Oyinlola: How One Man’s Greed Destroyed The Centre For Black Culture

“The entire continent of Africa continues to be deprived of the services of the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding because of the greed of just one man”

Oyinlola: How One Man’s Greed Destroyed The Centre For Black Culture

By Adeola Aderounmu

There are so many things happening in Nigeria that have contributed to the underdevelopment and retrogression in the land.

That we sometimes talk about these things without necessarily following them to logical conclusions means that Nigeria has an overwhelming loads of atrocities to drag along with her daily.

Since the atrocities are many and varied, it is too convenient to let go or forget some of them despite their grave implications either in deeping the crises that Nigeria faces as a country or in setting more precedents that give way to even more atrocities and crimes across Nigeria.

These crimes are profound among Nigerian politicians.

The story of how a greedy and corrupt Nigerian politician, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, grounded all the activities at the Centre For Black Culture and International Understanding (CBCIU) in Osogbo Osun State is a very sad one.

Oyinlola, Corrupt and Greedy

Oyinlola, Corrupt and Greedy

The CBCIU was established in 2007 during the tenure of Olagunsoye Oyinlola as the governor of Osun State. The establishment of the centre was under the cooperation agreement with the UNESCO Paris and in collaboration with acclaimed cultural experts Ulli and Georgina Beier, the government of Osun State and curiously the Olusegun Obasanjo Library.

Seriously, what has Olusegun Obasanjo Library got to do with the centre? Was it a clandestime plan to falsely acquire what belongs to others and a way to divert public funds to Mr. Obasanjo? It was not a surprise that Professor Wole Soyinka was vehemently opposed to the inclusion of the Olusegun Obasanjo Library as part of the partners setting up the centre.

The Osun State government paid 700 000 USD for the acquisition of the precious archives of the Beiers which would form the nucleus of the collections at the centre. The collections include documentation of various aspects of the Yoruba culture and tradition. The entire collection that should come from the Beiers are actually unknown but it is reported as being massive.

Apart from serving as a centre where records/archives are stored, the CBCIU was also expected to serve several other functions. CBCIU should have been the nerve centre of various cultural activities locally and internationally. The CBCIU was supposed to receive cultural troops from various parts of Africa and the rest of the world.

If it had been functional the CBCIU would have had conferences, seminars, lectures and syposia for all kinds of performing artists in Nigeria and from around the world.

It was such a prospect that made the federal government of Nigeria under whose laws the centre was established to pledge 400 million naira as annual allocation to the centre.

It must be restated that Oyinlola was the governor of Osun State and chairman of CBCIU when it was established in 2007.

In 2008 Oyinlola formally signed a law establishing the CBCIU.

According to that law, Oyinlola (stupidly) made himself the lifetime chairman of the CBCIU.

Unless one is arguing with a mad man, it is easy to see that this law is self-serving and deserves to land Oyinlola in jail. Only a criminal will convert a public institution into a personal or family business venture.

During his tenure as the governor of Osun State and doubling as the chairman of CBCIU, Oyinlola collected 400 million naira annually on behalf of the centre. When he was bundled out of office by the court in 2010, he became the National Secretary of the PDP, a position that was still strong enough to ensure that the 400 million naira landed safely on his table.

With a new government in Osun State under the governorship of Rauf Aregbesola,  the opportunity arose to end the reign of Oyinlola as the lifetime chairman of CBCIU. The board constituted by Oyinlola was dissolved.

The Osun State legislators enacted an ammendment in 2012 that allows a serving governor to be chairman of the board of CBCIU. The governor may also appoint anyone for this purpose.

Governor Aregbesola appointed Professor Wole Soyinka as the chairman of the center and Dr. Wale Adeniran became the Executive Director.

Dr. Wale Adeniran knows the history of the centre because in 2007 Oyinlola had asked him to write a letter of approval for the establishment of the centre. At that time Dr. Wale Adeniran was the director of the lnstitute of Cultural Studies at Obafemi Awolowo University.

