Friday, 12 August 2016

How my late mum, Emife raised me from nothing to something with £37 — Gen. David Jemibewon | Says “I was dull in school”


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General David Jemibewon to Asabeafrika...'I have been getting a rude shock before my birthday in the last two Julies of 2015 and 2016. I pray next one wont be like this'

The Month of July is the month many good and otherwise things happened to Elder Statesman and former Adjutant General of the Nigerian Army, General David Medayese Jemibewon (CFR, Mni). Jemibewon is a former Governor of Western State of Nigeria and former Police Affairs Minister under President Olusegun Obasanjo’s civilian regime. He was born on July 20, 1940. He lost his first wife and mother of his first 5 children on July 22, 2015. And this year, as he birthed in Lagos for the one year anniversary program of his first wife, Madam Comfort Jemibewon (Nee Oni) the news of the peaceful demise of his beloved mom, Mama Rachael Emife Jemibewon in her sleep on Thursday July 21st reached him.
Although Mama passed away at the ripe age of 106 but the General who is her first son was still very much distraught.  General Jemibewon who was appointed Military Administrator of the Western States of Nigeria between August 1975 and March 1976 and later became the first Military Administrator of Oyo State after Oyo, Ogun and Ondo states were carved out of the old western states between March 1976 and July 1978 under the military regime of General Olusegun Obasanjo later became a Minister of Police Affairs between 1999 and year 2000 under the Civilian regime of President Olusegun Obasanjo. He is reputed to be the minister who created what is now known as the Police Service Commission (PSC). The General, who is now the Rector of Jemibewon International Academy Iyah-Gbedde, gave his mum a befitting funeral attended by the high and mighty in Nigeria between Wednesday August 3 and Friday August 5, it was a great event that drew the cream-de-la-cream of Nigeria to Iyah-Gbedde in Kogi State-North Central Nigeria.
Your Africa’s Number 1 Celebrity Encounter blog, Asabeafrika caught up with General David Medayese Jemibewon inside one of the living rooms of his Iyah-Gbedde Country home in the late hours of Friday, August 5 as he told us the moving story of how his late Mother, Mama Rachael Emife Jemibewon raised him through thick and thin to become somebody in life. The General who moved in and out of emotion as he spoke to us praised his mother endlessly wishing her a peaceful rest in her final abode. Enjoy the excerpts.


The General set to speak with Asabeafrika


How would you describe your late mom, Rachael Emife Jemibewon?
Thank you very much for finding the time to be present during the burial of my mother, let me just make a correction not a serious error anyway, actually my mom died on the 21st of July not 22nd. Just like perhaps anybody who happens to have great respect for his parents, I think that I am grateful to the Almighty God for the efforts of my parents, my dad who died in 1990, and my mom who died and was buried today. I say that I thank God and thank them because, at the time I went to school, it wasn't too easy. In fact to the best of my knowledge, in this area, I was perhaps the first to have attended a non government school. I went to Offa Grammar School in 1955. And this area being a part of the north, most brilliant chaps in this area, who went to secondary schools before going to the university, attended government schools. They attended provincial Secondary Schools.

A banner of Mama Rachael Emife Jemibewon

Okenne Junior Provincial Secondary school that was in the old Kabba province, Government College, KC, Government College, Zaria, these were the few Government Colleges available. But of course, each province in the north had provincial school. But because of the limited spaces in these schools, admission was restricted. So when I was in standard 6 in 1954 at Ayetoro here, the year I should have taken exams into these government schools but i was not allowed to take the common entrance. The reason given was that, I was too old to go to the university.

Mama in a BMC Val Limo on her last journey on earth



The General paying the last respect to a woman who raised him from nothing to something

So going back specifically to the question that you have asked, I do not think or let me put it this way, I happen to have enjoyed the advantage of which not too many people had the opportunity. The immediate junior brother of my father, happen to be a staff of UAC and the headquarters of UAC in those days was Burukutu in the present day Delta state. I don't know how it happened, but I was sent to him. So, I started school in 1949 at CMS primary school, Burukutu. But unfortunately I was sick a year or so after, but because I could speak broken English which was what was spoken in the riverine areas where I was coming from. I think they took it to mean that I was clever when in fact, I was not. When I was brought home, my father was not enthusiastic about sending me to school because the school in my village had just started. However, the teacher who established the school and who was leading the Baba Egbe, his name is Francis Ademola Fagbemi from a place called Ekinrinade, in Ijumu Local Government Area which is my local government in the old Kabba province. He tried to convince my father and when my father finally agreed, I was sent to school. So you could see that fortune played a great part in my life.
After finishing primary school, i came to Ayetoro here which was the only place that had Standard 6 around here other than, Mopa and Kabba at that time.

