Tribute/Diary to My Late Awopegba Adedapo Julius [DPO] FUTASU President [March 10, 2012 - July 13, 2012]
This is a story I have said before, it is a story I will continue to say because Awopegba Julius Adedapo [DPO], it’s the last respect I can pay to you.
My dearest DPO, as you are fondly called by friends and foes alike, today, it’s exactly 2 years [= 24 months, 104 weeks, 730 days, 17,520 minutes, 1,051,200 seconds] that you have been committed to mother earth and yet it seems like yesterday. We parted ways at the Federal University of Technology Akure [FUTA], long after the “swearing in ceremony” that brought you officially into office, the stead I had left for you, to continue the uplift of Students’ welfare in our great citadel of learning, FUTA.
Being a 400 level student of the prestigious Federal University of Technology Akure [FUTA], I had proceeded on the compulsory 6-months Industrial Training [I.T] scheme. I was hell bent on making all necessary required income during those 6-months, which I look back to with nostalgia. Having garnered little working experience as a fresh undergraduate, thanks to the “110-days ASUU strike of 2009″, I expected this I.T to be “bread and tea”, I was wrong! I had to work my socks off to get a placement, can we forget about the pay, please? My industrial attachment took me to SEVEN states [Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Edo, Delta, Anambra, Kogi], I worked on virtually all the NIPP [National Integrated Power Plant] complex in the southern hemisphere of Nigeria! I kept on ticking the days, waiting for the 6-months to be over, for probably the first time in my life, I longed to go back to school!
In the middle of a tiring, hectic schedule on a very wet fateful Friday, July 13th 2012, at the Petroleum Training Institute [PTI] central mosque, Effurun – Delta State, that was my post of duty then, just immediately after the jumah salamah [end of prayer], my phone lines went agog with numerous phone calls from past and present union leaders and union members, I knew something was wrong! My circus on the “social media” were buzzing and beeping me all at once, I knew big trouble was in stock! Then I saw it with my own eyes, it was posted CLEARLY and LEGIBLY, by a “senior comrade”, an ex-FUTASU president, on his facebook wall, I wept! Since the day I lost my mum, at the tender age of NINE, I always claim that no death can shake me vigorously again, until well, I lost my dad too, four years later, that for me, sealed my “weeping eyes” for any death again, until Julius Adedapo Awopegba [DPO] died, I wept like a kid, it shook me to my bone marrow. Your death stood right next to my parents’ own on my list of personal colossal lost!
After my tears had dried up a bit, which took the better part of TWO hours, I decided point blank to make the trip down to Akure that evening, but my boss wouldn’t have any of it, he was worried about my safety for such late trip, from Asaba, Delta State to Akure, Ondo State. He persuaded me to wait till the next morning before I made my trip, which I obliged. The waiting all night was painful, lonely and extremely long, I just couldn’t sleep, I lost my appetite, I couldn’t eat. I wept more. At cock crow the next morning, Saturday, July 14, 2012, I was the first out of the block for the short drive to the park, upon getting to the park, I learnt I couldn’t make the trip because the Edo State Gubernatorial election was being conducted that day, there was no movement, both vehicular and personal, in and around Edo state, I had to pass through Edo state, which was a connecting state from Delta state to Ondo state! I wept more at the park! I just couldn’t bear the pain of being somewhere in Delta state, and I couldn’t pay my last respect to a close associate on his death bed at the Federal Medical Centre, Owo.
I had no choice but to go back and wait for another 24 hours before I could make my trip to Akure, the wait was excruciating and painfully long. During the wait, there were counter reports from the officials of FUTASU that DPO wasn’t dead, that he was in a state of coma. Why play “politics” with the death of a perfect, young and resourceful gentle man beats my imagination! Was is it that the officials of FUTASU were blatantly falsifying the truth ? Or were they “withholding” the truth from the students? Or was it due to inexperience on the path of FUTASU officials in handling such important issue?. A similar scenario ensued when the then president of the country, the Late Umaru Musa Yar’adua, died, the presidential aides kept feeding the masses falsehood which almost tore the nation apart! I don’t get why the true state of the then number one student of FUTA be withheld from the students populace, whom he is/was serving. This piece isn’t for the shenanigans or those that were with us [the student movement] then but not now, they have since switched sides! Emotion is making me deviate from my tribute to the illustrious Julius Adedapo Awopegba [DPO].
While my forced wait didn’t allow me to personally participate in the mass student movement that ensued all day on that epic saturday after the “confirmed news” of DPO’s demise was made known to students, Akure town witnessed, if not the BEST [from the point of view of a unionist] or worst [from the point of view of the "anti-student movement" agents], it would surely be right up at the top, depending on which side of the fence you sit; BEST or worst. FUTA students took to street in Akure to mourn the demise of late Julius Adedapo Awopegba [DPO]. I followed the movement all through via the “social network” sites, one after the other, the national dailies had to cover the students’ unrest, which later became a national news. Our demand was just ONE and sacrosanct: that the governor of the state, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, turn up and grieve with the students, on the street! After all, the journey that claimed the life of DPO and four other comrades in Ondo State was in honour of the governor at an award ceremony in Abuja. The governor, after lots of delay and “poli-tricks” by his aides, later showed up, albeit not on the street, but inside the school premises, at the Sports complex, precisely, where he listened to few aggrieved students, he promised a “state-burial” among others. To an extent, the thirst for justice within the rank and file of the FUTA students’ movement had been satisfied, they all dispersed and went home to regroup the next day.
