Donald Olufemi Fajuyi, the lawyer-son of the late Colonel Fajuyi, remembers his father as a fulfilled man who lived an adventurous life, unlike him. He speaks on his father and how he thinks others who were not as privileged should be encouraged. Sam Nwaoko presents excerpts.
Relationship with father
I’m 67 years’ old now; my father died when he was just 40 years old but I can tell you that he lived a better life than I have lived. He lived a more exciting, adventurous and fulfilling life.
As a little child, I always admired him, and when I grew up, the admiration became more profound, for somebody to have joined the army, gone to Korea, was in the Congo wars, rose through the ranks in the army as a very young man, the trainings he went through both in Africa and abroad, the U.S, Asia and England, it must have been a very exciting life.
I remember all the adventure stories he used to tell us: those days of the wars in the Congo. He won the military cross for his services in the Congo and that cross is not won by an ordinary soldier, except for one who has displayed exceptional bravery and commitment in the battle.
My mother, Mrs. Fajuyi is no longer with us; she also died in 2013 after mourning her late husband for 35 years. We thank God for those of us left behind.
How Fajuyi is being remembered today by family
The family remembers him every day and every year, we have always marked his heroic passage. All the good people of this country, those who call him Omoluabi in Yoruba, those who recognise his patriotism, heroism, and courage are marking it. I’m aware that the Afenifere have met and would be remembering him on July 29th in Ibadan at the Premier hotel and I am going to be part of that event.
The event has been organised by the Afenifere group to which our great former Governor Kayode Fayemi and current Minister of Solid Minerals and Development, Senator Babafemi Ojudu and our great Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu belong. These eminent Nigerians have also been very helpful to our family.
You would recall it was Asiwaju who collaborated with former Governor Fayemi to rebuild the family house of ours and to this we remain eternally grateful to Tinubu. He and Fayemi have continued to extol the patriotic virtues which should be emulated by our leaders and people. Such virtues include true love for fellow human beings among others.
There is another group that wants to garland him on that day. The group has created what they call the Adekunle Fajuyi Shield of Honour. They will be giving the late Fajuyi the first edition of the ward as a post-humous honour on July 29 (today) at the LPP hall in Ikeja, Lagos.
They said they would continue to give the award in subsequent years to worthy, prominent and deserving Nigerians every year. As an honour to our family, they have chosen me to be a member of the nomination committee for the group.
On the part of the family, we have already set up an Adekunle Family Foundation for Peace and Social Justice. It was founded in 2010. But some of the brains behind it, like the late Sultan of Sokoto, have all died. But in a very short time, we are resuscitating it. The goings-on currently in the country economically are not encouraging. But very soon, we will revive it. We are currently collecting names of prominent Nigerians who would serve on its board of trustees and as directors.
Apart from the remembrance event in Ibadan on July 29th, the family will also hold a Thanksgiving service in honour of him at the Catholic Cathedral in Ado-Ekiti and also host a reception after the service on July 31st, which is the Sunday after the 50th anniversary.
State government not playing any significant role
Our elders have reached out to the government on the anniversary celebration and the response they have got is that Ekiti State government is not in a position to do anything on it.
Fajuyi, Buhari and Nigeria
I want to thank God for our current President, General Mohammed Buhari. It makes me proud that he’s an ex-military man. When Fajuyi became the governor of old western region in January, 1966, he had sent words to Ekiti to stop the building of his house which was at foundation level on Textile Road in a place called Onimosoyin in Ado-Ekiti. That was the house I had inherited. I was 17 years old then so I remember. He did so because the ethics of public service demands that you do not acquire anything during service. I’m always surprised at the way our public office holders now behave. I am surprised at how our political office holders acquire properties greedily. Within six months in office, they become muilti-billionaires! This is all wrong. Public office is not for self-aggrandisement. So, I am so grateful to God that President Buhari has come and he’s taking us back to the days of Fajuyi when public office holders upheld morality and were not corrupt.
Since Fajuyi died, the morale of the country has been on the decline, the government has abandoned us and many others affected. He is in the limelight because he was at the level of governor at that time. What about others who were not up to that level, the other soldiers who died during the coups? No one remembers them and their families continue to suffer in silence.
There are many soldiers and Air Force men who have sacrificed their lives in battles but whose families have been languishing in abject poverty because they have been abandoned. What about the children who have had to drop out of schools because their breadwinners have gone? So, we thank God for our family. My father was very honest in his lifetime, very frugal and took care of his family, his parents and siblings.
He saved for us and all his entitlements were given to us by the then government, even his life insurance, because he insured his life. All of them were gathered to sponsor our education up to the university level. And I thank God, after graduating in 1977, I have been in law practice since then. I’m not rich but I have been managing.
My younger brother, Dayo, died in 2013, at the age of 61. I am the only male now and there are other female children who are happily married and doing well in their husbands’ homes.
I have always had interest in politics but the way politics is being practised in Nigeria is something I don’t really like. My father in his lifetime, never said anything so good about Nigerian politicians, so I am not so excited about politics.