Mama Christie and the youngsters of March
March is the month of Chief Obafemi Awolowo. He was born on the sixth day of that month in 1909, a couple of years after the tip of the Yoruba Civil Wars. He didn’t know that although he was born a member of the Remo clan of the Yoruba nation, a couple of years later, he would turn into formally a Nigerian. Not many Nigerians have been concerned within the ceremony on January 1, 1914, when Lord Frederick Lugard, a colonel within the British military, proclaimed the delivery of a brand new nation referred to as Nigeria.
Awolowo was 5 years previous. He was to spend most of his life within the service of the brand new property. In the nationwide consciousness, Awolowo stays the dominant son of March.
When Awolowo was the Premier of the defunct Western Region, one other son of March was on the rise. By the time Awolowo was stepping down in 1959, Obasanjo was on the brink of turning into a soldier, collaborating in a peace-keeping mission within the Congo and main the third Marine Commando Division to victory within the Nigerian Civil War that resulted in January 1979. Though Obasanjo has since adopted March 5, as his official birthday, nobody is absolutely positive of that date. What Obasanjo was informed by his late mom was that he was born on “Ifo market day.” Ifo is now a sprawling metropolis in Ogun State subsequent to the economic cities of Sango.
From his humble starting, he’s in the present day Africa’s best-known soldier, Nigeria’s longest-serving ruler and Abeokuta most well-known resident. He can also be Nigeria’s most well-known farmer and a well-sought after worldwide trouble-shooter. Despite his age, formally 83, he stays energetic on the nationwide and worldwide area, pulling punches and taking punches with out let. Among Nigerian statesmen and political leaders, his literary outputs can solely be matched by these of Awolowo and maybe the nice journalist-statesman, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigerian final Governor-General and the primary titular President.
In latest months Obasanjo has turn into a convert to the decision for the political restructuring of Nigeria. This is a giant shift for him and for Nigeria for it was Obasanjo, as navy head of State, who bequeathed the presidential system of presidency to the nation which made the Federal Government a lumbering Leviathan. We ought to keep in mind nonetheless that each the Constitution Drafting Committee and the Constituent Assembly agreed that Nigeria wanted a presidential system of presidency as a substitute of the parliamentary system we inherited from the British.
One authentic believer within the concept of a restructured federation was the late Professor Jacob Ade-Ajayi, Nigeria pre-eminent historian, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos and co-founder of the Ibadan School of African Historiography. Many occasions previously, I and a few of my colleagues have visited him in his residence at Bodija, Ibadan, the place his nice spouse, Mama Christie Ajayi was the tireless and enthusiastic hostess. One exceptional factor about that home was that the library prolonged from the bottom ground, around the spiral staircase, into the primary ground. The library fills one with awe.
It is just not a shock that Mama Ajayi too is a author with appreciable fecundity. Her style is the youngsters storybook and a number of other generations of faculty youngsters have benefited from her knowledge and creativity. Last Friday, Mrs Ajayi celebrated her 90th birthday anniversary the place lots of her previous college students and colleagues gathered to honour her. She is a spritely previous girl, stuffed with vitality and nice humour. Among these current was Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State who described Mrs Ajayi as an awesome matriarch whom we owe a debt of gratitude.
Mrs Ajayi is an Ibadan girl, regardless of her husband headship of Unilag, whom we honoured in Lagos. Honourable Wale Osun is a Lagos man who could be honoured in Ibadan this week. Osun was a member of the House of Representatives from Lagos in these days when Chief Moshood Abiola turned our President-presumptive on the platform of the defunct Social Democratic Party, SDP. The annulment of Abiola’s historic victory on the June 12, 1993, presidential election, was to alter the contour of Osun’s profession and re-direct our ship of state.
Osun, who would mark his 70th birthday in Ibadan this week, was a frontline activist for Afenifere throughout the period of the cloak-and-dagger recreation that culminated in Babangida stepping apart from energy in 1993. He was to seek out himself within the vortex of Afenifere politics throughout the hey-days when the 2 patriarchs, Chief Adekunle Ajasin and Senator Abraham Adesanya, dominated the roost. He is the creator of Afenifere and the Kiss of Death, and Clapping with One Hand, the story of Abiola and June 12. The two books are controversial and so they stay evergreen and invaluable useful resource supplies for anybody who needs to relive the politics of these days.
After victory was gained with the restoration of democracy in 1999, the wrestle inside Afenifere continued even after the assassination of one of many protagonists, Chief Bola Ige, then the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice. Osun and lots of of our colleagues determined to type one other group referred to as Afenifere Renewal Group, ARG. Though the ARG has made some exceptional progress, it has not been capable of attain the muscularity of the previous Afenifere. One of its most up-to-date interventions is Amotekun Security Initiatives. The ARG continues to regards itself as one of many elite preventing forces of the Yoruba nation.
Osun has led the group from inception with readability of thought, exceptional sure-footedness and éclat. He is reticent and deep. Despite his obvious self-effacement, his books promote a person of iron who is able to dare. The patriarch of the previous Afenifere discovered it troublesome to forgive Osun’s effrontery for daring to start out one other group utilizing the title Afenifere. During the obsequies of Sir Olaniwun Ajayi, one of many patriarchs struggled vainly to bar Osun from giving an oration.
One man who wouldn’t succumb to any straightforward categorization is our National Poet, Odia Ofeimu, the fearless man of letters whose poetry and essays are full of data and patriotic fervor. In different lands and climes, individuals like Ofeimu would have been prevailed upon to supply nationwide service. A number of years in the past, he wished to be governor of his native Edo State. A celebration gave him its governorship ticket, however the period has not come when a person of concepts, utilizing the energy of these concepts for the good thing about our individuals, could be supplied the job of a governor.
About 15 years in the past, I and Ofeimu had served on a panel on the University of Ibadan. Our responsibility was to interview potential candidates for the put up of Vice-Chancellor of the nice college. It was my first-time alternative to work at such a detailed vary with the nice poet. Ofeimu loves U.I, but it surely was Unilag that honoured him on Tuesday for his 70th birthday anniversary. A public lecture, delivered by Professor Biodun Jeyifo, was held on the Julius Berger Auditorium below the auspices of the Faculty of Arts.
Ofeimu was the personal secretary of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, a place as soon as held by the nice Osibakoro, Chief Alfred Rewane. One day, a delicate doc in possession of Chief Awolowo, was leaked to the press. Chief Awolowo was severely pained by this growth and a few fingers pointed at Ofeimu. He denied it and supplied to resign. Awolowo accepted. It was later found that it was considered one of our senior colleagues working carefully with Chief Awolowo who had leaked the doc. Ofeimu declined to return to his job.
Ofeimu was considered one of our nice collaborators throughout the combat in opposition to the General Sani Abacha dictatorship. His contributions to THENEW and TEMPO magazines have been informative, incisive and combative. He is completely fearless. He was one of many closest individuals to Chief Bola Ige. In December 2001, I had gone to Ikoyi to satisfy Chief Ige on the official residence of his spouse, Justice Atinuke Ige, who was then serving on the Appeal Court. It was after Ige was assaulted on the palace of the Ooni of Ife, the late Oba Okunade Sijuwade, by thugs suspected to be followers of Iyiola Omisore, former Deputy-Governor of Osun State, who had simply them been impeached.
Ofeimu got here in whereas I used to be studying the draft of a letter Ige had addressed to President Obasanjo. It was his letter of resignation from the federal government. I learn it and gave my strategies. I wished at hand over to Ige, however he directed I ought to give it to Ofeimu. Ige regarded Ofeimu as completely trustworthy, fearless, dependable, educated and clever. I agree with him.