The Sparkle of 50 Stars Cannot be Dimmed
•••Tribute to Senator Solomon “YAYI” Olamilekan on His 50th Birthday
Nearly One year and couple of months ago when I turned 50, I recall that before stepping out of my room after my effusive gratitude and appreciation to my creator, the next thing I did was deep introspection and reflection about my 50 years sojourn on this side of the great divide.
The Bible admonishes us to number our days so that we can apply ourselves unto wisdom, and I believe one of the wisest things to do in life is to reflect and think back.
Because life is a journey, and like all journeys, there will be many experiences, there will be moments one will go through a stretch plain when the journey will be smooth and you will be tempted to put on the auto cruise.
And there will come moments when the journey will cascade through valleys and the traverse will be through undulating plains, but the ultimate desire is to arrive at the destination, ahead of the terminal point, when you come way and it’s been a good ride, you look forward to the other half with joy.
In my moment of introspection at 50, I tried to visualise the journey and a number of personalities and events come out so graphically to me that I will be eternally grateful to God that they happened, either meeting with personalities or events that happened.
Today I am compelled to highlight this young man popularly known and addressed in Lagos, Ogun and by all his friends by the alias YAYI.
By that alias, I don’t know how he came by it but if I interpret it in the context of my Yoruba language , it would mean, I guess a pleasant, warm, amiable and affable personality.
Senator Solomon Olamilekan is generically all of these but to me much more.
True to his name, Solomon, going by the biblical king Solomon, YAYI has lived up to the identity of the biblical Solomon as a wise man.
For a man to have had such a chequered political trajectory after qualifying as a chartered accountant, and going from there to become two term member house of Lagos House of Assembly, both times I guess was chairman public accounts, a committee popularly referred to as “juicy committee”, and proceeding to the House of Representatives, (2011-2015) there again he became chairman Public Accounts, and while some of us got bruised and bloodied in the pursuit of the interest and well being of the people on the altar of our party starting from Action Congress that eventually metamorphosed into today’s All Progressives Congress.
We did not succeed at getting our seats back in the house of representatives, through “Solomonic” wisdom and good representation, YAYI did not come back to house of representatives but “promoted” to the Nigerian Senate.
While at the senate (2015-2019) he was being groomed for the Oke Mosan seat in Ogun State, well he did make his mark with that move, he pushed hard, but guess it was not time, but he got the ticket back to the Nigerian Senate.
Going by the experiences of many, without “Solomonic” wisdom, his political career may have taken a downward spiral from that “unrealised” bid but YAYI survived.
Now to further buttress his wisdom, one day we were talking and he taught me a proverb that till now I have held close to my heart because it has proved to be so true.
I was sharing with him on how our society could be so twisted that you could be so venerated today and tomorrow stripped of the benefits of that veneration if the tide turns, without recourse to whatever good or service you have rendered.
YAYI listened to be intently and said to be “Broda mii, won i ki yago fun eleshin ana“, meaning my brother, nobody paves way for the man who rode the horse yesterday if he is not riding the horse today! what a wisdom!
Till then, never heard of that proverb before, maybe if I had, I would have understood how to survive fair weather friends and personalities, whose memories are conveniently short, those one would believe or assume should be eternal repository of good works, so wrong, anyway thank you YAYI for that lesson.
Maybe If I had known and incorporated this proverb earlier in my political career, my staying power would have been greatly enhanced with capacity to navigate any political tide and stay afloat.
Late but not too late.
Now back back to the man Solomon Yayi Olamilekan, I met this young man as one of newly elected members from Lagos State to the House of Representatives in 2011 on the platform of the ACN.
No matter who you are YAYI will disarm you with his warmth, very infectious, if that does not cut it, he will with his ability to listen before talking, if that does not, he will with his witty remarks and above a a smile or laughter that transparently shows you his kind of heart.
Above all if all these virtues fail in endearing YAYI to anybody, his unfailing key is his respectful nature and humility, he would never be short of saying “egbon mi ” egbon mi” i.e my senior brother to anybody he perceives to be older than him and to the younger ones he still gives them recognition that you will be inclined to think you had been acquainted for years, little wonder I began to call him “broda miii” or YAYI NI OOO! as his supporters call him
I will be surprised if YAYI can hurt a fly. My Personal opinion and to the extent that I know.
I remember when his opponent was alleged to have gone to shell his campaign office on Adeniyi Jones, I know YAYI has capacity and firepower to fight back but he held back.
I saw the bullet holes and the shattered windows,YAYI could have deployed the Lagos establishment might that he had been a part of to his advantage if he chose to fight back but he chose to walk away, I remember asking him why he did, because with that provocation I am personally not likely to, well i am not Solomon anyway.
So we went on into the 7th House of Representatives and the placement for committes got underway, I had the good fortune of being well grounded into the then Aminu Waziri Tambuwal Speakership- Emeka Ihedioha project and it was obvious to all, as it is my nature. You will know where I stand.
