“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.
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!
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.
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?