By Niyi Iwakun
A few good men could still be counted upon to tell the truth as it really is in an age when truth has long taken its leave in the treacherous waters of Nigerian politics. One of those few good men was a foremost family man, a loving father, grand father, educator, administrator, farmer, politician, and a fearless campaigner for equality, equity, and fair play, High Chief (Hon) Kayode Iwakun.
High Chief (Hon.) Kayode Iwakun was born to the family of Mr. Gabriel Oluwatobi and Madam Tolusugwa Victoria Iwakun of Ojokodo Quarters, Ode Aye, Ondo State in September 1939. Young Kayode was about six months old when he lost his father. His mother therefore relocated back to her base at Ode Idepe, Okitipupa, where she singlehandedly brought him up. His mother, though not educated, appreciated that education is a means to gain knowledge and knowledge itself is power. She was determined to give Kayode the best education possible since he was the only surviving child of his father.
“From grass grace, from zero to hero” in essence defines the life of Kayode Iwakun who started his elementary primary school education at St. James Primary School, Okitipupa, in 1948 and later Methodist Primary School, Okitipupa from 1949-1956. The trend in time and the process of child development impacted on him during those school years as an able pupil and in retrospection, the curriculum was not probably challenging enough for him. For this reason, his attendance at school at a point was somehow erratic, developing into contract between him and his mother.
Despite this, He finished his standard six in less than five years having been given double promotion because of his astonishing performance.
High Chief Kayode Iwakun proceeded to the Divisional Teacher’s Training College, Ode Aye, between 1958-1964 for his grade III. He attended the highly esteemed St. Andrews College, Oyo, form 1962-1964 and was the prefect Crowther house as well as the editor of the ANDRIAN, the Magazine of St. Andrews College, Oyo, in 1964.
A rare and extraordinary profile popularly known as J.K (John Kayode) Iwakun sat for his London GCE 0′ and A’ Levels examination at home and passed with distinction.
He would fondly be remembered for his erudite ability and for his football skills. He taught at various schools; primary, secondary and Teacher Training College including modern school, Igbotako up to 1970.
High chief Hon. Kayode Iwakun got admission into the most prestigious University of Ibadan in 1966 where he bagged the Bachelor of Arts with Honours in English and Theatre Arts BA (Hons) as the best graduating student. Since his thirst for education was not limited to undergraduate degree, John Kayode Iwakun immediately added two Master’s degree. First in Education administration and management M.Ed, second in Public Administration M.Sc at University of Lagos (UNILAG).
High chief (Hon.) Kayode Iwakun from the University was determined to divulge his knowledge to others. Therefore, after graduation, he continued his career as a classroom teacher at Manuwa Memorial Grammar School, Iju Odo. His scholastic contribution to the school cannot be over-emphasized.
He founded and became the first editor of the “VOICE” the magazine of the literary and debating society of Manuwa Memorial Grammar School, Iju Odo. Record has it that he was exceedingly brilliant that he was the only person who could take over the teaching of English Language and Literature from the late Pa. E O Agagu at Manuwa.
Thereafter, he left for Lagos where he worked in several Colleges among which is Nigeria Premier College Yaba, (now Jobowu High School) Lagos between 1971-1974.
As the Principal, Nigeria Premier College, Lagos, his school was never failing hope of all students from Okitipupa Division and Ondo State at large to get admission into a Secondary School in Lagos State. Also as the only Ikale who was a principal, he employed a considerable number of persons from Okitipupa Division in particular and Ondo state in general into both teaching and non-teaching positions.
Chief Iwakun was the University of Lagos’s (UNILAG) Deputy Registrar, planning between 1975-1977 and faculty officer, faculty of Social Sciences University of Lagos, from 1977-1978. A rare accomplishment he achieved at a relatively young age. At the University of Lagos (UNILAG), he was responsible for the admission into the University of several people from Okitipupa Division and Ondo State in general. Many of them are now well established today.
High Chief (Hon.) Kayode Iwakun’s interest in politics started while he was at the University of Ibadan. Serving as the editor of the “HORIZON” the official magazine of the Department of English, he was elected as the first member, for Independence Hall in the students’ Representative Council, University of Ibadan, 1968.
