Hon. Yaya Adeniyi Ebudola Dosunmu needs no introduction in any circle in Lagos Island, Eti Osa, and Lagos State in general. Be it political, social, cultural or any religious congregations. For he’s being there since the early sixties, first as a Teacher, a Civil Servant with the Lagos City Council or a community worker and since the beginning of the Second Republic, a political titan.
He is an archetypal religion leader, community leader, political leader and also a social contact person not only in the urban Lagos Island but also throughout the length and breadth of the burgeoning rural Eti Osa Community of Lagos State.
A son of a traditional leader, his father late Alhaji Dosunmu was the Baale of Addo Village, in Eti Osa area of the Lekki Peninsula, while his mother was from Ajah town, in the same Lekki Peninsula axis of Lagos State. Gentle mannered, peaceful mien, extremely calm, Hon. Yaya (as he preferred to be called) never carried his privileged aristocratic background around.
He recently celebrated his 80th birthday anniversary and he took time out to sit down and recounts this interesting story about his life with the FEFERITY MAGAZINE.
Hon. Yaya did not register his name in the consciousness of the people by hyper stance, neither by offering peanuts, or the nebulous stomach infrastructure of today. He did by a dint of hard work and proactively sensitive representation of the peoples’ interests. He gave his all in the service of his people, and the people reciprocated with their unflinching love and support. The people still recall with deep affection his famous one-man protests at the floor of the Lagos House of Assembly between 1979 and 1983 to drive home his agitation for the opening up of the area, and particularly, the construction of the Lekki/Epe Expressway, he wore rain booths to the plenary sessions of the House since his Constituency was water-logged and thereby unpassable.
He recalled the unique experience: “At the time, the entire Eti Osa community was totally cut off from Lagos metropolis. One can only assess the place through Ikorodu axis. The entire Eti Osa, now Lekki Peninsula, was then a huge rural community devoid of any means of land transportation, communication and electricity. Hon. Dosunmu, a member representing the community at the House of Assembly then decided to take a radical step in order to force the attention of the government of the day to the plights of his people. He started wearing rain boots to the Plenary Session of the House as a protest for the poor living conditions of his people. The government of Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande, then Executive Governor of the Lagos State waste no time, despite negative comments from some sections of the House and even the State, to start the construction of the Lekki-Epe Expressway. Today, the expressway was the catalyst the whole area needed to open up. And today, Hon. Yaya Dosunmu with some other leaders is full of joy for the success of their efforts’. Said an elder of the larger Eti Osa community, Alhaji Yekinni Bakare in an interview.
Hon. Yaya Adeniyi Dosunmu was born on December 25, 1939. His father Chief Dosunmu was the Baale of Addo Village, and his mother was Alhaja Simbiat Ajoke Dosunmu nee Shitta from Ajah town, also in Eti Osa.
Interestingly, the young Yaya was able to go to school by accident. By accident in the sense that his parents, like many at the time, were not prepared to send their kids to schools, because there were no schools around Eti Osa at the time. But fortunately, the Native Authority of the colonial masters decided to bring a primary to Addo village around 1947. This primary school served the entire communities of Addo, Ogombo, Badore, Sangotedo. Langbasa and others.
‘At the time, we have almost become boys before we started schools. Also, the approved curriculum of the school stopped at primary 4 at the time, and after that one either go and learn a trade or go to ikorodu or Lagos to continue with his education.
‘Good enough, we are from Lagos. So it was not difficult for my father to send me to Lagos to continue with my education. That was how I relocated to the island. St Patrick pry school idumagbo. It was there I met Adesye Ogunlewe now and Engineer and a former Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and a host of other friends. But because of financial constraints, I could not go to normal secondary schools. I was given admission to some schools, but I could not go. It was by the Grace of God and my Uncle Alhaji Baruwa Etti that I was able to get some education because they had suggested I should go and learn auto mechanic. I refused to learn the trade and my uncle came up to assist. It was him that advised my father to send me to the Teachers’ Training College. My father agreed.
‘Ansar Ur Deen society of Nigeria took up the financial responsibilities at the Muslims teachers college founded by the Ansar Ur Deen society. I taught for some 2 years before going to the federal government teachers college, Surulere for an advanced teacher’s certificate.
\I came back and taught for about 6 years as an assistant Head Master at various Ansar Ur Deen schools in Lagos Island. All through my teaching days, I was studying privately through the Rapid Results College and passed 5 papers at the GCE Ordinary Level. This encouraged me to enrol for the adult’s education programme when the Federal Government introduced it.
‘After passing the GCE AL, I then applied for a Civil Service job from the Lagos city council. I was employed as the Community Development Officer in 1966. The chairman of the Council then was Alhaji Masha. It was at the Council that I attended Sandwich courses where I obtained a national diploma in community development. I spent 10 years in the council.
‘While working as a Civil Servant, I was introduced to some personalities that were to reshape my life later. First was late Alhaji Ganiyu Olawale Dawodu, then Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande. At Addo village, I was the General Secretary of Addo Community Development Council. We always organize annual picnic every Easter. We decided to invite both late Alhaji Ganiyu Olawale Dawodu and Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande. At the time, late Alhaji Ganiyu Olawale Dawodu was a serving Commissioner in the Government of the pioneer Governor of Lagos State, late Brigadier Mobolaji Johnson. It was late Dawodu that brought me into active politics.
‘I later became a member of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s Committee of Friends. We were holding our meetings at Architect Sunbo Onitiri house in Surulere, Lagos. Therefore when the 1976 political reforms were unveiled, I was given the responsibilities of overseeing Maroko and Eti Osa. We did very well. Though our candidate lost, the votes were very close’, he recounted.
Most surprisingly, Hon. Dosunmu was not thinking of contesting for any elective positions while he was doing all these. He said: ‘I was working for the party and determined to see late Pa Obafemi Awolowo emerged the President of the country once the military leaves the stage in October of 1979’.
All these changed when the people of his Constituency came to him and offered him the ticket to represent them at the House of Assembly. All attempts to refuse the offer were rebuffed. ‘I consulted some elders, Obas, Baales, and religious leaders who also advised I should take the offer. I, therefore, was left with no choice, than to accept their request’, he said.
He represented the interests of the constituency so well that in 1983 when the bell rang for the nominations for the next general elections, no one came out to contest against him. It was a free ride. And since then, all candidates seeking for elective positions that enjoyed his backing have been pulling through in the area. Such is the level of the reverence he enjoyed among his people.
This was more corroborated by Omo Oba Murphy Adetoro, a one-time Chairman of the Eti Osa Local Government. According to him, Hon. Yahya Dosunmu was the architect of this wonderful development you see in Eti Osa today.
Story by; Afolayan Adeniyi, Lagos, Nigeria
Feferity (c), 2020