Since this means of siphoning public funds for private use had been taken away from Olagunsoye Oyinlola, he continues to fight back. He has gone as far as protesting to UNESCO in Paris on a number of occasions. Is this the meaning of a fool’s mission?

Until this day, Oyinlola has continued to parade himself around the world as the chairman of the CBCIU.

There are allegations that the materials which may have included valuable art works and artifact that should be displayed at the centre were also carted away to Oyinlola’s private residence.

When his reign as the chairman of CBCIU was cut short in 2012 by the law enacted by the Osun State legislators, Oyinlola carted away all the files from the centre including all the financial records. These are clearly some of the traits of a criminal. In essence, Oyinlola and his team of tropical gangsters made sure that it was not possible to take over from them.

Today the CBCIU lies in ruin, covered with weeds and grasses and totally non-fucntional. It is noteworthy that Oyinlola did not act alone. With 400 million naira, it was easy for him to find staff, move them around or tell them what to do at all times, all just to make sure that he remains the chairman of the board.

The nucleus of the centre was to be the archive that was purchased from Beier family. Today the digitalisation of the archive continues in Germany. If Oyinlola hadn’t run the CBCIU as a private or family enterprise, the delivery of what was purchased or ordered would have been completed and all the functions of CBCIU, some of which are stated earlier would have been up and running.

It is also of interest that the Osun state government has refused to deliver the allocation of the centre to the present board that is supposed to be running the CBCIU. There are reports that the allocation appears on the budget of the Osun State government annually. So what happens to the money? Why is it not released?

It is ridiculous that the Osun State government under Ogbeni Aregbesola expects Professor Wole Soyinka and Dr. Wale Adeniran to give financial acount of the centre when in fact funds have never been released to them. Where is the funding for the CBCIU since 2012?

On Monday the 12th of October this case (yes it is now in court) will continue at the High Court in Osun State. Oyinlola and his lawyers will argue in favour of allowing Nigerian politicians to use their positions to acquire public properties and converting tax payers monies into family hereditary funds.

They will argue that Oyinlola does not have to explain what he did with 400 million naira that was given to him between 2007 and 2011. But really what did he do with the money? Is this the same Oyinlola that some people are speculating will appear on the ministerial list? Well, that won’t be a shock. Buhari has wasted 3 months only to assemble the same old corrupt people we know.

But seriously, there should be a public outcry against Oyinlola and he should be covering his head in shame at this time. Western Nigeria, Nigeria and the entire continent of Africa continue to be deprived of the services of the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding because of his greediness. It’s shocking!

aderounmu@gmail.com

References

CBCIU: For Culture or Penkelemes? By Wole Soyinka. Chairman Centre For Black Culture and International Understanding, Oshogbo, Osun State, Nigeria.

CBCIU and the Lilliputians of Culture by Wale Adeniran, Executive Director, Centre For Black Culture and International Understanding, Oshogbo, Osun State, Nigeria.

STOP PRESS

Professor Soyinka resigned from his post as the chairman on saturday 10th of october 2015.

Dr. Wale Adeniran also resigned as the Executive director of the centre.

The primary reason for their resignations is because of the way the Nigerian press/media presented the story even until this moment. The media made it sound as if the problem is between Wole Soyinka and Oyinlola whereas the problem is actually between Osun State and Oyinlola.

Nigerian media sometimes does not show common sense when reporting issues. How can they fail to crucify Oyinlola for making himself the life time chairman of a public institution?

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CBCIU: for CULTURE? Or ‘PENKELEMES’?

By Wole Soyinka

TEXT of Professor WOLE SOYINKA’S ADDRESS to the NIGERIAN MEDIA on the  “CENTRE FOR BLACK CULTURE AND INTERNATIONAL UNDERSTANDING,” Oshogbo, on September 1, 2015 at Freedom Park, Broad Street, LAGOS.

CBCIU: for CULTURE?  Or  ‘PENKELEMES’?

