By Dayo Johnson
FORMER President Olusegun Obasanjo caused a stir that almost disrupted the Church Service marking the 70th birthday thanksgiving service in honour of a former Managing Director Nigerian Airways, Major-General Olu Bajowa (Rtd) on Monday in Igbotako, area of Ondo State.
Obasanjo who suddenly developed stomach upset mid way into the Church service had to be attended to by the personal physician of the Ondo State governor Dr Olusegun Mimiko, Dr A Adegbule
If not for the timely intervention of governor Mimiko who gave a marching order to his personal physician and other members of the state Executive Council to attend to the Former President, his health would have deteriorated and would have marred the service.
Reliable sources at the Thanksgiving service held at Saint Stephen Anglican Church Igbotako said that mid way into the service, the former President complained of stomach upset and was seen holding his lower abdomen inside the church and feeling uncomfortable.
His return for the church service, however, doused the anxiety as he looked stable throughout the service.
A dependable source told Vanguard that the former President first rushed to the toilet to empty his bowel after which Governor Mimiko’s personal physician gave him medications.
Obasanjo later attended the elaborate reception held for the celebrant within his palatial residence showing no further sigh of discomfort.
The sudden rush of Obasanjo from the church caused a stir as important dignitaries including General Adeyinka Adebayo, Rear Admiral Akin Aduwo, former governor Olusegun Agagu, Obas from Ikaleland and Amos Akingba of former NADECO amongst others became uncomfortable.
Heads began to raise from different angles in the Church when the former President was ushered out of the Church by his aides and other important dignitaries.
Delivering the thanksgiving sermon, the Retired Bishop of the Akure Anglican Diocese Bishop Bolanle Gbonigi thanked God for the life of the celebrant and prayed for long life.
Bishop Gbonigi said that Bajowa lived a worthy life that is worth emulating and pleaded with Nigerians to always put God first in all their endeavours.
The Clergyman said that it is important that Nigerians know that whatever they do today would be history tomorrow and asked that life should be lived remembering that there would always be a tomorrow.
Governor Mimiko at the reception described Bajowa as an illustrious son of the state who had lived a life worthy of emulation.
Mimiko lauded the celebrant for his achievements in the Nigerian Airways saying that he left it better than he met it.
According to him the people of the state celebrate him and prayed that God would continue to grant him good health and long life.
Music at the reception was supplied by Yinka Ayefele.
Before the collapse, a mild drama was reported between Obasanjo and Mimiko as the duo were said to be trying to avoid each other.
The source said Obasanjo was seated at the front row before the arrival of Mimiko. But when Mimiko arrived, he sat on the seat provided for him without acknowledging the presence of the former president.
Similarly, Obasanjo pretended not to notice the arrival of the state governor.
But when Bishop Gbonigi asked the congregation to stand up for prayer, Mimiko greeted Obasanjo non_verbally and Obasanjo also responded non_verbally.
After the church service the duo avoided each other again as Obasanjo went to the reception while Mimiko left for another engagement.
Mimiko was a Minister of Housing and Urban Development during the tenure of Obasanjo. The duo fell apart when Mimiko insisted on contesting the 2007 election against the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) candidate in the election, Dr Agagu.
Oluyemi Omokuwajo Bajowa was born under a palm tree in the farming community of Lokuta, Igbotako of Ikale Local Government Area of On do State on December 27, 1940 by the union of Mama Marian Yetunde and Prince Alfred Egbayelo Bajowa of the Jibulu Royal linage of Osooroland.
He was born a ‘prince’, yet he had to surmount unusual human erected obstacles at every major ‘junction’ of his eventful life. That Joseph Oluyemi Omokuwajo Bajowa was very precocious is self evident. He was among very few that enjoyed the highly competitive scholarship of the Western Region Local Government. I will not bore the readers with details which are easily obtainable in the General’s autobiography ‘the Spring of a Life’. It is however pertinent to briefly elucidate three unique character traits of Gen. Olu Bajowa that makes his life an inspiration and a success story, outside the God factor.
First, Gen. Olu Bajowa never allowed circumstance(s) and people to dictate to him his pursuits and/or dream(s). Let me illustrate this point with just an example. By 1980, Gen. Olu Bajowa at age 40 was retired from Nigerian Army due to political exigencies of the time. Before then, he had served as Adjutant General and Quartermaster_ General of the Nigerian Army. This is apart from serving also as the Commandant of the prestigious Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji. He was also acting Military Governor in the then South Eastern State (Now Cross Rivers and Akwa Ibom states) and Rivers State (now Rivers and Balyesa states) in 1.974.
In spite of this intimidating and outstanding accomplishments, the vintage Gen. Olu Bajowa sought and got admission into University of Lagos as an undergraduate student between 1983 and 1988, when he could have conveniently elected to get (or is it buy) a degree from an obscure European or North America University.
The point here is that Gen. Olu Bajowa never allowed his social status to be an hindrance to his desire to earn a degree meritoriously from a reputable university. Even now, he is currently studying law in a university at age 67. He has unconquerable spirit undoubtedly.
The second notable character trait of Gen. Olu Bajowa that makes for success is humility. To the best of my knowledge, he was the only two star Army General, and ex_Adjutant_General of a major Army in the entire African continent to have accepted to serve as a career officer in the civil service. In 1989, Gen Olu_Bajowa accepted appointment as Senior Principal Officer in the Federal Ministry of Aviation.
This acceptance marked the beginning of a new career for him in the civil service. He was Permanent secretary Director General at different times in Federal Ministries of Defence, Industry and lastly Science and Technology. He was also the Coordinator of Movement of Federal Ministries and seat of Government from Lagos to Abuja. It takes real humility (not pretensions) to obey bureaucratic orders of superior officers, more so, when such superior officers in not too distant past were very junior officers. It will be recalled that Gen. Olu Bajowa was a prominent member of military leadership that ruled Nigeria between 1975 and 1979. Of a truth, humility comes before honour. General Olu Bajowa life is an eloquent testimony.
The third distinguishing character trait of Gen Olu Bajowa is that he excels in whatever he does. To the glory of God, Gen. Olu Bajowa is the only Nigerian to have risen meritoriously to pinnacles of two distinguished careers/professions independently. He was a General in the Nigerian Army. He was also a Permanent Secretary in the Nigerian civil service at different epochal regimes. This is not all. Gen. Olu Bajowa was the Chairman, Programmes and Budget Committee (PBC) of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) between 1995 and 1997.