Prince Tajudeen Olusi, prominent politician and Lagos community leader, celebrates his 80th birthday this week. Group Political Editor EMMANUEL OLADESU writes on the political career of the colossus and the lessons the younger generation can learn from his footsteps.
What he has not released to the public is his autobiography. But, the story of his life is on the lips of many Lagosians. Hale and hearty, Tajudeen Oluyole Olusi, a prince of Lagos, prominent politician, community leader and servant of Allah, has cause to roll out the drums in celebration of his 80th birthday.
Apart from the fact that God has granted him long life, the political colossus has lived a productive life as a blue blood, public servant and Muslim icon. Highly disciplined, resourceful and thoughtful, Olusi has made marks as a counsellor, federal legislator, commissioner, party elder and elder statesman. The prince has led a life of integrity. Despite his long sojourn in politics, it is to his credit that his career has never been tainted with scandals.
Olusi has earned respect as a progressive, who is loyal to the creed of Awoism and the cause of Lagos State. He is a custodian of political history and etiquette, consistent and consensus-driven. In the period of tension, the wise counsels of Olusi and his compatriots-Oba Olatunji Hamzat, Alhaji Busura Alebiosu, Alhaji Akanni Seriki-Bamu, the late Alhaji Suarau, the late Pa Whenu Hundenyin, the late Alhaji Sikiru Shitta-Bey, the late Chief Rafiu Jafojo, Prince Murphy Adetoro, Olorunfunmi Basorun, Alhaji M.A. Taiwo and Chief Rabiu Oluwa – have always fostered reconciliation and consensus building in the Lagos chapters of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the Alliance for Democracy (AD).
The Lagos prince is a chieftain of the Afenifere camp, led by Senator Ayo Fasanmi, who was selected as the deputy leader by the majority of members, following the ‘Akure Declaration’ on the AD crisis by the Acting Leader, Pa Rueben Fasoranti, which enraged the Fasanmi/Tinubu/Akande/Osoba/Durojaye camp.
During the pre-reconciliation meeting in the Ikenne home of the late sage, the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the matriarch, Yeyeoba Hannah Awolowo, on sighting Olusi, described him as a loyal, gentle, quiet, easy going political son of Awolowo, who also has the traits of a diplomat. At the meeting were Tinubu, the late Alhaji Lam Adesina, Chief Bisi Akande, Chief Segun Osoba, Chief Michael Koleoso, and the late Rev. Tunji Adebiyi. When Mama Awolowo was informed that Olusi would represent the faction, led by Fasanmi, at the peace meeting slated for the next day, she retorted: “Ha, Olusi, omo Oba Eko. Ko ni soro o. A kan maa woyin ni o (Olusi, prince of Lagos will not say anything. He will just be looking at you people)
Olusi is proud of his royal birth. He is kingly, not only in height, but also in public conduct. It could be argued that life for him has been full of ups and downs. For the bright side of life, he is grateful to his Creator. Self-actualisation may still be elusive in certain areas of life. But in the period of vicissitudes, he was undaunted and hopeful as he bore temporary political setbacks with philosophical calmness and understanding that tough times never lasted; only tough characters had a chance of survival.
October 13, 1936 was a remarkable day in the life of his illustrious father, the late Oba Sanusi Matiku Olusi. That was when the monarch’s wife, Princess Kabitu Asake Olusi, delivered the bouncing baby boy at Dr. Akinola Maja’s Hospital, Ita Akanni, Lagos. A progressive and religious ruler, Oba Olusi understood the value of education. Therefore, he enrolled his son, Tajudeen, at the Baptist Primary School, Araromi, Lagos. Later, the young prince proceeded to Ansar-Ud-Deen Primary School, Alakoro. Then, a tragic incident occurred. Before he could complete his primary education in 1947, his father had died two years earlier. He went to United Middle School, Tamale, Ghana between 1952 and 1954, emerging as one of the best students. Later, he returned home for further education on scholarship at the famous Ansar-Ud-Deen Collge, Isolo, between 1955 and 1958. Between 1959 and 1960, Olusi was at the Lagos Centre for Higher Studies. He completed his education at the Yaba College of Technology, Lagos.
The eminent Lagosian began his working career at the defunct Lagos Town Council as a clerk. That was in 1959. He was at the council between 1959 and 1962. As a council staff, he was perceived as a big boy. At that stage, Olusi started shouldering enormous family and community responsibilities. Later, he worked at ESSO, which has now merged with Oando, as an Assistant Employee Relations Officer between 1964 and 1968.
Olusi was fascinated by the Action Group (AG), led by the Obafemi Awolowo. On its platform, he won a councillorship seat at the Lagos Town Council in October 1962. He was 26. Having distinguished himself as a true representative of his ward, he was re-elected. It was around around that period that he assisted his cousin, Rilwan Aremu Akiolu, who is now the Eleko of Lagos, to be recruited into the Nigerian Police. Olusi’s contemporaries at the council were the late Chief Ganiyu Dawodu and the late Chief Adeyemi Lawson, who later stepped down as chairman. The prince was a councillor until the coup of 1966, which drew the curtains on the First Republic.
