SPECIAL REPORT: The excitements of friends, well-wishers celebrating Gen Olanrewaju at modest birthday get-together

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From Right: Former Minister of Communications, Major General Tajudeen Olanrewaju (RTD), and Former Military Governor Old Ondo State, Navy Commodore Ibiyinka George (RTD), during a get-together marking Olanrewaju's 78th birthday, in Lagos on Friday May 10, 2024. PHOTO: Defender Media Limited.

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By BASHIR ADEFAKA

This is a man that some humans, whom he selflessly staked his life to serve and protect in the name of patriotism, were counting days for, to pass away but the Almighty Allah proves to all that the decision about who leaves or stays and at what time or stage is his and his alone.

Former Minister of Communications, Major General Tajudeen Olanrewaju (RTD), has a character and idea that one would find difficult to fault at any time of display. He must have his reason for pushing same out. He clocked 78 on Wednesday May 8, 2024 with no sign of a birthday party at and around his residence.

As everyone thought the marking had ended, three days after on Friday May 10 a short message passed from his controlling fingers to announce privately a modest get-together, which is believed was as a result of deep thought that later sunk into the depth of the heart of the war veteran, on why the occasion of his birthday in life should always be a time to celebrate the glory of Almighty Allah in his life.

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Olanrewaju deserves every bit of the honour done to him with the presence of crème de la crème of the society that made it to the get-together although modest.

Conspicuously on ground at the event were his childhood friends including former Military Governor of Old Ondo State (Ekiti inclusive), Navy Commodore (Chief) Olabode Ibiyinka George (RTD); Renowned economist, Mr. Gbadebo Dallas; Former Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Culture, Mr. Adesola Macaulay, Mr. Tunde Kasali, among others. There were also family members including the tall-and-lanky Omo Eko he likes to jokingly call my “uncle and younger cousin”, Mr. Tolagbe Animashaun. Others who also attended the function included a Lagos State Governorship Candidate in the 2023 election, Architect Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour.

Essentially, leaders of De Renaissance Patriots Foundation were also very noticeably present at the get-together. They included the socio-cultural organisation’s President, Prince Adelani Adeniji-Adele; Secretary General, Mr. Yomi Tokosi; Alhaji Taiwo Gbajumo, Engr. Lateef Onikoyi and Barrister Yakub Eleto.

In Yoruba parlance it is said that, “Ti iku t’o fe pa eniyan ba sii ni fila, o ye ko dupe” (meaning, If the death, which aims at snuffing life out of man, turns round to only put off his cap, it calls for a thanksgiving).  General Olanrewaju, an Akanda Eda that is a specially made creature of God, has stumbled over death for many times but Allah has always been merciful to him by keeping him up until now that he has witnessed himself clocking 78 in life. This is a man that some humans, whom he selflessly staked his life to serve and protect in the name of patriotism, were counting days for, to pass away but the Almighty Allah proves to all that the decision about who leaves or stays and at what time or stage is his and his alone.

A committed patriot, General Olanrewaju is friend to all Nigerians regardless of their ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds. From close relationship with the Retired General, it is clear there is every bit of justification for whatever expression of joy reeling out from his radiant look that was witnessed on Friday. This is so because, he is a fine officer, who has been giving all that he has in terms of wealth and proper watch and management of his personal health, ensuring circulation of happiness to others. To him, it is about investment in the people and commitment to institution development.

Achievements

Indisputably, given the opportunity by his former boss and Military Head of State General Sani Abacha, Major General Tajudeen Olanrewaju deregulated the Nigerian telecommunication sector thus freeing telecoms users from the age-long grip of NITEL, Nigeria Telecommunication Limited.  He saw to personally handing to Private Telecoms Operators (PTOs) licences that paved the way for them to partake in the telecoms business in the country.  Invariably, Retired Major General Tajudeen Adeniyi Olanrewaju planned and achieved the first wireless telephone system that started with land-lines namely Intercellular, Multi-Links among others including even the GLOBACOM that eventually materialized to GSM after he had left the stage.  Olanrewaju did all the underground cables laying (from Lagos to Calabar) that heralded the GSM, thus opening up the pathway for internet superhighway that made Nigeria Year 2000 (Y2K) compliant at the time.

