2019 and harvest of deaths
Readers may instinctively conclude that the piece before them is about the horrific catalogue of the daily butchery that had become the lot of Nigerians since the past 5 years which climaxed in the ugly Year 2019, and which unfortunately has resumed a more horrendous proportion since the puppeteers of the programmed pogrom are emboldened with demonic impunity. No. This article is about the personal losses that came my way in the past year and which up until now I have not gathered sufficient strength to write about. They came in shocking torrents; and before I could recover from one shock another blow hit me in the groin. And to make matters worse and more painful, these blows were sudden, devastating, total and final. I had just settled for dinner one fine evening when the telephone rang. Before taking a decision whether to answer the call or ignore it, it rang again and again.
“Senior Saheed, have you heard that OGO is dead?” it was Otunba Doyin Ogungbe’s voice on the line. I went numb. Earlier in the year I had given Omooba Gbenga Osinowo less than 24 hours to accept an invitation to chairman the wedding reception of my grandniece in Lagos and he had agreed without the slightest protest. “Egbon, just tell me the location and the time you would want me to present myself” that was the response of OGO as he was popularly called by his teeming admirers. People called him OGO SE’NIAN meaning OGO is complete human being, an Omoluwabi, the Yoruba word for a perfect human being.
Omooba Oluwagbemiga Osinowo had a very impressive career as a Customs officer rising to the top of the ladder as Deputy Comptroller. He also took time to study law and became successful in the practice. He was invited into politics by hundreds of his admirers who believed he would make a remarkable difference in that arena given his famed integrity, pleasant manners and accessibility. The story of Otunba Jide Awosedo was not different. A banker turned Real Estate entrepreneur, Awosedo also veered into politics and put in his very best and all to clinch the governor’s coveted seat in Ogun state. Fortune did not smile on him in that regard but the Vineyard of the Lord rewarded him with the Asiwaju Onigbagbo title. Extremely hardworking and generous his success also brought along stormy weather and waters which eventually exerted serious toll on his health. He was hospitalized in the UK while I was also battling health challenges in Canada. We shared prayer sessions on our hospital beds several thousands of kilometres apart. Then the bombshell came: Jide had passed without reaping the fruits of his sweats. Gbenga and Jide didn’t make it to 70. They both were natives of Odogbolu where a quarter of me originated from. Sometime in May an elder, Otunba Kolawole Abdul, a former Labour leader, politician and socialite spent close to an hour discussing plans for his 80th birthday due July.
We chatted till 4pm when I excused myself to attend Veteran Journalists meeting at the Press Centre in Ibadan with promise to resume our conversation in the evening. When I called back at 6.30 pm, the voice that answered my call was tears drowned. Your Egbon died a few minutes ago was the mournful answer from his wife! Otunba Abdul lived a very jocund and jolly life and smiled his way back to his Maker without illness and without a farewell! Late in 2017, the gentleman who I had touted as one of the pall bearers that would lower my remains into the grave also chatted for over an hour with me at 1 pm and by 3pm a call came from Abeokuta that he had simply slept off on his couch in his office! Dr. Adedeji Otunba-Payne was my College son at Ago-Iwoye premier tertiary institution since 1961 and incredibly that ‘father-son’ relationship was kept alive till his last day. His children call me ‘Grandpa’. Deji, a Veterinary doctor rose to the pinnacle of his career in the Civil Service having attained the status of Permanent Secretary and just about a month after turning 70, he journeyed forth in the Continuum. 2019 is a year I can never forget.
Apart from the loss of very close associates and my first cousins Jimoh Adeniyi Osinowo , Tajudeen Adeniyi  and Nura Adeniyi , it was a year that I had a clean shave with termination of my physical existence. My body was virtually on the verge of expelling my Soul/Spirit from its abode. A collapse in Lagos, a rush to Reddington Hospital in Ikeja, visits to the University College Hospital UCH in Ibadan and thousands of kilometres away, an emergency lift to Specialist Hospital in Canada; it was Olodumare Who decreed that the Breath of Life must be accommodated by the shell that gave it tenancy. While waiting to complete this sad piece which I actually began in February this year, the tale of the harvest of deaths got longer. Another first cousin, Abdul Razaq Adeniyi  passed on. Razaq was the immediate elder brother to Tajudeen! The Adeniyi Royal Dynasty was compelled to arrange a session of family prayers.
Three elderly men very dear to my heart also passed on a few months ago. The three, one a father figure and the other two Uncles in-law shed their earthly garments and proceeded on their new journeys to Eternity. Alhaji Dr. Adebayo Adetunji  a highly reputable man of many parts was the second to answer the call. An industrialist, businessman, investment banker, religious leader, Rotarian Paul Harris Fellow and many more, Adebayo Adetunji was a colossus both in physical gantry and rare entrepreneurship. High Chief Bolanle Ajomale,  a Prince of Ile-Ife, lawyer, banker, community leader and also a religious leader was every inch a perfect gentleman who epitomized love and steadfastness by personal conduct and discipline.
Uncle Solomon Ogundele  another remarkable in-law was the first to go and he left us while in his sleep. Incidentally the family gathered last year December to celebrate him and celebrate with him. It was quite an emotional event especially when the old man was moved to tears. ‘I hope you have not gathered together in this surprise party to bid me farewell’. And he left three months afterwards. While I lived in Surulere in the early 70s, in my hey days as Africa’s first Newspaper Ombudsman and Aba Saheed/ Nguyen Tol Nee columnist, Uncle Ogundele visited me several times, each time lavishing gifts and care on me. He treated me not as an in-law but a son. The passing of the three elderly gentlemen robbed me and my family the counsel and affection which have for long been bestowed on us. While 2019 went away with its tale of sorrow, tears and mourning, little did I know that the USA and China, two crazy countries competing for the economic and military domination of the world would envelope the entire globe with more harvests of death and economic woes and ruin? We are told these two super powers, this time brushing Russia, another crazy country aside, were busy creating devastating biological weapon in some laboratory in Wuhan and the devil in the bottle escaped, spreading its lethal contents on planet earth.
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