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Tribute to Chief Bisi Akande at 80



Adelani Baderinwa

Sometime late in the year 2000, I was dragged by the trio of Uncles Yemi Farounbi, Peter Ajayi (of blessed memory) and Isaac Dare to Osogbo, the fledgling capital of Osun State, as it were then. The three of them I came in contact with differently only to find out they were intimate friends, though, the source of their closeness is rooted in journalism or better still, Communications Consultancy. My thoughts that day were not in similarity with what was about to happen.

Contrary to my expectations that I was going to carry out an assignment, it turned out that my fortune was going to change.
As we approached Osogbo township, the trio shot out their turned heads towards the Governor’s office to the right and it was Uncle Yemi who first observed, “the shutters (window panes) are down. May be the Governor is in the Government House”. So, the heads returned to normal positions and Uncle Peter drove on. We entered town, and by the little that I know of the environment, I guessed, we were heading for the Government House.

The Government House was near empty when we arrived. Few security around informed Uncle Yemi, who apparently is not much a stranger with them, that the Governor had travelled to Mosinmi Petroleum Depot in Ibadan to sort Osun tankers out for more petroleum supplies to the state. It was a time of acute fuel shortage all over the country. Uncle Yemi, who had become the Chairman of Osun State Broadcasting Corporation (OSBC) board suggested that we have a move to his office for a wait till when the Governor returns. Few hours after, we returned to the Government House and coincidentally, the Governor was driving in. The Governor and his big men guests soon go into seclusion. When they reappeared at the security room where I was waiting impatiently for them, Uncle Yemi introduced me to the Governor who shook my hand warmly and while releasing it, said, “I like you, seeing you for the first time; that means our working together will be good.”

We boarded our vehicle and rode back to Iboadan. On our way, the trio took time, one after the other to congratulate me as the Governor had approved my appointment as his Press Secretary and he expected me to resume soonest. They all admonished me to be of good conduct in character and work as they were staking several decades of friendship with my recommendations, especially without the usual security check. I was overwhelmed but very confused. I had at one time or the other witnessed appointments in that categories and this was too simple to be believed. With trepidation, I entered the Guest room in Uncle Peter’s house only to wondered at that brief moment with the Governor and the trip long admonitions that followed. I was just not sure or fazed about the prospect of securing appointment just like that. But unknown to me, God has just turned my life around.

My unfounded fear made me to think it is better to keep what I had, which incidentally was, as at that day, almost non existent. I suffered serious dilemma that I refused to leave Ado Ekiti, my base as City Editor for the Sketch publications for almost a week. Bad enough, the Sketch Press Limited was in comatose and yet, I foolishly preferred to hold on to it than grab the fresh and refreshing offer that the appointment was.

When I eventually resumed, I found out that there were quite a number of people who wanted the job badly. Basorun Ayo Afolabi, the Executive Assistant whom we worked together gave a gist of how many people within and outside Osun had made strenuous efforts to clinch the job. He wondered why I should be concerned with letter of appointment when not a single person in the administration had been given one. I told myself that I would have to proof a point, more so, for the sake of the trio who secured the job for me without much effort. I thus quickly settled down to surmounting the mistrust amongst the Correspondents Chapel in the state and the government, on one hand, and inadequate publicity materials for the government on the other hand. The fact of the general populace not understanding the person of the governor was there while the harsh socio-economic situation inherited from the military administration was also there.

My first one on one meeting with the Governor was very reassuring as he gave me blank cheque to operate. He expressed readiness to support anything that will make me succeed. He revealed to me that he has never had the opportunity of really relating with the media and that he will expect me to put everything into making things work. He expressed confidence in the trio that brought me to him and said he was convinced in their judgment that I would perform. We agreed to a daily evening meeting where we will review the day and set agenda for the next day. So much confidence the Governor reposed on my untested ability, so much pressure I felt that I must do something. It wasn’t long when we started getting out of the media inflicted hurt on the Governor and his government, to the glory of God almighty. Soon, we started having grip of my friends in the Correspondents chapel and those in the headquarters. They were having more information about the state and getting to see better, the person of the Governor.

