By Tomiwo Akinyemi
Life is ephemeral therefore it is imperative to do that which you can because time waits for no man. In light of this saying, today in history takes a look at a man who distinguished himself in the field of politics in Ondo State. He was a man who epitomized leadership and good governance.
The name of that man was Late Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin who died on Friday, October, 3,1997. It is exactly 20 years today that Ondo State lost the first democratically elected governor of the state. He became governor during the Nigerian Second republic on the platform of Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) from the 1st of October, 1979 till 31st December, 1983. He bade this world farewell at the age of 88.
Chief Adekunle Micheal Ajasin had an exemplary political career full of character. He rose from a very humble beginning of politics to an enviable level. He won various positions contested for in his career such as Ward Councilor, District Council Chairman, Divisional Council Chairman, Federal Legislator and the first executive governor of the old Ondo state. He was nicknamed “The Millionaire Governor” as a result of his record as the first and only governor to have amassed a million vote.
As Governor, Adekunle Ajasin signed the law establishing Ondo State University in 1982 in Ado Ekiti, which is in present day Ekiti State. In 2000, a new University was created by Chief Adebayo Adefarati and his administration named it in his honour.
In 1993, he spearheaded the fight against the annulment of the presidential election which till this day history records to be one of the freest and fair election ever contested in Nigeria.
Despite his ailing health, he continued to work actively in the hope of getting a peaceful resolution to the conflict that succeeded the annulment of the 1993 elections.
He was remembered as a man of honour whose passion was that of a total politician who stood for the symbolic weight of the word. He was a fighter of the masses, a believer of justice and the uphold of rights of the common man.
According to Anthony Enahoro, he had this to say about Chief Adekunle Micheal Ajasin during his lifetime.
“He had the singular virtue of modesty, even humility. He never boasted about the historic fact that he was the undeniable architect of the free education which transformed the old western region and became a shining example for other parts of the country”.
His political leadership and accountability led to him having very many followers because of his love for the poor; this made it easy for him to command respect and loyalty from all who followed him; even to this day, many Nigerian politicians are strong believers of the Awo mantra and principles which in the political field is called “ Awoism”.
In general, he recorded achievements in various fields such as rural development, industrialization, tourism and the major highlight being in the education sector.
The Guardian of October 10, 1997 had this to say about him:
“He ran a very long race, neither did he fall nor stumble, when he has run his own part of the race and finished tops and we (Nigerians) would not do our part, he took the baton again and led the way”
During his lifetime and as a result of his enviable achievements, in 1982, he was conferred on with the third highest honour in Nigeria by President Shehu Shagari. He was awarded the Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR); there were other ceremonial awards bestowed on him which includes: Asiwaju of Oyo, Owosoyin of Ijero Ekiti, Adingbuwa of Ondo and Obarimiyo of Akure.
Adekunle Micheal Ajasin was truly a great man who deserved the remembrance of history; little wonder one of his grandsons Bankole Anifowoshe had this to say about his grandfather:
“Papa will never die”.