Saturday, 16 July 2016

At 80, I have swallowed Lions who wanted to swallow me — Chief Abiola Ogundokun + How he spent 3 Years in his mother’s womb

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Chief Abiola Ogundokun to Asabeafrika...'Life is not all about what people say about you but what your conscience dictates to you'
Chief Abiola Abiona Akinnpenu Ogundokun is a famous Nigerian politician and media practitioner of over 5 decades. This Iwo, Osun State (South West Nigerian) born political titan is seen from two sides like a coin. While some view Chief Ogundokun as a very controversial figure others at the other side of the coin will rather describe him as an extra-ordinary entrepreneur with investment in real estate, media, politics and industry. Chief Ogundokun came into limelight in the early 70s (1972) when Juju Music Maestro Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey (MFR) waxed a special album in honor of Iwo, the  local home town of Ogundokun in Osun State—South West Nigeria.
The Juju Music Lord used Ogundokun’s personality in that popular album to illustrate the royalty and wealth associated with Iwo as a town. That was the beginning of the enigma called Abiola Ogundokun. He will later feature prominently in national politics via the regime of President Shehu Shagari where he played the role of Publicity Secretary of the ruling NPN party at the time.  However, that role didn’t give Ogundokun much limelight than the one he played during the regime of late General Sani Abacha where Ogundokun through his magazine, CONSCIENCE International played the role of the image maker  cum image launderer of that unpopular regime at several forum in the Diaspora. 

There is more to the name and personality of Abiola Ogundokun than you will ever know. On Thursday July 7, 2016, the Balogun Musulumi of Iwo land clocked 80.
Your soar away Africa’s number 1 Celebrity Encounter blog, Asabeafrika paid the Chief a courtesy visit at his Lagos home in the heart of Festac town where Chief told us the story of his life which looks more like one scripted for a good thriller movie. Enjoy the excerpts. In this Part 1 of the exclusive encounter, we bring you the entire story of Chief Ogundokun’s social and political lifestyle in the last 50 years. Ogundokun who is also a stalwart of PDP has just resigned from the party.  He told us why. 

Ogundokun as the Apesin Ola of Erin Osun land

Chief you clocked 80 years on earth today, July 7. How would you describe life at 80?
I thank God for sparing my life as regards what I am; against the wishes of enemies who never see anything good in honesty, dedication and struggle to ensure justice in our society. I thank God for making me what I am. One thing about me is that I don’t ever celebrate birthdays because I prefer going into prayers. On such days, I go into prayers but some people believe they still have to pay you homage and they do come around and you have to just do little and the best you can to make them feel honored with their presence and respect for you.

The GDA with Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey (MFR) The Man who Made Chief Abiola Ogundokun famous since 1972

Can you share with us the greatest lesson life taught you at 80?
The journey of 80 has been a very turbulent journey; highly educative and a highly well guided life of discipline. If you live a life where you run away from injustice and corruption, you will enjoy your later years of life because there is nobody who can say ‘yes, he took my money’. Or ‘I had a business with him and he didn’t do me right or he chop my money’. What life has taught me in one way is that you must love God, you must respect God, you must obey God and you must do justice to your fellow human being no matter what you do. Even if enemies rise up against you, you will conquer. And that is why people fear my existence because when I go into war with people I always win and no matter what they say, there is always that fact that debunks the falsehood they try to wrap around me. When there is nothing to talk about, they tell lies but one good thing is that with your good record, there is nothing the world will say that will work except you are equally in the bondage of deception. Well, I will say with all due respect, that the major thing that I know should be the key mind of every human being is that ‘you should know God. When you know God, you will do justice, you will do everything right.  And God will protect you no matter how powerful your enemy or the opposition may be’. I have contested elections several times in my life I have never lost one. It is the making of God, not me. I have contested so many battles, I have gone into war launched by people but they get disgraced at the end of the day. I am no God. I have seen lions, they come to fight but I swallow lions instead of the lions swallowing me. So, the biggest experience I have learnt in my life is knowing God and serving him. Being honest and providing for the less privileged people in your society. Whatever money you have, don’t see yourself as a rich man, use it for your fellow human beings when you don’t have let them know. Don’t go borrowing and don’t go stealing. Don’t do anything that is going to deny others of their rights. Whatever people say about you let your conscience guide you. It is not really what people say about you but what your conscience dictates and what you do right inside you.

