By Adam Adedimeji
With the 365 days that has just gone since the 9th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was inaugurated, Senator Adelere Adeyemi Oriolowo, like almost all his colleagues, has spent a quarter of his first term of four years.
For a journey of 1,460 days, with the possibility of being renewed further, 365 days is far more than a step on the ladder of the Osun West senatorial mandate to the Iwo-born retired Permanent Secretary and certified engineer.
With reference to a common saying derived from the famous Chinese proverb, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a step”, it is glaring to the blind and audible to the deaf that Senator Oriolowo has taken multiple steps, in fact giant strides, in the Senate since June 11, 2019.
What really are his steps? What hope do his strides offer in the past 365 days to a journey of 1,460 days? Do his steps in the Senate have what it takes to step up development that can stand the test of time in the life of Nigerians? And more particularly among his fellow constituents in Osun West, would his strides steer a sense of belonging in promoting and projecting the Nigerian nation?
If there are steps that he has taken, are the steps for the sake of taking steps – steps of sterile qualities? Or, as characteristic of many a Nigerian politician, is he unnecessarily stepping on people’s toes on what may have no fruitful bearing on his constituents?
Given what representative democracy entails, Oriolowo’s primary constituency among Nigerians is the geo-political entity called Osun West Senatorial district. Of course, his Nigerian nationality and senatorial mandate anchor on his nativity of the serene semi-urban communities in the present day Osun State.
As a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, his wider constituency remains the Nigerian federation. It therefore follows that he is not only the eyes, ears and mouth of his constituency in the upper house of the Nigerian national legislative body, but also the hands through which the goodies from Abuja should be delivered the door steps of the generality of the people of Osun West senatorial district.
It is not a matter of luck, as somebody’s political trip was once attributed to, but a matter of his efforts that the history of the Federal College of Education, Iwo, cannot be written without the imposing signature of Senator Oriolowo.
The newly minted FCE, Iwo, is among the six Colleges of Education, one each for the six geo-political zones, that President Muhammadu Buhari approved on April 16, 2020. It is on record that the bill for an Act to provide for the establishment of the College in Iwo, Osun State, was sponsored by Oriolowo.
Before going to the Senate, Oriolowo’s entrepreneurial acumen had created jobs for thousands of Nigerians beyond the boundaries of Osun State. His empowerment programme in his Senatorial District in the last one year is additional evidence that his active involvement in politics has not affected his tenacious cling to the axiom that it is better to teach someone how to fish than providing one with fish.
Within the past one year, the astute senator has trained youths across the ten local government areas that make up his constituency on repairs and maintenance of solar street light. He has also selected scores of youth for training on rehabilitation of roads.
Developing manpower, especially among the youth of the senatorial district, is one of the two major promises he made during the 2019 electioneering. The other one was the rehabilitation of the Iwo-Ejigbo road, the work of which had since been flagged off.
Though unassuming and poor at playing to the gallery, Senator Oriolowo does not shy away from making his mind known on topical national issues and he goes about that by being blind to partisan persuasion and sectional sentiments. He has been of the view, through sponsored motions, that the closure of the country’s land borders is a huge revenue loss to Nigeria, mentioning that the measure has led to illegal exports to other West African countries.
Typical of his constructive criticism, he has not left his condemnation of the government economic policy hanging on nothing. He stepped up a move for revamping commodity boards for Nigeria to benefit from all products exported by sponsoring a bill for the establishment of Commodity and Grains Board.
It should be thrilling to all lovers of rural development, as it is a call for emulation by other national legislators, that Senator Oriolowo shuttles between Osun and Abuja with all its inconveniences. In other words, he virtually lives in Osun but works in Abuja, where he is the mouthpiece and earpiece of Osun West senatorial district.
When it is not convenient to use air transport, he uses the road, particularly under the COVID-19 pandemic. This might have accounted for his being constantly on ground regarding the peculiarities of the plight and aspirations of his people. In consideration of his international exposure, this singular act marks him out as a model of humility and simplicity.
It is very possible for some to argue that Senator Oriolowo is doing the expected and not the unexpected. Even so, having a voice, let alone a voice that springs up development such as federal infrastructure in a community away from the centre, in a complex assemblage of 469 parliamentarians from diverse ethnic groups and cultures in Nigeria, is no mean achievement.
The giant strides of the Senator in the past 12 months should also be appreciated from the standpoint that the dynamics of parliamentary politics across the globe are most times characterised with incomprehensible procedures such that the voices and faces of even the brightest ones could become muted and blurred. However, this is not the case for Senator Oriolowo.
There is no doubt, therefore, that Senator Oriolowo’s strides in the last 365 days, in a trip of a thousand miles, have largely contributed to the huge accolades that trail him from individuals, corporate groups, across party divides, among others, to either his office in Abuja or his country home in Iwo.
Though it is axiomatic that the morning does not tell the day, it is also instructive that our people proverbially say that a fantastic Friday is foretold by the preceding Thursday. Since it is well known that Senator Oriolowo is not the type that allows personal accomplishments to get into his head, it is easy for anyone to predict that the new dawn already appeared to the Osun West senatorial district foretells the day of excellent legislative adventure and purposeful contributions to Nigeria’s development.
#Adedimeji, a former Secretary, NBA’s Lawyers in the Media Forum, is the Senior Legislative Aide to Senator Oriolowo.