•City People Reveals His 69 Year Story
In the next few days, the Oyo State governor, Senator Biola Ajimobi will be 69. Below is the story of the illustrious Ibadan son that was crowned the Aare Atunluse of Ibadanland 5 years ago.
Tajudeen, where is Isiaka?” Alhaji Ganiyu Ajao Ajimobi asked his young nephew one breezy evening in 1956. “He’s on his way, sir:’ Tajudeen replied.
“He will be here shortly” Business is a bit slack that evening for Alhaji Ajimobi, a merchant, and he elected to seize the opportunity to counsel his son, Isiaka Abiola Adeyemi and Tajudeen. “Good evening sir:’ Isiaka said and prostrated as he arrived the shop. “Welcome:’ replied Alhaji Ajimobi.
“Start reading this newspaper aloud to me:’ Alhaji said as he handed it to Isiaka and Tajudeen. “Out of the two of you, one will become a leader in future, so cultivate the habit of reading newspapers. It will keep you abreast of happenings and help you in deciding what steps to take:’ he added.
Alhaji Ajao Ajimobi, who would go on to become a councillor in the old Ibadan Municipal Local Government, a mem- ber of the House of Assembly during the tenure of the late Chief Bola Ige as Oyo State Governor and later Adviser on Political Affairs to the late Cicero of Esa Oke, correctly foretold the future of his son. Young Abiola, nicknamed ‘Archipelago by his friends and who had always told them he would reform and rebuild Oyo State, started fulfilling that destiny 47 years later. In 2003, he became a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. But that was only the beginning. He had spent years preparing for the onerous task -governing Oyo State- ahead of him. He had his elementary education at St. Patrick Primary School and ICC Primary School, Ibadan and his secondary education at Lagelu Grammar School.
He later proceeded to the United States of America where he attended the State University, New York and the Gover nor’s State University, Park Forest, Illinois. He graduated with B.Sc. (Honours) in Business Administration and Finance and Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree in Operations Research and Marketing, respectively. He returned to Nigeria in 1977 and joined the management of Industrial Consulting firm as a Senior Consultant. He, thereafter, worked briefly with Modulor Group as the Finance and Administration Controller before joining Nestle Foods PLC as the Operations Controller and later as Marketing Controller.
In 1979, he joined National Oil and Chemical Marketing Company as the Consumer Products Manager and rose rapidly through the ranks to become the Chief Executive Officer in 2001. In 2003, he voluntarily retired after 26 years of meritorious service in the oil and gas industry. In 2007, he contested for and was believed to have won the gubernatorial election in Oyo State under the umbrella of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) but like most of his peers in the opposition parties, he was denied his mandate.
It was this desire that propelled him to join the April 2011 gubernatorial race under the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and with popular mandate of the people, he emerged victorious and was inaugurated as the Gover- nor of Oyo State on May 29, 2011.
Less than two years in the saddle, Senator Ajimobi’s revolutionary approach to governance has earned him plaudits. His Restoration, Repositioning and Transformation agenda is on course; even the blind see his remarkable achievements!
Ranked by a United Nations Development Programme report in 2008 as the second dirtiest state capital after Aba, Abia State, Ibadan’s story has changed, literally, overnight. Its present cleanliness is a sight to behold. As reward for his untiring efforts, the Olubadan-in-Council decided to create a new line of honorary title for him. It has never happened before in the annals of the historical city. Alhaji Ajao Ajimobi, the prophet who correctly foretold the greatness of his son, must be smiling in heaven.
This standard exchange always elicited uproarious laughter from grown – ups. The young boy always made sure to stress every syllable in his name. He was possessed of a confidence that belied his years. That young boy was Isiaka Abiola Adeyemi Ajimobi, scion of Alhaji Ganiyu Ajimobi, the popular merchant from the household (Agbo-Ile) of Ajimobiin Oja’ba, Ibadan.
Recalling those halcyon days, some six decades ago, when the toddling Ajimobi was barely three, nonagenarian Alhaji Wahab Atanda-Esun, maternal uncle of His Excellency, Sen. Abiola Ajimobi remembers a quick-witted, inquisitive and precocious child. Flashes of brilliance were also discernible to his first cousin, Alhaji Tajudeen Ajimobi. “Isiaka was very remarkable as a young lad:’ he told us in his Wakajaye residence in Ibadan. “He had always taken himself and his dreams very seriously:’ He recalls that young Isiaka had been so struck by the aura of awe and majesty that was on display during the Royal Visit of Queen Elizabeth in 1956 that he started calling himself “Oko- Queen’ – husband of the Queen!”
Even in the midst of a student population raised on a daily staple of excellence, young Isiaka Ajimobi stood out. Well-favoured in stature and health, his school contemporaries fondly recall that he was “very handsome, athletic and charismatic:’ “He was a complete gentle-boy, if I may use that term. Very vocal, yes, but he would stop short at proving a point with an exchange of blows. He would never engage in fisticuffs or raise his hand to anyone:’ remarked Chief (Dr) Harry Taiwo Ladapo, the Basorun Baasegun of Ibadanland and childhood friend of the governor. “He had taste. Even way back then, he had class:’ he said.