Gentlemen of the Press,

One way to summarize the situation of the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding (CBCIU) at this moment requires no deep elaboration. It goes thus: There is Law, and there is Ethics. Wherever these two arbiters of public conduct appear to clash, even Ethics must bow to Law.  On the other hand, it is useful to remember also that the sinews that bind civilized society together are strengthened when both – Law and  Ethics – converge, and are harmonized in a public cause.

To come down to the specifics of the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding, I require no convincing that this ideal harmonization was manifested when the lawmakers of Osun State enacted, in 2012, an amendment to the original CBCIU law that had been signed into law by Governor Oyinlola on 29th December 2008. That origjnal law, in my view, was profoundly unethical.  The Amendment, by the succeeding House of Assembly, signed into law on the 31st day of July, 2012, was clearly designed to inject an ethical corrective into the original law.

I am not qualified to comment on the legal intricacies of the provisions in either, if any – this must be left to “our learned friends” of the legal profession. They have however advised that the July 2012 amendment supersedes the original, and that this Amendment constitutes the current law within under which the CBCIU obtains its validity, until overturned under a new Law enacted by a chamber of equal or superior jurisdiction. For direct public enlightenment, the heading of the Document of Assent goes thus:

STATE OF OSUN, NIGERIA

OSUN STATE CENTRE FOR BLACK CULTURE AND

INTERNATIONAL UNDERSTANDING

(AMENDMENT) LAW, 2012

Assented to by the Governor of Osun State on the 31st of July 2012

No court judgment exists that voids a single provision of this law – including the setting up of a new board – or its entirety.

It is important that this nation, and the entire world of culture and ethical pursuit understand this. Contrary to whatever has been propagated so assiduously by some parties of interest in various quarters, NO court order exists that prevents the Board that was established under the 2012 Amendment from exercising its rights and responsibilities. NO court order exists that compels the Governor or House of Assembly to reinstate the former Board Chairman of 2008.

NO relief has been granted to the ex-governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola, that authorizes him to present himself to the nation and the world as the substantive chairman of the CBCIU (or ‘Emeritus Chairman’ – among other titles that he has since accorded himself.) This is the legal position – as the Board remains advised by Osun State government’s legal department.

If these experts are proven wrong, then the current board will bow out without one second’s delay, led by its current chairman. It will most gladly hand over all CBCIU effects in its possession and even tender a public apology to the ex-governor, his ‘Board Members’, his campaign team and indeed any other interested parties.

From the corporate, we move to the individual. Here, I wish to outline the  section of the Amendment by the Osun House of Assembly that remains of primary interest to me, personally. It is that portion which articulates, in accessible language, that much desired convergence of Law and Ethics which, as earlier proposed, offers society a basis for civilized existence. I quote:

“Section 8 of the Principal Law is hereby amended by substituting

thereof the following provisions:

(a) The Board shall consist of the following members:

(i)  The Chairman of the Board who shall be the Governor or anyone appointed by him for this purpose…..

For emphasis, I call attention to that section again which states: “who shall be the governor….

In contrast, the parallel provision in the original, now ineffectual law, signed by Prince Oyinlola, states –  “who shall be Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola”.  Oyinlola to Oyinlola, and Oyinlola for ever and ever – Oyinlola!

What the Amendment legislates is that the CBCIU is public property, established and maintained with state funds, funded by the state, housed by the state, instituted by elected representatives of the people. It is not private, hereditary property, not even of the most elevated royalty.

To my ears, this is ethical music.

It should be of interest to reveal that I had a private meeting on this issue with the Director-General of UNESCO, Madam Irina Bokova, when she and I attended an event nearly exactly two years ago in Kazakhstan. I had learnt, not too surprisingly, that the former governor of Osun State, Prince Oyinlola, had made forays into UNESCO headquarters, Paris, to protest his removal from a position he had created for himself while governor – and in perpetuity.  Invited to that meeting, once I raised the issue, was Hans d’Orville, one of Madame Bokova’s most senior aides. I asked her how UNESCO proposed to handle what was gearing up to become quite a penkelemes  (courtesy Adelabu) for all parties in this unseemly development.

