How my late mum, Emife raised me from nothing to something with £37 — Gen. David Jemibewon | Says “I was dull in school”

General David Jemibewon to Asabeafrika…’I have been getting a rude shock before my birthday in the last two Julies of 2015 and 2016. I pray next one wont be like this’

The Month of July is the month many
good and otherwise things happened to Elder Statesman and former Adjutant
General of the Nigerian Army, General
David Medayese Jemibewon
(CFR, Mni). Jemibewon
is a former Governor of Western State of Nigeria and former Police Affairs
Minister under President Olusegun Obasanjo’s civilian regime. He
was born on July 20, 1940. He lost his first wife and mother of his first 5
children on July 22, 2015. And this year, as he birthed in Lagos for the one
year anniversary program of his first wife, Madam Comfort Jemibewon (Nee Oni) the news of the peaceful demise
of his beloved mom, Mama Rachael Emife
Jemibewon
in her sleep on Thursday July 21st reached him.

Although Mama passed away at the ripe age of 106 but the General who is her
first son was still very much distraught. 
General Jemibewon who was
appointed Military Administrator of the Western States of Nigeria between
August 1975 and March 1976 and later became the first Military Administrator of
Oyo State after Oyo, Ogun and Ondo states were carved out of the old
western states between March 1976 and July 1978 under the military regime of General Olusegun Obasanjo later became a Minister of Police Affairs between 1999 and
year 2000 under the Civilian regime of President
Olusegun Obasanjo
. He is reputed to be the minister who created what is now
known as the Police Service Commission (PSC). The General, who is
now the Rector of Jemibewon
International Academy
Iyah-Gbedde, gave his mum a befitting funeral
attended by the high and mighty in Nigeria between Wednesday August 3 and
Friday August 5, it was a great event that drew the cream-de-la-cream of
Nigeria to Iyah-Gbedde in Kogi State-North Central Nigeria.

Your Africa’s Number 1 Celebrity
Encounter blog, Asabeafrika caught
up with General David Medayese Jemibewon
inside one of the living rooms of his IyahGbedde Country home in the late hours
of Friday, August 5 as he told us the moving story of how his late Mother, Mama Rachael Emife Jemibewon raised him
through thick and thin to become somebody in life. The General who moved in and
out of emotion as he spoke to us praised his mother endlessly wishing her a
peaceful rest in her final abode. Enjoy the excerpts.

The General set to speak with Asabeafrika


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How would you describe your late mom, Rachael
Emife Jemibewon?
Thank you
very much for finding the time to be present during the burial of my mother,
let me just make a correction not a serious error anyway, actually my mom died
on the 21st of July not 22nd. Just like perhaps anybody who happens to have
great respect for his parents, I think that I am grateful to the Almighty God
for the efforts of my parents, my dad who died in 1990, and my mom who died and
was buried today. I say that I thank God and thank them because, at the time I
went to school, it wasn’t too easy. In fact to the best of my knowledge, in
this area, I was perhaps the first to have attended a non government school. I
went to Offa Grammar School in 1955. And this area being a part of the
north, most brilliant chaps in this area, who went to secondary schools before
going to the university, attended government schools. They attended provincial
Secondary Schools.

A banner of Mama Rachael Emife Jemibewon

Okenne Junior Provincial Secondary school
that was in the old Kabba province, Government College, KC, Government College,
Zaria, these were the few Government Colleges available. But of course, each
province in the north had provincial school. But because of the limited spaces
in these schools, admission was restricted. So when I was in standard 6 in 1954
at Ayetoro
here, the year I should have taken exams into these government schools but i
was not allowed to take the common entrance. The reason given was that, I was
too old to go to the university.

