He was an Orator of uncommon dimension, active in Athletics, football and table tennis, including serving as games prefect, and popularly known as Ajipelago during his secondary school days, at Lagelu Grammar School, Ibadan.
Having acquired requisite educational background and reasonable wealth as a successful business man and resourceful senior staff of Total Oil, he made a foray into Oyo State active politics in 2003 and succeeded Senator Peter Adeyemi, who majority of the party members believed was not carrying people of his Oyo South senatorial district along well.
Within two years of his sojourn in the senate as the Deputy Minority Leader, he became so popular in the senate and among the people of his Oyo South senatorial district through his intellectual contributions and powerful motions on the floor of the senate and emotionally, they started calling him the incoming Governor of Oyo State for the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in 2007.
He defected to the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) towards the 2007 general election when itwas clear that he would be denied ticket in the Lam Adesina led Action Congress (AC) to contest the governorship election in Oyo State.
I was then Oluyole Federal House of Representatives’ aspirant before I, along with few other young contestants stepped down for Elder Olarinde as a mark of honour for Alhaji Lam Adesina and the party leaders, who believed the man would not have another chance to contest by 2011 due to his old age, around 70 years then.
He retraced his steps back to the progressives fold ahead of the 2011 general election and became the gubernatorial aspirant of Action Congress AC of Nigeria(ACN) led by former Governor Lam Adeshina.
He was quick to notice that getting the ticket would still be an heculian task and was not ready to decamp to any other party this time around.
While looking for like minds to fight the impending epic battle, he remembered me and put a call across. I picked the call and gladly responded “Your Excellency” to his Hello. Surprised by my quick recognition, he asked “se Awa ko ni yen ni?”. I said, “Awa ni sir”. “O ma ya mi lenu pe oni nomba mi, o de ki i pe mi?”. Meaning, “is that not Awa?”. I said ” Yes, it is Awa sir”. “Wonderful, you have my number and you didn’t deem it fit to be calling me?”. I replied, “Oro yin da bi eni ti o wa ni atimole ni, ti ko mo eni ti o nse ti ohun ni ita”. Interpretation, “your case is like someone in confinement and is not aware of the frantic efforts being made by his or her people to quickly secure his or her bail.”
Deeply satisfied by my explanation, he asked further, “where are you now?”. I said, “Ijebu – Jesa”. “What are you doing there?”. ” On my way to Ekiti State to see Governor Kayode Fayemi”. “Good, I did call you because I know you very well that you have a powerful Youth Network and hardly, will we see any leader of thought in Yorubaland and even beyond today that you will have difficulty in accessing. To be candid, if I don’t double my efforts, the gubernatorial ticket will surely elude me. Therefore, as a renowned Youth Leader, you must see this as our collective battle by making immediate move to start lobbying leaders that matter in this South West region, most especially Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Aregbesola and Kayode Fayemi for me”. “Your Excellency, we are on the same page even before this our father and son discussions. Having formalised the assignment now, I will surely get back to you sir”. All our discussions were purely in Yoruba language.
Realising that his counterpart in Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun would also need this kind of support, we equally carried him along in the scheme of things – mobilization of support.
I dropped my political ambition this time around in order to concentrate efforts in mobilising necessary support for both of them alongside Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, of Lagos State, for his own second term in office.
Between December 2004, when Senator Ibikunle Amosun sent his representative to the formal inauguration of Bola Ige Centre, held at Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja, till 2011, when he became Governor of Ogun State, he always routed his accounting firm’s annual diary to Prof Wole Soyinka through his P.A, Mr. Williams Ainabe, to us, for onward delivery.
As they all wished, every step we took, in addition to their own leadership efforts, in this direction, worked out to their favour and they were all appreciative of us and the party’s leaders.
For Senator Ajimobi, he introduced his Aide, Mr Tunde Muraina, to me at Alhaji Lam Adesina’s house for procurement of his latest picture for further reproduction of his campaign T-shirt, which to him was the best he had ever seen, courtesy, Grand Council of Yoruba Youths, and Hon. Rasaq Olubodun as P.A. I was with him, at his request, throughout the eve of 2011 general election till day break, when I left for my Ward for the election and still monitored the counting of votes till he was declared Winner of the governorship election. It was on record that our group’s involvement in his campaign was self -financed.
I was with him for about 2 weeks before travelling out of Ibadan. Among the earlier callers in his house was Arc Muyiwa Ige. He made sure that I was part of his entourage that went to the Late Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Alhaji Abdulazeez Arisekola Alao, to say A BIG THANK YOU. There, Aare’s close Aide, Hon Demola Solalu and I got to know each other.
In appreciation of the sterling contributions of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and Governor Kayode Fayemi alongside our own concerted efforts, he requested for my Curriculum Vitae before his inauguration and I gave him, but he couldn’t figure out something tangible with it till November 2013, when he sent both Ogbeni Aregbesola and Governor Kayode Fayemi to me that he now had something reasonable for me. Surprisingly, they both delivered this good news the same week. In fact, Ogbeni Aregbesola still tasked Dr Muyiwa Gbadegesin, the Hon Commissioner for Health, Oyo State, to facilitate my easy access to his boss.
The present Senator representing Osun Central senatorial district, Barrister Ajibola Bashiru, former Osun State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, was equally drafted into the scheme by Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, to link up with me for easy access to Governor Ajimobi.
Finally, we both met at the Governor’s Office and later moved together to Government House, Agodi, and he referred me to both Hon Toye Arulogun, his Special Adviser, Protocols, and Engineer Ganiyu Fawole, Special Adviser, Millennium Development Goals. They both told me that oga needed a well researched proposal on youth development and after a week, I got it prepared and gave it to the former with my CV, at his Omole Estate, Ikeja home, because he was on break and his boss had travelled immediately after the dissolution of the cabinet, in preparation for the injection of new blood. While Hon. Toye Arulogun made the list as Hon. Commissioner for Information, Hon Rasaq Olubodun and Engr Ganiyu Fawole were unlucky.