Founded in 1958 by the Ibadan City Council through the superlative efforts of the present Olubadan, Oba Samuel Odulana, then a senior federal officer and rising chief of Ibadan, the pioneer principal of Lagelu Grammar School was Chief Ayo Labiyi, who led a team of brilliant and dedicated faculty among whom were the late Alhaji Lam Adesina, (former Governor of Oyo State), Chief Osuntoki and Mrs Sade Ojutalayo. The battle-cry from Chief Labiyi was “Sem- per Optimum:’ Latin for “Always the Best:’ the school’s motto. This battle-cry must have been repeated a tad too often, (fortunately for these boys) for they evidently must have gone on to believe it, resulting, more than five decades later in a crop of super-achievers in various fields like Medicine, Engineering, Industry, Oil and Gas and so on.
Young Abiola Ajimobi must also have taken quite a sizeable dose of this excellence indoctrination, as he marched out of the school in 1968 with one of the best results, which easily won him a place in the State University of New York. It was also this pursuit of excellence that saw him rise rapidly through the ranks to become the M.D. of National Oil with one of the best career records in the nation’s Oil and Gas industry. He retired from National Oil after twenty-six years, and following in the footsteps of his grandfather, uncle and father before him, he entered into politics.
In 2003, he was elected a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He was the Deputy Minority Leader of the Senate, one of the principal officers in the Upper Legislative Chamber. During his days in the Senate, precisely in 2005, he established the first and largest FREE VOCATIONAL TRAINING CENTRE in Oyo State, offering training in computer engineering, computer operations and telephone engineering. The centre has to date turned out over 15,000 graduands who have either gained employment in different sectors of the economy or are self-employed.
The Centre has been recognized and certified both as a partner and training outfit by the Industrial Training Fund, an agency of the Federal Government. In 2007, he contested for and was believed to have won the gubernatorial election in Oyo State under the umbrella of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) but like most of his peers in the opposition parties, he was denied his mandate.
It was this desire that propelled him to join the April 2011 gubernatorial race under the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and with popular mandate of the people, he emerged victorious and was inaugurated as the Gover- . nor of Oyo State on May 29, 2011.
Husband, Father and Grandfather, his journey so far has been humbly supported by his GIFT OF NATURE of over 30 years, Mrs. Florence Ajimobi and his children-Abisola, Abimbola, Ajibola, Abolaji and Ajijola.
Service is the middle name of the Ajimobis, one of the earliest families that settled in Ibadan. From their compound at S1/65 and 66, Oja’ba, living and departed members of this family have continued to make positive impact on the lives of people.
Though many may be surprised by the strides of Governor Abiola Ajimobi, the architect of modern Oyo State, those acquainted with his illustrious forebears know that he is only carrying on a family tradition.
Politics may be a source of personal aggrandizement to some, but it is not so with the Ajimobis. While Senator Ajimobi’s grandfather was Sobaloju of Ibadanland, his uncle, the late Alhaji Lasisi Ajimobi led the family into full time poli- ticking. The colourful politician, who died at the young age of 45, however wrote his name in gold before he passed on.
He was a Minister in the Western Region and competently handled the Works and Housing Ministry before moving over to the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development. He served his two principals, the sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief S.L. Akintola meritoriously. Alhaji Ajao, Senator Ajimobi’s father, carried on the tradition as an exemplary in public service. Starting from the lowest rung; being a Councillor, Alhaji Ajao would eventually rise to become a member of the House of Assembly and Adviser on Political Affairs.
When he became a Senator in 2003, though not a member of the executive arm of government that has the power to execute projects, Ajimobi embarked on the empowerment of people through various intervention programmes. One of his enduring legacies till date is the free vocational training Centre he established in Oke Odo in 2005.
The Centre offers training in computer engineering, computer operations and telephone engineering and has turned out over 15,000 graduates who have either grand employment in different sectors of the economy or are self-employed.
Even after he was rigged out of serving the people when he first aspired to the governorship seat in 2007, Ajimobi did not shut the centre. It continues to flourish The centre has been recognized and certified both as a partner and training outfit by the Industrial Training Fund, an agency of the Federal Government.
The exploits of Senator Ajimobi in transforming the state since he became Governor is in keeping with the inherent service in his blood.
Senator Ajimobi derives his essence from being useful to the people. The numerous projects he has undertaken since he came on board speak for him. There is virtually no area that he has not touched with outstanding results. Health education, transportation, sports, agriculture, community development and the staggering infrastructure development, beautification of the environment and security are some of the areas the Ajimobi administration has reformed, restored and rebuilt.
That the late Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Samuel Odugade Odulana and his chiefs deemed the Governor worthy the unique title of Are Atunluse in 2013 is fitting. He merits and it can only spur him to do more. After all, service is in his blood.