OYO 101: Abiola Ajimobi: The Man, The Myth, The Legacy | Muftau Gbadegesin

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    After eight years of record-breaking administration, the late Abiola Ajimobi knew it was time to unwind. But instead of resting and relaxing after governing one of the most complex and complicated states in the country, Senator Ajimobi was called on a national assignment— to serve as APC National Vice Chairman for the South—the party that was on the verge of internal implosion! Typical of him, the cheerful political heavyweight took that task with unbridled passion, setting up high-level committees to resolve differences and ill feelings among party members. He was an unapologetic party man, an unusual political figure who carved a niche for himself in the tumultuous waters of Nigeria’s political landscape. Not many people find themselves on the good side of history, much less have history on their side. Fortunately, Senator Abiola Ajimobi had both. He became a man of history by making history for himself.

    Today, history is incontrovertibly kind to him, regardless of the lens through which you want to see him. Consciously, carefully, deliberately, and painstakingly, he made concerted and calculated efforts at writing his own story—and even asked two excellent writers to put his various strides in black and white for posterity. Clearly, Abiola Ajimobi was not just a former governor who changed the course of history, or was that suave, urbane, charming, and charismatic leader that etched such indelible imprints in the state political trajectory, indeed, he was that man of impeccable character, excellent mind, impossible work ethic and exemplary leader whose life and time as the Governor of Oyo opened up the state for stability, security, possibility, and prosperity.
    Of course, he had flaws and imperfections like any other human being out there. In a way, his shortcomings are just part of why he’s still revered across the state nooks and crannies.

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    Perfectionism is just an ideal. In fact, it was evident that no amount of vilification could relegate him to the backseat stage of history – even after leaving office, he was still loved and admired in equal proportion. He tamed the monster of thuggery and hooliganism. By far, he was Oyo most consummate administrator, exceptional negotiator, and a truly committed public servant who tirelessly worked for the good of the people. As the Governor, the late Abiola Ajimobi had could not but sustained few scares that came to defined his originality and authenticity. He was controversial in the true definition of the word. His fiasco with the late Olubadan, Yinka Ayefele are some of his administration dark spots.

    But what he lacked in introversion, he substituted it with the sound, critical and analytical thinking some of which went into his policy frameworks. Until his shocking death, he was an embodiment of authority, an imperfect human being who’s just like the rest of us. For as long as we live and irrespective of our endeavours, we are definitely going to err, make mistakes, and commit errors. Given his pedigree, his heartbreaking death became one of the most talked about both online and offline. He was among other prominent Nigerians who lost their lives in the wake of the COVID’19 pandemic. Senator Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi’s transition to the afterlife is still considered a rude shock to most of his associates; they feel the man has gone too soon. Most are still wondering at the hurried departure of their friends, associates, and family. But they take solace in the fact that they leave behind a timeless legacy that will stand the test of time.

    Certainly, the late Abiola Ajimobi means different things to different people, but one thing is evident: his towering footprints in the history of Oyo State are forever etched in the sand of time. He is the jinx-breaker, ‘koseleri’ the acclaimed architect of modern Oyo State, was a man who dared greatly in the face of obstacles. Growing up, the late Ajimobi recounted how difficult it was to wallow in abject poverty. Outside the country, he narrated how he took to washing corpses just to scrape by. His life and time were both inspiringly adventurous.

    As a true Ibadan man, the late Abiola Ajimobi became the poster child for the political rescue mission of the city in the hands of the Ogbomosho man. Brilliantly, he showed up to reclaim the city of seven hills from the government of Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala without batting an eye. But that wouldn’t have been possible without the support and backing of various political gladiators in the state—especially those of Ibadan extraction. In that breakneck, tension-soaked contest, Abiola Ajimobi triumphed. And in a twist of fate, the incumbent Governor Alao-Akala would have to contend with the forces that brought him to power. The rest, as they say, is now history.

    You do not need a fortune teller to tell you that the late Abiola Ajimobi was his Ibadan. He was bold and loud. Courageous with mirthful abandonment When he asked butchers to relocate to the government-designated abattoir in Akinyele, he stood his ground until law and order prevailed. During his time, ghost workers had excruciating experience. He was a strikingly popular governor who never failed in the discharge of his responsibilities. Like a human octopus, the late Senator Abiola Ajimobi was a man of many parts. It is difficult to capture such an enigma, a complex human being who walked through this land with grace and grit in words. May God rest his soul.

    OYO101 is Muftau Gbadegesin’s opinion about Issues affecting Oyo state, published on Saturdays. He can be reached via @TheGMAKing on Twitter, muftaugbadegesin@gmail.com and 09065176850

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