By Michael Adesanya
Today is indeed a memorable day in the life of former Ogun State Military Administrator, (MILAD), Commodore Kayode Olofinmonyin as he reached the grand age of 70 years.
Olofinmoyin, a sportloving personality, who is now in the league of Septuagenarian, was born in 1950 and christened Kayode Luke Olofinmoyin, to the family of Pa Peter Olofinmoyin and Mama Olofinmoyin, both of blessed memory, from Ejisun family of Okegbede Street, Oke Emo quarters in Ilawe-Ekiti, headquarters of Ekiti South West Local Government in Ekiti State of Nigeria.
Olofinmoyin, fourth child in his family attended Annunciation School, Ikere Ekiti for his secondary education and following the mentoring and counselling of Lt Colonel S.A.Afolalu (rtd) who was the highest military officer from Ilawe then, young Kayode took up a career in the Nigerian Navy early in life.
The promising Ekiti born navigated his way up, through the ranks passing all requisite professional military examinations with flying colours, including the prestigious F.W.C and he rose to the enviable rank of Commodore in the Nigerian Navy
From a humble background, Olofinmoyin grew up in Ibadan where his parents worked, and had his primary education there and not ot much was known about him at his home base in Ilawe-Ekiti during his youthful days because of the distance.
However, the Ilawe blood in the blood of his father was advantage for the young Kayode, following the position of his father as Chairman of Egbe Ọmọ Ilawe (I.I.U) Ibadan branch,and Kayode was always taking part in the preparation for and the hosting of meetings of Egbe Ọmọ Ilawe from time to time.
He also performed the same hospitality duties whenever Oba Akinola Adefolalu came to Ibadan in connection with the protracted land case between Ilawe and Ado and was accommodated in Pa Olofinmoyin’s house with his entourage.
This was how he picked up interest in Ilawe affairs and the love of Ilawe took root in him at a tender age, and as soon as his career rose to become a senior officer in the Navy, his endemic love for his home base Ilawe started to manifest particularly during the long military regime in Nigeria.
The various cadres of Chiefs in town, including the military cadre who have hijacked him into their group, normally call him chief because he is the Jagunmolu of Ilawe. To the younger generation, he is not only a fine gentleman of impeccable character but also an unostentatious performer as well as a philanthropist. The politicians do admire him too because, despite his popularity and acceptability in Ilawe, he is not in competition with anybody.
Married to Olaibiyimika Olofinmoyin(nee Somolu), on 24th of January, 1976, and they both build a family and home filled with love and care and the marriage is blessed with five sons who have each then gone on to build their own families, bringing the next generation of Olofinmoyin up in the loving and caring Olofinmoyin family traditions.
The gallant former Navy boss engaged in many sports during his career, which include; football, boxing, and, most notably, squash, where he excelled and won many championships. The family imbibed this vital character trait, and even today, everyone engages in some form of sports activities. The Commodore has since laid his squash racquets down for a set of golf
The military officer was appointed as Military Administrator of Ogun State by the General Absussalam Abubukar,and took over the reign of power from Navy Captain Sam Ewang on Tuesday August 10,1998.
This was turbulent period of June 12 palava, but Olofinmoyin inspite of all odds against the military, introduced humanface into his administration, which won the hearts of citizens and residents of the state, and because of his respects for human rights and feelings, he was named, ’Mr Cool Temper’, a nickname which became household name.
Following of his arrival as military administrator, the military officer exhibited his Omoluabi behavior, and embarked on courtesy calls to traditional rulers across the state and had heart to heart discussions with them on better way to move the state forward.
The move worked well for him, paving way for him to governed the state successfully, while his relationship with the media was superb. At his maiden meeting journalists, he admitted that media is a partner in the task of midwifing a ne promised democratic dawn
His words: “The Nigerian press is second to none in Africa. Only the press was talking throughout the trying moments of Nigeria. Some of you lost your lives and freedom during the struggle. Those of you left behind, surprisingly were even more determined in your pursuit. Therefore, the renewed confidence we have in ourselves and today’s relative peace may not have been possible if press had collaborated with other Nigerians. You should continue without being deterred”.
Olofinmoyin, kind hearted and down to earth during his regime, once said “I don’t believe in protocol, let the citizens know that I run open door administration. I need people’s support to succeed. The fact that I am an administrator today does not mean that I have a preserved exclusive knowledge. When you give a man a lot of alternatives such will make him a better groomed man”.
The priorities of his administration, he told journalists before the military disengaged from politics on May 29, 1999, was to rehabilitate the various dilapidated structures in the State before the hand-over date; stressing that the success of any government is measured by the impact it has on the lives of the citizenry.
The former military administrator enjoyed a hassle free press during his tenure in Ogun State as his agenda setting with the press and his subsequent openness in his activities ensured that he had no bad press in all his nine months stay.
It is on record that his first 100 days in office set the tone for a whirl wind achievements that was capped by a successful handover to a new civilian administration.