The GDA meets the Balogun Musulumi of Iwo Land at home on his 80th birthday, July 7

How I Spent 3 years in mum’s womb
Ten years ago, I paid you homage in your country home in Iwo and I couldn’t imagine the huge love local people have for you. It is like anytime you come around your home automatically becomes a mecca of sort. Why are you so passionate about Iwo?
Well, Iwo is my home. I was born in a village after three years of my mother carrying me in her stomach. I spent three years in pregnancy. She delivered me by the bush path where she was buying cocoa. My mother was a produce merchant. Delivering me three years after pregnancy is the reason they named me ‘Akinpennu’. And delivering me by the foot path (of the road) is the main reason they call me ‘Abiona’. I am also Abiola, Oladepo and other names. One thing about my birth is that my father and mother lived a very kind hearted life. They were so good to people, they are peace makers and peace lovers. I inherited all these traits and principles from my parent. In my home town and in my life, I have settled problems between people more than me doing any other thing in life. And you see, I stay with my people. Many of my colleagues and contemporaries were afraid to build their house in Iwo. I built my house back in 1960s in Iwo town and my house is the first three storey building built with a block wall. I built my first housing estate in 1977 which was burnt in 1983 on the allegation that I was part of the instrument used to remove the then Chief Bola Ige and his government, which is not true because we didn’t rig the election. And you see when you stay with your people, you grow with them, you share their problems with them. They love you whenever you come around and whatever you have, you share with them and that make them love you the more. You see, there is poverty all over the world and Iwo is not exceptional, so, what I do is that whenever I go home, the little I have I carry with me. Nobody in Iwo land will tell anybody that he came to me for assistance and I denied him. I make sure that I treat every case with uttermost passion. Many people come with deception, with falsehood and we have continued to do things for them but in recent times we are becoming careful to find out before we give. People want jobs; I do my little best to help them wherever it is possible to find job for them.

The New Olu Iwo, Oba Akanbi recognizes Chief Abiola Ogundokun as Iwo's biggest Image Maker

Let’s talk about your social life, in the 80s you were very popular on the social scene that the Juju Music Maestro, Commander now Evangelist Ebenezer Obey Fabiyi (MFR) did a track on you and Iwo in his OCD58 album?
(Cuts in) That album was done in 1972
Wao! 1972? Are you saying you have started making money as at then?
I don’t want to claim that I was one of the few most popular socialites in Nigeria. We have been in the frontline; right from the ancient times of people before Ebenezer Obey. Peole like Haruna Ishola, Yussuf Olatunji, IK Dairo, Abalaki, Eric Enuoha in Central Hotel, Yaba and Victor Olaiya and many others. We have been in the forefront of making life good for them (Musicians) because God blessed us and when Obey and others like Tatalo of Ibadan became my favorites, every week you will see us at Obey’s joint at Yaba and every week, we go there to dance. We promoted Obey like anything and we thank God that today, Obey is a child of God and he is still very sweet in his music. He waxed two special records for me. Like the Iwo Olodo Oba you just mentioned is the first album he did for me in 1972 and then you will remember in 1974 he waxed another one titled “Around the World” where he sang ‘Awa gbe ere wa d’America, Abiola ni Biola Omo Ogundokun’. 

Chief Abiola Ogundokun to Asabeafrika....'No journalist will ever say i didn't pay him before sacking him'

And that is why Mutiu (Obey’s talking drummer) said ‘Ko sibi t’ieti n jaiye, ko ba ja’merica, cruising global, ko sibi t’ietin jaiye’. That is the special talking drum for me. We thank God; you see it got to a stage that even when they want to engage Obey, Sunny Ade, Sikiru Ayinde Barrister they will ask ‘have you been able to invite so-so set of socialites?’ and when they are able to get us there, they are easily ready to go and play there because they know we would do justice to them (Musicians) and we will enrich their pockets. God gave it to us and we were able to help so many people. We became so popular in Nigeria. I cannot but thank those musicians too for recognizing my patronage and singing my praise. It brought me so much fame. My present traditional ruler (Olu Iwo) said to me that there is nobody like Ogundokun, he propagated Iwo to the whole world. Up till now, he tells everybody that; and that he believes he should give me the respect and love that he extends to me because he is asking for hands of fellowship in the progress of Iwo and developing Iwo. I have never seen such a wonderful traditional ruler like the present Adewale Akanbi the Oluwo of Iwo, the Emperor of Greater Iwo who is there now

The GDA hands over Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey's CD where he praised Chief Abiola Ogundokun to the Chief as his 80th birthday gift which he appreciated so much

