Five days ago (September 13), I read a tweet that Chief James Ajibola Ige, SAN (1930-2001), popularly known as Bola Ige, would have been 90 on that day. The circumstances of his death (assasination) as a sitting Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) is indubitably one of the lowest points in our history. In response to the tweet I had written that "reading his book was a most stimulating intellectual adventure into the world of a man who thought, who served, and who would remain a model to many who are public-spirited and are passionate about the ideals of a truly progressive society."
The book I'm referring to is "People, Politics and Politicians of Nigeria (1940 - 1979)" most of which Chief Bola Ige wrote from memory during his time in prison between 1984 and 1985.
Although the book was in 'My picks of the Month (June)', I only started reading it sometime in August and finished it at 8:37 p.m. on September 5, 2020. (You can read more on why it made my pick here).
I would like to say a few things about the man and the book. Like I noted in my tweet, the book was my first adventure into the world of Chief Bola Ige. Judging by the sharp recollection of characters and events, the analysis of political developments, as well as a number of things I have now learnt about the man, I believe there is no error in concluding that we had in him one of the brightest and thorough-bred leaders of his generation. His history is even more inspiring. I'm speaking now in reference to his engagements with the Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM) and the World Council of Churches in '50s/'60s.
The book, on its own merit, is a very good history book. In it, readers - particularly of the younger generation, will find a good read that highlights the unfolding of political events, numerous 'behind-the-scenes' and major characters involved in great detail. History enthusiasts would not only learn of what eventually happened, they would also gain insights on possible scenarios of what could have happened if what happened did not happen. In the book, Chief Bola Ige gives an incisive account of emergence of national and regional leadership, and the origin of the ethno-religious dents that characterised civil and military governments, and the those tendencies that have continued to plague us several decades after. It would come to the reader very clearly that those years, which the author covered, were in many ways very instrumental to the present outcome of the Nigerian project. There is the possibility that readers may disagree with the manner in which certain characters were portrayed but in all, Chief Bola Ige's "People, Politics and Politicians of Nigeria (1940-1979)" is a great addition to any library.
And so to all public-spirited Nigerians - young and old, and to all who believe in the country's unfolding story of greatness, I strongly recommend this book.