The Lekan Balogun that I know

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With the announcement of Dr Lekan Balogun as Olubadan-nominated by the Olubandan-in-Council, Ibadan, the iconic city of Yorubaland is, without a doubt, at the dawn of history, reminiscent of the era of ” philosopher-king ”theorized by Plato, the great Greek philosopher.

Given his unique blend of related backgrounds in various fields such as social activism, academia, media, boardroom, and partisan politics, the enigmatic Balogun is surely poised to make a great king.

I say this with the authority of someone who has had a relationship of over three decades with the Pending Oba – first as a staunch follower of his activism for a better Nigeria over the years and later. as fellow senators after the return to democracy in 1999.

In his definitive book, The Republic, Plato characterizes the “philosopher-king” as the type whose love of wisdom and intelligence is matched only by the penchant for simplicity in the style of life and a character of steel.

Looking back, I don’t think anyone can accuse me of shamelessness in describing the Fourth National Assembly, of which we had the privilege of being a part, as a gathering of distinguished men and women driven by a passion for service and love of the country above personal interests. While I chaired the Senate Committee on Transport, Senator Balogun was Chairman of the Senate Committee on National Planning and a member of other committees such as Credit, Security and Intelligence, Police Affairs and Defense (Army).

As pioneers in this republic, our own Senate has undoubtedly faced many start-up challenges, including subversive pressure from the executive branch of government, as evidenced by the high turnover of leadership in four years. But as they say, it is in adversity and temptation that someone’s true character is revealed. Senator Balogun was one of the most reliable colleagues I knew. Regardless of the big age gap between us and the difference in religion and ethnicity, he befriended me more in a way that gave real meaning to a stanza from our old national anthem, “although tribe and language may differ, in fellowship we stand tall.”.

In our daily conversations he was always preoccupied with the plight of the oppressed and vulnerable, passionate about how we could use the agency of politics to positively change the human condition in Nigeria. On a personal level, he never tires of making phone calls and texts to friends and associates, asking for their well-being and that of their families. Even until today.

A bundle of native humor, he always found a Yoruba proverb to illustrate his point during debates in the chamber on those days and behaved with unusual grace. Charismatic without being loud. Simple but not pedestrian. His affinity with Yoruba customs in no way diminished his cosmopolitan air, evidently stemming from his solid upbringing and his international exposure. Which shouldn’t be all that surprising, coming from a man who knew a sense of responsibility early on. Even though he was still under 18, he had started to fend for himself by taking a part-time job while studying in the UK.

At the time of division or dilemma in the Fourth Assembly, you have always known where Senator Balogun was standing. He never stood on the fence when the issue of justice or fairness arose. Perhaps this was in part an expression of his socialist beliefs having been a member of the Marxist movement in the 1970s. In fact, he made his debut in politics in 1978 by joining the People Redemption Party (PRP) of revolutionary Aminu. Kano. His ideological and philosophical temperaments can easily be assessed from his publications, notably “A Review of Nigeria’s 4 years’ Development Plan, 1970-1974”, “Nigeria: Social Justice or Doom”, “Power for Sale” and “Arrogance of Power “.

Note that Senator Balogun was not only gifted with precepts; he practiced what he preached. For example, I remember he was one of those who vigorously supported the idea that a fair percentage of diversion be given to the Niger Delta region being the oil zone. Of course, given the heat generated by the turmoil for resource control by the people of the Niger Delta in the 90s and the eventual recommendation of a fair diversion percentage by the 1994/95 confab, it was only natural may its execution become a moving question for the Niger Delta. region with the return of democracy on May 29, 1999. All the more so as the six states in the area all voted for the ruling People’s Democratic Party (which also controlled the upper and lower houses of the National Assembly).

Thus, the implementation was expected to start almost smoothly, in the interests of social justice for the people of the Niger Delta who have endured (and continue to endure) severe environmental pain caused by the exploration. oil over the years.

When the executive, however, chose to drag its feet in the implementation of the allocation due to the NNDC, Senator Balogun, although he is not from the South-South and he is not a member of the party in power, brought his important weight as a member of the Committee on appropriations to be carried to push the executive to do the right thing.

With such a credible track record, I have no doubt that Senator Balogun will not only make a great king in Ibadan in particular, but will also help bring more respectability to the traditional institution in general, thus giving it more relevance in a world rapidly changing. Indeed, in contemporary Nigeria where partisan politics now seem to corrupt and eat away at things, the traditional institution we need is one that will not only be the guardian of traditional values, but also embody moral authority against excess. of political power. But this can only happen when our palaces are occupied by true sages and moral role models, and not by con artists mortgaging their beaded sticks for contracts.

This is, I believe, the promise that the future octogenarian brings to the great kingdom of Oluyole. He will invest the throne of his ancestors with the wealth of great wisdom, character and courage. What Plato calls the “philosopher-king”.

May the king reign long!

Senator Adede represented the Senate District of Cross River North between 1999 and 2003.

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