•Says “The State of Things In NIGERIA Make Me Sad”
Dr. Amos Akingba turned 80, a few days back, but he did not celebrate it big. There was no owambe party. All he did was to call some of his close associates together to have dinner with him. His reason for not celebrating it big is simple. This former University don and pro-democracy activist of immense pedigree is not happy with the way Nigeria is today. He is in pains that all the efforts of many pro-democracy activists of his generation have not yielded the desired fruits. He is frustrated. He is angry.
When City People met him last week at his Lagos home for his 80th birthday interview, he initially declined to speak. What is there to say? What is there to celebrate? What is there to be happy about? Those were his exact words. “I turned 80 with mixed feelings,” he explained. At 80, I cannot say I am a happy man. I didn’t celebrate my 80th birthday because I am not a happy man. I feel frustrated. I look around the country today and I am sad. There is nothing to inspire me. People are dying of hunger. Innocent people are being killed by Boko haram and herdsmen and the government is not doing anything about it.”
Lets quickly tell you that Dr. Amos Arogundade Akindasa Akingba has a rich history, having been born to Prince Akingba Bada and Madam Adejolarun Akingbehiresomo. On his father side, he was in the 15th position out of 17 that survived into adulthood. On his mother side he was in the 6th position out of 6 that survived into adulthood.
He attended the following schools: (a) Saint Thomas’ Anglican Primary School, Siluko Town in Edo State of Nigeria – from 1951 to 1956., (b) various part-time former Tutorials in Lagos, Nigeria (from 1956 to 1962) and at Woolwich Polytechnic in London between 1962 and 1965., (c) London University, England – from 1965 to 1968., (d) Leeds University, Leeds in England – from 1973 to 1974., (e) Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA – from 1976 to 1978.
In all his formal educational experiences that lasted from primary to tertiary levels, he explained that he encountered and enjoyed unprecedented positive relationships with very many staff and fellow students who constantly fired his motivation for excellent performances in all his academic and other social engagements.
“Even though I started formal education quite late in life, whilst working with my parents and siblings on the family farm, my precociousness and flare for hard work enabled me to make up for lost grounds.” “He said. “Moreover, my lean financial background mandated that I must constantly return to work or combine studying with the world of earning a living.
Nevertheless, I never felt that the accident of my birth to a family of subsistence farmers and tough informal up-bringing placed any obstacle on the way of my burning ambition to succeed in whatever I set my set out to achieve as a worthy goal. With my positive mental attitude to life and living, my educational career was a great pleasure in the inherited culture of combining hard work with timely excellent achievements.”
Part of his vital life experiences include the following:
“Growing up as the last boy in a large polygamous family.” This he explained gave him a great deal of youthful advantages of being pampered but disciplined by my parents, siblings and other extended family relations. “The love and care that everyone gave me within the family (especially my late brother, Gabriel Adegoke Apata and my only full sister, Mrs. Deborah Gbolagun Ogunyamoju) and the larger society (especially cousin Geoffrey Adeniyi Aremoola) also taught me early in life to reciprocate with hard work and also become morally upright in all that I did and still do in my life and living conditions.
I was taught at an early age by my parents and peers that to whom much is given much is also expected; and that I should respect and love my fellow human beings and expect them to do the same for me.” “Nevertheless, I still enjoyed playing few inexcusable and painful pranks whenever occasions presented themselves. Early family life and school experiences were full of fun but disciplined. So, with my caring mind and hands, I still can never suffer fools lightly!!!”
“My friends and role models have always cut across social class, ethnic and religious groups, sex and race. Fortunately, I have been brought up to respect and treat fellow human beings, as I would expect them to do for me. Specifically, some of the people that I admired when I was growing up include most of those who are not and may never become household names like some others.
Almost all of my formal education teachers made lasting positive impressions on me. And they include Mr. J. E. Okungbowa, Profs. D. Bob Gowin, Kenneth A. Strike, Emil J. Haller, and Jarolav Vanek. Some other close friends in my intellectual gestation include Mr. Tom May, Lt.-General Ipoola Alani Akinrinade (Rtd.), Dr. Victor E. King, and Profs. A. Babs Fafunwa, I. A. Akinjogbin, A.A.O. Okunniga, A. Adaralegbe, Samson O. Olaitan. Other eminent public figures whose lives impressed me a great deal include Chief Obafemi Awolowo for his erudition and sagacity, Chief Olufemi Akinfosile and also Chief Anthony E. Enahoro. None of these persons – dead or alive – will ever know or believe how much they have influenced the course and pace of my overall growth and development.
