The Royal Olagbegi Dynasty of Owo mourns the passing of our former Governor, Patriot, Friend, Saviour and Man of God, Ambassador Evangelist Bamidele Ishola Olumilua, Governor of old Ondo State( encompassing the present Ondo and Ekiti States) who joined the Saints Triumphant yesterday, 4th June 2020.
In the context of African Politics, Governor Olumilua was an extra-ordinary Politician and astute Administrator ; knowledgeable , unassuming , simple, accommodating and God – fearing.
Where our Nigerian- bred Politicians and Public Office holders are power-drunk,he was a stickler for Law and due process ;
Where they are materialistic , corrupt and ostentatious , he was simple, modest and was as clean as a whistle;
Where they are arrogant and rude,he was a listening Governor, polished, polite and courteous ;
Where they are unfeeling and Godless, he was humane and God-fearing.
Within the short span of his term of office as Governor and before the Nigerian Military truncated yet again Nigeria’s democratic Process, Governor Olumilua succeeded in leaving behind a legacy of inclusive and progressive governance, accountability, transparency , Christo-Centric and People-oriented policies.
His passing provides another opportunity to register yet again the gratitude of the Family to the men of goodwill used by the Lord to right the wrongful act of deposition of our Father.
Whereas it is common knowledge that Governor Olumilua took the historic ,unprecedented and courageous decision to reinstate our Father, HRM Oba Sir Olateru Olagbegi 11, KBE, as Olowo of Owo ,25 years after the political vendetta -driven deposition of 1968, it is not generally known that it was an uphill task for him and his high- flier cabinet which included at the time , Dr. Olusegun Agagu, Deputy Governor and Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN , the Honourable Attorney -General. The three of them displayed integrity and un-common scholarship in seeing through the reinstatement process.
We are grateful to them all. The fourth dramatis persona who was a Patron of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Ondo State at the time .and who played a yeoman role in support of the reinstatement process of Papa was the late Chief Francis Akinfolarin from Idanre – known in Island Club Lagos members’ circle as ‘Alikunbi’. He was an Action Group party stalwart for whom the late Chief Awolowo had the greatest respect for his fearlessness and candour. He was resolute in his conviction that Papa should be reinstated in the interest of justice and peace.
It is fitting to acknowledge the noble role played by Dr Adewunmi Abitoye , the Atokunse of Owo and Chairman ,Owo Local Government at the time. Although he belonged to the National Republican Convention (NRC) yet he gave all the necessary support to the SDP Olumilua Government in reinstating Papa.
The events bear recalling. On assumption of office, Governor Olumilua inherited numerous bulky files full of petitions asking for the reinstatement of Papa. As soon as the stool became vacant again after 25 years, the Petitions for reinstatement reached a crescendo level that could not be ignored any more.
By his own accounts, Governor Olumilua did three things:
First and rather characteristically , he consulted God. God spoke to him to reinstate Papa.
Next , he consulted a wide spectrum of Owo people. He in fact took the unusual step of securing the services of Secret Agents who discreetly went to Owo to feel the pulse of the generality of Owo people. Their findings were massively supportive of reinstatement .
He thereupon took the decision to reinstate but being a very consultative person – and from the experience he garnered as a Diplomat, he did not announce the decision straight away; Rather , he ran the matter by his political mentors who vigorously resisted the move.
These ones went to the extent of hurriedly filing a pre-emptive court action to stop the reinstatement . It failed.
Governor Olumilua was shattered and disappointed to find that the underlying political and malicious prejudice which had successfully preyed on the political naivety of succeeding Military Governors and Military Administrators of Western Nigeria , which was the pre -disposing factor to the unjust deposition of Papa were still pitifully extant, 25 years after the unjust act.
However,notwithstanding the resistance of the powerful minority, given the massive support of the people in favour of reinstatement and with the torrential inspiration of God, Governor Olumilua took the most important political decision of his life by revoking the Deposition Order and reinstating Papa to the throne as the Olowo of Owo, 25 years after the wrongful deposition .
In doing so ,the Governor also allayed the fears of a few opponents who feared that Papa would victimize them,once he was back on the throne . There was no basis for such fears but still, the meticulous and fair-minded Governor got six of us ( Princes Folagbade, Adebamiji and Adeyanju with Princess Adegbite ,Prince
Adewale and my humble self – in 1993 )to sign a written guarantee of such assurance. The execution was supervised by the Deputy Governor. Following it was reinstatement and the rest is History.
Suffice it to say that prosperity and peace reigned throughout Papa’s reign, in the first as well as in the second coming.
There was no victimization .
Later on down the years, the late Rt. Hon. Anthony Enahoro (who moved the motion for Nigeria’s Independence) was prompted to say ,at a book Launch of the Biography of Papa ( Oba Sir Olateru Olagbegi,the Legendary King) that Papa was the only Oba in History to have succeeded his successor !
Soon after Papa had been reinstated and settled back in the Palace, the Military struck but Governor Olumilua had accomplished what many considered to have been his divine mission of reinstating Papa.
Your Excellency, Governor Olumilua , we of the Family of the Royal Olagbegi Dynasty of Owo walk tall with our heads raised up with dignity today because you were a just, righteous ,bold and God-fearing Governor.
Thank you for the honour of reinstatement of our cherished legacy.
When we spoke with you and your Barrister wife, Mrs Yinka Olumilua last month ,little did my brother Prof. Adebamiji and I know that it was for the last time. Yet, we thank God for the opportunity of that occasion and thank God for your life.
I am personally honored to have known you; Honoured to have had the opportunity of being part of your team in the campaign efforts for your election ; Honoured to have been nominated by you to serve as Chairman of Araromi Rubber Estates representing the majority interests of the State and more than anything else , Honoured to have remained your Aburo and friend in Government and out of Government.
Our hearts and prayers are with your wives , children and and entire members of your family at this time.
Let us all be consoled by the fact that Governor Olumilua lived a life of Christ- like humility and of faithful and un-blemished service to God and humanity.This can not be said of many Rulers today .
We shall meet again to part no more at the feet of Jesus on Resurrection Day.
Egbon, your Excellency, Adieu !
May the gentle soul of Governor Ambassador Evangelist Bamidele Ishola Olumilua rest in perfect peace in Jesus name, Amen.