TODAY, Sunday, 26 June, 2016, would have, in all probabilities, been the 90th birthday of the first Military Governor of the now-defunct Western Region of Nigeria, the late Lieuten­ant – Colonel Francis Adekunle Fajuyi, had he not been assassinated along with Nigeria’s first military Head of State, the late Major – General Johnson Thomas Umanikuwe Aguiyi – Ironsi, on that counter coup day, 29 July, 1966, in Ibadan, Oyo State.

General Ironsi, the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, emerged military head of state sequel to Nigeria’s first military putsch, on 15 January, 1966, led by the late Major Chuk­wuma Kaduna Nzegwu, which overthrew the (civilian) Federal Government headed by the Prime Minister, the late Alhaji Tafawa Balewa. The Northern, Western, Eastern and Mid-West­ern regional governments were also overthrown with the premiers of the Western and Northern Regions, the late Chief Samuel Ladoke Akin­tola, and the late Sir Ahmadu Bello respectively losing their lives.

Of the four military governors appointed to run the affairs of the regions in January 1966, Lt-Col Fajuyi was posted to the Western Region. Born on June 26, 1926, to the late Pa. Isaiah and Felicia Osundunke Fajuyi of Ado-Ekiti in Ekiti State, the late Col. Fajuyi attended St. George’s Catholic School, Ado-Ekiti. He joined the army on November 16, 1943. After the basic military training in Zaria, he proceeded to the Army Clerks Training School, Yaba. The late Col. Fa­juyi also attended courses in Teshi, Ghana and the Officers Cadet School in the United King­dom, where he was commissioned as a Lieuten­ant in 1954.

He served as Military Adviser, Headquarters ONUC, Congo (August – December, 1961), 2 i/c 3rd Battalion NA, Kaduna; Commanding Offi­cer, 1st Battalion, NA, Enugu and Commander, Abeokuta Garrison. He served in Germany on attachment to the British Army. In 1957, he at­tended the Platoon Commanders course in Eng­land.

He also trained as an officer in Pakistan in 1964. He was married and had children. He was decorated several times for gallantry and resourcefulness.

The late hero Col. Fajuyi offered to die along with his guest, Gen. Ironsi, who had just con­cluded a nationwide tour in Ibadan, a day before the coupists stormed the Government House, Agodi, Ibadan on 15 January, 1966. Fajuyi paid the supreme sacrifice so that Nigeria could live, just a month after his 40th birthday.

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