Former Chief of Army Staff and Chief of Defence Staff, retired Lt.-Gen. Alani Akinrinade, has joined other prominent Nigerians to celebrate General Olu Bajowa (Rtd) as he attained the milestone age of 80 years.
General Akinrinade, in a congratulatory message he personally signed and sent to the Octogenarian on the occasion of his birthday held recently said that Bajowa’s steadfastness, courage and unwavering patriotism to serve the country is worthy of emulation by all and sundry.
Bajowa is the Jagummolu of Ikale Land and Ojagbulegun of the Source.
Narrating his first encounter with Bajowa, the former Chief of Army Staff in a statement said, “It was a dusty, hamattan haze mid morning on the 21stDecember 1962, at the Ibadan airstrip that we met and you smartly saluted and announced to me that you were there to get me and would look after my welfare from then on. I was a JJC returning from the Officer cadet School. I immediately noticed a well-turned out, smart, intelligent, respectful, dutiful, meticulous young officer proud to wear his uniform. You ensured I was well briefed on the situation our unit was, just returning from a stint in the Congo.
“My interview with the Adjutant Captain Hans Anago, and the Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Kur Mohammed the next day contained no surprises, thanks to you. We had no complaints about our work, but we had untold difficulties with our interaction with some officers who did not quite understand why Isama, Olu, Joe and Akin were always happy, finding the extra energy to paint Ibadan red, too many invitees to dine in the ladies room, raised the officers mess swimming pool from the dead and always encouraging the other junior officers to learn how to swim. It used to be the abode of our British officers, which was allowed to decay when they left. When I was whisked to Army headquarters as temporary Captain you were also posted to 6th Battalion, Ikeja. It was there you refused to sign the mandatory column that you were obliged to sign on your annual confidential report and reckless undertaking. Your refusal was reported to my boss, Lt. Col Yakubu Gowon, the Adjutant General. He discussed you with Major Aniebo, the military secretary who advised that your brigade Commander should be brought into the matter. Brig. Zak Maimalari had known you and your worth personally at 4th Battalion. It is one instance amongst some others where I realized, that it is not only a duty, but also an undertaking worth laying down our lives for: the defence of all our subordinates. That was the first threat to your carrier and your own record and the unbiased judgment of your seniors saved you. It was my second hint that Nigeria is a delicate place where you cannot take professional solidarity for granted”
While commending the braveness and confident of Bajowa, Akinrinade noted that Bajowa is a brave, confident officer.
“Every officer you worked for held you in high esteem and I know for a fact that most, always almost didn’t bother to supervise or doubt your judgment.
” You were with me in second Division as a battalion Commander, 6 Infantry brigade for a short stint in the Mid West. You mustered the likes of Adeyemi Alabi, Sunny Adenihun, Adeniran, Ichohol “the bandit” etc to handle the logistic of cobbling together that rag tag all comers, strange bed fellows into a fighting force and got us to Okene in some miraculous twenty four hours from Ikeja, when I left my headquarters to Ike Nwachuku. Twelve hours later your battalion had joined the battle and recorded spectacular success. I will always remember, as if it were yesterday, the tears that rolled down, even though unmilitary most say, when 2/Lt Sanni, a new arrival from Sandhurst became one of our first casualties. You are very easily distressed and more determined whenever anyone else is in trouble or suffers a loss. You talk like a Prince, but deep down is your humanity, willingness to let go of anger to substitute reality, the abiding urge to perform beyond the call of duty, that unquestionable loyalty to your friends, colleagues, country and willingness to give all. When you showed up at the blown up bridge on our approach to Auchi, with high fever and measles that afternoon, my heart sank. It was not only because anything including death could be the end result but the loss of your services to a Brigade we were just starting to build in dangerous circumstances. I said to you before the mini mock that will take you to Ibadan moved, that you must return soonest. You cried and said “Egbon me, you know, I can not leave you alone” and left.
I thank you for the bias you showed me when I was in trouble in 15 Commando Brigade, Bonny. You gave some extra training to the recruits you ‘smuggled’ to us without Army headquarters authorization.
“My regret now is that we are retired, old with lots of time to spare and we do not have the privilege to create enough time to flock together, do the old banters and demonstrate that we can still play pranks with all our families and friends
Olu, or is it OLUBAJ as those rascals call you, it has been a fulfilled life and I assure you that all around you are proud of your achievements and your carriage as an Officer and genthleman. I am particularly proud and happy to have a friend so divine.
” Aduke, Princess and all my children from Yetunde, Babatunde who doesn’t look for me, and your band of brothers and sisters, I have you to thank for the good life you gave my friend, for flying the family flag with pride and diligence and allowing him to hold his head high in probity in this rotten circumstances. I wish you all well.
“On behalf of Omowale and all our children and family I say Happy birthday my friend, many happy returns. Igba odun, odun
kan. The champagne will keep poping for many years to come”.