Dear President Jonathan,
Mr. Odia Ofeimun and I are not the best of pals. Neither are we the worst of it. For one with whom I have had many mental public skirmishes, I am not his likely promoter for this venture about which I am not well known either. But he possesses striking qualities that most recommend him for this vacant job of Education Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It is not because Mr. Odia Ofeimun, a trained political scientist, journalist, poet and avowed creative writer wrote of you in his political treatise, Taking Nigeria Seriously dedicated to you in part, Mr. President, saying: … ‘’… and Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the President who had it in him to stand by his promise’’ that I am recommending him either. More than anything else, I recommend Mr. Odia Ofeimun as a ready man awaiting the golden opportunity to make good his study, his social laboratory observatory of understanding the peculiar Nigerian malaise, his practice, and deep involvements in matters that trouble Nigeria; education being one of his most avowed interests.
I recommend him because of his acutely original mind on any matter he lends it to. A mind unaffected by an earlier tragedy of dropping out of school in Class three on account of inability to pay his school fees, and had to be left alone to make it up to himself having acquired functional and applicable literacy.
The discovery of the private library of an uncle abroad put away from prying eyes which he invaded, rescued him redemptively. He discovered reading and found writers and thereupon decided to beat their path. He wrote his School Certificate Examinations as an external student out of school and passed, ironically failing to pass Literature creditably as a factory hand, the subject and practice that have defined his life pursuit unwaveringly.
He moved on to the University College Ibadan to study Political Science till he Mastered it academically and practically when he had the paid employment opportunity of practising it as the Private Secretary under one of Nigeria’s most determined and desperate politicians, Chief Obafemi Awolowo; under whom he further appreciated and learnt the workings of the mind of this great Apostle of Free Education. This is besides Mr. Ofeimun writing his Post graduate thesis on Party formation.
This is the added reason for which I recommend him as Education Minister. He has learnt greatly from understudying a political master and successful practitioner of free education in whom was a good dose of can-do spirit that propelled the well acknowledged accomplishment. More than most Awo mouthers, Mr. Odia Ofeimun has imbibed the spirit and letter of the mind of the man; howbeit also its associative consequences.
Being a well-lettered man with enduring proofs many and enduring literary works that would outlast him for their ambitious and humanising themes connecting humankind, a poet who has enlarged the vocal chord of his poetry to the theatrical stage in poetic dance drama across the nation as a way of circulating and democratising poetry beyond private closets.
A Journalist who turned editorials and column writing into National blackboards for public learning, and articles into readers and researchers treasured finds, was also the former President of the Association of Nigerian Authors who lifted discourse and vision for the Association away from academic sterility. All of these squarely locate him within the sphere of the vacant job as Minister of Education; coupled with his solid ties with Nigerians and diasporic Nigerian academics and the lettered with whom he is well-associated and highly referenced as a well-respected off-Campus intellectual of great public worth.
President Jonathan, Mr. Odia Ofeimun being from Edo State and therefore of the South-South (Niger Delta) – though he is far more Nigerian in outlook- he would most certainly be a huge asset for your cabinet in general for his profusion of ideas and the capacity to answer the HOW question which many have little capacity for. He would also help you put a lie to the face of the not-too sterling performance of Ministers from your geographical Nigeria in your government. He would no doubt do you proud if you have the capacity to manage men of boisterous ideas as your cabinet seems littered with many quiet spirits like yours.
Consider this, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as an unsolicited recommendation of Mr. Odia Ofeimun by his well-known idea opposer and literary colleague.
Author, Our Unspoken Ties (2001); The Weight of Waiting (2009), a former Chairman, Association of Nigerian Authors, Lagos, is Cause Championing Brand Communications Consultant at Reputations Consulting, Lagos. You can also reach me by email via firstname.lastname@example.org