Remembering Lamidi Adesina

Remembering a man of vision, courage, integrity and impeccable character fondly called Great Lam by admirers, Alhaji Lamidi Onaolapo Adesina who served as the governor of Oyo State 1999 – 2003 under the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD) and later Action Congress Nigeria (ACN) which eventually became All Progressives Congress (APC). Alhaji Adesina, a political stalwart took the final bow on a Sunday morning; November 12, 2012 during a brief illness at St. Nicholas Hospital, Lagos.

Alhaji Lam Adesina, was born in Ikija in Oluyole local government area of Oyo State on Friday, January 20, 1939 into the modest family of Alhaji Gbadamosi Olowoporoku Adio Adesina and Madam Ayisatu Asabi Adesina of Odeku Compound, Isale-Bode, Ibadan. Both parents are now of blessed memory. As a kid, Lamidi was the apple of his parent’s eyes. He was greatly loved, cherished and adored by his parents who could not do without having him around for a couple of minutes. Right from his kindergarten days, he had shown signs of great potentialities. He abhors cheating, injustice and oppression in whatever form. In the process, he evolved into a radical with a mission to serve the people, defend the defenceless, speak for the voiceless and fight for the oppressed.

Young Lam attend Ikija-Seleru United Anglican Primary School in Oluyole local government between 1945 and 1949. The death of his mother in 1950 made him to leave the village where he joined other growing young boys at St. Luke’s Demonstration School, Molete, Ibadan to continue his education. His stay at St. Luke’s Demonstration School was, however, brief, as he had to transfer to St. Patrick’s Catholic Primary School, Oke-Padre, Ibadan in 1951 where he completed his primary education in 1953.

Though a Muslim, Lam was thoroughly indoctrinated with the theology of Catholicism, and had his exemplary character formed while at St. Patrick’s Primary School, Oke-Padre, Ibadan. Having excelled both in moral and classwork, he was made a class captain at the school which encouraged him to pick his love for assembly matters through the assistance of the headmaster of the school, Mr. Ogunmuyiwa of blessed memory. Lam, no doubt, a brilliant and ambitious young boy, attended the prestigious Loyola College, Ibadan, Oyo State for his secondary education. Loyola College cemented the already exemplary behaviour in Lam. He was at Loyola College between 1954 and 1959, and he passed out in grade one, thereby becoming one of the 21 wonderful boys of Loyola College.

After his graduation from Loyola College, he was employed by Lagelu Grammar School, where he taught from 1965 to 1972. It was from Lagelu Grammar School that he went to University of Ibadan for his post graduate studies in Education in 1972. On the successful completion of the course, he went back to teaching and was transferred by the defunct Western State Schools Board to Ibadan Grammar School where he taught for three years from 1972 to 1975. Later, he was moved to Nawar-Ur-deen Grammar School, Abeokuta, Ogun State where he taught for a short period before he was transferred in 1975 to Ondo State, formerly in Western State to pioneer the establishment of a secondary school named Anglican Grammar School, Oke-Iluse in Owo Division. He was at Oke-Iluse until additional states were carved of the older ones in 1976. This prompted his posting to Sumuratul Grammar School near Aperin, Oyo State as the Principal of the School from September 1976 to December of the same year.

It was from there he was transferred to Iwo where he became the Principal of Ahmadiyya Grammar School, now known as Anwarul Islam Grammar School, until February 1979 when he resigned his appointment to contest election into the House of Representatives.

Alhaji Lam Adesina’s public service activities were very eventful. He has an impeccable record for honesty, dedication, diligence and perseverance while in the public service. Thus, his election as the Executive Governor of Oyo State was not accidental but a reward of exemplary character and dedication to duty. While in teaching, he was elected the first Publicity Secretary of the All Nigerian Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS), Oyo State branch.

Behind every successful man, there is a woman. And the pillar behind Alhaji Adesina, has no doubt, been his wife and jewel of inestimable value, Alhaja Saratu Adeola (nee Ashiru). She is the woman who kept the home warm whenever her husband was on the political battle-field fighting a relentless war for the well-being of all and sundry.

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the All Progressives Congress National Leader shared a lot of things with Great Lam. During an interview in his lifetime, Alhaji Adesina said, Asiwaju Tinubu referred to me as Brother Lam. “When I lost the gubernatorial election in 2003, he came down from Lagos to console me. He was then the governor of Lagos on the platform of Alliance for Democracy. During my crisis days in Oyo State he was always there for me. He stood solidly behind me. When NADECO confronted the late Nigerian Head of State, General Sani Abacha; I, Asiwaju Tinubu and several others battled the military government. Asiwaju Tinubu was my soul mate, a great politician, my very good friend and a man of the people who had contributed selflessly to humanity.

Describing Alhaji Adesina, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the National Leader, APC said, ‘Great Lam whom I fondly called Brother Lam, was a progressive, and a democratic warrior who never gave up in the face of intimidation while in detention. He led the democratic struggle against the military that led to the triumph of the people and the brightening of hope of opportunities for our people. He was a courageous National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) hero with his leader, Chief Bola Ige, He was paraded on the streets of Ibadan as Prisoner of War for having the dexterity to oppose the late General Sani Abacha, who was the head of state. Asiwaju Tinubu said further that “Great Lam was a courageous man who would not trade his conscience for a pot of porridge or gold. He had great character, he fought a battle and won and was loyal and honest to his friends.”

His son, Dapo Lam-Adesina spoke on the characteristics of his late father, “My late father, Alhaji Lam Adesina taught me how to be analytical, how to be a humanist, in fact he taught me everything. As the governor, you would be surprised to see his red biro marking memos of commissioners and political office holders he was always correcting errors. My father will not leave what he should do today till tomorrow, a file does not pass more than a day on his table, he would bring bundles of files to the house after closing from office by 10pm. He kept all those working with him on their toes in order to get maximum benefits for his people. He was very honest and kind. I can remember that on Sundays during his days as Governor of Oyo state, he would put us in his car and be visiting his old friends with gifts. He paid hospital bills for the sick; paid school fees of indigent pupils and students and did several things for many people. He did not like to see people going through agony. It was during his administration that many teachers bought cars he approved vehicle and housing loans for civil servants. He was the one who made teachers to become permanent secretaries, the first of its kind in Nigeria, he built and renovated hundreds of Primary and Secondary Schools. There were many things he did for the betterment of the people.”

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the People’s Democratic Party presidential aspirant says “Great Lam was never hesitant to speak the truth while in power. The best tribute his admirers could pay to him was to practise his virtues of service with integrity.”

Jacobs sent this piece from Ibadan, Oyo State.

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