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Dad wants to be buried in the same grave as his late wife : Family : Nigerialog.com - Nigeria's Premier Online Forum
Nigerialog.com - Nigeria's Premier Online Forum
Dad wants to be buried in the same grave as his late wife
Dad wants to be buried in the same grave as his late wife
December 18, 2016, 05:36:07 PM
Afolabi is a son to one of the leaders of the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Senator Ayo Fasanmi. He tells FEMI MAKINDE about his father’s political career
Tell me about yourself.
I am a physics engineer. I studied engineering physics before furthering in geophysics and I recently bagged a Bachelor of Law degree. I have been into politics, way back since my university days at the Ondo State University, where I was a member of the student representative council. I was also the social director-elect in my faculty before I went into politics in 2003.
How active have you been in politics?
I contested alongside the incumbent Senator representing Ekiti North, Duro Faseyi, in an election adjudged as the only one won with the narrowest margin in that year — less than 200 votes separated the winner and the runner-up. After my loss in 2003, when the party lost all the states in the South-West, Lagos State was the focus then for it was the only state with an Alliance for Democracy governor. I was one of those people called upon to revamp the party and I was made the Chairman of the Lagos State AD congress that moved the party into greatness, conducting congress in local government areas, wards and state level. Shortly after the assignment, I was given an opportunity to work in Lagos as one of the advisors on solid minerals between 2004 and 2010. Due to the commendable work I did, I was invited to my state as an adviser in similar ministry between 2010 and 2014. That has been my political journey so far.
Did your dad encourage you to go into politics?
He did not encourage any one of us. He knew the terrain was rough but one of the things that encouraged me to go into politics was the good name my father made for himself. I see him as someone who went into politics for service. In 1999, when a governor asked him to bring one of his sons to serve as a commissioner, he was only scouting for other graduates in the community. He would rather bring somebody else up from the community to become a commissioner instead of any of his sons. That is the kind of father we have. His own idea is people first. He is always ready to give assistance to others in the community rather take undue advantage to favour his children.
How strict was he when you were growing up?
He was a disciplinarian. One must not go out anyhow. When we were young, we had other kids coming to play with us. He wanted to know the people his children mingled with and that helped me till today. I don’t usually go out visiting.
Can you recall your memorable moments with him while you were young?
One of the most remarkable experiences I had with him was a time I took him to Ekiti from Osogbo. It was very late in the night. We had a flat tyre the moment we left Ekiti and I was very apprehensive and he said he wanted to be with his wife that night. When we got to another town, we had another flat tyre, meaning that there was no way we could get to Osogbo and it was raining. I told him I was going to get a motorcycle that would take me to where I would fix the tyres but he said no. He told me that if I went, they would not take me serious since I was young.
He mounted a motorcycle in the rain in search of a vulcanizer. The vulcaniser refused at first but seeing an old man drenched at that time of the day, he eventually agreed to go with us. To the glory of God, we got to Osogbo very late that night and my mother was apprehensive about why we had to embark on such journey. That is the kind of person he is. He won’t push one out to do things he can do himself. He would take the risk of doing it himself and I think he has enjoyed those risks during the first and second republic as a politician.
How would you describe him as a husband and father?
My father won many awards. He and my mother won many awards as the best couple in the church; in the society and the community. He is a very loving father and husband. I remember when we were growing up, whenever I fell sick I would not want to get well because I know it is the period I enjoyed the most. My father would ensure that we were well treated and looked after.
He is a pharmacist and hails from Iye-Ekiti. Why did he settle down in Osogbo?
In the medical line, one has to do house job in a different location. I think he came to Osogbo to do what can be likened to a house job. Osogbo is a peaceful place and he adapted to the town very quickly. He covered many districts as the chief pharmacist in the western region. I think the honour and prestige of being a pharmacist then was what made him to settle down in Osogbo. The place has been home to us and I can say it is my second home. It is a place I love to associate with.
He is handsome even at 91. Did he tell you about his female admirers while he was young?
Yes he is handsome but he did not womanise and that is probably one of the reasons he is still strong at 91. One thing I have learnt from him is not to have the tendency to be materialistic. When I understudied his life, I realised that there is more to life than acquiring wealth and that has really helped him. I have learnt not to value people because of what they have but to value them because of what they can offer. One’s role to the society and intellectual capacity matters a lot. He is also a person that has shunned every opportunity of getting wealth illegally. As a Director General of Housing Corporation, he had no plot of land either in Lagos, Ibadan or Osogbo. Sometimes, my sister and I would joke that he is more Awolowo than Awolowo himself. He imbibed the Awolowo’s tenets to the extent that one cannot attach any property or stolen wealth to him.
Does he regret any of these personal decisions?
