For those who witnessed it all, it was a rare sight. But for the dramatis personae, it was somewhat typical of him: former president Olusegun Obasanjo doing the unusual.
Perhaps to drive home the point about dignity in labour, Obasanjo took over the wheels of a tricycle, picking passengers from the frontage of his Presidential Library (OOPL) at Oke Mosan area of the city to Kuto, a distance of two or so kilometres.
What followed was a stir.
Residents who recognised him were amazed, shocked and wondered what it was all about. Many applauded and hailed him as he manoeuvred the yellow vehicle through the freshly asphalted Kobape Road.
He had given out tricycles to 85 people to mark his 85th birthday anniversary in March.
A Facebook user, Daniel Sync Olusanya, first posted the scene on his wall, saying: “In celebration of Baba@85 and as part of the Youth Empowerment programme (anchored by the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library Youth Centre), the Former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo rode one of the “Keke Napeps” (a.k.a Maruwa/Tricycle) to Kuto Abeokuta with passengers on-board.
“The journey started from his OOPL residence to Kuto underbridge while picking up random passengers (who were beyond excited to be driven by the former president) along the way. It was such a beautiful moment to behold.
“In all, 85 young people greatly benefited from the Baba@85.”
Obasanjo’s Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Akinyemi, quoted the former president as saying his action was to demonstrate that riding on a tricycle is safe, if used properly and for people to learn how to start small and grow their craft.
He said with tricycles and other small scale businesses, youths could be self employed and ultimately, become economically independent.
Obasanjo explained that when he shared the 85 tricycles to young people across the nation, some critics suggested that the gift was inappropriate, especially for young people.
He said: “There is nothing wrong in young people starting small. The Keke is secure and safe when handled professionally and with discipline.
“ In fact, you can plan your business the way you wish and earn income that you can deploy to other investments.
“And if you are able to get a second one, you can give that to someone else. So you become self-employed and you have also employed somebody.”
Continuing, he said: “I have always had passion for youths, empowerment and employment. When I started establishing farms, do you think I can run the farm alone?
“The people I employed on the farms, some of them are as educated as PhD. There are veterinary doctors among them, agricultural economists and some people that are well educated. Some of my children that have PhD are still working with me.
“The other time I checked, the people that are working with us directly in our various establishments, we have over 5,000 and most of them are youths.
“I have always had passion for youths because there is no substitute for employment.
One of Obasanjo’s “passengers” who identified himself simply as Lamidi, said the ride would remain etched in his memory for life.