One of the places you must endeavour to visit in the historic town is Taj Mahal in Oke Oluokun. That’s the residence and final resting place of Alhaji Adegoke Adelabu, the Lion of the West.
Adelabu needs no introduction. He was the afternoon star that scared the elderly. He was the morning dew that drenched both friends and foes. More than fifty-nine years after his death, he refused to be forgotten. For those who are not familiar with Penkelemesi, please read Onigegewura’s You know Penkelemesi! But do you know Ebullition? to know more about this legendary personality.
Gbadamosi Adegoke Adelabu died at his prime. He died when his sun was at its zenith. It was a death like no other. It was not the death of an individual. It was not the loss of a family. Adegoke Adelabu’s death was a national tragedy. Ibadan stood still. Lagos was stuned. Nigeria went into a state of shock.
How did Adelabu die? Was it an act of God? Was he killed by his political opponents? Was Adegoke a victim of political conspiracy? What was Adelabu’s business with his Lebanese friends? What actually happened on that fateful day in 1958?
If there was a politician who understood the psychology of his people, it was Adegoke Adelabu. He was a master in the art and science of political psychology. And like the consummate politician he was, he spoke the language of the people. He was a compound polyglot. His Yoruba was flawless. His English was impeccable. Adelabu was not the one to mix Yoruba with English in the same sentence.
Though small in stature, he was intellectually a giant. With his brilliance, he dazzled and dwarfed his peers. According to Bola Ige, Adelabu was “a short man, but with boundless energy, he always seemed to be on the move, he went on foot from village to village. He dressed and appeared like a rustic villager. He never seemed to smile, not to talk of laugh. His Yoruba was devastating in pithiness and sarcasm. He knew how to leave every audience with a phrase that could not be forgotten.”
Coming from Chief Bola Ige, who himself was a wordsmith, that was an eloquent testimonial. If any evidence of Adelabu’s mastery of language is required, you need look no further than Penkelemesi and Ebullition.
The final journey of the grassroots politician did not start in 1958 when he breathed his last. It actually started three years earlier in 1955 when Adelabu was appointed the Minister of Natural Resources and Social Services. The appointment was indeed a giant leap for Adelabu, who started life from a weaver’s shed.
His Lebanese friends, the Younan family, saw his appointment as a golden opportunity to market the Penkelemesi brand. It was decided that textile materials bearing Adelabu’s image and name be produced and sold. It was expected that the cloth would also serve a subtle campaign strategy for Adelabu who was aiming to become the premier of the West.
When the first shipment arrived, neither Adelabu nor the Younan family, expected what happened. They had expected sale to be slow and gradual. To their pleasant surprise, the Penkelemesi fabric became an overnight bestseller. It became the social uniform, not only in Ibadan but throughout the Western Region. According to Iya Agba, textile merchants were using the cloth to sell other brands. You must buy another brand before aso penkelemesi could be sold to you.
It was no longer aso ebi. It became aso ilupeju – a global uniform. It was used for weddings, naming ceremonies, funerals, housewarming and every form of social function. Tailors were praying daily for Adelabu. There was no tailor in Ibadan that did not get one or two yards to sew.
The Younan family did not wait for the stock to run out before the second shipment was ordered. It also recorded massive sale. This time around, Idumota traders and Onitsha merchants joined the bandwagon. The Lion of the West was the toast of the moment. He was not only a successful politician; he had also demonstrated that he was business savvy.
With the 1956 elections approaching, and with his rising political profile, Adelabu was sure of victory at the polls. He was a master strategist. As a populist leader, he gave people what they wanted. In areas of Ibadan where the indigenes were in the majority, Adelabu ensured that natives were the candidates of his party. In non-native areas, the Political Genius, fielded non-natives. It was a strategy that never failed him.
He was confident of becoming the premier. His business partners were also confident. It was decided that in addition to the penkelemesi cloth already in the market, a special cloth should be ordered for his inauguration as the premier. The cloth was indeed special. It showed Adegoke Adelabu as the Premier holding the keys to the Western House of Assembly! It was going to be a hot cake.
