The David Jemibewon Exclusive 3: “I fear my children will hate me” + Why I built a school in my village

General David Medayese Jemibewon (CFR, mni)

In this
third edition of our exclusive encounter with General David Medayese Jemibewon (CFR, Mni), the General shared many more of
his fears, regrets and intention with your Africa’s Number 1 Celebrity
Encounter blog, Asabeafrika.
The Iyah-Gbedde, Kogi State (North
Central Nigeria) born elder statesman who claims not to have embezzled money in
his service days in the army says he fears his children might hate him for
choosing the path of paucity while 
majority of his colleagues choose sumptuousness as a culture. 
General Jemibewon 77, who retired into education business as founder of Jemibewon International Academy—Iyah-Gbedde
shared his new experience as an educationist with us.
Jemibewon is a former Governor of Western State of Nigeria under late General Murthala Mohammed’s regime between August 1975 and March 1976. He
later became the first Governor of Oyo State after Oyo; Ogun & Ondo were
carved out of the old Western States. He ruled Oyo under Obasanjo’s military regime between March 1976 and July 1978 before
he was promoted as Adjutant General of the Nigerian Army towards the end of 1978.  He came back to limelight in 1999 when he was
appointed Minister of Police Affairs under President
Olusegun Obasanjo’s civilian regime,
a position he held with transformative strides till year 2000.
Enjoy the excerpts in this third part
of our encounter with the General.

As a retired soldier and elder
statesman, what can you describe as your biggest regret  anytime you look at your children and grand
children and the thought crosses your mind that you are one of the founding
architects of this great country, Nigeria?

The General with one of his pretty daughters, Omolola

There are so
many things but one can just mention one or two. Sometimes, I feel that my
children may end up hating me.
Why sir?
Yes, it
depends on how they take life. The reason is that I have not embezzled money…
(Cuts in) But how many people will
believe you?

General Jemibewon to Asabeafrika….’I never stole in the Army but i fear my kids won’t believe’

And if my
children should have some interaction or relationship with children of a
military man like myself who took advantage of the position he occupied, my
children are likely to ask questions ‘what
was our father doing?’
. So, each time I think, I don’t feel comfortable.
But fortunately for me, my children are matured. But I have sympathy for them
somehow.  I have great sympathy for them.
Why did you go into education by
establishing Jemibewon International Academy?

Billboard of Jemibewon International Academy, Iyah

In terms of enrollment we are not doing too well. Because this is our 8th year
and our number is not too buoyant. So, we are not doing too well. Some people
claim it is because it is far or that we have not done enough publicity. Some
people say it is equally because of the economy. But in recent time, I think
the economy played a big part. Because even some schools today, parents are
withdrawing their children. They can’t pay school fees because some states
don’t pay salary and for civil servant, it is the salary they spend to remain
alive. So these are some of the problems. But there are many reasons why I
started the school.

Some Students of Jemibewon International Academy, Iyah

There are many reasons not one reason. Number one, I come
from there (Iyah-Gbedde) myself and if not because of education, you would not
have come to interview me. You wouldn’t have known me. So it is education that
has gotten me to where I am and I am grateful to God. I am grateful to my
parents. Then, another factor is one, politically, if you come from somewhere,
everybody who comes to you wants one thing or the other. And you hardly give a
thought of your own responsibility to your immediate family and extended
members of your family. But those of us who came through the military, I mean
up to the time I was in the military and out, perhaps, we didn’t have this
recent mentality of accumulating everything.

A Part of the first wing of Jemibewon International Academy, Iyah

But because of the present
situation, everybody believes somebody who works for government or who has
worked for government must have accumulated a lot of resources. So, they just
spring up, ‘let’s go there and take part of what he has accumulated’…

You mean the national cake syndrome?

General Jemibewon to Asabeafrika….’When you leave power in this country, people think you have stolen enough to go around’

Exactly; so,
I just felt maybe one good way is to help people you don’t even know. I went to
a community school established by the good citizens of the city where the
school is based—Ofa Grammar School.
And when we looked at the history of the people who contributed money, there
were people who contributed six pence at that time. Now, it is their money that
has given me the position that I occupy today. I too want to give something
back to my society.

Students of Jemibewon International Academy in their study hour

I want to give back to my society and I think the best is
education. After education, it may be health but I choose to establish a
school. Education will go a long way in producing great minds  that will change society and that is why I
established Jemibewon International

What is the secret of your smart look
at 77?