That was how my having to work with the Governor was coming to success and I have no doubt that it was the Governor ‘s prediction rooted in good faith that came to fruition. That was when he hired me and to me, it was the Boss/subordinate relationship that I saw. It was much later that I realised that the Governor had gone far beyond Boss/subordinate LEVEL.

I was unmarried when I joined the Governor. I discovered he was worried about it. The Governor employed all methods to make me uncomfortable as a mere bachelor and used every tactic to see to my getting married not quite long after I joined him. This is witty and he would find a way of making me feel the void of being single at an advanced age. I was 37 when I joined him. Since I got the gist of what he wanted, I became more up and doing in the path to getting married. The Governor ‘s tantrums made it possible that about a year of my being with him, he got me married. And in one of our evening meetings, I took time to express thanks for making me to get married earlier than I thought it will take me. The Governor ‘s response was that; what manner of father would allow his son of age to remain single, especially in a decadent society where anything is possible. He said he was concerned that it happened to me at that age and with the kind of office I held, he had to employ all possible means to persuade me into marriage. I was bemused at this. So, the Governor was at that point, no longer my boss but my father. So the relationship level changed. Prior to that time, everybody seemed to see the father figure in the Governor and he was so addressed, even by those who were older than him, except may be, a few like Uncle Bola, Pa Akinfenwa and the others who would always wanted to exhibit their superiority. So, from there, the Governor became father for real.

We lost the 2003 election through machinations, manipulations, chicanery, guile, rigging, etc. The PDP was very crude in its handling of post election days. They brought government to a standstill as they ensure that nobody goes to the office to transact business by stationing thugs and men of the underworld at near the entrance of the Secretariat. They illegally put embargo on government accounts and exploited the differences between the government and the civil servants to make all other government businesses impossible. As the few days to handing over drags, the Governor called me one day and asked what I would be doing at our exit from government. He said he would be interested since the Sketch Press Limited from where I was pulled out has gone into seemingly permanent comatose. He gave me an irresistible offer to assist me in getting done what I said I was interested in. The Governor wanted a situation that will make me not far away from him so purposed to have me in one of his buildings where he too was going to be using. He ordered that work should commence on the said building to complete and make it liveable.

Few days after, a friend and I got discussing on my future and he was like pitying me. But I quickly told him that I was fixed and will soon be running my well equipped Communications Consultancy outfit to be based in Ibadan and at the expense of the Governor. My friend couldn’t believe it as it contradicts many wrong impression by some people out there. He expressed happiness for me and wished me well. His conclusion that it takes only a mentor to care about the future of their subordinate to the extent that the Governor had gone for me, made an impression on me. In a deep thought, I reckoned that my friend had made a reasonable logic and I can not but give big kudos to the Governor.

The narration here is abridged but it is important to state that things did not worked the way the Governor and I had planned. A diversion had arose which made the Governor to feel my services would still be needed. The Governor ‘s colleagues, four who had been sent out of office and only one who retained decided to make him the Chairman of their party, the Alliance for Democracy, AD and he felt I could be useful in the rendering of that service. Since then, he had been Chairman of the Action Congress, AC, Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, and the interim Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, all which succeeded each other as a progressive political platform which take seriously, the wellbeing of all human beings and super development of the environment.

With regards to progressive politics, the Governor I spoke about had done much for humanity. He positively affected lives when he had the opportunity to serve. Prior to serving as Governor, he was Secretary to the State Government, SSG, of Old Oyo; he was deputy governor, he was a top notch management officer in the British Petroleum, and ran his private business to success.

Just soon, in a matter of days, the Governor, first class party administrator, financial expert, disciplinarian, integrity personify, Chief Bisi Akande will be eighty years old. I found it incumbent on me to call on my family and friends, well wishers and all, to join me in shouting 80 Gbosas to my boss, father and mentor; critical roles he played in less than 20 years of eventful relationship. We do have our downs but whatever the low times are, it is important to acknowledge and respectfully thank a man who has contributed immensely to ones life.

This is what all this story is about; and this is to say, thank you, Baba Omo Keekeee and happy grand 80th birthday. More great services to the fatherland. I salute you, sir.

Adelani Baderinwa was the Chief Press Secretary to Chief Bisi Akande when he was the governor of Osun state. He is the immediate past Commissioner for Information and Strategy, State of Osun. He currently supervises the same Ministry.

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