Hans d’Orville confirmed that the Prince had indeed written protest letters to UNESCO and also shown up a number of times in his own person, sometimes with a delegation.  Hans d’Orville informed his Director-General and I that he had already responded to Oyinlola’s written appeals, and that, on each personal visit, he repeated exactly what he had written to the prince, namely, that CBCIU was set up under the laws of the host country – that is, of Osun State, Nigeria – thus, UNESCO could not interfere in a situation that would contradict the provisions of such laws.

UNESCO’s Director-General nodded in agreement, saying: “That is exactly my understanding.”

Then she, in turn, wanted to know what was the real story behind the development. I warned her that the issue had a very long history. We were all rather pressed for time, needed to catch flights in different directions. So I proposed that, instead of rehashing the tortuous details, I would pose a hypothetical question to her. I said:

“Let me ask you a simple question. If you decided to leave UNESCO tomorrow, would you use UNESCO funds to set up an entity, any kind of institution, use your position to channel an annual disbursement from UNESCO’s coffers, receive and dispense funds, and make yourself, in your personal capacity, head of that organization – and for life?”

She recoiled in horror. “No-o! That would be highly unethical. Such a thing is not possible”.

I added: “That about sums it up. The incoming governor of Osun State took exactly such a position, embarked on steps to dissolve the board and constitute a new one. The erstwhile, self-appointed Life Chairman has gone to court to contest that position. My advice is that you keep UNESCO away from the ensuing splatter while we clean up our own mess internally – we are quite used to it.”

That was in September 2013. As a member of UNESCO’s High Panel for Peace, I have interacted with Madame Bokova at a number of events since then, as well as with Hans d’Orville before his departure from UNESCO. I was made aware – from numerous sources – that Oyinlola, aided by the  former Nigerian representative to UNESCO, Dr. Omolewa, continued to wear out carpets leading to the Africa desk, to numerous offices and national delegations to UNESCO.

However, I studiously refrained from raising my concerns with the Director-General or indeed any other serving UNESCO official, right up to this press conference – which shall be copied to UNESCO.  Moreover, the Prince continued to make overtures to Governor Arigbesola, and myself, and to leaders in his new political party, pleading that they intervene so that he could be reinstated on the board in any capacity, however subordinate.

I left that plea to the governor entirely – since it remains his prerogative. I did assure him however that I would not stand in the way. I shall reveal here that I went even further – albeit against the grain – but in order to save the nation from international embarrassment through an obsession that I could not yet fully understand – I accommodated Mr. Oyinlola so far as to propose to the governor a Special Board Membership, tasked with responsibility for traditional royal cultures.

Simultaneously however, as was certainly within his fundamental rights, Mr. Oyinlola pursued his legal challenges, having first made off, even till today, with all the files – including every scrap of financial records – of the Centre. While the courts tried to address the conundrum of a life appointee being dispossessed while still very much alive, Mr. Oyinlola chose to pre-empt the courts’ decision. Aided, and even physically accompanied by Nigeria’s former representative to UNESCO, Dr. Omolewa, who was familiar with the interstices of that institution, Oyinlola commenced a campaign, both internally and externally, to disseminate a fraudulent version of the court proceeding. The prince has claimed – and still does! – that the courts had indeed found for him, and that he is back in office as chairman of CBCIU.

Our legal advice is that no basis for such a claim exists! What we do know – and this is clear from the actual court records, not the disseminated, bowdlerized versions, even for the “unlearned” – is that the Court has not even touched the substance of Prince Oyinlola’s appeal for reinstatement!  The only effective law, we are firmly advised, remains the July 2012 Law enacted by Osun State House of Assembly.

