The Literary Works of A Native Son
Dr. Wale Okediran
Dr. Wale okediran is a native of Iseyin in the Oke Ogun region of Oyo State, Nigeria. He is a medical doctor by profession and former Member of the Nigerian Federal House of Representatives, Abuja. He is a past National President of the Association of Nigerian Authors and a published author of ten novels many of which have won local and international literary prizes such as; American Poetry Association Book Prize (Call to Worship, 1990), Commonwealth Literature Prize Shortlist (The Boys At The Border, 1991), ANA Prize for Children’s Literature (The Rescue of Uncle Babs, 1998), NLNG Nigerian Literature Prize Shortlist (Dreams Die at Twilight, 2004), ANA Best Fiction Prize (Strange Encounters, 2005) and Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa Shortlist (The Weaving Loom, 2008). His latest books, Tenants of The House (2010) is a fictional account of his stay in the Federal House of Representatives (2003 – 2007) was the co-winner of the 2010 Wole Soyinka Prize for African Literature, while Fearless (2012) is a political memoir that portrays the life of Honorable Femi Gbajabiamila as a virile and formidable opposition leader in the Nigerian Federal House of Representatives.
A REVIEW OF FEARLESS: THE EMERGENCE OF A VIRILE AND FORMIDABLE OPPOSITION LEADER – THE POLITICAL MEMOIRS OF HON. FEMI GBAJABIAMILA
by CHIDI ANSELM ODINKALU, PH.D. 27 JUNE 2012
-------------------------------This then is the context that frames the narrative in Fearless: Fearless is the story of Femi Gbajabiamila, three-term member of the National Assembly representing Surulere 1 Federal Constituency in the National Assembly since 2003 and, since February 2011, the Minority Leader in the House of Representatives. Born 50 years ago on 25 June 1962, our subject is one of select group of emerging leaders with national name recognition born after Independence. The book is at once a biography and a record of public service that is still unfinished. It is organised in eight parts rendered in 212 pages. Each part is divided into chapters. Comprising six chapters, Part 1 gives an account of the birth of Honourable Gbajabiamila, his early upbringing, schooling and formation in Lagos, his call to the Nigerian Bar after his under-graduate education at the Law Faculty of the University of Lagos and early life as a lawyer ending with his enrolment in the Georgia State Bar in the United States, after acquiring his Juris Doctor degree from the Marshall Law School in Atlanta.
The three chapters of Part 2 are devoted to his entry into party politics, how he secured his pathway into Parliament to represent Surulere 1 Federal Constituency in 2003 and the early development of his constituency work as a Parliamentarian. The defining story in this section of the book, however, is about the involvement of Hon. Gbajabiamila in the termination of the ambition of former President Olusegun for a constitutionally impermissible third term in 2006 and the forging of cross-party alliances which ensured this outcome.
Part three, comprising four chapters, tells the story of the subject’s second parliamentary term between 2007-2011. Shortly after the installation of Mr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as Acting President, Hon. Gbajabiamila was the only opposition member in a delegation of six members of the House invited to meet with the new helmsman in the Presidential villa. Each was invited in turn to speak in private with the President. So you would wish to know what Gbajabiamila told Mr. President? You will find it on p. 67 of the book when you read it!
The four chapters of Part four chronicle the still unfolding account of Hon. Gbajabiamila’s third parliamentary term. The five chapters of Part Five narrate and detail major legislative positions and debates in which Honourable Gbajabiamila has participated. Part six comprises a single chapter devoted to his rejection in 2011 of the national honour of Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR) and the largely supportive public reactions that trailed it. The five chapters in Part seven contain various essays written by Honourable Gbajabiamila on various matters of public or parliamentary interest, such as the National Assembly’s ratification of the state of emergency on Plateau state in 2004. Part eight contains four chapters compiling various responses to this legislative record in the form of awards, tributes, acknowledgements and a final word from the author.In undertaking this, Fearless accomplishes a major feat of service to civic memory for which we must be grateful.
A Glimpse at Nigeria’s only writers’ residency Ebedi Writers' Residency
Designed to give creative writers the needed seclusion to work on their manuscript, the residency program is the only such program in Nigeria at the moment. "It provides the space to write" said Igoni Barrett, who with Emmanuel Ugokwe was in the 3rd set of the program. The program affords writers a six week period of stay in a secluded facility so they could focus solely on writing free from worries. They are provided a weekly stipend of N10, 000 to take care of their financial needs and there is a housekeeper who takes care of the house, the writers’ laundry and even cooks any food of their choice for them.
Dr. Wale Okediran, a native of Iseyin in the Oke Ogun area, is the brain and muscles behind the program. Dr. Okediran came up with the idea when on a weekend trip home with his wife, she asked why allow the current site of the residency go to waste when it could be developed into a resort. Thanks to Folake as we all call her, the spacious villa in Iseyin that emerged has now become a place, in the words of Dr. Okediran, to "sleep, wake up, write, sleep, wake up, write", with the stipulation to give back in kind through the exercise of a community service.
Doreen Baingana (in picture), an award-winning Ugandan writer, is currently at the Ebedi International Writers Residence. In the interview conducted by Adewale Oshodi and published in the Nigerian Tribune, Doreen stated about her experience at the residency program that "It’s really been a great experience; for the fact that one is in a new environment, one is removed from one’s everyday life, and there is nothing much to do except to concentrate on what brought one to the residency. Isolation has a way of making one to be focused, without the pressure from friends, relatives, children, etc, and that is the major idea behind residencies anyway. So, I have been able to do something with my time here.