Agagu: Painful exit of a people’s Governor, by Dare Akinniyi
The quality of a man’s life rests in the testimonies that follow his passing on, for Dr. Olusegun Kokumo Agagu; it has been a flurry of eulogies pouring in from friends and associates, even his political foes are not left out of the praise singing that followed his passing on unto greater glory on the 13th of September 2013.
Say not in grief that he is no more; but live in thankfulness that he was- Hebrews proverb
The quality of a man’s life rests in the testimonies that follow his passing on, for Dr. Olusegun Kokumo Agagu; it has been a flurry of eulogies pouring in from friends and associates, even his political foes are not left out of the praise singing that followed his passing on unto greater glory on the 13th of September 2013. GLINTSTONE’s Jide Okeowo chronicles the life and times of this great academician, political juggernaut and friend of the masses.
Olusegun Kokumo Agagu was born on the 16th of February 1948 in Okitipupa, Ondo State to Pa.Olorunfemi Isaac Agagu, a court clerk and Madam Omopelumi Agagu, a petty trader. The choice of the name Kokumo was borne out of the fact that he was the only surviving male son from his maternal side. The apple of his mother’s eyes he had a sheltered upbringing.
He kick started his education at St. Luke’s Anglican School, known today as St. Paul Anglican School, Okitipupa, between 1954 and 1957. In 1958, he crossed over to Ebenezer African Church School, Oke-Ado, Ibadan, Oyo State, and later to Baptist Primary School, Sabon-Gari, Kano, in 1959. He returned to Ebenezer African Church School, Oke-Ado, where he completed his primary education in 1960. During his time at the primary school his academic brilliance shone like a million stars. Little Agagu later proceeded to Ibadan Grammar School between January 1961 and 1967 where he passed his West African School Certificate and the Higher School Certificate examinations. He gained admission to the University of Ibadan in 1968 to study Botany but later changed to Geology in which he graduated with a B.Sc. (Hons) degree with a Second Class Upper Division, in 1971.
His academic life as an undergraduate was littered with laurels and trophies. Such was his academic excellence at the prestigious University of Ibadan, that he won three scholarships in one year (Western Region scholarship, University scholarship and Gulf Oil Company scholarship). That made him a fairly comfortable student. Between 1973 and 1974, Agagu was at the University of Texas, Austin, Texas, USA, for his Masters degree in Geology. Returning to Nigeria, he obtained a PhD degree in Petroleum Geology from the University of Ibadan in 1978.
Did you even know that Dr. Agagu was an academician? He was! He was at the University of Ibadan, his Alma Matter, a Senior Lecturer between 1981 and 1988 where he taught Geology. Agagu retired voluntarily as Acting Head of Geology Department at UI in 1988 and started a geological consultancy and mining business at the age of 40 years.
LIFE AS A POLITICIAN
In all ramifications, Agagu stands tall and he was a pro-active thinker. Haven study the political climate of the country coupled with the desire to build a successful business empire, he ventured into the murky waters of politics. He became a card carrying member of the defunct Social Democratic Party and a chance meeting with Evangelist Bamidele Olomilua changed the course of his political career as he ended up becoming the deputy to Olomilua. Their tenure was however short-lived as military took over the reins of power.
He went underground and in the process honed his political skills. With the advent of democracy in 1999, Former President Olusegun Obasanjo named Agagu in his cabinet as Aviation Minister. He was Aviation Minister for 2 years before been redeployed to the Ministry of Power and Steel. After consulting widely with his people, he contested the position of Governor in 2003 on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party won in a landslide victory. He was governor for 6 years before an appeal court nullified his re-election.
In all aspects of life Dr. Olusegun Agagu was an achiever. He became Aviation Minister at a time the industry was going through a crisis. Prior to his appointment, plane crashes were two a dime. Planes were dropping out of the sky at an alarming rate. He restored sanity to the industry and under his watch as Aviation Minister; Nigeria did not witness a single plane crash. He is one of only few people to record such rare feat!
Hardly had he been redeployed to the Ministry of Power and Steel in 2002 that the ugly trend of plane crashes resumed with even more intensity. Barely 6 months after his redeployment Nigeria recorded strings of plane crashes, notable of which was the 2002 EAS crash in Kano where over 100 lives were lost including that of then Minister of Sports, Mr. Mark Aku. Many still question the decision of Former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s decision to redeploy him.
One landmark achievement he recorded was the discovery of crude oil in Ondo State which elevated the State into the ranks of oil producing states.
He was also the one, who, as a Geologist prepared the detailed report of the large deposit of Bitumen in some major cities in Ondo State like Irele, Agbabu and so many other communities in Ikale Land.
The late Agagu strived to put his own layer of development in Ondo State when he was governor. Investigations revealed that his government built 600 models six classroom blocks and had 200 under construction by the time he left the saddle in 2009. The government established 200 standard basic health centers, one for each ward in the state.
