Senator Isiaka Adeleke: Life and times of ‘Serubawon’ (1955-2017)
The news broke out Sunday morning of the death of Senator Isiaka Adetunji Adeleke, who was a serving lawmaker until he breathed his last. In 2015, Adeleke was elected a senator under the banner of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Adeleke, a two time senator, represented the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Osun State from 2007 to 2011. But prior to his becoming a Nigerian senator in 2007, Adeleke had been elected first civilian governor of Osun State in 1992.
Born to the family of Senator Ayoola Adeleke and Esther Adeleke in Enugu, on January 15, 1955, Adeleke spent his early years in Enugu city until the beginning of the Nigerian civil war in 1967.
Young Adeleke started his primary education at Christ Church School, Enugu before moving to Ibadan, where he completed his secondary education at Ogbomoso Grammar School.
An erudite politician, Adeleke holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, and a Master’s degree In Public Administration.
As a public servant, Adeleke was a former chairman, Governing Council, Nigerian Export Promotion Council and later Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council, University of Calabar, Nigeria.
Governorship race in Osun State
Senator Isiaka Adeleke, during the Nigerian third republic, contested for governorship race of the newly created Osun State which was newly carved out from Oyo State.
Then, as a member of Social Democratic Party (SDP), a popular and dominant party in Oyo State at that time, Adeleke fought hard to secure the party ticket in a keenly contested primary election.
In political circles, because of his unusual political style of coming from behind to defeat oppositions, Adeleke was popularly known as “Serubawon,” that is, a man feared by his adversaries.
Initially, as political watchers and analysts put it, Adeleke was not the most favoured to win the party’s ticket, reason being that, there was another popular candidate in the person of Oladosu Oladipo, a legal luminary.
Though SDP was a dominant party in the state, but Oladipo Oladosu seemed to be more favoured in the party, but got stuck in a close primary with Adeleke, who came second. But in a runoff election, Adeleke defeated Oladosu to secure the party’s ticket.
The victory at the primary election and the support of other party members and Osun voters gave Adeleke the victory at the poll and this saw him becoming elected the first civilian governor of Osun State in 1992.
During his tenure, one of the notable decisions Adeleke made as a governor was the establishment of a polytechnic at Iree, now known as Osun State Polytechnic.
Also, for his love for education development, Adeleke also established a college of technology at Esa-Oke and completed the building of the Osun State Broadcasting Corporation (OSBC).
Later in 1994, after the collapse of the third republic, Adeleke joined the popular Yoruba socio-cultural and then opposition group to the establishment, Afenifere.
He later fell out of the Afenifere’s favour, when he left the group to join a new political party, the Democratic Party of Nigeria (DPN).
DPN then was seen as a new political party founded with support from close associates of the then military dictator, General Sanni Abacha.
New political dispensation as a Senator
Adeleke, in 2007, was elected a senator representing Osun West, in Osun State. His main challenger then was Mudasiru Oyetunde Hussein, who was the candidate of the Action Congress (AC).
The competition was fierce and tilted towards favouring Hussein, who had spent two terms in the House of Representatives from 1999 to 2007 as a member of the Alliance for Democracy (AD).
As the chairman of the Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in July, 2009, Senator Adeleke commended the work of the Independent National Electoral Commission.
He has supported the rights of Nigerians living abroad to vote in Nigerian elections.
As a senator, Adeleke was appointed to committees on Upstream Petroleum Resources, Integration and Cooperation, Housing and Air Force.
As a philanthropist, in March 2008, Adeleke instituted a scholarship award for about 100 indigent students in tertiary institutions across the country.