Monday,13th September, 2021 was the seventh remembrance anniversary of the passage of Brigadier-General Benjamin Adesanya Maja Adekunle,the hero of Nigeria Civil War (May 1967 – Jan.1970) and Africa’s best known military strategist and war commander.
With due respect, Gen. Adekunle was my hero and older friend. He graciously allowed our respectable association when I, then a secondary school student, wrote him a letter of admiration borne out of his remarkable war exploits and the fame built around him by the EP records waxed for him by Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey and King Sunny Ade.
Adekunle, as the General Officer Commanding the 3rd Infantry Division (Third Marine Commando) of the Nigerian Army, had almost ended the war before the General Yakubu Gowon-led Federal Military Government posted him out of the Division, and replaced him (Adekunle) with the then Colonel Olusegun Obasanjo.
Yet, the fame of the “BLACK SCORPION” did not wane, but continued to fly around the world.
After a while, the FMG appointed him the first Military Commandant of the Lagos Port, at the worst period of the port congestion, particularly by shiploads of cement from Eastern Europe.
Adekunle made a mincemeat of the port assignment within a short time that the military head of state of Nigeria, Gen. Gowon visited the Lagos Port to assess the yeoman’s job Adekunle was rendering at the port.
The head of state was bowled over by the neat job of Adekunle, he saw that he publicly praised Gen.Adekunle by describing him as a true gentleman officer who had put his military training at the elite Royal Military Institute at Sandhurst,bUnited Kingdom, into practice.
But, Gen. Adekunle’s soaring reputation was abruptly shot down over his alleged association with a military topbrass, accused of allegedly assisting a society woman through immigration at the Ikeja Airport.The woman was caught by the British Custom at the Heathrow Airport, London, allegedly with drugs.The scandal brought Adekunle’s bright military career down.
After his dismissal from the Nigerian Army, Gen.Adekunle disappeared from the radar, as he neither pursued politics/buiness unlike many of his seniors, colleagues and juniors.
He chose to live a modest life from his Surulere, Lagos home.
One day, Adekunle’s wife appeared, uninvited, at the gate of the Oluwo Kekere Bashorun Ibadan home of the late Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Alhaji Abdul-Azeez Arisekola Alao.I happened to be present.
When Aare’s chief gatekeeper, Alhaji Alao, brought in the visitor’s form to his boss, she had written “private and urgent” in the space for the reason of her visit.
Aare asked for my comment and I, as a friend/protègè of her husband pleaded that Aare kindly grant her audience. He obliged.
And what was Mrs Adekunle’s mission? She had come to beg Aare to intervene in the matter between the Oyo State Government that had written to re-possess the only plot allocated to her husband by a previous government at the Agodi GRA.Typical of Aare Arisekola, the plot was saved from the jaws of the state government in favour of the late General.
When in 1999, the newly-sworn in governors of ODU’A States, at their maiden meeting in Ibadan, appointed me the Coordinator of the Sketch Press Limited, Ibadan, Gen.Adekunle paid me courtesy visit.The visit boosted my morale and image.
In the course of his visit, Gen Adekunle asked me the reason for my movement from my regular job as the General Manager of Corporate Affairs at the ODU’A INVESTMENT COMPANY LIMITED to the Sketch. I replied that I was only on secondment from OICL and had not relinquished my position at ODU’A.
Gen. Adekunle was unsatisfied that the ODU’A Governors had not formalised my ‘appointment’, as it were, with a letter of appointment. He recalled his unceremonial removal from the Lagos Port as the Military Commandant. Adding that I go the following morning to the ‘supervising’ governor of the Sketch Press Limited, Alhaji Lam Adesina, the Oyo State governor and demand a formal letter of appointment.
May Gen.Adekunle’s valiant soul continue to rest in perfect peace.Amen.