How I enjoyed my celebrity status for 50 years
How would you describe social life in Nigeria of your younger age? How was the social scene at the time you made parties thick for famous musicians?
Age is not stopping me but religion has catch up with me because I have to spend more time serving God than those social things. And now, it is not the same thing. In those days, you could go out at night for your parties and nobody stops you. Today is a life of crime that you have to be very, very careful. You have to spend more time at home, talking to God, praying at night and in the morning. So, the lifetime was so sweet, so good that you even see women fighting over you. When you don’t even know them from Adam, they claim you are their boyfriend when you have never talked to any of them. It was so sweet. It was so sweet. We enjoyed it. Dynamic, young and handsome men we were, and you know in those days I wear tosudo with bow tie and my suit is always a special designer. My perfume and all paraphernalia of fashion were extra-ordinary; when I move pass you; you can have a smell that you cannot compare.

The Edition of Chief Ogundokun's CONSCIENCE Magazine which seeks to demistify Professor Wole Soyinka

How Obasanjo made me to lose my London garment factory
How would you describe your experience as a socialite for 50 years?
It is good to be socially connected, it exposes you to people. You get to know more people and through that you do get business too. I won’t deny the fact that my social exposition through musicians also exposed me to business. Like I did a lot of contracts for the (Nigeria) Army during (Late General) Murthala Mohammed’s regime; when you see the Supply and Transport (S&T) unit of the army today, I designed all their logo and their alliance, I provided it for them and I made good money. And I was able to build my first housing estate; the money was from my garment business because I used to own a garment factory in London at the time. I sold it when I was elected to the constituent assembly in 1977. Obasanjo pleaded with Nigerians to stop bringing imported goods to Nigeria and in obedient to him, I obliged. In those days, I travel London-Nigeria three times a week.

Chief Abiola Ogundokun to Asabeafrika...'People fear my existence because i dont lose battles i wage with them'

And I was selling to Balogun Market women, they will be waiting for me at the airport and they will just clear whatever I bring because there were so many women, so many traders who were my retailers. The business then was fantastic; they collect today, tomorrow you are paid. So, I made that good money from garment business until in obedience, through Obasanjo’s clarion call that Nigerians should stop bringing in imported fabrics. And I fend for it, I was a member of the constitutional assembly in 1977 and that was how I gave up my garment factory. Maybe that money would have grown today, maybe I would have had too much of money. But I am happy that despite the fact that I gave up my garment business I went into other contracts and businesses and I bounced back. I played politics early enough. I was the Publicity Secretary of the NPN. I was financial and publicity secretary of the NNA Youth Alliance in 1964, 65, 66 until we were pushed out of government. Maitama Sule was my President of the Youth Wing; Obatolu at the center was national publicity secretary. The party is an offshoot of NDCN/DP coalition.  With all these, I got exposed and became a national figure and highly respected because the good thing about it was that I put journalism and professionalism into my activities which helped very, very much. I can never thank those who groomed me very well in journalism. People like late Akinsuroju. My very good friend Peter Ajayi was very good to me, he was my News Editor and when I write he appreciates my skills.

Chief Abiola Ogundokun with First Executive Governor of Osun State, Senator Isiaka Adeleke aka Serubawon'

I remember Segun (Osoba) we were together. Segun grew up in Oshogbo.  That is Segun Osoba, we were all colleagues on the job though politically, we don’t belong to the same path. I am of the NCNC breed and I thank God the politics there is politics of honesty not chop-chop. We don’t hunt after people in the NCNC. But one thing that is killing Nigeria that I want to talk about is that politics of Nigeria is such a destructive politics. There is no government that can rule and succeed unless politics of bitterness is eradicated and politics of love is preached and exhibited by individual political class. I do not see why a government will not succeed. Americans don’t destroy their government; Britain don’t destroy theirs either but here, it is ‘if I don’t get it, I destroy’. And that has been in existence for long from the first republic up till now. When are we going to succeed? It is when the government understands that they have to work hand in hand with the opposition and the opposition must embrace the government. That is the time we will be able to solve our problems. I am not happy about what is happening in Nigeria today; everybody is suffering for it and I don’t know what this is going to become of Nigeria. I can only beg the government to take it softly and find a way of reconciling and settling the major various inconveniences being created because of disunity among the political class.

