In a few days, it will be 40 days since Baba Adedibu (may his soul never rest in peace), began rotting in hell. According to Yoruba customs, the 40th day of one’s demise is a celebratory one, if the departed was aged and spent his/her life productively. Baba Adedibu, by all accounts, was aged and spent his life “productively”. And so, on that day, Molete, in Ibadan, and its environs, will be agog with pomp, jollifications and probably pageantry, as few well-wishers, but hordes of past hangers-on, stampede to out-do each other in savoring the day. Amala, the staple food of us, Ibadan people, and the cornerstone of Adedibu’s politics, will be in abundance. All you have to do is show up at Molete, and you will be served a sumptuous brunch.
Our host-in-thief (sorry, Host-in-Chief) for the day, will be no less a person than the execu-thief, (sorry again, Executive), governor of Oyo State, Chief Alao-Akala himself. The governor was out of the country when his benefactor, his god, his omniscient, his omnipresent and his omnipotent, kicked the bucket. And according to Muslim rites, Adedibu had to be buried within 24 hours. Alao-Akala was unable to publicly match president Obasanjo’s two gallons of tears shed at his funeral. By the time he returned to the country, the ants and termites had begun to have a field day with the man who was single-handedly responsible for the truncation of the development of the so-called Pace-Setter state.
My wife had asked on Adedibu’s death: “So, Adedibu is mortal after all?” Totally apolitical as she was, it seemed to me that she actually thought Adedibu would live for ever; and that Adedibu along with his hangers-on, especially those who directly benefited from his political shenanigans, also thought he would never die. Even when it seemed pretty clear that the end was near; when hitherto routine medical check-ups became medical emergencies, Adedibu and his lackeys (Alao-Akala included) basked in the delusion of omnipresence, spending money to keep Adedibu breathing. In the end, he gave up the ghost in the nondescript premises of the Immigration Services at Agodi, Ibadan, as he sought to re-new his passport in order to travel to the UK for better treatment.
How incongruous! Adedibu wanted to travel to the UK for better treatment? What about the University College Hospital (UCH) located literally a stone’s throw from the Immigrations offices at which he breathed his last? What about the Adeoyo Hospital; the Oluyoro Hospital; and a host of other hospitals in Oyo State? Why could he not go to any of those hospitals and receive a first-class treatment from first-class doctors? Baba Adedibu, in his quest for political power and relevance, had sacrificed his life at the altar of greed and political hooliganism; sold his birth right (and almost sold the birth rights of the rest of Oyo State people) for a seat at the Amala table. Hospitals in Oyo state, under governor Alao-Akala – the quintessential Adedibu “boy” – do not treat the ill. They can not treat the ill. They nurse the dying and accelerate the dying process. There are hospitals in Oyo State…heck… there are hospitals in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State, the former capital of the old Western Region, that have bamboo poles and tarpaulin for bed, here and now in 2008! There are hospitals in Ibadan…forget about Lanlate, Kisi, Igbowo, and Igbo-Ora – small towns and villages…with lice-infested beds, unsanitary toilets, empty pharmacies, absent doctors and ill-trained nurses.
There are schools in Ibadan…heck…let’s talk about the used-to-be-famous Government College, Ibadan (GCI) at Apata…there are schools in Ibadan that do not have windows in their classrooms; that do not have chairs and desks in their classrooms; for which teachers have to buy school supplies like chalk and dusters with their own money; that students and teachers (male and female) use the tree-line and bushes for toilet. There are schools in Ibadan, secondary schools, where the students’ ideas of a science laboratory or library are figments of their imaginations. For Chrissakes, there are schools in Ibadan that do not have assigned teachers!
And so it is, that in the “Pace-Setter” state that boasts of a moribund Water Corporation, a dead Ministry of Works, a skeletal-services Ministry of Agriculture and a corrupt Ministry of Land and Housing, the governor is indicted by the EFCC for corruption. How, in God’s name, could a do-nothing governor embezzle (or is it misappropriate?) so much money that the EFCC could not even wait for him to be out of office before indicting him? If the EFCC could be so brazen and specific about Alao-Akala’s crimes while he still occupies Government House, Agodi, what would it do once he no longer enjoys immunity? Alao-Akala’s current indictment (“current” because more are bound to come), for stealing, covers only the period between January and December 2006, when he became governor by surreptitiously sticking a sword (not a knife) in the back of Rashid Ladoja, leading to the infamous kangaroo impeachment. This indictment, dated February 26, 2007, is just now made public, nearly a year and a half after it was finalized – an indication to ever-suspicious people like me that the EFCC was kept at bay by the “grace” of Baba Adedibu. I am convinced that when Alao-Akala’s current tenure is scrutinized, the EFCC will find a miscellany of corruption crimes that will make former governors Fayose and Alamieyeseigha look like saints. While Adedibu walked the face of this earth and Alao-Akala received the backing of Baba Obasanjo, no one dared touch the governor. Now that Adedibu is forever gone and Obasanjo’s influence is waning (even his own daughter was arrested by the EFCC), Alao-Akala’s fish is beginning to swim in shallow waters.
