Abiola Ajimobi: Dead or Alive?

By: Deji Yesufu

Since former Governor Ajimobi left office, a lot of Oyo State residents have not heard from him. Like most former Governors, the news had been that he has retired into one of his homes in an high brow area of Ibadan. In fact, one news item about Ajimobi that did trend was when Governor Seyi Makinde revoked the certificate of occupancy (C of O) of a land Ajimobi had purchased. Besides this news, Abiola Ajimobi had remained largely quiet.

His name would again come into the news after an Appeal court upheld the suspension of the APC Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomole. Ajimobi was put forward as the acting Chair of the party. It was at this point that the rumor around his ill health hit the news stand. The question was: how can a person battling for his life against the Coronavirus also be vying for public office? That was about the time many of us got wind of the fact that Ajimobi was ill and was in fact on life support.

This morning, 19th June, 2020, at 2:00am, I switched on my phone to see a news item published by the investigative journalist, ‘Fisayo Soyombo, on his Twitter handle that read: “A source who has never failed me in six years of knowing him has just confirmed to me the death, in Lagos today, of Abiola Ajimobi, former Governor of Oyo State, due to underlying health conditions worsened by the Coronavirus. May his soul rest in peace.” He sent out the tweet at 9:12pm yesterday. Thirty minutes later, Ajimobi daughter, Fatimah Ganduje-Ajimobi, wrote on her Twitter handle: “Thank you for the messages, but our father is still alive, alhamdulillah. When it is our time we will all die so wait first…”

The question remains: Is Abiola Ajimobi dead or alive?

I did not grow up in Southern Nigeria and so since coming to live here I have had to begin to learn the culture and ways of my people. One of the things that I have discovered, which I have never been able to come to grasp with is this: when people here are ill, they never tell anyone. People just die suddenly and no one asks what killed them. We are simply expected to tag along and bury them; while mouthing the famous “rest in peace”. So when I heard that Ajimobi was gravely sick of the Coronavirus, I just put it aside as one of the ways of our people.

What many of us, however, forget is that a person like Abiola Ajimobi, a two term Governor of Oyo State, is no longer a private person. He has become a public figure – even outside office and whatever might be happening to him privately remains newsworthy. The public deserve to know what is happening to Ajimobi.

Second, I believe the reason why most people never make the state of their health known in this clime is because there is this animist belief that one’s enemies are after them. And that they could use one’s misfortune to expedite one’s death. They also would not want to reveal their misfortune so that these enemies do not laugh at them. And if there’s one person with enemies it is Abiola Ajimobi. His inability to be elected as Senator after seating out 8 years in Agodi is proof that many people are not happy with him.

Again, it all boils down to one thing: the works of our hands and the testimony of a good conscience. About ten years ago, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, held a media conference, with his first son next to him, and announced to the whole world that he had Prostrate Cancer and that he was undergoing treatment. I didn’t hear from him again, until he mentioned in a recent interview that he had beaten the cancer and the disease was on remission. Soyinka could speak about his illness because he had nothing to hide.

I do not know what the Ajimobi family are hiding but they owe the public a clear explanation as regarding the state of their father’s health. If they choose to remain silent about it, time will tell everyone exactly what is happening. By that time, I would not be joining the throng to wish anyone a “rest in peace”. I don’t even pray that prayer at all. I believe that men find peace with God through Jesus Christ here on earth and not after death (that is a story for another day).

Is Ajimobi Dead or Alive? If the family do not reveal the truth now, time will.

Posted by Deji Yesufu

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