On Tuesday 8 August 2023, the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) organised a “Thank You Dinner” in honour of Senator Olurunnimbe Mamora for his immense contribution and support for public health in Nigeria.
The dinner, which held at the Exclusive Serene Hotel in Abuja was graced by eminent dignitaries including serving and former ministers, members of the federal and state houses of assembly and the development and civil society community. They include former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, former governor of Ogun state, Senator Gbenga Daniel, Senator Magnus Abe, Senator Victor Ndoma Egba, Hon. Wale Ahmed, and former Women Affairs Minister, Paulen Tallen, among others.
Representatives from the development and civil society community came from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI), and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK).
In his welcome, CAPPA Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi said Senator Mamora is worthy of the honour he was being accorded by the organisation because of the pivotal roles he played in the Sixth National Assembly leading to the first effort to pass Nigeria’s National Tobacco Control Bill into law in 2011.
Oluwafemi explained that though the process of passage of the Tobacco Bill was stalled in the Sixth Assembly due to uncontrollable circumstances, Senator Mamora still played behind-the-scenes roles which culminated in the bill becoming an Act in 2015 under the Seventh Assembly. He was also a strategic pillar for the #Transfatfree Nigeria Coalition in the processes that led to the gazette of the Fats and Oils Regulations 2022 which addresses the consumption of transfats and its negative health impacts among Nigerians.
Oluwafemi stated that CAPPA’s campaign urging the federal government to increase the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSB) Tax from N10 per litre to the World Health Organisation’s recommended minimum of a 20 percent increase on the final retail price of SSBs has gained traction, thanks to the senator’s support at the Ministry of Health, where he previously served as Minister of State.
One of the attendees, former SGF, Boss Mustapha said that his path crossed with that of Dr. Mamora in his days as the deputy national chairman of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), describing the senator as simple and ordinary.
“He treats you with every iota of respect. When he speaks at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, we all listen carefully because his analysis of the issues at stake are in-depth”.
Other participants described their cordial working relationship with Senator Mamora when he was the Speaker of the Lagos House of Assembly, the Director General of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), and as Minister. They averred that his depth and attention to detail were magnets that attracted everyone to him.
In his response, Senator Mamora who served as a two-term senator, said he was overwhelmed by the support and the love that the guests have shown him by virtue of their presence at the dinner and their warm words.
Taking attendees down the memory lane, Mamora recalled that efforts to enact the National Tobacco Control Act in the Sixth Assembly was a tough battle because lobbyists sponsored by the tobacco industry worked assiduously to stall the passage of the law at both the Senate and House of Representatives.
Recollecting his years as Speaker at the Lagos State House of Assembly, at the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), and finally, as Minister, he urged those entrusted with the leadership in the country to leave behind a legacy to be reckoned with in view of the transient nature of power.
He explained that his dedication to work is because of his conviction that public office is a public trust, service, and an opportunity to influence decisions on the positive side.
The high point of the event was when Mamora, flanked by his wife – Olanlesi Mamora received the CAPPA award and other packaged gifts flanked by government officials and members of the civil society community from various states of the federation.
The CAPPA award adds to a list of notable recognitions that Mamora has received both at home and abroad. Among these are: Decorated Trans Fat-Free Nigeria Champion in 2021, Zik Prize in Political Leadership in 2020, Legislator of the Year Award by the Sardauna Excellence and Leadership Award in 2010, and Hero of Democracy Award, by Friends of Nigeria, following his role in aborting the “third term agenda” in 2006.
He was admitted into the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) National Roll of Honour in 2006. He received the Distinguished Alumnus Award for Outstanding Public Service by the Obafemi Awolowo University, Alumni in 2002 as well as the Distinguished Old Students Award by Ijebu-Ode Grammar School Old Students Association in 1999, among others.