Comrade Olaitan: A reminiscence By Erasmus Ikhide



gain in the  early hours of May 4, 2012 (of) the much talked about primal city of Bini with a call I thought was conveying some birthday wishes since it was the eve of

my birthday, only to be told that Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde had been gruesomely and

brutally murdered the early hours of 1: 30pm in cold blood.

That day was the longest of my three and half years in Edo State House. It was a baleful day

death walked the streets of the plague-bound ancient city of Bini; a metropolis that has grown accustomed to gruesome blood-letting in recent past. It was one death too many. The city has seen litany of deaths dating back to its foundation as a reverential cosmopolitan city adjudged by the Portuguese slave drivers in 1485 as one of the most planned city in the world.

It’s undeniably strenuous that one is vested with the unenviable task of penning down the dirge of a senior comrade and colleague who in all intents and purposes stoutly embodied the unquenchable zeal towards the liquidation of the drifting ruling class. The pain in my heart is understandably so, like everyone who knew him, because when you lose someone you love, you die too, and you only wait around for your body to catch up.

Comrade Olaitan’s brutal murder at night by repressive political class who can’t look him

straight to his eyes in the day time are the ultimate victims of his death because death is a milder fate to tyranny both in the sights of men and our Creator. Norman Cousins has said it all that ‘‘the tragedy of life is not death, but what we let die inside us while we live’’. Those who snuff life out of him didn’t know him.

They are unaware that Comrade Olaitan took life as simple as death. It is unknown to them

that he had triumphed over death before his death. This is where Saul Alinsky admonition

sufficed: ‘‘Once you accept your own death, all of a sudden you‘re free to live. You no longer care except so far as your life can be used tactically to promote a cause you believe in.’’ Comrade Olaitan lived and died struggling for the Nigeria workers, the emancipation of the downtrodden and the liberation of the political space that is permanently on the edge of precipice.

The PDP as a political party in the nation’s new found democracy has never failed to affirm its brutal signature that it is as an axis of evil is the undoing of Nigeria democracy. It thrives arrogantly on the blood of innocent citizens who are hacked at polling units in every election since the Fourth Republic. Over four young men were killed in Benin City, 2007 for daring to demand that their vote count for Governor Oshiomhole!

Comrade Olaitan’s assassination at the peak of Governor Oshiomhole’s reelection bid gives credence to our studied suspicion that the forces of darkness are obviously frightened by the fact Edo State has been brightly illuminated beyond their comprehension and can no longer remain dull for their evil antics to flourish.

They fear that should this trail of democratic governance blazes across the country as it is currently being witness in virtually all the South-West states, they would most probably lose hold completely on power and their influence will dim on the Nigeria state.

His assassination came less than a week after the callous and murderous driver of a tipper truck who rammed heavily into the Governor’s convey, resulting to the death of three journalists in the Press Crew and others seriously wounded on April 28, 2012. The three journalists who were killed in the premeditated accident were yet to be buried before Comrade Olaitan’s cowardly assassination. It was indeed a heavy harvest of agony.

Until his death, Comrade Olaitan doubled as Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s Special Adviser

and Principal Private Secretary, PPS and Deputy General Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC and was on sabbatical in Edo State. The decision to ratify his position as the substantive General Secretary of the congress was taken weeks earlier in Labour House before he fell by the assassins’ bullets who pumped hot lead into his head, chest and stomach in the presents of his wife and kids.

Comrade Olatian, no doubt, was the unsung head of the intellectual media think-tank and engine room of Governor Oshiomhole Administration. Governor Oshiomhole in an oration delivered at Ede, State of Osun, and the home town of Comrade Olaitan credited the fallen comrade as the bulwark of his governorship ambition and successes in governance who singlehandedly articulated his campaign manifesto and help to ensure that his electoral promises to Edo people as entrenched in the lofty proposal are not misplaced or aborted. He said Comrade Olaitan was a dependable ally who kept reminding him of those core values he represents and how not to derail on his fervent preachment on the creation of egalitarian society that consciously endeared him in the heart of Nigeria following.

