Abiola Ajimobi was a Nigerian politician who started his career in the private sector before going into politics. He served in many prominent political roles including as a Senator representing Oyo South Senatorial District as well as the governor of Oyo State. The biography of Abiola Ajimobi reveals many facts that you may not know before making it an important article to read.
Before we go into full details about Abiola Ajimobi in this biography, we summarise some of the most important facts you should know about him. See them here:
10 facts about Abiola Ajimobi
- He was born as Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi on 16th December 1949 and died on 25th June 2020 at the age of 70.
- Ajimobi was born into a prominent family. His grandfather was a chief in the royal court of Ibadan and was given the title; Sobaloju of Ibadan Land. His uncle was the minister of works and transport in the former Western Region and his father served as a councillor in Ibadan Municipal Council in the former Western Region.
- He was very athletic while in secondary school and was his school’s game prefect.
- Abiola Ajimobi obtained a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Finance at the State University of New York, in Buffalo, New York. He also obtained an MBA degree from Governors State University, University Park, Illinois.
- He worked as an operations controller at Nestle PLC and later became the marketing controller of the company.
- Abiola Ajimobi was the managing director and chief executive officer of the National Oil and Chemical Marketing Company (now known as CONOIL), a subsidiary of Shell Nigeria.
- He married Florence Ajimobi in 1980 and they have five children together, four daughters and a son.
- In 2003, Abiola Ajimobi won a senatorial election to become a member of the Nigerian Senate representing Oyo South Senatorial District.
- Ajimobi emerged as the winner of the Oyo State gubernatorial election in 2011. He ran for a second term for the gubernatorial position of Oyo State in 2015 and won again, becoming the first person to win gubernatorial re-election in Oyo State.
- Abiola Ajimobi died from complications to his internal organs made worse by COVID-19.
Abiola Ajimobi Biography: Early life and origin
The late Nigerian politician’s full name was Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi. He was born on 16th December 1949 into the prominent family of Ajimobi of Ibadan, Oyo State. Abiola Ajimobi was born in Oja-Iba, Ibadan, Oyo State.
The Ajimobi family is well known and respected in not just their village but the whole of Ibadan (the capital city of Oyo State). His grandfather was a chief in the royal court of Ibadan and was given the title Sobaloju of Ibadan Land.
Thus, it was expected that the succeeding members of the family will inherit political power and wealth. His uncle, Hon. N. A. Ajimobi served as the minister of works and transport in the former Western Region.
His father was Alhaji Gani Ajimobi, who worked as a tailor and also served as a councillor in Ibadan Municipal Council in the former Western Region, a position that can be compared to serving in the House of Assembly now. It was into this family that Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi was born.
Abiola Ajimobi started his early education at Saint Patrick’s Primary School in Oke-Padre, Ibadan. He later enrolled at Ibadan City Council Primary School where he completed his primary school education.
When it was time for his secondary school education, Abiola Ajimobi went to the popular Lagelu Grammar School in Ibadan. The school boasts of many notable alumni including Chief Adebayo Adelabu, a former deputy governor, operations of the Central Bank of Nigeria. At Lagelu, Ajimobi discovered his athletic side and engaged in a variety of sporting activities including athletics, table tennis and football. The school also appointed him the game’s prefect. He obtained his first school leaving certificate from the school.
Then, he travelled to the United States of America to further his education. Abiola Ajimobi obtained a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Finance at the State University of New York, in Buffalo, New York. He went on to get a master of business administration (MBA) graduate degree from Governors State University, University Park, Illinois. During his MBA, Ajimobi specialised in Operations Research and Marketing with a focus in Finance.
Before returning to Nigeria, he gained some working experience as a state-certified underwriter at Equitable Life Assurance Corporation. He had also taken and passed the New York Insurance examinations as well.
Abiola Ajimobi Biography: Early career
Abiola Ajimobi returned to Nigeria in 1977 at the age of 28 and first went into the corporate world. He started as an operations controller at Nestle PLC and rose to the position of the marketing controller of the company.
The Cable writes that after he left Nestle PLC, he joined the National Oil and Chemical Marketing Company (now known as CONOIL) as a consumer products manager. Abiola Ajimobi later got promoted to the position of divisional manager two years after he joined the company.