General Jemibewon to Asabeafrika….’I moderate my meal and life style’

Number one,
somebody who you think is healthy may not be healthy. (Laughter). But I thank
you for the compliment. So I may just be managing, but it simply tells me that
I can manage my health well, so I appreciate your comment. Some of these things
are God’s gift. We all have our biological ways that God has created us. To say
‘oh, we will live 80 or 100 years’ it
is all rubbish. My junior brothers are dead, that doesn’t make me special. It
is just that God made it possible for me to make it till today. I don’t know
whether you are aware that my name was on Dimka’s list (Dimka Coup of 1976). I
would have been killed as Governor here (Ibadan). So, if you are healthy, it is
God’s grace. You could moderate your health with what you eat, how you live,
how much alcohol you consume and so on. But let me tell you, at the end of the
day, it is God’s making not anybody’s making.
How do you start a day as a school

A Picture of the General with ex-Governor Idris Wada of Kogi State @ Jemibewon International Academy, Iyah

 I don’t think I have a particular routine at
the moment but with time, all I am struggling for now is for a good head start
for the school (Jemibewon International Academy).
What is your saddest day on earth as
a veteran soldier?

The General & his soldier boys

It is
difficult to pinpoint a particular day. I have had many sad days. One that I
remember always and each time I mention it I cannot but break down, but I will
try not to break down today
Please, kindly try sir
During the
war, to be precise I think in Inkalagu, I sent some of my troops on
errand. In a battalion we should have about 27 officers but during the civil
war, we didn’t have that luxury, there were only three officers. Myself and
two; one left with me from Ibadan and the other one, I got him from Maiduguri. And I had to send a troop
which had to be led by an officer. And the boy from Ibadan, his name was Alabi.
And I decided to send Alabi but he
was not happy. He said I wanted to kill him that is why I was sending him to
the spot. But then I had just two officers, there was no way I would have send
myself. And he went….(kept silent with tears nearly dropping from his eyes) and
truly….the guy died….
(Cuts in) He died?

General Jemibewon to Asabeafrika….’The day i lost Alabi @ Inkalagu was my saddest day on earth’

He died. (Kept
silent for 120 seconds) So when I hear people talk about the war, I am not sure
they know what war means. So certainly that was one of the saddest days of my
life and that is why I said there are so many sad days. There are many sad days
but particularly when you lose an officer to the war it is never a good
experience. But this particular one hits me. (Shakes his head in great pity as
if the incident is still fresh in his memory)
What about your happiest day as an

The General’s first child based in the United Kingdom

Maybe the day I had my first child, just like any young man.
A boy
No, a girl;
really I don’t want to believe that any young man will care about the sex when
you are going to have your first child. You may have your preference in your
mind but once the baby is born and the mother and baby are doing well, I mean
you can’t be lamenting that one is a girl or one is not a boy. For me, it
didn’t even cross my mind. It was a great excitement.
What should politicians do to really
deliver true dividend of democracy which includes quality and affordable health
care, good road structure, uninterrupted power supply, quality and affordable
education among many others?

The General with the Deputy Governor of Kogi State during his visit to the General’s country home @ Iyah

I think for
a good start, but I don’t know how it will happen, there must be avenue for
discussion. Communication is very important, let us dialogue so that we can
tell ourselves how we feel about our lives. It should take place at different
forum and at different segments of the society because I don’t have an answer.
I don’t have the answer. The reason I don’t have the answer is this; we are
very dishonest. So, I don’t know, where do we start from? If a Yoruba man is  arrested today for fraud, for corruption,
people will come out including the press saying he is being victimized because
he is a Yoruba man.

The General expressing his frustration @ the anti-corruption war with the GDA

And when he was
stealing they knew. If it is an Igbo
man, the Igbo axis will say the man
is clean; he is being victimized because he is an Igbo man. We cannot make progress with this kind of attitude. If he
is from the north, they will say ‘oh,
northerners are being
So, I ask ‘where do we start from? I think some people must come up, I don’t
even know how they will come up because I think there is a group that calls
themselves The Patriot led by Chief Nwabueze. They should expand the
scope a little bit, come out with achievable targets and solutions and they
should empanel some people. some years ago I was thinking and in fact, I was
discussing with a former Tribune columnist who now write back page for a
national newspaper.

General Jemibewon to Asabeafrika…..’We need to talk to ourselves in this country’

When I was governor here, he was one of those I required to
come and help us for Daily Sketch
. I was hoping that if we em-panel a committee of former head of
states, former chief justices, but I look at it again, of course if you do
that, it is lopsided because majority come from the north. I am from north even
though I am a Nigerian. But we are
not taking the right decision. Where did you say is your state?

Kogi State
Alright, I
just want to know. If you are from Kogi
State, be honest, do you really believe that when we talk of north, those
people from far north regard us as proper northerners?
No, sir.
So, these
are the problems. And if  voting is to be
conducted today and north wants something, they will want us to vote on the
side of the north.
Yes, because we are geographically in
the north

The GDA gives General Jemibewon a copy of General Sam Momah’s book, Nigeria:Beyond Divorce

I can’t
remember if anybody from Kogi State
has been Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello
. Can we say we don’t have educated people in Kogi? You go and do
your research, no one from Kogi state
has been Vice Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello
University. So, these are the kind of
things that gives one headache about this country. So, we need to talk to ourselves
and reach a consensus on ways to live happily and fulfilled. 
(To be Continued)


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