[OPINION] Abiola Isiak Ajimobi: A Requiem

We knew it was coming to this. We knew…after we didn’t see you in public or hear from you on some of the weighty issues going on in the APC…that things were very bad.

A coma? Ajimobi in a coma? When did he fall sick that he is now in a coma?Where is he?

When they said you were at First Cardiologists Consultants hospital in Lagos, I knew the end was near. For, who has ever heard of any patient that went into that hospital and came out alive, regardless of their status? Who?

So, from the day I heard about your hospitalization, I started living with the premonition of your exit. But still, when you finally left, I was rudely shocked.

Gone just like that? You were not supposed to die yet! The center of gravity for our party in the state; the immovable Rock of Gibraltar in Oyo state; the Issue; the Conversation; the Solution in Oyo APC could not have been gone just like that!

All that ebullience; that joviality, the quick-to-the-draw wittiness and generosity that only those close to you witnessed; the boldness and candor that detractors termed arrogance; all that managerial acumen; the ability to employ all the tools at your disposal – cajoling, rewarding, entreating, threatening, punishing, forgiving – to motivate others so that they could accomplish tasks; your understanding of the fact that “great leaders take their people to where they OUGHT to be, ” your understanding and public expression of the unique complexity in administering Oyo state; all of that, and many more attributes that made you an enigma are gone…gone just like that?

We all carry on in life as if we own life. We make grand future plans as if we own tomorrow. Your mortality should remind all of us of our own mortality and the ephemerality of life as a whole. None of us is getting out of this life alive!
Just one week ago, nobody could have taken an important decision in Oyo APC without running it by you for approval. You were the glue that held every meaningful part together.

Even when you lost election to the Senate and some wanted you to relinquish the mantle of leadership, the question for which even your detractors couldn’t find answers was who would fill your shoes as snuggly as you did.

You left us at the time that the party – at the state and national levels – needed you the most.
Your death exemplifies my long-held belief that in Nigeria, and especially with the Yoruba, we eat our own heroes while they are still alive! While our heroes are alive, we do not recognize their heroic acts. We focus more on their shortcomings.

Who among his political adversaries revered Awolowo when he was alive? Who cared so much about Abiola when he was alive? It was after they died that their political adversaries came around to accept and acknowledge them as heroes.

And it has been so for you. The gale of encomiums that followed your death has seen former adversaries and even sworn enemies acknowledging your immeasurable contributions to Oyo state and Nigeria.
Those who saw you as “dictatorial” now know that any governor of Oyo State who does not know how to put his foot down on issues of core beliefs will not get anything done.

Those who mocked your “Constituted Authority” gaffe and milked it for political gains now admit that indeed anybody holding public office is “a constituted authority”; that they say and act in private what you said and acted in public.

In his tribute to you, one of your political adversaries admitted publicly that you left “impressive footprints in the areas of infrastructure development and general administration.”

Even your successor, a political adversary, also acknowledged after your death, that his administration was making use of some of the templates that you had created while in office.
We, indeed, eat our heroes.

No one can begin to imagine how much pain your immediate family members are going through right now. All we can hope for is that they take pride in the exemplary performances you had while serving in the public offices that you occupied, your unpretentious and sometimes self-deprecating public persona, the strong fight that you put up in order to survive the illness, and the good name that you have left behind.

They should take solace in the fact that you fought a good fight and you are now resting permanently. May the Lord comfort them and provide them the fortitude with which to bear your irreplaceable loss.

I know that Governor Seyi Makinde will soon find a lasting way to immortalize this brilliant and charismatic leader who has left massive footprints on the sands of time.
Adieu Buoda Isiaka.

Abiodun Ladepo writes from Ibadan, Oyo State via Oluyole2@yahoo.com

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