As he sat by my side, he pulled off his shoes. Yes! You guessed right. It was the well worn, well polished, black shoes again. The very same!
Brigadier David Jemibewon was the governor of Oyo State, when it became my business to know the name of the state governor, and other functionaries of government, but Uncle Bola it was, that defined governance of Oyo State in my youth. He was the governor of the old Oyo State, which at the time, was inclusive of today’s Osun State, from October 1, 1979- October 1, 1983.
I began my secondary school education in the dying days of the Nigerian military interregnum, that had spanned from the dawn of the first military coup of 1966, until the 1st day of October 1979, when Gen. Obasanjo signaled the beginning of civilian rule, and returned to afflict the people of Ota, Abeokuta, and its environs. I was in Form 1, when the charismatic Uncle Bola, became the governor of Oyo State.
Uncle Bola, as he demanded that he be called, was a gifted communicator, he was worthy of the sobriquet by which he was also known; the Cicero of Esa-Oke. Uncle Bola was larger than life, and he was the ultimate hero in my adolescent eyes. I loved his elocutions, his poise, carriage, and undoubted wisdom. I idolized him throughout my childhood, and it was a pleasure to finally enjoy the pure pleasure of meeting my childhood idol, in what I believe was 1998, as the head of Binukonu, and in the company of others such as Seun Omotoba, Lateef Ogunlayi, and a few other members.
The purpose of the meeting shall be retold on another day, and it will happen soon. It is my intention to tell you of his black shoes. Uncle Bola received us in a sitting room on the ground floor of his modest house in Bodija Ibadan, the very home in which he was to be brutally murdered, five years later, even as he was the Attorney General of the Nigerian federation. I will not bore you with the fact that the murder remains unresolved until date. But back to the shoes. Uncle Bola pulled off his shoes as he settled into his chair, he had just returned from an outing, he explained. The shoes were clean, well polished, but well worn. I for some reason, could never shake the memory of those shoes.
By the time Uncle Bola was appointed as the Minister of Power and Steel, it was my lot to lead another delegation of Binukonu to go and have a word with him. One of our number, had become Uncle Bola’s PA by this time, and the meeting was at his official residence at what was known as Ministers Hill, in my time in Abuja. We were sat in a sitting room on the ground floor, and our host, and the life patron of Binukonu, came into the room fresh from his exertions as a minister of the Nigerian state. As he sat by my side, he pulled off his shoes. Yes! You guessed right. It was the well worn, well polished, black shoes again. The very same!
As I have ruminated on the consumptive excesses of the Nigerian ruling class, the incestuous relationship between the ruling class and the criminal class, the difficult in telling one from the other, the crass display of stolen commonwealth, the complete loss of circumspection and or shame, by the rulers, the increasingly in your face, and brazen expropriation of the commonwealth, I have found it difficult to shake the memories of Uncle Bola’s black shoes. It had no name, and bore no logo. Uncle Bola died almost seventeen years ago, and nobody has ever associated his name with the mind numbing kleptomania that defines Yoruba and Nigerian political rulers of the present day.
I wonder just how many black shoes, the Bolas of today have amassed. How many can you wear