+Why Everyone Calls Him Pepper
Last Monday, June 16, 2020, the news of the death of late distinguished Senator Bayo Osinowo broke and shattered everyone who knew him closely or even remotely. It shook the political class in Lagos and beyond to its foundation. Everyone, especially his political associates, struggled to come to terms with the fact that he was truly dead. This is because the late politician had touched several lives while he was alive. Senator Bayo Osinowo, aka Pepper, was a pillar of support to his colleagues, one who always made himself available to support their cause and political aspirations whenever they needed him.
To the general public, he was a philanthropist. He gave freely to everyone who sought for his assistance and it didn’t matter to him whether you were Yoruba or not, or whether you identified with his party, the APC or not. What mattered to him was that you needed help and he was in the position to offer that help. Pepper was a natural giver, one of the reasons why he was and still is hugely loved by his people in the Lagos East Senatorial Constituency whom he represented at the senate for just about a year.
In Kosofe local government area where Pepperito spent a large chunk of his adult years, he was larger than life. While he was a four-term member of the Lagos House of Assembly, he was able to make a significant impact in his immediate environment, executing one developmental project after the other. He fixed roads, acquired transformers, placed students whose parents couldn’t afford to send them to school on scholarships and empowered artisans, widows and the aged. His house was always besieged by different kinds of people. There were always grassroots politicians who wanted to see him for guidance and direction and people who generally sought his favour, especially financial assistance. And he gladly gave. Senator Bayo Osinowo was a devout Muslim who held tightly onto one of the tenets of Islam which is giving.
As a politician, in Lagos politics, Pepper was big. He was one of the juggernauts of APC in Lagos. He had an unbelievably large following. People had fanatical love for him. Go to his constituency in Kosofe and mention the name Pepper and you’ll be amazed at the instant attention you will get from those around you as they become animated with excitement at just hearing the name, Pepper. That was the sort of affection Pepper commands from his people. He was adored by his constituent and respected by his colleagues. Even his political opponents had a great deal of respect for his political sagacity and accomplishments. Late Senator Bayo Osinowo was an outstanding politician, a Master Strategist in his own right who commanded a lot of respect even from political foes. But most of all, he was someone you could depend on as a political ally, his loyalty to his colleagues and to his party, the APC, was never in doubt. This is one of the reasons why Africa’s biggest political juggernaut and national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, made Pepper one of his closest confidantes allies.
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu never hid his admiration for Pepper from the get-go. It was no secret within the APC inner caucus that Jagaban had tons of respect for the man fondly called Pepperito. And the feeling was mutual. Senator Bayo Osinowo too never hid his respect and admiration for his leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Everyone who knew him closely or remotely would tell you that he had an unshakable loyalty for Tinubu. With Pepper, if you wanted to incur his wrath, speak ill of his leader and long time ally, Tinubu, and you would see the anger in him.
Many do not know that the late Senator and Asiwaju had been political allies since the MKO Abiola days when they were both members of SDP and loyalists to the late business mogul and winner of the controversial June 12 presidential election. Pepper and Asiwaju both believed in the ideologies of MKO and stood by him until the very end. While MKO was put in detention where he later died, Pepper was also detained alongside the acclaimed winner of the election in a separate prison while Asiwaju was plunged into forced exile when it became obvious that there was serious threat to his life by the military junta, Abacha. Osinowo was not released from prison until several months after the death of MKO.
It was during this very traumatic period that the bond between the pair became very strong. And from the moment late Senator Bayo Osinowo was released from prison and Asiwaju returned from exile, they became inseparable. It was only proper that, in 2003, his people would reward him with the mandate to represent them (Kosofe constituency 1) at the Lagos State House of Assembly as their elected Lawmaker. He spent four terms in the Assembly as the Lawmaker representing his people (from 2003 -2019). While he was in the Lagos Assembly, he served as chairman, Lagos State House of Assembly Committee on Lands and Housing for 11 years. It was last year that he was elected as the senator representing Lagos East Senatorial District in the National Assembly.
Late Osinowo’s political journey did not begin with SDP. In the second republic, he was the Ogun State Youth Chairman of the National Party of Nigeria in the Second Republic, in 1979. When the second republic was truncated in 1983, he never gave up on his political aspirations. He remained steadfast and when the opportunity came to get his political career back on track with MKO and SDP, he seized it with both hands. He was also Youth Chairman of the Social Democratic Party under MKO before moving up to assumme larger responsibilities. And of course, what happened afterwards has become etched in our political history ever since.
For many reasons, Asiwaju never joked with his friend and ally, Pepperito. He always told close associates that Pepper was one of those allies he had unwavering trust and faith in. Asiwaju never hid the fact that Pepper was one person whose loyalty he could never doubt. A close ally of the late senator revealed to City People that one of the reasons Asiwaju respected Pepper is that, if there were jobs assigned to Pepper to do, unlike many others, he would never seek for ways to use the opportunity to extort money from Asiwaju, he would promptly go execute the job without asking for a refund of his money no matter how many millions it cost him to execute the job.
Another reason why Asiwaju loved Pepper, according to our source, is that while many around Asiwaju are always jostling and scheming for positions, Osinowo would never go to him to lobby for any position. All that mattered to him was the party, and which ever responsibility he was given to keep the party strong and progressive, he would gladly do without any questions asked. In fact, it is on record within the party caucus members, that it was not Osinowo who lobbied or pressured Asiwaju to go to the senate after spending 12 years in the Lagos Assembly. On the contrary, pressure was mounted on Pepper by associates to step out and declare intention to contest as senator representing Lagos East. When he was reluctant to pick the forms, it was his political associates who bought the form on his behalf and handed it to him. That was when he had to bow to their pressure and, expectedly, he won the primaries and subsequently won the election proper. Unfortunately, he had only spent just about a year at the senate before death truncated his flourishing political career.
In his younger days, late Senator Bayo Osinowo worked as a land officer with the Federal Ministry of Works, Lagos State. He was the Managing Director at NITAL International for 17 years, and Managing Director at NIMCO International Co. Ltd for almost 13 years. He also worked as Managing Director, at Extreme Piling and Construction Company Ltd, before venturing into politics. Pepper held a Diploma in Building Technology at the Instituto per Geometri, Rome, Italy, and studied Italian Language.
He also held a Masters Degree in Mass Communication from the Urbaniana University in Rome, Italy,
Until his death, he was the Senator representing Lagos East senatorial constituency at the National Assembly, and also serving as the Chairman, Senate Committee on Commerce, Industry and Investments.
He acquired the nickname, Pepper Eyes a result of his often red eyes while he was in the secondary school. As he grew older the name was changed to simply, ‘Pepper.’ The distinguished Senator passed away at the age of 65. –