Mama in a BMC Val Limo on her last journey on earth

The General paying the last respect to a woman who raised him from nothing to something


So going back specifically to the question that you have asked, I do not think
or let me put it this way, I happen to have enjoyed the advantage of which not
too many people had the opportunity. The immediate junior brother of my father,
happen to be a staff of UAC and the headquarters of UAC in those days was Burukutu
in the present day Delta state. I don’t know how it happened, but I was sent to
him. So, I started school in 1949 at CMS primary school, Burukutu. But
unfortunately I was sick a year or so after, but because I could speak broken English
which was what was spoken in the riverine areas where I was coming from. I
think they took it to mean that I was clever when in fact, I was not. When I
was brought home, my father was not enthusiastic about sending me to school
because the school in my village had just started. However, the teacher who
established the school and who was leading the Baba Egbe, his name is Francis Ademola Fagbemi from a place
called Ekinrinade, in Ijumu Local Government Area which is my local
government in the old Kabba province. He tried to convince
my father and when my father finally agreed, I was sent to school. So you could
see that fortune played a great part in my life.
After finishing primary school, i came to Ayetoro here which was the only
place that had Standard 6 around here other than, Mopa and Kabba
at that time.

The General in the heart of the chart with Asabeafrika and Media Colleague, Paul Ukpabio of The Nation Newspaper
General David Medayese Jemibewon & his pretty wife, Chief (Mrs) Dupe Jemibewon

When I was in the school in my village, I wasn’t too bright I must be honest.
And the reason was because they admitted me into primary one. In Burukutu
one had to start from something before primary one. That is where I was before
coming back to Ayetoro. But when I got back, I was put in primary one. It
wasn’t too terrible, but I was just managing and we were just nine in the
class. But when I reflect now, I don’t know how, but I was never first, second
or third, but by the time I moved from primary four to primary five and we came
to Ayetoro
here, I was one of those who were in the first league. I was doing
well. By the time I was in standard 6 in 1954, in fact, I was teaching other
boys and girls who came to my village to read for their primary 5 and 6 at Ayetoro.

General
David Jemibewon to Asabeafrika…’The Nigerian situation is so
phathetic politically that i had to invest in education to help mold
character of new Generation Leaders’
General
David Medayese Jemibewon to Asabeafrika…’I think you should go and
investigate why lots of people came for my mother’s funeral on a week
day’

But like I said earlier, when we were to take common entrance examination which
used to be based on your performance, somehow the headship of the school felt
that by my age, it was not likely that I will end up in University. However,
the deputy to him who happened to be our class teacher had a different opinion
to him. I never heard of grammar school before. I had no clue but somehow,
honestly, how they entered me into Offa Grammar School, I don’t know,
the exam was still done in Kabba. As we wrote the exam, we were
interviewed that same day. And then few weeks later, I was admitted into the
school. If you have a copy of the burial programme you will see that aspect
where I wrote something about my mother. And so even today, by the time you use
the exchange rate, 37 pounds fifteen shillings was not a little money at that
time. That was the school fees to e a border which I was. General Alani
Akinrinade
was a year my senior. That is why I said that without the
support of my mother, even though my father would have loved me to go to such a
school, it would have been very difficult for him, to send me to such a school.
It wasn’t easy at all.

The GDA signs Mama’s Condolence register on arrival at Iyah-Gbedde
Some Women Group from Aiyetoro-Gbedde welcoming Mama’s body into the event

The only thing we could produce here was tobacco, coffee and other palm products like yam. And so knowing my mother,
the effort she put to assist my father for the purpose of my schooling, I
cannot but feel very touched by her departure. But we must show gratitude to
God for she lived for 106 years, and that until she gave up, there were no
signs of illness. My first wife (Mrs. Comfort Jemibewon) died July 22 last
year, and I was in Lagos, for her first year anniversary remembrance and the
last born of my mother who is a lady, I gave the instruction that she and one
of the wives of my junior brother who is now deceased and the last of the Jemibewons
should come down to Lagos to attends the event. Just the three of them; they
left that 21st, if Mama had showed any signs, they wouldn’t have left her. In fact
when they got to Lagos, those of us in Lagos, were the once that informed them
that the Mama you left behind had gone beyond. So I give gratitude to
God and my mom, it doesn’t matter how old you are, if you end up going to
hospital, it creates extra expenses and anxiety, in the sense that we will be
checking at the hospital daily to ensure that she is well taken care of and so
on, so you may say that the answer took a winding explanation, but I feel
grateful and a little bit sad in the sense that the only mom I know is gone.

