MUSTAPHA GBAJABIAMILA: THE ASTUTE POLITICIAN
BY AKINLOLU AJE
MANY things combine in making Mustafa Kehinde Gbajabiamila an interesting personality. This solicitor and advocate of the Nigerian Bar, with thirty-one years in legal justice, was a former Lagos State Commissioner – one who would not flaunt himself about to get public nods. M. K. G. as he is popularly called by close associates shone at sporting events in his youthful days and was very outspoken.
Born in Lagos on November 17, 1928 at Dr. Akinlolu Maja’s Hospital, Mustafa has a twin brother, Murtala Taiwo. They both had an elder brother, late Magistrate Lateef Gbajabiamila, whom both (neither twin brothers lived together) loved to dog about – even to his Ansar-Ud-Deen School, Alakoro, Lagos. That school attraction did not embarass Mustapha Kehinde when he first went to that school in 1933.
His grandfather, Kasim, was the third Bashorun of Lagos and his father, Booyanmin, was the first secretary of Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria from its inception in 1923.
When Kehinde left the Ansar-Ud-Deen Day School in 1943, he secured admission to Methodist Boys High School, Lagos in 1945.
Mustafa Kehinde confessed that he was weak in Mathematics but was coached to conquer by late Dr. Teslim Elias, a former Chief Justice of Nigeria and his father’s friend. In other words, his best subject was English Language.
Once, as his twin brother filled his entrance examination form, he came to a point where “Father’s work” had to be filled. Taiwo had written “civil Servant”. Kehinde objected that “Daddy is not a servant because he always wore uniform (he was a customs officer). How can you call daddy a servant?”The old man settled it. Anyone working in the government service was serving the public and so, could be so addressed.
One of eight children of the same father, “M.K.G.” represented his elementary school at Empire Day sports in 1942- 43. From 1947 – 50 he was a champion in pole vault and long jump and cricket at high school, just as his Taiwo was good at high and pole vault.
Of his school days, MKG said: “the best six years of my life were spent at MBHS. I was school athletics prefect there. When prefects were to be chosen for Westminister House, all three of us were Muslims – in a Christian institution.”
He was among the first batch to take the GCE examination which was introduced in 1952. He recalled that Mr. Ibironke of the Law School was also at the examination hall for that test.
Dr. Elias, the family friend, continued to coach him until he mastered Mathematics and passed the LL.B (Intermediate) examination in 1953. “I shall be eternally grateful to that great man”, he reminisced.
In 1975, he was appointed Lagos State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs. Then, he switched over to state Ministry of Finance where he met his childhood friend, M. O. K. Williams, an astute financial administrator.
Was he in politics? Yes, he was, on the NNDP (Demo) – NCNC side. He was a candidate of the NCNC in the 1963 to the Lagos Town Council.On leaving school, he worked with the Lagos Town Council in 1951, then transferred his services to the Administrator – General’s office, from where, in 1955, he left for Britain to study Law at Lincoln’s Inn. He returned to Nigeria in 1961, a law graduate.
Later, he was again moved to the Ministry of Sports and Social Development. He led the Nigerian contingent to the African Games in Algiers. He had the honour of surrendering the flag of the games to the host country – on behalf of the Federal Government.
MKG is of the opinion that only sportsmen should be appointed into sporting administrative bodies.
He resigned his commissioner’s appointment to contest election to the Lagos House of Assembly on the platform of the NPP in 1979. He lost that election.
Of course, he was a nominated councillor of the Lagos Town Council Caretaker Committee at the time of the Akinloye Scania Bus Scandal when many of the supposed new buses broke down on Lagos highways within weeks of operation.
What happened, about the buses? “We were councillors. We did not know buses had been ordered”, he said.
Musphafa kehinde Gbajabiamila was also a member of the LSDPC. He met his wife, Miss Josephine Kehinde Lawson, a Catholic Christian in 1963. They married in 1964.
Islam and Christianity were not working at cross purposes. Both believed in the self – same God.
The happiest day of his life was the day he was called to the Bar in 1961, whereas his saddest day was the day he lost his elder brother, Lateef, in April, 1972.
MKG is a poet, like most quiet bookworms.
His late father was among the 43 founders of Ansar-Ud-Deen Society to be given Award of Excellence posthumously by the society on December 19, 1992 at the Law School, Victoria Island.
First published Saturday, December 5, 1992.