By Emmanuel Ajibulu
Without mincing words, the stalwart of Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), Hon. (Comrade) Joseph Iranola Akinlaja is unequivocally a unique politician who has laid a solid legacy for which his name will remain ever indelible on the sand of time in Sub-Saharan Africa.
He is indeed a man who will always be miles ahead his peers because of the patriotic nature of his struggle right from his trade unionism days having rose to the position of General Secretary of Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Deputy President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), (at a time when Comrade Adams Oshiomhole held sway as the substantive President of NLC); and much later, as Federal Parliamentarian for 8 consecutive years, through an uncommon goodwill he enjoyed from the principled people of Ondo East and West Federal Constituency of Ondo State who kindly gave him the opportunity to serve them in that capacity for two terms.
Akinlaja in his generosity and inclusive leadership style is a man that belongs to everybody and as well to anybody who believes in his cause and ideology. Impressively, this unique leader has a style that enables any of his followers to personalise ownership of him. His inauguration as Ondo State Chairman of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) on Saturday, January 25, 2020 simply came as an icing on the cake, putting into account the numerous milestones and feats he has achieved in the past as a seasoned administrator both in the private and public sectors.
He has a clean record of not betraying anyone as well as not forgetting those who have been there for him one way or the other; and if he believes in you, he stands by you till the end even if he is the only one that gives in to your cause. He is a quintessential mentor and a trailblazer; Akinlaja believes in win-win and never engages in do-or-die politics. His humanitarian ideology rejects blood-politicking or life wasting exercise as commonly practiced by some overzealous and vicious politicians who have no respect for sanctity of life.
Akinlaja’s discoveries of best hands for the jobs are based on careful observation and insights with clear consideration for competence and more importantly without bias or prejudice. His love for Nigeria and particularly Ondo State surpasses his biggest ambition. He is not just a political leader but an entrepreneur who has established viable economic platforms for people’s aspirations to thrive and for the provision of social safety nets for qualified, trainable and employable youths at different levels.
He is not a brand made for greed as his life is an embodiment of public good and interest which is very rare in our body politic. Whatever Akinlaja owns is for public service, even his personal residence is open to the people where the rich and the poor usually converge for their respective intents.
Precisely on Monday, June 1, 2020, Hon Joseph Iranola Akinlaja will be 70 years old to the glory of God. How best can a man like this be honoured whose words have become that of a ‘Traditional Oracle’ for not just his followers but the general political class and Labour movement in the country. His finest quality lies in his ability to quickly forgive; a large heart but clothed in children’s spirit. The youth of today must learn a lot from this amazing political enigma and ensure that such attractive legacies and virtues of his, become a national model for the coming generation.
The army of our youths in Nigeria not just in Ondo State must eschew bitterness; learn the beautiful and enviable ‘doctrines’ established by Hon Joseph Akinlaja on leadership, unionism and governance. The Yoruba race does not honour a hero alive; however, we can kill the old norm to ensure a successful transition of legendary accomplishments from a living hero to a successive generation which is then bound to produce multiples of such greatness in the future.
However, what this generation must also passionately consider at a time like this is to honour this great and moral icon, Hon Joseph Akinlaja for his illustrious achievements, and ensure to get the best of his finest secrets for greatness as rare resource for leadership library. In future, generation unborn will then have access to documented records in our historical archive of our heroes past.
This higly revered and cherished Life Patron/Technical Consultant to Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) Branch of NUPENG will no doubt be remembered for his foresight, wisdom and unusual capacity to organise and mobilise people as well as resources in actualising positive results both in leadership and administration. Ekimogun is indeed blessed to have a moral icon like him in her fold.
Emmanuel Ajibulu wrote from Lagos, he is an Infoprenueur, Writer, Online Publisher and Trade Unionist.