Home Opinion My Encounters With Arisekola | Kehinde Ayoola

My Encounters With Arisekola | Kehinde Ayoola

I am inspired to write this by Uncle Tunde Fagbenle (Punch Columnist) whom I respect so much and who has written under the same topic a few days ago.
While I do not deceive myself that I could write like Fagbenle, I hope nevertheless that I can put forth my interaction(s) with Alhaji Abdulazeez Arisekola-Alao who passed on 5 years ago. Happy reading:
The door of my office swung open and in came the diminutive figure of The Honourable Taofeek Adeleke, member for Egbeda State Constituency and Majority Leader of Oyo State House of Assembly.
This was circa October, 1999. We nicknamed him Olufiki. He had a habit of hailing “Mr Speaker” by clenching his right fist and raising it up in salute just like our Northern friends do while greeting emirs and important persons.
“Oh Major…good morning” I greeted him and looked at him with inquisitive eyes. He was the first friend I made among the members of the House after our election. He had some ways that were disagreeable with me but then politics was and still is about managing the good, the bad and the ugly.
“Mr Speaker”, he said ” Aare wants to see us – myself and you”.
“Aare wo?” I asked
“Aare Arisekola-Alao”
“Kini won l’ode?” I asked as several pictures flashed through my mind. I recollected the rage of UI students in 1997 against Arisekola which led to his car being burnt on campus as he was smuggled out of UI. I recollected the May Day riots of 1998 in which a rally at Adamasingba Stadium turned violent. The headquarters of that recrudescence being Number 6, Odeku Close Bodija, Ibadan – home of Comrade Ola Oni, radical lecturer and civil society activist. I recalled the story about Chapel of Resurrection and UI Mosque wahala over a cross etc.
Then I said: “Ok when are we going?” He said: “this evening at 4 o’clock”.
We drove off in my official Peugeot 504. At that time, the office of Speaker of the House of Assembly was not as glamorous as it is today. There were no convoys and no siren. Just that car, driver and a Police Orderly who most times wore mufti. We drove the short distance from Quarter 104 (the official residence of Speaker of Oyo State) to Aare’s palatial mansions at Oluwo Kekere at Bashorun, Ibadan. The huge gates swung open and we were promptly ushered in.
Olufiki, obviously, was a friend of the house as he bantered freely with the children and aides of Aare who ushered us into a spacious room decked with all kinds of exotic furniture. You immediately got the impression that you are in the ‘house of money’. Aare put several large, framed pictures in a narrow corridor that led to this room. Those pictures were a short story of his odyssey and dalliance with men of power. David Jemibewon, Oba Sijuade (before he became Oba), IBB, Abacha etc.
The door opened and in came Alhaji Arisekola. He beamed over me:
” Akenny, Kenny, nle o”. We stood up and bowed.
He caught me by the hand and pulled me to sit beside him.
“Akenny Kenny….Jesu a gb’adura re o” He said in a mock Ijesha dialect.
He held my hand with his left and extended his right hand to Hon Adeleke:
“Ofiki fiki…Ofiki fi nnkan e” he greeted him.
“Lati aye Bola Ige ni a ti n gbadura ki Buoda Lam di governor”
He said he’d been praying for a Lam Adesina governorship since Uncle Bola Ige’s time in the 2nd Republic. He recounted how he went to Chief Obafemi Awolowo in 1983 to consider an Ibadan man as governor. He said he presented two names – Alhaji Kunle Abass and Hon Lam Adesina.
“Awolowo said Kunle Abass would never be governor but that Lam Adesina would be governor one day” he recalled. He said now that Lam was governor, we should cooperate and let him govern with peace of mind.
Aare spoke with lucidity of thought, great attention to details and a sense of history. His voice rose and ebbed as he went deeper into this narrative. His mien turned from jovial to serious. You could see the jugular veins constrict and dilate as his voice rose and fell.
“Buoda Lam has paid his dues in the struggle for democracy. Our prayers over him are now answered. Luckily, he has good people around him. “
“Chief Koleosho (the Secretary to State Government, SSG) aah, omoluabi ni”
“I have been following you people too in the House and I’m impressed”
“I have always supported good political causes that helped the Yoruba nation” Aare continued.
