I remember him today as always, 16 years after he was brutally murdered on December 23, 2001 while serving Nigeria as its Attorney-General.
Thank God by last year I’d discovered how to thread tweets so you can read up about him here while I take a different direction.
This way, one can draw relevant lessons for our time from his politics.
In view of our present realities, I’m especially saddened.
Saddened that the political realignment Ige prophetically foretold came in his absence and without him took a wrong turn.
Saddened mostly that his killers are still unknown.
Awolowo openly took the battle to Akintola and many of Akintola’s men fell in battle.
Akintola sought in vain to postpone the elections of new officers seeing he was outnumbered but his motion failed and he walked out with some supporters.
The election eventually held however.
Anthony Enahoro and Ibrahim Imam (formerly of NPC/BYM) became Vice-Presidents.
FRA Williams replaced A.M.A. Akinloye as Legal Adviser and Bola Ige became the Publicity Secretary at the age of 32.
In this role, Ige continued to flourish and never once wavered, even giving Awo a foothold in the Oshun Division of the Western Region where Akintola held sway.
Imposition by Awo was however the order of the day in the UPN.
Ige being from Ilesha also had an uphill task: NPN was strong in the area and the UPN machinery there wasn’t his
Ige however had support from outside Ijeshaland in the person of Busari Adelakun.
He also wanted primaries and Awo gave in but it wasn’t until the third time that a clear winner emerged: Bola Ige.
NPN fielded Richard Akinjide, NPP fielded Areoye Oyebola with a woman, Janet Akinrinade as his running mate.
The AG has implemented free education in the 1st Republic and the UPN also promised the same in the 2nd Republic.
Ige replied by asking which of the Akinjide’s were robbers or miscreants since they’d also benefitted from it.
Akinjide walked out.
Anyway, they all soon fell out and SM Afolabi resigned as Deputy Governor along with Adelakun and a few other Commissioners.
When this was noted to Ige, he is said to have responded that the Ibadans are unfit for office - the rumour went wide but that wasn’t how Ige has put it.
Eruobodo ensured most of them had followed him into the NPN where Lamidi Adedibu was the party enforcer.
NPN won the 1983 election but the version of the UPN-controlled media was that Ige was rigged out.
All the tribunals and courts upheld Olunloyo.
Awo himself was jailed in the Lagos, in the hinterlands far after Lekki which was a crocodile and insect infested terrain at the time.
SDP and the NRC were later formed by the IBB Govt and Ige’s position was that “parties form Govts, Govts don’t form parties”.
The platforms defending Abiola’s mandate were largely ethnic, mostly restricted to the SW with some support from SE individuals like Arthur Nwankwo and SS like AG financier, Osibakoro Alfred Rewane.
It was only in 1998 that moves towards more nationalistic agitations began with Alex Ekwueme in the forefront and this itself was a bit political.
Most politicians waited to see how it would go but once it became obvious that Abacha wanted to transmute to civilian president, a number of them revolted.
From the core North, Adamu Ciroma, Abubakar Rimi and Sule Lamido also joined them to make Nine Men who eventually became G9.
At the first meeting (as I heard from Lamido), Ige challenged the core Northerners to go and declare openly and publicly against Abacha.
Abacha eventually jailed two of them.
Ige was a founding member of the PDP but led the People’s Consultative Forum out of it by August 20, 1998 to join the All Peoples Party before forming Alliance for Democracy.
Ige was by far the most Nationalistic of all of them and for the Afenifere, to be that way was sort of an offence.
Ige sought to be President but was rejected at a primaries held by a 23-man caucus at D’Rovans Hotel in Ibadan.
23 members of Afenifere with the only elected AD officers present being the six SW Governors decided who would be the presidential candidate of the AD in the 99 election.
Ige went to London to rest and prepare for campaigns and lost the ‘primaries’.
This loss I believe, dictated his next political moves.
Anyway, Obasanjo of the PDP defeated them and became President in 1999.
He also began to campaign for the separation of Afenifere from AD.
Some insist Ige supported the emergence of this group.
Ige consistently maintained he had nothing to do with YCE.
His wife, Justice Atinuke Ige died in 2003 - shortly after the trial of the suspected murderers was bungled.
Most of what I feel about his killers, I said in last year’s thread.
I’m surprised that the Tinubus of this world claim to be in power and Ige is forgotten.
Nigeria has shed much innocent blood - this particular thought weighed heavily on my mind today over Ige.
Soyinka too was his bosom friend - he courageously delivered a moving tribute where he declared “Ige’s killers are here among us”.
Aregbesola is Governor in Osun State also - a fellow Ijesha man.
But it’s politics for most of them - let’s leave it like that.
He was a fine orator who considered himself a better writer than speaker.
He was called “Cicero” but fancied himself more as Demosthenes - another ancient writer/speaker.
He wasn’t perfect but the humans who become gods aren’t.
I can’t describe fully how much of an enigma he was but I always engage those who worked with him whenever I can.
Sule Lamido, former Minister Musa Elayo and others - and they always respected him.
Without a sense of history, our understanding of the present is skewed - this is why we remember.
This is why we must remember, to remember.
Eni ba mo agbe - ko se idaro aro
Eni ba mo aluko - ko se idaro osun
Eni ba mo lekeleke - ko se idaro efun.
James Ajibola Idowu Ige was just a man like anyone else, but oh what a man he was!
And he lives on forever.
Awo himself was also detained in Lekki area in 1962 not in 1984 as I’d tweeted.