“I am in love with music of all genres – ranging from the African and Latin American types, the classical renditions, jazz and blues. My dress codes along with my hairstyles are always self-defined but moderate and fashionable in contexts.”
“Some of the world events that impacted my life when I was growing up and up till now include the political independence of the Nigeria country from the external British colonialist in 1960, the constant threat of nuclear wars, the space travels, the numerous and various world-wide agitations for social justice, chronic epidemic diseases (such as ‘aides’ and tuberculosis) and the election of Barack Obama as the first Black American President.”
HOW ABOUT HIS WIFE AND CHILDREN?
“Every member of my family of procreation came into my life at the very moment of my needs. My wife, Gwendoline Ethel Oluatinuke Akingba (who is a daughter of a renowned Sierra Leonean family) and I met during our undergraduate University years in London in 1967 and got married in 1970 also in London. With the abundant blessings of God, we are the proud custodians of four charming professional offsprings – Barrister Ekundayo, Prof. Ajibola, Dr. Adekemi and Lady Miriam. My abiding obligations to my wife and all of our children are a token expression of my constant love and gratitude for their unsurpassed devotion to my chequered life and living conditions. Indeed, their constant and collective magnificent influence on my earthly existence has been absolutely profound and beautiful.
WHAT ARE HIS RELIGIOUS BELIEFS?
“I was born and raised into the African traditional belief system of worshipping the various deities of Eledumare (the Yoruba name for the Almighty God). Upon enrolment into the Anglican Church Missionary School in 1951, it was then made mandatory during our time that I had to convert to the worship of God through the Anglican Christian dogmatic approaches. Out of sheer curiosity, I attended most brands of Christian churches in every location I lived over the years in search of the most efficacious forms of God worship. Quite frankly, I consider myself as a lapsed Christian who is truly still dissatisfied with various foreign imposed religious practices and, therefore, I am still searching. Maybe the African traditional approach may yet provide for me the pathway forward. Just maybe!!”
WHAT WAS HIS
AMBITION IN LIFE?
“From the time of my youth to the present, I have always wanted to be a successful learner and teacher at any and every level of human endeavour. I love to help fellow human beings to know, understand and be able to come to terms with the joys of success and the sorrows of failures in their earthly lives and living conditions and that ultimately we are all inevitably condemned to choose between good and evil thoughts and actions.
On the whole, I am still very committed to the rights and duties inherent in the arts and science of teaching and learning to do good deeds and fiercely oppose evil ones over time and space. I have always thought and believed that if I acted well my parts in life that I could live to the ripe age of my parents – both of who lived about a hundred years each. But even then, the thought of reaching the age of 80 years in the calendar year 2018 was like an impossible dream of eternity. Now that the dream has been positively realized, with gratitude to all my family members, friends and acquaintances, I have decided to continue and improve on my winning ways so that I can achieve the enviable status of a centenarian and still age gracefully and in fairly good health!!!”
His career experiences span the Arts and Science of teaching and learning at both secondary and tertiary levels of formal education in England, United of America, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. “Since the beginning of the 1980s when I checked out of the Nigerian University system, I have concentrated most of my efforts in the areas of Investment and Management Consulting Services to all and sundry, participating in Board of Directors of public and private organizations.
In these regards, I have tried to align my broad-based educational and professional background to the needs of organizations in business and socio-political programmes with relevant focus on local and global sustainable operations expansion.”
“Furthermore, as an incurable crusader for Truth and Justice, I have, for over 4 decades, been in active involvements in public affairs issues in Nigeria, Great Britain and the United States of America with special interests in the projects of “federalism” and “self-Management Democracy”.
In all of the above experiences, I can humbly claim that my modest achievements so far relate to the fostering of the development of human capacities and capabilities to research, establish, organize, implement, assess and evaluate strategic policies and tactical programmes in any aspects of human endeavour.”
One commendable attribute of Dr. Akingba is that he has lived a principled life. He has also managed to stay trim and fresh at 80. That is why this respected Ikale community leader in Ondo State does not look like an octagenarian. He is still fit as a fiddle. No signs of aging. He is still very agile, mentally alert, does not wear glasses and still very active. He enjoys good health. If you shave off 10 years from his age, he could pass for a 70 year old.
At 80 nothing has changed about Dr. Akingba. His sonorous voice is still intact and he has retained his principles and values. He is reputed to be a highly principled man who does not suffer fools gladly. His Yes is Yes. And his no is no.
He has avoided going into politics to avoid being sucked in by the corruptive system we have in Nigeria.