Unlike many politicians of today, Olusi had a second address. Following the sack of the councillors by the military, he went back to his business, which he has been running successfully. In recognition of his popularity and personal worth, the military governor, Brig-Gen. Mobolaji Johnson, appointed him as a member of the council’s caretaker committee. He served until 1975.
In 1976, Olusi, a member of the Committee of Friends loyal to Awolowo, contested for the councillorship and won on a non-party basis. Parliamentary system had been introduced into the council administration by the Obasanjo regime, following the Etsu Nupe Ndayako Report on Council Reforms. Although he won the in-house contest for the council chairmanship by 17 votes to 13,the election was annulled by the military. He was denied the opportunity to serve as chairman because he was very close to Awolowo. The people of the council were enraged. But, they dare not challenge a regime that brooked no opposition.
Three years later, when the ban on politics was lifted, Olusi was a founding member of the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN). He was the first Lagos Division Secretary of the party. In 1979, he became a member of the House of Representatives from Lagos South Constituency. He was 43. He was a member of the Rules and Business, Social Welfare and Veteran’s Affairs Committee. The former legislator led committees of the House on various missions both in Nigeria and abroad. In 1982, he led the House delegation to the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane, Australia. Although he was re-elected in 1993, his tenure came to an abrupt end, following the military coup.
The truncation of democracy did not herald political retirement for Olusi. In 1990, he was a key figure in the progressive fold who midwife the SDP in Lagos State. He was elected as the vice chairman, and later chairman, until 1993 when the military terminated the Third Republic. Olusi was a prominent member of Primose, led by Chief Dapo Sarunmi. Other members included Senator Bola Tinubu, the Asiwaju of Lagos, Hamzat, Alebiosu, the late Prince Ademola Adeniji-Adele, Hon. Omotilewa Aro-Lambo and Hon. Olufemi Lanlehin. The group fought the SDP camp, led by former Lagos State Governor Lateef Jakande, to a standstill during the struggle for the governorship ticket between Sarunmi and the late Professor Femi Agbalajobi. When both aspirants were disqualified by the military, the two camps threw up Abiodun Ogunleye and Yomi Edu. Although Edu won the ticket, he lost the general election to the National Republican Convention (NRC) candidate, the late Chief Michael Otedola.
Later, there was a split in Primose, following the decision of Sarunmi to serve as the Secretary(minister) for Communication under the Interim Administration headed by Chief Ernest Shonekan. The group to which Olusi belonged was agitating for the revalidation of the June 12, 1993 presidential election results and the restoration of the annulled mandate of the late Chief Moshood Abiola. The split led to the birth of the Justice Forum.
In 1994, Olusi was appointed as Commissioner for Commerce and Industry by Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola. The former Secretary to Government, Mr. Fidelis Adeyemi, described him as the informal leader of the cabinet because of his experience. His colleagues in the State Executive Council were Agbalajobi, the late Mr. Funsho Williams, Prof. Ekundayo Simpson, Abel Yusuf and Ogunleye.
In 1998, Olusi naturally became a chieftain of the AD. It was the party to beat. He was among the leaders who worked for the emergence of Tinubu as governor in 1999. Unfortunately, crisis hit the party, shortly after the election. The party chairman, Dawodu, was at loggerheads with the governor. During the post-election party congress, the Justice Forum rallied support for Ogunleye, who succeeded Dawodu as the chairman.
In 2007, the AD was under the federal threat. Lagos AD leaders anticipated the danger. Thus, they were the first to embrace the formation of the Action Congress (AC). Olusi later became its National Vice Chairman (Southwest). When the political earthquake swept the region in 2003, only Lagos survived the onslaught. But, the zone later regained the lost states of Ogun, Oyo, Osun, and Ekiti. Currently, Olusi is the apex leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Lagos Central District.
Olusi also has a track record of community service. He is a grassroots mobiliser, organiser and father figure. He is a life member of the Boys Scout. He was the first National Vice President of the Zumratu Islamiyyah Society of Nigeria. Currently, he is the National President of the society.
The community leader was a member of the Lagos State Council of Arts and Culture for about five years. He was a member of the Governing Board of the defunct Muslim Teachers College, Surulere as a government’s nominee between 1962 and 1965. He was the first General secretary of the Muslim Students Society, Lagos at its inception. He was a member of the Education and Service Committee, School of Nursing, Lagos (1972-1979); member, Special Committee on the History of Lagos; Chairman, Lagos Island Adult education Committee; Chairman, Cabinet Committee and Amirul Hajj, Lagos State (1994); Amirul Hajj for Lagos State(1995); Director, Eko Hotels Ltd; and Chairman, Asake Nig. Ltd).
Olusi is the Mogaji (Head) of Oba Sanusi Olusi family and the Head of Yeru branch of the Akinsemonyin Ruling House, Lagos. He is the Baba Adinni of Oke-Arin Mosque and the Baba-Oba of Apa Kingdom, Badagry Division.
Source : ThenationonlineThenationonline