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A toast to my dad, Baba Politicos, at 80

A toast to my dad, Baba Politicos, at 80
May 27
14:00 2024

BY OLUSOLA SANNI

It is a privilege to have been born into the House of Agboola Sanni. It is a modest home where there is Spartan discipline, and everyone knows the guiding rules.

It is a family that is modelled around the traditional non-nuclear format. At every point it time, we had relatives who became members of the family; and so, the carbon trail of the House of Agboola Sanni permeates our extended family tree.

It is a home where the matriarch, our Mum, Mrs Taiwo Patience Sanni (now of blessed memory) opened the doors of her heart to welcome every new non-nuclear member of the family.

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Indeed, what we call family is bigger than our Sanni Areago bloodline.

Our patriarch, our dad, Alhaji Agboola Sanni is a man in whose world there is a limitless space to accommodate everyone.

In the space of 80 years, expectedly, our Dad, who we fondly call Baba, is a man of many parts.

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He cherishes his Ijesha identity as would, naturally, anyone with the Omo-Owa progeny.

For a man who belongs to the second generation of Ijesha elite circle, my Dad finds pride in telling anyone around him the Ijesha parallel of any inspiring civilization or narrative that exists around the globe.

He is widely travelled and possesses a constellation of ideas in humanities and philosophy, yet he has a magnetic connection with the basic precepts of life in agreement with the Seneca’s philosophical leaning that virtue is sufficient for human happiness.

My Dad is a Stoic.

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His disposition to life is the attainment of faith in God as the ultimate Decider of all affairs, for which an has little or no control over.

He has an eternal sense of contentment and gratitude with every situation that he finds himself, and he often tells me that his biggest treasure is in upholding his faith in the One true God.

“All that I have is La ilaha illallah,” he often says.

Not many people in his generation have enjoyed a rich career as he does professionally as a journalist and secondarily as a politician.

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His career in journalism started in the Nigerian Tribune and, later, The Punch newspapers; and he is never short of appreciation to his first boss on the job, in the person of the late Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande, who tutored and mentored him in his career as a journalist.

“LKJ believed in my writing skills and believed in my career in journalism, such that he treated and rated me far above my peers in the profession,” he says.

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My Dad remains in the pantheon of fiery Political Editors in the Nigerian Tribune and till this day, his Pen Name: Politicos remains household, not just in the Tribune establishment but the journalism profession in Nigeria.

If Lateef Jakande is his entry point into journalism, it is even more profound that his gateway into politics was through the Awolowo group known as Committee of Friends in the late 1970s into the early 80s.

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My Dad loves to tell the Awolowo story. His belief in constructive politics in Nigeria waned because, “what manner of a country would have the option of Awolowo as President and go against it?”

I love to listen to the conversation when he and Baba Felix Adenaike sit to share their experiences as members of Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s Committee of Friends group.  Of course, they both see Chief Awolowo as a father figure and have an imperishable conviction in his political ideology.

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In the two vocations that defined his active years – journalism and politics, my Dad neither became an Editor nor sought an elective office, even when he had the opportunity for both.

He did not become an Editor because, as he told me LKJ said to him: “the Political Editor of The Guardian (of London) sits on the panel to interview an Editor for the paper.” My Dad believes that a good newspaper Reporter has better prospects to build a network of contacts than an Editor who sits at the terminal end of the professional ladder.

On why he did not opt for an elective position, he told me of his experience during the 1989 Constituent Assembly election to draft a constitution for the country that was to ease the military out of power.

He told me that he was the choice of leaders from our Ife/Ijesha axis part of the world for the election, even against his desire. But in order to please the leaders who had nominated him, he agreed to contest for the position.

However, he soon opted out because his nature could not withstand the  personality compromise that comes with seeking an elective position. That is my Dad for you!

My Dad has many children. The bigger numbers of them are found in the children that he acquired in his career as a journalist and in politics. All of them, alongside us, his biological children, belong to the one big House of Agboola Sanni.

And, on behalf of us all, I make a toast to our Dad on his 80th birthday anniversary.

Sanni writes from Ibadan on behalf of the House of Agboola Sanni.



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