Major Akinloye Akinyemi
By Tony Nyiam
Lest we forget, the soul whose form of incarnation we used to address as Major Akinloye Akinyemi has risen. This needs to be remembered particularly by souls like ours, which are still subject to the physio-and psycho-logical laws of the physical bodies of our embodiments in particular, and to the time and place we find ourselves in general.
For those still in doubt that the soul which used to be caged in the person of Akinloye has, like a caged bird, been set free, I suggest we pray. We pray fervently that he is enabled soon to attain perfection in Christ Consciousness. So that, like Apostle Paul, Akinloye is able to declare: “For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God…I live; yet not I but Christ liveth in me” (Galatians 2:19-20).
In existential life and during his body’s dying experience, the Major was fearless. This is a quality that marked him out from the crowd. It is most likely that the dare-good paratrooper which he was, knew that it is only the biological body that dies. That is, far from there being annihilation, the dying phase is a period of the transition of the soul from temporal existence to eternal life.
Akin must have known, as Saint Paul did, that death does not touch our true Self. Is this not why Paul taught that death “has no power to sting those who believe in Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55)? Whenever Major Akinloye was called for services in the defence and promotion of Justice, Truth and the welfare of the oppressed, he was in relation to many Nigerian leaders, literally like an eagle or lion among goats. But whenever he found himself amongst these leaders being unrighteous, Akinloye became a sheep among wolves.
Being unafraid of death and, above all, the liberation, God willing, of Akin’s soul to the Boundless Consciousness of Christ, are no mean feats. Thus I took a temporary hiatus from the writing of an intervention in the ongoing Nigeria’s constitutional reforms debate to quickly compose and rush out this eulogy to my very dear comrade. The proposed book to which I refer above is on the subject of a political-economic system which Akin and I have, for decades, prayed and acted to build in our country. Akin had often reminded me that restoring Nigeria to true democratic federalism is a task that must be done, as the fake democracy and federalism we are now promoting, will lead us to a fall. This is why the title of the forthcoming book is ‘True Federal Democracy or The Implosion Awaiting Us Nigerians’. Major Akinloye Akinyemi was a de-tribalised gentleman who loved humanity in general and Nigeria in particular. This is why I plead for this opportunity to correct any wrong impression any one has about our friend, and put on record the self-sacrifices which Major Akinyemi made for some of the democratic freedoms, and respect for human dignity, which we are beginning to taste in Nigeria.
There is an urgent need for those who have sincerely sacrificed for us Nigerians to have a better livelihood, to be adequately recognised. A better understanding of the nature of the sacrifices which heroes, like Akinloye, have made is very useful for the well being of our society. This is particularly good for our youths’ upbringing. It is equally relevant that the pretentious democrats or statesmen, or the internal colonisers, in our midst, need to be exposed and put to shame for what they are.
Thus I am reverently seeking the kind permission of both the noble Akinyemi’s family and my comrades in the struggle for a better Nigeria, to make certain disclosures. Some or more correctly a few people might not be happy with what they see in this tribute. I must confess: it is paradoxically speaking, some Boundless Consciousness, a State of Being greater than Tony Nyiam making the revelations. So if anyone has any fight to fight over these revelations they should go and contend with the Holy Ghost Fire, to use a Pentecostalist preferred terminology.
This book’s list of the names of both those who were for, and against, Abacha’s military regime is far from being an exhaustive recognition of those I have worked with directly or indirectly. I have had to use reliable sources to confirm the roles of those who I did not work directly with. One such reliable source is Kunle Ajibade’s Jailed For Life: A reporter’s Prison Notes.
As you may find, this writer seems to be like a medium urged on by the transited Major Akinloye Akinyemi to allow himself to be used to speak the truth. After all, this is part of why God has extended the writer’s existential life. This writer, for your information, has been blessed with overcoming well over five close shaves with the death of his biological body. These revelations will not include disclosures about the covert agents, and their roles, which underpinned what has become known as the “1990 Major Gideon Orkar action”. As for our internal colonisers and their stooges, I have no apologies to make.
