…From Dele Ogunyemi, Ibadan.
Governor Isiaq Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State on Thursday relieved the fond memories of the late stormy petrel of Ibadan politics, Chief Adegoke Adelabu, declaring that his administration would immortalize him for his selfless service to the people of the ancient city.
The governor, while speaking at this year’s edition of Adegoke Adelabu Memorial Lecture held at Civic Centre, Ibadan, described the late politician as a great Ibadan son who lived and died an Ibadan, adding “he stood for our brilliance, depth and exceptional skills in governance.
“When the world marveled at Adelabu’s charisma as a politician and his unusual approach of identifying with the common people in spite of his political height, they didn’t know that he was advertising a characteristic that is peculiarly Ibadan. Here, everyone is linked by virtue of clan, birth, inter-marriage and our common ancestry. We do not have a choice than to identify with our roots.
“Adelabu was an extremely intelligent man and a gifted orator. In all his writings and speeches, he espoused the superiority of the Blackman over all other races. At best, he believed that the Blackman’s skin did not render him subservient in any way to his White brother.
“The United African Company (UAC) scholarship he got to study at the Government College, Ibadan is a demonstration of his rare brilliance. Till today, about 60 years after, his academic record at the Government College remains a reference point. Even at the UAC, he was noted for his outstanding intellect and his organizational skills.
“His belief that the Blackman is not inferior to his White brother must have been accentuated by his highly applauded managerial skills as the first Nigerian manager of the then UAC, even while working with White manager-colleagues.
“His oratory, profound intellect and sheer bravery in the face of gang-ups in a political system are still told today as tale of a legend’s accomplishment. He had an understanding of the English Language that baffled even the English, at a time when a high population of Nigeria was still illiterate. These all were demonstrated in his work entitled Africa in Ebullition,’’ he said.
According to the governor, what remains today in Adelabu’s memory is the word, Penkelemes, stressing “an adulteration of his inspirational usage of grammar, “Peculiar Mess” by local drummers and praise singers has come to represent the narrative of his depth and grammatical wizardry.
Governor Ajimobi said that many politicians from Ibadan had always attempted in vain to recreate the Adelabu model and influence in politics, adding that the narrative of his politics was that of egalitarianism and bonding with the people.
“Even when he was being vilified for allegedly tampering with state money, the local drummers who came to witness the occasion pitched their tents with him. To them, it was merely political persecution as they burst into a song which would soon become legendary.
“Adelabu believed in selfless service to his people. This is probably why he remains a reference point among the people of this ancient city. He loved to see Ibadan grow to an admirable metropole. I am sure if he were alive today, Adelabu would have been one of the greatest supporters of this administration. We have restored the pride of every indigene of this state and made their state capital a wonder to behold. This was the vision of the petrel of Ibadan politics for his fatherland,’’ he said.
The lesson of Adelabu Adegoke, Governor Ajimobi said, was for everyone to invest, even if a fraction of his love and belief in Ibadanland in the ancient city of Ibadan, pointing out that the late Adelabu believed in Ibadan and sacrificed all he had for its betterment.
He said that his administration was imbibing the lessons of Adelabu’s short but eventful life, as Ibadan and the entire state had witnessed a turn-around in the areas of infrastructure, education, health, urban renewal and many more, adding that his desire was to have generations to come and discuss his administration’s revolutionary touch of the state in positive terms, too.
Governor Ajimobi also eulogized the Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Alhaji Abdul-Azeez Arisekola Alao who died recently, saying that his philanthropy and his commitment to the development and growth of Ibadanland had made him a modern day Adelabu.
The Guest Lecturer at the occasion, Dr. Isiaka Olalekan Aransi called for the creation of more local governments in Nigeria with a view to bringing governance closer to the people, adding however that local government councils should not be given on a platter of gold but that they should be demanded for by the people.