Bamidele Salam is a Former Chairman at Egbedore Local Government Area of Osun State and also
Former Media Assistant to the Governor at Osun State government. He pays tribute to the late Senator Isiaka Adeleke in this blog.
I have been in active party politics for 12 years. Within those years, there are 3 men I call prime leaders; the men whom God used to put my feet firmly on the soil of political activities. One of them just passed on and I am still in grief.
|Late Senator Isiaka Adeke|
Otunba Isiaka Adetunji Adeleke, the first governor of my state was not just my leader but a helper of destiny. When I told him of my desire to contest as LG chairman in 2005, he took a deep breath and told me the major problem ahead of that aspiration. I told him I knew but was sure God would intervene on my behalf. He agreed and gave me his blessings. We crossed that hurdle in 2007, the same year he was elected into Senate. After some consultations with a team of intellectuals led by Prof. Siyan Oyeweso, Adeleke set up a scholarship scheme and made me a member of its management board. Being a Local Govt. chairman from that senatorial district put me under enormous pressure from politicians who wanted Adeleke's scholarship for their kids regardless of whether they qualified or not. So, I sought to be excused from the board to avoid a conflict of interest but Senator Adeleke would not agree. " Bamidele, this scholarship scheme is different from any other programme. It is not about politics, it is about people. That is why I have Prof. and you on the board. Go, do the right things". I felt really humbled that a man who was governor when I was barely out of university could repose so much confidence in me. We did things right, engaged the services of experts to set exams and evaluate applicants who were awarded the scholarships. Most of them turned out to be children of people in other political parties and non politicians but Adeleke never changed our decisions. He was a man without any form of prejudice in relating to other men. He lived a life too simple to be imagined. I remember sometime in 2013 when my friend Femi Adefila and I went to meet him to discuss a very sensitive matter. We met him somewhere in Abuja and sought to have a private audience with him. Senator Adeleke ushered us into a small room he shared with some of his childhood friends. It was a room "unworthy" of a Councillor by Nigerian sentiments. Yet, that was where he stayed most evenings with his friends. He had no protocols. It took the intervention of some of us to restrict access to his bedroom in Ede ahead of the 2011 elections. Senator Adeleke was hyper generous. He spent like there would be no tomorrow and that was why his residence was always a Mecca of some sort. As a local government chairman I was once very broke and had to tell him " oga, ita gbe o". He looked at me and went into his bedroom. He came out a few minutes later and said "BS, gba" It was a cheque for a million Naira! That was Serubawon for you. He gave, gave, gave and gave.
He gave his sweat, his time, his money and now his life. He was also a man never rattled by failure. I recall the night Senator Adeleke lost his 2011 return bid to the senate, he popped champagne in the midst of friends. He supported my failed aspiration for the Federal House of Representatives with great commitment. He rallied physical and financial resources to help actualise the dream.He pursued his 2014 governorship bid with zeal. I and a few others used all we had to convince the PDP leadership and the Presidency that he was our surest bet at the time but all went futile. When he decided to defect to the All Progressive Congress, I was faced with a major political test and eventually decided to stay in the PDP. I called a meeting of my political associates to announce my decision. After I spoke, a certain young man rose to speak. He used some harsh words against the senator and I had to insist he be sent out of my house. I rose up again to tell everyone present that my decision not to decamp along with Senator Adeleke was NOT a severance of political relationship with him. I warned anyone who desired to say any untoward thing about Adeleke to move very far away from wherever I was. I regarded him a worthy leader and maintained very cordial and close relationship with him till his death. On a visit to his residence a few months ago, he told me about his next political aspiration, I prayed that God would guide him and gave one piece of advice. I left him about 8pm and before I got back to Osogbo I heard some announcements on the State Radio which seemed to confirm the advice I offered. As I watched Alh. Isiaka Adelekes body being lowered to the grave yesterday, it harshly dawned on me that indeed an end has come to an era. His place ,so big, too big to be quickly filled. Adeleke like you and I had his foibles. Whatever they were, his compassion, humility and undeniable love for humanity make them pale into insignificance. God consoles his family, friends, associates and thousands of dependants!
Adieu, Erinlomo, Alani alaanu alaini!
President, Children of Africa Leadership and Values Development Initiative
Director, Oasis Royal Academy Osun