Late Ajimobi’s 74th posthumous birthday in grand style 

BAYO AGBOOLA captures grand celebration marking late Abiola Ajimobi’s 74th posthumous birthday in Ibadan at the weekend 

Last Saturday, December 16, 

politicians from across Nigeria regardless of their political affiliations stormed the Abiola Ajimobi Resource Centre, Faculty of Multidisciplinary Studies, University of Ibadan, to honour the former governor of Oyo state, late Senator Isiaka Abiola Adeyemi Ajimobi who died in 2020.

The pomp and panache event was the governor’s 74th posthumous birthday and the 6th Annual Senator Abiola Ajimobi Roundtable.

The event, no doubt, stood as a clear testimony to the fact that the late former governor was a force to reckon with in the nation’s politics.

Roll call of dignitaries 

Though dead, the event demonstrated that the late politician remains relevant in the political arena, considering the large turnout of dignitaries at the venue which was filled to capacity with the who is who in the nation’s political landscape, including dignitaries from other sectors and prominent monarchs from across Yorubaland.

Notable among the personalities at the event included the Vice President, Senator Kashim Shettima, represented by his SSA, Bashir A Maidugu, Governor Seyi Makinde of the state, who was represented by his Deputy, Barrister Adebayo Lawal; Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun state; Minister of Power, Chief Adebayo Adelabu; Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Dr. Zacheus Adedeji; and former Minister for Trade, Mrs. Onikepo Akande.

Other were former Minister for Finance, Kemi Adeosun; the Senator representing Oyo North, Dr. Abdulfatai Buhari; Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Professor Saliu Adelabu; Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Professor Kayode Adebowale; former Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Professor Adeolu Akande; the immediate past APC Chairman in Oyo state Chief Akin Oke; Professor Tunji Olaopa and Professor Tajudeen Akanji.

Makinde notes Ajumobi’s humour

Governor Seyi Makinde, who was represented by his deputy, Barrister Abdul-Raheem Adebayo Lawal while speaking lauded the Chairman of Senator Abiola Ajimobi Foundation (SAAF), Chief Mrs Florence Ajimobi for making it possible every year to celebrate Senator Ajimobi’s posthumous birthday.

Makinde said late Governor Ajimobi remained the only governor of Oyo state who transited and still being very celebrated yearly, and that his remembrance showed clearly that he lived very well for the good people of Oyo state and Nigeria before he departed the earth.

According to him, Ajimobi was somebody one couldn’t take for granted because he came from the background of private sector into political space, adding that “we knew late Senator Ajimobi to be a very blunt person and straightforward person whose virtue has assisted him in the political trajectory to become senator, governor of Oyo state and Acting National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC).

Makinde continued, “In 2011, when he contested to become governor, he won the election but he needed to govern, so he approached one of our leaders in Oyo state to enlist his support and was given, and was able to govern Oyo state very successfully. So, that was the man in whose memory, we have all gathered here to celebrate”.

“Senator Ajimobi was a man with countless sense of humor, and I do not know anybody who can crack jokes better than Senator Ajimobi, which had made people to really moved round him. Even if he quarrel with you, next minutes, he will crack jokes and you won’t have choice than to laugh. So, we thank God for his life and what he has been able to achieve,” he said.

Governor Abiodun says he is a hard worker 

Ogun state governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun as one of the keynote speakers eulogized the late governor for the leadership roles he played while alive, especially, towards his own political ambition in becoming the governor of Ogun state. 

Abiodun said late Ajimobi was as quintessential as he was kind, gifted and an exceptional communicator, who through hard work, attained early success in the oil and gas industry and emerged a developmental political juggernaut worthy of emulation

He described the late governor as a “caring father and a courageous man who broke the jinx of Oyo state as the first two term governor of the state (Koseleri)”. 

Governor Abiodun recalled the time he spent with him and the lesson he learnt in the course of his political journey, saying “the late governor was an exceptional communicator as he smiles often and his humor is second to none.”

He added that the event is very important to him as he has to be part of the auspicious occasion despite many functions, stressing that the Governor had lived a successful life.

Ajimobi as a visionary leader 

Minister of Power, Chief Adebayo Adelabu while speaking at the 6th Annual Senator Abiola Ajimobi Roundtable minced no words in describing late Chief Ajimobi as “a visionary leader who dedicated his life to the service of the people, and his impact on the political landscape of Oyo state and Nigeria as a whole is indelible’.

“It is with a profound sense of honor and reverence that I stand before you today to commemorate the posthumous birthday of our beloved leader, Senator Abiola Ajimobi. As we gather to celebrate the life and legacy of this exemplary statesman, it is also a time for sober reflection and a recommitment to the principles and values that he held dear.

“Today, we pay tribute to a man who epitomised the essence of developmental politics, unwavering party leadership, and unyielding party loyalty. Senator Ajimobi was a visionary leader who dedicated his life to the service of the people, and his impact on the political landscape of Oyo state and Nigeria as a whole is indelible. 

“His leadership exemplified a rare blend of astuteness, integrity, and a deep commitment to the progress and development of our dear state.

Senator Ajimobi was a stalwart of developmental politics. He understood that sustainable progress could only be achieved through visionary policies, infrastructure development, and inclusive governance. 

“His legacy serves as a testament to the transformative power of effective leadership and the positive impact it can have on the lives of our people. It is incumbent upon us, as members of the APC, to emulate his example and recommit ourselves to the pursuit of genuine development for the betterment of our state and its people. 

“Today’s roundtable marks the sixth in a series of activities that was instituted about a year before Senator Ajimobi’s transition to mark his 69th birthday”.

Chief Adelabu stressed, “Let me begin this keynote address at the 6th Annual Senator Abiola Ajimobi Roundtable being held in remembrance of our leader and one of the most impactful politicians to have ever walked this part of the divide, by expressing deep gratitude to the Almighty God who has made it possible for all of us to be here today. 

“While congratulating the family for keeping the legacy and everything he stood for alive, the presence of all the invited guests to this event is a testimony to the impactful life he led.Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, and esteemed members of the All Progressives Congress family, it is with a profound sense of honor and reverence that I stand before you today to commemorate the posthumous birthday of our beloved leader, Senator Abiola Ajimobi. 

“As we gather to celebrate the life and legacy of this exemplary statesman, it is also a time for sober reflection and a recommitment to the principles and values that he held dear.

“The roundtable, a legacy he left behind has continued for three years after his transition, to continue to celebrate what he stood for in his lifetime and to discuss topical issue of good governance and human capacity development in the country. Indeed,

being called upon to deliver this Key Note address joyous and significant for me because of the personal relationship I enjoyed with him when he was still with us. 

“I do not have to remind everyone here that he set the course for my political trajectory. As a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), It is no longer news that I resigned

my appointment in order to contest as Governor of our pacesetter State in 2019. What many did not know is

the fact that at every part of that journey, he was there with me. 

“My resignation was not without his knowledge and he actually helped to put the resignation letter together. In 2019, I contested on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the governorship of Oyo state. 

“Again, in 2023, I contested for the same

position, on the platform of another party, though our ambition had not yet met with the expected success,

we are hopeful that in everything, God’s time is the best. In all these journeys, the little step that began in 2019 and which has become a movement today could not have been possible without the man we are celebrating today.

“Thus, I owe him a life time of gratitude. In my personal relationship with him, I have learnt a lot. I have learnt about stoicism in character, I have learnt courage. I have learnt bluntness, speaking uncharacteristically, without equivocation. However, there is a particular character of his that I am still trying to learn, his charm and engaging persona that had endeared him to many people in Oyo state and beyond. Though, he was blunt, he was loved, earning him the record of being the first two-term governor of Oyo state. 

Late Ajimobi as epitomy of excellence 

As governor of Oyo state, he epitomised excellence, sophisticated taste, with a clear, lofty ideas of what he wanted for the state he governed for eight years. He left giant, developmental footprints in the map of Oyo state, thus the topic of this year’s roundtable; Re-engineering Nigeria for Sustainable Development: Options, Costs and Prospects, is apt as it honours the memory of a distinguished administrator and astute politician that Senator Abiola Ajimobi was.”

Ajimobi as agent of peace, security, devt 

The Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Professor Kayode Adebowale, in his remarks said late Senator Ajimobi was one of the most highly revered personalities Nigeria has produced and that the former governor introduced some initiatives which helped to ensure the security of lives and property in the state during his tenure.

“Today, we are here gathered again to honour posthumously, one of the most highly revered personalities that this country has produced; an illustrious son of Ibadan, a former Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and a the first two-term governor of Oyo state who served from 2011-2019 and thereafter served as the Deputy National Chairman South of the All Progressive Congress (APC) – the late Senator Abiola Ajimobi. 

“For us in the University of Ibadan, we considered the late Senator Abiola Ajimobi as a man of great intellectual stride and his love and passion for academics manifested when he, after achieving and attaining great heights in business, politics administration sought admission to pursue a PhD in Sustain Development. 

“He was actually admitted but unfortunately could not start to complete the programme.May his soul rest in peace. Amen. However, his legacies will continue to remain with us both in Oyo State and in the University of Ibadan’.

“On 3 May, 2019, just 28 days to the end of his tenure as a second term governor of Oyo state, the Society for Peace Studies and Practice (SPSP) decided to honour him as a Fellow of the Society. The honour was meritoriously deserved because the leadership of the Society used three indices as criteria to assess his contributions to governance. 

These are Peace, security and development. Senator Abiola Ajimobi was a man of peace, he wanted development for the state and the people; he invested in the security of Oyo state. Everyone who knew Oyo state and, especially, Ibadan before his reign, can attest to the high level of crime and insecurity in the state such as armed robbery including banks in front of University; the NURTW perennial crisis in the state, and all manners and forms of insecurity. 

The establishment and equipping of the ‘Operation Burst’ took care of the problems of insecurity in the state. With regards to the NURTW menace, some people went to prison and that brought about peace in the state throughout his eight-year tenure.” 

Though the 2023 edition of the annual event has come and gone but going by the arrays of prominent Nigerians attended the event last Saturday, it would not be out of point to say that his works and the legacies he left behind clearly shows that Senator Abiola Ajimobi lives on.