I was at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport on my way back to the Republic of Ireland 16 years ago when Alhaji Lati, the driver whispered to me that Aare called someone at the airport that I should return to Ibadan.
I quickly told the Customs officer who always processed our documents for us to withdraw my passport and retrieve my already checked in luggage.
The man informed me that I might lose the ticket because I had already checked in. “Hummm, Aare said I should come back to Ibadan and you are talking of ticket”, I muttered. I left the Customs officer and returned to Ibadan immediately.
On getting home, I asked a few people what the problem was. It was only a few hours ago that Aare gave me money and told me to have a safe journey. The people I met said he had been inside his room since morning and had given instructions that nobody should be allowed into the house. I kept racking my brain, wondering what could have happened. Who offended him? I asked around, but no one could provide an answer.
Few minutes later, I summoned courage and knocked his room door announcing my arrival.
Within a few seconds, he opened the door. I saw his eyes, red like balls of fire.
When he spoke, it was a direct question, “Wole did you hear that Alhaji Jibola Olanipekun, (SAN) was killed this morning?”
In a tone that had unmistakable anger beneath, he continued, “I want to know his killer. Go out, and report back to me as soon as possible”.
It was a task that needed not just urgent attention, but absolute precision.
I disappeared from his sight like a flash, went out without knowing where I was going or my first port of call.
Aare was a man who hated injustice like a plague. He detested all forms of oppression. He hated seeing corpses or obituaries of young people on the pages of newspapers. He was a peaceful man.
Some hours later, I returned home and gave him a comprehensive report of what he sent me out for. He believed me. He knew that my report would be authentic.
When we came out of his room, he instructed his guard that a particular highly respected individual must never be allowed to come into his house again.
Not only that, he called the Inspector General of Police to discuss about the killer of Alhaji Jibola Olanipekun, (SAN).
He was reclusive throughout the day and he kept pacing up and down in his room.
Few months later, he was invited to an event in Ibadan and the same respected individual was also there.
On sighting the man, one of the close aides who accompanied Ààrẹ, Alhaji Abass Oloko to bẹ precise, started murmuring that this ‘agbaya, oloriburuku, apa’yan yi wa nibi (This useless, unfortunate old murderer is here).
The other people following Aare shared his sentiments, we are all murmuring.
If Aare was not happy with you, it would be like the whole world had just turned against you.
So all of us were waiting, we were prepared for war.
But trust Aare of the universe, he went to the visibly shaken man, embraced him and asked him to sit near his table.
What a disappointment! The guards felt dejected, it was obvious we were all displeased. Alhaji Oloko turned towards me after a look at where Ààrẹ sat and said, “so ri baba yin. Se nkan to se yen daa? (Did you see your dad, is that the right thing for him to do?).
Aare pretended as if he didn’t understand what was going on.
Three days later, he wanted to go out in the night, so he sent for me. He was the one driving and after clearing his throat, he said “did you think that I didn’t know what was going on at that event we went to? I saw all of you but I pretended as if I didn’t know what was happening because all of you are youths with little experience”.
He went on, “let me tell you a story that my father told me before he died”.
Then he began, “the late king of a certain community had 10 wild dogs. He used them to torture and eat any of his servants who made any mistake. One of the servants gave an opinion which was wrong, and the king didn’t like it at all. So he ordered that the servant be thrown to the dogs.
The servant said, ‘I served you for 10 years, and you are doing this to me? Please give me 10 days before throwing me to those dogs!’ The king agreed.
In those 10 days, the servant went to the guard who looked after the dogs and told him he would like to serve the dogs for the next 10 days. The guard was baffled but agreed, and the servant started feeding the dogs, cleaning them, bathing them, and providing all sorts of comfort for them.
When the 10 days were over, the king ordered that the servant be thrown to the dogs as his punishment. When he was thrown in, all were amazed to see the ravenous dogs only licking the feet of the servant!
The king, baffled at what he was seeing, said, ”what has happened to my dogs?”
The servant replied, “I served the dogs for only 10 days, and they didn’t forget my service. Yet I served you for 10 whole years and you forgot all, at my first mistake!”
The king realised his error and ordered the servant to be set free.
Don’t let us condem the man we accused of killing our brother. We are just speculating until a competent court of law finds him guilty. He was once a governor who served this state with all his heart. If his wife committed an offence, let the Almighty Allah judge him, not us. The judgment is for Allah.
Don’t forget the good things a person did for you as soon as the person makes a mistake towards you. Don’t put out the history that is filled with good because of a mistake you don’t like. The man has served the state before and we all benefited from his wealth of experience.”
It was a good lesson to learn from a man who was filled with wisdom. May his soul rest in perfect peace. Amen.