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LAGOS, NIGERIA.     Monday, October 06 2003






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Tribute to Gbolahan Mudasiru
By Maureen Bakare

WHEN on the morning of Tuesday September 23, Moyo Oyatogun of Radio 101.5 announced that "the former Military Governor of Lagos State, Air Commodore Gbolahan Mudasiru has passed to the great beyond" and said nothing more, I was confused because that was all I heard as I switched on my radio and she went on with her programme. Since I did not know what she said before that short announcement, I quickly ran through the day's The Guardian newspaper and found no information there.

Could it be true? How could a strong and healthy looking military officer like him die so young? What could have been responsible? These were a few of so many questions that swarmed my mind before the confirmation later in the day that Moyo was indeed correct!

"How indeed are the mighty fallen"! He was an honourable leader who had what many Nigerian chief executives lacked and that is the ability to give honour to whom honour is due especially when taking over governance from their predecessors. Not long after he became the Military Governor of Lagos State, while at meetings with heads of departments of the Ministry of Education, he paid glowing tribute to his predecessor, Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande for doing what lesser men could not have been able to do in procuring so much land all over Lagos State for the construction of school buildings.

He also made us realise that those schools which many later described as "poultry sheds" were indeed meant to solve the obnoxious shift system whereby three schools operated on the same premises in a day, each spending less than four hours and that the classrooms were planned to be up-graded and he pledged to do just that. He proceeded from there to continue where his predecessor stopped and raised many of those classrooms to standard ones comparable with those of advanced countries.

If all state chief executives were like him, many abandoned projects would have been completed for the benefit of the people before embarking on new ones. However, selfishness and the urge to suppress the excellence of the previous administration in order to promote that of the present as the better even before they start to work is the order of the day. There has never been an administration without its own achievements and there can be none without its faults.

Air Commodore Gbolahan Mudasiru was a most humble gentleman who addressed and treated his workers with decorum, irrespective of his lofty position. He was loved for this and the civil servants who worked with him were ever ready to carry out his instructions even when such were uninteresting or inconvenient. It was for this reason that they obeyed the directive to personally clean the streets of Lagos State in his bid to rid the environment of filth. He brought beauty to the State and many non-governmental organisations like the Rotary Club, the Soroptimist International and the private sector complemented his efforts by contributing significantly to this cause.

He himself had a clean personality which was admired by all and sundry and people jokingly told him that his wife must be spending extra time on him. He gave a picturesque look to the secretariat during his administration and this was not surprising because he was coming from the Air Force whose base at Ikeja looks the best by its cleanliness, attractive landscaping and high maintenance. He was a great asset to Lagos State in the area of personnel management. He revealed, shortly after he assumed office that he could not be manipulated in the matter of rewarding effective and hardworking officers, he was able to solve lingering promotion problems in a most honest and judicious manner, upholding merit by bringing his management experience and expertise gained at the Air Force to play.

Above all, before he embarked on his education programme, he examined the education system on ground by setting up a committee under the chairmanship of Professor Akin Osiyale formerly of the University of Lagos who made useful recommendations which he strictly implemented. One recommendation that he regarded as valuable was the review of the Inspectorate Section of the Ministry of Education towards increasing the number of inspectors and providing them with vehicles to enable them go to the classrooms, see the teachers at work, compare notes with them as colleagues and advise them towards ensuring that the teaching and learning process was of a high standard just as it was under the British system before and some time after independence. It was obvious that he had a sound education at Igbobi College, always appreciating his teachers like Pa Esubiyi and the late Revd. Parker.

He commended them for selfless hardwork and commitment but he pointed out that they received assistance from committed inspectors of the virile and progressive education system of the then Western Region under the premiership of Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo whom he accorded a decent and befitting burial. He enjoined the education officers then to go out and improve on the standard of education on ground and make them better than what he had at Igbobi College.

Indeed, Igbobi College made an excellent man of him and of several Nigerians who have contributed to the development of Nigeria. A few of such noble Nigerians are the Ibru brothers, Messrs Adekunle Olumide and his brothers and cousins like Professor Afolabi Olumide, Rear Admiral Femi Olumide and others, Biola and Kunle Olasope, Bolaji Sojinrin, Late Dokun Adeyemi, Bruce Ovbiagele, Tunde Onipinla, Tunji Fadayiro, Ojutiku and several others in responsible positions today. Whatever anyone else may say about this great man and the military administration, those who served under him, including this writer learnt a lot from his leadership and we appreciate his greatness in this direction.

As he wanted academic excellence in the performance of the school children, so he worked ceaselessly at ensuring that satisfactory morals and ethics of good behaviour were inculcated in them, returning them to the days of old. On Thursday July 4, 1984, the Lagos Television, (NTA) network broadcast reported the incidence of juvenile delinquency at the Lagos Bar Beach, Victoria Island where many school children who were supposed to be in the classroom were found perpetrating all sorts of crime. He quickly set up a tribunal of inquiry led by the then Lt.-Col. L. A. Lawal to investigate the matter and make recommendations that would enable the government to prevent such incidents which were gradually eroding sanity and decency in the lives of young generation of Nigerians.

The tribunal made useful recommendations which if followed sincerely would have reduced if not stopped all malpractices like truancy in schools, which led to the magnitude of examination leakage being experienced today, cultism, indiscriminate sexual activities, drug abuse, alcoholism which arose out of indiscriminate setting up of beer parlours near schools and many others.

Indeed, these recommendations as well as those of Professor Akin Osiyale on the education system are so relevant today that one would urge the Lagos State Government to revisit them towards implementing them and improving the living culture of our children and the education to which they are exposed.

Air Commodore Gbolahan Mudasiru respected womanhood and upheld its dignity by instructing that young school girls should no longer appear half nude when acting plays and dancing on stage in the bid to promote the culture of the land. They were to wear blouses on their wrappers. The sadness which he said he felt whenever he passed by disintegrated and poorly maintained classroom blocks was nothing compared with what he might have experienced on seeing our school children and young university female undergraduates who walk our streets virtually naked non-challantly, and those who wear wedding gowns revealing what is meant for their husband's eyes only to the congregation in the name of fashion. Thank God however that his only daughter is an epitome of what a true 'lady' stands for.

God used him to beautify lives, to beautify schools, to beautify the Lagos State secretariat by planting trees which now provide the beautiful avenue for the 7-up Bottling Company to the secretariat proper and above all, to beautify the entire Lagos State environment. No matter what may be said about him, he was an excellent man. It is certain that because he cared so much for the children and youth of Lagos State, his Creator, who is the rewarder of those who diligently seek and serve Him will bestow the fruits of his labour on his lovely children and wife who enjoy longer useful lives than him.

We are sad that he left too soon but it is not how long one lives but how well. The angels above are happy to take him on their wings to his Creator. Adieu, an efficient administrator, a very just leader, a clean human being in soul, spirit and appearance and above all, a most humble and caring citizen. Rest in perfect peace.

 Mrs Bakare, a retired Lagos State Permanent Secretary, lives in Lagos


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