In the depth of the night of 7 March 2023, I woke up three times with nothing, in particular, to do in the small room. Later, I realized I had gone to bed with a heavy heart. It was the third rowdy night in two months.
The first time, I had been uneasy about a health-seeking gentleman in Aba, Dr. Obisike Erondu (see article below). The second passage was that of the wife of my best man. The last transition which kept getting me up from sleep concerned Hon. SAMSON BAMIDELE BADERINWA whose real name many people did not know because, to almost everyone, he was …MR WHITE.
In the afternoon of 7 MARCH, someone who thought I heard of his departure called me and, before saying anything else, greeted me…E KU ORO ENIA. This Yoruba greeting acknowledges all the labour to tidy up the affairs a departed person left behind, including the funeral. How the intellect overwhelmed my intuition still surprises me. For, rather than ask the appropriate question, I asked him if he was coping well with the cash squeeze. He thought my reply was odd. I told him, O KARI AIYE, which meant the money shortage was everywhere. I sat right only after he asked:
“Have you not heard about MR WHITE?”
“What happened”? I asked.
“He has gone,” he replied.
The phone almost dropped from my hand. I had seen him at home the week before. He had been struggling and coping with geriatric health challenges, until, later, when they developed complications. He had become homebound for some months, save for his outing at a wedding on 30 December 2022, about 67 days before he passed. It was the wedding of ESTHER OMOLADE, his foster daughter. Hon Baderinwa danced with her and went around to greet and thank the guests. I guess that, like me, many of the guests believed the worst was over. Little did many of us realize we were seeing him for the last time.
The late Hon. Samson Bamidele Baderinwa (2nd left) with former Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode (middle), and Senator Adeola Olamilekan (right).
Hon. Baderinwa was a humble, quiet, people-oriented, family-loving man, a community worker, and a builder attributes he acquired and developed from a diversified upbringing. He lived with a household of about 15 persons in a bungalow he built in OKO-GRA SCHEME 1. They included his wife, Felicia, and four children, Boluwatife, Taiwo, Kehinde, (all young women), and Michael. He came from a similar household. He was one of six children of his mother and three others by his stepmother. They all grew up together and, in adult life, he gave them his back and shoulders to climb on. Such family bonding is rare in the new Nigerian society in which several families have become atomized.
The life of every one of us is like a flight of stairs in which each rung of the stairway is a stepping stone to the next, forming a rampart to the top. So was it for this gentleman. He struggled through “O” LEVEL education and, from there, to a catering school which prepared him for a job in the catering department of the Lagos State Government Secretariat at Alausa, Ikeja. Many people would think that was a menial job. But, as our forefathers admonish us KO SI ENI TO MO IBI TI ORI N BA ESE RE(No one knows where the head is headed with the legs). For the young Baderinwa would later end up in the Governor’s Office, though not as Governor, but as the caterer trusted well enough to take full responsibility for whatever the Governor eats and drinks. That meant the Governor’s life, like those of his guests he invited to breakfast, lunch or dinner or cocktails, was in his hands.
The job called for intelligence, dedication, loyalty, thoroughness, indefatigability, and trustworthiness, among other noble human qualities. Had his life journey not prepared him, step by step, to be responsible, humble, and trustworthy, Hon. Baderinwa would have not ended up working with three military governors and three civilian governors. One of them recommended him for the award of the MEMBER OF THE ORDER OF THE NIGER (M.O.N), one of Nigeria’s national honours.
Among Hon. Baderinwa Governors bosses were Navy Captain Mike Akhigbe (August 1986- July 1988), Col. Raji Rasaki (July 1988- July 1992), Sir Michael Otedola (Jan. 1992-Nov. 1993), Col. Olagunsoye Oyinlola (Nov. 1993-Aug. 1996), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (May 1999-May 2007) and Mr. Babatunde Fashola (May 2007- May 2011).
From his vantage position in the Governor’s Office, Hon. Baderinwa helped many politicians in Agege and Ifako-Ijaye Local Government Areas achieve their political ambitions. He also secured GRA Scheme 1 against armed robbery attacks of which he and his family were victims.
In the second tenure of Governor Fashola, Bola Ahmed Tinubu recommended Hon. Baderinwa for M.O.N. honour, and encouraged him to retire from work and run, under the APC, to represent Ifedore Constituency of Ondo State in the House of Representatives. He won and represented the constituency for four years (2015-2019).
For anyone who does not know how Hon. Baderinwa came to be known as MR WHITE and not by his official name, the story goes back to Sir Michael Otedola one of the Governors he served. At work, Hon. Baderinwa’s dress code was all-white. Any time the Governor needed his services, he would ask the aides around “call me” Omo White yen“, (call me that white man). The name stuck, till this day.
