Remembering my surrogate father, Sir Olaniwun Ajayi

ON Friday morning, at about 5:30am, I was woken up by the clinging sound of my Whatsapp message notifying me of the arrival of a new message. Barely awake, I noticed it was a message from Dara, informing me of the sudden death of Papa Olaniwun Ajayi. Suddenly, my lethargy was overwhelmed with shock, grief and emotions. I could not console myself. How can! What happened!  My call to Ola, my “ONLY” brother, was unavailable, so was to Koyin. Suddenly she called back, giving me details of his last moments, and I lost it.

Papa was my dad, I mean my dad!!! He was the pillar that stood with us when my father died and came daily to Iboro. Yes, they were friends, but he went beyond the duties of a friend. He immediately filled the vacuum and adopted me as his son, my family as his children too.

The bond was magical, vacuum filled, historical discussions revived and political interest reinvigorated. He prodded me to come into the fold of Afenifere, chided my aloofness and lack of interest in politics, encouraged me to build on the legacy of my late father and put a group together in Yewa. This I did and more…..

My political interest began to heighten, put a socio-political group together as advised, started showing interest in the yearnings and sufferings of my people. And so it was that I became politically active. He called me to consider  being deputy governor on the platform of Democratic Peoples Alliance (DPA) in Ogun State, drafted me to represent Yewa at the 2014 National constitutional conference organised by the last administration. He wanted so much for me politically.

Unfortunately, I had to decline all with love. My political inclinations and interests were more aligned with the All Progressives Congress (APC), which I belong. I was inspired by my Governor, His Excellency, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, to join him to rebuild Ogun State.

Papa was supportive, though disappointed, encouraging but critical of our party. I argued voraciously with him to be patient with us as we were learning, but he  couldn’t; he was eager to see Nigeria transformed into his dreams just as if he knew time was beckoning.

Our last conversation at The Cardiac Consultants in Ikoyi was quite revealing. Ola and I went to visit him and Papa Adebanjo joined us; what was to be a get well visit, became a political lecture and dress down. I was chastised and accused of abandoning my legacy and pedigree by the political companies I kept. I stood firm and explained in vain, pleaded with them to be less rigid and more understanding.

These were the last of a grateful generation. They were well-schooled par excellence, principled, full of integrity and dignified in nature. How I wished I was born amongst them. We have lost a whole lot in this country, most importantly, our beacons of hope and moral compass. Papa was such and shall be greatly missed. He was truly loved, cared for, gentle, disciplined, regal and polished. He was a man of style, loved to look good and did it with class. He abhorred mediocrity and wanted the best for the country and Yoruba race. I thank him, and shall hold on to his words and memory for as long as I live.

Papa adieu! I promise I shall live up to your political expectations and not abandon the ideals of service you and my late father stood for. Thank you for looking out for me and taking interest in my political footsteps. By His grace, I shall not disappoint. Shalom!

  • Chief Odebiyi sent in this tribute via [email protected]