Last week Thursday, the unforgettable memories of the late former governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi were brought back to life once again.
It was an event marking the posthumous 72nd birthday of the late politician. It was also the 4th annual roundtable discussion in his honour. A resource centre called Senator Abiola Ajimobi Resource Centre, donated to the Institute for Peace and Strategic Studies (IPSS) at the University of Ibadan, by Senator Abiola Ajimobi Foundation (SAAF), was also commissioned.
Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State, who is Ajimobi’s in-law, laid the foundation of the resource centre last year during the 3rd edition of Senator Abiola Ajimobi Roundtable.
Senator Abiola Ajimobi, it would be recalled died in June, 2020, after serving his second term (8yrs) as governor of Oyo State.
The 3-in-1 event didn’t only attract the who-is-who in the society to the ancient city of Ibadan but also saw them discussing many key issues bothering on Democracy, Governance and Security. The theme for this year’s edition of the roundtable was, “Election Security and Good Governance in Nigeria”.
Speaking at the occasion, Ajimobi’s widow and President, Senator Abiola Ajimobi Foundation (SAAF), Dr. Mrs. Florence Ajimobi, extolled the virtues of her husband whom she said had the interest of his people at heart, saying the foundation decided to enter into collaboration with the institute by institutionalising the annual roundtable.
Mrs. Ajimobi said the resource centre was donated as part of the contribution of the foundation towards giving people access to quality education.
She said that the project was aimed at promoting the legacies which the collaboration of SAAF and IPSS was vigorously pursuing.
“This centre, we expect, will further advance the quest for knowledge as it is serving even from today.
“The roundtable has, content-wise, espoused ‘Biola’s desire to continuously challenge public governance and its executors towards enhancing the quality of governance and leadership in our country,” she said.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Day, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, in his own speech, noted that “democracy is a system of governance that that guarantees the accountability of the elected to the electorate as the electorate determine in every electoral cycle by their free choice whether the mandate given was properly utilised.”
Taking from quote of late US President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in 1863, Prof. Osinbajo said, “Man has not yet developed a fairer and more just system of establishing governments than that the government be a government of the people by the people for the people.”
“This right of choice of leaders as given by democracy is not just a fundamental civil and political right, but it also separates man from animals for whom might confers the right to leadership.”
“The major issue, therefore, is how to ensure that right of free choice is not defeated or corrupted. Once that right of free choice is violated, the basis of democracy and its product, good governance, is undermined.”
“I am sure some of the conversation today will look at this fundamental point, how can we protect the vote, how do we ensure that every vote counts; how do we protect the government of the people, by the people, and for the people; and ensure, as Lincoln famously prayed at Gettysburg, that it does not perish from the earth?.”
Osinbajo, however, described the late Senator Abiola Ajimobi as an exceptional communicator and a natural bridge builder, who attained early success in the oil and gas industry, and then emerged as an astute politician, Senator of the Federal Republic, and two-term Governor of Oyo State. The late senator was “a remarkable human being, an extraordinarily gifted man, astute politician, accomplished public intellectual and administrator in his own right,” Osinbajo said.
Also in his address as the Lead Speaker at the program, former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega warned that unless the security challenges ravaging the country were adequately addressed, the 2023 general election may not hold. Prof. Jega said security is key to the conduct of any election.
“Unless elections are conducted in an environment that is peaceful and secure, its integrity and even the legitimacy of the outcome of that election will be questioned. “Security challenges undermine electoral integrity. It constrains or disrupts or prevents preparations and conduct of elections and it leads to partially, if not totally, illegitimate electoral outcomes. ”As we look forward to the 2023 general elections, there is increasing apprehension that the pervasive insecurity situation in the country may present a formidable obstacle if not obstruction to that election.
“If not appropriately and effectively mitigated, security challenges would pose the most serious danger to the integrity of the election process if it even allows the election to be conducted,” Jega said. The likes of retired Brig.-Gen.Sani Usman, Mr Babajide Otitoju, Mr Majeed Dahiru and Prof. Antonio Simbine, who were discussants at the event, also stressed the need to address the challenges of insecurity in the country.
Other dignitaries at the event include Prof. Ezekiel Ayoola, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration), who represented Prof. Kayode Adebowale, Vice-Chancellor, University of Ibadan; Dr Dominic Danjibo, IPSS Director; Prof. Isaac Albert, the moderator of the roundtable; Alhaji Rauf Olaniyan, Oyo State Deputy Governor and his Osun State counterpart, Mr Benedict Alabi.
Also in attendance were Sen. Abdulfatai Buhari, APC senator representing Oyo North; Hon. Sunday Dare, the Minister of Sports; Hon. Shina Peller; Hon. Tolulope Akande-Sadipe; Chief Adebayo Adelabu; Sen. Ayoade Adeseun; Prof. Adeniyi Olowofela; members of the Ajimobi family, traditional rulers and hosts of prominent political leaders, as well as several other dignitaries who are too numerous to mention.