By Jide Afolabi
Ajibola Surajudeen Basiru popularly called SRJ is a household name in Osun state today. He is the Osun Central Senatorial candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
In a couple of days, Nigerians will decide the fate of the nation and that of Nigerians through the ballot papers. The time to make choice of whether to move forward or go back to the dark days of profligacy and bad representation is here.
Osun Central Senatorial District is currently being represented in the Senate by a respected elder statesman, an intellectual, scholar, reader, teacher, professor of repute and the Chief Whip of the Nigerian highest legislative body, Professor Olusola Adeyeye. It is these big shoes that the bold and confident Ajibola Basiru want to step into.
I knew Dr. Ajibola Surajudeen Basiru over a decade ago through one of my senior Comrades and mentor, Amusan Johnson popularly called Action J in Lagos. First, as a Comrade then as a lawyer who later became an administrator and politician.
SRJ is an astute and dedicated lawyer and philanthropist per excellence when I knew him. It appears that helping people is his hubby. He is a thoroughbred man and a politician with distinction.
Dr. Ajibola Surajudeen Basiru was born about 47 years ago into the family of late Basiru Akanmu Adebayo, Odofin compound in the ancient town of Osogbo in present day Osun State.
He began his early education at the old Salvation Army Primary School, Oke-Fia, Osogbo and later attended Laro Grammar School, Oke-fia, Osogbo where he obtained his Secondary School Certificate.
SRJ, a Marxist-Leninist student who believes in greater good for greater number of people theory and assiduously fought for the rights of his colleagues as a human rights activist and student leader. He was rusticated twice because of his activism and demand for a better educational system and welfare of his colleagues at the University of Ilorin, Unilorin, and later, University of Lagos, Unilag.
After several legal tussles, SRJ later graduated and holds a law degree (LL.B) from the University of Lagos and Barrister-at-Law (B.L.) from the Nigerian Law School, Abuja.
An intelligent young Basiru won the Third Overall Best Student Award and the Graham Douglas Prize for best student in Company Law and Practice at the Nigerian Law School.
Because of his thirst and quest for knowledge, SRJ returned to the University of Lagos and obtained a Master’s Degree in Law (LL.M) in 2006 with Distinction.
Quintessential Basiru returned to the same school and successfully obtained his Ph.D. from the Department of Private & Property Law, the University of Lagos in 2016.
Young SRJ commenced legal practice with Olaniwun Ajayi in the areas of conveyance, banking, and commercial law, and later joined M. A. Banire & Associates, as a partner, responsible for the day-to-day management of the business affairs of the law firm by coordinating the firm’s practice.
Due to his sagacity and intelligence, after a seven and half year legal battle between the former governor of Osun state, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and the Ijesa born unusual former governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola who the Appeal Court sitting in Ibadan declared the valid winner of the 2007 governorship election in Osun state, Aregbesola in 2011 appointed SRJ as Commissioner for Regional Integration and Special Duties in the State of Osun, and in that capacity, Dr. Basiru was responsible for Law Reforms, Judicial Sector Reforms as well as Policy Coordination.
Basiru held the position till November 2014 when he again went into private practice with his law firm – Ajibola Basiru & Co until his appointment as Attorney General in May 2017, a position he held till the end of the tenure in November 2018.
As the Attorney General of Osun state, Ajibola distinguished himself with a track and unequal record of high performance and turned around the judicial system of the state through his many judicial reforms.
In 2015, I and Action J went to see the humane SRJ in the office to inform him of my plans to get married and wanted him to be my guest of honour. In his characteristic manner, he chuckled and said, “Jide (as he usually calls me) iwo naa fe di okunrin niyan” meaning, “Jide, you too want to become a man” and he prayed for me.
A few days to the wedding day, I visited him in his office at the Liberty Villa in Osogbo where I also met one of my senior Comrades, Comrade Waheed Lawal popularly called “Aanigba i.e we would not accept – a revolutionary statement that we would not as a people accept tyranny, bad governance, human rights abuse etc” or Alhaji Lawal” with SRJ. I remember him telling SRJ that, “Jide wedding is August 1 and we all need to be there”. “We must go”, SRJ said. I was amazed at such a discussion that day because they all obviously paid a premium to the wedding of the young, unknown Jide Afolabi. Nothing can be more exciting.
During this period, religious SRJ was also planning to go for lesser Hajj but he promised that to come back before the D-Day. He actually fulfilled this promise. On the wedding day, SRJ had engagements in Lagos where who is who in Nigeria would congregate and another event in Ogun state (I think) but the unassuming Ajibola opted to follow me down to a remote and unknown village in Ife East Local Government of the state called “Akinlalu”.
As if that was not a surprise enough, we were at the registry at Ife East Local Government Area when I was informed that SRJ and his entourage have arrived at the venue for the reception. I was shocked! But even at the venue, SRJ gave me another surprise. My Chairman was unable to make it to the venue so, without bring informed, he was called to Chair the occasion. He obliged without any hesitation and till date, he never asked me any question on what transpired. The rest is history today. If time permits which I will write about one day.
Few months after the wedding, I visited Osogbo, the state capital. Of course, he knew I base in Jos. I wanted to cross the road at the popular Ola-Iya junction and the traffic light has stopped vehicles, I was standing on the road divider when a Jeep a bit close to me just wound down the window and alas, it was SRJ’s voice I heard, ” Jide, igbawo lo w’olu?” meaning, “Jide, when did you arrived?”. “Iyawo e nko? Meaning, ” How’s your wife?”. That’s the humble SRJ.
While in government, SRJ facilitated several projects to different parts of the state and secured jobs including political appointments to many people especially, youths and women. Several people are today earning a living and can lay claim to tangible achievements in life courtesy of this legal luminary, administrator turn politician. This is the SRJ that I know!
SRJ is, however, seeking your support to represent the state in the Senate. He has clearly demonstrated his preparedness by wide range engagements he has made and his campaign has been extremely exceptional. Like Mao, SRJ has unveiled his agenda for the people of the Senatorial zone which he tagged, ” My Pact with the People of Osun Central”.
In the document, Ajibola clearly spelled out what the people of Osun Central stands to benefit if he is elected. None of his challengers (candidates of other parties) have done so. Like Iroko, he stands tall among the candidates.
Ajibola is a Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Law, Osun State University. He is a writer and has authored and co-authored several books. He married Habibat who is also a legal practitioner (currently a Magistrate with the State of Osun Judiciary), and they are blessed with three kid namely, Omobola, Ajibola Jnr and Mobolaji.
As an active legal practitioner, Ajibola has been involved in complicated litigations, financial and commercial transactions in the banking, oil, and gas, and telecommunications sector of the Nigerian economy. He was also part of several electoral litigation teams throughout Nigeria
Although, the shoe is big giving the status of the outgoing Senator, SRJ is more than capable. He covets the votes of the good people of Osun and like it is stated in the Bible, ‘chose ye today, who ye will serve.’ I am also putting it to the good people of Osun Central, chose ye on Saturday, February 16, 2019, who ye want to represent ye in the Senate. But for me and my household, we will vote SRJ and I urge you to do same.
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