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A decade after Bola Ige

Published by Tribune on Fri, 23 Dec 2011

IT is now 10 years since the glorious departure of Chief Bola Ige, one of the titans of our struggle for nationhood, to the world beyond. There is no doubt that the family was robbed of a devoted and sincere family man, while the nation was deprived of the services of the first Executive Governor of Oyo State, who was assassinated on December 23, 2001, in his personal residence at Ibadan. He was a foremost legal luminary, a Yoruba patriot, a Nigerian nationalist, an astute politician, a dependable administrator and a lover of the masses.Chief Bola Ige stood tall as a team player alongside some other exceptional and worthy statesmen, such as Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr. Nnamdi Azikuwe, Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin, Chief Bisi Onabanjo, Chief Lateef Jakande, Dr. Michael Okpara, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, Chief Anthony Enahoro, Alhaji Aminu Kano and many others whose primary motivation for the independence struggle was the betterment of society and the improvement of the welfare of their people, as against personal aggrandizement which is a common feature of our society today. All efforts should, therefore, be made to glue the attention of the present and future generations to their worthy qualities, so as to learn and demonstrate the virtues of these past heroes. Hence, it will be possible to achieve these if the histories of these past worthy leaders are compulsorily and sincerely taught in schools.The passage of Chief Ajibola Ige, about a decade ago, looks like yesterday. The Bible continues to remind us not to fear them that kill the body but are unable to kill the soul.Such mindless and godless individuals comprise the planners and executioners. While those on this part of the planet ignorantly forget that we should all fear God who alone controls this life and the next, others who are dead must await the day of judgment when eternal fire would be their reward for these evil deeds. Therefore the perpetrators and planners of the gruesome murder of Chief Bola Ige can not escape the consequences of their dastardly action. They should be reminded that day by day, hour by hour and minute by minute all perpetrators of evil acts are moving towards the day of judgment when all evil doers will answer for their evil deeds. So the assassins and their backers were only able to kill the body of Bola Ige, while the soul is with the Almighty God, the powerful maker of all souls.Born into the illustrious family of Solomon and Adeola Ige of Esa-Oke, the erudite lawyer and politician would be surprised and, in fact, watch with disbelief, as the Nigeria of his days continues to degenerate and relapse into confusion, sliding into a state of anomie. Since his departure, this pattern of gruesome murder and baffling assassination has become a common feature of our landscape. Just as in his case, the security forces have woefully failed to expose or prevent the perpetrators of similar evil deeds, just as they failed to prevent the brutal murder of the former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation.I am sure that, at all times, Chief Bola Ige wanted the best for the country that he loved deeply, hence he would still not be happy about the numerous problems besseting the nation today. There have been many instances of kidnapping for ransom, and with Boko Haram bombings resulting in the violent dispatch of hundreds of Nigerians and foreigners to the world beyond. These various acts of insecurity have taken a frightening international terrorism colouration, but things had not degenerated so badly when Chief Bola Ige was on this side of the planet.Banks have been forced to close down due to invasion by armed robbers with numerous kidnapping and bombings; the state of insecurity in Nigeria is becoming worse. Just as Nigeria remains one of the most poverty-stricken nations in the world in spite of its abundant and human resources. It also ranks high among the nations of the world that kills its best. The security forces have always tried without success to uncover the perpetrators of many of these gruesome and dastardly murders, including that of Ige, and the failure to expose the murderers encourage the perpetrators in their ungodly acts.It will be recalled that a domestic worker of many years' standing in the home of the Iges had earlier identified one of the invaders on 23, December 2001, but when he suddenly refuted his stand, this was too great for the loving and caring Retired Justice Atinuke Ige, the wife of Chief Bola Ige, to bear. The shock led to her untimely death.Since the untimely departure of Chief Bola Ige, the social, economic and political fortune of this country has continued to nose-dive. Many foreigners and Nigerians, looking at the trend of affairs, have continued to predict the possibility of Nigeria sliding into a failed state, yet those in leadership positions have failed to stop the trend with the aim of repositioning the nation. Nigeria continues to fail in making progress on all fronts, particularly in respect of infrastructural provisions, educational improvement and employment provisions for our graduates. The state of unemployment is so widespread that the idle hands are involved in cultism, armed robbery and kidnapping. Most of the existing industries in Nigeria have collapsed, while others have relocated to nearby countries where energy is available.In spite of the extensive fertile agricultural lands at the disposal of this country, our leaders have not done well in investing the cheap money realised from petroleum exploration into agriculture; instead of doing that, we import majority of the food items consumed in this country. If one undertakes a survey of the items being sold in our shops and markets today, about 80 per cent of them are items which promote employment outside the country, yet our youths are not provided employment opportunities back home. The channels of communications such as the railway systems have been left comatose, while the roads have completely broken down all over the country.In preparation for the formation of political parties in 1998 and 1999, Chief Bola Ige participated actively in the formulation of the PDP manifesto and later those of the All Peoples Party (APP) before he joined hands with others of like minds to prepare that of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) as a prelude to the election of the 4th Republic. In his determination to assist Nigerians, he joined the Federal Government as a minister in 1999 and decided to quit in December 2001, but was brutally murdered on December 23, 2001. He was making preparations to re-organise and strengthen the AD, but before he could embark on this, he was rudely murdered.I know that, today, he would rejoice that some of his colleagues have worked very hard to return the South-West to the Awolowo days. I know that the spirit of Bola Ige in the world beyond will know limitless joy that the ACN, propelled by those hard working leaders, has been able to achieve what he wanted to embark upon when life was snuffed out of him. The leaders of the ACN have not taken power for its sake but are interested in politics as a medium of selfless service. They have sought power for the profound purpose of using it to serve the common good of their people. Although out of Nigeria since the past 10 years, Uncle Bola Ige should count himself lucky to have been saved from the deteriorating political and economic tragedies afflicting this nation.I am sure that as an Anglican, he would have appreciated the depth of the tragedy that has compelled The Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh, the Primate of the Anglican Communion, to declare a seven-day fasting and prayers session between November 28 and December 3 for God's intervention to bring peace back to Nigeria so as to defeat the forces of evil that have taken over parts of Nigeria.Chief Ajibola Ige was a lover of youths, a devotee of the under-privileged, but today, given the high rate of youth unemployment in Nigeria, we should be reminded that a youth revolt may happen anytime in the nearest future. According to President Jonathan, it will not be business as usual. We must learn from the experience of other nations, for example, the unemployed Arab youths have taken to the streets to protest such oppression and tyranny. Nobody can predict the consequences of the impending removal of the alleged fuel subsidy. It is, therefore, a sad story that Nigeria continues to showcase political instability, poverty, high level of corruption, atrocities, electoral fraud, collapse of infrastructure, shortage of energy supply and decline in educational and health facilities.We need to redeem this country through credible, competent and honest Nigerians who should be encouraged to participate in governance.Senator Farukanmi writes in from Iju, Akure North, Ondo State.
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