Understanding The Man, Abiola Ajimobi @ 68

Ajimobi 5

Each human being is an individual with peculiar traits, distinguishing features, exclusive behavioural patterns, distinctive qualities, bespoke temperament, customised mentality, different psyche, unique characteristics, innate motivation, particular nuances and personal attributes. These features of the individual come from nature while others are nurtured.

It therefore stands to reason that all men cannot be the same, not just physically but also genetically. The creator himself gave each one of us distinguishing features.

For example, no matter how identical twins are physically, more often than not, they possess non identical characters. This is why psychologists and sociologists spend a lot of time and resources to study the human being because it is important to understand the human being with a view to appreciating the rationale for his thought process, behaviour and actions.

Abiola Ajimobi, the man at the helm of affairs in Oyo State is an individual who is sometimes misunderstood by a cross section of the people. While most people will celebrate him as he celebrates his 68th birthday, I find it the perfect opportunity to “expose” the man to the people, especially the people of Oyo State.

My intention is to x-ray the inner workings of the man, beam the search light on his outward manifestation and zoom in on his personality in an attempt to letting the world see the man for who he is. I know I run the risk of being misunderstood as it is easy to misconstrue this piece as a white washing effort of Abiola Ajimobi’s image. Whether the people appreciate it or not is of little concern to me, what is uppermost in my mind is the dissection of his persona with facts available to me.

As a reputation manager, I believe in the John Wooden school of thought which emphasizes character over reputation. According to him “Your reputation is who people think you are, your character is who you really are”.

The dilemma however is embedded in the catch 22 situation; knowing which is more important for emphasis, character or reputation? My belief is that God rewards character not reputation. Caring about reputation more than character suggests you value the opinion of man more than the opinion of God.

This is my entry point for the exposition of the Abiola Ajimobi persona. He consistently makes a clear distinction between being religious and being Godly. His actions are therefore motivated by the desire to please God rather than to please man. It is public knowledge that he prayed openly and severally that God should deny him victory at the polls if he is not going to do well in serving the people.

For me, it is a clear case of going to bed with a clear conscience. Anyone driven by God and not man will certainly offend many men. One of his favourite quotations is the popular leadership quote by Rosalynn Carter which says “A leader takes the people where they want to go. A great leader takes the people where they don’t necessarily want to go but ought to be”.

Like most transformational leaders and drivers of change, this has been the bane of the Ajimobi leadership in the very traditional and conservative Oyo State. His bohemian nature, avant – garde inclination and radical challenge of the status quo ruffles feathers and upsets the apple cart. The chorus in his Songs of Change is “We must change this state; we need to make a difference”. My final submission on this is that most policies of Abiola Ajimobi are resisted and criticised like those of most revolutionaries but appreciated down the line in the course of time.

Abiola Ajimobi is always in pursuit of excellence. A stickler for perfection, who appreciates a well written speech, proposal or performance and would say “C’est Parfait” or “Good Job” when he is delighted, abhors mediocrity or charlatanism. When there is a major presentation, he is up with the team from afternoon till 05:00am demanding data, supporting evidence, appropriate quotations and grammatical accuracy; all in a bid to deliver good performance especially on the big stage. If a man who is CEO of the state stretches and tasks himself very hard, who is a subordinate? You can therefore imagine what is likely to befall a political appointee or civil servant who comes with a half-baked, not well researched or basic presentation.

For a man who was an all-rounder in his secondary school days as he excelled not only academically but socially and in sports for which he was given the nickname Archipelago, his pursuit for excellence and zero tolerance for failure in all aspects of life need not surprise anyone.

Very cerebral, scholarly and of intellectual bent, Abiola Ajimobi likes data, statistics, empirical evidence, phased or modular implementation. He appreciates options and timing. Do not go to him with only one way of accomplishing a task. Make sure you provide alternatives and justification for each. Be sure he will add his own or combine yours as the solution. You can now see why it could not have been business as usual in governing the state by a man whose best gift is a book.

At the beginning of his first term in office, he directed Commissioners and Special Advisers to come forward with short, medium and long term plans for their MDAs. Not a few found it absurd considering it an anathema of sorts. That retreat set the tone for his “intellectual” administration which was loathed by a cross section of the people. His governance and leadership style was foreign in the land. To his credit however, that novelty in governance in the state sounded the death knell for Amala politics and to show appreciation for this kind of administration, the people of Oyo State rewarded him with an unprecedented second term elevating him not just to an enigma but the factor in Oyo State politics.

Abiola Ajimobi is stubborn, but his stubbornness is a virtue and not a vice. It is an expression of his merit based and principle centred leadership. He is bold, fearless and courageous enough to defend his actions at any level. He is a perfect example of the conductor of the orchestra who must turn his back to the crowd.

For a man who bestrode the corporate world leaving indelible imprints and now his political foot prints in the sands of time, his character and public persona deserve public exposition. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Maybe someone would write a book about Abiola Ajimobi or “Ajumose – The Ajimobi Years”. Whichever it is, you cannot write the history of politics and governance in Oyo State without devoting generous space to Koseleri 1. The content would however be largely dependent on the writer and the knowledge of the man. Whoever and whenever it is written, let it be on record today on his 68th birthday anniversary that you may disagree with his approach but you cannot fault his intentions…because there is an Ajimobi in all of us.

Written By Toye Arulogun, Oyo State Commissioner of Information, Culture & Tourism



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