Mr. Baderinwa left a wife and four children in a large household. His wife is Felicia Oriyomi (nee Ogunpahin of Ikorodu). Their children are BOLUWATIFE, who is studying for a higher degree in Anatomy. Twin girls, Taiwo and Kehinde. Taiwo studies Nutrition and Dietetics. Kehinde studies Public Health. It seems like only yesterday that BOLUWATIFE and I discussed the subject of her degree thesis and I encouraged Taiwo to study Nutrition and Dietetics.
She was under pressure from some of her uncles to study something else. Then, I told her of the famous statement of Dr. Thomas Edison that “the nutritionist of today will be the doctor of tomorrow. Dr. Edison went on to say: “Doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” I knew joy when Taiwo trod the path of Dr. Edison.
On behalf of Hon. Baderinwa family, his eldest child, Boluwatife says: “Dear Daddy, on 7th March 2023, Taiwo, Kenny, Michael and I watched you take your last breath as the doctors did everything they could to save your life. God knows we would have given anything in the world to still have you here with us. These past few days have been the toughest period of our lives. I’m yet to believe that you aren’t here anymore to call me ‘Tife.’
“We’re grateful that we got to spend your last moments with you and we’ll cherish those memories forever.
“Taiwo, Kenny, Michael, and I have been really strong for Mummy. She misses you a lot and won’t stop talking about you. We all miss you.
“I pray that the Lord accepts your soul. Till we meet to part no more, you’ll always be in my heart.
I love you forever,
The Chairman of Oko Oba GRA Scheme 1 Landlords and Residents Association, Otunba Oyebade Obajimi, NPOM, paid the following tribute to Hon. Baderinwa:
“Hon. Samson Bamidele Baderinwa was one of the early settlers of Oko-Oba GRA Scheme 1 who will go down in history as laying the foundations of the organization and management of the Estate.
“In particular he was in charge of the security architecture of the Estate, thus earning a permanent space in the constitution of the Residents Association as the pioneer Security Coordinator.
“The peculiar location of the Estate, bounded by the public abattoir and the railway, characterized by their illegal and shady characters, who constituted themselves into a nuisance, created numerous challenges in those days. Undaunted, Mr. White succeeded in warding them off, often amid threats to his life, to deliver the relative peace which all landlords and residents now enjoy.
“Being my immediate neighbour, I am opportune to observe the numerous extended relatives and friends who live perpetually with him. Often, they outnumber his family unit and ever seem to be revolving. If any known person ever qualified to earn the reward stipulated in Matthew 25: 34 for those who selflessly take care of the needy, we pray to God Almighty to count Hon. Samson Baderinwa worthy.
“Without any doubt, the Estate in general and the early settlers, in particular, shall miss the amiable nature and the core stakeholders dispensation of Hon. Samson Bamidele Baderinwa. We pray that God gives his wife, Mrs. Oriyomi Baderinwa, his children, family, and the entire Estate the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss”.
Every transition leaves a message behind. The common denominator is that it is a parable to the survivors that someday, sooner than later, everyone would transit. Thus, a passage is an opportunity for every mourner to gird his or her spiritual loins and bestir themselves about the purpose of existence on earth.
During his last birthday celebration, Chief Obafemi Awolowo requested a copy of LIFE AFTER LIFE, promising to pay N5000. It was a privilege and honour for me to take one of my two library copies to him in Ikenne the following morning before Church service at no cost to him because he gave me the gift of FREE PRIMARY EDUCATION IN 1956 (I will discuss this encounter some other day). Another book I always like to recommend for this occasion is Stephen Lampe’s THE CHRISTIAN AND THE -INCARNATION.
Beyond that, Hon. Baderinwa’s earthly life teaches me that it is not the congestion of a person’s brain with books that makes him or her what he or she may become. At best, this may sharpen the brain to hold information, classify, store, retrieve and deploy it in attack or defense in the course of daily existence. What makes a person are those human qualities which ennoble character and environment and make other people safe in one’s environment. Hon. Baderinwa was a man so endowed.
Goodbye, Hon. Baderinwa – MR WHITE.
Mr. Femi Kusa
FEMI KUSA was at various times Editor; Director of Publication/ Editor-in-Chief of THE GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER; Editorial Director/ Editor-in-Chief of THE COMET NEWSPAPER. Currently, he keeps a Thursday Column on Alternative Medicine in the NATION NEWSPAPER.
Some of his health columns may be found on www.olufemikusa.com and in MIDIUM a digital platform for writers. He is active also on Facebook @ John OLUFEMI KUSA