By Dr. Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi
My brother and colleague Mr. Oladayo Olaide adds another year today to his age. The joyous occasion presents an opportunity to embark on an excursion down memory lane. My bond of comradeship with the celebrant dates back to the late 1990s. It was a time of turbulence all over Nigeria; military dictatorship held the country in its vice-like grip. On all fronts, there were struggles to be waged in order to counter the excesses of the military, their relentless impunity, and disregard for human rights.
And because it was clear who the enemies of the people were, as activists we squarely took them on using the weapons of protests, rallies, press statements, and symposiums. Dayo was in the Finance Department of the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO). I was not a staff of the CLO, but my work in leading the reinstatement struggle of the sacked 2,022 workers of the Security Printing and Minting Company brought me close to the work of the CLO. As I got to know Dayo, one thing which I noticed stood him out was his readiness to engage beyond his primary area of responsibility.
Dayo always showed keenness and was ever switched on when the great issues facing the country were being discussed. As activists, we knew we needed to bond together to be an effective force of resistance against the monster of military dictatorship. Keeping in touch was not easy at the time; there were no mobile phones, neither were there convenient options for communication like Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, or Instagram.
Notwithstanding all these difficulties, Dayo and I would always keep in touch. As a Comrade, he would always demonstrate his solidarity not just in the realm of rhetoric. He would ask after my family, and we would have long and very frank discussions about our respective roles in the struggle to rescue Nigeria from the doldrums.
Long after I moved from Lagos to Kano, we very much remained in touch exchanging ideas. Dayo loves crunching figures. His activism does not consist of easy to mouth slogans. He is a development practitioner who takes a hard look at data before making suggestions about the way forward for the country. The celebrant also has my respect for his versatility and broad-mindedness. For someone who joined development work as an accountant, it is a testament to his vast capacity that he refused to remain in his comfort zone. He was very quick to diversify his capacity such that he soon emerged as a leading expert in economic governance, grant and program management, fundraising, and organizational development.
Last year was another very proud moment when the celebrant was conferred with the Fellowship status of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN). The Fellowship Status of ICAN is the highest a member can attain in his professional career as a Chartered Accountant. The President of ICAN by the powers conferred on him by the Council awards the Fellowship Status to members who have been found worthy through their actions, consistency, and behavior in upholding the ethics of the accountancy profession. At the time of the conferment, ICAN had a membership of 46,591 out of which 13,287 are fellows.
Dayo joined the distinguished cohort of 1,301 members who were awarded the accountancy profession’s highest honor in Nigeria in 2019. That was no mean feat. Dayo has achieved the many milestones of his career as a result of decades of consistent and committed pursuit of excellence, through thorough professionalism, resilience, and integrity. His rise to the highest level of the accountancy profession and to the major heights of the development sector was achieved by the willingness to make sacrifices for higher ideals.
It is therefore not a surprise that Dayo’s career trajectory is one full of inspiring stories of utmost professionalism. His very rich and diverse tour of duty has seen him work as Manager, Economics and Natural Resources (British Council); Regional Manager Economic Governance, and Nigeria Country Head (Open Society Initiative for West Africa); Senior Programme Officer and Project Accountant (Civil Liberties Organisation). One other unique attribute of Mr. Olaide is the passion he brings to his work in campaigning on development issues. His incisive fact-driven analysis on key development questions facing Nigeria and the African continent have served as rallying points for civic activism in Nigeria. Although accountancy is his primary calling, Mr. Olaide’s knack for excellence has seen him become an encyclopedic source of knowledge on such issues as illicit financial flows, the role of youth in development and governance of natural resources in West Africa.
Dayo’s faith in Nigeria is apparent in the amount of time he devotes to mentor young people, activists, and startups to improve their capacity to program, fundraise, and advocate change. The celebrant is a man whose altruism, patriotism, and unflinching commitment to the greater good, inspires collective hope. He is indeed a jolly good fellow, a dependable colleague, brother, and friend. On behalf of the Board of Directors, and Secretariat of the Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED), I celebrate this icon of the development sector as he marks the milestone of another impactful year today. Happy birthday to Mr. (Comrade) Oladayo Olaide, wishing you many more splendid returns of the special day. We wish him many more years of selfless service to our sector, and Nigeria at large.