Water supply was 4.4 per cent coverage which meant that only four people in a hundred had access to potable water before Agagu became governor in 2003. By the time he was leaving in 2009, the water supply coverage was 52 per cent. When he became governor, farmers hardly accessed support from government, but his government established farm service centres in every one of the 18 local government areas of the state so that farmers could buy subsidized chemicals, fertilizers and seedlings near their farms.
The Agagu government established 102 youth farms spread round the state. Every year, one million seedlings of cocoa were shared to farmers. Every year, the government raised one million seedlings of teak that were shared to farmers. It established a most robust poverty alleviation programme for youths that was acclaimed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The government built one functional skill acquisition centre for youths in every local government in the state. Apart from having a mobile entrepreneurship training programme that went round every local government, the Agagu government trained over 9,600 young and old people and helped them through low interest loans to start their businesses. It also established a micro-credit agency, endowed it with over N3.2bn to give credit to farmers, workers and entrepreneurs.
FLURRY OF EULOGIES
If eulogies and encomiums can raise the dead, Dr. Olusegun Kokumo Agagu would have since woken up, going by the flurry of eulogies that have been pouring in since the news of his shock passing was announced.
“Death is a necessary end. It will come at the appointed time. Certain passages are, however, remarkable. It is true that the death of any person diminishes mankind. But, when a man of quality like Dr. Olusegun Kokumo Agagu departs, the vacuum created becomes even more pronounced.
“I send my heart-felt condolences to the immediate family of our departed leader. I must also commiserate with the people of Ondo State for the unwanted visit of this morbid messenger with attendant losses.” Those were the words of Barrister Rotimi Akeredolu Ale, an APC gubernatorial candidate in Ondo State. Not done with his eulogy he went further to say “Dr Agagu’s tenure as Governor in Ondo State witnessed several significant strides. Many of us are living witnesses to the great achievements recorded under this sound academician and politician. Many of our rural areas were opened up in a manner hitherto unimaginable. The Riverine communities effectively got re-integrated into the State.
“The visionary leader, whose administration arguably ranks next to the unforgettable golden era of the State under the sage, Pa Michael Adekunle Ajasin, was also reputed for politics without bitterness. He was urbane, resourceful, genial and frank. There are indelible imprints of his tenure in virtually every nook and cranny of the state. Most of the buildings standing in public schools in the state bear eloquent testimony to his vision. It is
regrettable that he passed on at this time when his invaluable input is badly needed in the state.”
His Alma Matter, the prestigious University of Ibadan where he was a scholar as well as a lecturer too was not left out in honoring the late politician. A host of politicians, academics, industrialists, royal fathers, and other individuals from all walks of life gathered at the International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan to pay homage to him. The event was organised by the Department of Geology in which Mr. Agagu was once a student and later a lecturer before he left to fulfill his political ambitions.
In his tribute titled “Not How Long, But How Well”, former Ogun State Governor, Gbenga Daniel, remarked that his counterpart had a soft spot for the poor and the interest of his people at heart until he passed on.
Mr. Daniel, who said he was speaking on behalf of former Governors Rashidi Ladoja (Oyo), Adebayo Alao-Akala (Oyo), Segun Oni (Ekiti), and Ayo Fayose (Ekiti), praised Mr. Agagu’s effort in discovering crude oil in Ondo State.
“Dr. Agagu’s name will ever linger in our hearts for his diligence, humility, loyalty, patriotism and quiet philanthropy,” Mr. Daniel said.
The incumbent Governors of Oyo, Osun and Ekiti states, Abiola Ajimobi, Rauf Aregbesola and Kayode Fayemi respectively, were not left out in the flurry of eulogy that poured on the deceased governor.
Mr. Ajimobi said Ondo State and the entire Yoruba land should be proud of Mr. Agagu’s good legacy.
“We saw in him a responsible intellectual who always enjoyed adding value to peoples’ lives until he breathed his last”, Mr. Aregbesola said.
One glowing tribute was the one made by the executive governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Fayemi summed up the personae of Dr. Olusegun Agagu; according to Dr. Fayemi “Dr. Agagu lived above political pettiness, rancor and acrimony. Uncle Segun was a quintessential gentleman, who always made himself available for the progress and development of his people”. Such flowery words from a political opponent!
Eminent businessman and entrepreneur, Tonye Cole, also eulogised Mr. Agagu for supporting business entrepreneur, pointing out that “Dr. Agagu always gave whoever sought his advice beneficial insights into business matters being an industrialist himself.”
In the words of Irving Berlin, “the song is ended, but the melody lingers on.”
. Dare John Akinniyi is the CEO of Glintstone Group, Publisher of Glintstone magazine. +234 08037160950.