One day as we were walking to our offices, I remember, alongside Yayi, he said “Broda mi sebi you and Deputy Speaker Emeka Ihedioha now Governor of Imo State are said to be friends that predates the house, I said yes, he said I am interested in Public accounts committee, and as a chartered accountant with cognate knowledge from Lagos, he said he was super qualified and I should enlist the support of DS alongside other efforts since he said he heard DS (usually Deputy Speakers are influential in selection of leadership of House Committees) was looking in another direction.
I said no problem. So I moved in and did my little bit and escalated it to then Speaker Tambuwal now Governor Tambuwal of Sokoto state. Well as the Lord will have it, I cannot take credit for anything, just did my own bit and it pleased God, when the list came out the then Honourable Solomon Olamilekan emerged as the Chairman Public Accounts.
From then our relationship took a new turn and we related as brothers, he was a fantastic chairman in the management of the committee, a good stakeholder manager, he did his job most professionally, engaged the Government MDAs well, not once was he found wanting, nor involved in any scandal.
One thing was that the committee was always busy and worked hard, he added credibility to the house and the committee, not once did members complain about his style, he was not high handed, very tolerant and operated an open door policy to members, both of his committee and non committee members.
I am aware that YAYI was the shield for a number of people.. Most of our colleagues at the 7th house will affectionately call him a good man leading the pack of Chairmen.
I recall one time when crisis brewed between some chairmen and their deputies like yours truly, and a rebellion was afoot, the public accounts committee under YAYI was not among.
Out of the chairmen of committees, he was in his own class, if he was not helping with employment for constituents, he was bailing out of tough times or facilitating a trip to enhance legislative exposure for colleagues. The nature of real and true leaders.
Thereafter our bond grew and we became tighter, at different crunch moments YAYI had come through for me, particularly when he found out that one of his benefactors is also somebody i hold in a very high esteem and have profound regard for, in person of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. That sort of made us closer.
YAYI had come through for me at different times, in the run up to my several elections, he will just send me a text or call me, Broda mi Bawo lo se nlo,? He will ask,? And I ll say Bro I’m keeping on o!, he will usually end by saying Olorun a gba fun wa, and end with Niyi will get in touch, and within reasonable time he will come thro. Thank you bro. I remain grateful.
I recall our various moments, the night after his office was shot at, we were together, we gisted late into the night before we parted, he will go attend to the teeming supporters and peep “Mo mbo o broda mi” he would say.
When ticket was to be denied him, to return to House of Representatives as a man of faith he said he had prepared to go on a family trip to Dubai with his wife before Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola told him to turn around and he ended with a ticket to the Senate.
No good work is lost on God, recompense is sure. He rewards.
And by thesame token no armour is strong enough to hold down nemesis for evil doer, but YAYI has secured a good place for himself with God and people because of his heart for humanity.
It’s not a surprise that the grace and hand of God has been manifest in the life of this young man, it would have been a big surprise if God has not lined his path in life with great fortune and successes granted the fact that he is a very caring man, affectionate husband, doting father, kind hearted, dependable brother and friend.
Well nobody can be perfect, I have felt somewhat unhappy a few times in the course of my association with this great guy but not enough to obliterate the many times he had come through as a brother and friend for which I remain eternally grateful.
My grouse at those few moments were not out of entitlement mentality rather more of a fixation about the YAYI I have grown to accept and love deeply in my heart and the way I have taken him, which is not compelling to make him act in any way if he does not, rather he is entitled to act according best to his own best judgement, of course he has moved on to become more relevant, visible and maybe more powerful, a two time senator and all that, sometimes all these could change any mortal PARTICULARLY in the shark infested water of Nigerian politics that we play in.
Regardless YAYI is still well endeared to me having earned it till this moment, wether we see or converse as we used to or not.
I will tenaciously hold on to the great memories of our times together, I am nostalgic about them as I write this tribute, in themselves the memories will remain soothing just as I know that my heart wishes and pray for more glorious years as this young man today turns fifty and pray for more years of greater accomplishments, sustained relevance and impact.
As it is my practice and my dye in wool nature, I will forever remain grateful to anyone that had been there for me at any crucial juncture in my life’s journey , not by size, nature or magnitude of what was done but the depth of humanity that made such a person to oblige me that support at that moment.
YAYI belongs in this category of such persons and I will continue to celebrate you for who you are and have been, but today I thank you more for that proverb that you taught me ” won ki ki yago fun eleshin ana”, this is about the best and the greatest gift you and our relationship has delivered to me.
Thank you so much broda mi.
On this day, I want to join your friends, family and your teeming supporters to wish you a happy birthday, and pray for your continued wellness and well being and more grace.
Happy Birthday my Broda…Yayi Ni ooo
From congressman, Bimbo Daramola,