Osogbo UNESCO centre belongs to nobody, says Oyinlola

Olagunsoye Oyinlola

Olagunsoye Oyinlola

FORMER Osun State governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, has debunked the allegation that he has converted the UNESCO affiliated Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding (CBCIU) to a personal property.

He insisted that the centre, which was established in 2009 by UNESCO is a product of some international agreements and as such cannot be taken over by any individual.

He also said the board of trustees of the CBCIU headed by him is registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission under the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) and as such cannot be changed by any other legislation.

Prince Oyinlola at a press conference in his Okuku, Osun State country home on Thursday said he was disappointed that Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka addressed a press conference in Lagos last week casting aspersions on him and other members of the CBCIU board. “A major issue raised by Prof. Soyinka at his latest press briefing is the status of the CBCIU.

He raised what he called the ethical issue of Oyinlola sitting as chair of its Board of Trustees. He also suggested that by being chairman of the board, Oyinlola had used his position as governor to establish the centre for himself.

I have told the story of how my name got mentioned as the chairman of the board in the agreement between the Beiers and the Federal Government.

On the ownership of the centre, I wish to state it clearly here that CBCIU has four major stakeholders and these are: Osun State government (its host), the Federal Government of Nigeria, UNESCO and the Ulli Beier family.

And all these interests are represented on the board of the centre. So, I believe this should serve to educate Prof. Soyinka and anyone who believes in his cause that this centre does not belong to any individual and will never be,” Oyinlola declared.

Flanked by some members of the BoT such as Femi Adelegan (Secretary), Chief Muraina Oyelami and Prof. Temi Ologunorisa (Executive Director), the former governor said Soyinka’s position on the issue must have been informed by lack of proper briefing by the legal team handling the court case on behalf of the state government. “The respected Prof. spoke of ethical issues concerning the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding (CBCIU).

His attacks did not just start. He did much more in 2008 when he stoutly opposed the establishment of the CBCIU and deployed all his contacts in and out of the country to wage vicious war, which we won ultimately.

In 2008, Prof. Soyinka unsuccessfully sought to enlist the support of President Yar’Adua against us. “This time around, he is appealing again to President Muhammadu Buhari with insinuations of ethical matters manifestly based on falsehood.

I, however, will still assume that he has been misinformed on the true story, structure of and philosophy behind the establishment of the centre,” he said.

Oyinlola also disclosed that efforts to meet with the literary giant and clarify issues pertaining to CBCIU have not yielded results. “Because I believe, to the best of my knowledge, that there is no personal animosity between me and Professor Soyinka, I have, in consultation with my governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, made some moves to meet the professor and give him the correct information on the centre for him to be properly guided. “All the moves have sadly been rebuffed.

I paid a visit to his house in Lagos on the advice of my governor. He was not around and never acknowledged that visit. I made several phone calls to him which were never answered.

I tried reaching him unsuccessfully through his daughter, Mrs. Moremi Onijala. “The last was an intervention organised between us by Aregbesola for Senator Sola Adeyeye to broker peace. The senator met with me and promised to meet Soyinka and get back to me.

I was waiting for the feedback when I read Soyinka, an elder statesman and a supposed culture icon attacking me once again,” Oyinlola said.

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