My father does not regret any of them. He is happy and content with life because God has been good to him. Like I said, his lifestyle is what I have emulated. I neither drink nor smoke. I also don’t womanise. All these have helped to build my family. He still does some physical exercises in the morning and it is also amazing the kind of memory he has. He recalls events of 1934 and 1938 as if they happened yesterday.
Your father contested primary election against Chief Adekunle Ajasin and lost. Did he tell you how he felt about the loss?
He lost narrowly to Chief Adekunle Ajasin and of course anybody would regret losing an election. My father, having lost the election in 1981, did not attempt it again. He was content to be in the Senate, where he served two terms before the military truncated the second republic, precisely on December 31, 1983 and we had to relocate to Osogbo.
How did he receive his loss at the primary election?
It was a moment we all looked forward to as a family and it was painful that he did not win. We know the intrigues of politics. I wouldn’t say it was manipulated but I think some powers have their preferred candidate.
How close was he to the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo?
They were very close. I can remember one of my father’s visits to Chief Obafemi Awolowo when I was a child. He (Awolowo) gave me one naira. I kept the money for almost two years and showed people that Awolowo gave me. When my father was celebrating the 25th anniversary of his marriage, Awolowo was one of the surprise guests that day.
An English doctor told your father in 1964 that he would live for just four months more. How did he take the conclusion?
He did not allow that to bother him. He carried on with his life and God has been very kind to him. Though he treats high blood pressure, he takes his drugs and I can only say it is through God’s grace that he is still alive.
He dug a grave for himself and his wife after the doctor’s pronouncement. Did he later cover the grave?
Unfortunately, mama passed on earlier but daddy had always wished that he dies before her. We are not God and it is only Him that gives and takes life whenever he wishes to. For the love of mama and the love they shared, he wants to lie in the same grave with her. The grave has two chambers – the lower chamber for mama and higher chamber for himself.
What is his relationship with his kinsmen in Iye Ekiti?
He is well loved because he is sincere with them. He made some sacrifices for his community. He facilitated a divisional police station for the community when none was in existence.
Is he a sport lover?
He was into sports. I remember he played the right wing. He played football for Government College Ibadan. He also played cricket too. I also played cricket in the university up to the Nigerian Universities Games level. He once told us a story of when he engaged Aguiyi Ironsi in a fight and won him.
Was Ironsi in the Army then?
No, they were young then and it was later that Aguiyi Ironsi joined the Nigerian Army. These are some of the memories he had as a young man. He was much stronger when he was young.
How did he receive the news of the death of his wife?
The news of the death of mama came as the most devastating thing that has ever happened to us as a family. But we were marvelled at how my father was able to absorb the shock although he still regrets the death of mama.
What was his happiest day in life?
It was when his first daughter married and against all odds, he moved the ceremony to his home town. All his political associates attended the ceremony including the late Bola Ige and his wife, Justice Atinuke Ige.
Why did your father take a chieftaincy title at 91?
He did not ask for it. He is not like some politicians who merely want to add more feathers to their cap. It will be ridiculous for anybody to think that he sought chieftaincy title. What happened was that the Oludo of Ido-Osun has known him since his youthful days and he has seen the leadership trait in him. I think he wanted to show appreciation to him for what he has contributed to humanity. This is the kind of monarch I think people should emulate. Bestowing awards posthumously on people is quite common but the monarch took the decision to make him the first Asiwaju of Ido Osun. Although it came quite late, we are happy it happened.
What are his favourite meal and drink?
His best meal is pounded yam. We are not comfortable but daddy still eats it at his age. We think his diet should change at 91. He also loves plantain. I have not seen him take alcohol, perhaps as a young man, he might have taken it. But as the last child who has stayed longest with him, I doubt if he had taken it before.
What does he want to be remembered for?
This is a good question because at times, he normally asks people too. I think people will remember him for the kind of man he is, especially how he sacrificed his money, position, time and influence to make the ordinary man happy.
He wants to be remembered for standing up for the truth, more importantly the role he played at the constitutional conference commission in 1994, when he had to leave the conference hall to make a clarion call of Afenifere, that all Yoruba patriots should disengage from the late Sani Abacha’s government. It was the agitation for the validation of the June 12, 1993 presidential election results that prompted the directive that every Yoruba serving directly or indirectly under Abacha should resign. I vividly remember that he came with his police orderly and driver to Osogbo. He told them to return the car to Abuja. My father resigned without consulting anybody. He just told us to pack that we were leaving.
Did he engage in hunting?
Yes, he has a double barrel gun that he used on hunting expedition. He could stop on the road whenever he was driving to shoot at squirrels and other animals. I remember that he used to move around with the gun for hunting. It was not for self-protection but because he loved to hunt for animals. With his age now, the gun is cooling somewhere.
Re: Dad wants to be buried in the same grave as his late wife
December 18, 2016, 09:11:23 PM
They must have been close, father and son.
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