To finance the project, Albert Younan obtained a loan from African Continental Bank. ACB was one of the big indigenous banks in Nigeria then. The bank became distressed in 1991 and was taken over by the Central Bank of Nigeria. It was later revived and was one of the banks that formed the present day Spring Bank. The bank even had a football club. I can see elderly people reading this nodding as they remember ACB FC of Lagos!
Adelabu had however not taken into consideration the political wizardry of Obafemi Awolowo. As fate would have it, it was Awolowo who became the Premier. Adelabu became the Leader of the Opposition. Of course you know that it is the Premier and not the Leader of the Opposition that would hold the key to the House of Assembly.
You want to know what happened to the cloth already ordered. You are not the only one. The management of ACB also wanted to know. More importantly, the bankers wanted to know how the Younans were going to repay the facility. Yet the cloth could not be sold as Adelabu did not become the premier.
Albert Younan found himself in a financial jeopardy. The bank was writing to him everyday demanding repayment of the loan. The cloth was in the warehouse, unsold. Adelabu was in the House, but not as the premier. This was not an ordinary matter. Ohun ti o mu bale ile wo aso iyawo re lo si oja, oro ti kuro ni se ko si nkan. Mewa nbe. Whatever made the husband to wear his wife’s dress to the market place has gone beyond ‘I hope there’s no problem’.
On March 24, 1958, Younan sent a desperate message to Penkelemesi. It was a plea for help. The bank was on his neck. He had been given a final deadline by the bank. Adelabu decided to assist his friend by following him to the head office of the bank in Lagos to plead for further credit.
Adelabu woke up very early the following day. In addition to the meeting with ACB in Lagos, he also had some issues to discuss with Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh. He decided to use the same stone to kill two birds. He had just finished his morning prayers when he was informed that Albert Younan was outside. He bade his family farewell and promised to be back before evening.
The journey to Lagos was uneventful. The management of the Bank was happy to receive a politician with the stature of Adelabu. He was assured that his request would be considered. Younan was happy. Adelabu was happy. He went off to see Okotie-Eboh.
It was on the return journey to Ibadan that the unthinkable happened. It was on a straight stretch of road between Ode-Remo and Iperu. Albert Younan was the one driving the ash-grey Peugeot saloon car. Adelabu was seated beside him. Two of Adelabu’s aides were also in the car.
Without warning, the Peugeot collided head on with a light yellow Austin which was on its way to Lagos. The force of the collision was such that the Austin somersaulted and came to rest upside down facing back the way it had come. The Peugeot cracked under the impact. It burst into flames.
Ha! Ikunle Abiyamo o! Travellers who witnessed the accident rushed to the aid of the victims. They successfully extinguished the fire. Of the four passengers in the Peugeot car, only the driver, Albert Younan, was alive. Though he was injured, he was still breathing.
The driver of the yellow Austin was unharmed. It was as if he was not the one who drove the car. His two passengers were however not as lucky. The two Britons in the car, who were representatives of the Royal Exchange Assurance Company, sustained slight injuries. All of them, the dead and the injured, were quickly rushed to Shagamu Hospital. It was at the hospital that it was discovered that Penkelemesi, the Lion of the West, was one of the dead.
It was late in the evening that the news reached Ibadan. It started as a rumour. No one believed it. It could not have been Adelabu. Penkelemesi was a survivor. He was a fighter. He would never allow death to take him. Even if he was involved in an accident, the Lone Star would be unscathed. Bi Sango ba n pa Araba, bi o n fa Iroko ya, bi ti igi nla ko. If Sango, the god of thunder strikes at Araba tree and dismantles Iroko tree, he must respect the baobab tree. Adelabu was baobab. He was beyond the reach of Sango.
It was not until the following morning when his death became the headline news that reality dawned on his teeming followers. Tragedy Strikes screamed the Defender newspaper. Adelabu Is Dead announced the Daily Times.
Anthony Enahoro, as the Leader of the Western House of Assembly, proposed an extraordinary adjournment as a tribute to the dead Leader of the Opposition. In his moving tribute, he said:
“We did not agree with him or his methods, and he too, did not agree with us or our policies. Nevertheless, he was a tireless and doughty fighter who stood firmly by the things he cherished, and it may be that when the history of these times comes to be written, that is one attribute of Alhaji Adelabu which will be remembered better than any other.”
