Which of the favours of thy Lord would you deny? That’s the question that dominated my thoughts while considering what to pen in honour of a man, one of the worthy few, who’s made an impact in my life without a fuss. And, from a personal standpoint, I answered to myself: none!
Today, one of the very few sincere, consistent, compassionate and truly progressive political leaders of our time, Senator Ganiyu Olanrewaju Aremu Solomon, is sixty years old in good health, contentment, God’s unfailing faithfulness and steadfast love.
In focus here is a man, who has elected to be different through his many conscious choices and continues to lead a life that posterity is sure to file with glee. He, without doubts, deserves all the mentions in recognition of his contributions to human development, both in his state, Lagos and the country in general.
Away from the maddening crowd, where deception is the name of the game, Senator Solomon stands out and in a lot of ways. He is though not infallible, he, however has what a majority of those who call the shots today at various leadership levels do not have.
He’s refused to abandon his values for mere survival but continues to live true to type as a man of immense honour and personal discipline. He is credible, trustworthy, honest, dependable and God-fearing. His words, for many years, had remained his bond and this he always does knowing that the Supreme Being is involved.
With the courage to speak truth to power, ability to honour agreements and consistent weakness for lending hands to the vulnerable in the society, he has deployed every opportunity open to him to the collective good of everyone who comes in contact with him.
Solomon, a classical example of grassroots politician, has shown what it means to be a man of his people. Even when such a choice confers huge responsibilities on him, he never shies away from shouldering them. But the fact that he’s able to lift some of these burdens off the people is what excites and gives him relief – that intrinsic satisfaction we all seek.
He commands so many qualities that you can hardly find in the average politician today. But his is understandable. He was raised to love, help and show compassion to others and not to exploit in the name of leadership. Thus, while a majority of the members of the political class does it as a means to an end, he does it as simply living his life.
Here’s a man who always wants to know how the spouses and children of those working with him are doing. He asks from time to time to be sure nothing goes wrong while they are with him. He asks questions about their rents, school fees, feeding and the home front in general, just to know where to come in, because their stability in that sense is proportional to productivity.
That, definitely, is no easy thing to do if you are in it too, because people always have problems and some can take it for granted. He won’t however run away from such. Another interesting approach to life is his principle of reward and sanction. This principle had seen many of his personal aides walk away with huge rewards for being diligent at work, and those who fell on the other side also learnt their lessons.
Solomon is one politician that spends in advance what he is yet to earn. Just because he is expecting some money, he immediately starts to dole out favours to those who seek him. He starts from giving out cash to writing cheques and never gets tired of doing this.
Yet, he does these, not because he wants to sustain his hold in office but because it is in him to do so. How many politicians still leave their doors open when they are no longer in office? GOS, as he is fondly called, is one. He is still in that ‘business’, even after office.
From his days as Chairman of Mushin Local Government to his sojourn in the House of Representatives and later Senate, he is one of the few politicians that Lagos has produced, who boasts such experience in governance and much more to teach in leadership and philanthropy.
However comforting in all of these is the fact that as a grateful heart, Solomon clearly understands the goodness of the Lord in his life and he is quick to say this at all times. Without doubt, God has been good to him in every way and celebrating 60th is a proof of that assertion.
Whilst electing to be different from the roguish lot is a minus to the resume of an average politician in this clime – where speaking truth to leadership is political hara-kiri – Solomon would never abandon value, upbringing and sound political indoctrination directly from his father for sheer survival. Certainly, very few are still like him.
Ten years ago, when he marked his 50th, he sent text messages round to friends and family that the only thing he sought from them was prayer. He refused to hold any party. Today, again, apart from prayers slated for this morning at the family hall in Mushin, to thank God for preservation in all areas of his life, there isn’t going to be any party too.
That’s the summary of the life of a man, who though flocks with the wolves and other dangerous political animals, but hasn’t traded his core values on whatever grounds. He is no doubt a lesson in decent political leadership and followership especially, having led by examples through some of the opportunities he’s had to serve the state and the nation and above all, to comfort others.
Today, on your 60th, sir, we pray God to continue to preserve you for many more years to come and also help you to hold down the values that have distinguished ‘your sheep’ from ‘the prowling wolves’ and brought you this far.
Happy 60th to a man, who knows what it means to genuinely love others. In fact, his other name is love!