Tribute by Dr. Olatokunbo Osinowo
Senator Bayo Osinowo, also known as “Pepperito,” was a prominent Nigerian politician and a key figure in the struggle for democracy during the June 12 movement.
Bayo Osinowo was born on November 28, 1955, in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, Nigeria. He began his political career in the early 1990s, actively participating in the pro-democracy movement against the military regime that held power at the time. Osinowo was a vocal advocate for the restoration of democratic governance and played a crucial role in mobilising support for the June 12 struggle.
The June 12 struggle refers to the historic presidential election held on June 12, 1993, in Nigeria. The election, widely regarded as one of the freest, fairest and most credible in the country’s history, saw Chief Moshood Abiola, a prominent businessman and philanthropist, emerge as the presumed winner.
However, the military regime, led by General Ibrahim Babangida, annulled the election, sparking widespread protests and civil unrest across Nigeria.
Senator Osinowo actively participated in various demonstrations, rallies, and public campaigns in support of the June 12 struggle. He fervently advocated for the recognition of the election results and the installation of Chief Moshood Abiola as the legitimate President of Nigeria.
During the actualisation of the June 12 struggle in 1993, he was one of those imprisoned by the then-military dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha. During the heyday of the military regime under Abacha, Osinowo aligned himself with the progressive forces in the fight to achieve the democratic mandate of MKO Abiola, the presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the June 12, 1993, election. As a result, he incurred the wrath of the Abacha-led military government and was subsequently imprisoned.
Osinowo’s unwavering commitment to democracy and his courageous stance against military dictatorship earned him respect and admiration among his fellow activists and supporters.
Despite facing numerous challenges and threats, Senator Bayo Osinowo remained resolute in his pursuit of justice and democratic ideals. He played a crucial role in raising awareness about the importance of June 12 and its significance in Nigeria’s political landscape. His efforts, along with those of other pro-democracy activists, eventually led to the transition to civilian rule in 1999.
Senator Bayo Osinowo’s dedication to the June 12 struggle and his contributions to the democratic process in Nigeria did not go unnoticed. In recognition of his service to the nation, he was elected into the Lagos State House of Assembly, representing Kosofe 1 State Constituency. He served in that capacity for 16 years and throughout his time in the Lagos State House of Assembly, he played a pivotal role as a strong pillar within the house, actively mobilizing, coordinating and implementing the goals, objectives, and decisions of the party. In 2019, he was elected into the Nigerian National Assembly as the Senator representing the Lagos East Senatorial District. He was subsequently appointed as the chairman, Senate Committee on Industries.
Tragically, on June 15, 2020, Senator Bayo Osinowo passed away, leaving behind a legacy of resilience, courage and commitment to democratic principles. His contributions to the June 12 struggle and his tireless advocacy for a better Nigeria will always be remembered and revered by those who continue to fight for democracy and justice.
Today, June 15, 2023, is the third anniversary of his death, and he is still warmly remembered.
May Senator Bayo Osinowo rest in eternal peace, knowing that his legacy lives on through the countless lives he touched and the indelible mark he left on our beloved nation.
•Dr. Osinowo is a lecturer, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State