•YORUBA Elder statesman, Dr. KUNLE OLAJIDE
At 74, Dr. Kunle Olajide is a very angry man right now. He feels Nigerians have been shortchanged by their leaders. He is a respected Yoruba elder. He has been a successful medical doctor for the past 49 years. He has been in politics for the past 29 years. And now, at 74, the elderstatesman has retired to his Efon Alaye hometown in Ekiti State. He now spends more time at his Olowolagba Olajide Memorial Estate. He only comes to Ibadan for a few days of the week.
Ibadan is where he made a name for himself as a medical doctor. He has his Group Medical Practitioners hospital at Mokola, with branches at other places in the city. But he no longer practises medicine. He stopped that a long time ago. He stopped that a longtime ago. He is pre-occupied with how to move Nigeria forward and how to defend the Yoruba cause. He has also been actively involved in Politics since the late 80’s.
He was a Foundation Member of the Liberal Convention, in 1989. He was the Secretary General, Ondo State Chapter of the Liberal Convention in 1989, a member of National Working Committee of Liberal Convention and Gubernatorial Aspirant of Ondo State SDP, 1990-1991. He was Runner-Up in the 1991 Governorship Election a Member-SDP National Committee on Education and Publicity. Governorship Aspirant-Alliance for Democracy (AD), Ekiti State in 1998. Secretary, Yoruba Agenda Committee for 2014 National Conference and Secretary, Yoruba Delegate on 2014 National Conference. He has also been actively involved in promoting Yoruba cause.
Dr. Olajide is one Nigerian, who believes he is first and foremost from Efon-Alaaye, then an Ekiti man, then a Yoruba man and a proud Nigerian And he has been very involved in advocacy campaigns towards various ends.
He was a member of the Committee for the creation of Ekiti State 1994-1996. The Chairman, Finance and Publicity sub-Committee of the Creation of Ekiti State; the Chairman, National Caretaker Committee, Efon-Alaaye Improvement LEAGUE-1999. Member-Odua Development Council (Health Committee) 2000, Foundation member and Asst. Secretary General, Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), 2000-2004, Secretary General, Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), 2004-2006, Member, Editorial Board-The Compass, February 2008 to date, Publicity Secretary, Yoruba Unity Forum, Chairman Planning Committee, Nigeria National Summit Group, a pan-Nigerian body chaired by Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, irrevocably committed to a National Conference for restructuring Nigeria. He is a strong advocate of restructuring. He is one Yoruba elder whose rich past has influenced him greatly.
Dr. Kunle Olajide was born in Ilesha on 29th September, 1944 to the family of the late Prince Michael Adeniran Olajide of the Asemojo Ruling House of Efon Alaaye. He attended Primary and Secondary Schools in Ibadan and went on to qualify as a Medical Doctor from the University of Ibadan in 1969 winning Faculty Prizes in Pharmacology and, Preventive and Social Medicine. He had his Housemanship at the Adeoyo State Hospital, Ibadan from where he left to establish Group Medical Practitioners Hospital in September, 1970. At that time, 26-year-old Dr. Kunle Olajide was the youngest private medical practitioner in the entire country. Group Medical Practitioners Hospital, that mustard seed sown by Dr. Olajide in 1970, has today grown to become one of the foremost private hospitals in Nigeria.
He became a foundation fellow of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria (FMC GP) in 1982 and he was recognised as a Distinguished Medical Practitioner (DMP) by the Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria in 2001. He was a pioneer member of the organisation, servi ng it in various capacities until he resigned as its first National Vice Presdient to go into full time partisan politics in 1988.
He joined politics as a fundation member of Liberal Convention and served as the Secretary General of its Ondo State Chapter in 1989. He was a member of Social Democratic Party (SDP) at its formation in 1989 on which platform he became a governorship aspirant. He was placed second to the eventual Governor of Ondo State, Evangelist Bamidele Olomilua in the governorship primaries of the party in 1990. He was a member of the SDP National Committee on Education and Publicity. At the onset of the present democratic experience, Olajide aligned with the Alliance for Democracy and was a governorship aspirant of the party in Ekiti State.
