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  • Writer's pictureOscar Giwa

Bolanie Hassan Fasan

Tribute to a phenomenal great leader!



I met Kabiyesi for the first time in Aliiwo sometime in 1987. My dad and I were standing in front of the family mosque and Kabiyesi was about entering agbo’le when he and my dad sighted each other. They were soon locked in a warm embrace as they exchanged pleasantries. My dad afterwards introduced me to him. Kabiyesi didn’t know me because I didn’t grow up in Aliiwo like my siblings. He asked about my welfare and what I was doing. I told him I was a student at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), and he was highly impressed.


Since that day, Kabiyesi developed keen interest in me and what I do. On many occasions, he took time off his busy itinerary to check on me on campus anytime he was driving past Ile-Ife.


He was so proud of all Aliiwo sons and daughters.  He wanted everyone to be great. He was proud to associate with Aliiwo and didn't hesitate to show off with me by his side saying, "this is my daughter," anywhere he sees me.


Regardless of his status, Kabiyesi will give you the opportunity to discuss any issue with him without making you feel a sense of inadequacy. He was a good listener and well-versed in any topic under the sun. He was always ready to offer his golden words of wisdom and advice which are very helpful in navigating the difficult trajectories of life.


He had a great sense of humour, free spirit and a big heart.  He moved out of his comfort zone to assist and support others.


As the head of Aliiwo political and royal dynasty, he was a repository of family values, bridge and rally point between the old and young generations. He welcomed me with open arms anytime I visited him. If you visited him while he was eating, he would ask you to join him in the same plate.


He was a great leader with a versatile personality, who will interact seamlessly with everyone irrespective of race, tribe age, gender or religion. His love for the downtrodden was undiluted.


That his conscious choice of putting other people's needs first became his ideological disposition did not come as a surprise to me. During our interaction, I once asked him why he resigned his appointment from the world's leading oil company, Shell BP after he returned to Nigeria, and such a promising job, where he had risen to the position of Head, Industrial Relation.


He had this to say; "I found myself doing a lot that was contrary to my commitment to the anti-imperialism cause. Shell was owned by the Dutch and British and I was pushing an imperialist cause against my own people (Nigerian employees) by denying them certain rights, as the head of industrial relations in Port Harcourt. I was miserable in doing these things. My annual report would say I was brilliant, I had helicopter quality, I was high flying and promoted virtually every year, but I knew I was doing that at the expense of my people. The anti-imperialist tendencies in me revolted against what I was doing. At the intellectual level, I was enjoying what I was doing but with my Marxian background, I wasn't happy with what I was doing. That was the contradiction and most people who were looking from the outside of me couldn't see what I was going through."


Kabiyesi was unreservedly committed to the liberation of the poor and always itching for progressive change in the society, which informed his foray into politics.


Ali Okunmade II, indeed you lived a worthwhile and fulfilled life. You came, saw and conquered. You were simply phenomenal.


I miss you!


Bolanle Hassan-Fasan




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