By Toye Arulogun
The phone call about 6:14am early in the morning of Monday 31st November 2020 was very unusual. Tunde Muraina and i speak a minimum of five times each day, but not this early. Worse still, it was through my wife’s phone with an intro “Good morning. Tunde wants to speak with you”.
My mind went in a different direction. I was very much awake, engaged in listening to my early morning devotionals, motivationals and favourite worship songs. Earlier, i had moved downstairs to give thanks to God for another great day before embarking on the spiritual. Indeed, the dawning of a brand new day must elicit a return of all the glory to God.
This day, i had done a few rounds of thanksgiving round the sitting room before lying on the couch for the usual which was going to be succeeded by the daily 30 mins walk. The walk was very compulsory because the evening before, i was at a monthly gathering at “Mount Taborah” in G.R.A Ikeja the “shrine” where some practitioners fellowship and “worship” to review their “LAIFS”, the marketing communications industry and their businesses. Rest assured, it is always a “spirit filled” gathering with plenty of speaking in tongues and cacophonic hymns. Given the level of my “spirituality” the day before, waking up in peace and in one piece deserved praises to God.
As my wife handed over her phone to me, Tunde dropped the bombshell repeatedly “ Buso ti ku o” (Buso is dead). Tunde never plays pranks but he is always a willing accomplice to my stakeholders when they want to break down my defences. I therefore took him seriously especially with the rising nature of his pitch. My reaction was simply “Gaddemit, which kin rubbish be dis now”
Without much ado, i went upstairs, did a very brief mouth wash, packed a bag and without a bath, headed for Ibadan. My friend and brother El Buso, Agbolagade omo Busari being a muslim, no one needed to advice me on the next line of action. Moreso, it will involve a journey on my most travelled route and the most unpredictable road in Nigeria. Therefore, expedient action was key.
I bade my wife who had walked off on hearing the news bye at about 7:18am and hit the Lagos – Ibadan Expressway to pay my last respects to my classmate, great Uite, colleague, partner, member of the Ajumose Marines, former Special Adviser on Information and Orientation to the Governor of Oyo State, Immediate Past Chairman of 3SC Football Club (IICC) and loyal APC member.
“Finally, my brother Buso has gone to rest with his maker” was my chorus throughout the journey. I screamed several times to myself two of his favourite words “UNBELIEVABLE!!!”, “BEDLAM!!!”. Not just to describe what has happened or about to happen but in remembrance of EL BUSO (my customised nickname). I dropped a tear or two in the process and driving very cautiously for obvious reasons, began a retrospective journey of our relationship which had just come to an abrupt end.
Our paths crossed at the University of Ibadan. We reignited our 1983 – 1986 University of Ibadan, Department of Theatre Arts relationship having reunited at the commencement of the Ajimobi administration in 2011. It was seamless as if some 25 years had not passed. Same bubbly, very ebullient individual. He had returned to Nigeria from his sojourn to the United States to settle down back home. He contested for a place in the House of Representatives but lost. I taunted him about being a failed honourable, especially when he was so called by politicians.
In Nigerian politics, an attempted governorship candidate is still referred to as “Excellency” by his supporters and loyalists. An attempted Senatorial candidate is also referred to as “Senator”. I still cannot understand it. Surely, politicians confess positively and speak prophetically despite obvious situations. Miracles indeed do and have happened in Nigeria’s political landscape, so, such is not out of place.
When i arrived Ibadan in July 2011 upon invitation to join the government of Late Senator Abiola Ajimobi, Buso it was who provided me with soft landing and facilitated my easy assimilation into the political system. Our daily social outings with other actors provided the platform for integration within the political milieu. Just to be sure, many of us were seen as “foreigners….Lagos, London or America people” who were given positions in government without being a part of the political and electioneering process. My Lagos boy toga stuck with me through my 7 years in government. Thanks to the Area Boys.
Buso was a gentleman, took life almost too easy, very loyal to his friends, passionate about his groups, committed to his family. Gbolagade Busari was knowledgeable about sports. His journalism career started as a sports reporter at the Sketch newspapers. He was loyal and committed to the development of Oyo State as a member of the Ajimobi adminstration.
