IN the last few weeks, the country has had to mourn giants in our national life who took the eternal bow.
The remains of Otunba Bode Frederick Alalade were lowered on Friday November 16, 2010. As A kid in Lagos, I recall that whenever his face popped up on television, we chorused “Here is the news, read by Bode Alalade”
In later years when I became a journalist and activist of the Nigeria Union Of Journalists (NUJ) I had cause to meet with him as the then General Manager of the NTA Channel 7, Ikeja on staff welfare.
Those were the days when Robert Aladeloba, Abike Dabiri and Diran Onifade were the stars or emerging stars of the station. He was already a very successful journalist who wanted the younger ones to be even more successful.
One of them revealed to me that when the NTA was not paying wardrobe allowance, Alalade made part of his private wardrobe available to the young newscasters so they could appear respectable on set. To him, journalism was his life and excellence, his hallmark.
The day Alalade’s remains were lowered, the famous Justice Kayode Samuel Esho passed on at 87. He was the courageous and upright judge who in the days of the madness and power drunkenness called military rule, looked tyranny in the eye and without blinking, told it the truth.
At a time when some judges pronounced the head of the ruling junta as “Kabiyesi” a supreme king whose conduct cannot be inquired into, Esho emphasised that tyranny cannot be allowed to fester and that the military regimes must obey the rules of decency and court orders so long as they had not decided to scrap the judiciary.
What citizens could not safely say under intolerant military misrule, Justice Esho pronounced from the bench. His loyalty was not to those who wielded power, but to the people and social justice.
Lam Onaolapo Adesina, teacher, pro democracy activist and former governor of Oyo State took his exit on November 11. He had grown up in Ibadan when the flamboyant, bombastic but focused nationalist, Adegoke Adelabu held sway.
Adelabu, a fore runner of Kingsley Ozumba Mbadiwe and Patrick Obahiaghon; manufactured his own English grammar. The populist in describing a debate in the First Republic House of Representatives as a “peculiar mess” pronounced the words with an Ibadan accent as penkelemeesi.
He built his politics around the poor teeming masses called Mekun, just as Aminu Kano did with the Talakawas in Kano and decades later, Alhaji Olusola Abubakar Saraki did with the talakas in Ilorin.
Lam Adesina imbibed the Adelabu politics of advancing Ibadan, liberating the poor and a strong streak of patriotism.
Many tried to replace Adelabu; the most pathetic counterfeit being Chief Lamidi Ariyibi Adedibu, the self styled Alaafin Of Molete who lacking the education of Adelabu merely fed the poor and built what became known as Amala politics; amala being the local staple food.
Where Adelabu persuaded the electorate with his intellect, logic and oratory, Adedibu did with violence and thuggery. While the former was a patriot, the later worshipped the god of money. While Adelabu fought against colonial power and for the liberation of Nigeria, Adedibu sided with military power for the enslavement and subjugation of Nigerians.
Being so diametrically opposed, Lam Adesina and Adedibu were bound to clash. The most memorable for me was the 1998 solidarity rally in Ibadan Adedibu and other military surrogates planned for the military butcher, General Sani Abacha.
I was then in the leadership of the pro democracy alliance called Campaign For Democracy (CD) We were determined to scuttle the pro Abacha rally which was essentially an attempt to use state power and funds to give the impression that Abacha was loved by the Ibadan people.
The CD went out to mobilise the people for a counter rally that would overwhelm the Abacha-Arisekola-Adedibu contraption. This was where Lam Adesina emerged as a major figure.
Mr. OWEI LAKEMFA, wrote from Abuja.