He was elected the Secretary General of the National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS). He contested for President of NANS and thereafter served as the Chairman of the International Committee of NANS. He also served as the National Secretary, Nigeria voluntary Service Association (NVSA) responsible for organizing work camps in Nigeria. It was this Unionism activity that took him to the United States of America, Canada (1967) and Western Germany (1969) for leadership training as students’ representative.
High Chief (Hon) Kayode Iwakun was a foundation member of Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) and eventually became the Assistant General Secretary for Ondo State Chapter of the party. He was twice elected into the Ondo State House of Assembly on the platform of the UPN in 1979 and 1983 and he constructively contributed into the debate in the House. As a resolute parliamentarian he worked within the government to ensure his constituents were appointed into both political and civil service positions. He worked assiduously to make his people feel his impact as their representative.
Daniken High School and Comprehensive High School Ode-Aye started during his first term in office as House of Assembly member. He also opened the Comprehensive health Centre at Ode-Aye and a resident doctor was posted there for the first time. He was responsible for the construction of the Akeun Bridge; construction of concrete steps down the Erifa opposite Unity Secondary School, Ode-Aye. He sponsored the building of block of wards and offices and the provision of block fence aimed at converting the old Aye dispensary into a Cottage hospital including the construction of numerous culverts and drainage lines in many streets. The tarring of roads among which is the road leading to Irokin along Igbotako and the one leading to Lumeko waters at Ode Aye was part his achievements.
He assisted several Ikale, Ilaje and Apoi Indigenes to get admission into sundry institutions, OSCARS Ikare, School of Nursing, School of Health and Universities.
He was the first to sensitize the UPN government to the desirability of establishing a State University in Ondo state. He organized a seminar in Ondo Town to which eminent Scholars were invited to brainstorm on the general features of the University the people wanted and came out with a recommendation that Ondo State University should be both multi-Campus and non-residential where a campus of Environmental Science and Technology was approved for Okitipupa. Today, several Ondo state sons and daughters have passed through Ondo State University (now Adekunle Ajasin University (AAUA) Akungba Akoko).
In 1983, Honarable Iwakun was appointed as the Special Adviser on political and parliamentary affairs to Ondo State Government by Governor Adekunle Ajasin. After that Republic was truncated in 1984, he became the secretary to six former progressive governors of Oyo, Lagos, Ondo, Ogun, Bendel and Kano cum National Coordinator for the Progressives between 1986-1989.
Chief Kayode Iwakun was the personal Assistant to Chief M. A. Ajasin up till when the ban on politics was lifted again. He became the head of Secretariat and National Publicity Secretary to the defunct People’s Solidarity Party (PSP) from 1988-1989. Although not much was achieved this time due to the constraints imposed on politicians.
As a principled politician, Kayode Iwakun despised hypocrisy and lobbying, for these reasons he declined political appointments, which did not reflect his view and active participation.
High Chief Iwakun was one of the founding members of PDM which later metamorphosed to the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). His mammoth contribution to the party led to his appointment as a member, later pro-chancellor and Chairman of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka Governing Council, from 1999-2003, a position he occupied after his predecessor Prof. Fabian Osuji was appointed as the Minister for Education by President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Hon. Kayode Iwakun was the Ondo State PDP Campaign Chairman in 2003. His political Sagacity and intellectual contribution led to the emergence of Dr. Olusegun Agagu as the Governor of the state in 2003. He was appointed as commissioner at the Ondo State Teaching Service Commission (TESCOM).
However, as a result of his dissatisfaction with Dr. Agagu’s leadership style and rulership in Ondo State, Chief Iwakun who always identified with the masses felt the Agagu government had performed below expectation. Hence, the inevitability of his resignation from TESCOM in 2005 in less than two years of his appointment.
A fearless political juggernaut, Hon. Kayode Iwakun engaged in several political debates and campaigns exposing the inadequacies in the Dr. Olusegun Agagu’s government. That same year (2005), he resigned from PDP and retired back to his farm at Egbe and Onikaju until mid 2006 when he became the South Western Chairman of the Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD) which later formed mergence with the Action Congress (AC) 2006-2007.
