ELTON John once sang :’Like a candle in the wind, never knowing who to cling to when the rain sets in…your candle burned out long before your legend ever did.’ So it was with Honourable Gideon Aremu when his gentle life was blown away by the fatal shots of his assailants and closed another chapter of struggle that would have been a beacon of hope to many young men faced with challenges of life. His life will remain a lesson as his death.
Born in the once upon a time capital of ancient Oyo empire, Igboho, Honourable Aremu, like his peers, dreamed of a great future which only education can guarantee and so he put everything he had in the pursuit of what he considered to be a visa to a better life. Soldier, as fondly called, was not a soldier of fortune but a soldier of circumstance. Though a soldier, he was a conscientious objector to violence as an instrument of politics or settling scores of whatever sort. From a humble beginning, Gideon rose to prominence through dint of hard work, selflessness and a passion for service. As the best graduating student from Irepo Grammar School in the year 1993, fate almost played a cruel one on his ambition of securing admission into a university due to lack of means to support such aspiration.
Undaunted, young Gideon joined the Nigerian army in 1996 as a recruit from where he was sent to Sierra Leone in 1997 on a peace mission. He fought gallantly with other Nigerian soldiers to facilitate the peace which the African country still enjoys till today. After his stint at the theatre of war, and his return to Nigeria, Gideon decided to pick up the pieces of his broken ambition of a university education with a promise to read up to the highest level possible in the land. He bagged a Bachelor of Science (Honours), Master of Science and capped it with a Ph.D. in Mathematics and Statistics.
Unfortunately, Oyo State and indeed Nigeria are denied the fruit of this struggle for excellence and knowledge. What a loss! His foray into politics which culminated in his election into the Oyo State House of Assembly was in continuation of his passion for service. His colleagues and constituents can attest to his humility and commitment.
We know that death is the sentence that hangs over man’s head from the moment he is born and the debt a sinful mankind owes to the creator of all life. We are only saddened by the senseless killing of one of the brightest stars in the present political dispensation. His gruesome murder is a further testimony to the ascendance of debased values in our society, or what a people will continually decimate the best of his specie while breeding the worst?
We stand today to celebrate a life, though short but well spent and to remind ourselves of the transience of life and that all souls shall have a taste of death, the only medicine for the fatal illness known as life.
Labour Party had wished to use the occasion of his forthcoming graduation on the conferment of a Ph.D. (not honorary) on him by the University of Ilorin to pay tribute to this illustrious son and to commend him to a state that is fast losing grip of standard in politics on the quality of people that should aspire for political office. Alas, here we are, singing a requiem for a soul extinguished in his prime! His immediate family members have lost a breadwinner, Orelope Local Government Council has lost a shining light and passionate representative, Oyo State House of Assembly has lost a fine gentleman and a consummate legislator, Labour Party in Oyo State has lost a comrade, and Nigeria has lost one of her leaders of tomorrow!
To our dear friend, Honourable Gideon Aremu, we sing, and we hope he can hear us from the great beyond and in the wings of the angels where we know he belongs, John Donne’s timeless poem:
Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think›st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul›s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell›st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.
Honourable Aremu Gideon, rest, rest and continue to rest in the bosom of thy lord till the Day of Judgment when all shall account for their deeds, including your assailants and perhaps, their patrons.
Goodbye, soldier of democracy!
- Honourable Adedeji, a lawyer and philosophy teacher, is a former member of the House of Representative, House of Assembly and Commissioner for Trade, Investments and Cooperative in Oyo State.