His experiences on the political field have convinced him that the country is headed for the rocks if the current political system is not reformed. This is why he has withdrawn from active partisan politics to play the role of a crusading statesman offering objective social commentary aimed at advancing the development of the country. He was Chairman of the Yoruba Summit Planning Committee. The Summit, the largest gathering of Yoruba leaders in recent memory held in Ibadan on September 7th, 2017.
A prince of the Asemojo Ruling House of Efon Alaaye, Ekitiland, Dr. Kunle Olajide holds the honourary chieftaincy titles of ‘Balogun Basegun’ of Ibadanland. He is the first Aare (Prime Minister) of Efon Kingdom and ‘Mayegun’ of Iye Ekiti.
How do you see the state of the nation today?
The state of the nation today is very, very worrisome. More especially now that we are approaching another election year and there is unease in every zone of the country. There is no peace in any zone. There is religious crisis in the North West, insurgency in North East, in North Central there is Fulani herdsmen crisis ravaging farmlands and murdering people and raping them. In the South-South, there is agitation for resource control.
In the South-East, there is a call for outright secession, while in the South-West, we have the peace of the grave yard, because we have the largest member of unemployed graduates in Nigeria. They are very restless now. But because of our culture, they are still listening to us and I am sure that can’t continue for too long. So, the 6 zones are terribly not at ease. There is no day you open your newspaper and you don’t see negative stories. Where do we go from here? The polity is distraught and in distressed.
The economy is very bad. The poverty level is very high. The state of education is extremely poor. The hospitals are in a shambles. They are, infact, worse than mere consulting clinics, which Abacha called them then. There’s no water in the hospitals, no light. Yet, we sell crude oil. These monies come in and we don’t know how they are spent.
I usually tell people that as far as I am concerned, the democracy we are practising is Democracy of the elite, by the elite, for the political elite, not even by the entire elite spectrum. It is by the political leadership elite, very tiny group. They are less than 5% of Nigeria ‘s population, not even up to 2% of the country’s population really. So, government is political leadership elite centred. The people are completely alienated. There is no consideration for the people. There is nothing to cheer about in the state of the nation.
You are one of those who are involved in finding a lasting solution to Nigeria’s problems and charting a course for the Yorubas. At what stage are we now?
I think we have reached a cross road and we must not allow this opportunity to slip by. There is every evidence of governmental failure in Nigeria today. We are just a stones throw away from a complete state failure.
Fortunately, election is coming. As far as some of us are concerned, the problem of Nigeria, is not about personnel, it is not about change of political office holders and so on. It is about the geo-political architecture of Nigeria which is very, very defective. It is faulty. A lot of Nigerians don’t agree with where they are already positioned.
All over the world, you build federations from foundation. You don’t build them from the roof. What do we have in Nigeria? States were created by fiats from Dodan Barracks, then later on from Abuja without even sampling the consent of those who are in the states whether they want to be in a particular state or asked where they want to be.
The same accusations that we put at the doorsteps of the colonialists, that is what Nigerian rulers themselves are perpectuating. What is the accusation? They amalgamated the country without seeking the consent of the various ethnic groups that had existed thousands of year before their arrival.
Now, that Nigerians are in power the military came in, and they just announced that states have been created, and local governments have been created without even finding out, whether the people there want to be together. I can tell you, for instance, that the Yorubas constitute not less than 65% of Kwara State.
The Ekitis there want to join Ekiti State because they believe that is their home. Go to Southern Kaduna too, they have their stories to tell. Virtually all over Nigeria. Look at Delta State, you have the capital in Asaba. That is Igboland. There are Itsekiri, Urhobo are here. For me, I think so much is wrong, let us start with the basic.