Senator Abiola Ajimobi’s widow, Florence Ajimobi, has expressed displeasure over how her family was treated by the Governor Seyi Makinde-led Oyo State government when her husband fell ill and after his death.
Ajimobi, the immediate past governor of Oyo State was pronounced dead on Thursday, June 25, after he had been admitted at a Lagos hospital, where he was being treated after he tested positive for COVID-19.
Ajimobi’s widow, on Sunday, gave her words to the deputy governor, Rauf Olaniyan, who led the state government delegation to commiserate with the Ajimobi’s family at their Oluyole Estate residence, in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
Other members of the Governor’s Forum, including Ajimobi’s in law, Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, were also in attendance to condole with the family during the Oyo State government delegation’s visit to the Ajimobis.
Mrs Ajimobi said she was dissatisfied with the manner the Governor Seyi Makinde-led administration in the state handled the case of her husband when he was sick and after he died.
Referring to government’s statement where it said the Ajimobi family sent a proxy to negotiate with government, Mrs Ajimobi said, there was no time the family sent anyone to either Governor Makinde or anyone in his government.
She said they didn’t lobby government for support during the period Ajimobi was ill and after his death, contending that the government’s position in the media did not represent the family well.
Mrs Ajimobi denied the state government’s claims that the family sent a proxy to meet the governor during the burial arrangement of her husband.
She said though she was not supposed to talk while still mourning her late husband, but decided to do so, for the first time since her husband fell ill on May 22, over a month ago to set the record straight, as she said her family had been misrepresented by government.
As she said, her late husband deserved a better treatment after she had served the state for eight years as a governor, while she appealed to the government to stop playing politics with her husbands death.
Mrs Florence Ajimobi, hosting the NGF members and Oyo State govt delegation led by the deputy gov, Rauf Olaniyan, to commiserate with the Ajimobis at their Oluyole Estate, Ibadan residence. There, she expressed displeasure over how the Gov Seyi Makinde-led govt handled matters. pic.twitter.com/IjIfLzq91X
— The Daily Leaks (@TheDailyLeaks) June 28, 2020
Below is the text of Mrs Ajimobi’s conversation with the deputy governor:
Mrs Ajimobi said: “Although I should not be the one speaking but I just want to clear the air on a lot of misgivings that has been spreading.
“On behalf of my late husband, children and the entire Ajimobi’s family, I want to sincerely thank you for all your support at this very crucial point of our lives.
“My husband is not a very difficult man, but thank God we are here today. For me, when things like this happen, I want to pick up something. It is a time for everyone of us to reflect on our lives because death is a necessary end. It will come when it will come. We don’t know who is next and we don’t know when our time will come.
“Either you are a Christian or a Muslim, both religion teaches love and peace and I am glad that the deputy governor of Oyo State is here, because I need to put some record straight. It is the first time I’m going to make any public announcement or statement since my husband actually died.
“I opened the papers a couple of days ago and I saw the Oyo State Government writing a lot of things.
“Your Excellency, the deputy governor of Oyo State, for the avoidance of misinformation to the public and damage to the image of my husband because my husband is a peace loving person. He sought for peace passionately.
“My husband took ill on the 22nd of May and he was hospitalised and I was reading in the papers that the Governor of Oyo State, His Excellency, Seyi Makinde, claimed he called me. But he didn’t.
Specifically addressing the deputy governor, she said: “I don’t have your number and I have never spoken with you on phone. But it’s important we put the record straight because this is a family of politicians and I don’t want anybody to tarnish my husband’s name, well my husband is gone. It could be me or anyone else tomorrow.”
She continued: “Life in itself is vanity upon vanity. Either you are PDP or APC, the man is dead and he has been buried.
“But the governor didn’t call me. Even if he had called me and I didn’t pick his calls, I don’t have his number and I have never spoken with him on the phone, he could have sent me a text message for record purposes.
“And then today again, I read in the papers and saw how the Ajimobi’s family were lying about some things.
“Mr deputy, sir, my husband never had anything against the governor or anyone else. We were in different parties but he was an elder statesman and he slept on the ground.
