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Aregbe: The New ‘Guardian Of The Word

Have you ever been blessed to sit down with Aregbe, listening to succinct messages of development? Do you know that listening to him is a trip to the gym for the reasoning faculties? Do you know that each time he engages you, bright sparks between history and fiction illuminate new strategy to move humanity further…”
Yusuf
November 6, 2018 2:32 pm

Have you ever been blessed to sit down with Aregbe, listening to succinct messages of development? Do you know that listening to him is a trip to the gym for the reasoning faculties? Do you know that each time he engages you, bright sparks between history and fiction illuminate new strategy to move humanity further to civilization? Hurray! A new school is born. Do you know that admission into the school is in progress? Can you believe that the curriculum of this multi-campus school covers all aspects of human life…. politics, religion, science, technology? Do you know that the official matriculation of the school will be conducted on 27th November, 2018 as Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola signs out as Governor of the State in Osogbo City Stadium? Are you aware that various programmes have been lined up celebrate this man of strategy in different cities in our country as a true harbinger of development? Do you know that he is a true giant in strategy?

Do you know what it takes to be a giant in strategy? Come along, please. Strategy is a rare high-level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty. The term came into use in the 6th century AD in Roman terminology. It crept into Western vocabularies in the 18th century. It is simply a detailed way to try to pursue political ends by setting goals, determining actions to achieve the goals, and mobilizing resources to execute the actions to benefit the largest number of people. Various researchers offer their opinions on Strategy. One of them is Henry Mintzberg. He sees it as a pattern in a stream of decisions used in planning. Henrik von Scheel sees strategy as the activities to deliver a unique mix of value, choosing to perform activities differently or to perform different activities than rivals. Max Mc Keown argues clearly that “strategy is about shaping the future” and is the human attempt to get to “desirable ends with available means”.

Do you know that this stream of thought is supported by Vladimir Kvint when he defines strategy as “a system of finding, formulating, and developing a doctrine that will ensure long-term success if followed faithfully.” Richard Rumelt describes strategy as a type of problem solving design that has an underlying structure (kernel). The kernel has three parts: namely: a diagnosis that defines or explains the nature of the challenge; a guiding policy for dealing with the challenge; and coherent actions designed to carry out the guiding policy. There are variants of strategy which include but not limited to military, business and political strategy. Bruce Henderson cuts in: “Strategy depends upon the ability to foresee future consequences of present initiatives.”

In the view of F. Graetz, strategic thinking creates more value by enabling a proactive and creative dialogue, where individuals gain other people’s perspectives on critical and complex issues. Strategic thinking includes finding and developing a strategic foresight capacity for an organization, by exploring all possible organizational futures, and challenging conventional thinking to foster decision making.

Have you read the book titled: “Thinking Strategically: The Competitive Edge in Business, Politics, and Everyday Life is a non-fiction book by Indian-American economist Avinash Dixit and Barry Nalebuff, a Professor at Yale School of Management? Do you know that the book discusses issues of strategic behaviour, decision making, and game theory that are very incisive to real life and crystallizing the best options to move humanity closer to civilization? Hurray! Aregbe’s School of Leadership and Strategy is born. We all need the School to teach us lessons in Social Protection and Public Administration. Wallahi! You care for more? A time-out, please.

How do you perceive the old people in our communities now? Are you aware that before the advent of Aregbe’s administration in our State, some old but vulnerable persons were often traumatised by being accused of witchcraft and were summarily stoned to death in some rural communities? Do you know that some of these old people suffering from dementia were paraded at revival centres and hypnotized to testify that they were witches? With the advent of Aregbe’s Social Protection Programme called ‘Agba Osun’, the stories are now looking up for our old people? Aregbe’s strategy is initiating all of us, as a reflex action, the culture of love and care for the senior citizens in our State. Are you aware that in October 2016, scientists identified the maximum human life span at an average age of 115, with an absolute upper limit of 125 years? Do you know that old people deserve our collective attention? Come along, please.