Buso’s life was all about his family, nuclear and extended. He prioritised the education of his children and carried the burden of his extended family. His entire life was spent on giving his children a sound education and other needs of life. Buso sweated for his children and his family.
Buso and i were like the two television cartoon characters Tom and Jerry. Cat and mouse without doubt. We could throw jibes and expensive jokes with reckless abandon. One of mine was that he wasted 30 years of his adulthood in the United States. His was that i had mortgaged my life to Ajimobi and Oyo State. He used the nature of my work inspired title of my book on my sojourn in politics and governance in Oyo State against me severally. He would ask me at any point i complained about any issue especially work related “Is this humility or humiliation?” The work in progress book is titled “Humility versus Humiliation”.
Gbola also taunted me with the appellation; “Cultural 419”. The reason was not far fetched. He could not reconcile my cultural activities in the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism like the Amala Festival, Aso Ofi Festival, World Twins Festival et al with my cosmopolitan outlook, personae and bent. He was amazed about how i perfectly fitted into the roles. I reminded him always that i was a trained theatre artiste. To his credit, he attended most of these events with me in rare solidarity and absolute support for a friend and brother which i did not take for granted because he was not recalled into government for Governor Ajimobi’s second term.
Another jibe between us was that he was a psychedelic muslim who went against the tenets of his religion and that i was a better muslim having engaged in the call to prayers severally in my secondary school days (courtesy of Bros Gaffy) and a strong MSS boy who led songs at MSS functions. He would always respond to me by referring to me as a Spiritual fraud especially from the day i led the praise and worship at the New Year Interdenominational Service for Public and Civil Servants.
During the first term of Governor Ajimobi, when working late till the wee hours of the next day was a routine, Buso would call me to find out what was happening and whenever i replied that we were still in the office, he would gleefully tell me, “Aru, you are in bondage, i am on my 3rd bottle and still counting” He would then proceed to bringing to me in the office my quota of my usual in water bottles. Handing over the drink to me he would typically say “ Man yi, o le continue bayi now. You don’t have a life anymore”. Buso was my confidant and partner.
Buso took me to all the amala joints in Ibadan ably guided by our “Encyclopaedia Amalalika” -Gboyega Latunji who knew the terrain very well including which one opens on Sundays and the time the goat meat will be ready. Our love for meat and large appetite for good food was a common denominator.
I respected his understanding of the political terrain in Oyo State. It was based on Buso’s advice that i decided to use Ward 3 in Arulogun village in Akinyele Local Government as my political base. He felt my temperament and knack for confronting issues headlong was not suited for Ibadan North East Local Government if i used E6/50 Alafara Olubadan, my grandfather’s house, which is what i use as my permanent home address. Of course, given the dynamics of the politics in Ibadan North, Buso was right. It is therefore to his credit that Arulogun Village benefited a borehole from me, modern primary school from the SDG office in the presidency and a block of classrooms in the secondary school by the Oyo State Government by my instrumentality. Simply put, Buso pointed me to my people in the village who he felt needed and would appreciate me more instead of battling with matured politicians in the city.
El Buso was what i fondly called him. He was a loyal friend. Ironically, he never liked dogs which are acclaimed as man’s best friend. Whenever he came for our early morning coffee in my house, he would tell John, the security guard to lock up my very friendly dogs before coming down from his car. Buso himself was as loyal to his friends like man’s best friend.
He was loyal to a fault. He felt obliged to put in a word for his friends when opportunities arose. He introduced the company that drilled the borehole i donated to Arulogun Village. Another close friend of his supervised the construction of my house in Ibadan. Buso knew someone who could always fill in the service gap. He was always introducing his friends to people who needed their service.
Buso’s loyalty to his friends was the reason why a few days after my birthday in 2017, at a party in the University of Ibadan conference centre, when Governor Ajimobi asked me in typical fashion “Aru won ni o se birthday, ki la wa ma fun e bayi? ( Aru i hear it was your birthday, what will i give you?), i responded that i did not want anything personal. What i wanted was for him to appoint my friend Buso as the Chairman of 3SC football club. Buso was at the party and the Governor called him to confirm if he truly wanted the job. Upon Buso’s confirmation, Gov. Ajimobi asked him to see the SSG for his letter the following week and the rest is history. Buso died as the immediate past chairman of the darling football club of Ibadan, a position for which he was eminently qualified.
