By Kemi Olaitan
The Oyo State Executive Council Monday conducted a valedictory session in honour of the late Commissioner for Environment and Natural Resources, Hon. Kehinde Ayoola.
Ayoola died last Thursday at a private clinic in Iyaganku, Ibadan, during a brief illness.
The council members severally eulogized the late former Speaker of the state House of Assembly, declaring that he would be greatly missed.
Governor Seyi Makinde while speaking during the meeting held at the Government House, Agodi, Ibadan, described the late commissioner as a gem, noting that he has lost a loyal and dedicated friend and colleague.
A statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, quoted the governor as saying that the state would immortalize Ayoola.
The governor also declared that henceforth the task of educating the children of the deceased has become his responsibility, stating that he would be ready to bear the cost of their education no matter where they want to go in search of knowledge.
According to him, “Nothing prepares us for something like this. One week, you are with a friend, colleague, discussing the affairs, dreams, aspirations and the next moment, he is no more. All the dreams and aspirations are extinguished.
“He will definitely be missed by all of us who have worked with him. I have seen pictures that the deceased and some of our colleagues took together. We will all miss him but I will be missing him even more dearly. I first met him in 2002. We were very young then and we were thinking about the ideal situation for our state.
“I remember the first meeting at Fortune Chinese Restaurant at Onireke. He was the only politician amongst us. We were just professionals thinking about how Oyo State can progress and we all decided to support Governor (Rashidi) Ladoja. But because we all knew nothing about politics, every time we got to a point to review the political implications of the decisions we were about to take, we always fell back on him because he will be the one to always tell us the ramification of the decision we’d planned to take.
“After that effort, Pa Ladoja emerged as the governor. We maintained the relationship and, once in a while, we talked about his love for agriculture, until 2014 when I decided to run for the governorship seat of Oyo State. After we lost the election, we stayed together and kept the relationship going.
“In 2019, he was going to be the Director-General of my campaign organisation but some people said I should give the new people that had just joined the team, the opportunity to also contribute. Eventually, late Hon. Ayoola became the Deputy DG for the 2019 campaign.
“Normally, one would have expected resentment, but he said to me that he could even become a cleaner, since the whole idea is to win the election and to actualize the dreams that we have been nursing since 2002.
“For me, he was a rare gem. We had spoken about the new waste management architecture for Oyo State. We had actually started the project at the dump site. He sent me pictures of himself, where he was supervising the project at the dumps site. We had spoken about the PSPs.”
Makinde, who also encouraged the late commissioner’s wife, Prof. Oluwakemi Ayoola, and his two sons to take heart, noted that whatever God does cannot be questioned, adding that the state Executive Council, the people of Oyo town and indeed the Oyo citizenry were united with the immediate family, in the loss of Ayoola.
“We have his wife and children here. I want you to know something; we are all united in this loss. For yourself, it is something personal because you have lost a friend, husband, and the breadwinner of the family. For the children, they have lost a friend, father and a mentor, but in all of these, who are we to question God? Whatever God does, the Bible says, is always the best.
“Woman, please, be strong. We will definitely immortalize him in the days to come. The state will take a decision on what we have to do. But, for me personally, from this moment, the children are my responsibility till they are done with their school. And wherever they want to go, in any corner of the world, in search of knowledge and education, they are my responsibility and I will shoulder it.
“I use this opportunity to also thank you my colleagues for your messages and support and I pray that from this point forward, we won’t lose anyone among us again,” he said.
The Secretary to the Oyo State Government, Mrs. Olubamiwo Adeosun; the Head of Service, Mrs. Amidat Agboola; and commissioners also took turns to eulogize the late Oyo-born politician, describing him as a patriotic individual who worked for the development of the state in all ramifications.