I am having to do this not because Akin needed the adulation of we humans. He after all, did repeatedly put to practice the understanding of Jesus’ exhortation: “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men,…otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 6:1). I am setting the records straight not for Major Akinyemi’s sake but rather for the sake of the living. The reasons why I do not want the contributions which this gallant officer made to our freedom forgotten are manifold. Let me at this juncture briefly comment on one or two of the reasons.
Major Akinyemi’s consistent struggle against the mis-use of our armed forces for ethnic, or selfish, interests needs to be emulated. The Major would not have allowed his military unit to be used to cover up election rigging or thumb printing of ballot papers in private homes.
Any unit commanded by Major Akinyemi’s type of army officer would not have stood idly by to see the Federal Police being used to attempt to unseat a duly elected Governor. This is in reference to the paramilitary coup attempt against former Anambra State Governor, Dr. Chris Ngige. These federal government abuses of power were all done under the former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s watch.
CELEBRATION OF LIFE
Thus we must remember, that we are here to celebrate the physical life of a great soul. A ray of the light of the Holy Spirit which through the being named Akinloye, had many manifestations on earth. First as a son, brother and cousin, next as a brilliant student, an award winner and the best foreign officer cadet at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, UK; very warm friend, boy-friend, husband, and father.
For a major part of his life, Akinloye served as a regular combatant officer and a signals communication expert. This was followed by service in defense and promotion of democracy in particular and human rights in general. And finally, during the last twelve years, or thereabouts, of his biological life, Akin trained and was ordained a Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. Akinloye Akinyemi was not only a practicing Christian but also a practical exemplifier of the teachings of Jesus. His faith helped him to survive numerous betrayals. Jesus’ exemplary life taught him to forgive and that he had a moral obligation to help others in need.
Those of us who were inspired by Akin’s uncommon courage, clarity of thought and expression, utmost integrity and honesty in the conduct of official or personal dealings, great loyalty and dedication to friends, fairness and straight forwardness, and so on, can attest to the footprints he left behind on the sands of time. A whole book could be written about this, one unsung hero of Nigeria. It is because of time constraints that we will be limiting this tribute to the following highlights of Major Akinyemi’s life:
The consistency of the Major’s courage and integrity.
The self sacrifices, including with his body, which Akin made for all seekers of democratic freedom, upholders of the dignity and the honour of an officer and gentleman, and for lovers of humanity, particularly the oppressed.
Pastor Akinloye Akinyemi’s example of submission to Christ.
MAN OF COURAGE AND TRANSPARENCY
All through my over forty years of keeping in contact with Akin, he was always truthful, dutiful and compassionate. My first encounter with him was towards the end of the 1960s. This was during a military training bush camp in Igbo Ora. Then a slightly built teenager, Akin had attended the camp from Government College, Ibadan (GCI) where he was a secondary school army cadet. I was then a boy soldier, student of the Nigerian Military School (NMS), Zaria.
Apart from my chest size, I too like the adolescent Akinloye, had, as a youth, the slightest of body frames. I had, in fact, a pair of skinny legs. The slimness of my body came from my slim mum. My legs’ appearance, however, seems to have given rise to my being called names. One of such name calling, by one of my Hausa speaking school peers, was “tsinken tsire”. This caricature of my legs in English meant that my legs were as skinny as the wire like sticks used to hold together minced suya meat.
My reaction to my legs being described as tsinken tsire was invariably one of shaking with fury. I think the aggressive response stopped for good the name caller and others, from ever uttering the unwelcomed analogy. It might be necessary for you to be informed that as a child I was a stammerer and subsequently as a teenager spoke with a slight stammer.
