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Ajimobi: Of a man and his legacy

Ajimobi: Of a man and his legacy 1


By Sanya Oni

As the nation mourns the passing of Abiola Ajimobi, I recall how a little more than a year ago, precisely on April 2, 2019, I had described the late governor as an unlikely candidate for a popularity contest.  I gave my reasons. Here was a governor who dared to tell a bunch of unruly, red-eyed undergraduates to respect ‘constituted authority’ when they came marching on Agodi, the seat of Oyo State government. As if to cement his public image as “Mr. Controversy”, then followed the rather bruising encounter with the musical icon, Yinka Ayefele over the latter’s violation of the state’s town planning laws on which the governor had insisted that the law rather than sentiment would hold sway. And then to crown it all, his attempt to modernize the traditional institution in the ancient town of Ibadan, his beloved city, which, though well-intended, became politicised.

But then, I also noted that those would pass for mere footnotes given his rather impressive legacies. I noted his impressive efforts to transform the ancient city from the urban jungle that it was, into a modern functional city with physical planning infrastructures in place and befitting aesthetics. I couldn’t resist touching on what I called the Ajimobi Magic: the wider and neater urban roads particularly the inner-city roads which he had put on a steady path of renewal. I highlighted in the piece the drainage masterplan aimed at banishing the perennial flooding in the ancient city, and his administration’s singular effort to transform their rustic landscapes of Oke-Ogun right through to the other ancient cities of Oyo and Ogbomoso into modernity. I then concluded on what seems to me his greatest achievement: the successful termination of the reign of the warlords – the rival transport unions who saw themselves as not only above the nation’s laws but are known to routinely unleash violence and mayhem on innocent citizens without provocation.

To these I can only add another fitting epitaph – the statement credited to Seyi Makinde, his PDP successor on the Ajimobi administration’s novel School Governing Board policy under which old boys/girls and the community are given a seat in the running of schools: “Let me give kudos to the last administration for bringing SGB onboard, but I want to add here that our administration will take the policy to a greater height”.

Surely, the good people of Oyo State will remember Ajimobi as a man who not only dared to dream but also actualized them. Now, all that matters is the testimony across the board – which is that he left the state far better than he met it!

Adieu Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi.



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