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Comrade Laoye Sanda transcended being merely a popular Socialist; he was an exceptional leader and mentor, leaving a profound impact on numerous individuals. His resounding voice resonated with the struggles of the oppressed, illuminating their path with hope. Throughout his life, he actively engaged in various protests and campaigns, all dedicated to improving the lives of the masses. 

Reflecting upon Nigeria's Democracy Day, it would be inadequate not to acknowledge the significant contributions made by Comrade Laoye Sanda. Personally, I take great pride in having been taught by such an influential figure.

My encounter with Comrade Laoye Sanda took place around 2010 during a workshop organized by the Oyo State branch of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Representing the now-defunct African Renaissance Party (ARP), I attended the workshop while Comrade Laoye Sanda represented the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) as its Southwest Chairman. Following the workshop, Comrade Laoye Sanda extended an invitation to all the participating political parties, which occurred during the political administration of the Late Otunba Alao Akala, then known as the OYATO Governor. Otunba Akala's tenure was marred by extravagant spending and thuggery.

During the meeting, a new movement was established, named the Coalition for A New Nigeria (CNN). I later discovered that the late Balarabe Musa, one of the founders of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) and former Governor of the Old Kaduna State, had founded the Coalition for A New Nigeria (CNN). Alh. Balarabe Musa, who served as the National Chairman of the Peoples Redemption Party and the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP), was a major voice against the political administration of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) headed by President Goodluck Jonthan then. The Coalition for A New Nigeria emerged as one of the movements he believed could seize power from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the federal level.

During the meeting, Comrade Laoye Sanda sought someone to take on the task of writing the meeting minutes. However, no one expressed interest except for my boss, Dr. Smart Awopegba, who was then serving as the Chairman of the now defunct Progressive Action Congress (PAC). Having read many of my write-ups, Dr. Awopegba recommended me to Comrade Laoye Sanda, and I was entrusted with the responsibility of writing the minutes. As a result, I eventually assumed the role of Oyo State Secretary for the Coalition for A New Nigeria (CNN), while Comrade Laoye Sanda remained the Chairman of the Coalition.

Following the meeting, Comrade Laoye Sanda kindly offered to drive me to my father's office in Mokola. During our conversation there, he realized that I too was a committed comrade. Prior to joining the African Renaissance Party (ARP), I had served as the Nigerian Director of the Good Governance Club and had been the former President of the Conference of Young Nigerian Democrats. The Good Governance Club maintained affiliations with the United Nations and other international organizations, and I represented them in Nigeria. The club had issued a directive from its headquarters, urging all country representatives to engage in politics, which prompted me and other members to join various political parties at the time. The Good Governance Club operated on socialist principles, and it was within this club that I organized my first protest and political rally.

Comrade Laoye Sanda and I jointly led the Coalition for A New Nigeria for a year, with fifteen registered political parties as members. During this period, we issued numerous press releases criticizing the government of Otunba Alao Akala, participated in various protests and political rallies (I still possess some of the minutes, releases, and posters from that struggle).

Our primary target audience was the voters, and we endeavored to raise awareness among them about the detrimental consequences of Otunba Alao Akala's reelection bid. However, within the CNN, the number of politicians outweighed that of the activists, resulting in their dominance in most of our meetings. Nonetheless, Comrade Laoye Sanda effectively employed his activist experience to make a significant impact.

It was Comrade Laoye Sanda who provided the financial support for the struggle. I recall him giving me money for tasks such as photocopying and typing the minutes. During my time at CNN, I encountered Comrade Lamidi Apapa, who is currently the Acting National Chairman of the Labour Party. At that time, he served as the Vice Chairman of the Movement and the Oyo State Chairman of the Labour Party. Comrade Lamidi Apapa played a significant role in contributing both financially and in other forms to the movement's success. Our meetings took place in various political party offices and at the residence of Comrade Ola Oni in Bodija. It was at CNN where I also met other young comrades like Wale Aluta, a former UI SUG President, Comrade Lawal Kehinde, and Wale Oni, one of the sons of the late Comrade Ola Oni. Under the guidance of Comrade Laoye Sanda, we were all taught the fundamentals of Socialist Democracy. We were his protégés, serving and learning the essentials of political struggles, protests, rallies, and what it truly meant to be a comrade.

During my time at CNN, Comrade Loye Sanda offered me the position of State Secretary/Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) in Oyo State. Consequently, I switched from the African Renaissance Party (ARP) to the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) under the Southwest regional leadership of Comrade Laoye Sanda. It was during my tenure with PRP that I began engaging in professional activism. I attended socialist lectures at his residence on Old Ife Road, and it was during this period that he appointed me as the President of the Yoruba Progressive Youth Movement, a radical youth movement founded by him. He also provided me with socialist literature to read.

Attending meetings during that time was not easy. Regardless of whether I had money or not, I had to find a way to make it to the meetings. Sometimes, when I lacked funds, I would walk from my father's office in Mokola to Labiran at Beere, which served as our meeting point. Other times, I walked from Mokola to Idi Ape, where the former Secretariat of the Labour Party was located. 

Eventually, the meetings moved to Sango, opposite Sango Cemetery. There were occasions when I attended without having anything to eat. There was even a time when I trekked from Mokola to Comrade Laoye's house on Old Ife Road. However, upon arrival at the meeting, he would provide us with transportation fare and food. Comrade Laoye trained us to face challenges head-on, and we grew accustomed to them. The lessons we learned from him during this training proved valuable in my later life.

Comrade Laoye Sanda, a humble man, holds a special place in my memories. After concluding a state meeting of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) at our Labiran Secretariat one day, we needed to discuss pressing matters with the National Chairman of the Party, Alh. Balarabe Musa. Typically, my Chairman would summon me to meet him at the residence of Comrade Laoye Sanda, where we could present our requests while he dialed Alh. Balarabe Musa's number in our presence. However, there was an occasion when our state meeting ended at our Labiran office and we sought to converse with Alh. Balarabe Musa. As usual, we visited Comrade Laoye Sanda's house and explained the purpose of our visit. In response, he promptly picked up his phone and contacted Alh. Balarabe Musa, discussing our concerns with him. As we departed, Comrade Laoye Sanda pulled me aside and entrusted me with Alh. Balarabe Musa's contact number, urging me to directly engage with him whenever there were party matters to discuss. He expressed his confidence in me to my Chairman, Alh. Ibrahim Gazali.

On the eve of the 2011 Governorship election in Oyo State, Comrade Laoye Sanda and I found ourselves in the sitting room of the late governor, presenting him with the report on our movement (CNN) and providing updates on various developments. He graciously attended to us, and we briefed him accordingly.

Our struggles during 2010/2011 eventually bore fruit when the incumbent, Otunba Alao Akala, lost the 2011 Governorship Election to the candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Senator Abiola Ajimobi. Recognizing Comrade Laoye Sanda's contributions, he was appointed as a member of the Governing Board of the Polytechnic, Ibadan. Upon learning of his appointment, I confidently affirmed to a friend that he deserved it. In fact, Comrade Sanda had been the primary writer of the slogans and messages displayed on the placards during Senator Abiola Ajimobi's rallies and campaigns in 2011. When Comrade Laoye Sanda received his first salary, he selflessly shared it among all of us.

There is much more to share about my experiences with Comrade Laoye Sanda, but I will save it for the second part of this article.

Wole Adedoyin holds the position of National Coordinator in both the Writers for Democratic Change (WDC) and the Democratic Writers Association of Nigeria (DWAN). Additionally, he is recognized as the inaugural Secretary of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) in Oyo State and has previously served as the Secretary of the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) in Oyo State.

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