Sanya Dojo Onabamiro, lived between 1913 and 1985), was a Nigerian Copepodologist and Statesman. One of his finest intelligentsia.
However, one obvious or rather evident demerit of this brilliant Nigerian was his inability to keep secrets.
As a student of history, I first met him in the National Archive Ibadan in 2011 while writing the book Chief Obafemi Awolowo: The Political Moses the Political Moses published by Trafford Publishing, United States of America.
I met Dr Sanya 26 years after his death (1985). I didn’t meet him alive, I met him in history as one of the ‘core’ Judas that Chief Awolowo’s political enemies used to incarcerate him.
I reported our unpleasant meeting on page 64 of the book thus:
“On Wednesday, December 12, 1962, still in the treason trial in the court, Dr Sanya Onabamiro of the Action Group came on board as another witness against Awo. Dr Onabamiro told the court that when he decided to pull out of a committee (a committee set up to overthrow the government), he had offered to take an oath to keep the plot secret. He said this to Chief Anthony Enahoro, another member of the AG and the committee replied, ‘ that was not necessary, so long as we knew ourselves and would not talk. You go!We will watch and see if our secret is divulged (West African Pilot, 1962).’
‘Dr Onabimiro presented this against Chief Awolowo in court. He later agreed under cross examination of Chief Awolowo that anybody who was privy to plans for a coup would usually be killed if he wanted to leave plotters or keep within the group at all cost.’
Awo then asked him ‘ In your case you were allowed to go free?’
‘ it’s not very easy to kill me, you know.’_Onabamiro
I have taken this extracts to explain the creature Onabamiro was. He was fearless, bold and perhaps, garrulous. His witness earned Awolowo ten years, five years and two years imprisonment with sentence to be concurrent in June 27, 1963.
After my meeting with Dr Onabamiro at the national Archive, Ibadan in 2011. I have searched for his whereabouts, until few days ago when I came across him in Dr Tai Solarin’s book ‘To mother with Love: An Experiment in Auto-Biography’, published by Board Publications Limited, Ibadan in 1987.
On page 114, Dr Tai recounted how he met the Brilliant Mr Sanya Dojo Onabamiro in Manchester while he was a student of University of Manchester reading Zoology.
Dr Tai put it thus ‘ I let Sanya into the secret of my moving into Manchester. I had more in common with him than I had with Ogunsanya (referring to the popular Adeniran Ogunsanya). Ogunsanya was from Lagos and, I got to know later, a product of King’s College. Sanya was a product of Wesley College, Ibadan.’
Tai needed admission with Manchester University, but he won’t be admitted with his Wesley College result, he would have to take an entrance examination in which Mathematics was core.
Tai was not academically sound at this time. He had great difficulty in Mathematics. To gain admission to Manchester, he would have to pass English, History, Geography and Mathematics.
He approached Mr Onabamiro for help in Mathematics and he agreed helping him. After working so hard with Sanya on Mathematics, Sanya stopped coming to his aid. Then he dropped a letter for him.
Tai put it thus on page 117 of his autobiography’ I got a letter which he must have dropped into the mail box the night before.
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It was a long letter telling me what he thought of me and my attitude to work. He ended by strongly suggesting to me that I should go on my hands and kneels and beg the Colonial Office to grant me a bursary to go and do a year’s teacher’s course in Malet street, in the School of Oriental and African Studies, London University. Several Nigerians had benefited from the course. That was all i needed. A university education was not even necessary for my future service in Nigeria. All I needed was just a year’s crown on the Wesley College certificate which, I should remember, was meant for the redemption of the whole of West Africa. He would therefore no more come to give me a help which he was sure would prove abortive.’
Tai then added ‘ I could read so many things into that letter. Every one of the sentences had a sinister connotation. I sat down and wrote back, telling him what I thought of his suggestion. I ended by quoting ‘ if my inevitable doom-so it seems -overtake me today, I shall die, as I have lived, the responsible centre of my world.’ The letter carried a date in 1946.
Tai’s disappointment was not towering until he met Adeniran few days later only to be told that Sanya discussed his secret and case with him. The following Saturday, at the International Club, Tai met again another Nigerian student from Manchester University, one Mr Oyenuga who also claimed Mr Sanya discussed Tai’s predicaments with him. Oyenuga added ‘… do not make a mistake in making your choice.’
Tai then left the vicinity. He didn’t want another person to come meet him on the same issue. He felt terribly bad about how Mr Sanya had ridiculed him in the face of many.
He went more prepared, wrote the registrar of Manchester University, he read, sat for the entrance examination after training himself for several months in the courses. This time, he passed and was returned admitted into the University. Something Mr Sanya Dojo Onabamiro said would never be possible.
Dr Tai’s book gave me a good insight into why Sanya Dojo Onabamiro could successfully played the role of Judas in Chief Awolowo’s trail. Perhaps, this man in his lifetime was used to talking too much with strong disability to keeping other’s secret. If not, how could you possibly stand before a judge to crucify your friend and leader?
Many people are like him. Most of whom are very close to us. They can’t keep secret. Although they are not entirely bad, but if you have anything unpleasant about yourself, it’s wise you keep it with yourself. Because your closest friend may be like Sanya Dojo Onabamiro. Though brilliant but a blabbermouth.
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