The year was 1982. The General Assembly of the United Nations discussed aging. This was followed by UN Principles for Older Persons, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 16 December, 1991 in Resolution 46/91. The resolution is divided into five different clusters of relevant issues which include: independence, participation, care, self-fulfillment and dignity. On the issue of independence, the Resolution prescribes that older persons should have access to adequate food, water, shelter, clothing and health care through the provision of income, family and community support and self-help.Older persons should have the opportunity to work or to have access to other income-generating opportunities. Older persons should be able to participate in determining when and at what pace withdrawal from the labour force takes place. Older persons should have access to appropriate educational and training programmes. Older persons should be able to live in environments that are safe and adaptable to personal preferences and changing capacities. Older persons should be able to reside at home for as long as possible.

On the issue of participation, the Resolution prescribes that older persons should remain integrated in society, participate actively in the formulation and implementation of policies that directly affect their well-being and share their knowledge and skills with younger generations. Older persons should be able to seek and develop opportunities for service to the community and to serve as volunteers in positions appropriate to their interests and capabilities. Older persons should be able to form movements or associations of older persons.

On the issue of care, the Resolution prescribes that older persons should benefit from family and community care and protection in accordance with each society’s system of cultural values. Older persons should have access to health care to help them to maintain or regain the optimum level of physical, mental and emotional well- being and to prevent or delay the onset of illness. Older persons should have access to social and legal services to enhance their autonomy, protection and care. Older persons should be able to utilize appropriate levels of institutional care providing protection, rehabilitation and social and mental stimulation in a humane and secure environment. Older persons should be able to enjoy human rights and fundamental freedoms when residing in any shelter, care or treatment facility, including full respect for their dignity, beliefs, needs and privacy and for the right to make decisions about their care and the quality of their lives.

On the issue of self-fulfillment, the Resolution prescribes that older persons should be able to pursue opportunities for the full development of their potential. Older persons should have access to the educational, cultural, spiritual and recreational resources of society. On the theme of dignity, the Resolution prescribes that older persons should be able to live in dignity and security and be free of exploitation and physical or mental abuse. Older persons should be treated fairly regardless of age, gender, racial or ethnic background, disability or other status, and be valued independently of their economic contribution.

In an attempt to strengthen these objectives, Resolution 47/5 was passed in 1992. This was done by the UN General Assembly “in recognition of humanity’s demographic coming of age and the promise it holds for maturing attitudes and capabilities in social, economic, cultural and spiritual undertakings, not least for global peace and development in the next century”

This Resolution went further to declare 1999 as the International Year of Older Persons (IYOP). At the launching ceremony, the World Health Organization (WHO) called upon policy-makers to recognise the importance of population ageing and put this recognition into action. In 1999, there were some 580 million people aged 60 years and over in the world. By 2020, this number is estimated to pass over the 1 billion mark. By that time, over 700 million older people will live in developing countries alone. Nigeria has 20 per cent of its population as old people, translating to 40 million Nigerians. In a 36 State structure, there are more than one million old people living in each State including Osun . We must note that the initiative to put the life of the old people on the table of discussion came up in 1982 and was given force of law in the world in 1991, 1992 and 1999. It is curious to note that it is only Aregbe’s administration that implemented it here as part of the strategy of development. He is the only leader that draws our collective attention to the old people and their vulnerability and potentials.

Do you know that this Aregbe’s initiative was part of the glorious past of African life that Camara Laye tries to paint in his fourth book titled: “The Guardian of the Word’? Are you aware that the old man in that book was the person that narrated the invincible achievements of Sundiata, the ancient leader of Guinea to benchmark the contemporary leaders of the country and continent? Yes! Camara Laye demonstrated to us that old people can be our gold-mine. Do you know Camara Laye? Come along. An anonymous statement interludes: “When an old man dies in Africa, it is like a huge library set ablaze.”

