By Leke Adeseri, South-West Editor
CHIEF Robert Adeyinka Adebayo, Major-General (rtd), a native of Iyin Ekiti, Ekiti State, was born at Ile-Ife, in present Osun State, on 9th March, 1928.
He attended Eko Boys’ High School, Lagos, and earlier, Christ School, Ado Ekiti, Canon Mason’s famous school. He was enlisted in the Nigerian Army in 1948. He attended various military courses at Teshie, Ghana, and elsewhere.
He was the only African at the Imperial Defence College, London, in 1966. He served in the Congo (Democratic Republic) in the turbulent days of Lumumba, Kasavubu, Tsombe of Katanga, followed by notorious Mobutu Sese-Seko Mgbendu Wazabanga.
He was the seventh member of the indigenous officer corps of the Nigerian Army – Officer Number 7.
Between 1964 and 1965, Gen Adebayo was the Chief of Staff of the Nigerian Army. In August 1966, he was appointed the Military Governor of then Western Nigeria, after the death of Adekunle Fajuyi, in the accurately forecast coup of July 29, 1966 – then Head of State, Aguyi Ironsi, and Fajuyi paid the supreme price at Ibadan.
General Adebayo was at one time, the most senior officer in the Nigerian Army – actually senior to Yakubu Gowon, Odumegu Ojukwu, Murtala Muhammed, Theophilus Danjuma, and others in that class.
One important assignment he had, was as chairman of the Commission established to look into the conduct of all officers who fought on the Biafran side, with a view to re-admitting them into the Nigerian Army, particularly those not convicted of any sadistic behavior.
He later became the Governor of then Western State from 1966 to 1971.
In 1971, he was posted to head the Defence Academy in Kaduna, with promotion as a Major-General.
This, however, left a somewhat unusual sour taste in the mouth though, because his transfer was announced three full months ahead of time.
This weakened his administration in the then Western State substantially, because several civil servants became openly rebellious. Gowon was the head of state and Oluwole Rotimi became the new Western State Governor. In civilian life, he was justifiably made the President of the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE).
He was the natural and rightful leader of the Yorubas – at a time when the likes of Pa Obafemi Awolowo, Adekunle Ajasin were no more.
As leader, he wrote an open letter to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in the twilight of Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, asking the influential Tinubu to help boost the fortune of the Yoruba race – his disdain for Jonathan knew no bounds, especially on account of the shabby treatment he received through the less than respectable retirement as Chancellor of a first generation university, forced on him by that administration.
General Adebayo was a good officer and a gentleman. He was retired from the Army in August 1975 by the late General Murtala Muhammed’s regime.
After the ban on political activities was lifted in 1978, he joined the National Party of Nigeria, NPN, and became the national vice chairman of the party. He passed on, on Wednesday, March 8, 2017, at the age of 89. He was laid to rest on Friday, May 19, 2017.
See some photos: