As Comrade Bari Salau turns 70

COMRADE Bari Adedeji Salau whose Muslim parents hailed from Okun-Owa (very near Ijebu-Ode and Odogbolu) will turn 70 on October 10, 2016. Bari’s history is, indeed, fascinating. When you start reading it, you will never want to be tired of such a beautiful literature. Bari’s parents (who are now of blessed memory) were musicians in their early lives, while Bari’s father, Salau Rabiu, popularly known as Aiyelabowo, was an ‘Apala’ music exponent, his mother, Sarat Olawunmi Alebiosu Salau, was one of the pioneers of ‘Waka’ music in Ijebuland in those days. Bari’s parents were heavily political. Papa Aiyelabowo was a bricklayer in Lagos in the early 50s. He was fond of attending political meetings at the residence of the late Akanni Doherty in Lagos. It was at these meetings that Papa Salau met the Papa (Chief) Obafemi Awolowo, who at that time, was the pioneer secretary of the Action Group, then called Afenifere. Bari’s father struck a relationship with Papa Awolowo that lasted till he transited

It was quite easy for Papa Salau to embrace the leadership of the late Papa S. Onasanya of Aiyepe. They were both of the same constituency in Ijebuland. Both Papa Onasanya and Papa Aiyelabowo contested the first local government elections after the formal announcement of Action Group as a political party. Papa Aiyelabowo remained on Action Group Councillor representing Okun-Owu until the Chief S.L. Akintola rebellion put paid to the Action Group politics of the time.

Papa Salau a.k.a “Aiyelabowo” never severed political association with Papa Onasaya of Aiyepe till both of them returned to the bosom of their Creator. The two remained loyal to the politics and ideals of Papa Awolowo. Comrade Bari Adedeji Salau never gate-crashed into Awo’s politics. He met it at home and has remained consistently loyal up till today.

Bari Salau is a man of outstanding qualities. He is bold, courageous and strong. All who know him can attest to the fact that in whatever he believes in, he has always wanted to remain tenaciously committed. Just like his father Papa Aiyelabowo, Bari can never bend his principles because of any tyranny unleashed by his opponent. Despite all that the late Chief S.L. Akintola’s party (the NNDP) did to oppress Papa Aiyelabowo, including arbitrary imprisonment, he (Papa Aiyelabowo) remained committed to Papa Awolowo and the Action Group (AG) to the very end. As far as Bari is concerned, any compromise over principle is total abandonment of that principle.

I equally remember that Comrade Bari Salau was disqualified from contesting an election in the post 1983 military years for using Papa Awolowo’s picture to accompany his campaign leaflets. The disqualification never bothered Bari. He believes till this day that he could never surrender to the whims and caprices of the military electoral umpire by bowing down to instructions that would smear the name of his political hero – Awo.

Comrade Bari Salau has always been a rebel with a cause.

He attended Odogbolu Grammar School, from Odogbolu, he, with his friends, now embarked on a long journey to America to complete his education. He was admitted to the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis Campus, U.S.A, where he did a degree in Political Science. Bari still remembers with warmth and gratitude people who assisted him to traverse successfully his Odogbolu and Minnesota years.

They include Oladimeji Okesanya, Oladimeji Onabanjo, Adebola Siwoniku, Tella Christopher Olusanya, Jackson Cole, Yemi Odumesu, Wemimo Sanyaolu, Christopher Umeadi, Leteef Saka, Dotun Osunkoya aka Janjala (now of blessed memory) Fatai Bakare a retired Major, Abayomi Amure, Kehinde Sonowo, Segun Aina, Bola Ayankoya, Olawewaju Sokoya, Kehinde Sulu, Olu Osibodu), Kehinde Oluwole, Tunji Awobadejo, Cyril Egbuniwe, Fatai Arobieke (now the Bashorun of Odogbolu, Olusola Travy, and Afolabi Ojabowale. Those senior to him at Odogbolu, include the late Yemi Osindero, Ademola Adenuga (a retired Federal Civil Servant), General Oladipo Diya, a former Nigeria’s Chief of General Staff and the number two man to the late General Sani Abacha and Aremu Odedina.

On his return from America, Bari joined the John West Publishing Company, owned by a veteran journalist and foremost Associate of Papa Awolowo, Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande. Bari later rose to become an editor of the publishing company. It was from John West that Bari joined the Unity Party of Nigeria, which dictated the politics of the Second Republic from Papa Awolowo’s political stable. Though Bari was an official of the Publicity and Research Department of the party, led by the late veteran journalist, Chief M.C.K. Ajuluchukwu, he served the UPN meritoriously in nearly all the departments of the party.

Bari was a result-oriented staff of the Directorate of Organisation of the party, then headed by me. Bari Salau performed many difficult assignments of my Directorate without receiving any kobo for such services. I simply cannot forget the combination of Bari and the late Comrade Yomi Olusanya, alongside the late Comrade Suru Apata in the activities of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN). Bari Salau co-ordinated the delegates of the Lagos State wing of the UPN to the first National Congress of the party, held at the Mainland Hotel, Ebute-Metta, Lagos in 1978. Bari was assisted in that task by his close friend, Debo Olasoji, now the Baale of Owena in Ijesaland.

Bari Salau, late Comrade Olusanya and the late Comrade Apata will always be remembered for the formation of the Awo Concerned Corps that assisted us with the organisation of the UPN of the Second Republic.

Comrade Apata from Igarra, Akoko Edo in Edo State, was reported missing from his Akoko-Edo base one morning a few years ago by his family and his body has never been found till this day.

When the military once again disrupted the activities of the civilian regime with the Buhari coup of December 31, 1983, many politicians were sent to prison and political activities were reorganised, alongside the formation by the Ibrahim Babangida regime of two political parties – the National Republican Convention (NRC) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP). Comrade Bari Salau later emerged the Director of Organisation of the SDP, then led by Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe. Baba Gana Kingibe and Bari Salau still remain very close till today.

Volumes and volumes of political literature can be written on the political activities of our comrade, Bari Salau. He later became the Presidential candidate of the SDP for Somolu Local Government. Bari later withdrew for Alhaji Kareem Giwa in the national contest that eventually led to the June 12, 1983 election of Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola.

Bari Salau became the Chairman of Somolu Local Government. Bari Salau was the last chairman of Somolu Local Government before Kosofe was severed from the council to stand as a new local government of its own.

In 2001, Comrade Salau returned to America, where he worked as security operative with the City of New York. He worked briefly as a staff of Presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, when the famous woman was about to contest the New York Senatorial seat. He later obtained a Master of Public Administration (MPA).

He worked with me as my Personal Assistant between 1994 and 1995, when I served as the Minister of Transport and Aviation. He travelled to Mecca during that time and never regretted his services to Nigeria.

Bari keeps his friends. Though today, his close friends, Adedolun Osunkoya, Lateef Saka, and Shansudeen Ojuroye aka ”Shamo” are now of blessed memory, Comrade Adetola Oseni remains very loyal to Bari. Comrade Oseni is from Ijebu Ife in Ogun State.

Comrade Salau is currently a top leader and official of the resuscitated UPN.

On October 10, 2016, Bari, his dear wife, children and friends will gather at the Staten Island residence of the Salaus in New York to celebrate the 70th birthday of an Awoist who believes in Awo religiously and who believes that for Nigeria to succeed, it must permit her operations to be governed by Awoist ideals and aspirations.

Congratulations on your birthday our dear Comrade! May you for ever remain blessed!! Honestly, we all love Bari Adedeji Salau!!!!


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