The General in the heart of the chart with Asabeafrika and Media Colleague, Paul Ukpabio of The Nation Newspaper
General David Medayese Jemibewon & his pretty wife, Chief (Mrs) Dupe Jemibewon

When I was in the school in my village, I wasn't too bright I must be honest. And the reason was because they admitted me into primary one. In Burukutu one had to start from something before primary one. That is where I was before coming back to Ayetoro. But when I got back, I was put in primary one. It wasn't too terrible, but I was just managing and we were just nine in the class. But when I reflect now, I don't know how, but I was never first, second or third, but by the time I moved from primary four to primary five and we came to Ayetoro here, I was one of those who were in the first league. I was doing well. By the time I was in standard 6 in 1954, in fact, I was teaching other boys and girls who came to my village to read for their primary 5 and 6 at Ayetoro.

General David Jemibewon to Asabeafrika...'The Nigerian situation is so phathetic politically that i had to invest in education to help mold character of new Generation Leaders'
General David Medayese Jemibewon to Asabeafrika...'I think you should go and investigate why lots of people came for my mother's funeral on a week day'

But like I said earlier, when we were to take common entrance examination which used to be based on your performance, somehow the headship of the school felt that by my age, it was not likely that I will end up in University. However, the deputy to him who happened to be our class teacher had a different opinion to him. I never heard of grammar school before. I had no clue but somehow, honestly, how they entered me into Offa Grammar School, I don't know, the exam was still done in Kabba. As we wrote the exam, we were interviewed that same day. And then few weeks later, I was admitted into the school. If you have a copy of the burial programme you will see that aspect where I wrote something about my mother. And so even today, by the time you use the exchange rate, 37 pounds fifteen shillings was not a little money at that time. That was the school fees to e a border which I was. General Alani Akinrinade was a year my senior. That is why I said that without the support of my mother, even though my father would have loved me to go to such a school, it would have been very difficult for him, to send me to such a school. It wasn't easy at all.

The GDA signs Mama's Condolence register on arrival at Iyah-Gbedde
Some Women Group from Aiyetoro-Gbedde welcoming Mama's body into the event

The only thing we could produce here was tobacco, coffee and other palm products like yam. And so knowing my mother, the effort she put to assist my father for the purpose of my schooling, I cannot but feel very touched by her departure. But we must show gratitude to God for she lived for 106 years, and that until she gave up, there were no signs of illness. My first wife (Mrs. Comfort Jemibewon) died July 22 last year, and I was in Lagos, for her first year anniversary remembrance and the last born of my mother who is a lady, I gave the instruction that she and one of the wives of my junior brother who is now deceased and the last of the Jemibewons should come down to Lagos to attends the event. Just the three of them; they left that 21st, if Mama had showed any signs, they wouldn't have left her. In fact when they got to Lagos, those of us in Lagos, were the once that informed them that the Mama you left behind had gone beyond. So I give gratitude to God and my mom, it doesn't matter how old you are, if you end up going to hospital, it creates extra expenses and anxiety, in the sense that we will be checking at the hospital daily to ensure that she is well taken care of and so on, so you may say that the answer took a winding explanation, but I feel grateful and a little bit sad in the sense that the only mom I know is gone.

Mama's Condolence Register signed by Eminent Nigerians
The General & The GDA after the Encounter

 Your lifestyle told me one thing, it is good to be nice to people. I saw the dignitaries here, even billionaires, who left all they must have loved to do on two prominent week days (Thursday & Friday) to come to Iyah Gbedde and be with you to attend the various funeral ceremonies of your mum.  People like Jide Omokore, Tunde Ayeni, Segun Awolowo and others. Why are you so much revered?

It is difficult for me to explain, it’s for you to probably come up with an idea about it. First Tunde Ayeni is a relation of mine. The father of his mother trained me as a little boy but I was just a little boy then. I was the youngest out of the many chaps that were with him. Again your question is pungent because not all those who are related have good relationship. Also at one time, Tunde went to school while staying with me. Again like I said, we do have families where son and father don't agree or children of the same father don't agree. So we thank God for the observation you made, maybe they are happy with me, and I am happy with them (laughs). So that is one explanation. Also, some great people came, like a former Commissioner, a friend of mine who is now 85; he just arrived this evening, a Prince of Osogbo, Prince Oyekanmi, who is living in Osogbo now. All the events have taken place before he got here. I had wished he didn't come because he is an old man. I didn't invite him. He said he saw it in the papers this morning and so he jumped into his car to be here. There is Chief S. P. A. Ajibade, he is from Ado Ekiti, a lawyer, he was my Attorney-General (As Governor of old Western Region) and he came. There is Alhaji Adetunji from Ibadan, he came. He was actually the first person I met when I became a governor then.

General David Jemibewon to Asabeafrika...'Mama never showed a sign that she was going. She died Peacefully'

There is one Alhaji Inaolaji. That is not his real name, but that is what we call him. His son came. He too is above 80. If they don't love or like me, they probably would not have come. I know somebody that would have loved to come. Goddie Ibru for instance, didn't know what to do because over the weekend, he too had a burial to attend to. His brother Senator Felix Ibru was being buried in Delta State. The former deputy governor (Professor Ituama), first former Attorney General of Delta State for about 8 years, under Dr Ibori, and another 8 years as Deputy Governor under ex Governor Uduaghan happen to have been one of my lecturers in University of Lagos. And he felt he wanted to come. And while he called me and lamenting as to what to do, because he is also Urhobo like Goddie Ibru, I had to tell him not to worry, if possibly he should just send me a condolence letter which I could publish in the burial programme. (I will be glad if you can include this) Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark sent a delegation of two people.