As a passionate, dynamic and foresighted politician, High Chief (Hon) John Kayode Iwakun defected to co-found the Labour Party in Ondo State in 2007. A party that took over the control of the state within three months of its formation. He remained the state Deputy Chairman of Labour Party until his death on 16th, July, 2007.
Hon. Iwakun was instrumental to the success of the party and the emergence of Dr. Olusegun Mimiko as the governor of Ondo State. Despite his ill health, he single handedly edited the party’s petition that was used to reclaim her mandate at the election petition Tribunal in 2009, two years after his death.
No wonder Dr. Olusegun Mimiko described Chief Iwakun as “a Spartan of the old political school and a very perfect mixer with the new generation political class, a special breed with outstanding ideal of the old political cords and infallible vision of the new breed policians. Baba as we fondly called him was a political encyclopedia of the first order”. It is unfortunate that death did not allow him to witness the LP’s government in Ondo State.
Kayode Iwakun was known to be a lover of children and an advocate of educational opportunities. He was an affectionate, loving and dedicated husband, father, grand dad and a brother. He was committed to training his children. His wives were also not left out in his relentless effort to ensure educational empowerment for all arrround him.
Despite his own large family, he struggled to train his siblings to a level commensurate to enable them attain independent lives. He made his service available on all conceivable occasions to his people.
He helped to procure fertilizers improved maize and cassava seedlings, bailed some from police stations, took others to hospitals, sometimes it is the matter of Admission to educational institutions and also gave a number of students scholarship.
Sincerely, Chief Iwakun was generous to a fault and community leader per excellence. Out of the four of them who left Lagos to participate in elective party politics in Ikale Local Government in1979, he was the only person who chose to remain at home with his people.
He was the secretary to the council of traditional rulers in Ikale land (Pelupelu) for many years. He was also at different times secretary, Vice Chairman and Chairman of Ikale Central Organization (ICO) responsible for promoting the socio cultural life of Ikale people. It is incontrovertible that ICO was at its best under him, in that, there were numerous unprecedented innovations like the inauguration of Warri chapter of I.C.O. and re-unification of the Traditional rulers in Ikale land.
He wrote the memorandum presented by Ikale Obas to Babagida Administration which led to the creation of Irele Lcoal Government.
He coordinated the first official visit of Ikale Obas led by the Abodi to Osemawe of Ondo Land. When both Oba Osemawe of Ondo land and Abodi of Ikale took the initiative to establish Ikale-Ondo Solidarity Committee to serve as a forum to discuss their common problems and a platform to forge unity between Ikale and Ondo people, he was appointed one of the nine (9) eminent persons representing Ikale and was also appointed secretary to the entire solidarity committee.
He had been deeply involved in the efforts to resolve both intra and inter-communal rifts in the various Ikale settlements. For instance, the Obaship dispute in Iju-Osun kingdom; the rift of ascendancy between Oba Larogbo and the Baale of Ado at Akotogbo, the Obaship problem at Ajagba, Iyansan, Irele and Ikoya.
At one time or the other, he had undertaken sundry assignments for the committee of Chiefs and Elders, the committee which manages the border problems of Ikale land from Iyansan, Irele through to the big road in Osooro, Chairmanned by the late Oba W. A. Adu Omoge, the Obagberume of Igbodigo.
In 1994, he wrote and presented the memorandum suggesting that the abandoned army Barracks at Okitipupa be converted into a University Campus which was accepted by the Ikale conference of Obas (Pelupelu).
On several occasions, he had drafted addresses for presentation to governors, text of press releases of communiqué at the meetings and text of speeches at press conferences for I.C.O. and Pelupelu.
Chief Kayode Iwakun has contributed socially to the development of Ikale land as one of the founding members of Layelu Social Club Ode-Aye. The Chairman Ologbede, a trading association at Ode-Aye. He was founder of Ikale Elites Club, a Club of prominent Ikale sons.
As a founding member, he produced the draft of what is today called the constitution of the Federation of Ode-Aye Development Association (FODA). As a matter of fact he coined the term Federation of Ode-Aye Development Association and its abbreviation (FODA). Together with High Chief Omogoroye, Messrs Adelokiki, Kunle Orunto and others.
