By Kola Animashaun
“Of all escape mechanisms, death is the most efficient.”-Henry Louis Menchen in a Book of Burlesques.
Oluwole Olumide, an architect and tourism promoter is dead. He was more than that. He was the Balogun of Imo, a well-known quarter in Abeokuta and the Apagunpote of Egba Land. Olumide would have been 70 years old if he had lived till May this year.
But Olumide, the Apagun for short, died in a very tragic circumstance. The Balogun of Imo committed suicide so they said. And that was a far-fetched phenomenon among the high-heeled gentry; not in today’s Nigeria.
I cannot claim to know the high chief intimately. I met him a couple of times when he officiated at the Alake’s Palace and I understand he was well-regarded at social circles. He was particularly well-known at golf in Abeokuta. He was very well-known in the circle of Gbenga Daniel where he functioned as a consultant.
Why would such a man commit suicide? Or who would have killed Olumide? The consensus view is that the police would have to look very closely from among his friends and associates. That kind of man do not just commit suicide, just like that.
At almost 70, Olumide was enjoying life and he still had quite some years to go. Or that the burden of the properties he had lost could have affected his mind.
Of course, Olumide has been having a running battle with the Ogun State government over some of his properties that have been seized or demolished. The Ogun State government had seized the 150-room Golf Place Hotel, Abeokuta and revoked its Certificate of Occupancy.
The state government said that the land on which the hotel was built was illegally acquired; that the resort had been built with state funds and that Olumide was the front for former Governor Daniel.
Of course, the state government acted on the recommendation of a Judicial Commission of Enquiry on Land Matters. To make matters worse, the government demolished Water Parks, Olumide’s building’s investments. They claimed alleged defects in the land acquisition process and citing of the project.
The allocation and C of O, said one Akin Akinade and other club members, originally belonged to the Abeokuta Golf Club and not Abeokuta Golf International Limited.
It didn’t just rain for Olumide, it poured for him. Olumide was briefly detained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as part of the anti-graft commission’s investigation in the state. He was fingered as one of the beneficiaries of the alleged corrupt activities of the Gbenga Daniel administration.
Apagun may have had these troubles on his head but is that the reason to end his life? There has been many who are still pulling similar troubles and they are coping.
Is it the case of the Yoruba saying that it is better to die than to face disgrace? Kaka ki ile’ku, ile a sa ni.
“What does farewell mean, if not death? But will death itself be a farewell?”- Honore de Balzac.
Important Ogun indigenes have sympathised with Olumide, the Apagun. Among them were the former Ogun State Governor, Aremo Olusegun Osoba and the outgone governor, Gbenga Daniel. Osoba did not say much, he merely left everything to God.
Not how long but how well
“It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives” – Dr. Samuel Johnson.
I heard of the death of my boss through my daughter in London. She keeps a social network diary with Denrele, my daughter. It was from her that Habiba told Denrele that Salisu Yakubu, her father, had died in Nigeria.
Yakubu was my Head of Chancery in my diplomatic post – Sweden. He was a good man and he taught me a few things on how to cope with wily diplomats. I might not have needed the tutorials but you see, I was not from the main Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I came from the Federal Ministry of Information.
It was from Salisu Yakubu that I learnt to stand against the diplomats who thought ‘the world begins and ends with them’. He taught me to stand my grounds; the adversary will either blink or shift.
Salisu was a classmate of Yakubu Gowon at college but never stood on it. He did his job. I have tried to visit him in Kaduna but now it will never be.
Salisu’s wife, Sikira, was an Ibadan woman and that was probably why she bonded with my wife, who is also an Ibadan woman. She died many years ago.
Adenrele expressed the sentiments of the children and the family when she writes: “My dear Habiba, I am very sorry to hear about your dad. You know how we all feel about your dad and we all feel your loss. He was a good man and an amazing human being. It is not how long you live, it is how well. Your father lived an exemplary life and you should be so proud to be his daughter. He has left his mark by the way he lived.”
Please, express our profound regards to the other children. May Allah repose Salisu Yakubu’s soul in Aljannah.