Bola Ige, the predictor
Foggy in the sense that happenings preceding the gazetted end of his government were fraught with threats, betrayals, back stabbings etc. I intend, by this article, to recall history, but more importantly, to pull the ears of present-day enfant terrible in Nigeria’s political space, that their disturbing acts of incivility, winner – takes – all, anti-party deals, etc., do not advance democracy and good governance.
As I said earlier, Friday, September 30, 1983, 35 years ago, was the last day in office of Chief Ige, as the first Governor (present day ‘Executive’ prefix was not a fad then) of the old Oyo State.
The last statement made by the late Chief Ige, inside the same Governor’s Office, Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan, Oyo State of Nigeria was, “We Shall Return.”
Chief Ige, popularly called “Uncle ‘Bola,” having won the governorship election in old Oyo State in August 1979, was sworn-in on October 1, 1979, for a four-year tenure, like his counterparts in other states of Nigeria. Thus, his four-year term ended that Friday, September 30,1983.
A year before the 1983 governorship election, former Governor Ige, had had to contend with internal and external political and social challenges from his former deputy, Chief Sunday Michael Afolabi (now late) his former Commissioner for Local Government, the late Chief Busari Oloyede Adelakun, alias “Eruobodo,” and others, who either resigned or were fired from Chief Ige’s government.
They all defected from the Oyo State branch of the governing Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), and joined the leading opposition party, the National Party of Nigeria (NPN).
The main cause of their defection was the declaration by Chief Ige to contest for a 2nd term as the UPN governorship candidate, the ticket, which he won eventually, in very tempestuous circumstances.
Aside from the internal party wranglings, some forces within the NPN at state and Federal levels had sworn that Chief Ige would not last a day longer after September 30, 1983, as the Governor of Oyo State, even if heaven must fall.
It was in the midst of these political cum social challenges that Governor Ige, his cabinet and party, made strategic moves to triumph over the serious threats.
Among the steps taken was the rejuvenation of Governor’s Ige media/pr portfolios, with the appointment of the world-class broadcast media manager, Professor (then Mr.) Y’emi Farounbi, as the Special Assistant (Information, Television and Radio Matters) to Gov. Ige.
This was followed by the secondment of my humble self on February 1,1983, from the state government-owned Television Service of Oyo State (TSOS) now called BCOS-TV, where I was a Principal Editor, to the Governor’s Office, to join Gov. Ige’s original Press Secretary, Dapo Aderinola, perhaps Africa’s best print reporter, of the Daily Times fame, and Femi Mapaderun, also seconded from the state-owned Radio O-Y-O.
We thus formed a media/pr triumvirate under the Chairmanship of Mr. Farounbi. Dapo handled the print media, while Femi and I were in charge of the radio and television arms respectively of Gov. Ige’s publicity organ.
I produced and presented a weekly 30-minute television news programme, “INSIDE SOURCE,” which never failed, not even once, until we left government on September 30, 1983.
Despite its dynamism and the people’s love for Gov. Ige’s government, his administration, as plotted by many forces, came to an unfair end.
Our last assignment in office that Friday, September 30, 1983,was a live world press conference by Gov. Ige at the Executive Council Chamber of the Governor’s Office, Agodi, Ibadan. Hear parts of Chief Ige’s prepared speech at that conference.
“I thank God that at the end of four years. I am able to come before you today.
The purpose of this broadcast today is to make some remarks on my stewardship so that through such it would be possible to reflect upon the present state of our affairs, our achievements, prospects before us, and the choice we have to make as from tomorrow.
“At this point, you are all aware, we are passing through unusual times and events that will be unfolding during the next few months defy precise prediction.
It is my belief, however, that the course of history cannot be short-circuited.
Truth will triumph over falsehood, and light will banish darkness. Some people have stolen our bugle; we will wait and see where and how they will blow it.
“I have already left the Government House this morning, and by midnight today, my four-year term will end. I go back to Oke-Ado, Ibadan and Esa-Oke.
One thing is certain: through the grace and power of the marvelous God, the support of you our people and the solidarity of all the patriotic forces in the country, the UPN and I will return.
“As I go away, I want, again, to thank God for having used me as an instrument of His purpose for change in this state and for preserving our life.
I thank Him for everything that has happened, because, I have assurance that He will hear the prayers of you the ordinary people of Oyo State who love me and our party and our government.
My song is one of victory and thanksgiving: Ope lo ye o, Baba Olore”.
The national anthem was played, curtains were drawn and an era thus ended. Everyone left for their various destinations and destines.
The ‘principal’ took his student aside and said emphatically, ‘We shall return. Meanwhile, bye for now.’
Dear Uncle ’Bola, your prophetic words re-echo. The song remains that of victory and thanksgiving; “Ope lo ye o, Baba Olore.”
Immediately the conference was over, Gov. Ige led us, his three press secretaries, to his office.
He prayed and thanked us for our performances, courage and loyalty to him and his administration. Drawing one aside, he confidently predicted, “WE SHALL RETURN”.
One never doubted him, but as a human being, the mind wondered how and when the predicted return would come to pass!
The following day, Saturday, October 1, 1983, Dr Victor Omololu Olunloyo, the NPN Governor-elect of old Oyo State, was sworn-in at the former Liberty Stadium (now Obafemi Awolowo Stadium) Oke Ado, Ibadan.
His first acts were the sack/transfer of all public/civil servants perceived by his government/do-gooders as loyalists of Chief Ige, the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and the UPN.
Quite expectedly, I was a victim of the unfair NPN government action.
From October 1, 1983 to December 31, 1983, when Generals Muhammadu Buhari, (Nigeria’s current President) and Tunde Idiagbon, of blessed memory, toppled the Federal and States civilian governments, I, on principle, was jobless, as I refused to crawl on my belly, to beg for my reinstatement, by the Dr Olunloyo-led NPN OYSG.
It was, therefore, a triumphant re-entry by me, along with many other Nigerians, into public/TSOS service in January 1984,when the new Federal Military Government, decreed that all civil servants/public officers, who had been sacked/transferred by the ousted civilian governments, return to our former posts.
Miracles still happen! Barely a month after my reinstatement into the service of TSOS, the new Military Governor of old Oyo State, Lieutenant-Colonel Oladayo Popoola (now a retired Major-General) appointed me his Press Secretary.
Thus fulfilling the late Governor Ige’s September 30, 1983 prediction of “WE SHALL RETURN”.
I went on to serve three military successors of Gov. Ige till March 31,1989, when I was appointed the pioneer Public Affairs Manager of the Yoruba economic patrimony, ODU’A INVESTMENT COMPANY LIMITED, from where I voluntarily retired in 2006,as the group pioneer General Manager, Corporate Affairs, even though I had six more years to serve.
Chief Ige, the predictor also returned, albeit to a much higher position in 1999.
First, as Nigeria’s Federal Minister of Power and later as Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, the position he was, until his assassination in his home on Bodija Housing Estate, Ibadan, Oyo State of Nigeria, that sad Sunday, December 23, 2001.
We, indeed, returned, as light triumphs over darkness.
Dear Uncle ‘Bola, may your valiant soul continue to rest in peace. Amen.
Lekan Alabi is Agba Akin Olubadan of Ibadanland
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