That leaves us – at least for now – with what primarily interests me, as a citizen dedicated, not only to the Rule of Law – but to the ethics of governance.  Without incurring the wrath of the courts for “contempt”, I believe we are entitled to indulge in a transformative debate on the ethics that underlie the provisions of both laws, taken together and in contrast.  That debate, the genesis of much of a continent’s post-colonial woes of devastating dimensions, is sometimes described as the “sit-tight syndrome”. It consists of the corrupt privatization of  public entities – including nations – with all their assets, even the intangibles! My ever growing conviction that this is a long overdue discourse, limitless in scope and ramifications, to be pursued as a continent-wide undertaking

My immediate contribution to that debate shall be phrased along the same terms as I addressed Madame Bokova in Kazakhstan, only, this time, it is addressed to this nation’s president, General Buhari, who has unusually elevated the anti-corruption struggle to the very top of his governance agenda. I must warn General Buhari – in the absence of a Foreign Minister – that, as a consequence of activities of this “CBCIU” double, the nation is being dragged into a sleazy situation through the attempted co-option of its foreign missions into logistical support for their global enterprises.

And so to the question:  “When you leave office, General Buhari, will you also carve out a privatized entity  – cultural, educational, political, religious, socio-economic, perhaps even a military unit or whatever – for yourself from public funds, provide it an annuity from the nation’s treasury, empower it to receive funds from internal and external sources, and make yourself, in your own individual person – that is, as Muhammadu Buhari – its Executive Chairman, and for life?”

Wole SOYINKA

Chairman, Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding (CBCIU)

Oshogbo, Osun State, NIGERIA.

 

DISTRIBUTION LIST:

Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Governor, Osun State

Director-General, UNESCO, Paris

CHAIRMAN, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission

Chairman, The Presidential Advisory Commission on Corruption

The Nigerian Ambassador to Brazil.

The Brazilian Ambassador to Nigeria, Abuja

IPEAFRO, Brazil

The Director, Iwalewa-Haus, Bayreuth University, Germany

Excuse Me Mr. John Campbell, I Was Denied An American Visa!

By Adeola Aderounmu

Mr. John Campbell in faraway America is probably feeling the pain, frustration and disappointment that several thousands of Nigerians face monthly in Nigeria and elsewhere.

He was denied an entry visa to Nigeria because his application did not meet the stipulated requirements and he did not appear keen to fulfill the questions raised about his planned trip to Nigeria.

I am aware that Mr. Campbell wrote a book that did not go down well with the Nigerian Authority. He had predicted the fall of Nigeria latest 2015. I have no grouse with Mr. Campbell’s prediction. There would have been no Nigeria today if Mr. Lugard and his co-travelers did not loosely weld the different nations together in 1914.

It is therefore a matter of historical calculation that one day things will either fall apart or to their rightful places. It will take men and women whom the gods want to destroy to continue to deny the way Nigeria is heading. The outcomes of the recent elections in Nigeria are too remarkable to ignore.

The story of biological evolution taught us that remarkable changes can be extremely slow, but they do take place. This is my take on Nigeria today.

As I was saying, Mr. Campbell should learn to follow the right procedures and he should not in any way think that he is special. It doesn’t matter that he was a former US envoy to Nigeria. He is human like the rest. The US embassy in Abuja and the US State Department are looking into the matter and they have protested the visa denial.

The question now is: how many protest letters shall the Nigerian Foreign Ministry or the Nigerian Embassies around the world write on behalf of the thousands of Nigerians who have been mistreated and denied entry visas to several countries around the world?

Let me begin with my own story. In 2002/2003 I was a UNESCO scholar trying to find solutions to the malaria problems in the world. I was living in Stockholm and had spent my summer holiday in London that year.

As the autumn gave way I had 2 important assignments to fulfill. One was to present a paper in Lagos, a sort of update on my research. The second was to attend the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) meeting and make a poster presentation for one of my research papers.

To cut the story short the option of travelling to the US was truncated because I was denied a US visa at the American Embassy in Stockholm. The reasons are the same old jargons; I am single and have no ties bla- bla-bla rubbish.

I have no State Department to turn to, so I wrote a strongly worded letter to the American Embassy in Stockholm. I expressed my dismay about their shocking decision to ground a UNESCO student on the Scandinavian Island based on such flimsy excuses. If the US Embassy in Stockholm cares to know, they can check my update at the Swedish tax office-it still states clearly-S-I-N-G-L-E.