I embarked on my journey, first thing Sunday morning, a little delay occurred in Benin city, as the “comrade governor” had won a re-election, I was deep in thought, we had lost a comrade that could have gone on to better the impeccable records of the “comrade governor”! The joy on his face at the open rally while I was commuting was a joy to behold, the happiness on the faces of indigenes and residents of Benin city was heart warming, Ring-road, Benin city, was temporarily turned into the “convention ground” where Adams Oshiomole delivered a goodwill message to hundreds of thousands of electorates who had poured out en masse to celebrate with the “comrade governor” in the slight rainfall, neglecting their sunday service, that was the power of “comrades”, and far away in Owo, we had lost a “shining comrade”. In my thoughts, I prayed to DPO to forgive me, for, I had abandoned my trip to Akure, for about 1 hour, to behold the spectacle on display at Ring-road, Benin city. I wept again, the lads surrounding me thought I was weeping tears of joy for Adams Oshiomole, no folks, I was weeping for my deceased comrade! I was weeping because I was thinking, this rally could have been DPO’s own in some 20 years time! And it’s all gone down the drain with his death!
On arrival at Akure that sunday, I met a sizeable number of “students activist” on ground, still gathering, still mobilising, still inspiring, still challenging the “powers that be”, still holding forth, still insisting on having a “lecture-free” week in honour of the late FUTASU president, and above all, still praying! I joined in naturally, exchanged pleasantries with all and sundry within my reach, and I was immediately “sighted” by the agents of the University management. A task from the Dean of Students, Dr B.K Alese, he himself a thorough FUTARIAN, and once a FUTASU official, having served meticulously as an honourable during his days on campus, was immediately assigned to me, I was to join in the efforts to calm the students.
The Ondo State government too as well did not leave us in mourning alone, they took care of the corpses at the mortuary of the Federal Medical Centre, Owo, they took care of the bills, casket and transport of the corps from Owo to various destinations.
It was indeed a monumental burial I could remember DPO, your corpse left early morning to Ibadan from Owo, your body was escorted from FMC, Owo to FUTA, where we had demanded that you should be allowed to be paid a last lap of honour by students in the school, after much arguments and bickering by the University management, the FUTASU officials cowed in, they didn’t allow us give you the best befitting lap of honour we wanted, although, they claim it was your family that instructed that they didn’t want your corpse to be brought into the school, we didn’t believe them, we connived with some genuine student movement comrades and ensured that your corpse was brought into the school premises, a short lap of honour was did for you from the frontage of the Students’ Union Building to the North-gate of the school, where we had mobilised an appreciable chunk of students to pay their last respect to you, there was tears from us, as we could not hold ourselves any longer, it was a memorable sober, we drove in convoy of about thirty vehicles, all from neighbouring institutions, Ondo State government officials, the University Management, and well-wishers to see you home, we were living legends, you were our deceased hero!
I remember vividly, our first “tate a tete”, it was sometime in 2010, when I, as the then Assistant General Secretary of the FUTA Students’ Union, was running helter skelter to get the “power brokers” of FUTA, which you were strongly one, as the then “school governor” of the prestigious School of Agriculture and Agricultural Technology [SAAT], to endorse my candidacy for the presidency slot. I had to practically appeal to your pity to support my candidature, which you were against, due to the debacle you found yourself in, there was a presidential candidate running from your school, SAAT, and it would be “politically suicidal” for you to jettison his candidature to support mine. It was in this same meeting that I took the decision to personally have a flesh of pound from you when I eventually get to become FUTASU president. I waited patiently, 12 months later, it was your turn #DPO to run for presidency, and I vowed never to support you!
Our second contact was while you were running for the top seat, the FUTASU presidency, I would never forget that fateful day. You had been doing all your best to have an audience with me, but I had been doing all my best to put you off, refusing to grant you the audience, after a while, I eventually decided to meet you, I fixed the appointment in my room, suite A1, FUTASU presidential villa, block II, Abiola Hall, FUTA, I can see you all FUTA folks giggling at that address, stop it, don’t paint the “luxury accommodation” of the FUTASU president in bad light to the public now!
