Yemi Ogunbiyi is the elephant that never forgets – Prof Yemi Osinbajo
There is a need for frank discussions and transparency among all Nigerians in addressing issues that cause division and strife in the country.
This is the way to find lasting solutions and also chart the way forward towards building a better and more united nation, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
Prof. Osinbajo stated this on Thursday during the public presentation of Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi’s memoir titled “The Road Never Forgets” in Lagos. The book launch event was part of the author’s 75th birthday celebrations.
Speaking on the significance of the book and the lessons therein, Prof. Osinbajo notes that in the book, “there is counsel there for us as a nation, we need to talk more to ourselves not at ourselves, we need frank discussions on the issues that divide us, we need openness about our fears and prejudices. Perhaps, that way we may gain each other’s confidence.”
On the book itself, the Vice President notes that “anyone who has had a chance like me to read this book will agree that not only does the road never forget, but the elephant that walked the road has a phenomenal memory. The elephant as you know forgets nothing, its brain is 5kg in weight. So, The Elephant in this room – if you will pardon the pun – Dr. Ogunbiyi, surely forgets little.”
“He speaks of a broad spectrum of issues from his childhood and youth through to events that happened just last year with the same mind-boggling freshness of memory. Yemi Ogunbiyi’s story is at once the life story of a truly remarkable individual and at the same time, the story of a country. And who better to tell the story of Nigeria, the magical possibilities of our ethnic blending, than one born in Kano of a Yoruba father and an Igbo mother and whose first language was Hausa,” he observes.
Prof. Osinbajo adds: ‘“in this contemporary history of Nigeria, it turns out by some quirk of circumstance, that the author is present in critical events that occurred in Nigeria. He had a ringside seat during the ‘wetie period’ in the old Western Region by virtue of the fact that Ibadan Boys High School was located behind the Awolowo home in Ibadan. His first open day at Kings College was the day of the first coup in Nigeria and he was right there when Adekunle Adepeju was fatally shot at UI.
“So, in telling his own compelling story, we are led through the nationalistic idealism of the pre-colonial days, the excitement of civil rule and its tragic denouement, then military rule, a curious diarchy, other iterations of civil rule, and all manner of contemporary events. He engages every subject honestly, openly and frankly, somehow it almost seems that by his open vulnerable style he disarms and commands empathy and admiration.”
He says the book is a powerful memoir of a life shaped by history as much as great successes and redemption, as the VP notes that Ogunbiyi would go on to “become the brilliant university teacher, newspaper executive, debonair, connoisseur of wine and collector of fine art, equally at home in modern and traditional settings.”
The Vice President restates the importance of one’s contribution to society, noting that “the best amongst us owe us three taxes.”
According to him, one of them is the “Income Tax” which he opined Ogunbiyi has delivered on, adding that “many may not know that he is a rather wealthy man in his own right.”
“The second is a Social Tax, philanthropy and in this respect Dr. Ogunbiyi also has a good track record, his many charitable contributions. And the third is a Civic Tax. The obligation to share their stories with the world. The obligation to tell it like it is to enable us all reflect and learn,” Prof. Osinbajo observes, adding that the author “in this ultimate magnum opus “The Road Never Forgets,” fully discharges this obligation.”
Observing the author’s consistency through the years, the VP states that Ogunbiyi has “been consistent in your kindness, generosity and commitment to seeing a better nation.”
Dignitaries at the event included Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka;Ogun and Ekiti State Governors: Dapo Abiodun, and Kayode Fayemi; former Ogun and Osun State Governors: Aremo Olusegun Osoba, and Rauf Aregbesola; a former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku; and Prof. Femi Osofisan, who reviewed the book, among others.