Chief Obafemi Awolowo saluted the man who had keenly desired to take his place as Premier of the West. According to him: “Alhaji Adegoke Adelabu was, in his lifetime, and ever since he entered into politics, a fighter first and last, with all the characteristics of a fighter. He was fearless, formidable, forthright, often caustic, and uncompromising.”
It was a day no one who witnessed it would ever forget. Lanrewaju Adepoju, the redoubtable Yoruba poet, in a recent album, observed that Ibadan had never mourned anyone the way it mourned Adelabu. More than 75,000 mourners assembled to pay their final homage to the People’s Hero. According to an eyewitness account, the crowd was so dense that that it took three hours for the funeral procession of over fifty vehicles to move from Molete to Oke Oluokun where he was to be buried.
Kingsley Ozumba Mbadiwe presented a coffin to the family on behalf of his political party, the NCNC. It must have been a special coffin. I remember that one verbal abuse that was popular in the West when I was growing up was to describe someone as having ‘long head like Adelabu’s coffin’. Do you remember? Olori gboro bi posi Adelabu!
Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the Leader of NCNC, was not physically present at the funeral but he was represented by top notchers of the party. He later came to pay his last his respects to his very distinguished lieutenant. At the graveside, Azikiwe announced that NCNC would provide scholarships for all of Adelabu’s 15 children. He also donated 100 pounds to the family.
Adelabu was not mourned by only the NCNC and the AG. On behalf of the Northern People Congress, Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello and Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa sent two top Ministers: Muhammadu Ribadu and Inuwa Wada to pay condolences and pray at the grave of a fellow Muslim.
Adegoke Adelabu was dead and buried. But the Lion of West did not die alone. His supporters took to the streets. They paraded through the city and stoned public buildings, including Mapo Hall and the courts at Oke Are. By evening of that day, three people had been killed in various parts of Ibadan.
It was speculated that Adelabu was shot by his political opponents. An editor of a newspaper claimed that he saw Adelabu’s body riddled with bullet holes and that the car he was travelling in was deliberately crashed to make it look like an accident.
This claim was however without basis. Unknown to many at the time, Adelabu’s corpse did not arrive Ibadan until late in the morning of March 26 because a postmortem was being conducted to determine the cause of his death. The autopsy was witnessed by Chief Joseph M. Johnson, one of Adelabu’s friends. Johnson was the first and the only non-indigene to serve as the Chairman of Ibadan Council.
Adelabu died on Tuesday. He was buried on Wednesday. By Friday, all hell broke lose. Reports of murders and violence began to come in by Friday evening. One account put the number of death at sixteen. Another account sighted by Onigegewura recorded eighteen riot deaths. All the victims were said to be members or supporters of the Action Group. By March 30, more than 300 people had been arrested. Many of them were taken to Ilesha and Abeokuta prisons since Ibadan prison was already full.
It was also speculated that Younan had crashed the car deliberately in order to commit suicide as a result of his financial challenges. This was however denied by Albert Younan who insisted that there was no special cloth printed for the 1956 election and therefore no financial loss. He claimed that he went with Adelabu to Lagos for unrelated business.
The family of Adegoke Adelabu did not appear to be convinced. The family filed a civil suit against Younan and Sons Limited and the Royal Exchange Assurance Company. Their claim was for the sum of one hundred thousand pounds for negligence of the two drivers which led to the death of their breadwinner. The trial judge was My Lord Justice Samuel Quashie-Idun, a Ghanaian. His Lordship later served as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
In his judgment, Justice Quashie-Idun held that no case had been made against the insurance company. His Lordship however found Younan and Sons liable. The firm was ordered to pay 6,030 pounds as damages to Adelabu’s children and 350 pounds as costs.
Younan and Sons appealed the judgment. Their appeal was successful. The Federal Supreme Court reversed the decision of the trial court on the ground that the plaintiffs who sued as Administrators of the estate of Adegoke Adelabu had no capacity to bring the suit.