The National Oil and Chemical Marketing Company was a subsidiary of Shell Nigeria. Ajimobi became the lubricants manager and operations director at the company. Later he was appointed the managing director and chief executive officer of National Oil and Chemical Marketing Company (now known as CONOIL).
Ajimobi left the oil sector and the corporate world in 2002. He had spent 26 years as a corporate individual and decided that it was time to go into politics.
Abiola Ajimobi Biography: Political career
When he joined the political world, many may not have known of him. But to some, his family name rang a bell especially among the people of Ibadan, Oyo State.
Abiola Ajimobi joined the Alliance for Democracy (AD) political party and ran for a Senate position to represent Oyo South Senatorial District in 2003. Ajimobi won and became a member of the Nigerian Senate, he was among the 18 senators from the AD political party that won elections in the April 2003 elections.
He was an important member of the Senate and became the deputy senate minority leader during his time as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
However, by 2006, the party faced an internal crisis among its leadership and this led some factions to join the Action Congress (AC) political party. Ajimobi was not part of this group at the time.
Instead, after his one term in the Nigerian Senate, he joined the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) in 2007 and ran for the governorship position of Oyo State. He lost to Christopher Alao-Akala but he was relentless.
By April 2011, Abiola Ajimobi was back again, this time, he had joined the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), formerly known as Action Congress (AC). Action Congress of Nigeria was formed following a merger of the Alliance for Democracy and many other political parties.
Ajimobi emerged the winner of the Oyo State gubernatorial election in 2011. He ran again for a second term for the governorship position of Oyo State in 2015, this time under the umbrella of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The party had been formed by the merger of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
In his second term bid, Abiola Ajimobi faced many odds. Before him, there had been no previous Oyo State governor who had won a re-election bid. Also, he faced two former governors of the state at the polls, Christopher Alao-Akala and Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja.
Regardless of the odds, Ajimobi emerged victorious at the end of the election. In his inauguration speech, he told listeners:
“I stand before you today, acutely aware that I am standing at the threshold of history. I stand before you, humbled by that same history, the history of our 39-year-old State and the evergreen story of the labour of our heroes past in the old Western Region. I stand before you, humbled by your resilient patriotism and abiding faith in me in the April 11 election.”
After he completed his second term, he again tried to return to the Nigerian Senate for another stint. Ajimobi successfully obtained the APC senatorial candidate ticket in September 2018 and entered the race to represent Oyo South Senatorial District in March 2019. However, this time, he was denied. He lost to Kola Balogun of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
On 16th June 2020, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC appointed Abiola Ajimobi as the acting national chairman of the party. Before the appointment, he served as the party’s deputy national chairman. THISDAY reports that the move came after the party’s national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole was suspended.
Abiola Ajimobi controversial “Constituted Authority” statement
While it is nearly impossible to not have been involved in one controversy or another as a politician or public figure, there is one particular controversy that followed Abiola Ajimobi later in his life and even earned him a nickname.
The incident occurred in 2017 following students’ protest at the state-owned Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) in Oyo State. Ajimobi, who was the Governor of Oyo State, had moved to address the students publicly.
Part of his speech reads as follows: “I’m not gonna talk to you, and If you want to start trouble, go ahead. This government will not tolerate nonsense from anybody. If you want to be troublesome, I dare you. I’m ready for you. Let’s see what happens then.
“What we’re saying is that some of you should have little respect for constituted authority, no matter what. Whether I pay salaries or… this is the constituted authority for Oyo.”
From then on, the phrase “Constituted Authority” stuck and became a nickname that many used to identify Abiola Ajimobi.
Some notable achievements late Ajimobi are known for include:
— In 2011, Ajimobi managed to put the notorious members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in State in a civil and organised structure.
— In August 2017, Ajimobi held a mass coronation of 21 traditional rulers to the chagrin of the traditional ruler Olubadan of Ibadanland, former governor of the State, Rashidi Ladoja, and many others.
— He also constructed and repaired more than 200 roads in Oyo State including the dualising two major roads in Ibadan; the Ibadan Interchange-Challenge-New Garage- Interchange Road and Onireke-Jericho-Eleiyele- Dugbe Road.
