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”I will live, work, strive, think, write, fight and die for Nigeria.The whole of Nigeria,and not any confounded portion of it” Adegoke Adelabu Penkelemesi

In the history of every nation,there emerge men of ‘lRON WILL’ who fought and died for the development of their country.They fought the battle of freedom in order to liberate their country from darkness to the pure light of truth.

Many of them were chained. Many of them were caged. Many of them sacrificed their comforts to their convictions.Many renounced their private home lives in order to concentrate on service to the humanity.

Because they were stable as rock, strong as an OX, brave like a lion ,supple as a wave, clean like water, they conquered their enemies with the sword of the spirit and paid the supreme penalty of death to ensure the survival of their country.

These people are better known as heroes, Soldiers of liberty, and Martyrs of the cause of human freedom.

Abraham  Lincoln and  Joseph  Warren in  America,  Any Nayyar , Jaswant Singh Rawat and  Arunkumar Vaidya in lndia. Cromwell and Churchill  in England ,Lenin and Stalin in Russia. Nkrumah and Gbedemah in Ghana,  Nelson Mandela  and  Donald woods in South Africa.

Just like her contemporaries, Nigeria has had a couple of patriotic citizens who made significant impacts in the development of the country, and it will only be fair if they are honored even in their absence.

Those like Herbert Macaulay, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Adegoke Adelabu Penkelemesi,Obafemi Awolowo, Anthony Enahoro,  Tafawa Balewa, Funmilayo Ramsome Kuti  and many more are Nationalist heroes whose name can not be erased from the sand of Nigerian history.

They fought, they won,and they conquered.

Their dogged pursuit of freedom freed thir Mother Nigeria from the Colonial bondage.And today,many of our nationalist heroes are gone into extinction in the hearts of Nigerians.

Even though, a line in the Nigerian national anthem says “the labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain.” This is done by lips service.

Just last night,l was informed by Adegoke Adelabu’s book’Africa in Ebullition’.Adelabu Adegoke’s description of his Mother Nigeria stands the test of time.

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In his words”The Nigerian Nation is in chains.That fact is a common article of belief among all camps in the Nationalist Movement.It is known to the whole world.It’s not denied by our Masters,even though they we argue that it is for her benefits,and add that it is in her best interest.Those who will free her must know the nature ,the extent,the intensify and the duration of her confinement.

She is lying prostrate in a tiny, dark, damp, dirty,dingy,stuffy,and low room in a steel-walled fortress.Her wrists are handcuffed.Her feet are manacled.Her eyes are bandaged.Her mouth is gagged.Her ears are blocked.Her nose is stuffed.She is breathing heavily,sobbing intermittently,groaning at intervals,rolling deliriously and knocking her head against the steel wall.

Sometimes by a great feat of exertion, she manages to stand erect for a while.Those are rare moments,few and far between.They are critical periods of national crisis like the transfer scare,the Britol Episode and the Enugun Incident, when she manages to stand up like a man.

Then pained to the marrows and exhausted,she staggers and falls with thud.”

The forgoing aptly summarizes the melancholy posture of our dear mother(Nigeria) before she was later  rescued by the  Nationalist heroes.

Unlike his contemporaries, Adelabu and lbadan were indivisible.

He was robustly confrontational and fiercely ebullient and that was made him a powerful force to be reckoned with.Even his worst enemies could not ever accuse him timidity.

Adegoke Adelabu was also known for his intellectual adequacy,pulling crowd personality.lndeed,he was one of those who proudly themselves as ‘the  sons  of the soil of lbadan’.

He was a brilliant orator who combined academic brilliance with political astuteness and sound knowledge of human psychology.

In the words of Nobel laureate,Wole Soyinka ”If the political calculation of this maverick had been as certain as his charisma, he would have become the first Premier of Western Religion,in 1958.”But  as fate would have it,he later emerged the lion of the west.Thus made the then politics of Western region more interesting. And many politicians from other part of the regions turned Western Region to a ‘School of Thought ‘ where Adelabu Adegoke was a master.

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Born on September 3,1915 at Old Oluokun Kudeti,Ibadan. He was a prominent personality in the politics of Ibadan city and subsequently that of the Western Region of Nigeria right before the country’s independence in 1960. He was Nigeria’s Minister of Natural Resources and Social Services from January 1955 to January 1956 and was later the opposition leader in the Western Regional Assembly until his death in 1958.

He was a self-made man born into a humble family but became an influential figure in Nigerian politics. He attended
Government College, Ibadan where his academic records are yet to be beaten. He became the first winner of the United Africa Company(UAC) scholarship award when he came first in the Entrance Examination into Higher College ,Yaba Lagos, and eventually became a business man.

As fate would have it, his successful political career was cut short when he was killed in a car crash, not long before Nigeria gained independence from Britain.

He was returning from Lagos along with a Syrian businessman when their car hit an oncoming vehicle.

”What we do for ourselves dies with us but what we do for others remain and is immortal”-Albert Pike.

The above aptly summarizes the mood of million Nigerians when the news of about the death of a legendary hero was broken on air.

Many could not hold their tears.In fact,it was a blackeve to the good people of lbadan,and Nigeria as a whole . 

In his words, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa,the first prime minister of Nigeria” l was very sad to hear the news of the death of my friend, Alhaji Adegoke Adelabu.

He died just at the time he was most needed for the country.The man was an intellectual and his capacity was recognised by his opponents .If anybody died fighting for a cause,it was Adelabu.His death was a loss not only to NCNC but to all politicians in the country. I am really very very sa
d about his death.”

R.A Fani Kayode said “Adelabu is dead.Another one of the moving spirits of our time has been still in the prime.Forget about the man’s fault.Which of us is faultless? Remember his courage,his dogged will,his ardent belief in the masses,in the common people of our fatherland and the great faith of his own people of him. What can any mortal say now,what tribute pay to the Creator who made him and gave him to Nigeria and took him away?

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Nothing but Nigerians remembering Adegoke Adelabu , must say ‘ a man had lived and a man has died.’ May his gentle soul rest in peace.”

Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, the then premier of Eastern Nigerian said ”It is with deep regret that l learnt of the painful news of the tragedy which has befallen our country by the death of Alhaji Adegoke Adelabu. Penkelemesi as fondly nicknamed , was hero in the fight of Nigeria freedom. He was a man of conviction and did not disguise his feelings on any particular issue.He was loyal and knew where to hold himself in dignified restraint. He died in harness when independence of which he was one of the architects ,was in sight.

Both his political colleagues and opponents  Will readily agree that the late Alhaji Adelabu won their respect for his amazing intelligence and uncanny understanding of human nature.Behold a variety of comrade has fallen in the struggle for human liberation.

Indeed,it is with grief that l send my condolences to his family and all who have learned to cherish Penkelemesi as a father, friend, comrade -in-arms and compatriot.”

The forgoing were the comments made by his contemporaries after his departure.

Alas, If Adegoke Adelabu were still with us,the government would have neither peace nor slumber.

Meanwhile, the prayers of all lovers of Adegoke Adelabu Penkelemesi is to have a successor among the children and the grand children who will take the barton to move on where the great Penkelemesi stoped.

And to the glory of God,Oloye Adelabu Adebayo Adekola, the Agbaakin Parakoyi of lbadanland and Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria has convinced the good people of Oyo State,and the lovers of his grandfather that he is more than qualified to put on the befitting cap of the late Man of the people.

May the gentle soul of The Great Lion of the West rest in peace..

Com. Asimiyu Muhideen Abiodun
B.Ed Counseling Psychology, University of lbadan,lbadan Nigeria.