By Samuel Adegoke
Professor Joseph Olowofela, a close associate of the late former governor of Oyo State Abiola Ajimobi, has disclosed that unknown to many, the late governor wanted Governor Seyi Makinde to succeed.
He said Ajimobi saw himself as a statesman who wished Makinde to build on the foundation he laid for eight years for the good of Oyo State as a whole.
Olowofela also revealed that behind Ajimobi’s steel heart and bravery was an emotional man who sometimes cried.
He said that people only knew a tough Abiola Ajimobi, who would not bend in taking tough decisions. At a personal level, Olowofela said there were occasions when the late governor betrayed emotion.
The don, who served under Ajimobi, first as a local government chairman and later as the Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, recalled that the late politician cried recently when Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun visited him in his Ibadan home after winning his election last year.
According to him, Ajimobi, after listening to Abiodun , who recalled the journey to the governorship position, thanking Ajimobi for his support, the late politician burst into tears while giving his response. He said Ajimobi recalled that Abiodun’s son had visited him some years earlier during which he appealed to him (Ajimobi) to please help his father to become a governor like him.
Olowofela said Ajimobi burst into tears as he pointed out that Abiodun’s son, who had made the request, did not live to witness his father’s coming to power.
His words: “One aspect that is hidden to most people is that he was a highly emotional person. When you look at the current governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun, when he came to visit Ajimobi in Ibadan after his election, at a point, Governor Ajimobi was talking and he started crying. When I tell people that Ajimobi cries, they argue with me, saying he has the heart of stone. Dapo Abiodun’s son sometime ago came to Ajimobi and begged him to help his father become governor. Ajimobi told him that his father would be governor at God’s appointed time. Why he cried was that while his father has become governor, the boy is late.
“Another instance was when the late Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Hon. Michael Adeyemo died. He was terribly shaken. But people didn’t know that side of him. “
Olowofela said none of his close associates saw death coming, stressing that Ajimobi was very strong and healthy.
On how Ajimobi reacted to Governor Seyi Makinde’s style of governance, Olowofela said: “You may not believe this: Ajimobi loved Seyi Makinde. That’s the fact. But he did not understand why Makinde did not face the business of governance. He believed that after winning the election, throwing of brickbats and political criticism should stop while the newly elected would focus on the business of governance. Whenever he heard some of those things, he would just laugh and wonder why a governor was not facing the serious business of governance. Don’t forget that Makinde was once with him in the same political ship. Naturally, Ajimobi wanted Bayo Adelabu as his successor. But since providence brought Makinde, he was just watching him. At a stage, he said the man was distracting himself by focusing on his own (Ajimobi)’s administration.
“You know, people always look at the flamboyant aspect of the people in government but when it comes to the nitty gritty of governance, you may not like to be a governor. It is a serious job which takes all of your time and energy. Yet, the opposition may not see anything good in what you are doing. Ajimobi was wondering why Makinde was not concentrating his energy on governance. You must be focused and courageous because in politics everybody is an expert. They know how best to do it by words of mouth but when it comes to handling the task, you will realize that it is not bread and butter.
” He wanted Makinde to succeed because he (Ajimobi) loves him and has raised the bar of governance in the state. Every father wants his children to be greater than them.”