My man Buso and i shared good and bad times. Buso loved the good life. I was a willing accomplice. We however often disagreed with the every weekend ankara parties. I am not an ankara person and while i do not mind going to parties, i could not cope with Buso’s capacity to be present at all social events of people he considered his friends or sometimes mere acquaintances.
Some of those functions entailed travelling outside of Ibadan even on crutches. Of course, he was quick to tell anyone who cared to listen “ E ma fun Aru ni ankara o , ko ni wo. Fila nikan ti da” ( Don’t give Aru ankara, he would not wear it, the cap is good enough for him) Depending on who it was, i would proceed to collecting the ankara, sew and wear it just to prove him wrong. That was Buso and Aru. Tom and Jerry.
Buso respected and admired my professionalism. He gave me my territory from the early days of our triumvirate with Bosun Oladele as Commissioner for Information and Orientation with my office as the base though i was the least in rank as SSA Public Relations then. Once we were both nominated to a committee, Buso will confidently tell them, to leave the core of the work to me. “Aru will deliver as advertised” was a popular refrain of his.
Gbolagade Busari would monitor my several radio talk and television outings. His appraisal will follow suit. Not one to mince words with me, he would give a very good critique which were very much positive especially with my fact and figures approach. His only problem was that he felt i was too daring and spoke too much of the truth, stressing that i was operating in a political terrain where people do not love to hear the truth. My usual answer was that i was not in Oyo State for a popularity contest.
Buso and i were same of the same, two of a kind but very different in many ways. As close as we were, you could not make any mistake about the distinct personalities. We disagreed largely on lifestyle issues. He was was a calm individual. Never ruffled wth life’s issues. Took challenges and adversity with philosophical calmness.
Our families were close. We shared our aspirations. My wife had a relationship and understanding with Buso. Buso was one of her accomplices in springing a surprise wedding anniversary breakfast party on me. I, will always support his wife against him. The last time i spoke to him, his son Sodiq and i spoke for about 7 minutes. He took interest in Toye Jnr’s career in Hollywood and my second son Layee was his American basketball compatriot. Nothing short of “Oremeji” ( Two good friends).
Buso and my parents had a special relationship. Being a muslim like my father, Buso received spiritual guidance and prayers from my old man. Late Adegboyega Arulogun would drive to Buso’s house to give him special prayers and introduced him to Islamic clerics. Of course, between them, i was always a subject of discussion because of my contrary stance on spiritual matters. With my mum, he had an Alekuso (Lakeside) connection. When i broke the news of Buso’s passing, she broke down with her entire body trembling. It took my usual blackmail lines to calm her down.
From the time i arrived Ibadan to participate in governance in Oyo State, Buso was at every family function we had. The last was my father’s 2nd memorial anniversary prayers on September 27th this year, where we specifically asked for prayers for Buso himself. He was therefore known by my extended family as my “Ikeji”. My aunties have been calling to commiserate with me deeming it fit to pay me a condolence visit which i have rejected. It was Buso and Tunde Muraina i called upon to join me in breaking the news of the passing on of my late brother to my parents that fateful 10th of March 2017. He was my right hand man.
In his last days, he had grown feeble and weak. Had lunch with him at KokoDome recently and i saw his hands shaking. Looked into his eyes, did not like the colour. Was worried for him. He told me upon his return from his last but one trip from the US “ Aru, i have been to hell and back” i could sense his frustration. I could feel his hopelessness. He was hoping against hope and gave a good fight. Counselled him to stay in the United States for good treatment pre and in – covid, he was adamant. I believe he knew his time was up and wanted to sleep at home.
Seeing him lying lifeless in the mortuary before his burial was a testimony to the mortality of man, a confirmation of the vain life we all live, a rude reminder of the debt we all owe, a proof that no one will get out of life alive.
Agbolagade AbdulWahid omo Busari, sleep well in the bosom of your maker and may Almighty Allah grant you Aljannah Firdaus.
Meanwhile, i can tell you categorically Buso my friend and brother, this is unbelievable, the bedlam has started, who does that?
7th December 2020