Prominent Nigerians, including governors, federal and state lawmakers as well as captains of industry, who thronged to the Oyo State capital, Ibadan, for the burial of the immediate past Governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, who died last Thursday in Lagos from the coronavirus were treated to an unexpected spectacle after Ajimobi’s widow, Florence Ajimobi lashed out publicly against his successor, Seyi Makinde, whom she accused of lies telling and playing politics with her late husband’s death.
Insisting that she was just setting the records straight because of what she described as baseless stories being peddled by the Makinde administration following the death of her husband, Florence Ajimobi revealed that Makinde has neither visited the family nor sent them a message since her husband was hospitalized and even after the burial last Saturday.
“My husband took ill on May 22, and he was hospitalized and I was reading in the papers that the Governor of Oyo State, His Excellency, Seyi Makinde, claimed he called me. But he didn’t. Even if he had called me and I didn’t pick his calls, I don’t have his number and I have never spoken with him on the phone. He could have sent me a text message for record purposes.
Responding to the governors’ condolences, the widow expressed anger at the treatment meted out to her late husband by the Makinde administration, in the last one month of his illness, telling Makinde not to play politics with the death of her husband and to allow him to rest in peace.
“Referring to the Oyo State Deputy Governor, Rauf Olaniyan, who led the delegation of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) to the Ajimobi’s home, Mrs. Ajimobi said: “I don’t have your number and I have never spoken with you on phone. But it’s important we put the records straight because this is a family of politicians and I don’t want anybody to tarnish my husband’s name and well my husband is gone. It could be me or anyone else tomorrow.
“Mr. Deputy (Governor), my husband never had anything against the governor [Makinde] or anyone else. We were in different parties but he was an elder statesman and he slept on the ground. Life in itself is vanity upon vanity. Either you are PDP or APC, the man is dead and he has been buried.” She called on the state government to stop peddling lies about him and the family because he is no longer available to defend himself.
But in a swift response, the state government denied Mrs. Ajimobi’s accusations, saying the Makinde administration made several efforts to reach out to the Ajimobi family, despite being kept out of the loop about his hospitalization and even after his death. A close aide to Makinde told Huhuonline.com that contrary to the claims of the widow, the Makinde administration did not play politics with Ajimobi’s death. The aide, who elected anonymity because he was not authorize to comment on the issue, disclosed that from the time the former governor was diagnosed of COVID-19 till his death, the Ajimobi family never officially informed the state government as required by basic standards of protocol.
According to him, any information the state government knew about Ajimobi’s illness and subsequent death was gleaned either from media reports or third parties. On the raging controversy over the alleged refusal by the Makinde administration to allow Ajimobi to be buried at his Agodi property, the aide said Makinde was first contacted by a top presidency official to find out if Ajimobi could be interred at the disputed Agodi property, but the governor refused on grounds that there is a pending case in court, filed by the late Ajimobi, challenging government’s decision to revoke the former governor’s decision to allocate the property, owned by the state, to himself.
He explained that shortly after Ajimobi’s death last Thursday, the governor had given the approval for his burial at the home of the deceased in Oluyole Estate, Ibadan, and was therefore surprised to learn that the family had decided to bury him at the Ajimobi Central Mosque, Ibadan.
The late Ajimobi was buried at the Senator Ishaq Abiola Ajimobi Central Mosque at Oke Ado, Ibadan, at noon after the traditional Muslim prayers. The burial rites of the late Deputy National Chairman (South) of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), which held yesterday morning, was performed by the Chief Imam of Ibadanland, Sheikh AbdulGaniyy Abubakar Agbotomokekere, with the support of the renowned Islamic preacher, Sheikh Muyideen Bello, and the Chairman, Muslim Community of Oyo State, Alhaji Kunle Sanni.