Specifically, the EFCC concluded:
1. That a contract for the supply of text books to Oyo State Government was awarded to Macmillan Publishers Limited for the sum of N630,614,750 and that the company had already been paid N586,470, 647.50 while a balance of N61,000,000 was still outstanding.
2. That the contract was highly inflated as investigation revealed that Macmillan Publishers Limited spent only the sum of N98,356,574.76 to execute the contract.
3. That Macmillan inflated the contract to the tune of N488,114,073.50 and had already refunded the sum of N10,000,000 to the Oyo State Government.
4. That a contract for the supply of text books to Oyo State was awarded to Evans Brothers Publishers for the sum of N630,000,000 and that N504,292,602 had already been paid.
5. That Evans Brothers Publishers expended the sum of N108,141,026 to execute the entire contract.
6. That Evans Brothers Publishers inflated the contract by the sum of N396,151,185 and had already refunded the sum of N12,000,000
7. That a contract to supply the Oyo State Government with text books was awarded to Longman Nigeria Plc for the sum of N39,724,300 and the sum of N29,000,000 was paid.
8. That Alao-Akala released the total sum of N190,000,000 to 19 lawmakers of the State House of Assembly for Constituency Projects though the Government checks were issued in their individual names.
9. That a contract for the computerization of personnel payroll and identity cards production for the Government of Oyo State was awarded to Mega Connections Limited for the sum of N182,700,000 and the company had been paid N143,903,812.50
The report also stated that “a comprehensive report on Mega Connections, another company allegedly used by the Akala government to inflate contracts” was in progress as at the time of the report.
When Alao-Akala first came to town as governor in 2006 and started to award the book contracts, I spoke with a Special Adviser and a Commissioner in his administration and registered my dismay at the fact that the governor’s pictures appeared on some of the books as if they came from his personal funds. Little did I know that those hitherto reputable publishing homes – Macmillan, Longman and Evans Brothers – had descended into the lowest abyss of the quid pro quo type of corruption. Kickback, the oldest form of corruption, where the contractor hyper-inflates the contract and shares the booty with the civil servant, was in full play. In order to secure Adedibu’s blessing to run as governor during the last elections, Alao-Akala’s roguery went into over-drive as he donated a brand new car to each of the 18 lawmakers that helped impeach Ladoja so that he could become governor in 2006. The funds for the cars were channeled through Adedibu to make it appear like Adedibu donated the cars. Adedibu, we all remember, was the first to tell anyone listening that he had no farm, neither did he have any factory; his income came from politicians. Apart from giving Adedibu millions in stipends, Alao-Akala also (in 2006) donated cars to select traditional rulers, the Alaafin of Oyo being one of them. In fact, the Alaafin first rejected the car given to him for the puerile reason that it did not befit his position as Alaafin. He also did not think he should have been given a car of the same make and model as those given to lesser traditional rulers. And here we are in 2008, the Alaafin is yet one of the traditional rulers to whom the Alao-Akala government gave brand new cars while thousands of his subjects struggle to eke out a decent living. It is a shame that a Grade “A” traditional ruler like the Alaafin will display such protean principles and mortgage the future of his subjects with the largesse corruptly acquired by a governor without an iota of expiated guilt. Governors come and governors go. The Alaafin should know better. In Oyo town, there are thousands of his subjects who disagree with Alao-Akala’s government. No traditional ruler should be seen as taking sides with any politician as blatantly as the Alaafin does.
To the discerning minds, what Alao-Akala is doing is steal enough money with which he can create his own niche, establish his own connections and power base, and buy up everybody who is for sale in Oyo State in order to facilitate his re-election in 2011 since Adedibu is no longer able to rule Oyo State by proxy. He may have scant formal education, but a fool he is not. He knows that all his adversaries now smell blood since Adedibu is gone and they will go for the jugular. And, in fact, they have started to sharpen their knives in readiness for the kill. Senator Ajimobi, one of those that lost last election to Alao-Akala, is upping the ante and bombarding the print and electronic media with anti-Alao-Akala rhetoric. Ladoja, Alao-Akala’s sworn enemy, has now gotten more intrepid than ever, demanding a seat at the table of governance – something that he could never have dared when Adedibu owned Alao-Akala and Oyo State. Traditional rulers – those that Adedibu used to tell to go to hell – now blackmail Alao-Akala to the hilt. Everywhere in Oyo State now, so-called Elders fora are springing up, each with a demand of how Alao-Akala should govern the state. Even dead-wood politicians like Richard Akinjide, former attorney-general during Shehu Shagari’s maladministration has something to say too! The man had nothing to say to Adedibu when the “garrison commander” was with us. In a nutshell, the house that Adedibu built with the spittle may very well be brought down by ordinary dew. Welcome to the word “accountability”, governor Alao-Akala. This promises to be a long tenure after all.