General Olanrewaju made many military governors and worked with many in his bid to making Nigeria a destination of choice in any form and by all standards for people from around the world and, for as long as the successive military governing system he had always been part of as Army officer lasted, Nigerian society was that where things were good and great. Commonsense was essentially in full consideration and values mattered. Those who did not want military at the time would – by now – rather have regretted their demilitarisation struggle, as the nation has been taken through series of national retrogression since the return of democracy – 1999 to date.

This has been the situation across periods of ongoing Fourth Republic with exception of the short-lived period of President Umar Musa Yar’Adua, who took back all national assets including NEPA and remnants of NITEL sold by his immediate predecessor and vowed to support Constitution Amendment that would repeal Immunity for President, Vice President as well as Governors and Deputy Governors in the country just as he also crashed fuel pump price from hitherto N71 back to N65 and ordered opening of borders for massive importation of rice that saw price of one bag crashing from N10,000 to N5,000 (2007-2010); and eight years tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari when Nigeria once again (since after First and Second Republics) had opportunity to own their own government they voted for and who showed seriousness about governance, insisting on rule of law, separation of powers, judiciary and local government autonomy and was sincerely committed to building a better Nigeria for Nigerians. No thanks to saboteurs who themselves are now being sabotaged.

But before then, Olanrewaju, a very highly influential military high ranking officer in the Sani Abacha military regime, was instrumental to the upgrading of Lagos State – under Abacha as Head of State and then Colonel Olagunsoye Oyinlola as Military Governor of Lagos State – from 12-Local Government Structure to 20-Local Government Structure. He still made effort later to further achieve an upgrade from that to 44-Local Government Structure but their disappointing uncooperative attitude and behaviour would not allow on the ground of not wanting to do business with Abacha, same people who today are crying loud for not being able to achieve – under civillian administration – a Lagos State 58-Local Government Structure that military would have done decades ago, seamlessly, courtesy of Olanrewaju, the Isale-Igangan, Lagos Island born Army General.

Social connection with poeple

There are many Nigerians today, from Sokoto to Enugu and Maiduguri to Kaura Namoda and from across the Niger to Lagos, who are not only good friends but any of them can beat his or her chest and say, “I am a house owner because Major General Tajudeen Olanrewaju made me to be”. There are many university graduates who can also testify and there are many who are today in very high places (military or civillian) locally and internationally, whose paths to those places were paved by General Olanrewaju.

He did all of those things and up till today, he utters not a word about it to anyone but some of those people themselves, in the course of interactions trying to tell why they love the General, revealed even without the General knowing that this writer is already in the know of those great contributions of big opportunities to those appreciative humans.

Above all, Major General Tajudeen Olanrewaju’s disposition to family building, growth and development is exhilaratingly excellent. To him, his family goes beyond the nucleus family that is of him, his wife and children. He speaks much glowingly about his proud Animashaun Family of Lagos to which he is profoundly and elatedly connected via his late grandfather the broadcaster and Islamic cleric, Alhaji Muritala Animashaun, father of Alhaji Yekini Olanrewaju Animashaun his father, also late.

His attitude to promoting the cultural heritage and identity of his Lagos indigenous people has earned him a lot of accolades including awards but to him, “My interest is just to see that my people will not suffer in the presence of plenty on their ancestral land to which they are culturally connected and constitutionally granted and guaranteed”.

It is, therefore, not much of surprise that everyone wants to honour his invitation, even at the shortest space of time, to any event which was why the number of great people among friends and well-wishers that made it to the get-together expressing happiness, eating and drinking together with him and his family on Friday was huge.

To those that came and they that took to the Nigerian press to celebrate him, particularly De Renaissance Patriots Foundation-led Prince Adelani Adeniji-Adele and Architect Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, it was a modest yet very great way to show an accomplished military professional that “we love you General”. That exactly they did.

MORE FACES AT THE EVENT IN PHOTOS BELOW:

 


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