TRIBUTE TO CHIEF GAFAR OLUYEMI FABUNMI
As we continue in the year-long celebration of the Nigerian centenary, our thoughts go to great Nigerians who made her stand as one great, undivided country for a hundred years. Also we look at those things that must be put in place for her continued existence as one country. Clearly one such idea is good leadership.
Alhaji, Chief Gafar Oluyemi Fabunmi, died an octogenarian. He was a people’s man, generous in spirit and imbued with leadership qualities.
An engineer by profession, he contributed his quota to Nigeria’s development by participating actively in the construction of roads and bridges across the country. For instance, he was part of the construction team which built the Ethiope and Jemisson River bridges near Sapele in the Delta State, and as a detribalized Nigerian he built bridges which cemented the different ethnic groups together. In recognition of these leadership qualities, he was honoured with a number of chieftaincy titles. He was the Lukotun Musulimi of Egbaland, the Ekerin Adinni of Owu muslims, the Otun Ashiwaju Adinni of Nawar Udeen Society of Nigeria and the Oganla of Papa Ajao, Lagos.
Alhaji, Chief Fabunmi was the Chairman of Oloje street Residents Association from the time it was started 39 years ago to a few months before his death less than one year ago. His tenure ushered in progress for residents.
Before he passed on, he asked to be replaced as the chairman of the association. This we granted believing the request was due to his increased responsibilities imposed on him by his many roles as a religious as well as a community leader. He duly handed over to Chief Awesu who was both the assistant Chairman and the treasurer of the association. Little did we know that the handover request was to create leadership continuity as he soon departed to join his ancestors.
Alhaji Fabunmi chose to live in Oloje Street although he had the capability to live in more elitist part of Lagos. His choice gave him the opportunity to display his skills as a community leader of an environmentally challenged part of Lagos. Oloje Street used to be a quiet residential area like a GRA. But since the location of Ladipo motor spare parts market in the precincts and the opening of Oshodi / Apapa expressway, Oloje street and its environs lost the serenity that was once associated with them.
All these made Fabunmi to lead several delegations to the Lagos State Governor as well as to Mushin Local Government for government intervention. Beyond these challenges, Fabunmi would not only bring residents together for yearly celebrations or during demise of resident members or their families. He accompanied me to Delta twice. First to Oghara in Agbarha-Otor during my father’s burial and then to Aravwarien in Ughelli North Local Government for my mother-in-law’s burial. All these and more endeared him to everyone.
To Chief Fabunmi, I say adieu.
Papa Ajao, Lagos
October 1, 2014.