All he has been doing over the last 30 years is to Speak truth to power. First, he was a University teacher and when he could no longer cope with the deterioration in standards, he left academics and went into consultancy. Then he went into pro-democracy activism. “I want to move many people from Ignorance to Knowledge and Understanding then to Wisdom. The problem is that many good people in Nigeria are not speaking out, leaving the task to a few intellectuals.
The life of an intellectual is a dysfunctional system. It is sad because Nigerians are victims of the bad system we run. Both the oppressed and oppressor are victims. Instead of Collaboration what we see is Antagonism. That is why we are in perpetual agony. The conspiracy of the system is against the intellectual. It is so sad that everything in Nigeria is upside down and we are the victims of our own bad system.”
“I have been through a lot. I spent 5 and a half years in exile because of my pro-democracy engagements under late Gen. Abacha. I belong to so many self-determination groups. The sad part is that many people still don’t understand the issues we are dealing with right now. Do people really understand what we are facing? Many people are not deep thinkers. If you know and you understand, you will know about the laws of the Cause and Effect. Those who know the issues are very few. They know and have an understanding of the issues. Even President Buhari is a victim of circumstance. He does not understand.”
“Nigeria is a sad story. We are not progressing. We are retrogressing. We do not even know how the world works. We are going backwards. That is why when you spoke to me about granting an interview I was reluctant. Why should I talk when there is no movement forward. Many people have been talking there has been no improvement. Pastor Bakare and others have talked and talked, no improvement. We can’t go on like this.
At 80, people know me, but they don’t understand me. I understand the system. I am trying my best to correct the system we have in Nigeria. I am happy at how I feel at 80. I thank God I am physically fit, I can run 100 metres. I can run to Ikorodu and back. I am committed to changing the system. Me and some of my friends, we would not give up. We are still in the trenches.
We have been at it for a long time. It is unfortunate that we have lost some of our associates and leaders like Papa Enahoro, Papa Abraham Adesanya, Dr. Beko Ransome Kuti while trying to say No to all these injustice in the system. Nigeria is a place where the more you look, the less you see. God has blessed us with so many natural endowments but we have wasted it. We have crude oil and 4 refineries but we can’t make the 4 work to refine.
We can’t run it any more. That is the height of madness. We can’t run anything. China is the one now doing our bridges and constructing our airports and the Indians are in charge of our pharmaceuticals. When I was younger we used to have vast rubber plantations from the Ijebu area all the way to Benin. We had companies like Michelin and Dunlop tyres set up to produce tyres.
They had raw materials to use. All these tyre making companies folded up one by one. I was a Director of Nigerian Universal Steel for 18 years. But the company had problems. Many industries have packed up. Many industries that are still surviving today in Nigeria must be doing some things to survive. Look at Oluwa Glass in Ondo State. It was the 1st glass industry. It packed up.”
“As one is growing up, it is time for sober reflection. There are advantages that come with old age. It has its negative and positive sides. Both trouble you. To move Nigeria forward will take team work. We should all work together both young and old. I agree with Bola Tinubu who says Power is not served a la carte. You have to fight for it. You have to go for it. All these our politicians have failed the people.
They are supposed to be Oselu, but they have become Ojelu. That should not be so. Public Service is a very noble cause. It affords you the opportunity to serve the people. Leaders are servants of the people. But here in Nigeria it is not so. Its all about you, your wife, your concubines and friends. We have all become victims of this system.
That is why I stayed off public office or active politics. The system puts a lot of pressure on you in public office. In this part of the world, if you take up public office, its wahala. If you steal, it is trouble, if you don’t, it is trouble. You will become a laughing stock. If you can’t stand the heat don’t go in there. That is why I have kept my distance. My name is precious to me. My wife bears it. My children bear it and grand children bear it. So, I can’t soil or spoil the name. I don’t want to spoil my name.”
“We have to continue to fight this unjust and corrupt system. We can definitely have a better deal. That is why we are still in the trenches. There is no guarantee of result. We must keep trying. We must all learn the law of cause and effect. Even doctors say this. They will say Yes, we treat, but only God guarantees result. We cannot afford to be neutral in this matter of making Nigeria a better place. There is nothing like neutrality. No neutrality. We are all condemned to choice. Refusal to choose is to choose not to choose.
That is why the English people say a stitch in time saves 9. If you don’t speak up in time you will be an accomplice to the failure and rot. In life, I don’t keep enemies. I have no enemy but I have people I pity. People say I am strict. And I ask the question am I? I believe in the philosophy of no pains, no gains. IBI and IRE (good and bad) govern the world. You can choose to do good or bad. But it pays to do good. If you are clever, concentrate on doing good. You would not do everything you are capable of doing. You have to weigh everything-the CAUSE & BENEFITS.”