By Babafemi Ojudu
Contentment is satisfaction and ease of mind. Contentment is being satisfied with what one has. It does not necessarily mean not being ambitious; it rather means seeking everything in contentment, without resorting to greed and indecent means. This attribute is what the world seeks today in its search for lasting peace and progress because its lack is at the root of most evils bedeviling the world.
In today’s world, one hardly finds anyone anymore who embodies such attribute. In places where they are found, they remain inconspicuous as the world cannot understand their ways. But Abdukareem Adebisi Akande, popularly known as Chief Bisi Akande – our indefatigable Baba – is contentment-personified and has remained a colossus all his public life. Having been tried several times and severally by the spoils of public life, Baba Bisi Akande comes out on every occasion sparkling clean and with more honour and respect in lieu of planned humiliation.
Contrary to the claim that contented persons do not go far in life, Chief Bisi Akande learnt with contentment at the feet of the greats, not for once disloyal, but preparing hard for his own time, knowing full well that time and fortune are no exclusive preserve of any man, but rather that time and fortune rotate and will perch only on the shoulders of prepared men.
As Deputy Governor of Oyo State between 1979 and 1983, Baba Akande, 40 years of age and bubbling with life and ambition, channeled his energy to making the Bola Ige administration a success. He was so committed to his boss, late Chief Bola Ige, that the two almost became inseparable. It was this long-forged loyalty and bond with each other that continued into the administration of Chief Bisi Akande as Osun State Governor between 1999 and 2003, 20 years after leaving office as Deputy Governor.
As Osun State Governor, rather than amass wealth as many would do, Baba Akande chose to fashion out policies that would make his people comfortable and set the state on the path of progress. He gave up his own comfort for the comfort of his people, making fiscal prudence the watchword of his administration. As expected, many kicked against him, chief among them his deputy. Was Chief Bisi Akande deterred? Even when it was apparent that the gang-up could make him lose re-election, he never wavered from his set principles. He was not going to compromise his principles on the altar of do-or-die politics. He was contented being himself. Better a dry morsel with peace than a house full of riches with strife!
It was with that mindset that Baba Akande continued to contribute his quota to nation building outside office. It didn’t take long for the people of Osun State to know the difference between water and oil, having borne both as load. But given his impeccable character and his self-announcing contentment, Baba was called to a higher position as ACN National Chairman and with him in the saddle, PDP was decimated irrecoverably in the southwest.
Kind, never condescending, loyal to a fault, I have watched several times and marveled at how Baba Akande gets by, wanting so little in a world which has become synonymous with greed. All he wants, all he cares about, all he thinks about is making others comfortable. It doesn’t bother him if he is not comfortable.
Whenever I preach contentment to the younger generation, Baba Akande readily tops the almost empty list of examples I could tout. His is indeed a case study in how contentment can make a man great, even when he has nothing in his pocket to grease the palms of friends and foes. Baba’s life is a well of morality, forthrightness and an unshaken loyalty for youths to taste, drink and savour. Chief Abdukareem Adebisi Akande is a living possibility of how contentment can spring a man unto greatness, earn him an incontestable place in history, garnished with unequalled respect and dignity.
As this colossus clocks 80, I pray God to grant him many more years to teach coming generations how it is done – to impart them that a man does not have to steal to be respected. To show them that a man does not have to solely selfishly garner and corner what belongs to all to book a place in history. To let them know that loyalty is not the absence of disagreements, but the divinely bestowed water of reasonableness cascading down human souls to effect in them compromise and a common ground that ensures gains and losses are shared equally, at all times.
Chief Akande will be 80 on Wednesday the 16th of January. Family , friends , associates and admirers will gather in Ibadan on the said day to celebrate him.