“The Governor of Oyo State never called me nor sent a condolence message, my husband was hospitalised for one month, what politics are we playing, please?
“Life is short, I’m a Christian and my husband is a Muslim, we all should let the fear of God guide us in whatever we are doing. Ajimobi is gone today, whatever he does doesn’t matter to me. It doesn’t matter to me as his wife and his widow. I’m going to mourn and respect my husband’s wishes and that was what I did today, laid him to rest peacefully.
“I don’t want any controversy. Everything I read in the papers, I just swallowed them all and let it go. So, please, the press are here, we never had any rift with the governor, with the state government, I never dialogued with them, I never contacted them nor sent them a word because I didn’t know it was necessary for me to send official messages that my husband was hospitalised.
“I didn’t send messages to Governor Fayemi, I didn’t send to Governor Ganduje, I didn’t send to Lagos State Governor, I didn’t send messages to anybody because it was all over the social media and they knew that my husband was ill.
“I think the least anybody can do as a God-fearing person was at least to send me a word of encouragement at that time. And even after he died. Not even you Mr deputy governor called. If you had called me as you claimed and I didn’t pick, you could have at least send me a text message sir.
“I don’t have your number, I am the wife of a politician, I don’t pick numbers that I don’t know sir. You can send a message. Everybody is going to die. My husband is dead and he served this state for eight good years.
“Are you saying he didn’t contribute anything to this state and you could not honour him for a second. The man is dead and I need to put the record straight. I don’t want anybody, any government to tarnish my husband’s image. He was a peace loving man. And he played his role and he’s gone.
“Nobody can be on the stage for so long. You come, play your roles and you leave. Somebody else comes. I pray for Governor Seyi Makinde to succeed because that is the only time I would say that my husband succeeded.
“So, please let’s put the record straight. I never had any interactions with Governor Seyi Makinde, he did not contact the family and that is the fact. His deputy governor is here, he did not even send me a text message and I don’t have your number and I don’t pick calls from numbers that I don’t know. So, please let’s stop dirty politics.”
At a time, Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, intervened and called for prayers for the repose of the soul of the late governor to rest the discussion.
Addressing journalists on behalf of the visitors after signing the condolence register, the Chairman, Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi, described the late Ajimobi as a bridge builder, the quality which he said made him so unique among his contemporaries, and endeared endeared him to the generality of people.
“Every death diminishes us. Not least the death of a person that radiated support, peace, sacrifice and commitment, not just to our party but to our people. He governed this state for eight years and there is a sense in which you could describe him as the architect of modern Oyo State.
“I am not only the Chairman of our Governors Forum who is here with his colleagues, I am also an Ibadan resident, so I know this state since my birth. I was born here and I grew up here and I know this place like the back of my hands. So, I can tell you without any shadow of doubt that he was one of the very best as a governor in this state.
“But, that is not what sells him to the generality of his brothers. It is his unique characters. He was an ultimate bridge builder, he was a connector at all times. He was an adviser to us all, he was always seeking a way to pull people together, to organise a better country, to build bridges across divides. That is what many of us will remember him for.
“As a member of the delegation of governors that have come to honour him, honour his family and his memory, we know that it will be very difficult for us to fill the gap that he occupied in our party. As someone that we could always call upon to help build a more peaceful, a more purposeful, a more result oriented party and he excelled in the private sector and excelled in the public sector.
“He was one person who successfully demystified the notion that technocrats are not good in politics. He was a technocrat, rose to the highest level in his profession as the Managing Director of an oil and gas company, he served as a legislature, as a senator before ending up as a governor and in all capacities, he was able to demonstrate the courage of his conviction. He was able to demonstrate that leadership is sacrifice and service to the people ultimately.
“And he was able to demonstrate that you can be a public figure and at the same time be a private person. He dotted on his family. He loved his children. He worked hard for his state and he was a nationalist to the core and unapologetic federalist.
“So, for us, we shall miss him greatly and the party definitely owns him a duty to continue to walk in the way that he very much exemplified as a leader in our party. A peaceful man to the core, a purposeful man. A bridge builder and a committed nationalist and may his soul rest in peace,” Fayemi said.