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13yrs after exit of a Lagos political kingmaker: Alh. Muftau Ayinde Ajisebutu

With the death of Alhaji Muftau Adekoya Ayinde Adejuwon Ajisebutu on Monday 18 August 2008; a chapter was closed in the politics of Lagos State particularly Ikorodu Division. His name is synonymous with politics. He has a long and deep history of controversy; a rudimentary trait of a thorough politician. His life was politics. Politics was his lifeline.

To Alhaji M A Ajisebutu nothing matters but politics. He was absolutely committed and ever loyal to a cause. He was generous to a fault. In the game of power, Alhaji Ajisebutu was never a burglar but an artist with an unsparing bluntness laced with courage. He was a resourceful politician who exhibited great prowess and determination in battles.

Alhaji M A Ajisebutu, fondly called Ewuwu, had given the whole of himself to politics at an early age, while in secondary school. An elderly member of his extended family recalled how young Ewuwu would join the enthusiastic crowd of party faithfuls campaigning for the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the 50s. He will leave the classroom and followed the Campaign train to Ikenne the hometown of Chief Awolowo. This explains his passion for politics and the extent he could go. He later became the Chairman of Action Group Youth for 8 years in Lagos State among other achievements.

Born on October 20 1936 to Alhaji Imam Abdul Wahab Oyenuga Ajisebutu and Alhaja Chief Alimotu Shadia Sholabomi Ajisebutu of Ikorodu Lagos State, he had his elementary education at Muslim School primary school ikorodu. He later proceeded to community pioneer secondary school Oriwu College from where he completed his secondary school education. He was subsequently employed in the service of Lagos City Council as a clerical officer. Having worked for almost 20 years, he retired voluntarily in 1978, this no doubt was in preparation for the coming general election coming up in 1979.

It is important to state from the outset that no attempt is made to present this piece as a comprehensive biography of Alhaji M A Ajisebutu rather it is complimentary of an observer in the form of a tribute to a political warrior, a gladiator of note, an astute statesman who was actively involved in politics and thereby contributed significantly to the development of Lagos State.

To the politically conscious and discerning students of history and politics, the announcement of Alhaji Ajisebutu’s transition to the great beyond on August 18 by the family clearly signalled the end of an era in Ikorodu politics. Doubtlessly his demise has brought about a vacuum in the politics of Ikorodu Division.

Ajisebutu was never rivaled; he could not have been. He was outstandingly rugged and dogged, making his political moves as if unconscious of the inherent danger in the terrain of politics. He seemed to have thronged on mindlessly. He was exceptionally brave and he demonstrated times without number. Whether the terrain was dispersive, light, contentious, traversable, focal, heavy, entrapping, encircled, or fatal, Ajisebutu fought on, engaging and attacking, isolating forces or uniting to form alliances and sometimes plundering for provisions like the military in battle. He displayed a good sense of the art of war even he committed what scholars of ” Power Game” would call unforgivable miscalculations in his political sojourn.

The late Alhaji Mufutau Ajiaebutu was a very distinct politician. When he dived, once again into partisan politics, after retirement in 1978, he proved his mettle which earned him the chairmanship of the old Ikorodu Local Government in 1980. Ewuwu had ruthlessly worked for the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) in Ikorodu and Lagos State to ensure victory at the poll and was consequently, on merit, appointed as the 1st Executive Chairman of Ikorodu Local Government in 1980 by the then Governor of Lagos State, late Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande.

Before the appointment, he chaired the board of Directors of the Lagos state’s Red Brick making industry LANCON, in Igbogbo/Baiyeku area of Ikorodu Local Government. He later relinquished the board’s chairmanship to become a member following his new appointment as the Chairman of Ikorodu Local Government.

Ever forward-looking, progressive, and committed Ajisebutu, as the new Council Chairman, swang promptly into action to actualize the UPN’s four-point cardinal programs in his domain. A true son of the soil and a respecter of culture and tradition; he was moved by the absence of a befitting modern market in Ikorodu. In those days the frontage of the Ayangburen palace constituted the centre of business transactions ( it was called Oja OBA). Ajisebutu was aversed to this ugly trend. He wanted a far better market environment. Being the head of Ayanbadejo Aiyele family of Itunmaja, he influenced and donated a portion of the Oleyo landed property to build the Ayangburen market at Sabo. The market was built by him at the cost of N300, 000. He was as prudent as generous and as transparent as accountable. A very honest political leader he was essentially public-spirited too.

In the health sector, he brought about a radical change. He built a primary health care center (PHC) in many electoral wards in Ikorodu division in order to improve the citizen’s health standards.

Alhaji Ajisebutu did not spare the problem of transportation, in addressing this, he embarked on the construction of new access roads to relieve traffic gridlock at some strategic points in Ikorodu. Some of the roads his administration constructed include Munirat Aleje street, CAC Road, Odugate street, etc, in short he stuck tenaciously to the principles of the UPN in every facet of life.

But the warrior in Alhaji M A Ajisebutu soon pitched him against the sitting Governor, Alhaji Jakande, Ewuwu was too blunt to be a politician in the context of Nigerian politics. He probably could have made a better Army General. His look was too stern, therefore making a smile a rare occurrence on his face.