At the time, the Federal Supreme Court was not the final Court of appeal for Nigeria. The apex court was the Privy Council in Britain. Adelabu’s family appealed to the Privy Council. The appeal was pending when the parties agreed to settle out of court. The firm of Younan and Sons agreed to pay the family of the Lion of the West the sum of 3,000 pounds.
On the political front, a bye-election was conducted to fill the seat hitherto occupied by Adelabu. Adeoye Adisa, a young lawyer who had returned to Ibadan two years earlier from his law studies in Britain emerged the winner of the bye-election.
Adegoke Adelabu died more than 59 years ago. He died at a tender age. He was 43. He was however able to cram into his short life what many who lived up to a century could only dream of achieving. At the time of his death, he was holding three critical posts. He was the Leader of the Opposition in the Western House of Assembly. He was the Chairman of the NCNC Western Working Committee. He was also the chairman of the powerful NCNC-Mabolaje Grand Alliance. Almost six decades after his last breath, his footprints are still indelible on the political landscape.
In recognition of his achievements as a nationalist, politician, orator and mass mobilizer, the government of Oyo State in 2016 listed his Oke-Oluokun residence as one of the tourist sites in Oyo State.
I hope the next time you are in the city of Ibadan, you will find time to visit the Taj Mahal.
May the soul of Gbadamosi Adegoke Adelabu continue to rest in peace.
Emir sanusi’s dethronement and the possible aftermath by ojediran temitope muhideen (CONVYDENCE)
As a patriotic Nigerian and a fellow who belief in true and democratic leadership, one would have thought what intoxicated governor Ganduje that warrant him to remove his royal highness Sanusi lamido Sanusi 11 the 14th emir of kano emirate from office as the emir on the ancient city of kano.
Since the news of the emir went viral, I have contacted three friends who are from kano emirate, Sakir sarkin a fellow student leader and one time ASSUP general told me ” here in the emirate in the history of kano ancient city, we have never had it this good under the leadership of any emir as we have it under emir sanusi, he defined him as an emir who is a progressive mind, he made girl child’s education the backbone of his government he said
Another friend kolawole olorunfemi an alumni of the university of Ilorin,an historian who is obeying the clarion call to serve his father land in the ancient city of kano, had told me that sanusi’s dethronement was as a result of his continuous telling of the truth without fear of intimidations and I asked is that not one of his rights as a citizen of the nation?
A colleague babarabe sherrif Ado, a kinsmen of the palace told me sanusi’s removal was due to the fact that he was not in support of Governor ganduje’s second term bid and that was his greatest crime.
I have waited for long to hear from the public,top officials,kano state government, the crime sanusi committed that made him deserve the humiliation and denied him the rights to freedom of humanity. The state government through her rubber stamped house of assembly earlier alleged sanusi on mismanagement of funds in the palace, this he came out not being guilty yet governor Ganduje’s government created four new emirates in the city of kano yet sanusi never reacted.
Power is transient indeed, God inform no one when he or she will be disgrace. governor Ganduje Forget the story of sir Ahmadu Bello who for no reason dethroned Muhamadu Sanusi 1 the 12Th emir of Kano, Ganduje and his cohorts forget the personality of Sanusi, what he portrayed, what he preaches and the fact that he fear no one.
Sanusi is a brain to reckon with, yes you dethroned him now but someday you will surely need him because he is a force to reckon with.
Sanusi on his part, is an economist,truth speaker who will continue to speak until he lives no more. The aftermath of his dethronement might turn out to be fruitful for him in the journey of life, he already gained the sympathy of an ordinary man on the street of kano and Nigeria at large, for the reason for his removal was not constitutional and his banishment was traditional and not constitutional. Some day, very soon Sanusi will rise and face the realities of life then he will be a torn in the flesh of those who orchestrated his dethronement. Yes Sanusi may be bad but Governor Ganduje is worse.