Mama's Last Insignia
General DM Jemibewon loves Mum forever

With such type of people, that is what you can’t buy with money, incidentally, I do not know why the man likes me so much because one, he made me a member of his foundation which graduated through a process, he established a University, he made me the chairman board of trustees of the university. When he launched a fund about two years ago, he made me the chairman of the organizing committee and a chief guest of honor was the then President Goodluck Jonathan, the chairman of the occasion was General Yakubu Gowon, and American activist Jesse Jackson gave the speech for the occasion, and he made me a chairman in the committee, where they were not less than three former Governors, six Senators and General Haruna who is my senior. And I asked chief, ‘of all this great people, why me?’ He said that my name has never been associated with any fraud. I always say sometimes you talk to some people and they say that does not bring money, well, I feel good about it. That is because, people in my family come and tell me that ‘daddy, I went to a place and when we were introducing ourselves, people were asking are you related to the same General Jemibewon?’ That makes me feel grateful to God.

“There is a Colonel here who wanted to go to the House of Representatives; he would have been the best candidate here if we really wanted the best material. But I told him that he should not waste his money. I told him that I have a disease and he suffers the same disease which is the fact that we both have military background. And because we earn our salary legitimately, we don't have the time to waste money bribing people to vote for us”.


And The General lost emotion for Mum as Mama's body was set to be lowered in the grave. His younger sister, Madam Janet Owadokun & his 'Son' Barrister Olatunde Ayeni consoled him

Why I built Jemibewon Academy
I took a walk round Jemibewon International School today and I can see the quality of  educational facilities at that school as it struck me, and some of the students, future leaders that are being molded there, students who spoke intelligently, why did you decide to contribute to education sector in such a magnanimous way, and why in a rural set up like this?
First, the exact name of the school is Jemibewon International Academy. I have found out that while politics is supposed to improve our society, the way we operate politics here is almost anti-development. Let me tell you something quickly, I tried to go to the senate. In fact it was not my wish but people came to talk to me. And I found out that to attain a political position in this country, you had to spend money. And that itself breeds corruption. And of course I didn't need it for various reasons. There is a Colonel here who wanted to go to the House of Representatives; he would have been the best candidate here if we really wanted the best material. But I told him that he should not waste his money. I told him that I have a disease and he suffers the same disease which is the fact that we both have military background. And because we earn our salary legitimately, we don't have the time to waste money bribing people to vote for us. And since I failed to go, my believe is that you my friend will fail. In fact I hope you were here the other day, do you know some people who had not voted for him (Colonel) still came back to say that they voted for him and wanted  money (laughs)! So I advised them that when they get the money, reserve something for the future, even if you cannot be a  permanent member of a political party, establish a club where you can go and socialize and so on. So if something happens and the political party does not exist again, since you have given a name to the club, that is not associated with the party but the basis of forming it was politics, you could continue to enjoy it. But they will want to share money immediately money is given out. No reserve for the future. And some of the slogans for PDP were awkward. For instance they say “PDP! Power to the people! And the youths will say ‘now, now, now, now’. In other words, they don't want to look into the future.

Pall Bearers carrying Mama's body to the last destination
General David Jemibewon to Asabeafrika...'My mum paid my school fees of £37 pounds, 15 Shillings for 5 Consecutive Years'

When I looked into all these, I therefore said to myself, that if I am to live my life to help people known and unknown, born and yet to be born, the best way is to go into education. I had the intention of either building a school or a medical facility, so I took a decision on one. I am not a doctor, so even if I build a hospital, I will have to employ doctors and no doctor will be willing to come into this bush in a rural area. But I know that if people know me in this country and if they respect me, knowing that I come from this bush, and this place now is not even as bushy as it was when I went to school, so why don't I just start a school here?. So that is why I establish Jemibewon International Academy. Of course, many people tried to convince my wife that I must be mad to locate a school in my rural area. That I should have built the school in Abuja and on a daily basis, I will be carrying money in big basket to the bank. But it’s true; it’s not been easy because for every N3 I spend in the school, it is only N1 that comes from parents so far. There is no month that I do not spend about N1.2m here. But I do know that the future holds great prospect because I went to Offa Grammar School and from the history of that school which we know, there were those who contributed 6 pence, there were those who contributed 1 shilling. It is through their magnanimous contribution and foresight that people like us became educated. Let me also leave something for posterity.

General David Medayese Jemibewon (CFR, Mni)
The GDA, The General & Mr. Paul Ukpabio of The Nation Newspaper

(Watch out for Part 2 of the Jemibewon Exclusive titled “My Biggest Fear for Nigeria” on this blog shortly)

Gbenga Dan Asabe

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