El Buso, a friend indeed

The phone call about 6:14am early in the morning of Monday  November 31 was very unusual. Tunde Muraina and I speak a minimum of five times each day, but not this early. Worse still, it was through my wife’s phone with an intro “Good morning. Tunde wants to speak with you”.

As my wife handed over her phone to me, Tunde dropped the bombshell repeatedly “ Buso ti ku o” (Buso is dead). Tunde never plays pranks but he is always a willing accomplice to my stakeholders when they want to break down my defences. I therefore took him seriously especially with the rising nature of his pitch. My reaction was simply “Gaddemit, which kind of rubbish be this now”

Without much ado, I went upstairs, did a very brief mouth wash, packed a bag and without a bath, headed for Ibadan.  My friend and brother El Buso, Agbolagade omo Busari being a Muslim, no one needed to advise me on the next line of action.  Moreso, it will involve a journey on my most travelled route and the most unpredictable road in Nigeria. Therefore, expedient action was key.

I bade my wife who had walked off on hearing the news bye at about 7:18am and hit the Lagos – Ibadan Expressway to pay my last respects to my classmate, great Uite, colleague, partner, member of the Ajumose Marines, former Special Adviser on Information and Orientation to the Governor of Oyo State, Immediate Past Chairman of 3SC Football Club (IICC) and loyal APC member.

“Finally, my brother Buso has gone to rest with his maker” was my chorus throughout the journey. I screamed several times to myself two of his favourite words “unbelievable!!!”, “bedlam!!!” Not just to describe what has happened or about to happen but in remembrance of EL BUSO (my customised nickname). I dropped a tear or two in the process and driving very cautiously for obvious reasons, began a retrospective journey of our relationship which had just come to an abrupt end.

Our paths crossed at the University of Ibadan. We reignited our 1983 to 1986 University of Ibadan, Department of Theatre Arts-relationship at the commencement of the Ajimobi administration in 2011. It was seamless as if some 25 years had not passed. Same bubbly, very ebullient individual; he had returned to Nigeria from his sojourn to the United States to settle down back home. He contested for a place in the House of Representatives but lost. I taunted him about being a failed honourable especially when he was so-called by politicians.

In Nigerian politics, an attempted governorship candidate is still referred to as “Excellency” by his supporters and loyalists. An attempted Senatorial candidate is also referred to as “Senator”. I still cannot understand it. Surely, politicians confess positively and speak prophetically despite obvious situation.

Miracles indeed do and have happened in Nigeria’s political landscape, so such is not out of place.

When I arrived Ibadan in July 2011 upon invitation to join the government of Late Senator Abiola Ajimobi, Buso it was who provided me with soft landing and facilitated my easy assimilation into the political system. Our daily social outings with other actors provided the platform for integration within the political milieu. Just to be sure, many of us were seen as “foreigners….Lagos, London or America people” who were given positions in government without being a part of the political and electioneering process. My Lagos boy toga stuck with me through my 7 years in government. Thanks to the Area Boys.

Buso was a gentleman, took life almost too easy, very loyal to his friends, passionate about his groups, committed to his family. Gbolagade Busari was knowledgeable about sports. His journalism career started as a sports reporter at the Sketch newspapers. He was loyal and committed to the development of Oyo State as a member of the Ajimobi adminstration.

Buso’s life was all about his family, nuclear and extended. He prioritised the education of his children and carried the burden of his extended family. His entire life was spent on giving his children a sound education and other needs of life. Buso sweated for his children and his family.

Buso and I were like the two television cartoon characters Tom and Jerry.  Cat and mouse without doubt. We could throw jibes and expensive jokes with reckless abandon. One of mine was that he wasted 30 years of his adulthood in the United States. His was that i had mortgaged my life to Ajimobi and Oyo State. He used the nature of my work inspired title of my book on my sojourn in politics and governance in Oyo State against me severally. He would ask me at any point I complained about any issue especially work related “Is this humility or humiliation?” The work in progress book is titled “Humility versus Humiliation”.

Gbola also taunted me with the appellation; “Cultural 419”. The reason was not far fetched. He could not reconcile my cultural activities in the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism like the Amala Festival, Aso Ofi Festival, World Twins Festival et al with my cosmopolitan outlook, personae and bent. He was amazed about how i perfectly fitted into the roles. I reminded him always that i was trained theatre artiste. To his credit, he attended most of these events with me in rare solidarity and absolute support for a friend and brother whom I did not take for granted because he was not recalled into government for Governor Ajimobi’s second term.

