Eminent personalities, notable politicians and scholars on Saturday agreed on the need for Nigeria to move away from building strong individuals to building strong institutions as a means of achieving sustainable national development.
The personalities who spoke at the maiden Abiola Ajimobi Roundtable organized as part of the activities marking the 69th birthday of the Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi in Ibadan, included a former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd.), National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Stuart Symington and wife of the governor, Dr (Mrs) Florence Ajimobi.
Others were former Interim National Chairman of APC, Chief Bisi Akande, former Governor of Osun State, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, Senator Majority Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi and an industrialist, Chief Kola Daisi.
Speaking on the theme: “The Imperatives of Building Institutions for Lasting Legacies”, they all affirmed that while strong individuals were necessary for visionary leadership, it was only strong institutions that could enhance proactive leadership, good governance, effectiveness of the rule of law and inclusiveness of the citizenry.
Touching on the theme of the discourse, Gowon identified the civil service as one of the key institutions that any government must strengthen, noting that “protecting the integrity, confidentiality and impartiality of civil servants would enable them give political leaders the right advices.
For Tinubu, while institutions are important, a leader cannot be deemed to have succeeded, no matter how much he has achieved infrastructural renewal and other areas of development until he developed people who could succeed him and nurture the institution that he had built.
He said: “We have seen infrastructural renewal across the state; we have seen demolitions, emotions, expressions, reforms of traditional institutions. You have proved that you don’t lack courage but you can be successful as a leader not only in terms of bricks and mortals but how many other leaders you have developed who can succeed you and build on your legacies; otherwise, as you leave, the empire crumbles; the institutions you have built will go into ruins.”
Tinubu declared Ajimobi as a leader who demonstrated the rare combination of thinking and doing, adding that he had exhibited the quality of a good leader who had the courage of not only taking actions but being ready to face the consequences of his actions.
While agreeing on the need to build strong institutions, Akande however warned against what he called the growing institution of bullies who, he said, derived satisfaction in benefitting from the public purse without providing the commensurate value.
He noted “regardless of your profession, if you take money for the job you have not done, you are a third. In other countries, when people go on strike, they do not take salary for the period. All you leaders who allow people to steal from public purse should henceforth watch it.
In his own submission, Aregbesola recalled that one of the reasons why a former US President, Barack Obama shunned Nigeria and chose to visit Ghana during his visit to Africa was due to the lack of will by our leaders at the time to support the growth of institutions.
“During that visit, Obama observed that African leaders should look at building institutions and not individuals. And for me also, even though we need strong, thoughtful, resilient, idealistic and iconic people to look up to as pace setters, but Africa can only be great if we shift our focus to building institutions which will outlive these individuals,” he said.
The US ambassador, who address the gathering the gathering via an amplified telephone call from Abuja, said it was time for the people of Oyo State, Nigeria, development partners and business associates to shift attention from sustainable development to profitable development because without profit, development cannot be sustained.
He further noted that oil and land were not the important asset of the country but the people of Nigeria themselves, adding that “how the people of Nigeria, working together to transform and strengthen institutions from inside out is the only way for creating trust that will ensure development, trust for people to take their hard earned capital and their very lives and invest in the country because they will be welcomed and well treated”
According to the envoy, institutions don’t have memories and reputations, it is the leaders that drive them.
In his own submission, the Senate Leader said strong institutions were created and nurtured by strong men; leaders of vision and integrity who were focused, noting that after Tinubu had created strong institutions in Lagos State, he made sure that strong and competent leaders succeeded him to make the institutions sustainable.
“We also have such a leader in Governor Ajimobi. He came with a vision; he had courage and competence; he believes in probity and that is why Oyo State has had a smooth primary; the governor is more interested in people who can sustain his institutional reforms and other legacies and not in his own personal preferences,” he said.
Speaking about the governor, Oba Adeyemi noted “Ajimobi is the 20th governor that I have worked with. I have worked intimately as a son and as governor. If you are brilliant, truthful and hardworking, he will work with you. He runs an inclusive government but you can only get something from him if you key into his vision of RTR, meaning reformation, transformation and repositioning”.
During the panel discussion that was moderated by Prof. I. A. Adeyemi, the discussants including Prof. Tunji Olaopa, a retired federal permanent secretary and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Prof. (Mrs.) Oluyemisi Bamgbose, also harped on the need for building institutions that would ensure sustainable development.
While expressing gratitude to the guests, Governor Ajimobi noted that “all developments are sustained by visions, intellectualism, principle and the courage we need to implement what we have envisoned; we started this roundtable because we believe no social or physical development can be achieved without intellectual and human capital development.
The governor added “no leader is successful until he has chosen a worthy successor; all actions that I have taken were guided by God and the determination to make a difference. When we came, we saw broken bricks but we are leaving Oyo State with marbles.”
Nigeria has lost a prominent figure, Ajimobi was a patriotic politician – Oyo NUJ
Oyo State Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), on Tuesday declared that with the demise of late Governor Abiola Ajimobi, Nigeria has once again lost one of her prominent figures, describing the former governor as a patriotic and distinguished politician who impacted on many Nigerians.
The State NUJ Chairman, Comrade Ademola Babalola stated this during a condolence visit to the widow of the late former governor in Ibadan,!the state capital.
It will be recalled that the late Ajimobi who died on June 25 was buried at his Oluyole residence on June 28 in Ibadan.
Speaking further, the NUJ boss noted that Ajimobi’s impact would be missed at all level, adding that the late former governor was a successful politician in Oyo State and Nigeria.
