DOWN TO EARTH: A REVIEW BY KEHINDE BAMIGBETAN
This is a riveting, unputdownable account that everyone who enjoys reading will find valuable and necessary for his bookshelf.
This is because the writer, Japhet Odesanya, has brought his naturally combative, aggressive and engaging posture into this 413 page treatise on his life and his writings. In normal, daily interaction, Japhet is not a person you dare ignore. In fact, I dare say, you can only do so to your discomfort. His bubbling, effervescent nature is attractive and his commentaries, which dominate his interactions, are deep and penetrating.
Now if it is more than sufficient pleasure to encounter Japhet in blood and flesh, how then do we deal with this Japhet in this book that springs at you in black and white and infects you with his cantankerousness?
Well, that was my pleasant ordeal in reading this appropriately titled Down To Earth masterpiece.
I observe that, as regards the age-old debate of whether it is nature or nurture that shapes the consciousness, the biographical introduction balances that debate dexteriously.
We see a man whose spiritual trajectory, oracularly decoded as a militant force for worth causes as proclaimed by the corpus of Iwori-meji, manifest this innate revolutionary spirit. This begins initially as untamed and uncontrolled anger such as the incident where he vents his spleen by using a big rock to crush his box all because he didn’t like the colour he was given. It manifests in his resort to deliberate hunger strikes to protest perceived wrongs in the home. Psychologists can claim that at work is the ego writ large, unrestrained by the id, the social control valve in all of us that reins us in.
The challenge, however, is that this ego that belongs to Japhet refuses to be so reined from primary to secondary to higher education. Instead, we find the ego selecting choices which seek to promote the common good. Examples include his support for the the pro-democracy movement to actualise the mandate of the winner of the. June 12, 1993 election, his foray into unionism at MAPOLY which led to the discovery of Japhetism as an ideology and his engagement of the party system to further drive Development in his native local government- Ikorodu.
Japhetism as a worldview seeks the good of mankind by mobilising the human and material resources of the community for equitable distribution and qualitative development.
The second part of this book provide fragments of this worldview expressed in the course of interrogating issues, incidents and happenstances. Thus, addressing the relevance of federalism, in the article, Why Not Oduduwa Regional Government, in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he advocates :”It is disheartening that despite the plethora of disenchantment , discontentment, vandalism, corruption, insecurity, economic woes and recession, abject poverty, diseases and deaths, fragmentation and impending implosion, the Nigerian ruling class remains unwilling and unyielding to the sensitive debate and agitation about the dire need to restructure Nigeria on the path of economic growth and development.”
In this article, Japhet agrees with the Abeokuta Proposal which sought a reversal to the pre-1966 federal regime marked by exclusive residual functions for regions and a weak, small federal centre.
Adopting this as his ideal federal order, he writes:
This is the kind of a nation that I wish to live in. The benefits are enormous. There will be peace, justice and security of lives and property. Economic growth is taken for granted. No more barbaric suspicion as the operationalization of true federalism takes preeminence!
We can call it Oduduwa Regional Government, Federal Republic of Nigeria. But for everyday this proposed process-led and comprehensive solution is ignored, we promote the current drift into abyss; which if not halted, portends a catastrophic doom for the project Nigeria. Lo ba tan.”
Let me conclude with an appreciation of Japhet’s commitment to journalism, and indeed, mass communications. He has demonstrated that he did not stray into this field by following the salutary trend in Ikorodu for graduates of mass communication to apply their entrepreneurial skill by running publications. Trailing the heels of publications such as Chief Adebajo ‘s Ikorodu News and Chief Olowosago’s Oriwu Sun, Japhet’s TheFactor magazine is an eloquent testimony of his professionalism. Recognizing the tutelage he received from his mother, Japhet must be way ahead of his peers in designing a sales strategy to boost the fortunes of The Factor. That Factor is not often on the new stands as he wishes just shows that he needs to put into practice more of the lessons he learnt while hawking on the streets of Ikorodu. Seriously, yours sincerely would love to learn a few of the tricks of the trade.
To be honest, I find no greeter summary than to assert, vociferously that the book, Down to Earth, speaks to its name in verve and verse and proudly recommend it to all of us.
Thanks for listening.
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