Misguided missiles: A professor who didn’t do his research! (1)



AS a preface, I have been privileged to have a number of encounters with Sen. Monsurat Sunmonu and I know as a fact that she not only welcomes but encourages constructive criticism; and, her open policy to listen to diverging opinions is one of the things that elevated her to where she is today.

She very much appreciates the input of concerned citizens as long as a positive intention can be delineated from what is being said and insofar as it doesn’t appear that attempts are being made to score political points. To this end, I encourage people from Oyo (and Nigeria generally), to continue to get in touch with her (and other representatives) to give feedback- after all, she represents us and open discourse will only be better for our nation.

My attention has been drawn to an open letter published on page 17 of The Guardian Nigeria newspaper of 2nd November 2015, authored by Bukola Adeyemi Oyeniyi, who describes himself as an assistant professor resident in the US that has authored works on “Dress and Identity in Yorubaland”.

I had been aware of the existence of the article for a while, but due to my busy schedule I was not able to give it my immediate attention. I was particularly interested because I had heard that the author was a member of the diaspora and is also an indigene of Oyo state. However, when I got round to reading the article I was taken aback that the author proceeded to attack Senator Sunmonu’s personality in a number of scathing and unwarranted remarks; I would like to believe she has taken this in her stride as a public figure who has presented herself to serve her beloved nation. Personally, I take solace in the fact that not all people have the ability to present their opinions in a disparaging manner without resorting to abuse, despite their academic profession.

Oyeniyi had demanded that a senator “take time to read and reflect” on his piece and not ask “one of the boys to reply him” because of the “number of Facebook and Twitter apologists politicians like you (sic) have today”. Well, I am definitely not one of ‘the boys’. Nevertheless, at this juncture, I am constrained to take exception to the suggestion that my senator does not accord the requisite attention to concerns of Nigerians, particularly those from the senatorial district that she represents. I am forced to ask whether Oyeniyi has ever contacted Sen. Sunmonu and not been responded to- if not, then why he is casting such aspersions against her person is quite curious.

Sunmonu was the Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly up until 2015 and I believe her record while in that office avails her of any claim to be a person who ‘palms-off’ people’s concerns for others to deal with. Her efforts can be attested to particularly from her immediate constituents and students in Oyo state. Furthermore, despite the offices she has occupied she is actually relatively easily accessible: she frequently holds town hall meetings; has a regularly updated website, Facebook page and Twitter account. I am also aware that she has maintained the same mobile number since the introduction of GSM phones into Nigeria the number is publically available to constituents. All of this is surely in an effort to foster a closer relationship with those she represents, especially those who cannot see her in person. We her constituents will definitely testify that she regularly address our issues personally!

With that out of the way, I proceed to respond to the essay of my Oyo brother who seems displeased with a poster he saw online offering Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB)/Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) “JAMB forms” to some less privileged people from my senatorial district. Now, I must first say that I had some difficulty gleaning exactly what Oyeniyi’s grouse actually is: is it that he doesn’t like the fact that her name is attached to the organisation giving away the forms? Or, is it that he thinks the funds invested in making forms available to those who demonstrate excellence would be better spent on other things? Or, is he generally against aid?

Very quickly, there is one misconception that must be cleared up- and Oyeniyi’s cynicism is quite apparent when you read the piece- the JAMB forms made available is not a “world empowerment programme” as Oyeniyi erroneously suggested no fewer than 7 times in the article. I have seen the advertisement and nowhere on the poster or the literature that accompanied the poster was it described as being a “world empowerment programme”. That Oyeniyi proceeded to quote what was clearly tagged as the “Quest for Excellence Challenge” as “world empowerment programme” suggests that he may have missed the point behind the philanthropic effort or that he has an alternate agenda.

For the avoidance of doubt, MOSWEF (Monsurat Olajumoke Sunmonu World Empowerment Foundation), which is behind the “Quest for Excellence Challenge” is a non-government organisation (NGO) whose sole objective is to alleviate the hardship faced by Nigerians irrespective of religion, political affiliation, gender or ethnicity. To suggest anything otherwise is certainly a disservice to all the good work done by the Foundation since it came into existence some 20 years ago. The Foundation annually sponsors many of the best students locally; the sponsorship comes in many ways and includes taught lessons, purchase of exam forms, gifts of schoolbags, text books, writing utensils, assisting to gain admission into university, tuition fee scholarships and employment on graduation.

MOSWEF is also active in other areas of sustainable human capital development by providing vocational training for aspiring tailors, hairdressers and carpenters. Additionally, the Foundation also regularly facilitates health awareness in the form of breast cancer screening for women; surgeries for citizens to check their blood pressure and learn about the causes of high blood pressure; how to ensure you are eating a balanced diet; getting enough exercise; preventing malaria among other common ailments.

All of the information about MOSWEF is actually available on its website and it is quite apparent and very unfortunate that Oyeniyi did not research MOSWEF before writing his article. It leaves the mind wondering what his motive is.
•Olaniyan, is a student and indigene of Surulere local government, Oyo state

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