Diran Odeyemi: Alao-Akala’s Special Corruption Conduit

For now, I will limit the expose of Odeyemi to just those issues. I imagine that if time permits on both ends, we will delve deeper into ALL issues. For now, it suffices for Odeyemi to know that I write (as can be attested to by checking all my previous writings, including my time at The Guardian) to illuminate issues, usually without regard to whose Ox is gored.

Sometime in 2007, Odeyemi sent to me a poorly-written “personality attack” article aimed at Rashid Ladoja. He asked me to edit it for him. I was then on official assignment to Germany. I immediately called him and asked if he was crazy. I reminded him of the (solicited) advice I had given him before he took the job: “Go there and be a bridge-builder”, I had told him. “If you have the kind of access to Alao-Akala that you claim, use it to persuade him to mend fences with all aggrieved parties in the State. Do not get embroiled in their fights. Certainly, do not continue to egg them on,” I told him. I edited the piece, basically re-writing the character-assassination piece that my friend was going to publish from the desk of Special Adviser on Communications, using his name and title! How did such positions of esteem get rubbished like that?

Open-minded readers will discover, within minutes of searching the Internet, that I have criticized former governors of Oyo State – Lam Adesina and Rashid Ladoja, and, of course, Baba Adedibu, for the socio-political calamity that has befallen Oyo State and Ibadan in particular. All three men are of Ibadan origin. Adesina was of AD while Ladoja and Adedibu were PDP members. I have no political affiliation in Nigeria.

My criticism of Odeyemi did not stem from the fact that he is an Ijesha man. As I pointed out in my piece, his appointment is not a novel idea. People attain political heights in States other than their States of origin all the time. But Odeyemi has acted as “Omo a i j’obe ri to n ja’be s’aya” – a child that stains his shirt because he never tasted such a good soup. And he has no qualms about the pain that his actions have brought on those that live in abject penury in Oyo State.

Odeyemi once told me that he had enlisted the help of Adedibu’s thugs to “deal” with a deputy editor at Thisday newspapers, whenever the man, whose stories had criticized Alao-Akala’s government, returned to Ibadan, his home town. Odeyemi went to the premises of Thisday in Lagos and almost got into fisticuffs with the editor. This is the sort of childishness that gets journalists killed. I asked Odeyemi: What kind of politics are you playing in Oyo State? His response: “This is Nigeria.” A few weeks later, Godwin Agbroko, the Editorial Board chairman of Thisday, was killed in a hail of bullets in Lagos. No, I don’t think Odeyemi had a hand in his death. But it is the same kind of threat that Agbroko (a man with whom I worked at The Guardian) used to receive.

I wrote the piece on Odeyemi because he is profiting from people’s death, the maiming of limbs and the destruction of property. I have no dog in the fight in Oyo State politics, except that I am an indigene and would like to have some peace and tranquility in my country. I never sought, nor received any favor from anyone in government, including Odeyemi. If I did, I challenge him to name it.

After I wrote the piece that has given Odeyemi restless days and sleepless nights, more than 180 readers responded to it (positively) within 48 hours of its publication. Some of those readers were classmates of ours at the UI who still remember us quite well. Virtually all of them agree with me that Odeyemi has turned himself into a politically and morally corrupt entity. Some of them wrote that they were not surprised at the way he turned out because they knew he was always a manipulator of people.

When I edited The Torch, a campus news outlet and magazine at the University of Ibadan (’83 –’86), Odeyemi applied to the organization to work as a reporter. I consulted with my room mate then, Kayode Akinsete, who also was the organization’s secretary, and my fellow editors – Segun Adegoroye, Jide Ogundana and Dayo Adenuga. The consensus was that we should be wary of Odeyemi and to not allow him to use us for selfish ends. When Odeyemi turned in his first story, it was essentially a praise song (much like those that Odeyemi now does for Alao-Akala) for Babatunde Oduyoye, then a candidate for the Students Union presidency. Odeyemi’s article was so blatantly sycophantic that no responsible news outlet could publish it. Of course, I did not publish it despite the fact that Odeyemi and Oduyoye were very good friends of mine. He wrote a second and a third one, all in the same manner, as if he was sponsored. I did not publish them.

Odeyemi asked me why, as a friend, I refused to publish his articles. I told him that, first, The Torch was not mine. We inherited it from students before us and we had a moral obligation to preserve its sanctity for students coming after us. The university, then, was a bastion of academic excellence. Plagiarism and sycophancy were antithetical to its tenets. Second, we had an editorial board that read everything and decided what was to be published, and his articles were too self-serving. And third, I did not want him to use The Torch to attack Oduyoye’s opponents. Remember now, Oduyoye was my friend too! But I had to delineate between my friendship with Oduyoye and my responsibilities as an editor of a news magazine, especially a campus magazine.

As Odeyemi pointed out, the bulletin board of The Torch was vandalized one night, ostensibly because as Watchdogs of the university community, we were too critical of Oduyoye’s Students Union during his tenure as president, which Odeyemi supported. We did not put it back up because it was going to be destroyed again. So, we limited ourselves to the monthly print magazine. True to my suspicion, I found out years later, after we all left the UI, that it was Odeyemi who led a small team to destroy the board. I remained friends with Odeyemi in spite of that knowledge because I considered that act of hooliganism an exhibition of youthful exuberance. I tell this story here to emphasize the fact that Odeyemi, as a political and social brigand, did not metamorphose overnight.

Finally, even though I am a virulent critic of Alao-Akala’s government, I think his current Adviser on Communications, Dotun Oyelade, is doing a wonderful job as a PR officer. First, he writes and speaks well. Second, he has a grasp of Oyo State politics and its historical antecedents. Third, and most important, he uses language that is non-inflammatory and respectful of the governor’s political opponents. In short, he seems to understand that positions like that are not ends in themselves, but means to ends; and that positions, like life, are transient. He, obviously, preserved and now employs the moral and intellectual nourishment that he received in his formative years. He has restored some grace to the office that Odeyemi so grossly debased and brought to so much odium. He is mature.

Our generation was supposed to be the generation that took over from our venerable but aging parents who had lost their firm grip on the ship of our nation. And what have we done with the ship? The likes of Odeyemi have steered the ship further into unimaginable turbulence. We will not allow the ship to capsize.

Written by
Abiodun Ladepo
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4 comments
  • Seems like leopards never change their spots. I had cause to get rid of Diran when he worked under me as a Temp Housing Officer at the defunct West Hampstead Housing Association in 1999. His composition was awful and his grasp of the skills required for the job was abysmal. I stopped using the agency that forwarded him and couldn’t believe it when he (Diran) insisted he wrote for the Nigerian Tribune – a paper I had hitherto, held in high regard. Diran’s footprints since then has not amazed me but simply confirm the level of mediocrity in charge in Nigeria.

  • I used to read Odeyemi when he used to write for Sunday Tribune. I was really surprised when he started working Akala-Alao bearly 2 days after Ladoja got sacked. I was wondering if it was same person………..

    Like many who wrote for Sunday Tribune in the past………..

    Need I say more!

  • You seem to know a lot of evil and choose to now reveal them AFTER falling out with your friend… Which sort of editors did you tell Odeyemi he could bribe? Did you notify Ibadan people or Tribune publisher that the editors were receiving inducement for stories? Notify the Thisday deputy editor of Odeyemi’s threat to ‘deal’ with him? How many stories did you edit for your friend bordering on character assasination? Do you mean to tell us you did not receive a cut from the BCOS video deal? Common, we aint all that dumb! We dont need these types of expose/stories from you and ur (estwhile) friend? There are more serious issues…