By Emmanuel Ajibulu
Former General Secretary of Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), and former Deputy President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Hon (Comrade) Joseph Iranola Akinlaja today, Monday, June 1, 2020 deservingly made a triumphant entrance to the club of septuagenarian having attained the milestone of 70 years with meritorious achievements.
Born in Ondo State, Nigeria, to late Elder Badejo Akinlaja, a talking drum percussionist and late Chief (Mrs) Bolametiren Badejo Akinlaja (Nee Akinwande) the Iya Awo of Yoruba Land, a famous alternative pediatrician during her lifetime.
Without mincing words, the reputation of building people to fulfill their destinies is a purpose that Hon. Akinlaja has painstakingly found and taken delight in doing, inspite of the discomfort associated with it.
The events of the past are replete with great examples, and without being immodest, our terrain is dotted by men and women whose rise into limelight and stardom today are intrinsically linked with meeting Akinlaja and their stories took a turn for the better.
These alone are indelible footprints in the sands of time that no revisionist can manipulate or change, they can only deny it. There are many today whose journeys would have been different, maybe not glowingly as they are today, without Akinlaja’s timely quotient.
Today, if we celebrate you for being a political war horse and trailblazer, we will be spot on, if we celebrate you for your accomplishments in trade unionism, it will be justified, if we celebrate you for your bureaucratic and administrative sagacity and competence in dealing with public, we will as well be on point; but today the greatest basis for celebrating you is because your greatness is rooted in building people and taking them closer to their dreams and making them fulfill their purpose and destinies.
It is on the basis of this that I most respectfully join your family, mentees, political associates, business partners, members of staff, trade union executives, friends and numerous admirers to celebrate you for earning your place in the right places, in the lives of men.
Because life is nothing without purpose, to have known and related with you very closely for numerous years as your media aide and as your adopted son is a great privilege, having drank out of your fountain of resilience in the face of adversity, and staying on track when all else looks bleak. Sir, your life among others bear eloquent testimony to and exemplifies pursuit of conviction, standing up for what one believes in and giving it the best shot.
Your imprints in all the privileged capacities life has afforded you to occupy are truly deep and bold for generations to come to learn from. You are an esteemed mentor, distinguished unionist, versatile politician, renowned strategist, chartered arbitrator and a proven and tested professional with many enviable laurels to your credit.
Sir, serving as the Life Patron and Technical Consultant to Petroleum Tankers Drivers (PTD) Branch of NUPENG is also a reward for your long standing hard work, integrity, dignity, accountability, transparency, and high moral principles that are never compromised.
Your service to the nation as two-term Federal Lawmaker didn’t happen by accident but was a manifestation of your date with destiny to serve and represent the people of Ondo East and West and make a positive difference for the overall good of our nation. No wonder you subsequently got the mandate of the people to serve in the capacity of Chairman Zenith Labour Party, Ondo State chapter.
Sir, I pray you continue to bask in all the encomiums being showered on you during this special and auspicious moment of your life. I further pray that God will grant you long life and continued guidance to lead the core progressives to victory in the country. The rest of your years will be the best of your life.
Drawing from the strength of your virtuous lifestyle I warmly urge all politicians, trade union leaders, administrators and business owners to emulate your selflessness and generosity in order to bring succour to the people in all walks of life.
To a great innovator, quintessential leader and defender of the downtrodden and voiceless in the society, I say happy 70th birthday anniversary to you sir. Many happy returns.
Emmanuel Ajibulu wrote from Lagos, via firstname.lastname@example.org