Before your arrival, I had ensured all the core members of my campaign team where present for the “D-day” with you. Upon your arrival, you were stunned to see us, eagerly waiting for you. When you had been through with your “speech” on why we should endorse you, I broke into a tirade, I lost my head, and I told you point blank I would never support you! You were stunned! That gladdened my heart! I then proceeded to take the pain to explain to you why I wouldn’t endorse you; I told you it was because of what you did to me, I told you it was the way you treated me when I came to you for your support while I was gunning for the top seat, I told you that you barely gave me an audience, you made me stand to hold that discussion with you at the 3-in-1 lecture theatre “quadrant”, I told you that you didn’t give me a chance back then, and I told you it was since that day that I have held that grudge against you. I told you that the day I learnt you were also nursing the presidential ambition, I had made up my mind I was going to tell you what you did to me, which really hurt me. Surprisingly, you smiled, that smile probably won my heart! And you explained all that happened to me, you told me your hands were tied back then, that you couldn’t “betray” the SAAT agenda. I was thrilled by your loyalty to SAAT. Either it was your loyalty to SAAT, although I later won the then SAAT candidate, right in his own faculty, or it was your smile, at the end of that epic and lengthy discussion, I told you that the presidency was yours! I don’t know what or why I said it, but I knew you were the horse to beat in the race. I told you not to panic because it was still early in the race, and you were up against heavy weights, there was the “SOS agenda”, there was the “SEET agenda”, and you were more of the “underdog”. Above all, there was the strong personal believe you had that you were going to win the presidential race. But GOD has HIS ways of playing out destiny, the rest, they say, is history, Julius Adedapo Awopegba [DPO], you eventually won the FUTASU presidential race.
Our third contact too was based on the “suspicion” of your campaign team that I was playing “politics” with you and your campaign crew. You were concerned that a present officer in my regime was also running for the presidency post and that I would go with him not you. But I reiterated my stance that I’ll provide all logistics support to you and your crew to the best of my ability, but I told you I wasn’t going to betray an officer in my regime, I told you that was the BEST I could do for you. Your crew wanted me to be a leading advocate of your campaign, and I told you that was asking for too much from me.
I remember back then how we took the bull by the horn, when we protested against the outrageous fee for the “soon-to-be introduced” PMT 301 & PMT 302 course, that was our first real struggle. It was a battle of the wits with the university management. It was during the transition period from the “outgoing FUTASU officials” to the “incoming FUTASU officials”, we held series of meeting, in house, and with the management, where we had to keep pushing the fee for this course down, we had to start our negotiation from the #12,000 charge, after extensive debates for and against the introduction of the course, we settled “unofficially” for #3,000 at the fifth meeting. I want you to know that after your demise, the fee was hiked up to #4,500, I swear to GOD, I know nothing about it, I was away on I.T, that formed the first basis for the numerous resentment towards the officials of your regime after you left! Despite calls from some “short-sighted” students that you should demand for the outright cancellation of the PMT courses, you stood firm and upheld it, you only beat the price down further, thus students had no option but to take the course, virtually all students who has taken the course has gainfully learned one “entrepreneurial skill and vocation” or the other, except perhaps, the stress they complain about, but again, what comes without pain? Most of them today are managers of men in their different “small scale” endeavours, this is another milestone of yours!
I could remember my last struggle as the president of FUTASU, it was due to the epileptic power failure around school area, you had just been elected but not yet sworn in, technically, I was still in charge, but theoretically, you were the boss, my star was shining less among the students, yours had just begun to shine brightly. The pressure from the students for a protest was mounting, I had no choice but to call a congress, and at the congress, it was resolved that we led a “peaceful protest” to the PHCN office at NEPA junction, I communicated that resolution to the university management, and of course, they were against it, we had no option but to move en masse to the PHCN complex. After we had all gathered on the morning slated for the protest, the Dean of Students, Dr B.K Alese, did all he could to stop us, but we still went ahead, I remember the threat you got that you hadn’t been sworn in yet, and that the mandate could be taken from you, but you still forged ahead with me at the battle front to the battle ground, the PHCN complex. Your sheer courage and willpower really motivated me and lots of students and we achieved results though not immediate, this again, you fought out rightly.
My President, I will never also forget our last trip to Abuja together, before your “LAST” trip, I can still picture the both of us cuddled in the hotel room, on the same bed, brainstorming on ways to make FUTASU better, it was this trip that you discussed extensively with me, all your plans for a better and more vibrant student movement in FUTA, it was this trip that really made me know you! We ate from the same plate, the potato chips and egg from that local woman on the road side, which became our regular meal during our stay on Lagos Street, Abuja. That smile of yours whenever we hit a snag in our efforts to ma FUTASU a better and more vibrant union!!! I can’t ever recall seeing you frown!
My dear Julius Adedapo Awopegba [DPO], I write you today that I shall never forget your good for humanity and most especially myself, at any given opportunity in life again, I shall remember you. Julius Adedapo Awopegba, DPO, as you used to say: “it is not over until is over”, there we are and the struggle continues.
Adiue my dear Dapo, like I said this morning, those we started the struggle with have join them and we are still watching the day we shall triumph over them.
May your soul continue to rest in perfect peace.
May God continue to grant your family the fortitude to bear your loss.