LATE Chief Abiola Johnson, the Apesin of Lagos and the former Commissioner for Transportation and later for Commerce and Industry in Lagos State who died on Friday, November 20, 2015, after a brief illness, was buried on Friday, December 4, 2015, at Ebony Vaults, Ikoyi, Lagos.
The funeral service which preceded the burial also held at the place led by a Catholic priest. The burial was witnessed by few family members and close friends. His political associates and colleagues in the cabinet of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, where he served as a commissioner were, however, conspicuously absent at the funeral.
The only politician noticed at the funeral was Mr. Tunde Balogun, the former Commissioner for Home Affairs and Culture, who even took a full page advert in a national newspaper to eulogise Chief Abiola’s contributions to the victory of APC in Apapa Local Government area in the last general elections. Chief (Mrs.) Teju Phillips, the former Commissioner for Commerce and Industry and one of his colleagues in Tinubu’s cabinet was later spotted at the City Hall, Lagos, where a reception was held in honour of the former mariner turned politician.
His social friends, particularly from Yoruba Tennis Club and Lagos Island Club, were at the reception where they paid glowing tributes to the late great socialite.
Chief Anthony Abiola Johnson, had diabetes retina which he was medically managing for some years before his death.
The ailment even led to the loss of his sight in 2006, which to a large extent affected his political and social life. This much he told ENCOMIUM Weekly in an exclusive interview he granted us on February 26, 2013. He said inter alia, “I don’t attend parties like I used to. The owambe parties, I detest them now. You don’t have the chance to really enjoy yourself and the women who spray money, I loathe that a bit now. But currently, I am the Chairman, Board of Trustees of Waka Club, I have a swell time there. I am the leader of the jazz section of the Island Club. Religiously, I enjoy jazz and we have a nice jazz aficionado. I don’t drink as much as I used to.”
He also denied that his ailment was the cause of his separation from his wife, Chief Toyosi Johnson, the Otun Iyalaje of Lagos and the first child of late Alhaja Wahab Yinka Folawiyo, in 2008. This is what he told us about the problem in his marriage then. “Number one, she did not leave me. We parted mutually because things were estranged between us. I don’t think it’s because of my loss of sight after 32 years of marriage. For better, for worse, they say. When things aren’t right, people have to move on but I wouldn’t want to ascribe reasons for it. Most of my friends are divorced anyway.
“I realized that when my marriage came to an end, I thought I was going to be quite different from my father and people before me who were polygamous. I have never had a child outside marriage. I’ve never had another wife up till now and I thought I had a perfect marriage, but life continues,” he said then.
Late Chief Anthony Abiola Johnson, 68, had only four children two boys and two girls all of whom are chartered accountants. Both late Chief Abiola Johnson and his estranged wife, Chief (Mrs.) Toyosi Johnson, were present at their son, Abiola Johnson, Jnr’s wedding to Tope Adenubi in October 2013.
- TOLANI ABATTI