Determined to give Abeokuta, the state capital a face-lift and other major urban centres in the State started wearing a new, friendly look, and as the weeks roll into months, Olofinmoyin effectively stamped his hygienic mien over the state.
Refuse dumps and other environmentally degrading structures that have proved stubborn over the years, like those at Itagemo, Igbein and Oja-Oba in Sagamu and Ita-Osu market in Ijebu-Ode, were completely sanitized. One only needs to visit these sites and the State in general to ascertain that the naval officer is winning the war against environmental degradation.
One of the headaches of Olofinmoyin was the issues of bad roads all over the State, but on assumption of office, and while the problem seemed herculean, considering that Ogun State with its highly urbanized settlements harbor the highest number of road networks, he believed that something could still be done and something was immediately done.
The former Military Administrator repaired all bad spots around Abeokuta in a few weeks. Similarly, enumeration of all bad roads was done and major repair works started.Such roads include Ita-Oshin-Lafenwa Road: Agoka-Elega Road, Kugba-Saje-Adatan Road, and Adatan to Asero Road. In all 22 roads have been earmarked for major repairs across the State.
The interesting thing about the programme for road rehabilitation is that, not only are the roads being repaired or reconstructed, but culverts and drainages are being provided where necessary. This is borne out of the administrator’s conviction that a major debilitating factor to road maintenance and previous repairs in the State has been the number of blocked drainages and culverts. So while the citizens are already heaving sigh of relief on the work so far done, more relief on the road network is certain.
Olofinmoyin stated that he must leave a legacy, in spite of the obviously short tenure available to his administration, he was able to upgrade schools and hospitals, and in the area of agriculture, the administrator put into use in all areas of the state tractors and slashers for the benefit of farmers at subsidized rate. Equally, the depletion of the State’s forest reserves by illegal lumber-jacks received the attention of the administrator. A task force on forestry Resources was established and equipped with an engine boat to effectively patrol the water routes of the lumberjacks, in addition to land patrol.
The now retired military brass equally recorded early success in the area of curbing the intractable problem of petrol scarcity. He restructured the State’s Task force on Petroleum, with appeal to the people against hoarding and diversion, and a personal involvement in monitoring the supply and sales of petroleum products. It was through such monitoring that tankers loaded with fuel were arrested personally by the naval officer. Thus, fuel supply to the State improved dramatically in the first ten weeks of his administration and a stable supply was maintained for over a month, until neighbouring states started cashing in on regular supply in Ogun State, leading to a resurgence of petrol queues in the State. Still motorists still find fuel to buy without sleeping or spending days at fuel stations, unlike in other States.
” Mr Cool Temper” magic wand manifested in the area of sports promotion, and against all odds and opposition, sport-loving administrator has firmly and irrevocably made Ogun State a continental Sporting arena. Under his untiring leadership, the state co-hosted the first ever Africa Women Football Championship (AWC) with less than ten days’ notice.
The success of the game played at the ultra- modern Gateway Stadium, Abeokuta was a testimony to the administrative and organizational ability of the former Chief Naval Officer of ECOMOG, Liberia. But of critical importance is the beneficial side effects of this hosting. Small and big businesses boomed and the culture of the State was promoted across the continent. At some points makers of the popular indigenous fabric “adire”, ran out of stock as were other small scale entrepreneurs in art memorabilia. Tourism boomed with visitors, players and officials storming the Olumo Rock, the Alake Palace and other tourist sites that dots the “Rock City” of Abeokuta. And in one swoop, the State Hotel, Gateway Hotel, hitherto under excruciatingly difficult time, is now a multi-million naira spinner.
His populism, for him, his one trait he enjoyed, the people must be carried along in whatever the government is doing. Thus, his fixation on those things that are dear to the heart of the people, like curbing fuel scarcity, repairing roads, reactivation of street lights and environmental sanitation. Other effects of hosting the maiden African Female Nations Cup, include reactivation of street lights, road repairs and rehabilitation and installation of phone-card booths in strategic centres in the State capital.
There were encomiums which came in torrents for the administrator from well-meaning Nigerians and Africans, one can only mention few here which include that of the CAF President, Alhaji Issa Hayatou, Austin “Sussien” Akosa, President Nigerian Coaches Association and Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports, Air Commodore Emeka Omeruah (rtd), who promised more sporting actions for the Gateway State. True enough, a week after the AWC, Abeokuta again hosted the first-ever Armed Forces and Police Games. With over a thousand military and police officers and men storming the State, the business boom of the AWC continued and one does not need a vox populi to ascertain that the ordinary people of the state are enjoying better life these days’ courtesy of the administrator’s initiatives and foresight.
One of the high points of his administration is conducting and embracing democratic rule, and conducted successful and peaceful election which brought back Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as elected civilian government, and handed over leadership mantle to Osoba, with a congratulatory letter.
Today, Wednesday, May 13, Olofimoyin clocked 70, and no doubt his affable personality and unflagging patriotism will remain a leading light, while his rare ability to blend servant leadership and self-sacrifice with dignity and humility will not only remain a reference point but also a source of inspiration for future generation of leaders.