Chief Olabode George, GCON – Distinguished Naval Officer and Military Governor of the old Ondo State (1987 – 1990)

Born on November 21, 1945, Chief Olabode Ibiyinka George hails from the heart of Lagos in Lagos State. His paternal grandfather was the popular Mr. George Eleshin of Lagos while his paternal grandmother was from the Brazilian quarters of Lagos, being a returnee from Brazil after the abolition of the slave trade in the 18th century.

He began his educational career at the St. John’s Primary School, Aroloya, Lagos, in 1952 from where he moved to attend Ijebu-Ode Grammar School, Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, in 1960.  He obtained his secondary education in 1964 with a brilliant result in the West African School Certificate Examination. Because of his exceptional performance, he was one of two students seconded on scholarship, to the Brentwood School, Essex, England which then had a Links Programme with Ijebu-Ode Grammar School, which allowed the best two students in the school certificate year to undertake their advanced level education in England.

He obtained his Advanced Level Certificate from Brentwood School, Essex England and came back to Nigeria to attend the University of Lagos. He obtained a Bachelors Degree in Electrical Engineering in 1970. He later obtained a Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the same University.

Chief Olabode George, began his distinguished career in the public service, at the then Niger Dams Authority, Kainji as a Pupil Engineer (Electrical) in 1970 from where he joined the Nigerian Navy in 1972 as a Direct General list officer. Between 1972 and 1985 he served on board NNS Nigeria, NNS Otobo, Fleet Headquarters and the Nigerian Naval Flagship, NNS Aradu. He was appointed Commanding Officer (CO) of the Naval Technical Apprentice School in 1985, the post he held till 1986 when he proceeded to the United States Naval War College in the US. On his return to the country, he was appointed the Director of Weapons (Electrical) Naval Headquarters. Later that year he had the distinguished honour and privilege of being appointed the Military Governor of the old Ondo State a position he held from 1987 – 1990.

During his tenure as Military Governor, he brought his brilliance, administrative acumen and cosmopolitan exposure to bear on the governance of the state. He met a State that was rural in character and lacking in the most essential facilities of modern administration. The State did not have a modern secretariat, a befitting Governor’s residence, an office for its Chief Executive and a composite secretariat.

Within the short period of his tenure, Chief George built the Governor’s House, Governor’s Office and a modern state secretariat. He also acquired the Adegbemile Cultural Centre and built the Cocoa Conference Centre as well as the Akure Stadium, to facilitate the hosting of large events and sporting activities in the State.

In addition, he invested considerable energy and resources into transforming Akure from a rural rustic town into a modern state capital with the dualisation of roads and beautification projects across the town. The Arcade in front of the State House of Assembly is one of the enduring symbols of his modernizing zeal. He encouraged farmers to organize themselves to increase their output and built the Farmers House in the State Capital. He completed the Ose Dam to boost the supply of portable water to a large part of the State.

He constructed boreholes in rural communities and the riverine areas, brought electricity to several rural communities, bought outboard engine boats to ease transportation and encouraged commerce in the riverine areas.

After his sojourn in the political administration, he came back into the service to serve as Commander, Naval Ordnance between 1990 and 1991. He had the unique privilege of proceeding to a course at the Nigerian Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Jos, in 1991, coming out with the coveted title of Member of the National Institute (mni).

On his return from the National Institute, he was appointed Director, Academic Research and Analytical Support, National War College (NWC). When the Military took over from the Interim National Government (ING) in November 1993, he was appointed the Principal Staff Officer to the then Chief of General Staff. In September 1994 he retired from active service with full benefits and was placed on the Reserve List. He has since been in private business mainly in the area of his professional competence – Telecommunications and Engineering.

In retirement, Chief Olabode George has continued to play key roles in the affairs of the country. He is a respected Analyst and profound commentator on public affairs.  He was one of those who worked for the convening of the constitutional conference of 1994/95 as a means of turning things around and changing the political landscape of this country.

During the Abacha regime, Chief George went into self exile to the United Kingdom in 1997. While in exile, he joined forces with patriotic elements to work for the emergence of democratic rule in the country. He later teamed up with other nationalists within the ambit of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in November 1998 and worked for the success of the party in the 1999 elections. He served as a member of the immediate transitional committee between the elections and the inauguration of President Olusegun Obasanjo. He was later elected the National Vice Chairman (South West) of the party.

Chief Olabode George is known as a leading politician and frontline leader of the PDP but what is not too well known about him is that he has been one of this country’s leading trouble-shooters. The victory of the PDP in the Southwest was due, in large part, to his capacity for conflict resolution. He was for ever ready to take to the roads to resolve intra party conflicts in any corner of the Zone.

At the national level, his conflict resolution capacity was invested in the Ife-Modakeke crisis and civil strife in Owo. He served as the chairman of the Presidential Peace Committee to both Communities and, with patience and helped to bring peace to the troubled communities.  It was because of his contributions that the Ooni of Ife conferred on him the title of Atoona Oodua of Yorubaland.

Chief Olabode George is a businessman and director of several companies, operating in the Telecommunication and Oil and Gas sectors.  In addition, he was Chairman of the Nigeria Ports Authority from 2000 to 2002 and Chairman of the Bank of Industry between 2005 and 2007.

A man of many parts, Chief Olabode George has been honoured with Chieftaincy titles in many parts of the country among which are Atona Oodua of Yorubaland, Sarumi Of Osogbo, Jagunmolu of Ondo Kingdom, Agbakin of Oto-Aworiland, Asoju-Oba of Edeland and Akorewolu of Omuo Ekiti, among others.

He has been honoured with Doctor of Science, D.Sc. (Honoris Causa) degree by the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Benue State, and also awarded Fellowship of the Federal Polytechnic Bauchi; the Federal College of Education, Osiele Abeokuta; and the Ekiti State College of Education Ikerre-Ekiti.  He holds the National Honour of Commander of the Order of the Niger, CON.

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