Remi Sonaiya was born on March 2nd, 1955. She began her schooling in 1961 at St. Luke’s Demonstration School, Ibadan, from where she proceeded to St. Anne’s School, also in Ibadan, for her secondary education.
She obtained a Bachelor of Arts in French from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) in 1977, graduating with the best result in her faculty, did her Youth Service at the Nigeria Military School, Zaria, got married, and proceeded to Cornell University, USA, from where she obtained an M. A. in French Literature.
Back in Nigeria, she enrolled for another Masters degree program, this time in Linguistics, which she obtained in 1984, and immediately returned to Cornell University for her PhD studies in Linguistics. She graduated from Cornell in 1988 and returned to continue lecturing in the Department of Foreign Languages of the Obafemi Awolowo University which she had joined in 1982 as an Assistant Lecturer. She became a professor of French Language and Applied Linguistics in 2001.
After the just concluded presidential elections of which she was an aspirant, she came third in the race won by Muhammadu Buhari. She released her post-election statement. Read it below.
My fellow Nigerians,
Roughly four months ago, I signified my intention to represent KOWA Party at the presidential elections. I was involved in a primary with three other aspirants and emerged our Party’s nominee. The period between then and now has been challenging, revealing and deeply rewarding. Understandably, given our political culture, we were met from some quarters with cynicism from the very beginning, ours being a relatively new party with little funding and no known heavyweights. At the same time, many Nigerians saw in our audacious candidacy the possibility of real change and a clear departure from what we have known so far as a nation.
I am proud of what we have achieved over this very short period. KOWA is now known not only across Nigeria but also by many people in the international space. We performed far above what we were expected to in every state of the Federation, and enquiries have been pouring in from many interested and inspired individuals across the nation, asking how they can join our party and help spread its ideals. (Kindly visit www.kowaparty.net.)
This experience has made me, now more than ever, convinced of the need for a value re-orientation in our country. As a society we appear to celebrate people who represent the ills we complain about, or are prepared to look the other way when they offer us temporary palliatives. This has to change, and I hope to work with my Party to continue to spread this message without which our hope of building a just and prosperous nation will forever remain a mirage.
I am also convinced that there is a quiet majority out there who see the truth in our message that only a leader with strong values and an independent mind can give us the change we need. As such, I intend to spend the coming years working with other members to grow KOWA Party and establish it as a solid and attractive platform of excellence for politicians of character and integrity.
Finally, many may not be aware, but the core support for my campaign was provided by volunteers. Ordinary people like me, who shared our message broadly in spite of disbelief and even derision from some supporters of some larger parties. To these ordinary people who saw themselves in my candidacy and made sacrifices to actualize our dream, I am greatly indebted and hereby express my profound gratitude.
This is not the end. This is only the beginning. The power to change Nigeria for good lies in all of us. While we congratulate the incoming government on their victory at the polls, we also remind them that something has changed significantly about the Nigerian people at this election, and that governments will from now on be held to account. God bless you all, and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Professor Oluremi SONAIYA