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I never took bribe -Late Aragbaiye

I never took bribe -Late Aragbaiye

By Taiwo Abiodun
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This  was the last interview by Taiwo Abiodun with the late Elder Bola Aragbaiye,  a onetime Sunday Editor with the defunct Sketch Newspaper and was the Chief Press Secretary to the late Ondo State governor Chief Adekunle Ajasin in the Second  Republic. Aragbaiye was buried  on Friday at St. Patrick’s  Anglican Church Owo

… I never took bribe

… I interviewed Samuel Doe

… I was detained many times

… Pa Ajasin my role model

He was sitting in the beautiful and well decorated living room in Oluyole, Ibadan. The veteran media guru whose name became household name in the 60s to early 90s was caught glued to his chair and with his bifocal glasses he was caught reading newspapers of yesteryears. While reading some interesting stories loud he with a red pen underlined some lines that were critical points. At a point he would take some of his articles; Peeping Tom’ and ‘Bola Aragbaiye’ columns and be reading them aloud while repeating sentences he found interesting. Once in a while he would shake his head and said aloud.

 ‘So I wrote these articles?’

He looked at this reporter, smiled and in a low voice said ”I remember in our days when we worked harder and there were minimal errors unlike nowadays when newspapers are riddled with errors. Though there are some errors in today’s newspapers but the crops of today’s journalists are really trying their best considering the insecurity and the assassinations prevalent today while all these did not happen during our time”. He then removed his reading glasses, turned to this reporter and with humility said ” now I am ready for the interview” .

As the Chief Press Secretary to Ajasin

Aragbaiye recounted how the late  Pa  Adekunle  Ajasin, the first Ondo State civilian governor frantically searched to choose him as his Chief Press Secretary. The septuagenarian said he was a student of the late Chief Adekunle Ajasin who was the then Principal of Imade College , Owo ; he said ” the late Pa Ajasin taught me at Imade College in the 50s , he knew me very well as he was also a friend to my late father, Ajinaja Aragbaiye who were both childhood friends coupled with the fact that he knew me as an honest and easy going man that was why he searched for me while I was then working as a journalist in Sketch , Ibadan head office .

The old man said he was looking for one of his students whom he knew inside out, he had wanted a person from his home town who was up and doing and was not corrupt .That was how he sent many people to me and even my late father while I was in Sketch. After much consultations, I reluctantly agreed and went to apply for leave of absence in 1979 and went to work for him in the Alagbaka government house, Akure. I spent a term with Papa. But unfortunately while the second term started there was this General Buhari/Idiagbon coup in 1983 and when the military struck we were sent packing .I then returned to my desk, I went back to the newsroom to continue my job”.

Aragbaiye who was once saddled with the job of Chief Press Secretary to the late Chief Ajasin, former Ondo State governor described the job as tough but also interesting, he described the late NADECO leader as an honest man who would not compromise to steal money from the coffers of the government. His words: “The late Chief Ajasin was a straightforward person, he wouldn’t use the government resources no matter whose ox is gored. I remember when the Commissioner for Works said they wanted to paint the Government House in Alagbaka, Akure when the head of state was about to visit the state but he declined that the amount was too much .The more he was pestered the more he became angry telling them he would not waste government funds to the annoyance of hangers on.

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