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30 September 2010

Professor Munzali Jibril Honours Dr. Tai Solarin Today.

It was a gathering of the young and old, men and women, poor and rich, power brokers and the not-so-powerful that remembered the 16th anniversary of the demise of Dr. Tai Solarin today as Nigeria is celebrating its golden anniversary as an independent nation in less than 24 hours.

Madam Sheila Solarin, Corin Solarin, Mrs. Fola Olumide, Professor Olumide, Senator Olabiyi Durojaye, and Dr. Kalu Idika Kalu were among the dignitaries who attended the 6th Tai Solarin Annual National Memorial Lecture delivered by Professor Muhammad Munzali Jibril, OFR, at the auditorium of the Bankers House, Adeola Hopewell Street, Victoria Island today under the chairmanship of Otunba Hope Harriman, the first president of The Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers of Nigeria.    

14 September 2010

Solarins' Marriage Is 59 Years Old Today

O n the 14th day of September 1951, Tai Solarin and Sheila Tuer started a matrimonial journey that lasted 43 years by the time the husband died on 27 July 1994 at the age of 78. Sheila is now 86.

There are a few lessons learnt from this unique union of the teaching titans both before and after their wedding as revealed by Tai himself.

"Sheila and I met during my second year in the university. We went to the dance and cinema together, but I did it with the casualness that had been the trait of my relationship with all other girls I met. We were all students with some time off duty for a spree. I never proposed to any girl that I disappointed in my life.

"Any time we were together, I was surprised by the versatility of Sheila’s mind. She was a competent electrician. She could darn perfectly. She was a first-class cook and any time I commended her cooking, she always said it was nothing as compared to her sister’s. Not once could I talk about a book in those days which she had not read, or a news item she had not picked up on her own before me. In every aspect, she was my better.

"When I went to Manchester where Sheila and I got married, the ceremony took about 3 minutes. I remember carefully checking over the passage that was to be read. My wife was to obey me. I told the registrar that sentence should be deleted. I did not want her to obey me. The family would lose lots of things, having to be led imperiously by a husband of lesser intelligence. The registrar accepted my wish and the portion was deleted.

"Sheila and I have so much in common. We do not hold secrets between ourselves. We remain honest and trustworthy in our relationship with each other. If I take money out of our joint account, Sheila never asks me why or what I use it for. Like me, she does not buy clothes or jewelleries. We have no need for them.

"I can safely assume she shares my stand on religion, though we have never discussed the issue. She allows me all the degree of freedom I ever can need. I don’t need to inform her beforehand of my social crusades or my public statements or roles and yet she’s ever so supportive. I don’t have to discuss the contents of my articles to her before publication, yet she shares the tribulations with me when they do occur.

"She’s a courageous woman, very brilliant too. I respect her. I’ve never shouted at her and I’ve never raised a finger against her in the forty-plus years of our marriage. Ours has been a happy and highly successful marriage and Sheila has been a strong positive influence in my life.

"In our 43 years of married life, we have never had a day of sorrow. Ask me why not. My guess is that we spend each day as our last. We fill each day with plenty of activities in the service of others – that of course is our religion."      

01 August 2010

Corin Solarin on Nigeria, Education and Religion

Dr. Tai Solarin's first child and daughter, Corin Solarin, who came back to Nigeria permanently last year after spending 42 years in America expressed her views to "The Nation" newspaper last week Sunday, while remembering the death of his illustrious father 16 years ago.

According to Corin, Nigeria has not really achieved the democracy his father lived and died for. “We have a long way to go. We are still backward. We are no longer the country rated the best in Africa, for we lack many things and we are no longer the giant of Africa.

“We don’t have electricity and all our ability to develop cannot work without power supply. Education is affected, for the quality of our graduates is dropping. No job for people and crime rate is high, among other problems,” she observed.

Unknown to many distant observers of the Solarins, the nuclear family is a kaleidoscope of faiths. While the late Tai was a confirmed atheist, his now 86-year-old wife, Sheila, is an agnostic. Tunde is a deist while Corin says “I am a Christian. I go to church in America. I believe in God and in Jesus Christ’s teachings, but not so with my parents.”

“They have their own lives to live and I have mine to live too. I cannot preach Christ to them, for they have their own beliefs. The church I attend is in America. My parents who did not believe God are godlier than many of those who go to church every day. My parents’ behaviour cannot be faulted. They were nice and good to people. They do a great deal than those who go to church every day.  

