Bolaji Tunji, spokesman to the late Abiola Ajimobi, ex-governor of Oyo state, says the deceased had planned to retire from politics after completing his eight-year tenure as governor.
Ajimobi died of complications of COVID-19 on Thursday.
After his second term as governor, Ajimobi had contested the Oyo south senatorial election but lost to Muhammed Kola-Balogun, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In a tribute on Facebook, Tunji said the late Ajimobi told his staff that he did not want to take up any political appointment after the general election but was convinced to accept his appointment as the deputy national chairman (south) of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“He never wanted anything else after the general election. He only wanted to take a long, due rest after serving for 8 years without break. But another position was thrust on him,” Tunji said.
“He never solicited for us and he did not want. But they convinced him to accept. I know because in his usual forthrightness, he narrated how it happened. He took the positions because he felt it would benefit his people. ‘ I have done my bit. There is nothing I set out to achieve that I did not, I cannot be governor again, but I can not leave you people’ he would say.”
Narrating events that occurred before he contracted the disease, the spokesman said Ajimobi was called to Abuja to discuss party issues amid the APC crisis.
He said the late governor, in his usual manner, had taken care of everything before he travelled to Abuja and only went with his security aide.
“It was just like yesterday. He had received a call to come to Abuja. It was to discuss party matters. He was not sure of who would follow him. Because it was a private flight, he had limited options. He only went with his security aide,” Tunji said.
“He had told us earlier in our office in his Oluyole home that we would talk about the movement to Abuja since he had become the Deputy National Chairman. Our office had to shift to Abuja.
“He was in his usual caftan and cap, always impeccably dressed even at home except when he does his exercise every morning in his blue track down and blue stripe Tee-shirt and branded cap. With his earpiece and phone in hand, he would walk round the building several times to exercise.
“He radiated good health and we still marvelled that he still looked so good for his 70 years. Being 70 meant a lot to him and would jokingly call himself Baba 70. As he left our wing of the house to the other side, a few of us in our usual manner trailed him. He spoke with a few people in the courtyard before he left to prepare for that trip. I never knew it was going to be the last time I would see him.
“But in his usual organised manner, there was no pending issue. He had taken care of everything. He had signed all the letters of appointment for the peace and reconciliation committee.”
The spokesman said how the deceased contracted the disease remained a mystery because he always adhered to safety protocol.
“I still can’t wrap my head round what happened. He was so healthy, he was neat, he took all the necessary precautions even while he sat with us in our open office he was always with his face mask, we always observe social distancing. We were always quick to give him hands sanitizer anytime he touched something,” he said.
“We were conscious of his age and did all we could to ensure safety. We had three spots where you had to wash hands before entering the premises. One at each of the main entrance gates and another by the entrance to our office. We observed all due protocols. So what happened? How did it happen? None of us was sick. So where did this come from? I am still trying to find answers.”