Oshiomhole said the late Olaitan understood his move, thought and language and that the deceased could write a letter to convey his (Oshiomhole) feelings without consulting him, and the letter will aptly convey his thought. He explained that it was because of

the synergy that existed between the two of them that he drafted late Oyerinde from the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC to work with him as his private secretary in Edo State.

‘‘I have come not to shed tears, he does not need my tears, and I have come to join all of you to celebrate an authentic comrade, a dogged fighter since student life, active fighter against military rule. He could write a letter and I can sign with my eyes closed. They really hit me where it hurts me most, they really created a gorge… it will be difficult to fill in Edo government; the person who will be able to capture my word and mind. .

Governor Oshiomhole recalled an occasion amongst others were Comrade Olaitan demonstrated his intellectual sagacity and linguistic prowess when he (Olaitan) wrote a protest letter to former President Olusegun Obasanjo on his behalf over the perpetuation of fraud in the Pension Fund Scheme. Miffed by the slant and tone of the letter which drabbed the scheme as a 419 platform that feasts on the weakness of the poor pensioners that demonstrates the poverty of his presidency, President Obasanjo gaily scoff at Oshiomhole that he would not only shown the said letter to his sister – the late First Lady, Mrs. Stella Obasanjo – who also hailed from Edo State as the Oshiomhole but that he will deal with him

both conventionally and unconventionally.

The former president retorted that he would pay him (Oshiomhole) back traditionally once he

Oshiomhole is out of office. On getting to the office the following day, Adams Oshiomhole

chided Comrade Olatian for writing such a fictive and caustic letter to the president which he blindly appended his signature without browsing through it. He told Comrade Olaitan that he would accompany him to visit President Obasanjo and tell the president that the native way he (Obasanjo) intended to deal with him should be reserved for him, the writer of the said letter.

Admitting also that he is a hard driver, Governor Oshiomhole gave another incident that proved that Comrade Olaitan lived the courage of his conviction. He recounted another incident when he came into his office one day and was practically shouting at everyone over a certain job he thought was poorly and inadequately executed. After his anger has simmered down, Comrade Olaitan barged into his office with disarming smiles, telling him that he should mind the way he address the people in the office and that they all have resolved collectively to beat him up any time he rages in the office over flimsy issues that are better resolved tactfully. That was quintessential Olaitan who spoke truth to power!

The late Olaitan State’s Governor, Comrade Rauf Aregbesola carpeted the blood thirsty irredentists who have deployed every instrument of political violent to stage a comeback to Edo State Government House as spent political force whose carcasses merely work the

streets of Edo as humans. He called on those who shared the late Comrade Olaitan’s ideology to keep the candle burning, as he believed that the blood of the fallen comrade would water the tree of freedom in Edo state, Osun and Nigeria.

The security challenge in Nigeria and several other callous and unresolved murders call for total

overhauling of the whole security apparatus. It makes nonsense of the nation’s

security policy where law abiding citizens are forbidden from bearing firearm why the lawless ones acquire the same firearm illegally unchecked. Those assailants would have thought twice if they knew that Comrade Olaitan was armed. He was a victim of both primitive security policy and corruptly underfunded security complex that vegetates

on weak national leadership.

Now this: it would surprise you that the assailants carted away his documentary effects; phones, laptops and iPods with which he had documented everything that has brought the state to fruition. No one needs interpreter to infer that PDP desperation has reached its crescendo. It’s a shame and a waste of that epitome of media thoroughness, mobilizing machine, hero of protest, warrior of the pen and a master crafter who used words like a sculptor to be hacked in his prime. It’s quite sad that the comrade-democrat and a revolutionary genius was grounded to the sand in the pit of degradation called the bloody jungle of Edo politics.

As we parted jovially from the office in the evening of May 3, 2012, only a man who has

consulted the Crystal Ball would know that that was the last encounter we were going to have.  Still, only an incurable seer too would know who is next on the murderous lists of the political hawks who are desperate to re-colonize the state. But the late Dele Giwa has an

advice for them: ‘‘No evil deed can go unpunished, any evil done by man to man will be redressed, if not now, then certainly later, if not by man, then certainly by God, for the victory of evil over good can only be temporary’’.

Farewell my compatriot comrade.

 

Erasmus Ikhide,Senior Special Assistant Media Affairs to Governor  Adams Oshiomhole        

 

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