Mama’s Condolence Register signed by Eminent Nigerians
The General & The GDA after the Encounter


 Your lifestyle told me one thing, it is good
to be nice to people. I saw the dignitaries here, even billionaires, who left all
they must have loved to do on two prominent week days (Thursday & Friday)
to come to
Iyah Gbedde and be with you to attend the various
funeral ceremonies of your mum.  People
like Jide Omokore, Tunde Ayeni, Segun Awolowo and others. Why are you so much
revered?




It is
difficult for me to explain, it’s for you to probably come up with an idea
about it. First Tunde Ayeni is a relation of mine. The father of his mother
trained me as a little boy but I was just a little boy then. I was the youngest
out of the many chaps that were with him. Again your question is pungent
because not all those who are related have good relationship. Also at one time,
Tunde
went to school while staying with me. Again like I said, we do have families
where son and father don’t agree or children of the same father don’t agree. So
we thank God for the observation you made, maybe they are happy with me, and I
am happy with them (laughs). So that is one explanation. Also, some great
people came, like a former Commissioner, a friend of mine who is now 85; he
just arrived this evening, a Prince of Osogbo,
Prince
Oyekanmi
, who is living in Osogbo
now. All the events have taken place before he got here. I had wished he didn’t
come because he is an old man. I didn’t invite him. He said he saw it in the
papers this morning and so he jumped into his car to be here. There is Chief
S. P. A. Ajibade
, he is from Ado Ekiti, a lawyer, he was
my Attorney-General (As Governor of old Western Region) and he came. There is Alhaji
Adetunji
from Ibadan, he came. He was actually the
first person I met when I became a governor then.

General David Jemibewon to Asabeafrika…’Mama never showed a sign that she was going. She died Peacefully’

There is one Alhaji
Inaolaji
. That is not his real name, but that is what we call him. His
son came. He too is above 80. If they don’t love or like me, they probably
would not have come. I know somebody that would have loved to come. Goddie
Ibru
for instance, didn’t know what to do because over the weekend, he
too had a burial to attend to. His brother Senator Felix Ibru was being buried
in Delta State. The former deputy governor (Professor Ituama), first former
Attorney General of Delta State for about 8 years, under Dr Ibori, and another 8
years as Deputy Governor under ex Governor Uduaghan happen to have
been one of my lecturers in University of Lagos. And he felt he wanted to come.
And while he called me and lamenting as to what to do, because he is also Urhobo
like Goddie
Ibru
, I had to tell him not to worry, if possibly he should just send
me a condolence letter which I could publish in the burial programme. (I will
be glad if you can include this) Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark
sent a delegation of two people.

Mama’s Last Insignia
General DM Jemibewon loves Mum forever

With such type of people, that is what you can’t
buy with money, incidentally, I do not know why the man likes me so much
because one, he made me a member of his foundation which graduated through a
process, he established a University,
he made me the chairman board of trustees of the university. When he launched a
fund about two years ago, he made me the chairman of the organizing committee
and a chief guest of honor was the then President Goodluck Jonathan, the
chairman of the occasion was General Yakubu Gowon, and American
activist Jesse Jackson gave the speech for the occasion, and he made me
a chairman in the committee, where they were not less than three former
Governors, six Senators and General Haruna who is my senior. And
I asked chief, ‘of all this great people, why me?’ He said that my name has
never been associated with any fraud. I always say sometimes you talk to some
people and they say that does not bring money, well, I feel good about it. That
is because, people in my family come and tell me that ‘daddy, I went to a place
and when we were introducing ourselves, people were asking are you related to
the same General Jemibewon?’ That makes me feel grateful to God.