25 July 2010

Professor Niyi Osundare on Professor Attahiru Jega and Dr. Tai Solarin

The 2011 election is already being rigged even before it ever takes place. 

How much power and control can Professor Attahiru Jega have over these government appointees?

The situation Jega is in reminds me very much of my encounter with our immortal Tai Solarin when he was given the post of Chairman of the People’s Bank. I went to him and said "Uncle Tai what is this I am hearing? Those who gave you this Greek gift are trying to destroy you and those who believe in you. Please don’t let them.” He said “Well, I’ve always been for the people. This is an opportunity to serve them." A man of good faith, he meant well. I asked if he trusted the ones asking him to serve the people; how much of the people’s friends are they really? “We know you as a man of integrity,” I told him. But what happens to a sole man of integrity who finds himself in a moral desert? This question pops back into focus as I consider the Jega appointment. I shudder when I remember that Nigeria’s moral roadside is littered with a crowd of “rubbished” professors.

Nigeria has an uncanny way of rubbishing good men and women. In fact, it’s as if this country is a cesspool and whoever is the leader will look at somebody whose clothe is still clean and do everything to drag that person into the mess. You have to have a lot of courage and integrity to be able to say no. I’m afraid, Jega is being put in a position in which he cannot exercise full power, a situation that he cannot control. How will he control the security agents who collude in the snatching of ballot boxes?

We have seen so many instances. These agents are bribeable and easily corruptible. What about the wizards of the computer room who manipulate poll figures and conduct virtual elections? What about pervasive pressures from the ruling party bent on turning Nigeria into a one-party state?

What pains me is that professors have been used to clean up the mess so many times. I think Jega would be about the fifth professor to serve as boss of the electoral commission. The only professor that has left the place untarnished is Professor Eme Awa and he ran away when he saw that he was being subjected to undue pressure. They harassed him, they intimidated him but he told them “I’m an old man; I want to go to my grave with the clean name that I’m noted for. Take your position.” They took their position. Whom did they give it to? It was another professor: Humphrey Nwosu. You remember what he did with it.

Now we have another professor as INEC chair. Professors are not trained to handle political thugs. Professors are not trained to superintend over corrupted electoral officers. How would Jega be able to do this? How many hands does Jega have? How many fingers are in each hand? How many heads stand on his shoulders? How many eyes does he have? The people who should be his eyes in the country, he does not have control over because they were not appointed by him. He has a gargantuan task ahead of him.

Only one election has succeeded in this country: the one of June 12, 1993. All the other elections were designed to fail. June 12 was designed to fail but it became a spirit as it were. It refused to die; it refused to fail. Because it refused to fail, Babangida and his clique killed it; they killed something about this country. Nigeria has not really recovered from June 12.

What about option A4 that succeeded so well on June 12, 1993? I was here, going from one polling station to another. I saw women with babies on their backs, singing, waving their ballot papers. That was democracy about to unfold. Nigeria was poised for progress. Babangida and his clique killed that dream. As I said before in another forum, if this were a true country, people like Babangida would be in jail for crime against humanity and the Nigerian dream. No crime could have been greater than that. He was responsible for the deaths of so many Nigerians, including those that were killed during the June 12 riot. But now he wants to rule again. Such unspeakable abomination!

Comrade Jega will need a miracle to succeed in this task. And I am no believer in miracles.

23 February 2010

Superior And Inferior Educational Systems?

"For a republican country to build special schools whatsoever negates the idea of republicanism, sentencing the nation’s students to terms of superior and inferior educational mints. It is a cheat to want to unite a country by keeping in one school hand-picked students by whatever method of selection.

Build not only 72 but a thousand unity schools, ten thousand unity schools, a million unity schools with better teachers, better equipment, better teaching facilities, leaving the others as colourless state schools, and you have destroyed the core of federalism in the nation.

Republicanism stands for
egalitarianism. Anything that prevents a member of a republic from benefiting from what any other republican member benefits from is corruption.

The greatest hindrance to realizing a true republic is the injection of
anomalies like unity schools, model schools, command schools, air force schools for girls into the nation’s educational system. They should all go."


12 February 2010

Private Schools To Rescue.

"It is lamentable that Nigeria of today, instead of getting its children given education free, universal and compulsory, is further re-establishing private schools and thus taking us back decades from what should be actually happening in Nigeria."