By now the major contenders for the 2015 governorship race in Lagos
State from the two prominent political parties are known to the politically astute among us. However, my take is to stir the interest of the residents and all progressives in taking more than a passing glance at the candidature of Senator Ganiyu Olarewaju Solomon (GOS).
GOS grew up in a household full of laughter and conviviality but the passion of his father, a consummate politician, to constantly cater to the needy, opened his eyes early to appreciate the sufferings of others. The Solomon household was open to all and sundry. The high and low; rich and poor. There was usually a constant stream of people, either coming in or going out of that one-storey building located on Anipele Street, Mushin, Lagos. I saw the sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, in that house many times, addressing groups. Meetings were always held and people mandated to brainstorm and come up with appropriate ways of seeking better life for the masses.
I know (and the people that have related with him do too) that GOS has a gentle mien and is unassuming. However, underneath all that visible calmness of his, lies a brilliant mind and a steely resolve to see things through to their logical conclusion. He subjects issues to critical analysis and appraisal and after coming to a decision or conclusion, he presents his position on any matter, and to who cares to listen, in the most gentle of manners.
This is wisdom on marble; literally giving vent and life to the real meaning of his name-Solomon – who has always been judged to be the wisest King that ever lived.
Solomon is a good example of an exception to that ruling. He never forgets his childhood friends, never looks down on anyone. He relates very well with all, not minding the fact that not all are as successful as he is. As far as he is concerned, God created everyone and while not everyone could be successful, particularly, in the Nigerian parlance, all for him, deserve to be treated equally.
He earned the appellation, “financial wizard” as far back as 1979 due to his readiness to always underwrite the bills of his friends, peers and people in need generally…ensuring that their problems were solved. Little did we know he would be following the steps and generous spirit of his father, Alhaji R I Solomon, a former Lagos State Vice Chairman of the erstwhile Unity Party of Nigeria, into the murky waters of the Nigerian politics.
Now it becomes clear to me why our Maker stresses the need for one to be humble
. Indeed GOD promotes the humble and Solomon falls into the category of the three most humble people I have ever come across..The first one (and in no particular order) was my Father-in-Law, Late Babatunde Ibironke-SAN and Pastor E A Adeboye, The General Overseer of The Redeemed Christian Church of GOD. While most Lawyers Aged 40 and above could at least attest to my claim here having passed through the Law School where humility-personified Ibironke, a man of style, and a thorough bred professional held sway as the Director General for close to 15 years; a lot more Nigerians could at least relate with Pastor Adeboye
who believes that every human being deserves respect and should be treated as such. In all facets, Pastor Adeboye breathes humility and Solomon has been exuding humility right from childhood, a trait that has endeared and continue to endear him to all he comes across. No wonder the three gentlemen I mention rose to the top in their various fields of endeavour.
I remember clearly an incident that happened in 1982 when we were both students in University of Lagos which he could have even forgotten (our friendship started a few years before then while seeking our A levels and together, attended Lagos State College of Science and Technology since re- christened Lagos Polytechnic).
We had gone to the class to read (or rigour as we call it then) one evening and we drove in the brand new Volkswagen Beetle his father just bought him at a cost of Naira 3,600(a mouth watering figure then at least as far as students were concerned). We burnt the midnight oil as they say and at about 2 am, he complained of a headache and asked that I dropped him in the hostel. I did and drove back to class to continue reading. Two hours later, I went back to the hostel but the car park was full and there was no place to park. I echoed what others that came late did and parked on the main road directly in front of the hostel; secured the car with a pedal lock, locked the two doors and went into my room to sleep. Later that morning at about 9 am, I went back to the spot I parked and found that the three -week old car had vanished. I was distraught and was looking for the car everywhere including the gutter (yes, that was how gutted I was) blinking in disbelief! After a while, I summed up courage, went in and told my friend what had happened. He took the news with equanimity, and never raised his voice or exhibited any tone of regret or even query if I was sure I truly secured the car. Never. We went to the Sabo police station to report the vehicle stolen, and the officer on duty asked him to narrate the circumstances surrounding the theft. He narrated what happened and said his friend drove the car and parked it,never indicating that the friend in question was the one standing beside him, perhaps fearing I could be detained! The officer after listening to his tale, promptly concluded ,with every measure of assurance that the so-called friend was the one that stole the car and must have since sold it! I gawked, looked at my friend and his face broke into a smile..He just told the Officer that he came to report the theft as was expected of him.
We both left the station thereafter and the car was never recovered. Needless to say that his father gave him another brand new Beetle less than a week later but the morale of the story is that Solomon returns the trust of those who has earned his trust and is not given to vanity and vain glory.
His political profile is rooted in his pedigree of unyielding service to humanity as typified by his father’s constant clamour and outright personal support for the betterment of the lot of the masses during his lifetime. Solomon is currently a Principal Officer of the Senate and his sterling qualification for the Lagos State top job is not in doubt having won elections into the Lagos House of Assembly, served as Chairman, Mushin Local Government, Member House of Representatives and as a two-term Senator.
Solomon has donated items worth hundreds of millions to Lagosians (not limited only to his Lagos Senatorial Zone) over the years in order to put smiles on the faces of people. These items ranging from deep freezers, generators, barbing kits, grinding machines, sterilizers, to power transformers, motorcyles, helmets ,sewing machines to mention a few and these constant gestures have gone a long way at improving the economic well being of the beneficiaries. He also instituted a financial empowerment package to aid the elderly, men, women, the youth and scholarship for indigent students.
At one of the occasions where these items were being distibuted in their thousands, he had this to say: “ I am of the firm belief that the holders of political offices hold a position of trust and must therefore fulfill the people’s aspirations. In the course of my campaigns and interactions with our people, I made promises and I am determined within the limits of my resources to fulfil them.It is pursuance of this that I have instituted various programmes aimed at empowering our people. Some of these include Youth/Women Empowerment, Poverty Alleviation, Education, Power, Health and so on……In order to ensure that these programmes continue and outlive me, they are being carried out under the GOS (Ganiyu Olanrewaju Solomon) Foundation which I established years ago.”
The GOS Foundation has been active in the area of skill acquisition for youths, the art of tie and dye for women, renovation of The juvenile home at Alakara, provision of boreholes (dotting his constituency), repair of pedestrian bridge at Onipanu to mention a few.
I can go on and on about Solomon’s vision and ingrained candour for qualitative service to society but suffice it to say that his humanity, pedigree, political clout, exceptional charater, outstanding experience laced with humility and ‘can do’ spirit is a rarity that stands him shoulder above those jostling for the seat at Alausa with him.
One flaw I see in him is his inherent ability to trust people easily. Even when he knows he has been betrayed, he still manages to see the good in such people. He forgives easily and harbours no grudges. He does not subscribe to the ‘winners take all’ mentality and is always carrying people along.
Solomon is not perfect but even in his imperfection, he thrives on providing succour to the poor and the needy, a lifetime legacy of service to mankind straight from Solomonic household!
•Eniola Olakunri is a director of Oats Global Energy, Abuja.
Culled from Sun News Online