The sudden exit of Senator Isiaka Adeleke, is a huge loss for the people of Osun state and Nigeria in general. JOHN NWOKOCHA looks at his life and times, suspicions over his death and tributes
In Ede, the country home of the first executive governor of Osun state, late Senator Isiaka Adeleke, it was a somber mood, last Sunday. The reason was that the death of the Senator was announced and later that evening, his body was interred amidst grief as well as anger. The senator was said to have died in Osogbo, at a private hospital, after a protracted illness, at the age of 62.
According to the family, the late Adeleke suffered a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital where he died. Since then, emotions have been literally brought to the centre stage of political affair of the state with allegation that his death was unnatural, fueling suspicions.
Angry youths questioned the sudden death of the politician immediately they got wind of the sad news.
And for the irate youths and his supporters, rather than believe the news, they probed it through a protest in the streets of Osun, because they were aware that the late senator attended an event in Iwo, Osun State on Saturday, April 22, a day before his exit and he was looking hale and hearty.
Not surprisingly, the immediate reaction among some of his supporters was suspicion and utter disbelief. They hold the view that the late politician’s death was not natural and that he was attacked spiritually. Some others claimed that he was poisoned with the view to pave way for another APC aspirant to win the next year governorship election.
It would be recalled that there have been covert power tussles in the state as the build up to governorship race next year begins. Adeleke, one of the strongest contenders had reportedly begun wooing more supporters to actualise his governorship dream.
Known for his vibrancy, vocal and flamboyant, the late senator was also a liberal political player who occupied a central position in the politics of his state. Adeleke was also not afraid to confront those in authorities. He had spoken out against what he described as the undemocratic practice of the Osun State Government under Raufu Aregbesola, for refusing to conduct local government elections in the state among other issues.
Not surprising, some politicians in Osun state were not comfortable with Adeleke’s ambition, as he was preparing for a second coming as governor when death came calling.
His journey into the nation’s political space started in 1991 with a charismatic and flamboyant carriage plotting to become the first civilian governor of the newly created Osun state in 1992 during the third republic, and it was a dream comes true. However, politicking came naturally to him because, his father, a politician, was a federal republic senator in the first republic.
Following the return of politics after his tenure as governor abruptly ended by the 1993 coup that ushered in General Sani Abacha, Adeleke returned to his private business until the return of politics in 1999.
He was elected into the Senate on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2007 and again in 2011, but he defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) before the 2015 general election under whose platform he was re-elected in 2015.
In 2007, Adeleke contested for a seat in the Osun West Senatorial district, on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and won. He lost out in the 2011 general elections. But, in the 2015 elections, he again re-contested for a seat in the same district, this time around on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and won.
Born on January 15, 1955 to the family of Ayoola Adeleke and Esther Adeleke, Isiaka was born in Enugu state, although an indigene of Osun state. And he spent his early years in Enugu before the civil war began. He had his Primary Education at Christ Church School, Enugu before his family moved to Ibadan. He however completed his secondary school at Ogbomosho Grammar School where he had his West Africa School Certificate in 1972.
He then proceeded to the Jacksonville State University, United States of America where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science in 1983. In 1985, he obtained his Masters in Public Administration from the same Institution.
Before becoming a senator, he was the Chairman, Governing Council, Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council, University of Calabar, Nigeria. He was also the Director of Pacific Merchant Bank and Chairman of Tadel Investment Limited.
But amidst out pouring of grief, eulogies have greeted the passing away of Adeleke.
Said Governor Aregbesola :“I received with a deep sense of grief the news of the death of my brother and friend, Senator Isiaka Adeleke.”
In his tribute, Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki described Adeleke’s death as a “sad personal loss”, stressing that “He was a formidable colleague.”
Former Osun state deputy governor and Senator, and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Iyiola Omisore expressed grief over the death of Adeleke, saying: “I received with deep sadness, the shocking news of the demise of a political Icon, Senator Isiaka Adeleke. His demise no doubt leaves a void that cannot be easily filled.
As a former governor of our dear state and a Senator, his footprints were indeed indelible.
“His death is a personal loss to me. Though in a different political party, we both understood the fact that political party is just a platform to serve our people. We worked together in the Nigerian senate with the interest of our state paramount on our minds. It is indeed a dark day”.
In their own condolence message, the Hon. Najeem Salaam-led Osun State House of Assembly described as “rude shock and great loss,” the death of Adeleke. While Adeleke would be missed by many, his demise would alter the political permutations of Osun state.