I was born in Ikirun Agunbe Onile Obi but spent most of my early life in Ogun and Lagos States for post primary education and inter-city exposure. I only came closer to my root around year 2004 when I gained admission to University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Kwara State. The close proximity of Kwara to Osun makes me to start coming back to Ikirun whenever we had holiday in school then.
Because of my passion for community development, I immediately aligned myself with students union body of Ikirun both at chapter and national level within a year that I started visiting Ikirun during holidays. It was during this period that I started hearing a name whenever we were at meeting called “Comrade MAO” from Osun State College of Technology, Esa-Oke as one of the best students union material Ikirun has ever produced both in advocacy and organization.
As fate would have it, I was unable to either see or share any communication with him throughout my three years sojourn at Federation of Ikirun Students Union body adventure before I eventually bid the students union activism farewell after my graduation at Unilorin in 2009. Nevertheless, I kept this name in my diary and believed one day, our part would crossed and I will access him based on what I have been told about him.
Alas four years after by divine coincidence, July 2013 to be precise, my part crossed with an illustrious son of Osogbo and human right activist of international standard – Comrade Amitolu Shittu who took interest in me through my posts on social media to be one of his lieutenants and personal assistants. It was when I visited my new boss in his office along Jaleoyemi area of Osogbo that I saw the person I have been hearing his name since 2005 as whom I can describe as Chief of Staffs to Comrade Amitolu Shittu.
As someone every lieutenants of Chief Amitolu Shittu look up to for direction and orientation, Chairman MAO on day one witthout knowing where I came from gave me the needed reception and sense of belonging that makes me to feel at home. When he later knew I am from Ikirun, he was so happy and immediately makes me his personal person and extra priority in office. Chief Amitolu Shittu never hide his preference for me and readiness to teach me nitty gritty of Non Governmental Organizations management but he was always busy because of his tight schedules. However, Chairman MAO filled this vacuum for me both faithfully and efficiently.
Within months, Chairman MAO did not only make himself available to me for anything, he also entrusted me with many responsibilities that is too confidential to be left to third party. Chairman MAO is reserved but open, strong but simple, loaded but humble, middle class but generous, tested without blemish and trusted without limit.
Chairman MAO is a contended and loyal person to the core. In fact, I can argue that one of his albatross in life is his limitless loyalty to any cause he beliefs in. Once Chairman MAO trusts you, he has become your unpaid servant and unrepentant advocate either rightly or wrongly. I could remember that within months of my closeness to him, he shared his laptop, email and ATM card passwords with me without even asking for it. Since five years ago that I have been learning under him, no one has ever accused him of any other thing in my presence than blind loyalty.
Looking back to what I was told about Chairman MAO thirteen years ago during my students days and my eventual one-on-one relationship with him in the last five years when our part crossed, I can say without any inhibition in my heart that he is a complete gentleman, all inclusive leader, understanding instructor, genuine adviser, human relation expert and cerebral human cum environmental rights activist both locally and internationally.
I am proud to say that what he taught me when we met between 2013 and 2014 on the instruction of our boss – Chief Amitolu Shittu is what is putting food on my table till date. I have no doubt in my mind that prosperity and posterity awaits you as you move forward in your human endeavors. Happy Birthday dear boss. Wishing you new age with corresponding new grace today and always.
Many Happy Returns Sir.
A tribute to Comrade Saka Waheed Adekunle (a.k.a Chairman MAO) on his 40th birthday celebration.
By Adebiyi Wasiu Adebisi,
Director, Advocacy Centre, Ikirun, Osun State.