Sunday, August 22, 2021 3:00 pm
By Festus Adedayo
With a feeling of revulsion and melancholy, the people of Akure, Ondo State, looked forward to marking the date, August 16, 2021. Thirty eight years before then, specifically on that day in 1983, the crème de la crème of the city had been murdered in cold blood in the federal elections of that year. Chief Robert Agbayewa, National Party of Nigeria (NPN) chairman; Babatunde Agunbiade, Majority Leader, Ondo House of Assembly; Olaiya Fagbamigbe, renowned publisher and member of the National Assembly, were all literally barbecued in daylight inferno due to their political leaning. Scores of houses were also torched at the heat of the inclement political anger against a suspected heist of election outcome. Since then, the people have carried the visible scars everywhere they went.
How were the people to know that another son of theirs, in the mould of these 1983 political colossuses, would be torched by the fire of death, right in their very before? Isaac Adedayo Omolafe, a.k.a. Expensive, a member of the House of Representatives representing Akure North and South, had suddenly slumped and died. He had woken up the day before hale and hearty, went on a round to inspect his piggery and by 3am the following morning, had been wheeled into the morgue.
I knew Expensive about 30 years ago at the Obanla area of the state capital while I was a student of the University of Lagos, being a friend to one of his cousins. He bestrode that particular area like a panjandrum. Gradually, he grew into a household political name. By the time he became an elected council chairman of Akure South, Expensive’s grassroots reach had become legendary. Folks say that his strides in that council have not yet been surpassed. This renown was to later earn him a slot at the national parliament.
If Akure was granted its own governorship, Expensive sat on that seat. Affable and avuncular, he was loved by all due to his unequalled philanthropy and concern for the other person. No wonder our monarch, Oba Aladetoyinbo Aladelusi shut markets in his remembrance. Seldom had any death shaken Akure to its nadir like Expensive’s.
For Ooye Development Initiatives, (ODI) Akure’s combine of Young Turks, Expensive’s death was another mortal blow, coming after this year January’s sudden departure of its president and icon, Muyiwa Esho. In December, 2020, at the Headmaster’s House, Akure people’s unofficial secretariat in Ishopo, Esho and a few of us had sat at nocturne, presiding over the decapitation of some roasted venison. Momentarily backing the entrance, he suddenly stood up and gave all gathered a nugget: never ever back the entrance. It could be lethal. Esho and Expensive seemed to have backed the entrance and thus allowing death to sneak in on them.
May the souls of these great sons of Akure rest in peace.
*Dr. Festus Adedayo, journalist and lawyer, writes from Ibadan