Alh. Semiu Okanlawon, is a media practitioner, Media consultant and a strategy consultant. He is a native of Iwo land and former Special Adviser on Media and Strategy to Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.
In this interview in honour of the investiture of Aswaju AbdulLiad Tella, he concludes the investiture is long over due.
At a point in Ogbeni administration, many felt he was not in sync with the governed. What is your reaction?
I think it would be wrong to say that Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola was not in sync with the people of Osun, rather I think those who formed such opinions may have listened too much to the vocal minority that were displeased by the people focused programmes and policies of that government. He made it very clear right from the beginning that he was going to run a government unusual and part of that unusualness was to focus on the vulnerable ones and on how to lift them out of poverty, wants, insecurity, joblessness, desperation and hopelessness. Therefore, it is a total fallacy because he impacted on the people of the State of Osun. One can only put such saying at the doors of people who felt terribly affected by the pro-people policies of Rauf Aregbesola. They could not phantom how a government will come and would not first take care of their own interest, but the interest of the less privileged.
Ogbeni had hot moments with the Christian Association of Nigeria how did the Government able to manage that crisis?
In most towns in Yoruba land, one would not be able to decipher the composition of their religious divide so the issue of religious intolerance is alien to our culture. Therefore, the CAN issue was just unfortunate, it does not represent what Yoruba stand for. Few people within CAN made themselves available to be use as instruments of manipulations but they did not succeed against Rauf Aregbesola. What they initially, presented to the outside world was as if the Christians in the State were against the personality of the Governor. The whole episode was just an attempt to turn against the unusualness in our government and to bring us down, but at the end the real people who were the beneficiaries of the government policies would not succumb to such shenanigans. We countered them because while they were shouting Aregbesola wanted to Islamize the State of Osun, we told the world the truth. Most of his best friends are Christians, many officials in his government were Christians and all his sisters and brothers are all Christians some even are pastors; so we asked them how can such foster Islam on the State with all these people around him? So none of the lies they fabricated held water.
How much of Ogbeni personality can you
Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola is a man that is difficult to describe except to just say simply that he is just Rauf Aregbesola because he cannot be described in any ramification,
You are from Iwo land and that means you know Alhaji Liadi Tella. How is he to you?
He is my mentor that is the man that drove me from Iwo town to Lagos in search of a job immediately after my NYSC. Equally, I know quite a number of people who had their first job opportunities through him as well. We call ourselves the Tella boys. Islam determines his actions and inactions. A man with good name, high sense of humility and very passionate about his town and always ready to help anyone that needs his attention. He is an accomplished personality, who often uses his connection for the goodness of others especially for the welfare of the young ones.
What is your view on his investiture as the Asiwaju Muslumi of Iwo land?
I will say he deserves much more that that I am sure he must have been waving aside so many honours directed at him before now. One can hardly make a difference between the pursuits of his Faith and the pursuit of his goodness for his people. Those two things are interwoven in him. So if he is now been honoured at the age of 70, I can say it is long overdue and we can only pray Allah give him the strength to manage the burdens that comes with such honour very well.
Iwo land pride itself as the best community in Osun and the largest, why has it not been able to produce a governor?
I will say that it has not come because it is not yet the Will of God, when it is the Will of God a Governor, would surely come from Iwo.