CBCIU and the prince

Finally. I am pleased with Prof. Soyinka speaking out on this issue. Each time his name is tagged with ex-governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola, it is a sure signal to just move along. Silently, I have been hoping WS must speak out to distance himself from the politics of title hungry prince in the land.

It is a simple case that needed no debate but as far as ex-governor Oyinlola is concerned he is a Lifetime Chairman of a public funded centre.

The important part of this story goes that Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding (CBCIU) Osogbo was built during Oyinlola’s time as the governor of Osun State in 2007. This was with collaboration of well-known international bodies such as UNESCO Paris, Ulli Beiers,  Osun State government and some others.

The state contributed significant amount of money to collate and display important artefacts about Yoruba and culture from the archives of Ulli Beiers. Also, there is a report that federal government too, is contributing to this ongoing project.

To Nigerians thirsty of reading about our history from home, this is terrific. I have visited the place twice, it is inspiring.

The only problem here is that Prince Oyinlola in the document signed with all collaborators made himself a Lifetime Chairman of the centre.

Who does that?

Power changed hands and the new governor, Ogbeni Aregbesola sees the Lifetime Chairmanship of such an important cultural centre built and maintained with public funding to be inappropriate so Governor Aregbesola with the state legislators made amendment that allows sitting governor to serve as the chair and if they so wished can choose a trusted member of the public to serve in their place.

On this note, Prof Soyinka was invited to be the chairman.

One of the first things Prof Wole Soyinka did was to ask for our dear Baba Isale aka ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo Library to be removed from the list of collaborators – those two can never be left alone in a room. One is a pathological liar, the other knows his wine. It is a special treat reading about our elders!

But seriously, I’d put my money on the one who knows origin of his wine just by the sniff of it – that will be the Prof.

Why is it so hard for Prince Oyinlola to understand this is a losing battle? Why would anyone wants to be a Lifetime Chair of a publicly funded project, especially given his history in public office?

As a good omo Osun, this is what I remember Oyinlola for. Few months after he assumed office as our governor in 2003, his first big spending was 18 brand new cars for selected kings in the state. That didn’t go well with many people given the state of education etc and also that all of these kings already have more than enough for the state potholes.

After his re-election for second term in 2007, Prince Oyinlola signed paperwork that allows the state to have additional 55 kings, thirty of which were from Ile Ife. This happened for many reasons but the obvious one is the share of national cake amongst the few.

Sorry Prince, there is a reason re-election was annulled in 2010.

None of our leaders is perfect but some aren’t really meant for public office.

I don’t always agree with any of Oyinlola’s policies but I do admire his command of Yoruba language. That’s got to count for something.

I was pleased to see Prof. Soyinka’s name as the Chairman of CBCIU as he does bring lights to the room. His resignation from being CBCIU chairman at the weekend, though sad, but is expected and a nice step in my book.

The power tussle is really between the state and the title-mad prince. In as much as Prof is still the chairman, people will always drag his name into this case.

It is the state responsibility to set the record straight once and for all for this and future generations.

Prince wouldn’t go easy, that’s for certain, but eventually he’ll just have to live with the fact that this is not Oye abinibi (birth right title).