Home News Tribute To Kehinde Ayoola: An Icon Goes Home | Prof. Soji Adejumo

Tribute To Kehinde Ayoola: An Icon Goes Home | Prof. Soji Adejumo


Two weeks ago, our dear brother, Kenny Ayoola took permanent leave of us and departed to the World beyond. There was no hint or indication of his imminent departure so it hit me with a devastating shock and took me two whole days to process. Kenny was a very cerebral and intelligent person who exuded intense mental capacity every time I engaged him on any discussion.

My personal interactions with him intensified towards the build up to the election Campaign of the former Governor of Oyo State, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala in 2010. We set up a think tank and hired a facility in IITA for the purpose.

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Our discussions usually ran through the night to the early mornings. In the group were people like Engr A.K Ahmadu, Alhaji Tunde Ologburo, MOGAJI Gboyega Adejumo, Dr. Babalola Owolabi, Hon Asimiyu Alarape and a few others I cannot readily recall. He was our strategist and his contributions were politically incisive and detailed. If the roadmap that emerged out of that effort had been implemented, the outcome might have been clearly different. He was also a member of another strategy group set up at the same period by Alhaji Tunde Ologburo in Premier Hotel and he quickly distinguished himself with his astuteness and political foresight. He became the intellectual anchor and political resource of the group. His contributions were always well articulated and presented. After the failed re-election of Gov Akala, we had cause to do a review and he expressed personal disappointment that he was not well appreciated by that administration. I was also surprised that his political potentials were neither recognised nor utilised and not rewarded by the Akala administration. (I will come to this point later on).

During one of our post election discussions, I realised he played a silent role in the emergence of Oloye Jumoke Akinjide as a minister so I was not surprised when he became one of her ministerial aides. I took the opportunity of that to pay a brief visit to the minister in her office and Kenny was was quick to usher me into her office. I was very happy for him and on leaving the minister, I dragged him to the Nigerian Institute of Animal Science (NIAS) in Maitama, Abuja to introduce him to the Registrar and facilitate his registration as a Registered Animal Scientist (He was by Academic Foundation an Animal Scientist like myself), I wanted to use him as a liaison between the FCT Ministry and the NIAS. However, his political potential was again overlooked in that position as he soon left the office of the Minister of State (FCT) due to reasons that I believed were largely sentimental rather than core values. He came back to Ibadan and we set up a political roundtable in my house where a few of us met weekly to discuss the politics of Oyo state and Nigeria. The group included Dr. Morohunkola Thomas, Mogaji Gboyega Adejumo, Prince Adetayo Adekunle (who acted as secretary), Kola Adegoke, Remi Oladoye, Ralph Elebute, Alhaji Mukaila Aborode and several others.

His huge potential as a political strategic helped us to shape our discourse and map out our political roadmap. He later left to direct the political campaign of another politician who became his lifelong principal. In that role, he exhibited another character which was Total LOYALTY to his principal. He was loyal to a fault and took bullets for his principal. I was at a stage uncomfortable with the extreme lengths he went to in complete defence of his principal but that was his character of doggedness and complete loyalty. He later displayed an uncanny political acumen by holding a national office in a political party while working for his principal in another party. I had cause to do a discuss of this novel situation with him as it affected the fate of another political aspirant and he explained his position clearly and I couldn’t fault him on any grounds even though the strategy was most unusual.

When his Principal won the governorship election, I was very happy for him as I knew he would finally get the reward that had eluded him for so many years despite his hard labours in the field. I called him up and asked him if he would seek the office of the SSG as I felt he was eminently qualified for the position and his experience would be invaluable to the stability of their new administration if they wanted to build on the robust administrative and infrastructural foundation laid by the preceding administration of Gov Ajimobi who had changed the architecture of governance in Oyo state very considerably and profoundly. He shocked me with his humility when he replied that it would be impossible for him to be in that position as his town already had a top position in place and he would probably be given a ministry to administer. I again suggested the ministries of education or agriculture as areas of strength for him and he should work towards that but he again said he would be happy with any portfolio assigned to him.

With his input into the emergence of the government, I had expected a more aggressive quest for political position but his humility and character were attributes that underlined and defined his political outlook. When he was assigned to the environment ministry, I called him and prayed for him. Kenny came out as a thoroughly dependable associate without any desperate ambitions. I am thoroughly saddened that as a critical cornerstone overlooked for several years and yet plodded along and remained dogged in his convictions, it was when he finally reaped the rewards of his loyalty and hardwork that fate took him away. This is a very cruel fate. I deeply mourn this faithful and loyal soldier and pray to God Almighty to grant him eternal rest in his bosom. May the family he left behind be blessed and find favours before God and humanity. Adieu, Kenny Ayoola

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