Why would an upwardly mobile U.S-based Certified Public Accountant (Chattered Accountant) with a high profile job as Controller, the University of the District of Columbia, Washington DC, USA; a lucrative family accounting practice; and other perks of good life; including prominent past positions such as Acting Director of Policy and Procedures for the District of Columbia government, decide to put everything on the line in his continued quest to contest elections in the murky political waters in Nigeria? Unparalleled patriotism and a burning passion to liberate the suffering Nigerian masses from perpetual neglect and servitude have been the driving force behind Ogbeni Lanre Banjo’s motivation to continue to run for the gubernatorial election in Ogun State of Nigeria; where he previously was the National Conscience Party (NCP) candidate in 2003 and 2007.
In spite of his successful professional CPA career in the United States, Lanre Banjo refuses to stomach watching his people in Nigeria; particularly the people of Ogun State remain in abject poverty, grinding deprivation and catastrophic suffering in the midst of abundant economic and human resources. For years he has been in the crusade to abolish poverty and oppression in Nigeria. Because he understands that love without power is merely sentimental and anaemic, he succumbs to seeking empowerment of the people to translate his vision for the betterment of his people into political and economic realities.
In an interview, he once said “from my vantage view, I solely believe that poverty is mankind’s second greatest evil after tribalism, prejudice or racism. Poverty is a form of violence; it is oppression against the human spirit. It is an injustice against the innate worth of every human being. If you have done nothing to fight against poverty, you would have accepted that evil. I am not willing to accept that evil. All of us must realize that it is not only poverty that torments Nigerians; it is the fact of poverty amidst plenty, amidst natural bounty.
The Sagamu-born Certified Public Accountant (Chattered Accountant) who once served as policy-making expert for the government of the District of Columbia has long sought ways to make contributions back home. He never lost contact with the place of his birth, and organised all kinds of civil actions during the military era in Nigeria from America. His patriotism and vision for Ogun State, and by default, Nigeria, did not grow overnight. His house in the State of Maryland is one house amongst the houses owned by Nigerians in the U.S. that hoists the Nigerian national flag, apart from the Nigerian Embassy and Consulates. Also, the number plate of his car is specially tagged “OG R,” reflecting his passionate love for Ogun State and Nigeria.
Over the years, Lanre Banjo has been closely monitoring events in Nigeria. He has on some occasions, wept in his room at the reckless manner in which the Shehu Shagaris, the Muhammadu Buharis, the Olusegun Obasanjos, the Ibrahim Babangidas and the Sani Abachas have wrecked Nigeria. While no Nigerian can singly claim credit for the eventual termination of military rule in Nigeria in 1999, it is the activities of people like Lanre Banjo that led to change and democratic governance.
Since the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Lanre Banjo has metamorphosed from a mere observer to an active participant in the political life of Nigeria. He was actively involved in the struggle to re-validate the June 12 mandate of Chief M.K.O Abiola. Not only did he participate actively in the series of demonstrations in the U.S. to protest the annulment, he also worked closely with Chief Anthony Enahoro, and other pro-democracy activists. After the annulment of the June 12 elections, he was elected the Chairman of the Nigerian Democratic Movement (NDM). Members of the NDM, under his chairmanship, took over the Embassy of Nigeria on August 26, 1993 to protest the annulment. He was one of the few Nigerians who picked up M.K.O Abiola at the Washington Dulles International Airport when Abiola ran out of the country in 1993. He accompanied MKO to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus.
Lanre Banjo worked relentlessly until the military cabal, which had held Nigeria hostage, handed over to a democratic government. Having determined that Obasanjo had not done enough to bring smile to the impoverished faces of the Nigerian masses, Lanre Banjo kept the heat on Obasanjo, picking him up on any issue he considered to be anti-people. Such denunciations included his opposition to the massive corruption in government; the parlous state of public utilities, including epileptic water and electricity supply; the lack of vision in the government’s economic policy and the smuggling of anachronistic clauses into the electoral law.
