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Amosun at 65: Examining a people-centred leader

On January 15, 2023, Ibadan, Oyo State’s most prominent radio station, Fresh FM, tersely but unintentionally, periscoped the life of Ibikunle Amosun, former Ogun State…

On January 15, 2023, Ibadan, Oyo State’s most prominent radio station, Fresh FM, tersely but unintentionally, periscoped the life of Ibikunle Amosun, former Ogun State governor. It was on its flagship programme called Opeyemi. Opeyemi, literally translates to “Is My Turn To Testify,’’ is patterned after Christendom’s congregational gratitude session to the Almighty. During Ayefele’s Opeyemi, held late every Sunday, “testifiers” who have gone through earth-shaking vicissitudes of life share their horrific and Providence interventions which shape their lives and keep them from being swept offshore by the vagaries and turmoil of life. 

On this day appeared an apparently old man with shaky voice spoke of the travails he had undergone in life. He had been sentenced to death for murder but had his fate with the hangman commuted to life imprisonment. Since 1994, he stayed in an Ogun State prison as a lifer. This day, however, he said, Senator Amosun decided to celebrate his birthday with prisoners at Abeokuta Correctional Centre. This particular convict was given the task of handling the Islamic prayers by prison officials. After the Islamic prayer session, the man, according to him, informed his audience, pointing at the prison gallows, that he would have been executed in that house of horror but he was grateful to God that he escaped death. Then he pleaded to the pity of all present, including Amosun, that he should be considered for amnesty, having been in jail for almost three decades. 

Senator Amosun, the convict said, entreated him to intensify his prayers to Almighty Allah but asked the prison officials for details of his imprisonment. 

Thereafter, Amosun, said the man, took his matter to Abuja. Not long after, he was pardoned. In tears, the man showered profuse prayers and eulogies on the former governor for giving him a new lease of life. 

Today is another birthday celebration of this celebrated politician and humanist.  

Born January 25, 1958, young Ibikunle attended the African Church Primary School, Abeokuta from 1965 to1970 and the African Church Grammar School, Abeokuta where he studied between 1971 and 1977. Ibikunle attended the Ogun State Polytechnic and bagged a Higher National Diploma in 1983. Convinced that he had an exemplary ability in financial accounting, Ibikunle studied hard for and secured the Associate membership of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and in 1996, secured its fellowship. He capped these up by also becoming an Associate member of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria in 1998. 

A year after his graduation, Amosun began to hone his skills in the career. With the Lanre Aremu & Co. (Chartered Accountants) did he start as an audit trainee. Six years after, he transferred his service to XtraEdge Consulting where he was appointed a Managing Consultant of the highly rated firm. This same year, Ibikunle founded his own firm, Ibikunle Amosun & Co. (Chartered Accountants) with its headquarters in Lagos. Still convinced that he needed to populate his brain in the knowledge of accounting and finance, in 2000, Amosun applied for and secured admission to the University of Westminster in London where he studied and bagged a Masters of Arts degree in International Finance. 

At 45, it would seem that Amosun was engaged in an existential interrogation of what is called midlife crisis. 

He began to interrogate the purpose and essence of life. Is wealth for wealth sake the purpose that man came to this world to achieve? Is man fulfilled simply by being able to fend for his family and capable of affording anything his heart desires? Is life not a total ruin if man spends his life merely tending to and attending to his own existential needs alone? 

Ibikunle Amosun then surveyed the horizon. The corporate world, he reasoned, had very limited avenues to better the lives of the people, other than its corporate social responsibility programme. Limited in scope and restrained in the number of beneficiaries, CSR has only tokenism to offer to the teeming, suffering people in a developing world. Then the young accountant’s mind hovered over the landscape of politics.  

Amosun discovered that only politics could properly measure and stem the tide of irregular poverty that afflicts the Nigerian people and specifically, his people in Ogun State.  So, into the murky rivers of water, with its multifarious challenges and tendencies, did Ibikunle Amosun delve. 

In April 2003, Amosun was elected senator under the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).  In 2007, Amosun attempted to contest for the Ogun State governorship, under the ANPP. Unfortunately, he lost the election.  In the April, 2011 gubernatorial election which he again contested under the banner of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, (ACN) Amosun won with 377,489 votes. In the 2015 polls Amosun won again, thus serving the people of Ogun State for a second term. 

Amosun’s eight years in office were unprecedented in the annals of the history of governance in the western part of Nigeria. Not only did he change the face of governance and the architecture of governmental intervention in the lives of the people, Ogun State became a byword for infrastructural revolution.  

Amosun  exhibited a boundless energy for changing the landscape and worked till the last minute he spent in office. 

Perhaps the most outstanding of Amosun’s infrastructural achievements is the construction of roads, bridges and flyovers with which he littered the landscape of Ogun State with. It is to Amosun’s credit that Ogun State opened its doors to multinational companies, businesses, entrepreneurs and investors. 

He created massive wealth, employment, prioritised the uplift of schools and their development as centres of teaching and learning, while upgrading hospitals with massive provision of facilities and equipment.  

It is instructive to note that the Ogun State, which later became the sugar that political ants fight tooth and nail to lick, was a troubled economy by the time Amosun took over. In 2011, he met an economy that boasted only a paltry N700 million as monthly Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). It is to his credit that, within eight years in office, this celebrated finance expert increased this revenue base by over 1,000 per cent, landing the IGR at N7 billion Naira monthly. 

On 29 May 2019, Amosun handed over but was later elected again as Senator for the Ogun Central Senatorial District. 

Here is wishing Senator Amosun a happy 65th birthday celebration and many more years of interventions in the lives of his people. 

Ogunyomade wrote from Lagos