“I normally tell God that if I clock 70 years of age, that would be enough. My father died two months to his 70th birthday, so I used to say even if I make it to 70, that would be okay. Now that I am 70 and enjoying life, I tell God, ‘Seventy is small’…”
That was Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi, former governor of Oyo state, unveiling the irony of life a few months ago. He was a guest of Splash FM/Lagelu FM in Ibadan, the state capital, wearing a face mask and discussing with hosts on the Muslim perspective to life as the world battles the COVID-19 pandemic.
On June 25, 2020, he breathed his last at a Lagos hospital after succumbing to the complications of COVID-19. Although sources told TheCable that he had tested negative to the virus before his death, the former deputy chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) had suffered complications to his internal organs and had been into a coma for weeks. It was just a matter of time.
He still died at 70, as he used to wish. He would have loved to recover from the disease and continue with his life, as he also wished, but it is all over. The irony.
His associates described how he fought a gallant battle to stay alive but succumbed eventually.
On May 1, 2020, he had paid a glowing tribute to the efforts of the government in the fight against the coronavirus. Little did he know he was going to be consumed by the pandemic.
“My dear compatriots,” he said. “It is with gratitude to the Almighty and a deep sense of appreciation that I, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, the APC deputy national chairman (south) commend the federal government, the NCDC, our health workers, security agencies and others in the battle against the menace of coronavirus. We applaud your sacrifices, your devotion, professionalism and patriotism. You risk your lives for Nigerians to live by ensuring the curb of the pandemic. Yours sincerely, you deserve our eternal gratitude and a standing ovation.”
He was in a white outfit, with his signature moustache and cap, which had the peak tilted to the right as usual. He looked the picture of health as he sat in the swivel chair, moving from left to right. It didn’t seem likely that the former governor imagined that the 44-second recording would be his last Workers’ Day speech on earth. He ended the presentation on his feet, with applause for the frontline workers in the fight against COVID-19.
More known as a politician than in business, the tale of his political life was one of intense highs and disappointing lows. However, politics or business, Ajimobi had a penchant for breaking records.