A Peep Into Akinwunmi Bayode’s Age-long Political Mobilization In Lagos

By Sufuyan Ojeifo

In an environment where merit and excellence are often not sufficiently recognized, the danger of moral atrophy and loss of faith is inevitably birthed. In effect, no society can live without her dreamers, achievers, and folks who are driven by service.

Like adroit alchemists, they weave a delicate balance between and among the ethics of service, faith, governance, responsibility, and conviction. From this philosophical footing, they derive a flight plan that puts them in the arena of prestige and recognition.

In large part, this is the story of Chief Akinwumi Bayode, aka Otaloro, JP, educationist, politician, administrator, and security expert. No less a child of providence, a listening ear, uncommon discipline, strong convictions, unwavering focus, and almost a child-like faith in his beloved God remain his fortes.

Unassuming Chief Akinwumi Bayode comes from the background of a political family and started his active involvement in Lagos politics in 1988 as a member of the then committee of patriots (a political association) that metamorphosed into People’s Patriotic Party (PPP). It was one of the 13 political associations that sought registration with the then-electoral umpire called the National Electoral Commission, NEC.

Ever striving for involvement in projects that will lift a troubled society, he also had a stint with the National Republican Convention (NRC) where he aspired as Councilor in 1989, before moving to join the People’s Front (PF) and Primrose group of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) before the Governorship Elections that produced Sir Michael Otedola as governor of Lagos State.

Chief Akinwunmi Bayode

Significantly, after the disagreement between party leaders in SDP about sharing of appointments into positions with the gubernatorial candidate of the party, Chief Yomi Edu, at the home of Chief Alade Shonubi a.k.a (Alansho) in Parkview Ikoyi, Lagos, the party leaders commenced another round of meeting after Chief Yomi Edu left in annoyance refusing to cede to them who would become the SSG after elections.

Subsequently, a new decision was taken to vote NRC for governor after consultations with NRC leaders led by great Chief Hilario Babs Akerele, which paved the way for the emergence of Chief Michael Otedola as governor with just two Assembly members and SDP with 38, in a 40-member state parliament in Lagos. Chief Bayode was located in the circumference of the commixture of intricate politicking and delicate horse trading.

The essential Chief Bayode was also a delegate in the SDP Jos convention that produced Chief MKO Abiola as the presidential flagbearer of SDP in 1993. Here, he played an all-around important role in mobilizing the youth for that historic election before it was eventually annulled by General Ibrahim Babangida after Chief Abiola’s victory was about to be declared by Prof. Humphrey Nwosu, the NEC chairman.

After the unfortunate annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential poll outcome, and the eventual crisis that ensued, Chief Bayode got actively involved in the struggle with Senator Kofo Bucknor-Akerele, representing Lagos Central Senatorial Zone. He was at the core of the mobilization of the entire youths on Victoria Island, where he resided, to Ikeja during the twilight of the annulment.

It cannot be easily forgotten how on one occasion, three of Lagos youths were shot dead and several others wounded after the dictator General Sanni Abacha’s stern warning to the Governor to keep the protests in abeyance or he would do the needful.

After the proscription of SDP and NRC and the eventual flag-off of another round of transition by the junta and the registration of five political parties, Chief Bayode was an active member of the Imeri Group, led by Bode Olajumoke Ph.D., which culminated in the formation of the United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP) where he became the Eti-Osa Local Government Area Secretary after party congress in 1995. Chief Bayode’s story certainly reads like an adventure, but there is more. After General Abacha’s death on November 17, 1998, another vista of opportunity came while all pro-democracy activists came back. General Abdulsalami Alhaji Abubakar, who took over, then announced another round of political transition programme.

It was at this juncture that the first notable political amalgamation called G-37 was birthed under the former Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme.

After a series of accusations and counter-accusations about who to align with as regards politicians who were with Abacha during his heyday, Afenifere, a Yoruba Pan cultural organization pulled out of the G-37 which formed Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to form Alliance for Democracy (AD) led by Pa Ayo Adebanjo.

Not many would forget that the AD governorship primary election was keenly contested between then Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the late Engr. Funsho Williams with Chief Akinwunmi Bayode as a delegate in that historic primary election.

Ever since then, Chief Bayode has continued to play both openly and behind-the-scene roles in that political structure that started as AD to AC, ACN, until APC . He isn’t waning in hope for opportunities for recognition.

Chief Bayode was born on October 24 1963, in Kakuri, Kaduna State, and brought to Lagos by his parents in 1967 as a result of the civil war. Beyond a Diploma in Social Works and administration, which he bagged, he holds an LLB Law and an M.SC in Criminology and Security Studies with a Ph.D Law (in-view).

Chief Bayode’s rich work history traverses various fields and responsibilities. As an upcoming young man, he worked as a clerk in First Bank PLC and worked at Bandisc Production Company as General Manager.

He was Caretaker Committee Member/Supervisor for Budget Planning and Statistics in Iru, Victoria Island LCDA (2003- 04). He was also Supervisor for Education & Library Matters, Iru, V.I, LCDA (2004-07); Supervisor for Health, Iru, V.I, LCDA (2017-2021); LCDA Chairmanship Aspirant – 2021, 2017, 2011; Foundation Member – AD, AC, ACN, APC.

Chief Bayode also served in several ad hoc committees at both state and LG levels in Lagos State, prior to the 2023 general elections.

Not many will forget that Chief Bayode played an important role in Senator Oluremi Tinubu’s victory during her election in 2011, 2015, and 2019 as one of her key coordinators in Iru, Victoria Island LCDA When there was a crisis regarding a chairmanship aspirant who forged and perjured severally in 2017 and 2021, Chief Bayode wrote a petition to the party state secretariat and Senator Oluremi Tinubu’s senatorial office in Ebute Meta. Surprisingly, to date, no recognition has come his way from the First Lady or any other quarters.

Having been recommended for cabinet appointments on two different occasions by a highly respected monarch and NADECO patriots in Lagos and of late, to federal level, still and curiously, nothing has happened.

But Chief Bayode, although miffed, doesn’t have to lose hope. This is because the scope and sweep of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s politics regularly surprise his loyalists. The Jagaban does not forget.

What’s more, President Tinubu is backed by a brilliant and workaholic chief of staff in the person of Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, who has the ear of the President. He is a personality who will certainly not forget a kindred spirit driven by service, like that of Chief Akinwumi Bayode, JP. It is the political tradition of the Tinubu political family, which is rooted in the politics of prebendalism. This, I must point out, is not peculiar to the Tinubu political dynasty. Political accommodation is a global phenomenon and cosmopolitan reality.

There is, therefore, hope for the expertise of Chief Bayode to be tapped at any of the levels of government. He must needs to keep hope alive as he continues to ply his political trade, consistently and persistently keeping his eyes on the balls of service.

 

■ Ojeifo is Publisher of THE CONCLAVE (online newspaper): ojwonderngr@yahoo.com, Suffy Ojeifo (Fb), @SUFUYANOJEIFO