Another between us was that he was a psychedelic Muslim who went against the tenets of his religion and that I was a better Muslim having engaged in the call to prayers severally in my secondary school days (courtesy of Bros Gaffy) and a strong MSS boy who led songs at MSS functions. He would always respond to me by referring to me as a Spiritual fraud especially from the day i led the praise and worship at the New Year Interdenominational Service for Public and Civil Servants.

During the first term of Governor Ajimobi, when working late till the wee hours of the next day was a routine, Buso would call me to find out what was happening and whenever I replied that we are still in the office, he would gleefully tell me, “Aru, you are in bondage, i am on my third bottle of trophy and still counting” He would then proceed to bringing to me in the office my quota of my usual in water bottles. Handing over the drink to me he would typically say “ Man yi, o le continue bayi now. You don’t have a life anymore”. Buso was my confidant and partner.

Buso took me to all the amala joints in Ibadan ably guided by our “Encyclopaedia Amalalika” -Gboyega Latunji who knew the terrain very well including which one opens on Sunday and the time the goat meat will be ready. Our love for meat and large appetite for good food was a common denominator.

I respected his understanding of the political terrain in Oyo State. It was based on Buso’s advice that i decided to use Ward 3 in Arulogun village in Akinyele Local Government as my political base. He felt my temperament and knack for confronting issues headlong was not suited for Ibadan North East Local Government if i used E6/50 Alafara Olubadan, my grandfather’s house which is what i use as my permanent home address. Of course, given the dynamics of the politics in Ibadan North, Buso was right. It is therefore to his credit that Arulogun Village benefited a borehole from me, modern primary school from the SDG office in the presidency and a block of classrooms in the secondary school by the Oyo State Government by my instrumentality. Simply put, Buso pointed me to my people in the village who he felt needed and would appreciate me more instead of battling with matured politicians in the city.

El Buso was the way i fondly call him. He was a loyal friend. Ironically, he never liked dogs and dogs are acclaimed as man’s best friend. Whenever he came for our early morning coffee in my house, he would tell John, the security guard to lock up my very friendly dogs before coming from his car. Buso himself was as loyal to his friends like man’s best friend.

He was loyal to a fault. He felt obliged to put in a word for his friends when opportunities arose. He introduced the company that dug the borehole I donated to Arulogun Village. Another close friend of his supervised the construction of my house in Ibadan. Buso knew someone who could always fill in the service gap. He was always introducing his friends to people who needed their service.

My man Buso and I shared good and bad times. Buso loved the good life. I was a willing accomplice. We however often disagreed with the every weekend ankara parties. I am not an ankara person and while i do not mind going to parties, I could not cope with Buso’s capacity to be present at all social events of people he considered his friends or sometimes mere acquaintances.

Buso and I were the same, two of a kind but very different in many ways. As close as we were you could not make any mistake about the distinct personalities. We disagreed largely on lifestyle issues. He was was a calm individual. Never ruffled with life’s issues; took challenges and adversity with philosophical calmness.

Our families were close. We shared our aspirations. My wife had a relationship and understanding with Buso. Buso was one of her accomplices in springing a surprise wedding anniversary breakfast party on me. I will always support his wife against him. The last time I spoke to him, his son Sodiq and I spoke for about seven minutes. He took interest in Toye Jnr’s career in Hollywood and my second son Layee was his American basketball compatriot. Nothing short of “Oremeji (two good friends).

In his last days, he had grown feeble and weak. Had lunch with him at KokoDome recently and I saw his hands shaking, Looked into his eyes, did not like the colour; was worried for him. He told me upon his return from his last trip from the US “Aru, I have been to hell and back” I could sense his frustration. I could feel his hopelessness. He was hoping against hope and gave a good fight. I counseled him to stay in the United States for good treatment pre and post covid, he was adamant. I believe he knew his time was up and he wanted to sleep at home. Seeing him lying lifeless in the mortuary before his burial was a testimony to the mortality of man, a confirmation of the vain life we all live, a rude reminder of the debt we all owe, a proof that no one will get out of life alive.

Agbolagade AbdulWahid omo Busari, sleep well in the bosom of your maker and may Almighty Allah grant you Aljannah Firdaus. However, i can tell you categorically Buso my friend and brother, this is unbelievable, the bedlam has started, who does that?

Toye Arulogun,

The immediate past Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism in Oyo State.

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