UNCLE GENERAL : A SALUTE TO GENERAL EMMANUEL ABISOYE

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General Abisoye was my Uncle and one of the closest people to my father. He was commissioned into the Queen’s Nigerian regiment in March 1961.

He was at one time, the General Officer Commanding the 3rd Infantry Division and also the 2nd Infantry Division. He served as the Federal Commissioner of Health and was a member of the Supreme Military Council before voluntarily retiring from the Nigerian Army in October 1979.

General Abisoye was at various times the President General, Keffi Old Boys Association, Pioneer President, Retired Army, Navy and Air Force Officers Association of Nigeria; Pioneer Chairman, Kogi State Foundation; Pioneer Pro-Chancellor and the Chairman, Governing Council, University of Abuja.

He was an accomplished officer and gentleman; tall, elegant, and splendid in and out of military uniform.


Abisoye was the pride of Ogori and made immeasurable contributions to the socio-economic development of his home town.

Growing up as a child in Ilorin, there were two men my mother treated with reverential awe whenever they came visiting. One was Reverend Father(Dr) Joseph Sunday Ajomo (later Bishop of Lokoja Diocese) and the other was General Emmanuel Olumuyiwa Abisoye.  My siblings and I had to be on our best behavior  “with immediate effect” as General Abisoye usually showed up at our house without any prior notice since there were no mobile phones back then.

We would be playing outside the house and suddenly the noise of sirens and a convoy of military vehicles with gun-totting soldiers would herald the arrival of General Abisoye.

I shared my mother’s awe for the General especially as he always came accompanied by an impressive entourage in keeping with his status as a top military officer.  Fleetingly, I even considered a career as a soldier because I loved the idea of being saluted all the time, having doors held open for me and all the other perks I observed anytime General Abisoye came visiting.

In my child-like innocence I remember excitedly whispering to my Dad during one of General Abisoye’s visits in his full military regalia.

“Has he ever killed anyone with that his gun?”

My Dad turned his head and gave me a “I-am-going-to-kill-you-when-he-goes look.

After my father died in 1988, General Abisoye encouraged all of us siblings to finish well at the University, promising to help us find good jobs upon graduation. At his invitation, sometime in 1992, armed with a Masters degree, I presented myself at General Abisoye’s office in Lagos.  He was delighted to see me and especially happy that I had done so well academically.

So he gave me a letter to a blue chip company for a job opportunity and promised to follow up on my behalf.

Several months later I called the General to request an appointment.  I had big news to share.

When I showed up at his office with an appointment letter from Cadbury, the General could not contain his joy.

“You did this all by yourself?” he gasped in surprise.

“Yes Sir” I replied.

He stared at me in wonderment and pride.

“Your father would be very proud of you” he said softly.

We were both silent for about a minute or so overcome by emotion.

Indeed, he took a fatherly pride in my career at Cadbury, calling me up especially whenever I appeared on Television or in the newspapers.

“ I saw you on TV last night. You spoke very well “ he would say time after time over the years.

The imposing sight of “ a whole General Abisoye” prostrating several times for my prospective in-laws in 2000 during the traditional wedding would forever be etched in my mind and no doubt convinced them of my pedigree.

General Abisoye was also Chairman at the wedding reception where he and Tee A and Lagbaja traded banters to the delight and amazement of the guests. He had an infectious sense of humour which belied his tough military upbringing.

I once visited to show him a “ tear-rubber” vehicle I had bought and before we got to the car, I unlocked it remotely which made the General laugh..

“ So the car answers when you call? he wisecracked in our native language.

I remember going to see the General each time my wife returned from the USA after giving birth to show him the new born child.  One of the two boys reminded him so much of my Dad that he was visibly moved.

“This is your father oo. He has returned” he said softly.

So many and too many fond memories of the General that are too personal to share, so thank you General Emmanuel Olumuyiwa Abisoye for being a tremendous pillar of support. The story of my life cannot be told without mentioning General Emmanuel Olumuyiwa Abisoye.

Continue to Rest in Peace General Emmanuel Olumuyiwa Abisoye (15th April 1936-17th March 2017)

Heaven has gained a General……

Gbenga Adebija is the Managing Director of Finsbury & Bromley.

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