Ojediran temitope muhideen can be contacted via gmail [email protected]
Hard work never fail,laziness does by Ojediran muhideen Temitope(convydence)
“Through hard work, perseverance and a faith in God, you can live your dreams.” Ben Carson
The quote above has a resemblance in reality and that is the story of Christopher Abubakar Friday a popular voluntary traffic controller at Sobi barracks junction,Ilorin,kwara state
As a young child growing up around shao garage gave me the chance to know the happenings in the nearest community such as Gambari,sobi,alagbado and the likes. Sobi junction is popular because it encompasses three roads that leads to different destinations,at this junction for every minutes is a show of rascality by commuters and soldiers. The traffic deadlock at this junction happened for at least 20hours daily this is really hard for government traffic agents to control, at times at this junction one may wonder the effect of government traffic personnel.
Here is Abubakar Christopher Friday a voluntary traffic controller,the one who came to the rescue of this junction from traffic jam and heavy congestion. I have meet Mr Friday on two different occassions and he made me realized that right from childhood he Wanted to be a traffic controller not only as a job, but as his hobby,but as fate denied him the right to proper education his dream was shattered.
According to a group
‘HIDS’ under the leadership of sir Lawal O. Olohungbebe, they reported that Friday’s’ father Mr Christopher said he had been making a frantic effort to make his son’s dream become a reality ever since he was in active service with the Nigeria Army.
According to him, “right from after he finished Secondary School, his aspiration is to become a traffic warden. And since then, I have been reaching out to many contacts be it at KWATMA and Nigeria Police Force to get him recruited but to no avail”.
Mr Christopher who appealed to well-meaning Nigerians to come to his son’s aid by helping him achieve his long-term goal said his son had what it takes to succeed if he became a traffic warden.
on march 3rd, 2020. Abubakar Christopher Friday was appointed as a traffic warden by Kwara state government. After decades of voluntary traffic control he got a job with the state government. Hard work never loose to poverty..
Ojediran muhideen Temitope (convydence) can be contacted via email @ [email protected]
Between Saraki and Tinubu,who deserves EFCC treatment? By Ishaq Abdulsalam
What should we call an anti-graft agency that was saddled with the responsibility of curbing corruption in the country but aiding the corruption?
EFCC, no doubt, has been another yet to be registered Political Party in the country or better still, a shadow member of the ruling party(APC). In abetting the corrupt practice of APC, our anti-graft agency had shown unflinching support for the Lion of the Burdillion, the pictured bullion van is not enough to prosecute him, he’s one of them, he hasn’t violated any rules of the EFCC, they own the ruling party together. But Saraki should be prosecuted, hanged and if he failed to join the party, killed for mere suspicion.
There is need to know where he got the money used to build his GRA Ilorin house, EFCC doesn’t have the papers shreds of evidence and they don’t need it just like they have the pictorial evidence of one of their members.
Saraki has been vindicated, the guile act by the anti-graft agency is just another evidence of how rotten our system is in Nigeria. Here we don’t want a loyal man, we want someone that would not make a step to rewrite the wrong and Saraki is not the type.
He’s a maverick brand that all Nigerian Politicians wish to align with, he is the mover and shaker even outside of power. They know this better than their vuvuzelas and they must have him either by hook or by nail.
The same case made by the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court between September 22, 2015, to July 6, 2018, has again been brought to life by the EFCC – a case that has earlier made it way to the apex court of law in the land was manipulated by to the court to settle political scores.
It is however sad that our anti-graft agency allowed themselves to be used as a political weapon, shame on our faces irrespective of our political affiliation.
It is a belief, a very strong one, that Saraki like always would conquer this, mark himself safe of all shadow allegations levelled against him by the Political Economic Financial Crime Commission.
This time is not for us to sober, but the right time to see the wonder of God in Saraki’s life outside power, if really you appreciate patriotism, you will see Saraki is one. A revered fellow who peddled the ship of our affairs – both in the state and federal well during his time. The lies against him are now coming to the knowing, haters are now seeking for forgiveness but we keep telling God is enough for us and He only can forgive us of our sins.
Unarguably, Saraki is coming back bigger, better and stronger with the fear of all falsehoods fashioned against him.
Ishaq Abdulsalam writes from Afon,Ilorin,kwara state. he’s a writer of many publications. [email protected]
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