The Peaceful Star, By Onifade Bello

Najeem Salaam - Rt. Hon. Speaker Osun House of Assembly

It is a known truism that one cannot be gifted and not be needed. The appellation of the State of Osun as the ‘Land of Virtue’ has been accentuated close to three decades by a few personalities whose shrewd contributions to nation building have been felt within and outside the State. More than five decades ago, the breeze of thoughts kissed the scholars of Ejigbo to name the new born ‘Najeem Salaam’, literally the ‘Peaceful Star.’ Perhaps those scholars must have had a rendezvous with their colleagues in the Arabian Peninsula to have chosen such unique names for him. Behold! He has over the years practically demonstrated a personality of rectitude fueled by a wealth of divine royalty. After all, he is also ‘Folasayo’ whose ‘proven character’ has earned him ‘royalty.’ Indeed, he is Iwaloye.

Rt Hon. Najeem Salaam is a primus inter pares. Leading a 26-man legislative assembly requires astute political and administrative skills; especially when such an assembly is sited within a State so politically conscious like Osun. A legislative assembly is usually a composition of witty politicians whose robust contributions are often hinged on diverse interests. Harmonizing these diverse interests can only birth fecund results for their various constituencies when they have a leader whose prowess and knack for excellence transcends political affiliation or personal benefits. This has been the personification of Rt Hon. Salaam in leading the State of Osun House of Assembly over the years.

It is an open secret that Rt Hon. Salaam has been a catalyst to the progressive development of State of Osun; through his mutual understanding with various stakeholders in the State, notably the other arms of government. His potentials have made him a needed gift; not because he is the best but because he has been tested among the rest. Besides, you will only come to limelight in life by your potentials not necessarily by your credentials. But he has the potentials and the credentials. Although some politicians, perhaps, through enlightened ignorance or conscientious mischief, may be quibbling that a legislature not at loggerheads with other arms of government like the Executives is docile. But this perceptual inclination divorces truthful realities, especially in the pursuit of egalitarian policies which are expected to have meaningful impacts on the citizens of the State. Besides, when two elephants fight, the grasses suffer. Hence, it takes a visionary leadership like that of Rt Hon. Salaam to foster mutual intelligibility without tainting or jeopardizing the independence of the Legislature.

In time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act. In a nation where ostentatious lifestyle is ubiquitous among political office holders, Rt Hon. Salaam, despite his political status, epitomizes modesty. No wonder he downplayed a request for official cars for legislators by an Honourable member. Perhaps, our legislators at the top echelon need to emulate his modesty, especially at a time the nation has been battling with financial strait.

It is trite that if you don’t humble, you will stumble. A person’s good names travel with the wind even beyond one’s imagination. In actual fact, one’s names go beyond where one’s legs can reach; thereby bringing to the fore the Yoruba adage that ‘Iwa rere ni eso eniyan’ – ‘Good character is the adornment of a man.’ While politicians are alienated by discerning citizens due to their inglorious acts, Rt Hon. Salaam’s ennobling character has endeared him to many youths while his philanthropic generosity has earned him love among the elders. When people look up to him, he never looks down on them. He bears a countenance of simplicity; yet, he is never a simpleton.

He wears a robe of humility and dons a cap of service. No one walks without the head shaking. He surely knows where the shoe pinches him. His legislative prowess which has been synergized by incisive members of the State of Osun House of Assembly has facilitated the enactment of some invaluable bills; one of which has been a veritable tool to stimulate economic activities and prosperity in the State of Osun. Meanwhile, much is expected of his office to enlighten the masses about the pragmatic impacts of these bills. Yes, he does not like to sing his own praises; but no one knows the value of a treasure that is beneath the earth until it is unraveled. He can do more and will surely do more because it is not over until it is over.

No matter how tall a person is, he can never see the future; and no matter how good-looking he is, his radiance can never illuminate darkness. All in all, Rt Hon. Salaam seems to have dined with the American author, Maya Angelou, from whom he has practically learnt that: “when you learn, teach; when you get, give.” The future holds prospects for Iwaloye and my prayers are that: may his road be rough and may he continue to walk without stumbling. Amen.

Onifade A. Bello wrote in from University of Ibadan

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