Camara Laye was born on 1st January, 1928 and died on 4thFebruary, 1980. He was a notable African writer from Guinea. He authored “The African Child” (1953), ‘The Radiance of the King” (1956), A Dream of Africa (1966) and “The Guardian of the Word”(1978). His last novel, ‘The Guardian of the Word’ relates the events surrounding the rise and reign of Sundiata, a 13thcentury Guinean leader venerated to be one of the best leaders in the world. The book under review is a true account that reflects a story narrated to Camara Laye by an old griot, a traditional storyteller in Guinea….” The Guardian of the Word” . This old man played an important role for his people by keeping alive their political and social history. This oral tradition, handed down from generation to generation, survived the colonial period. Since independence, it has been revived by Africans seeking to understand their past more fully. Camara Laye’s novel is one such effort. In 1963, he recorded the words of an old man named Babu Conde. He transcribed the recordings and made a popular book out of the story. Today, the book is a leading authority on the history of Guinea and Africa as a continent, fetching fame and money.

The book’s central story deals with genealogy and a history of earlier rulers. The griot narrated the miracles and adventures that made Sundiata’s life legendary. He revealed how Sundiata’s mother, Sogolon, ugly and hunch-backed, married Maghan Kon Fatta. To this aging ruler and his mysterious second wife, Sundiata was born during a violent storm. He revealed in the story thtin spite of the prophecies heralding his birth, Sundiata appeared at first to be a disappointment. Unable to walk until he reached the age of ten, the boy only then began to fulfill his destined promise and became celebrated across the world. Today, through the recording of oral history by Camara Laye, Guineans are now marketing a good historical epoch. We must quip to ask: “How many Babu Conde do in our communities have we stoned to death directly or through hunger and neglect? Camara Laye regrets in “The Guardian of the Word” by saying: “African politicians make politics a bloody massacre and make non-Africans to laugh at the immaturity of Africa.”

Do you know that the performance of Aregbe has changed the narratives of bad leadership in our State, our country and continent? Today, our State hooks to international best practices in governance. Do you know that the ‘Agba Osun’ Initiative of Aregbe has reversed blackmailing of old people as witches and wizards in our communities? We have to join him to care for these old people. Why? Come along, please.

Old age is the end of the human life cycle. Old people have limited regenerative abilities and are more susceptible to disease, syndromes, injuries and sickness than younger adults. Do you know that the organic process of ageing is called senescence? Are you aware that the medical study of the aging process is called gerontology? Do you know that the study of diseases that afflict the elderly is called geriatrics? The voice of Georges Minois writing on the first Egyptian scribe who lived 4,500 years ago, talking about his old age in a prayer addressed to God:

“O Sovereign my Lord! Oldness has come; old age has descended. Feebleness has arrived; dotage is here anew. The heart sleeps wearily every day. The eyes are weak, the ears are deaf, the strength is disappearing because of weariness of the heart and the mouth is silent and cannot speak. The heart is forgetful and cannot recall yesterday. The bone suffers old age. Good is become evil. All taste is gone. What old age does to men is evil in every respect.”
Are you aware that the combined misery of old age popularized the 16th-century Utopias of Thomas More and Antonio de Guevara? The two authors depicted fictional lands which did not allow decrepit of old people. In the thesis of Thomas More, on the Island of Utopia, when people were so old as to have “out-lived themselves” and are terminally ill, in pain, and a burden to everyone, the priests exhorted them about choosing to die or assisted to die. The imaginary priests assured them that “they shall be happy after death.”In the book, If they choose to die, they would end their lives by starvation or by taking opium to perfect euthanasia.

The Utopia of Old Age by Antonio de Guevara did not celebrate nor tolerate old age at all. In that fiction, the land “had a custom, not to live longer than sixty five years”. At that age, in Antonio de Guevara’s utopian world, they practiced self-immolation as an act of worship. Do you know that Antonio de Guevara was a Bishop? Rather than condemn the practice, Bishop Guevara called it a “golden world” in which people “have overcome the natural appetite to desire to live”.Joan Erikson captured the situation of old people in Osun before the advent of Aregbe as he declares: “aged individuals are often ostracized, neglected, and overlooked; elders are seen no longer as bearers of wisdom but as embodiments of shame.”