From the onset of the administration of Obasanjo, Ogbeni Lanre Banjo had been denouncing the corrupt appointed officials that Obasanjo surrounded himself with. His persistent criticism led to the removal of Alhaji Hassan Adamu, and Phillip Asiodu. Banjo passionately believes Nigeria has no business being poor in view of the country’s endowed human and natural resources; judging of course, from his vantage insider view at high levels of public service in the District of Columbia government in the U.S. For over ten years, he worked in the political dynasty of the Honorable Marion Barry, Jr., the former Mayor of Washington D.C. There, he learned the skilful art of responding to the constituents. He assisted the treasurer of the Mayor’s campaign. He later became the treasurer of the campaign of the U.S. Representative Charles Moreland, and an inner caucus member of that campaign. He was the treasurer of the Committee to elect Sandy Allen for Ward 8, a position he held before his decision to go to Nigeria and participate in election for the first time back in 2003.
Prior to his political endeavour to Nigeria, he had on March 1, 1996, been appointed a member of the Commission on African-Caribbean Community Affairs. Banjo has seen first hand how the political and economic system works in the U.S. He has a good understanding of why things are not working in Nigeria. More importantly, he knows precisely what strategies to employ in turning Ogun State around to sparkle like states such as California, Florida or any other American state.
Lanre Banjo has passed through the tutelage of great Nigerian, as well as American politicians and social activists; including among others, the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, national leader of the National Conscience Party, and the former Mayor of Washington DC, the Honorable Marion Barry. It is a matter of record that when Mayor Barry was arrested and other friends deserted him, Ogbeni Banjo was one of the few who stood with the Mayor, like the rock of Gibraltar. He remained undaunted and he was heard clearly saying that he was a friend to the man who served the citizens of the District of Columbia in a manner he wished Nigerian leaders would serve their citizens. Before joining the DC government, he had audited many state governments in the U.S.; prescribing to those states, ways to improve their internal accounting and administrative controls in order to deter corruption. This experience along with the knowledge procured from the highly principled leaders Ogbeni Banjo has been exposed to, clearly positions this CPA as a valuable public servant the people of Ogun State can benefit from his political leadership and public accountability skills.
One of the valuable assets Banjo cherishes up till this day is a personal letter written to him by the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. He has pledged to draw a lot of insight from the Awolowos, the Fawehinmis and the Barrys of the world, to run an administration that will be a reference point in quality leadership anywhere in the world.
Lanre Banjo is a selfless visionary leader. He has lined up a series of profound programs that are prepared to uplift the people of Ogun State from poverty and deprivation. His top-priority programs are derived from the 10-Care Programs of his party, the National Conscience Party, in the areas of: Employment Care; Food Care; Health Care; Housing Care; Education Care; Water Care; Electricity Care; Transportation Care; Telecommunications Care; and Security Care. He joined the NCP because of the principled political stand and his strong belief in the social leadership qualities of Chief Fawehinmi, under whom he has served intimately on national issues since 1994.
Ogbeni Banjo has vowed to resolutely pursue his intended political programs. In addition, he also plans to industrialize Ogun State by employing massive government investment and use of innovative cutting-edge modern technology. He has further mapped out strategies to capitalize on the proximity of Ogun State to Lagos State, the economic capital of Nigeria, as well as Ibadan, the largest city in West Africa, to transform Ogun into truly becoming the Gateway State. Banjo has equally pledged never to allow corruption to disrupt his lofty plans for the masses. His records at home and abroad stand him out as an honest, hardworking and forthright public servant who will never compromise with evil.
The people of Ogun State and other well-meaning progressives must not miss the opportunity for a genuine chance at breaking away from the stranglehold of poverty and servitude in the Nigerian society. Ogbeni Lanre Banjo believes that only when social progressives at home and abroad teamed up with other like-minded freedom fighters at home and abroad, could the battle against neo-colonialism, executive profligacy and the relentless persecution of the helpless masses be won.
Ogbeni Lanre Banjo calls on your better angels to join with him to win in Ogun State!
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