THE recent visit of the first Republican President of Zambia, Dr Kenneth Kaunda, to the Ogun State Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, at his Sagamu country home was symbolic in many ways.
Apart from adding pep to the quest for cementing a bond of unity among Africans as a people with common historical antecedent and heritage, the great son of mother Africa has also joined the lists of great African cum world leaders who have continued to associate with Daniel’s visionary leadership and developmental drives since he assumed office as governor of the Gateway State.
Daniel’s abode continue to attract the attention of great leaders, men and women of history whose lives have remained a reference point and shining lights to many generations.
Even the legendary Asanthene of Ghana, Ossei Tutu, the great Amazon (President of Liberia), Sir Leaf Johnson, and coming home, the highly revered Sultan of Sokoto, and other great leaders, former Heads of State and even second Republic Vice President, Dr Alex Ekwueme have identified with his leadership qualities.
Pa Anthony Enahoro, the man who moved the motion for Nigerians independence in 1960, was also once a guest of the governor. During his visit to Daniel at his Asoludero Court, Sagamu four years ago, he described the governor as a phenomenon and a man of great mind whom he admired for his visionary and developmental strides.
He had come to seek the governor’s view on the way forward for a nation in need of socio-political surgery.
For Kaunda, the man who fought for the Independence of Zambia and the liberation of many African countries, it takes a great mind to acknowledge a great mind as he thanked Daniel for “bringing us together in a unique way.”
Kaunda summed up his impression about the governor, when he said said: “I see in you a great man……. we have a young Daniel who could bring a nation up again and whatever I can do in a small way to assist you in your developmental drives, please don’t hesitate to tell me.”
The former Zambian president, who prayed for the governor, preached love and peace in Africa. He also spoke on the fight against the scourge of HIV\AIDS, among others.
Thrilling his host with his hands on the keyboard, Kaunda also dished out some sonorous tunes to the admiration of all.
The former Zambia leader, who was in company with the Nigerian Ambassador to Zambia and Malawi, Ambassador Folake Marcus-Bello, Zambian ambassador to Nigeria, Felix Luhila, as well as his son, and other eminent friends of his family from Zambia, was received by Daniel and his cabinet, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders, members of the State Elders Consultative Forum as well the Akarigbo of Remoland, Oba Michael Adeniyi Sonariwo, who led the traditional rulers to the event.
It was meant to be a mere reception for the distinguished son of Africa, but it turned out to be a day of toast and encomiums for dedicated service, vision and leadership.
In his welcome address, Aremo Taiwo Allimi described Kaunda as an African leader with passion for development.
He said: “This is a great pan-Africanist and in Otunba Daniel, most of Kaunda’s dream for development has been realised.”
Allimi said Daniel had been able to put together the dreams of African fathers.
Also speaking at the event, former Finance Minister, Dr Onaolapo Soleye, told Kaunda that: “You have worked for the freedom of Zambia and many nations, please continue to work so that Africa can be free.”
Soleye, who extolled the virtues of the man popularly referred to as the Father of the Republic of Zambia, also congratulated Daniel for his leadership style which he noted had brought meaningful development to the state.
The former University of Ibadan (UI) lecturer said: “As one of the founding fathers of the state, I can make comparison between the past and present and I make bold to say that Otunba Daniel has done very well in this state.”
Also speaking, a renowned diplomat and former Nigerian ambassador to South Africa, Gbenga Asiru, said, “but for the efforts of people and statesmen like Kaunda, many countries in Africa would still be under the yoke of colonialism.”
He recalled how Kaunda provided secret camps for guerilla fighters during the apartheid South Africa, how he granted Zambian passports to African National Congress (ANC) members and the organisation of kits for freedom fighters, saying, “Africans owe you a deep gratitude for all your efforts and you are indeed a living legend.”
For Mrs Marcus-Bello, it was indeed a day of appreciation.
She said: “I have been honoured by God through Otunba Daniel. I have gone through a lot in life, but OGD believed in me and I am where I am today by the grace of God.”
The ambassador, who rendered a specially composed song for the governor, also narrated the first encounter between Daniel and Kaunda during the former’s visit to Lusaka in 2008.
He said the former Zambian president had come to further cement the ties and identify with Daniel’s developmental drives as well as his sterling leadership qualities.
Mrs Marcus-Bello, whose 50th birthday celebration coincided with the visit, proposed the toast of the government and people of Zambia.
Luhila spoke of the need for the emergence of younger generation of Africans to continue the good works of the great leaders of the continent.
He said: “I have read so much about (the late Obafemi) Awolowo and even as a diplomat, I have read so much about Daniel and his visionary leadership in the state. As Africans, we need the young to take over from the elders.”
The ambassador also described Mrs Marcus-Bello as “a great daughter of Ogun State cementing the bond of relationship between Nigeria and Zambia.”
He also paid glowing tribute to Kaunda on the attainment of independence of countries including Zambia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Angola and South Africa among others, saying he was indeed a great leader.
The governor’s speech on the occasion was quite symbolic, drawing out series of lessons. He said he was proud of Kaunda as a foremost African leader whose strides reflected positively in the development of Zambian nation.
The governor spoke of the deep sense of commitment of the Zambian people to agricultural development and sense of organisation which has brought about a very peaceful and developing country.
Daniel said: “For the foresight of foremost leaders like Kaunda, Zambia has become an organised country and he shall continue to remain a shining light to generations unborn.”
The governor also described Mrs Marcus-Bello as a pride of the state who has added value to the state development in her given assignment.
He spoke extensively on the issue of qualitative and result-oriented representation.
Daniel, who said his investment visit to Zambia which was facilitated by the Nigerian envoy, had attracted meaningful investments to the state, especially with the securing of technical partnership in the development of livestock sector being undertaken by a Zambian company, Zambeef, as well as the establishment of world-class Shoprite malls in Abeokuta and Isheri by Zambeef, a major shareholder of Shoprite.
The governor said: “It takes good people to make the difference. I am proud of Mrs Marcus-Bello and this should be an eye-opener for all those who are serving us at one level or the other.”
He also spoke of the feat accomplished by another distinguished son of the state and the Nigerian Ambassador to the United States, Professor Adefuye.
Adefuye, according to him, was responsible for the recent meeting between the Nigerian Acting President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan and American President Barack Obama and other world leaders and the subsequent de-listing of Nigeria from the list of terrorist countries.
The Kaunda visit drew out a number of lessons. The appreciation of vision, essence of true leadership and qualitative nomination and representation.
In the words of a PDP chieftain, Chief Kola Ogunjobi, in hosting this great African leader, Daniel has demonstrated that he is indeed an embodiment of virtues.
He said: “Daniel is a man full of sobriety and humility, he is good in birth and noble in heredity. He is another great leader in the mould of Kaunda.”
By Kehinde Onasanya