Till last Thursday when this kind hearted man passed on as a result of COVID – 19 complications, nothing came out of it. At a point in 2016, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola advised me to look somewhere else, when their collective efforts on it didn’t yield result . On the eve of Osun State governorship election in 2018, he was glad to see me again inside the Osun State Government House, around 2am and everyone in the waiting room was surprised to see the way he greeted me intimately. “Se Awa ko ni yen ni?. I said yes sir. He crowned it up, “Egun Magaji, mo jeri e”. Like his Leader, Alhaji Lam Adesina, he did not hide his love for me and always fondly called me Generalissimo, when it comes to youths’ mobilisation for positive actions across the states in Nigeria.
We met again in 2019, few days to the gubernatorial election and we did brainstorm on the forthcoming election and he bought into the proposal given to him. It was implemented to his satisfaction and had its 11th hour impact on the mobilization of voters.
He had at various times expressed his personal interest in me and I appreciated him more when I later got to know authoritatively, how he discussed with some close government functionaries before the dissolution of the cabinet, the urgent need to bring people like me inside his government in 2013.
In 2015, we still involved ourselves in mobilisation for his second term in office at our own expense and felt so glad that he broke the jinx of second term in office.
In September 2016, during the celebration of Yoruba National day organised at Lagos Airport Hotel, his trip to Abuja disrupted his plan to attend in person to collect his beautifully crafted Ori Olokun Koseleri Ti Ipinle Oyo Award, but later advised us to bring it down to Ibadan for formal presentation and we did.
I could feel your good intention from every where, at every point, but the administrative structure that you built around yourself incapacitated you till you breathed your last but I still accepted it as the wish of the Almighty God and was particularly moved by your valedictory message.
“I have three categories of people; (1) Those who expected favour from me but got totally disappointed, (2) Those who expected much but ended up getting little, (3) Those who got more than enough inside my government. While the third category will be so glad, I need to appeal to the No 1 and 2 sets, to know that only God is infallible”. Having the grace to say this in good health, I strongly believe that God Almighty had forgiven all your iniquities towards these two categories including your families, friends, associates and those potential beneficiaries of those projects you left either uncompleted or untouched.
Our final meeting was March this year, in his 6th Avenue, Oluyole Estate home, where he told me that he never knew they didn’t do anything further on my case- this is a case that involved Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and three serving governors, including himself directly.
Apart from powerful recommendations from the key Yoruba leaders of thought, Hon. Toye Arulogun collected the package on his Oga’s instruction in December 2013, told me he had given it to his boss, but the man never knew that the process remained inconclusive till March this year 2020.
What I heard later was that around the first quarter of 2014 was announcement of appointment of the Local Government Liaison Officers by Oyo State Government, which was one of the key recommendations stated inside my proposal.
He asked further, “Awa, what are you doing presently?”. I told him, “I am still the Head of an NGO plus involvement in rights’ activism towards making a better nation, but available for any future assignment from your end”. He replied, “noted!”
He told me he never lobbied for the APC Deputy National Chairmanship position but when the leaders saw his usefulness, they beckoned him to come.
He said he wanted to embark on a project to benefit majority of the leople and appealed to me to be coming around for brainstorming. As he always did inside his house, he dressed impeccably in white caftan with a good cap to match, full of health, cracked jokes with us for a while before seeing my partner and I off to the entrance gate. Along the line, Late Chief S.M. Akindele came in and greeted all of us. What a double tragedy for the progressives, both of them are now late within a month. He gave me a white envelope for my transport, which was exactly the same amount I got from him on the eve of 2011 election, as transport. “The first and the last gift,” which Yoruba will call Aroko, a divine message with deeper interpretation.
I was still unable to wrap my head around the cause of his sudden death, but took strength in the fact that he turned Oyo State around during his eight years administration, impacted positively on his families, friends and associates and always accorded Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and Kayode Fayemi due respect throughout, just like a river which didn’t forget his source.
Yes, Governor Seyi Makinde confessed that his government has been implementing the blueprint you left behind, but if he was sincere about it, we would have been seeing the massive road construction across the state, massive youth employment and other projects as it happened in your first tenure.
From my tribute, one will clearly see how desire, passion and willingness of those in government are being subverted by the structure they built around themselves. Yet, people will continue dumping blames at their doorsteps, because they are the ones in charge.
This is the appropriate time to put this in writing in his honour, and as a lesson for the present day rulers and ruled, most of whom didn’t see this soft side of former Governor Abiola Ajimobi towards his society, benefactors and Grand Council of Yoruba Youths. Though, he might had his flaws as human being, and he always admitted this fact.
You prayed for two terms in office, God approved. You wished you clock 70 years of age, you got it. Never did you know that your tongue was spiritually powerful. Else, you would had stayed on your first wishes and remained alive today. You were very vibrant, jovial, former Acting National Chairman of the APC, Koseleri (second term jinx breaker) of our time, a leader per excellence, a teacher, a mentor, an orator of uncommon dimension, a hero, a philosopher, an astrologist, and a political phenomenon of 21st century. Adieu!
Gomina Ipinle Oyo ana, Aare Atunluse ti Ile Ibadan, Asofin Agba Abiola Adeyemi Akanji Ajimobi, o di arinanko, odi oju ala, o di beni joni, sun re o!
Comrade Awa Bamiji is the Aare Apapo (President General) Agbarijo Egbe Odo Yoruba (Grand Council of Yoruba Youths)