February 12, 2022

Shonekan: Legacy.

The passing of any man is to be mourned. So I join with those who mourn the passing of Pa Shonekan. I want to share a lesson from his life.
If I have to title it, I would say "Not all that glitters is Gold" There is fake Gold, in Yoruba, we call it 'Panda'. I'm Egba from Abeokuta. So is Shonekan, and MKO Abiola. Up till 1993, both were highly regarded successful businessmen in Nigeria. MKO was a Successful Private Businessman, Shonekan was CEO of the UAC group and he sat on the Economic Advisory Council of IBB. UAC then was a giant Conglomerate, and the voice the head of UAC was regarded in Nigerian Business Space. MKO was Bobagunwa of Egbaland [Bobagunwa means One who reigns with the King]. Shonekan was Abese of Egbaland [Abese literally means the Man with Connections]. Both were High Chiefs of Egba but were not necessarily personal friends. Came 1993. MKO won a Presidential election which IBB annulled. In order to save face, IBB was looking for a Southerner to head an Interim Government, which he had designed to fail by leaving Abacha behind in the Military, a deliberate act he later referred to as 'little mischief" according to Obasanjo.When rumours had it that Shonekan was tipped to Head the Interim Government, many well-meaning legitimate Egba people Counselled him against it. A delegation of 4 Traditional Rulers and Retired Military people of Egba extraction was sent to him not to accept the Poisoned Chalice. Their reasons were that one Egba had just been robbed of an election he won, another Egba man should not help to legitimize that action. And in any case, the ING was designed to fail. It was reported that he openly challenged their knowledge of politics and business. They left him without accomplishing their Mission. Chief Shonekan took the job, lasted 3 months before Abacha took over. That singular decision changed the narrative of Chief Shonekan's life.
After that job, he became a pariah both in the business world and in the Egba Community. His image and influence in business Circle became significantly watered down, many businesses he was involved in Collapsed. The Boardrooms where he wielded influence were no longer welcoming.
Back at home in Abeokuta, he became the most disregarded Chief in the Community, so much that he was no longer welcome in the Palaces of traditional rulers. Instead of the title 'Abese' [the connected] that he had, our people started calling him "A-be-she "which means the one who misbehaves. He had fallen from grace. One decision had changed his life Story. Save for his occasional appearances at the National Council of State meetings, a body with no executive power, he lived a lowly lonely isolated life thereafter. 'Gold' had turned to 'Panda'.
1. Knowledge is good.
2. Arrogance, because of knowledge is still Arrogance, and it is bad.
3. Listen to Counsel, rather than be dismissive.
4. Seek God's guidance on that next step you want to take.
Not all that glitters is Gold, there is "Panda" out there.
Shonekan was a fool, not an elder or a leader. He was a traitor and the Arewa who he worked for behind closed doors called him an omo odo, a servant. Will do a post shortly on how they hired and dismissed their omo odo.
Our Alale are with us.

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