Today, it is a common knowledge that the elderly people face other social issues around retirement, loneliness, and ageism. In 2011, the United Nations proposed a human rights convention that would specifically protect older persons. The United Nations has agreed that 65+ years may be usually denoted as old age. However, for its study of old age in Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) sets 55 as the beginning of old age. Gerontologists have recognized the conditions that people experience as they grow older within the years defined as old age. In developed countries, most people in their 60s and early 70s are still fit, active, and able to care for themselves. However, after 75, they will become increasingly frail, a condition marked by serious mental and physical debilitation. Therefore, rather than lumping together all people who have been defined as old, some gerontologists have recognized the diversity of old age by defining sub-groups among them.

Do you know that Social Gerontology lists four dimensions: chronological, biological, psychological, and social dimensions of ageing? Do you know that there is the need to popularize the construction of old people’s homes in our communities now to arrest the rising tide of abandonment of old people? Do you know that in the United States, the standard retirement age is currently 66 (gradually increasing to 67)? Are you aware that In Canada, the Old Age Security(OAS) pension is available at 65 (the Conservative government of Stephen Harper had planned to gradually increase the age of eligibility to 67, starting in the years 2023–2029)? We must act here too. We must not leave Aregbe to it alone.

Do you know that the care for ‘Agba Osun’ and other social protection schemes of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola can easily make him to win the popular Mo Ibrahim Leadership Prize, if he were to be the President of our country? Who is Mo Ibrahim? Enjoy this time-out.

Mo Ibrahim’s Leadership Prize in Africa was founded by Mo Ibrahim, a Sudanese and billionaire businessman and philanthropist, who founded the telecommunications company Celtel International in 1998. Ibrahim is the chairman. The Foundation’s secretariat is based in London. The aims of the foundation are to “bring about meaningful change on the continent, by providing tools to support progress in leadership and governance”. The Foundation focuses on defining, assessing and enhancing governance and leadership in Africa. The Ibrahim Prize celebrates excellence in African leadership. It is awarded to a former Executive Head of State or Government by an independent Prize Committee composed of eminent figures, including two Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. The Ibrahim Prize recognises and celebrates African leaders who have developed their countries, lifted people out of poverty and paved the way for sustainable and equitable prosperity highlights exceptional role models for the continent ensures that Africa continues to benefit from the experience and expertise of exceptional leaders when they leave national office, by enabling them to continue in other public roles on the continent.

With a $5 million initial payment, plus $200,000 a year for life, the Prize is believed to be the world’s largest, exceeding the $1.3m Nobel Peace Prize. In 2007 the inaugural Prize was awarded to former President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, for “his role in leading Mozambique from conflict to peace and democracy.” Nelson Mandela was also made an Honorary Laureate in recognition of his extraordinary leadership qualities and achievements. In 2008 Festus Mogae, former leader of Botswana, won the Ibrahim Prize. Curiously, in 2009 the Prize Committee did not select a winner as no African leader was fit enough to win the prize. In 2010, the Prize Committee decided not to award the prize to prove that the standards set for the prize were high. In 2011, the Prize was awarded to Pedro Pires, former President of Cape Verde. The prize emphasizes human safety, rule of law, participation and human rights, sustainable economic opportunity and human development. It is on record that all Aregbe’s programmes would fly high if they are bench-marked by the international standard set forth by Mo Ibrahim. In 2015 and 2016, there were no African leaders that were awarded. But in 2017, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia won the prize for helping to guide her nation towards a peaceful and democratic future, paving the way for her successor to follow in very difficult circumstances. Aregbe has done all these and more. Today, his name has been engraved in the Hall of Fame for our State and country.

Almighty God has blessed your return home and a preparation for a higher task and strategy. We rejoice with you on all fronts. You are indeed a study of sort…. a lesson in service to humanity. Welcome home! Our new : “ Guardian of the Word’ .

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