victim of power play in the state. While some, particularly his supporters, were not comfortable with the way he was treated, his critics were of the view that he had been a beneficiary of the same structure since 1999 and should therefore give way to another person.
Being a responsible and obedient party man, he took it in his strides and vowed to continue to support the party going forward. He was actively involved in the formation of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in 2014 and was appointed the Deputy Director General of the Muhammadu Buhari Presidential campaign. It was not until the second term of the Buhari administration that he was tapped to serve as the Minister of State in the Health Ministry. He, with the Minister, Osagie Ehanire, were very auspicious and consequential in tackling the dreaded Covid 19 epidemic. Hence, it was to their credit that the country came out of it strongly. He was elevated to his current portfolio when the cabinet was slightly reshuffled by Buhari in the wake of resignations by some of the ministers who contested the presidential primaries.
At 70, the celebrant has every reason to be happy as a fulfilled man; he has every reason to smile as a dutiful husband to his amiable wife; he has reasons to bring out the drums because he has served Lagos State and by extension, the country diligently and with honour. Even so, he has every reason to celebrate because he’s among few Nigerians who still have their integrity intact; in a country that is increasingly short of men of honour.
Happy birthday and many happy returns sir, as you join the septuagenarian Club. I wish you more years in good health and abundant blessings in the service of your fatherland.
•Aruna, a journalist lives in Ikeja.