He started the home branch of Ode-Aye Development Association (ODA) where High Chief Omogoroye and Mr. G.K. Adelokiki were elected the Chairman and secretary respectively. He also wrote the draft of ODA home branch constitution. He is a Patron and grand Patron to several organization among which are National Union of Ikale Students (NUIKAS National Body), NUIKAS OAU Chapter, Federation of Aye Students Union (FASU National Body) UNN Oduduwa Students Association (ODA Nsukka), Layelu Wives Club. Etc.
The “LAFE” incidents is also illustrative of his commitments to the development and welfare of Ikale people, even at the risk of his personal liberty. Sometime in 1986, Ondo state’s military Administrator, Ekundayo Opaleye summoned Ikale, Ondo and Odigbo Obas, Chiefs and leaders of Lafe, Ehin-Oluwa for meeting. On his arrival, the Governor announced to the stunned Ikale people that Ondo state Government had decided to construct Ehin-Oluwa the whole stretch of Land between river Oluwa, Oja Baale and stretching Southwards of Agbabu into a forest reserve. There were over 2,000 Ikale who depended entirely on the Land for their livelihood. Chief Iwakun there and then challenged the Military Governor over the Wisdom of the policy and that was how the government abandoned the policy and Ikale people are on the land today.
High Chief (Hon) Kayode Iwakun was the Chairman of Organization of Bitumen Producing Areas (OBPA) with headquarters at Agbabu. He organized the first ever Ikale Merit Award giving ceremony in 1997.
In recognition of his numerous contributions to the society he was honored with several Awards, the Chieftancy title of Obamuwahan of Ode-Aye in 1992 and later promoted to High Chief (Ijama) as Lugbohun of Aye Kingdom.
In 1995, he was nominated by the traditional rules (Obas) of Okitipupa Division as the Director of Okitipupa Oil Palm Plc. (OOP PLC)
As a farmer he was the National Secretary of National Palm Produce Association of Nigeria (NPPAN), the federal government sponsored apex organization regulating and promoting all aspect of oil palm business in Nigeria with headquarters in Uyo, Akwa Ibo State. He was the Managing Director, Zoki Industries which engaged in the marketinh of palm oil and palm kernel, in the processing of oil palm fruits to extract oil and kernel and in the management of oil palm farms 1984-1999.
Ideologically, Chief (Hon) Kayode Iwakun was a core leftist of socialist inclination. He believes in an egalitarian society that guarantees freedom, welfare and equality for all.
As an author, He published many books among which were:
a) Ideology and political party system
b) Education Administration in Nigeria Co-author with, Prof. Segun Adesina.
c) An assessment of the Educational sector of the Third Development in Educational Planning in Nigeria (ed) co- author with Prof. Segun Adesina
d) NOTES on No Longer at Ease by Chinua Achebe
e) Critique of some poems of Colridge, Keats and words worth
f) Moderrn Elites of Ikale Land ( A biography of Eminent Ikale persons) 1997.
g) Probable Conflicts in Local government Administration in Nigeria – 2005
High Chief (Hon) John Kayode Iwakun would be remembered as a selfless man. He was a committed and dedicated father, grandfather, husband and a brother indeed. He demonstrated his love to the best of his ability to his family, friends and political associates. He was an uncommon, humorous and eloquent speaker, who spoke very big grammar. He could address large audience for hours without getting them bored.
Born into a Christian home, Chief Iwakun was a member of the Wesley Methodist Church Ode-Aye. He actually rededicated his life to God on his sick bed and was praying and praising God at the time he answered the Almighty call on Monday 16th, July 2007 around 3 pm at Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Owo, Ondo State.
Although High Chief (Hon) Kayode Iwakun has departed this world, but his principles and the visions he stood for will live forever. He is survived by wives, Childre, Grandchildren and siblings.
Today makes it exactly 14 years that this erudite scholar, industrial baron, political juggernaut, political encyclopedia, community leader, an achiever and innovator, this genius and rare gem, workaholic and successful citizen, patriot, teacher, philanthropist and promoter of education, a lover of culture and image of Ikale people, an innovating father and husband, High Chief (Hon) John Kayode Iwakun departed this sinful world.
Rest On Papa..