Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim started exhibiting leadership qualities from elementary and secondary school days. There are many instances; In Cherubim and Seraphim College, he was appointed Health Prefect as well as elected President of the Dramatic Society. At the School of Basic Studies, he was elected General Secretary of the Anti-Apartheid Association, Youth Solidarity on Southern Africa. In 1988, he was elected one of the leaders of the very active National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS). He was incarcerated under the Detention of Persons Decree 2 of 1984 (as amended in 1989), as a result of his leadership role in 1989 Anti-SAP protests, and his Pro-Democracy activities. The Amnesty International adopted him Prisoner of conscience for Nigeria in 1989. He was also a notable Pro-Democracy figure in the then Global Pro-Democracy resistance of the late ‘80s and a respected Youth leadership voice from Africa. He played prominent role in the 13th International Festival of Youths and Students in 1989 in Pyong, North Korea.
In 1990, Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim became the National Administrative Secretary of the National Consultative Forum led by the indefatigable patriot and democrat extraordinaire, former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Alao Aka
Bashorun. The group had in its fold, the technocratic group led by Alhaji Danshida, Tayo Akpata, Philip Asiodu, etc. It also had a political group led by former Zikist activists, such as Chief Kola Balogun and others like, Chief RBK Okafor, Mahmud Waziri and Alhaji Tanko Yakasai. The group was the first to raise the need for devolution of power and advocated for the convocation of a National conference as a programme of democratization of Nigeria under Military rule.
Born in Yelwa, Yauri, Kebbi State by a Yoruba mother to a Hausa father. Gbenga spent his early years in New-Bussa, Niger State and was raised in the family of his step-father. A Christian. He attended NEPA Junior Staff School, New Bussa; Cherubim and Seraphim College, Ilorin; School of Basic Studies, Ilorin; University of Lagos and University of Buckingham, United Kingdom, where he obtained a Masters Degree in Global Affairs and was best student in his cohort, securing the Max beloff Prize for Global Affairs. He was also the first student to obtain a distinction in the department course – History of the international systems.
In a correspondence to Gbenga on the Max Beloff prize won, the chairman of the International Studies Degree Programmes, M.J.M. Crostie wrote, “It is always pleasant to dwell on success and you should make a point of mentioning the prize in your curriculum vitae because it is this sort of distinction that will set you apart from other candidates.” He has also received training at the International Human Resources Development Centre – Boston Massachuset, United States.
Mentored into partisan politics by the progressive stock of politician led by the duo of Late Chief Solomon Lar and Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, Gbenga had onetime functioned as the National Publicity Secretary of the National Democratic Party, under the joint chairmanship of Ambassador Jolly Tanko Yusuf and Alhaji Yunusa Kaltungo. In 1998, working closely under the supervision of Professor Jerry Gana (Secretary), Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim and two other young political leaders; Late Senator Dahiru Ahwesu Khuta (Administration) and Dubem Onyia (Organization), helped in the years of the G-34 initiative for the formation of political parties at the group’s secretariat. Gbenga was responsible for the publicity beat.
After the election of President Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999, in the intervening transitional period, Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim served as member/Secretary Youth and Women Development Sub-Committee of the General T.Y. Danjuma Policy Advisory Committee with Late Hajia Laila Dogonyaro as chairman of the Youth and Women Sub-committee.
In 1999, Gbenga was elected as the first Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the then ruling Party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He was a highly influential national officer and became the founding chairman of the Group of 54 NEC members. The group had His Excellency, Dr. Chris Ngige as Secretary and Alhaji Ahmed Gusau, former Minister of Mines, as Deputy chairman.
He was known for his commitment to the principle of internal democracy in the party, transparency and good governance. As a national officer, he spoke truth to power then at great risks.
Speaking of Olawepo-Hashim’s courage, deep patriotism, and selflessness; Late Chief Ojo Maduekwe, former Nigerian Foreign affairs Minister and Nigerian High Commissioner to Canada, said at a reception in 2005; “The lives of people like Gbenga should inspire us to speak well of ourselves. Gbenga is an inner driven person, not afraid to stand alone, not afraid to be unpopular, not afraid to hold a view. A man who is inner driven, listens to the music of his own universe, listens to the applause of the spirit inside that have etched out an horizon, which he must conquer and moving in that direction; he takes the lead and others follow. Who can see the horizon with him, of such is the stuff of history, of such is the stuff of greatness.”
He was appointed in 2003 as a member of the Political Advisory Committee to the President (In the office of the Political Advisor.) A national Bridge-Builder and complete detribalized, charismatic and excellent negotiator. Gbenga’s experience and deep roots in popular organisation’s and the broad political sphere will be useful in formulating a national
consensus for Nigeria and Unity at a time of great division.
His understanding of political economy and the global architecture of international finance will also be invaluable for an economy that desperately needs growth and development and a people that urgently need prosperity.
Mr. Olawepo-Hashim has won many recognitions and honours including The Kwame Nkrumah African Leadership Award conferred by the continental student body – All African Student Union, at Accra Ghana in 2003; The Veteran Award-in 2005 by the International Union of Students and World Federation of Democratic Youths, (WFDY). He has also received the 2000 Nigerian Union of Journalist Award for Professional Excellence. He is a fellow of the Institute of Corporate Administration.