When I write about my wife in my essays, it’s for the sake of simplicity. No long thing. The US embassy and other embassies around the world should learn how to respect people’s marital statuses and separate that from the purpose of visa applications.

Apart from family ties and employment, one of the several silly reasons for denying Nigerians entry or travel visas is predicated on the overblown drama surrounding some mischievous Nigerians. The truth is that Nigerians who engaged in swindling, forgery and other sorts of misdemeanors are quite negligible compared to the total population of Nigerians.

In a more realistic comparison Nigerians are contributing to the economic development of several communities and countries around the world. Such contributions are not appreciated because the Western Press dominate the airwaves and chose what to propagate. But we are not deterred; we continue to help the world through our commitments and dedication.

It pains when honest and innocent Nigerians applying for visas are lump both as economic migrants and fraudulent minds simply because they sought visa to the US, the UK and other places. Every application should be treated on its own merits. There should be clear distinctions between the roles of the embassies in foreign countries and the immigration officers on home soil.

Mr. Campbell became a victim of what I have always argued about. There are rules for visa applications which have relegated the use of common sense and discretion. Almost all the embassies in the world continue to live by the rules and that is where Campbell’s application fell flat.

It is very easy to argue also that he was denied a visa to Nigeria because of his negative comments about Nigeria.

On discretion and common sense, Mr. Campbell, in his capacity as the former US envoy to Nigeria, would probably still have been granted a visa with 6 days’ notice instead of the prescribed seven days. Unfortunately rules remain the standard for all embassy staff and visa officers. They live by it.

I wrote a story here about the French embassy denying an entry visa to someone who has probably travelled around the world, is on his way to Switzerland and only needed a Schengen visa to get to Sweden to visit family members. The rule says he must go to the Swedish embassy.

There are scores of provoking responses to my blog post on this issue and sometimes I just needed to cool off and accept that people see things from different perspectives and it is going to be impossible to impose common sense and discretion on people’s minds. People will never come to see things the same way.

Every concerned person will live with his or her own frustrations on this matter.

But as long as Nigeria last, Nigerians must begin to tell their own stories. I have written a lot about my disappointments in the Nigerian government. It is a failed government that has given rooms for so many opportunities for the promotion of negativity including maltreatment of Nigerians in embassies in Nigeria. In the midst of rife corruption and collective citizenry nonchalance, the situation persists.

Even as I try to write about other things, it is very hard to ignore the states of things in Nigeria- the primary source of our collective embarrassment.

In all I have tried to stay clear of praise worshipping because I know the interpretations that come with such. But those whose jobs it is should start promoting the likes of Fashola of Lagos. The rest of us-while appreciating the work done and contributing our quota-should never fail to let them know that there is still more work to be done. The goals are to lift our standard of living and both the value and dignity of our lives on all fronts.

To close, Mr. Campbell must be feeling the same kind of disappointment that I felt 9 years ago. Sometimes you feel that you should get something because of who you are, but you don’t. That is life, you can’t have it all. By protesting the American Embassy in Nigeria and the US State Department is protecting and looking after one of its own. Those who rule Nigeria, while it last, need to start taking care of Nigerians. That care may be an antidote to Nigeria dancing on the brink by John Campbell

SO MANY MOTHERS’ DAYS….becoming boring..!

Adeola Aderounmu

There are several mothers days that I am not totally confused. I have seen two mothers day aready in 2011. Now today the 8th of May is the mothers’ day in the US.

I have also just learnt that there is a mothers’ day on May 29 in Sweden.

Now that is about 4 mothers’ days that I know.

I think this is an issue the United Nations or UNESCO can take up.

All the dates should be analysed and a common date should be agreed upon.

Why should we be celebrating mothers’ day on several dates of the year? What is the point? It is very boring and distasteful to know that several countries celebrate mothers on different dates.

Let’s come up with one common date and make it a big one.