— Abiola Ajimobi employed 20,000 youths under the Youth Employment Scheme of Oyo State (YES-O). He distributed 1,000 units of tricycles and also bought buses to ease transportation. Additionally, he paid the NGN19,000 minimum wage to workers and 13th-month salary in 2011 and 2012.
— Inside Oyo, a blog, claims that while serving as Governor, he provided free health services to more than 300,000 people through the free health mission programme even in the state’s Adeoyo Hospital.
Abiola Ajimobi Biography: Personal life
Abiola Ajimobi married Florence Ajimobi in 1980, three years after he returned to Nigeria from the United States. According to Ajimobi, the couple had met a couple of times before they started a relationship and eventually got married.
Abiola Ajimobi (centre), Florence Ajimobi (third from left) and their children and grandchild.
They have five children together, four daughters and a son. Ajimobi’s first child (and first daughter) is Abisola Kola Daisi, who is well known for her luxurious lifestyle. Abisola is an entrepreneur and the founder of The Luxury Lifestyle Market. She is also the CEO of AKD Lifestyle.
The names of Abiola Ajimobi’s other children are Abimbola Ajimobi (daughter), Ajibola Ajimobi (daughter), Ajijola Ajimobi (daughter) and Idris Ajimobi (son).
How did Abiola Ajimobi die?
In May 2020, news broke that the former Senator and Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, had contracted the novel coronavirus. By 2nd June 2020, it was confirmed that his condition had worsened and that he was admitted to First Cardiologist and Cardiovascular Consultants Hospital in Lagos.
Despite receiving the best possible health care available in Nigeria, Ajimobi’s symptoms did not become any better. However, his political party appointing him as acting national chairman on 16th June 2020, may have given people hope that he was on his way to recovering.
But that did not prove to be so. On 18th June 2020, there were rumours that Abiola Ajimobi had died following reports coming from Twitter. His media aide, Bolaji Tunji, denounced the story, stating:
“I spoke with those around him not long ago and they confirmed to me that he is still alive. Please disregard news of his death as fake news.”
Finally, on 25th June 2020, it was confirmed that Abiola Ajimobi had succumbed to the COVID-19 disease and died. Further details from Business Day confirmed that he was in a coma for almost a week and was placed on a life support machine since.
The official report is that the former Oyo State Governor and Senator of Nigeria, Abiola Ajimobi, died from complications to his internal organs made worse by COVID-19.
Tributes to Abiola Ajimobi
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, expressed grief over Ajimobi’s death. In a statement by Lawan’s Special Adviser (Media), Ola Awoniyi, he stated that Oyo State, as well as the progressive political family throughout Nigeria, will miss him.
The Senate officially said:
“We, at the Senate, mourn Senator Ajimobi who also served with merit at the upper legislative chamber between 2003 and 2007 during which time he was the Deputy Senate Minority Leader.”
Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, said that Ajimobi was an embodiment of courage who resonated intelligence and an unusual resilience.
Ogun State chapter of the APC in a statement by the secretary of the party’s Caretaker Committee, Tunde Oladunjoye wrote:
“Ajimobi raised the bar of governance in Oyo. We cannot forget that the late Senator. Against past failed efforts and age-long erroneous impression that Ibadan cannot be made clean, Ajimobi not only cleaned up the largest city in West Africa, he also left his indelible marks on infrastructure, education, health and agriculture, among others. He was a jolly good fellow.”
Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, stated that the death of Ajimobi was devastating and that he was the only ally in the South-West who was steadfast to the cause of the APC and stood by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayodele Fayose, wrote:
“We have lost a complete gentleman, who lived a fulfilled life both in the business world and politics. He was down to earth, never a pretender.
“Senator Abiola Ajimobi demonstrated leadership and loyalty to worthy causes and above all, he was patriotic to the collective good of the country. He was a leader who affected lives beyond party lines and he will be remembered for all his good works. He will be sorely missed.”
Final thoughts …
The biography of Abiola Ajimobi shows that some people are born with the ability to lead and make changes in their environment. However, honing and fine-tuning this ability is a matter of personal development. This is evident from Ajimobi’s career path and achievements before he entered politics.
Undoubtedly, he managed to engrave his name into the stone of time. His death is also a testament to the deadliness of the COVID-19 illness. Not even the best medical care will save some people, thus, taking steps to prevent infection remains the best solution to dealing with a pandemic.