In his words, “We have come here to commiserate with you over the demise of your husband. We are friend to Ajimobi’s family. He was a patriot and distinguish Nigerian.
“It was pleasant to be with him. We have lost a great man in Oyo State. It will take us 50years to come before we can see someone like Ajimobi.
“He was the first person to have governed the state twice. We shall continue to remember him for good”
Babalola prayed that Almighty God forgive the shortcomings of the late Ajimobi and grant him eternal rest.
He also prayed that Almighty God grant the family, associates and the good people of the state fortitude to bear the loss.
Daughter of the deceased, Mrs Abisola Kola-Daisi, who spoke on behalf of the family, thanked the union for their love, support during and after the lifetime of their late father.
On the delegation are Mr Sola Oladapo, the Secretary, Mr Akeem Abas, the Treaurer, Mr. Kemi Olaitan, Mr. Raji Adebayo, Mr. Jeremiah Oke, Mrs Dupe Fehintola, and Mr. Musiliudeen Adebayo among others.
Just In: Senator Buhari proposes naming Ibadan Airport after Ajimobi
Senator Abdulfatai Buhari representing Oyo North Senatorial District on Tuesday asked the federal government to name the Ibadan Airport after late Governor Abiola Ajimobi.
Senator Ajimobi was in charge of the Agodi Government House between 2011 -2019.
Senator Buhari made this request while raising a point of order which came under Order 42 and 52 requesting for the leave of the Senate to present his motion.
Meanwhile, in the motion, the lawmaker notified the senate of the sad demise of late Senator Abiola Ajimobi.
He further asked the Senate to observe a minute silence in his honour and also requesting a high powered delegation to commiserate with the late Ajimobi’s family and the good people of Oyo state.
Ajimobi lived a fulfilled life – Sheik Bello
• Family frowns at continued politicization of late governor’s death, burial
Immediate past Governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi has been described as a once in a lifetime leader who only comes around in a generation.
This was the verdict of Sheik Muideen Bello who delivered the sermon at the 8th day fidau prayers for the former Governor.
Sheik Bello said Ajimobi died a fulfilled man after having achieved all God wanted him to achieve.
“ When Senator Isiaq Ajimobi entered Baitul -L- Atik, he asked God to let him see 70 years because no one in his lineage had seen it. He asked God to make him the first Governor to serve two terms in Oyo state. He also asked God to grant him mercy to build a befitting mosque for HIM. God granted all his requests. He died a fulfilled man”, the preacher said.
According to Sheik Bello, an individual like Ajimobi was a special creation of the Almighty Allah and a leader like him will not come around for another 50 years.“ He was a special being, we can never have a Governor like him in Oyo state who had done so well until the next 50 years”.
The scholar who was accompanied by other notable Islamic scholars and clerics in leading series of prayers for the repose of the soul of the deceased recounted the various encounters he had with the Governor and where he (Ajimobi) had emphasised how he longed to break the family jinx of living beyond 70 years.
“Many times, he didn’t hide his secret prayers of how we wanted to live for 70 years because his father had died before the age of 70.”
The cleric also condemned people for only coming out to sing the praises of the deceased Governor after his death said such hypocrisy will attract judgement and punishment from the Almighty Allah. The fidau prayers which started shortly before 11 am was strictly a family affair in line with the Covid-19 protocols as laid down by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). There were less than 30 people at the ceremony which included Dr (Mrs) Florence Ajimobi, wife of the late Deputy National Chairman (South), the All Progressives Congress (APC), the children and extended family members.
Sheik Bello further enjoined those present at the event to be prayerful at all times in order to live a good and fulfilled life like Senator Ajimobi did.
Before the event ended, special prayers were offered for the protection of the family, Oyo state and Nigeria as well as prayers for the departed former Governor.
Meanwhile, the family has reacted to the issue of the inability of the Deputy Governor not having access to the venue.
In a statement signed by Bolaji Tunji, Special Adviser on Media to Senator Ajimobi, the family of the former Governor were not aware of the incident with the Deputy Governor, just as they frowned at the continued politicization of the death and burial of their husband, father and grandfather.
“In view of the disinformation going about concerning the inability of the Deputy Governor of Oyo State, Engineer Rauf Olaniyan’s inability to gain access to the venue of the 8th day Fidau prayers for HE, Senator Abiola Ajimobi.
“We want to state clearly that the event was announced as strictly a family affair. However, some dignitaries arrived for the event prior to the commencement of the prayers and were permitted entry and because they were not family, they were taken to a sitting room specially prepared for that purpose.
” There was a need to comply with the Covid-19 protocol as established by NCDC – Social distancing, not more than 30 people in a place and seats arranged, accordingly.
“Once we reached capacity, the gate was locked in order to reduce the continued presence of people at the event.
” No one was aware that the Deputy Governor was coming as neither the advance team nor the protocol informed us.
“The Deputy Governor arrived after the prayers had started and once the family was informed they proceeded to the gate in order to usher in the Deputy Governor.
“By the time we got to the gate to usher him into the sitting room, he had left. Everything happened within a few minutes.
“Through a serving Senator and a former Attorney General we tried to get in touch with him that it was not to slight him and he could sit in a private sitting room provided by the family. Unfortunately, he had left.
“There was no attempt to disturb or detain the DSS details of the Deputy Governor. From information available, they did not park within the same area as the Deputy Governor and had to do a catch up in order to meet the deputy Governor ‘s convoy that had already left”, the statement explained.
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