MidWeekSpecial by ‘Dapo Ajayi: Prof. Sonaiya of KOWA Party dares to be Nigeria’s President!
I met Prof Remi Sonaiya in 2005 at the Foreign Languages Department, OAU, Ile-Ife. Her lectures throughout my undergraduate days were always fruitful. She is a very organized teacher. she dared not come to class unprepared, if she must miss class, believe me there must be a make-up of the hours lost; I emphasize: ALL HOURS lost.
Sometimes in 2006, I was home for a weekend visit, my maternal uncle died during my stay and it was enough reason for me to stab some lectures. Once I returned to the campus, I realized I missed Prof. Sonaiya’s test, so I headed straight for her office especially because I thought I had a strong excuse; remember my uncle passed on. I told Prof. Soniaya my well-rehearsed line. Hear her response: Young man, every decision one makes in life has consequences, you must learn to take responsibility for your actions, since you decided to miss the CA for your uncle’s death, you must take responsibility. Prof Sonaiya told me to be prepared for the second CA so as not to fail…
On another occasion, as a Yoruba I addressed Prof. Sonaiya as *mummy*. She told me: Young man, this is a university, we do not have Daddies, mummies, Uncles and Aunties here. We have Professors, Doctors, Mr and Mrs.
My department has 3 student clubs. Sometime in 2007 the President of the French club was involved in an accident, so he was hospitalized for months. During this period the university appointed Prof. Remi Sonaiya as our Head of Department. We were excited or pretended to be that change was in the department. No one doubted her ability to deliver or make our department work better.
In the course of a meeting, I discussed the performance of our student’s club especially the no-show in the French club due to our president’s ill-health. Behold, Prof. Sonaiya challenged me to coordinate the club and make it work since I so much cared about the club (remember it was my second year in the university. By constitution a president should be a final year student.The challenge she posed also included the fact that she would also be a part of the club if we made it work. Voila, I became the coordinator of the French club in my second year.
I remember with pride how ambitious my team became almost immediately because we had a grind to settle with other clubs that had been shinning due to the lack of activity in the French club. We went as far as hosting an inter-university debate completion. University of Ibadan participated in the competition, I remember we got the full support Of the HOD, she supported both financially and with all that was within her reach.
Due to my very restless nature, I was always around the students club and administration and yearly we sought support from the Alumni of the department, more often our support revolved around financial assistance. So it happened that in 2007 we approached our HOD for financial support. Prof Sonaiya did not hesistate to express her displeasure on how unrealistic students’ tastes and budgets were, she said to us: You students know how to spend money of those working for money, in fact you know how to help them plan their money. She criticized our wasteful taste and lifestyles that will go all out for expensive end of the year dinner/award night. In a nut shell, Prof Sonaiya showed it to our face how twisted our minds were.
Towards the end of the year 2007, Prof. Remi Soniaya had her Inaugural lecture at the conference centre OAU, Ile-ife. She subsidized the lecture for all the participants. For that, she broke the tradition of serving food or throwing party for inaugural lectures. Her argument was that the cost of food was converted to making lecture booklets available to all participants.
For many of us Prof. Sonaiya retired too early.
That is my Professor. She is a personal mentor for all these reasons. I later became president of the overall student association in my department. Believe me, Prof. Sonaiya’s seed had germinated so much that my administration would not prepare requests for flimsy projects. I still remember we had a very modest final year award night and we left legacies that uplifted the standard of the association’s members. Believe me, I am always proud to look back.
Somehow, I have not been able to meet Prof. Sonaiya since I graduated from Ife, she is however close to me through the social media. Saving occassional shared personal messages and updates, our relationship has been close but distant.
Some weeks ago, a Facebook post indicated Prof Sonaiya would be representing KOWA party in the forthcoming presidential election. As a matter of fact, Prof. Sonaiya is the only female in the race. I know Prof. Sonaiya might not be Nigeria’s president but I know a good personality in her. Only if she had started her campaign early enough, connecting with women and men across Nigeria especially those not on social media!
I am not going to vote for Prof. Sonaiya because I will not vote in the coming election. Plus I campaign privately that we have nothing to lose by choosing Buhari’s APC.
I once attended OAU All souls Anglican Church in 2009. To my surprise, I saw my admirable Prof. Soniaya in the choir robe singing at a wedding event. This personality is a round intellectual! Devoted to God, family and humanity. She is an excellent scholar, a perfectionist, a goal getter, a disciplined mind and a firm personality. Prof. is endowed with integrity which is a virtue that is needed in our society. I can only wish her well; truly, I appeal to undecided voters to follow a woman whom your conscience will never blame you for supporting.
So as we march for Change in Nigeria, we need more ordinary Nigerians like Prof. Sonaiya who are competent to lead Nigeria for better.