Osa Director is a prominent journalist and lawyer who was incarcerated during the Abacha military junta. He chose to be a ‘director’ right from the age of three, and right now is not only Managing Director but also an activist fighting for social justice.
He joined politics recently to be a senator but the game of politics seems to too hard for him to crack. He believes position of leadership should be used t better the lots of the underprivileged. He is our role model this week.
What are the lessons you learned early in life that are neccessary for a successful life?
I must thank God for my parents. They brought me up to be a focussed person giving me the opportunity to exhibit my talent and allowing me to pursue what I believe in. They always try to guide but never forced anything on you. I also learned by their examples – being very courageous person and acting very courageously. That gave me a feeling that one of the ways to succeed in life is to be courageous. Between my Dad and Mum, I don’t know which one was more blunt. Those were the lessons that gave me this pedestal, fighting for social justice and the cause of the underprivileged. I was not necessarily brought up to have everything I wanted but I had the basic things I needed – providing me with basic education. My father used to say that if it means going to borrow money to give us good education, he would do it. And to the glory of God he gave us the best education.
How did you choose your career?
With every sense of modesty, I was somebody you could described as intellectually ambidextrous. I was good in both Science and Arts. So, I had a challenge whether to read Science and Arts. It was my cousin who first threw the challenge saying that “look you’re good in Science why don’t you go read Medicine.” It was a pride to have a medical doctor in the family and it got into my head and I told myself, I would read Medicine. I went to the university and ended up reading Biochemistry. But like I usually joke – I read that for my parents. Journalism and Law were what I intended to do, and I never practised Biochemistry at all. I later went for further studies and by the grace of god today, I have six degrees spanning Law, Social Science, and Journalism etc.
So, why did you choose Law?
I was an apostle of Fawehinmism, I believe so much in the style and method of Fawehinmi. He was a role model in the legal profession. He always say that you must use Law to fight for social justice and which was in tandem with the belief and principle of the first Nigerian lawyer, Sir Sapara Williams who also felt that the Law should be used as a social engineer to enhance social justice and rule of law.
How did you come about that name “Director”?
Well, I have a native name. My father was a core nationalist; he would ask you “have you ever seen a Whiteman named Osaretin? So, why should his son bears Michael? So we were all known by our native names. But while I was growing up, the first thing I said was that I am Director. “I want to be a Director”. He found it very strange. I was between ages two and three. So he said so be it, hence the name Director.
I read quite a lot of books at my primary school level. I was in Primary 6 when I read and understood “The Man Died” which many found difficult to understand at that age. I read several other books from other authors. I also read a book called “Revolutionary suicide’ by Huey Newton. He was one of the leaders of Black Panthers Movement, a contemporary of Martin Luther King Junior. The book influenced me a lot, and that was when I dedicated myself to social struggle.
Could you mention some f the cases you have done in that regard?
One of the cases that pained me most was when I was released from detention by Abacha regime in October 1995, I went home to see my parents. On my way back, I stopped an okada to take me to a friend’s house. As he stopped by a junction, some policemen surged out to arrest him, obviously to extort money from him. And I demanded to know his offence, they could not say anything. So, I took it upon myself to intervene.
They seized his key and it became a hot argument because I insisted they return his key if they couldn’t find any offence against him. In the process, he got his key back and he rode off leaving me with the policemen. Eventually, I landed in Police station. Sometimes the people you’re fighting for don’t really appreciate what you’re doing. I was really pained. But it didn’t deter me. There are lots of other cases I took upon myself, even made substantial payment taking care of their health and other problems. Those involved might think it is an act of self praise. They might not be comfortable having them in print.
Naturally, when I see young boys and girls hawking the streets, I become touched so much that on several occasions, I had to pay for their wares without collecting any of them and let them go after interviewing them. So many of them are brilliant but with poor and unfortunate background and some driven by circumstances. And you know in the process of hawking, they can be abused.
My point is that whatever you are doing, do it with the mind set that you are not expecting a thank you from anybody. It is only God that can reward you. That has been my philosophy.
Why did you go into politics?
I really wanted to contribute my quota to the development of our society. There is this saying that a man can never say he his principled until that principle is subjected to temptation and test and he survived it. You can say you don’t take bribe but have you ever been offered bribe and you refused and how much? I have been criticising those in the corridors of power for not doing one thing or the other. I now ask myself why don’t you also give yourself that opportunity especially when you are being challenged by people holding these offices. Each time we complain they say: oh!
My friend you are not seeing what we are seeing.’ I wonder what they see when they get there. And really, there are a lot of good men who have gone into politics and never came back the same; in fact they came out worse. I am pragmatic and I don’t what to be told, I want to go there and see things for myself.
Again, a situation where you see great impact being made by governors of Lagos, Rivers, Delta, Akwa Ibom and Jigawa which does not earn more revenue than Edo, you’ll be encouraged; they are also members of my generation. So, it is possible.
If you compare the achievements of these governors with that of Oshiomhole, you will know that Oshiomhole has not done anything in Edo. I want you to go to Jigawa to see what Sule Lamido is doing, and Ondo to see what Mimiko is doing without the noise and razzmatazz Oshiomhole is deploying. He is about the only ACN governor who has not performed.
Some will say perhaps you would have been singing a different tune about the governor if you were offered appointment in his government.
Yes, I’m aware of that blackmail, that also tells you if it is true that I was not given the opportunity to join his team, it means that the man himself is not committed to progressively moving the state forward, that is why he has refused to bring people who are genuinely committed to make changes on board because they will further know his intrigues and his secrets. He doesn’t want independent and intelligent minds with him.