But behind a tough look lies a man with a generous heart. A shy man humbled and passionate, indeed a patriot. He had everything but lacked the most fundamental of the law of power game. Deception, the most potent weapon in the game was absent in Ajisebutu’s arsenal. Robert Green in his masterpiece – The 48 laws of power asserts, ” power requires the ability to play with appearances. To this end, you must learn to wear many masks and keep a bag full of deceptive tricks. Deception and masquerade should not be seen as ugly or immoral…… Deception is developed art of civilization and the most potent weapon in the game of power,” this mantra was not well utilized by Alhaji Ajisebutu, if he did apply it, he did not do it too well for he was not a pretender. This however subject to further debate.

After ensuring the emergence of his cousin, Hon. Oladosu Osinowo as a member of Lagos State House of Assembly representing Ikorodu constituency 1, Alhaji Ajisebutu raced the stake, he lobbied, mobilized, and saw to the crowning of an Ikorodu man as speaker of the house against the calculation of Alhaji Jakande who wanted Hon. Peirera of Lagos Island constituency installed as Speaker. It was even said Alhaji Ajisebutu sought to impeach the Governor! He reportedly alleged Alhaji Jakande of civilian dictatorship.

His reaction against what he saw as a calculated attempt to make him irrelevant in the UPN of which he was the Assistant General Secretary in Lagos state was to decamp to the ruling party at the center an avowed opposition party as far as Lagos State is concerned.
It is instructive to note that Alhaji Ajisebutu was exceedingly instrumental to the party nomination of Alhaji Jakande as UPN Governorship flag bearer in 1979 general election. When Chief Obafemi Awolowo summoned a meeting of Lagos State chapter of the committee of friends to his Apapa park lane residence, in order to settle for a nominee among the trio of prince Onitiri, Alhaji Ganiu Dawodu, and Alhaji Lateef Jakande who were keen contestants then. It was Alhaji Ajisebutu who nominated Alhaji Lateef Jakande and swirly suggested that lots be cast, eyes witness account said he removed his kinsman bollar hat, the late Alokolaro to collates the votes cast.
Again Alhaji Ajisebutu was strongly visible in the enthronement of Sir Michael Otedola, the 2nd Executive Governor of the state. He was one of the key figures in SDP who assured Otedola of victory based on certain agreements and discord within the party hierarchy. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was the 3rd in that order that Ajisebutu made in the state. Although he parted ways with Tinubu in the year 2003, but while the collaboration lasted, the only issue in Ikorodu was Ajisebutu. He was the Governor’s father. And only his voice influenced Tinubu’s calculation or manipulation.
Some of his political allies have said he lost out of favor with Tinubu because of his strong desire to have an Ikorodu man nominated as the Alliance for Democracy’s Governorship candidate in Lagos state. The rest is history and only time will tell. His unfulfilled dream was to see an Ikorodu man sworn in as civilian Governor of Lagos State. Unfortunately, this was not to be.

Typical of every warlord, it is better to stand for something than nothing. Alhaji Ajisebutu’s patience reached a crescendo elastic limit in 2003 when he declared for the Akinfenwa faction of Alliance for Democracy. He worked vehemently for the party but they were outwitted by the Action Congress. It was a deadly blow. Ajisebutu’s political fortune instantly appeared to have suffered a very serious setback but this could only be measured in the material sense, he was not a character keen on wealth or material. He loves guts and sticks to it; damning anything.
Alhaji Ajisebutu, a political giant and a kingmaker must have trampled upon many toes while making many others. He clearly crushed many from actualizing their political dreams. To him, any lazy politician must not be accorded undeserving recognition. Politics to stress , should not be combined with any other profession, for it is a very skillful profession on its own. He detested opportunism and would bluntly tell anyone who cared to listen that after Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Pa Ajasin, only Chief Bola Ige was next as his leader.

Consciously or unconsciously, Alhaji Ajisebutu built many politicians in Ikorodu and Lagos State. So when he died on Monday August 18 2008, it was not a surprise but an admixture to see many bigwigs in the Action Congress (AC) trooping into his Olorunojowon residence to pay condolence, in fact his residence was partitioned into many sides members of the ruling party in the state (AC) and other members of the other opposition political parties in the state. In fact it was a very interested scenario.

While he was alive Alhaji Ajisebutu of blessed memory provoked a lot of agitations in Ikorodu politics to the extent that he was, by consensus tagged the Adedibu of Ikorodu. He was loathed as much as he was loved, dreaded as much as he was respected.
Paradoxically he was no less devoted to the Islamic religion, Alhaji Ajisebutu was the BALOGUN ADINNI of Oriwu Central Mosque Ikorodu where he worshiped throughout his life.

His life, like that of every great man that material possession is not “bad” in and of themselves, but as Socrates knew, the material realities we possess tend also to possess us. The more we have the more we want, and the more we want the more we are possess by our possession.
This suffices to say Ajisebutu was a philosopher and a good Muslim who fought in the manner he did, realizing that all was vanity. If he cared so much about material wealth, he probably has been a Yes man conscious only of material benefits at all times. But he was not one.

As Nietzsche wrote, “The value of a thing, sometimes, lies not in what one attains with it, but in what one pays for it what it costs us” Alhaji Ajisebutu’s value in Ikorodu politics should be objectively measured on the strength of not only what he had contributed to the polity but what it will cost the Division to get another political leader endowed with the sagacity, audacity, veracity, and voracity of M A Ajisebutu. Point blank !

Getting another Ajisebutu in Ikorodu and Lagos State will be Herculean. It is in this light that the POLITICAL WARRIOR should be appreciated and honored accordingly. As we remembered you today 18 August 2021 May Almighty Allah Subuana Tahalla in his infinite mercies forgives you all your iniquities and continue to grant you a very suitable place in Aljana- Fildaous. Amin Ya Allah.

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