Sometimes, reflections bring about some feelings of appreciation to God and people who did something spectacular that obtruded itself in one’s journey through Planet Earth. Those acts of goodwill are usually provoked by God, Who could use any vessel He chooses to handle His assignments. Some of these very rare accounts are recorded in my publication titled: GOVERNANCE: An Insider’s Reflections on the Nigerian Polity. They are extracted to beef up this report on a colleague Tunji Adepoju.
One of such friends that I owe a debt of gratitude for his faithfulness is Olatunji Adepoju, who is retiring from the Public Service of the Federal Republic of Nigeria this month. Tunji, as he is fondly called, took over as NTA Correspondent for Osun State from Oyewale, who was preceded by populist Taiye Adegoke. A November 26, 2018, Facebook post by Adepoju, gave indications of his retirement from the Public Service. But one wasn’t too sure because Tunji could sometimes decide to wax philosophical with his Facebook posts, or go religious as a deacon in Bishop David Oyedepo’s Living Faith Church.
Adepoju was engaged by the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State in November, 1977, as an Engineering Assistant after his secondary education at Iseyin District Grammar School, in his home town. He later attended The Polytechnic, Ibadan and read Mass Communications. He rose to become an Assistant Director of News at the NTA Headquarters, from where he retired. Like someone wrote on Tunji’s Facebook wall, ‘’What a sweet transformation……’’May God make your retirement a joyful one in sound health and prosperity…..Amen. To Mama Tunde your dear wife, I rejoice with you and your family.
Tunji’s post read: ‘’Home Sweet Home; Father, I am most grateful.’’ The last post in which Tunji functioned was as Assistant Director, (News) at the Nigerian Television Authority, Headquarters, Abuja. I knew a couple of months back, that he would disengage; but when precisely was what I never knew. Whoever succeeds in leaving the public service without a blemish ideally has every reason to praise the name of the Lord as done by the ace NTA Reporter.
THE GOOD DEED
Tunji Adepoju, early January 2000, travelled to Ibadan one Friday morning; but hurried back a few hours later because he needed to pass an important piece of information to me. He was worried because he met one of my childhood friends around the Agodi Prayer Grounds who said to him: ‘’That Femi Adelegan has become too powerful. ‘’He will soon be replaced.’’ Tunji was bothered because he knew my friend was connected to someone in government and probably overheard discussions by people who wanted to move against me.
I told Tunji I had the inkling and he should not bother himself. If it was the will of God, they would succeed I said; but I would never beg anybody. Isaiah 22:22 broke forth: ”And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.” I later went to my principal, Chief Bisi Akande to express my profound appreciation to him for the period of 8 months that I served him. He told me a few things and I discovered he knew nothing about the exercise.
His then ADC, Goke Fayoade an Assistant Commissioner of Police, level headed and a complete gentleman told me that Baba Akande said I was good-natured. When I related the experience to Uncle Yemi Farounbi, he commented that: ”If you had waited longer, Baba Akande would have told some other things you never knew”, including what those who perfected the exercise said to him” I left with my head unbowed. Dapo Oyinlola, then Director of Protocol escaped an attempt to inflict a similar treatment from same people courtesy the saving grace of his principal who quickly intervened.
I NEVER GRIEVED
But I never grieved because I had occupied the position of Chief Press Secretary continuously for six unbroken years. If that move against me never materialized, I wouldn’t be where God has located me today; including returning to Osun State government on a much higher level in June, 2003. I still met some needs of the friend who wished me removed a few times, until God told me to move away. That was a divine directive that must be obeyed. No ill-feelings at all. Most times, you require people to do evil to you for God to move you into your destiny. This is reinforced by another occurrence. On another occasion in 1997, someone I gave the hint on how to pursue his wish to become a board Chairman moved against me, and wanted me replaced, shortly after Navy Captain Udofia left. He who came through a good friend who was his cousin in Osogbo. I shared this with my friend who felt bad. Soon, the man came back to apologise and explain that his community asked him to do the job! It was just God, and not human ability.
HELPERS OF DESTINY: MY WITNESS
Tunji Adepoju’s impact was better felt with the arrival in Osun State of Colonel Theophilus Oladapo Bamigboye (as he then was) who succeeded Colonel Anthony Obi as Military Administrator. He came with a strong resolve to transform Osun State. He was a very firm and principled officer who never allowed himself to be tossed around by elite and interest groups. He was blunt to a fault in his private and official dealings. His assignments must be reported immediately and this was where we, including Tunji Adepoju were first challenged.
First, Col. Bamigboye replaced what he called the ‘’horrible looking’’ press vehicles for efficiency. Tunji Adepoju and late Musibau, an efficient and lively driver who was christened ‘’Bellview’’ by the press corps made return trips to Abuja from Osogbo twice a week. They usually departed about 4.30am and returned to Osogbo before 5.00pm same day. And Tunji would ensure that those stories went on NTA Network news same day because Oga Bamigboye would monitor.
Before the end of 1999 after Bamigboye departed, my monthly running cost was drastically reduced by 95 percent without a proper appraisal of the functions of my office. I felt I should at least be asked questions. NO QUESTION! It was from that monthly running cost that all trips to Abuja, printing of photographs, and transportation for photographers going to media houses were funded. Niyi Kolawole, one of the faithful press secretaries attached to my office on a few times knew how we spent on getting the work done. He actually came to to comment that if you spend everything like this, what do you get for yourself? I told him it never mattered because I needed to justify the confidence reposed in me and my image as a professional is related to the good publicity my bosses enjoyed.
The persecution itself, was an indication of ”let us frustrate him out” but I refused to be bothered, but held on awaiting my proposed appointment as the Osun State Director of the National Orientation Agency as already recommended by Col. Theophilus Bamigboye. Something happened; and I never got the appointment. In what appeared to be an overkill that same week, my name was removed as a member of staff of the Governor’s Office and that of Osun State Broadcasting Corporation; from where I was seconded. Again, I never betrayed any emotion; but I knew that was a wrong step.
Somehow, the situation changed; and having been properly redeployed, I proceeded on my ten months accumulated vacation during which I tendered my letter of retirement from the public service. No qualms because nothing happens without the knowledge of God. I actually expected that such things would happen; but not from the angle it came. Before Oga Bamigboye departed, I had the public presentation on my first book in November, 1998.
I never knew those who wanted me removed to be able to plant their stooges had reached out to him in Bauchi before moving to Osun State. To the glory of God, my first few official encounters with him revealed my personality and professional worth. Oga Bamigboye wanted immediate action. I was lucky to have Brother KAO Oluwajulugbe and friends at FRCN; and nice colleagues at NTA headquarters who used stories sent in by me immediately, without passing through their reporter. The news producers trusted and assisted us.
At that book presentation, Oga Bamigboye disclosed openly and pointedly how people approached him to remove me even before he assumed duty in Osogbo from Bauchi. I went to the mirror to check myself and said to myself: ‘’Am I this bad that people don’t want to see me at all?” But my boss, the MILAD said he sized me up and discovered that I was not too old; and I was efficient. At the ceremony, he stated unequivocally that ‘’all of you sending people to me and bothering me, there is no vacancy for the position of Chief Press Secretary; so please keep off and let Femi do his job’” One thing is sure. God Almighty that I serve was in that arrangement. Glory be to God. Like Yoruba would say: ”Oju ti ri o! Even now! But the God of all grace will forever live.
So, happy life in retirement, Tunji. May God bless and prosper you beyond your imagination. Very best wishes.