“There is a Colonel here who wanted
to go to the House of Representatives; he would have been the best candidate
here if we really wanted the best material. But I told him that he should not
waste his money. I told him that I have a disease and he suffers the same
disease which is the fact that we both have military background. And because we
earn our salary legitimately, we don’t have the time to waste money bribing
people to vote for us”.

And
The General lost emotion for Mum as Mama’s body was set to be lowered
in the grave. His younger sister, Madam Janet Owadokun & his ‘Son’
Barrister Olatunde Ayeni consoled him

Why I built Jemibewon Academy
I took a walk round Jemibewon International School today and I can see the quality of  educational facilities at that school as it
struck me, and some of the students, future leaders that are being molded
there, students who spoke intelligently, why did you decide to contribute to
education sector in such a magnanimous way, and why in a rural set up like
this?

First, the exact name of the school is Jemibewon International Academy. I
have found out that while politics is supposed to improve our society, the way
we operate politics here is almost anti-development. Let me tell you something
quickly, I tried to go to the senate. In fact it was not my wish but people
came to talk to me. And I found out that to attain a political position in this
country, you had to spend money. And that itself breeds corruption. And of
course I didn’t need it for various reasons. There is a Colonel here who wanted
to go to the House of Representatives; he would have been the best candidate
here if we really wanted the best material. But I told him that he should not
waste his money. I told him that I have a disease and he suffers the same
disease which is the fact that we both have military background. And because we
earn our salary legitimately, we don’t have the time to waste money bribing
people to vote for us. And since I failed to go, my believe is that you my
friend will fail. In fact I hope you were here the other day, do you know some
people who had not voted for him (Colonel) still came back to say that they
voted for him and wanted  money (laughs)!
So I advised them that when they get the money, reserve something for the future,
even if you cannot be a  permanent member
of a political party, establish a club where you can go and socialize and so
on. So if something happens and the political party does not exist again, since
you have given a name to the club, that is not associated with the party but
the basis of forming it was politics, you could continue to enjoy it. But they
will want to share money immediately money is given out. No reserve for the
future. And some of the slogans for PDP were awkward. For instance they say “PDP!
Power to the people!
And the youths will say ‘now, now, now, now’. In
other words, they don’t want to look into the future.

Pall Bearers carrying Mama’s body to the last destination
General David Jemibewon to Asabeafrika…’My mum paid my school fees of £37 pounds, 15 Shillings for 5 Consecutive Years’

When I looked into all
these, I therefore said to myself, that if I am to live my life to help people
known and unknown, born and yet to be born, the best way is to go into
education. I had the intention of either building a school or a medical
facility, so I took a decision on one. I am not a doctor, so even if I build a
hospital, I will have to employ doctors and no doctor will be willing to come
into this bush in a rural area. But I know that if people know me in this
country and if they respect me, knowing that I come from this bush, and this
place now is not even as bushy as it was when I went to school, so why don’t I
just start a school here?. So that is why I establish Jemibewon International Academy.
Of course, many people tried to convince my wife that I must be mad to locate a
school in my rural area. That I should have built the school in Abuja
and on a daily basis, I will be carrying money in big basket to the bank. But it’s
true; it’s not been easy because for every N3 I spend in the school, it is only
N1
that comes from parents so far. There is no month that I do not spend about N1.2m
here. But I do know that the future holds great prospect because I went to Offa
Grammar School
and from the history of that school which we know,
there were those who contributed 6 pence, there were those who
contributed 1 shilling. It is through their magnanimous contribution and
foresight that people like us became educated. Let me also leave something for
posterity.

General David Medayese Jemibewon (CFR, Mni)
The GDA, The General & Mr. Paul Ukpabio of The Nation Newspaper

(Watch out
for Part 2 of the Jemibewon Exclusive titled “My Biggest Fear
for Nigeria”
on this blog shortly)

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