Anthony Kila disagrees with the notion canvassed by a former Governor of Lagos State, Senator Bola Tinubu that Senator Abiola Ajimobi who passed on recently was the best governor of Oyo State
Dear Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu,
Lest we become guilty of what we accuse others of doing it is important that we address today’s epistle to you as an opportunity to remind all of us that even amidst tears, we should still keep focus. Yes, this epistle comes at an awkward time but matters relating to tears, loss, pain and death tend to come at awkward moments.
Understandably, you are currently more concerned about and rightly more focused on the very important task of working towards becoming the party we were intended to be.
Yet, we must call your attention to the statement attributed to you in your eulogy of the immediate past governor of Oyo state, the late Senator Abiola Ajimobi. The headlines of most newspapers in the country were along the lines of “Ajimobi was Oyo’s best governor in history- Tinubu.
My instant reaction to such headlines was Sukumus Riranmus. Sukumus what? I can hear you say. O ye uninitiated reader, stress not thy pure and faraway Latin, Sukumus Riranmus is just an offbeat and irreverent Latinization of the saying “Bí a bá n súkún a máá ñ ríran” which means “even amid tears we still need to see.”
Asiwaju, understandably the pain of the loss of our friends and associates tend to magnify their greatness and goodness whilst reducing their flaws and limits. Sadly, with the current COVID-19 pandemic and its collateral social-economic consequences, death has become closer to all and most of us have lost some close friends and associates. Notwithstanding that however, in fact exactly because we don’t know who might be next, history must remain sacred.
Oyo State was the state governed by Chief Bola Ige, the bigger Oyo State to be precise not the abridged version of Oyo State that we have today. Chief Bisi Akande will bear me witness as he was fully involved in the accomplishments of their fifty months administration in that State.
Asiwaju, it is not my place to teach political history to a lead gladiator like you, for the benefit of the uninitiated or absent-minded readers however, let us remind ourselves that in those fifty months, with very limited resources, larger than life personalities to manage and an unfriendly Federal Government, the government of that Oyo State provided free education for a whole generation of young people and it provided free health facilities to all in the State. It was also the era of cogently aiming for employment opportunities as well as pursuing rural integrated programmes.
Whilst at it, permit me to use this opportunity to call on my fellow teachers at all levels as well as colleagues in the media to dedicate more time and platforms to the discovery and learning of modern and contemporary history. I refer to proper history, the one that will teach to identify facts, in all its complexities, and save the willing from the intoxicating and blinding googles of hagiographies and outright fables.
Let us be clear, there is a lot to praise about the immediate past Governor Ajimobi and his place in history will never be overlooked. In terms of political gains, he was the first Senator to become a governor in Oyo State, and the first person to occupy the seat of governor twice and in succession. In terms of governance, his success in leading the task of cleaning the city of Ibadan will always be remembered. His contributions to the infrastructure will also be remembered.
His clumsy management of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology crises will also be remembered as well as his colorful but unbecoming encounter with students of that same institution. It is not easy to combine the badge of being the best Governor ever with the blemish of keeping a tertiary institution closed and then “unlucky” enough to be caught in public and on video saying “…This is not the first time a school will be shut; so what?…” and in the same context, focusing more on being respected rather than the plight of the students and solutions to their problems. It is worth noting that students were not begging for money nor were they seeking contracts or appointments; those students just wanted to study.
By the way, I also think that those academic leaders “unlucky” enough to be the ones in charge when learning institutions remain closed so long to make students miss a session not to talk of an academic year, have big blemish on their names too.
In our times, death has lost its magic, it is no more exceptional. The long-held idea that anyone regardless of age, status or ways can die at any moment is now a reality. So Sukumus Riranmus, death or the pain it causes is no more an excuse to create untrue myths about the dead or to forget their flaws. The living and the unborn deserve to know the truth so they can lead a better life.
The late Governor Senator Ajimobi was a cosmopolitan Muslim (that in itself was an achievement) and in Islam, death is explained as the termination of worldly life and the beginning of the afterlife, a mere separation of the soul from the body. That is a big solace for those who believe.
Times have changed, whether we believe or not, our duty whilst alive is to lead a good life that needs no embellishment after we are dead because amidst the tears of our loved ones, our victims and beneficiaries will remember the truth and someone will say it.
Prof. Kila can reached at @anthonykila