 “In 1983, I bought a brand new Mercedes Benz 280 (Shagari Type),  for Chief Awolowo for his campaigns that year. It was when we went to present the car to him that he asked me what I wanted in which case I told him that we wanted an Ibadan governor.”
“I am not a politician but anyone who has the means to support good causes should do so otherwise he is an enemy of the people.”
“Ibadan has been the centre of Yoruba politics since the 1950s. We are the Yoruba of Yorubas; why then should all issues that concern Yoruba be decided by just a few men from Ijebu?” (Here he was referring to the Pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, whose exco members except the Gen-Secretary then, Mr Ayo Opadokun, were all Ijebus. These were Pa Abraham Adesanya, Pa Solanke Onasanya, Chief Lanihun Ajayi and Chief Ayo Adebanjo)
We listened silently and attentively.
Olufiki rose up, bowed and thanked Aare.
I rose up too and gave an assurance that we would never let Oyo State people down.
He said some other things which I won’t tell here – and probably may never tell – God helping me.
We bantered a bit more and rose up to go.
Aare then pumped our hands,  called out to one of his aides and gave him an instruction.
The young man disappeared to a section of the big house and reappeared moments later with a Ghana-must-go bag….!
Olufiki pulled the Ghana-must-go towards himself. He unzipped it. A wide grin lit up his tribal-marked face; a face whose skin has had a huge treatment with some toning cream.
He exposed the contents of the bag:
” Hmmmm….gbẹ̀mù gidi rèé ..”
He said as he shook his tiny shoulders in some kind of joyful dance. Inside the bag was a 20-yard roll of white Keyholder Guinea brocade material piled on top of N100,000 notes in N50 denominations (there were no N100, N200, N500 or N1000 notes in those days.
Now N100,000 in 1999 was a lot of money. To be sure, it was the exact equivalent of my 4 months salary. (As Speaker, I earned N25,000 per month).
We zipped it up, thanked Aare again and made to leave.
Aare walked us to our Peugeot 504 car.
“Akenny, Kenny….Jesu a gbọ́ àdúrà rẹ o” He beamed in his mock Ijesha dialect as he pumped my hand. (On the way I thought of why he mimicked Ijesha and I remembered Primate Adeniran Aluko, his friend and Publisher of “Third Eye” magazine).
            * * * * * * * * *
On another occasion I witnessed Alhaji Abdulazeez Arisekola Alao in his humblest best.
It was sometime in 2004. I accompanied late Alhaji Adekunle Aruna Elewi – former Minister of State for Communications on a visit to the then President Olusegun Obasanjo in Aso Rock. We boarded a Chachangi aircraft from Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos en route Abuja.
“Aah buoda mi…salaam alaekun” He greeted and bowed down to greet Alhaji Elewi at the departure lounge. Elewi had a small briefcase which Aare carried for him to the plane.
I sat down behind them and rose up to greet him.
“Akenny, Kenny…o ma to ojo meta ke? Oo beere mi?”
“I’m sorry sir…oke ihin ni ko je ki a ri oke ohun” I said.
“Aha…owe t’eeyan ko gbodo pa nile ana niyen o otherwise ana a gba omo re lowo re o”
” O tie daa” said Elewi pointing at me ” iyawo e, omo Ibadan yin naa sii ni o.”
We all laughed and I went to resume my seat.
He has come and gone. I did not agree with some things Aare did but I am not his judge. His Maker is his judge. Let us all leave him to the judgement of his Maker. There was no way a man of Aare’s status, wealth and disposition would not impact his society. And in doing so, he would definitely make friends and enemies alike.
For it is appointed unto man once to die, and after this, judgement” – Hebrews 9:27 (KJV).*
May God bless and keep the family he left behind.
It shall be well with Oyo State!
It shall be well with the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
Omi Tuntun, Ìgbà Ọ̀tun!
Olatunji K. Ayoola JP,
Jagun’s Compound,
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