Abiola Ajimobi, former governor of Oyo, who died of COVID-19 complications on June 25, was “extremely” pampered and always defended by his mother, even when he misbehaved. As such, it was no surprise that even as a 62-year-old governor at the time of her death, Ajimobi still had a very close relationship with his mother. In an interview he granted after she died in 2012, he shared fond memories of his mother.
What were the memorable moments you had with Mama?
I think the first memory was when I misbehaved at home and I was to be beaten by my father. Every minute, my mother would stay in front that he should beat her instead of me. I think she was very protective of me and demonstrated that over the years, to the extent that when I returned from the U.S. in 1977 and a friend of mine just saw me and tapped me from the back to say hello, my mother just went and grabbed my friend and asked, ‘why are you tapping my son?’ So, she was always protective of me. That I would say was the memory.
What kind of woman was mama during her lifetime?
She epitomised humility and Godliness. She was extremely Godly, very forgiving and very unassuming. I think she was also extremely neat; very elegant.
Which of these qualities did you pick from your mother?
I think Godliness and the forgiving spirit and cleanliness; also, her elegance in dressing well and appearing neat.
As the first child, did she pamper you?
Sure, sure. Extremely. Of the nine children, I was the first-born and the first male child. That she pampered me was understandable. All other children would sometimes quarrel with her, asking whether I was the only child.
How did you receive the news of mama’s death and what were you doing at the moment you knew of her death?
I was holding a meeting with the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). Archbishop Alaba Job and some pastors were with me. And I received a call which told me my mother just died. I was speaking with them when I picked the phone and they told me. I just requested them to pray for the repose of my mother’s soul. They were surprised and they all prayed. So, I was very sure that she went to paradise because all those people were there and they all prayed for her.
You once said that your mother wished that she witnessed you becoming governor even if for just one day. May we know more about that?
It started from when we went to visit the late Chief Bola Ige when he was the governor. I was to get married and I took my fiancé there. As we were sitting in the Governor’s lodge, my father told me to sit comfortably, asking, ‘do you know that you would become governor one day?’ So when I lost the legal battle to become the governor, because I knew I won the election, my mother said ‘do you recall the prophecy of your father?’ I said ‘what was it?’ And she responded that your father said that one day, you will be governor of this state and I just pray that I live to witness that one day. So let’s thank God that she witnessed exactly 417 days; that I was governor for over a year before she died. I think I take solace in that, even though I thought she would have lived for up to at least 100 years because her own mother lived to be 105. So, I thought since she took the stature of her mother, she would also live to be 100 but at 85, let’s thank God.
If you believe in reincarnation, would you like to be given birth to by your mother again?
Of course, I will love to be her son; I will love to be the nine children in one; I would have wished she gave birth to me several times because she was an extremely humble woman. I wish I could take that part of her; she would kneel down for anybody; she never got angry. So let’s thank God for her life.