Engineer Wale Olasinde’s Golden Anniversary was held recently, on Saturday October 1, to be precise. In this interview with OSUN DEFENDER Magazine, the celebrant, a mechanical engineer of great pedigree, views his sharing birthday with Nigeria as a rare blessing that transcends mere coincidence. He however sounds a prophetic note, as he rains anniversary blessings on Osun State, Nigeria and the people. Excerpts:
OSDM: Kindly introduce yourself to our teeming readers.
Olasinde: I am Engineer Olawale Olasinde,from Iree Osun State; My parents are Pastor Theophilus Iyiola Olasinde and Mrs. Rachel Ibironke Olasinde; born at Baptist Welfare Center Iree on the 1st anniversary of Nigeria’s Independence.
OSDM: You were born on Nigeria’s first independence anniversary. How exactly do you feel about this?
Olasinde: I feel great sharing the same birthday with my country, Nigeria.
OSDM: What is the symbolism of age fifty; and how exactly do you feel reaching the Golden Age?
Olasinde: 50 in Biblical terms is year of jubilee. It signifies liberty and freedom. It is also the entrance age to the club of the Elders. I feel happy and grateful to God for the grace of reaching the age especially in Nigeria with all the challenges of life.
OSDM: Do anniversaries like independence have any bearing with the lives of people whose birthdays fall on their dates or is it a mere coincidence?
Olasinde: For me I do not see it as mere coincidence. “The steps of the righteous are ordered by God”. Everything happens by divine providence. My being born on that day ordained a divine purpose on me.
OSDM: Specifically, let’s see how independence has impacted your life.
Olasinde: I took it as a challenge to be a specimen God, my nation and my family will be proud of.
OSDM: What were the events, people and milestones which gave you inspiration, both as a growing youth and as a grown-up adult, to be proud to be a Nigerian?
Olasinde: I became conscious of the significance of the anniversary since1970 when I was in Primary Four at Baptist Day School Eeko osin, each year we (Nigeria & Myself) celebrate; I used the occasion for thanksgiving, sober reflection, and commitment to see us better as independent nation and nationals.
OSDM: Are there causes to still celebrate Nigeria on occasions like this?
Olasinde: Yes of course. Especially looking back to the challenges the nation has faced.
OSDM: Then independence celebrations should be reserved only for patriots?
Olasinde: For all of us in Nigeria even those associated with it, the Bible says pray for the good of Jerusalem those who love her will do good. This is our own Jerusalem there is no progress and prosperity where there is no peace.
OSDM: Kindly conduct an assessment of Nigeria at 51. How has the journey been?
Olasinde: Tempestuous and Torturous
OSDM: Has the Nigerian experience had any spillover effects whatsoever on your accomplishments in life?
Olasinde: Yes, environmental challenges .We are all limited by the macro-economic situations. The political situation, perceptions by other nations, instability, infrastructural decay, etc
OSDM: What in your own view is the way forward for Nigeria?
Olasinde: Nigerians should be ready to fix Nigeria. No foreigner will fix our country for us. We should take responsibility for our situations and be patriotic. We should redefine national interest and rediscover our pride. Emerging economies of the world; nations like China and India were consistent over the years, focusing on developing what is good for their nations
Why should Nigeria be importing fuel after so many years of oil exploration/exploitation. Why is our Railway not working?
OSDM: Now let us come home to Osun State, the state marked its 20th Year anniversary recently. How do you describe Osun State at 20?
Olasinde: Osun is ready to make progress. All hands must be on deck to make us turn the state around. Depending on monthly allocation can not bring progress. We should support the visionary leader in government to create enabling environment that will add value to our natural endowment – agriculture and commerce. With increase in the economic activities, Internally Generated Revenue will increase and the State will be developed, and her people will be happy.
OSDM: What has the state done right so far and what have been its shortcomings?
Olasinde: The state has made some progress over the years; no doubt, but the growth was limited by resource availability and management. Priority and value were the challenges. We should refocus our efforts on greatest good for the majority of our people. This was the legacy practised by the founding fathers of Western Nigeria, and it brought growth pride and respect to us as a people.
OSDM: Considering the common description of Nigeria as a toddler, even at 51, do you agree with this description?
Olasinde: Yes and No. The country made some progress, but when compared with some other nations and with our abundant human and material resources. According to Epictetus “No man is free who is not master of himself.” We fall short of expectation in the area of development. We still depend on other nations for basic things of life like food. When you contrast the nation against what the society expects from a 51-year-old adult, then the challenges we are facing on issues of infrastructures and feeding the nation becomes a disgrace.
OSDM: Last year, November precisely, Engineer Rauf Aregbesola became the Governor of your state after a legal tussle lasting three and a half years. How did you feel about an engineer, your professional colleague, becoming a governor in this part of the country?
Olasinde: I felt great, especially, that he was able to make it despite all the odds stacked against him. Some other people would have given up – especially with discrimination against Polytechnic graduates – remember his achievement in Lagos as Commissioner of Works made the state a reference point in Nigeria. He is a model dogged fighter worthy to emulate.
OSDM: What is your honest appraisal of Aregbesola’s first 10 months in office?
Olasinde: The government has achieved a lot within 10 months
Olasinde: Peace, job creation through OYES; revival of our value system through launching of Ipinle Omoluabi, entrenchment of democratic values demonstrated in resolving the last strike, breakthrough in bilateral agreement with foreign investors etc Hope of the people are restored and satisfaction is evident, the newly-employed, the pensioners, and even the state workers should be happy, others will be manifested soon
OSDM: You have obvious interest in politics?
Olasinde: Everybody is a political animal; we should all be interested in how we are governed; and how our resources are managed.
OSDM: What are your comments on the political culture of Iree, your town of origin and Osun State, vis-à-vis accountability in the true context?
Olasinde: “Righteousness exalts a nation: sin is a reproach to a people.” Love, justice, truth and sincerity is in short supply. The land needs healing.
OSDM: Send an independence anniversary greeting to your own people.
Olasinde: I wish Nigeria many happy returns in peace, justice, progress and prosperity.
OSDM: On this anniversary, Nigeria needs blessing from a co-celebrant. Let’s have it.
Olasinde: May the Lord set us free indeed, and give us strength to rebuild Nigeria in Jesus’ name.