By Joseph Omoremi
The Three Musketeers was the name coined by the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, regarded as “the best president Nigeria never had.” Awolowo was referring to three outstanding journalists from the old Western Region of Nigeria.
These media gurus are:
Chief Olusegun Osoba who rose through the ranks to head Daily Sketch, Ibadan and Daily Times of Lagos Nigeria; Peter Ajayi, Osoba’s deputy both at Ilorin based Nigerian Herald and Daily Sketch;
Felix Adenaike is the last but not the least of the three, and was editor-in-chief at Tribune.
Adenaike, the only university graduate among the musketeers, reigned supreme at the National Tribune, Ibadan against the wishes of Oluwole Awolowo, the only surviving son of the late sage fondly called Awo, before his death in 1986.
The goodwill built by Osoba eventually earned him the governorship of Ogun State, Nigeria on two different electoral occasions while Ajayi was the last very notable managing Director of Sketch before it went under. Under him, The Guardian, Nigeria’s flagship newspaper was publishing three editions in Ibadan
Despite the shortcomings of managing government-funded newspapers or one owned by a towering political figure, i.e the Tribune owned by Chief Awolowo himself, the trio won the hearts of their readers without necessarily offending the government in power or their political proprietors.
They served the Western region and Nigeria as a whole well. Many years after they left office, the three musketeers are still respected and adorned across Nigeria.
But the same thing cannot be said of the three musketeers in the African, nay Nigerian community in Chicagoland. They are Ben Oluwole, real estate developer, Dr. Ewa I. Ewa, Chief Fiscal Officer, Illinois Historical Society in Springfield, Illinois and Andrew Eperi, publisher of AFRIQUE, the oldest African publication in Chicago.
Interestingly, these men have done many good deeds and continue to do good for the community but they hold strong and divergent opinions on how to move the African community forward and that in turn is factionalizing the community and thus reducing the African immigrants’ potential to reach out and attain to the top in the midst of very great resources and opportunities.
An African adage says where two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers most. The situation in Chicago is even worse because the fighters are three. Little wonder many African graduates are wondering aimlessly across Chicagoland in search of elusive jobs while others feed fat on us as a result of the divergent directions of our leaders.
The lucky among Nigerian-Americans working with governments are itching to quit as a result of the demeaning positions and treatment they receive at their place of work.
The defunct Nigerian National Alliance (NNA), a once vibrant organization that challenged the Nigeria’s maximum rulers has now become a tool being used to exploit and literarily dupe major corporations doing business in our community. A faction of the once united Nigerian community is exploiting and distorting the spirit of Biafra, to further keep Nigerian-Americans apart in the windy city.
Political leaders who once cherished and adored the Nigerian-Americans rich cultural heritage and longed to attend African functions and gatherings are now avoiding us like leapers.
Baffled at how many young, brilliant and energetic Africans are wasting away driving cabs in Chicago, one of the two senators in Illinois once quipped that “every Chicago cab driver is a Nigerian,” and before one could protest he said; there is no need to protest because many precious talents here are wasting away daily.
Instead of protesting, he continued, the community needs to figure out how to address it.
Unfortunately, many community leaders are not perturbed at the level of decadence in our community. In fact, they are looking at the other side of the aisle and perfecting ways to take advantage of the community in their vantage position.
This makes it more important for community leaders to move quickly and bring these musketeers together. And when they do, the potentials of Blacks will begin to unfold not only in the windy city, but across the United States. The time to act is now.