The Chief shows the GDA an article inside his new edition of Conscience Magazine

At 80 you said you are retiring from politics, what are you going to be doing now?
I am now a father of all politicians. I don’t belong to any political party again. I am now a statesman.
At 80, what are those things you normally do before that you can’t do any longer?
I am actively doing everything good. You can see I am still fit at 80. I still write and publish my magazine. I go out to events whenever I get invitations and like I said earlier, the ability to socialize is still very much there but religion has caught up with me. I must talk to my God every time now and that is the essence of living a life.

One of Chief Ogundokun's editions of CONSCIENCE Magazine

What about your children and grand children?
 They are all happy and I am happy with them. My grand children called me this morning and they sang ‘happy birthday to grandpa’ to me (burst into hearty laughter). I was on the bed when they called. Most of them, about six-seven years old I don’t know how they did it. They all assembled themselves at 5:40 am this morning and rendered a song for me.

Chief Abiola Ogundokun to Asabeafrika...'In 80 years of living, i have swallowed many lions that wanted to swallow me'

What about your meal regime for 80, what do you eat that gives you this trim stature?
I try to eat any good food that comes my way. I don’t think about problems. Take problems off your life, don’t think at all. Don’t create hypertension for yourself. When any problem comes, accept it as one of those things in life and don’t run beyond your level. Don’t short cut. And this is very important, wait for God’s time to come. Be disciplined. Good food. Good sleep. And above all, be honest and helpful to the society.

Chief Abiola Ogundokun in a rare pose with the GDA of Asabeafrika

MKO Abiola was my greatest friend
Your 80th birthday today also coincided with late MKO Abiola’s 18th year’s anniversary. How would you describe the legacy of MKO?
You know MKO happens to be my very good friend. He is a very nice man. I am one of the trusted friends of Abiola. Abiola happens to be one of my highly trusted friends, very good friend and when I was opening my housing estate in 1977 at Iwo, all of them were there, Abiola, Shagari—that was my first housing estate in life and it was Admiral Dele Abiodun (Adawa Supper) who performed that day. Ha, Abiola is a big loss. The greatest loss; Nigeria could have been better if that man was allowed to be president. But it is the same Yoruba people that lured Abacha, the same Yoruba.

MKO Abiola; His Death Anniversary is Chief Abiola Ogundokun's birth date and Birthday

But you were Abacha’s friend; would you say he was wrongly advised on MKO Abiola?
Well, it was ambition. When they lured him (Abacha) and the greatest mistake that happened again after his death was the fact that Al-Mustapha trusted Abdulsalami Abubakar and brought him in when actually, Mustapha was asked to take over the reins of power.
So, Al-Mustapha would have taken over instead of giving it to Abdulsalami who came in and rubbished him?
Apparently they wanted him but the struggle between him and Jeremiah Oseni caused a big trouble. Jeremiah was to take it but they didn’t like themselves.
I guess Jeremiah Oseni was a lieutenant General and the highest ranking officer at the time?
Yes, they didn’t like each other. So, he gave it to Abdulsalami and the rest is history.

The Iwo born Chief welcomes the GDA to his Festac Mansion

My advice for up and coming journalists
As a veteran journalist, what do you have for young and upcoming journalists if you are to be their guest lecturer at a seminar?
The journalists should be practical. Go to the school, do a good job, get fully identified by the society and the profession before you jump out to want to start your own magazine that will not last two months. And internet journalism is not it. When everybody becomes internet journalist how many people will read and how do you make the money? And they become redundant, they don’t make money. They have to go begging, they have to look up to people. This profession is not that kind of a thing, the profession is for you to go and work. Get identified, get known. When you are known the money will come. Be creative. All these things that is going in the society today is bad, they are all thinking of what a publisher is making and they want to make the same thing. It is not possible. Journalists should learn to be good explorers in the sense that they have to become creative and serious professionals in their chosen fields. You cannot be a master of all trades in journalism. You have to pick one thing. If it is judiciary, be a super judiciary reporter. If it is business, try to report the beat well. But today, once you employ them, they don’t even respect their publishers any more. They want to see the money. How many people have we employed and they are gone? And when they go out they will not tell the truth.

Chief Abiola Ogundokun to Asabeafrika....'At 80, i eat any good food thatt comes my way'

Maybe they will say Chief Ogundokun didn’t pay them?
Nobody can say that in this world. Even when I want to sack you, I pay you off. No Nigerian journalist that ever worked with me will tell you I didn’t pay him before firing him.

Chief Abiola Ogundokun to Asabeafrika....'I spent 3 good years in my mother's womb and i was born mysteriously'

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