The combination of my tendencies of stammering and speaking fast, used to lead to a bottling up of words with the attendant possibility of my being seen with eyes blazing with fury when offended. My aggressive response should also been seen from the context that I was a new arrival to a far-northern Hausa-Fulani city from faraway Lagos. Being called names by some local and native looking lad was not what an Eko for show mentality guy bargained for. This must be considered against the background that we NMS Lagos boys believed we were the pace-setters in the circle of top secondary schools in Kaduna State including the famous Barewa College. The happenstance of Akinloye and I first meeting must have come about because of a bridge builder who then connected NMS to GCI. The link was the NMS Commandant / Principal, Major General T. B. Ogundeko, an alumnus of GCI.
Immediately after my commission into the Corps of Army Engineers, I went to the United Kingdom for my university education, where I occasionally met up with Akin. First, as a Sandhurst officer cadet, then, as a newly commissioned officer and student of the Royal Military College of Engineering, Shrivenham. Since those early encounters, I had no doubt that this first class electronic engineering graduate was going to be an outstanding military officer. This he turned out to be.
It is indeed, with some nostalgia that I can meaningfully recall Major Akinyemi’s attitude to military work. It was, to say the least, legendary. He always superseded the high standards and targets his Nigerian Army Signal Corps (NASC) and the Armed Forces in general, had set for their personnel.
The Major was renowned for the maintenance of the military equipment under his care. We all raved about Akin’s professionalism, both as a military officer and an outstanding engineer. Especially when he once elected to move his office outside into a hot tent. This was so as to make room in his air-conditioned (Commanding Officer’s) office for the safe keeping of his unit’s sensitive electronic equipment. Equally remarkable was the Major’s care for officers and soldiers under his command.
For anyone in doubt of this testimony, I suggest they confirm from Akin’s former bosses. I am sure that the following veterans of the Signal Corps will corroborate this attestation: the Senate President David Mark; General Ishola Williams, a former Chief of Defence Staff, General Alexander Ogomudia; former military administrators-Generals Raji Rasaki and Leo Aborisha; and of course, the Emeritus Professor of Nigerian Signal Communication, General Tanko Ayuba.
It was, actually, from General Ayuba, the husband of Ronke Ayuba, one of our best newscasters, that I first learnt, as far back as the early 1980s, the difference between the then popular analogue technology and the nouveau-digital technology. What is interesting is that the Senator-General is still passionate about e-technology. Thus General Ayuba remains undoubtedly the doyen of the modern means of communication in Nigeria.
The admirers of Major Akinyemi’s sense of duty and incorruptibility were not limited to Nigerians. The European, American and Russian suppliers of military hardware to Nigeria were full of praise for the fine young officer. The British suppliers often boasted that it was their training institutions which made him such a first class army officer. Some, in fact, confided in me that Akin would no doubt be a sure candidate for the post of Chief of Army Staff when the time was due. I could go on to reveal that even the then Military President, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, had high regards for Major Akinyemi’s consistent first class command performances.
This was for both routine and highly dangerous operational duties. Akin was without doubt a role model for other young armed forces officers to emulate.
The recollection of Akin’s exemplary attitude to duty evoked in me a soul searching disposition. This is consistent with my tendency for enquiring, to ascertain whether or not my intentions or motivations for any action or omission, are virtues. I love indulging in such self-enquiry because it has a capacity for helping me discover and unlock the door into the temple of Christ within me. It is from this Christ-in-us, we must know, that we hear the silent voice of the good conscience. It is in this regards that I am humbly posing this question: How can we repay the true Nigerian patriot, Major Akinloye Akinyemi for the ultimate sacrifice he made for us Nigerians? Let us begin by answering the question: what exactly did Akinloye sacrifice?
Unknown to most of us Nigerians is the fact that Major Akinyemi made numerous sacrifices for the freedom we are now enjoying. This includes sacrificing every material thing he cherished. Major Akinyemi was twice incarcerated by two different rogue military regimes. These were juntas led by politicians-in-uniforms who saw the Nigerian armed forces as tools to serve their selfish interests.