Walking through Molete this evening brought back nostalgia of those early years. And how at times we lined the street waiting and waving at dignitaries making their way to palatial home of Baba. The sirens, police escorts, luxury vehicles and joy of the goodies being shared at the aftermath of these guys leaving our neighborhood.
My first contact with Baba was in 2002 when I went to deliver a letter I have written on behalf of my late aunt. As I approached the waiting chamber, I saw large crowd of people gathered also in waiting for his supposed attention. It was around 10am in the morning and initially I cared less about the huge number of people loitering by his gate and in the compound until I saw the ones that filled up his lounge.
I went straight in and made my way to about the only space that looked comfortable for me to sit. Obviously anyone who’s familiar with Baba’s Lounge will remember this curvature chair that had just a centre part of it cut out. That is exactly the one I made my way to sit into as I didn’t have any idea of what it was meant for or any significance until I heard some women yelling at me not to sit there as it was reserved. I was deviant and as I about sitting, Baba appeared and told them to let the little boy alone.
Baba sat beside me, I was struck by his humor and before I could make any statement one Alfa knelt and offered him prayers and everyone said Amen. He dipped his hand into his pocket and offered some few naira notes, then came a pastor who did the same and he replicated the same. It is like everyone taking turns to narrate their ordeals while he attends to them one after another.
Then came a sudden interruption, as a white bus made its way into the arena with a lot of people singing his praises as he’s being ushered into another private chamber not far from where we all sat. Baba excused himself and directed his PA to attend to me immediately, I responded with a fierce look that I was told to deliver the letter to him personally. As at that time, it didn’t dawn on me that these PAs are privy to some of the things we thought are of private concerns. I had felt the content of the letter is deeper beyond what a 3rd person should know about until the man started to describe my aunty even before I could say jack. He went further by asking if the letter contained an agreement to a subject matter I have written to decline such requests.
Few moments later, Baba made his way back as the meeting was a brief one, the hailings and chants made me later realized it was Senator Rasheed Adewolu Ladoja who came visiting Baba. Baba who had joined PDP ahead of the 2003 general elections was victorious not only in Oyo-State but PDP winning across the entire South-West cemented baba as the a major force to reckon with in the country.
Baba who “mastered the art of political mobilization, demobilization and necessary coercion” meant different personality to different people due to his involvements in activities and events that may make or mar people’s interests. In fact, he’s reported to have lived a day at a time and is reknowned for contradicting himself some of the times. To Ladoja who he won an election for, he’s father and enemy at the same time. He got Ladoja removed from office as Governor and installed his deputy, denied him a second term ticket that earned the Ogbomoso born Alao Akala his election as the Executive Governor of Oyo State in 2007 (the party primary is not without drama). Looking at some of the timeline of events between 2003 until his death, one will agree to the fact that he’s till date the most colorful, controversial and ofcourse a peaceful person who hardly does anything without putting the interest of his people first.
In pursuant of political relevance, the interest of his candidates and followers Baba philanthropical live was shrouded by mechanisms he adopted in getting the much needed results that consistently endeared him and the same time dreaded by his followers. Some the activities engaged by him involved; *House for the blind In Sabo.
Bills of uncountable number of children.
Salaries to many old people.
Friday donations to all manners of people in need of help.
Baba share rams and cows yearly.
He renovated Mapo Hall
Bulldoze Akala Express road and made motorable.
Baba believed that freedom is basic and in whatever way it secured, should be pursued. In 1993, he pursued a conditional release of MKO Abiola but his adversaries disagreed with his position and later led to death of a Man who’s regarded as the hero of our Democracy.
Baba loved his people, and leveraged on his strategies, smartness, boldness, to stay with them in 1983 when people like Richard Akinjide and Meredith Akinloye fled to exile for fear of incarceration. and a never give up person. Twice he lost an councilor election.
Baba has a personality that doesn’t give up and such is seen when he lost councilorship election twice in 1954 when he ran with Action Group and 1956 with NCNC only to win at the third attempt in 1976 when he ran on his own name as an independent candidate.
The aristocratic power broker gave up the ghost on the 11th day of June 2008 and buried on this day of the same year at the age of 80years old. The vacuum of leadership of people like Baba is greatly missed till date.