‘Memorable encounter with a fine General, one of Nigeria’s best’

kayode olagunju
kayode olagunju

It was in June 1991, during the OAU Summit in Abuja. I was detailed to man the Abuja-Airport road, now President Umaru Yar’Adua Expressway.

The road was still under construction with a lot of activities on to get the road ready for the OAU Summit.

A convoy of vehicles with an escort appeared. My radar gun picked the speed at 120 kph instead of the maximum speed limit of 100 kph.

I directed the bike attached to my team to give the convoy of cars a chase and stop all the vehicles. It was always a delight then to young officers seeing the power bikes taking off like bullets to catch up with speeding luxury cars.

The rider overtook the vehicles and forced them to stop. I came in my new Peugeot 504 patrol car, few minutes later to meet the convoy already pulled over.

I approached the vehicle of the principal. Behold, it was major general Ike Nwachukwu, the then Foreign Affairs Minister.

I gave him a salute and addressed the driver.

“So, it is even the Foreign Affairs Minister that you are conveying at such a dangerous speed of 120 kph. Do you want to kill him? Don’t you think it will be embarrassing for the nation if our Foreign Affairs Minister should crash during the OAU Summit, when the whole world attention is on Nigeria? Let me have your identity card as I am giving you a speeding ticket.”

The driver looked back to turn my attention to the General. It was like, “Didn’t you see the Minister, a General in the car?”.

Then came the statement I will always remember. Very short and straight to the point, with full authority. “You heard him”, sounded the General.

Sure, the soldier driver did not expect this from the boss.

I collected the ID card and issued the driver a ticket and they left, now moving below the speed limit. I picked up my radio and relayed the encounter to the FRSC Director of Operations, coordinating the operational activities, Engr Ade Coker.

He shouted, “You pulled over the Minister?”. The Chairman of the FRSC then, Prof. Wole Soyinka, immediately came online with his very familiar baritone voice, “Commendable”.

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Then the directive from the then Director of Organisation and Chief Executive, Dr Olu Agunloye, “Let me have your report immediately”.

I got to the base later, to discover that the driver had paid his fines.

Senator Ike Nwachukwu, thanks for the inspiration.

That particular encounter shaped my thinking on power and responsibilities. Thanks for being a true Officer and Gentleman sir. May you continue to be a shining example to many of us. God bless you.

That was my memorable and one of the two personal contacts I ever had with the senator.

(Mr Olagunju is an Assistant Corps Marshall, Federal Road Safety Corps).

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