A Real Lagbaja – In Flesh & Blood

Now we can put a face to the name. Officially. And without a ny question as to the meaning.

The name ‘Lagbaja’ was popularised by the Afro beat musician of that stage name who wore a mask during his performances and was basically incognito.

However, Lagbaja the musician has been unmasked in the last couple of years with his real name as Bisade Ologunde. This Nigerian Afro beat musician, singer-songwriter and percussionist was widely known as Lagbaja for his signature use of mask which covered his identity. Bisade Ologunde, who has now relocated from Lagos to New York, USA, is said to have adopted the name Lagbaja as he embarked on his career years ago.

Lagbaja The Musician

But the musician’s unmasking did not remove from the fact of the uniqueness or otherwise of the real meaning of the name Lagbaja, which in Yoruba language literarily translates to “Mr. So and So”. The Yoruba language also has a simultaneous multiple-translation meaning as “somebody”, “nobody”, “anybody” and “everybody”. In the final analysis, it means ‘anonymous’, ‘unknown’, ‘the faceless one’.

In June 2023 when another man named Lagbaja entered the scene, it was a huge surprise for the uninitiated who never thought a regular guy could bear the name. And this man was not just a regular guy but a top gun who has Lagbaja as the real surname he has borne since he was born on 28th February 1968.

Lieutenant-General Taoreed Abiodun Lagbaja was appointed as the 23rd Chief of Army Staff of Nigeria on 19th June 2023 by President Bola Tinubu to succeed Lieutenant-General Faruk Yahaya, after the new Nigerian leader was sworn in, and the new Army Chief took office same time as the other service chiefs as well as the Inspector-General of Police and Chief of Defence Staff.

Taoreed Lagbaja was born in a town called Ilobu of Irepodun in present day Osun State. He spent his early life in Osogbo where he attended St. Charles Grammar School and Local Authority Teachers College.

He was admitted into the Nigerian Defence Academy in 1987 as a member of the 39th Regular Course and was commissioned as a second lieutenant on 19th September 1992 into the Infantry Corps; so he is a real soldier! Between 1992 and 1995, Lagbaja was platoon commander of the 93 Battalion and from 1995 to 2001, he was platoon commander of 72 Special Forces Battalion. In 2001, Lagbaja obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from the Nigerian Defence Academy. He also studied Strategic Studies at the US Army War College at the Master’s level.

He was an instructor at the Nigerian Defence Academy from 2001 to 2004. At a time, Lagbaja was a Grade 2 Staff Officer in charge of peacekeeping at the Army Headquarters Department of Army Training and Operations. Then he was a Directing Staff at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji from 2006 to 2009.

In 2009, he became Deputy Chief of Staff G1 at Headquarters 81 Division and subsequently, was made Commanding Officer at 72 Special Forces Battalion Makurdi from 2012 to 2013 and 2014 to 2015. In 2016, he was named the Chief of Staff at Headquarters 8 Task Force Division, Monguno. He served as Director of Operations at the Army Headquarters Department of Army Training and Operations from January to December 2018. He was a Commander of Headquarters 9 Brigade, Ikeja, Lagos State and Headquarters 2 Brigade, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

Earlier in 2008, he had attended the Military Observers Course on Peacekeeping Wing at the Nigerian Army School of Infantry Jaji; ECOWAS Standby Force Battalion Command Post Course – Peacekeeping Centre, Bamako, Mali.

Before his appointment as Chief of Army Staff in June, Lagbaja was General Officer Commanding Headquarters 82 Division from March 2021 to August 2022 and Headquarters 1 Division from August 2022 to June 2023.

Gen. Lagbaja participated in Operation Harmony IV in Bakassi Peninsula; United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC); Operation Zaki Internal Security Operation in Benue State; Operation Lafiya Dole; Operation MESA/Operation Udo Ka – Internal Security Operation in South-east Nigeria (Anambra/Abia/Ebonyi/Enugu and Imo States); and Operation Forest Sanity – Internal Security Operation in Kaduna/Niger states.

He is married to Mariya Abiodun-Lagbaja and the marriage is blessed with 2 children. Lagbaja enjoys watching documentaries and reading biographies.

From his biography, you can say this is not an anonymous man. As the Numero Uno of the Nigerian Army, there is no ‘so and so’ about him. But as a boy and young man, I am sure he must have been the butt of jokes from his mates about his name and the different manifestations, all pointing to a ‘nobody’.

I have not had the opportunity to ask him how he responded to such jokes. But one thing is sure – it is not a question of ‘what is in a name’. You can make your dream come true, through hard work and belief that no name can dictate your destiny, in spite of the meaning – perceived or real.

So, this Lagbaja is real. And he is on top of his game, as the ‘Oga At The Top’ in the Nigerian Army.

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