Advertising Czar Biodun Shobanjo has revealed in his spanking new biography titled The Will To Win how he survived a deadly gun battle with some crack policemen who had come to his house ironically to rescue him from invading armed robbers. Brave Shobanjo hid in a corner of his room and engaged the invaders in an all-night shootout.
On sensing that the police had arrived, the robbers fled, leaving Shobanjo to fight the police. The police did not know it was Shobanjo shooting in self-defence nor did Shobanjo know it was the police who had come to rescue him. The gunfight lasted till the break of dawn.
The nightmare happened on Thursday, January 30, 1992. Quoting from a biblical tale of Jacob’s epic battle with God from night to dawn, Dotun Adekanbi, Shobanjo’s biographer reports that like Jacob, “Shobanjo began a similar life or death battle; not with God but with hoodlums and later, the men of the anti-crime squad of the Nigerian Police. Everything that could possibly have gone wrong almost went wrong that night. Unlike Jacob’s, Shobanjo’s fight was not a hand-to-hand combat; rather, it was a more sophisticated encounter in which guns were fired at will.”
The author recalls that “the incident began harmless enough when a shrill ring of the telephone early in the morning of that day had Shobanjo reaching to take the call, thinking it was his wife Joyce who was en-route Lagos from New York. The caller did not identify himself. Instead, he made a simple mafia-style demand: Shobanjo should get N100,000 ready for collection by midnight; else, he would have his ‘arse blown off.’” It was a lot of money in those days.
Shobanjo “called the police which sent a team to his home about 12.50AM,” the author continues. “He quickly gathered the children, took them to a room in the annex of the house and hugged them after which he left a stern instruction: ‘lock the door and don’t open it until I come back to say so.’ He resolved that he would only go down fighting, so whosoever needed his life would have to kill him first to get it. Wearing a sweat shirt underneath which he had a white vest on top of a pair of jeans, it was clear he was ready for battle. The pump of adrenalin in his gut did not in any way cause him to panic as he began to wait for the unknown enemy.
“He did not wait too long. Just before 3.00.AM trouble called in full force. From the window of his room upstairs, which directly faced the Opebi main road, Shobanjo counted four marauders but he had the cold comfort of being tucked within the safety of his apartment with darkness as his shield and a rifle as his weapon of defence. Thankfully, he had a licence to carry firearms. For some time, he had been fascinated by the reports of the exploits of Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka, as a hunter. The stories motivated him to want to be a hunter too. To actualize his dream, he applied for and secured official approval to acquire a hunting rifle, which he, accompanied by some of his friends, occasionally took to the bush in the Ijebu countryside to fire for the fun of it. The hoodlums shot at his night guard as they tried to force their way into the premises. Shobanjo was outnumbered by the criminals yet he responded defensively by opening fire on them to deny them access to house. In the thick of the shooting, he still found time to return to the annex to check on the children who were deeply frightened by the staccato of gunshots. The noise of the raging storm was not loud enough to disturb the calm sleep of his youngest child, Dolapo. The exchange of fire resumed and went on for a while. Then it ceased as abruptly as it had started.
“A burst of fusillade suddenly began afresh. But a comedy of near fatal errors had played out during the short break. The aggressors hurriedly left before policemen in mufti arrived unannounced. Cocooned inside, Shobanjo did not know. On the street, the police misread the situation and continued to shoot to dislodge the ‘enemy’ inside the premises. All the while the one-storey building stoically bore the brunt of the furious exchange of gunfire. A few policemen were injured, one seriously. The break of day heralded the resolution of a looming impasse, for when the harmattan haze lifted, both the protector and the protected realized their grave mistakes. An immediate ceasefire was called. Despite having survived an uncommon experience, Shobanjo was herded behind the counter at the Special Investigations & Intelligence Bureau (SIIB) at Panti Street, Lagos. This was his reward for daring to defend his life.”
SHOBANJO’S NEAR-DEATH DAY DIEGO WON WORLD CUP
The above are extracts from Shobanjo’s biography, so thrilling that it can be made into a movie. If you want the details of what happened and a near-death experience on Sunday June 29, 1986 when Shobanjo was trapped in his car after an accident about a hundred metres away from his house, then you would have to go find this book which reveals so much about Shobanjo as a biography should. All this happened 34 years ago when Diego Maradona now dead single-handedly won the World Cup for his country, putting up a virtuoso performance to beat Germany 3-2. According to the biography, “No sooner had the match got underway than the house-help and ‘mai-guard’ (security staff) barged into the living room.
“‘Mummy, oga don die,’ they announced without ceremony. Joyce was too engrossed in the match to catch what they said. It took the wailing of the children for the message to register. She bolted out into the street from their 31 Opebi Road, Ikeja, Lagos residence only to see her husband laid out on the ground ‘exactly’ as she had seen him in her dream. What happened?
“Shobanjo had dozed off behind the wheel and his car veered off the road by the Talabi Towers residence of the late top-flight medical practitioner, Victor Awosika. The vehicle ran over a mound of sand at a construction site and upended close to his (Shobanjo’s) house. Help came instantly but rescue was made difficult because the car’s doors had been firmly secured from outside. The broad Opebi Road became chaotic as other motorists parked to lend a helping hand to the trapped occupant of the car. Inside the car, the stereo blared and the minutes ticked by, just as the engine purred under the hood of the car in its upturned state. Soon, a side window was smashed and he was dragged out, unconscious. He was thrice lucky. The engine idled but did not ignite, else he probably would have been roasted alive.
“Shobanjo was on admission for about 10 days. Among the first few callers to his hospital bed were then Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Newswatch magazine, Ray Ekpu and the magazine’s flamboyant Editor-in-Chief, Dele Giwa who four months later, would be killed by a parcel bomb on October 19, 1986.”
What a book! This is why I write biographies. To unlock the past. The Will To Win, is a good biography which doesn’t hide anything. Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi who wrote the foreword says: “This is a useful, well-researched and finely balanced book, one that has been written with candour and conviction.”
I recommend it! It’s a must-have book about a Nigerian advertising icon and CEO of The Apprentice Africa who refused to mimic Donald Trump, saying: “I do not know that one of the criteria for being CEO is that you must be Donald Trump; I am Biodun Shobanjo.”