The setting is in limbo, a GRA for both the important and unimportant, those that the cosmic master himself has placed on a waiting list of cases yet to be decided. As the latest entrant to the semi-humid classroom, Adedibu is well aware that he just left the lower planes of life, and convinced that he deserves a place with the greats, decided to grant this interview by special methods…
Ah Chief Adedibu, you are dead…!
Everybody dies, as long as they are born of woman…
But you were carrying on as though you were not going to die.
You see, I grew up the hard way in Berejeba, near Molete, believing that the life given us by Allah is sacred and that we must defend it to the last, and that was what I was doing. Apart from that, I understood a whole lot of things about life that most people are hardly aware…
That life may not guarantee you anything. It is what you make of it that matters. In doing that, I was given all sorts of names; that I’m demonic, that I’m a beast. How could they say those kinds of things about me when they hardly ever knew me…?
Everybody knows you…you were like a virus, sucking the life out of the whole of Oyo State, and sometimes beyond it.
Really..? Me, Lamidi Ariyibi Adedibu, the strongman of Ibadan! You call me a virus…
Former strongman, you mean…?
Former strongman or not, I take exception to being called a virus, and I know that my maker does not see me as one. It is those of you who hardly knew what was going on that should be the real viruses, sucking up whatever you read in the press like leeches, hungry as hell for the souls of those who commit the crimes of standing up for the ordinary man…and that’s the gospel truth.
The gospel truth…?
Yes, the truth that everything that I had done, I did because I believe in my heart of hearts that it was important for me to put myself at the disposal of my people. There are people who have been at the mercy of political charlatans from outside bent on imposing their own as agents of oppression to further divide and rule us as they did in the first and second republics.
Who are these people and how did they introduce divide and rule tactics in Yorubaland?
I’m sure that before you began this interview, you must’ve done your homework and found out that I’m a politician to the core. You should know that it will be politically naïve of me, even now, to reveal who these people are. However, I would advise that you consult the political history books of this nation and if you are who you say you are, you’ll just find out that Nigeria is a political chess game played by people as astute as real life Karpovs and Kasparovs. I was not an amateur chess player, choosing my pawns, my kings and my warriors very carefully like the garrison commander I turned out to be.
Ok, you know you have very little time left to explain yourself, before you are thrown into hell or taken to Abraham’s bosom. Why were you such a political nuisance?
I take it that you have decided on these choices of words simply because you want to find out the truth, otherwise, I still take exception to being described as a ‘nuisance’. Look, let me tell you: the genesis of all that you people are talking about and how it has influenced the decisions that I took dates back to Nigeria’s chequered political history, especially as it affected the Western part of it. Recall what the Western Region was when it was headed by Chief Obafemi Awolowo of the Action Group, AG? The man (I understand he’s a big man here) had the kind of ideas that could transform the Western region into a land of promise but there were people who were uncomfortable with the pace of his ‘welfarist’ developmental projects which didn’t favour their personal agendas. What did they do? They introduced the divide-and-rule tactic, turning the Yoruba against the Yoruba, and the West became a theatre of internecine warfare. I hope you know what happened next? Well, I will tell you if you don’t. I was a young man then when all of this as going on, so I should be in a position to know. All the structures that Awolowo had put in place in the interest of the ordinary Yoruba man began to be dismantled by the agents of the enemies of the Yoruba who were in our midst. We were broken into factions and began to fight among ourselves. We allowed our enemies put a knife on the things that held us together, and like that Ibo man’s book said, the centre no longer held. Things were no longer working, and I guess, judging from the kind of clout that I was gathering at the grassroots then, that I decided to do everything, anything, to capture power and try to control the affairs of government, if only to do something about the situation. I have no intention of going into details of my political philosophy…
Put it as crude as that if you want to but the basis of my political philosophy is the common interest of the common man, specifically the Yoruba. For doing that, and the methods I put in place, I have no apologies whatsoever. Part of the reason why I was demonized by the media was that I meddled in the political processes of Oyo State as a godfather and installed my political godsons to oversee the affairs of state. I agree I did that but you must ask yourself this tedious question: what was my motive? Do you think these chaps were giving me part of their security allowance so that I could stash money in my underpants like all the governors in the Niger Delta were doing? How many of the governors in power today are as accessible to the people as I was to those who chose to align themselves to my political machine? All the monies I was accused of taking from Alao-Akala and Ladoja, do you see any of it on me here? If you understand that I spent substantial sums of money and personal resources to install people that are unlikely to be manipulated by outsiders, then you may agree with me that I do not deserve to be vilified the way I was. Of all the godfathers in Nigeria who collect N50million, N100million monthly from those they installed, how many lives did they touch? They are just there for the money, buying mansions overseas, building choice property and feathering their nests without an underlying principle guiding their political participation in Nigeria’s affairs. Have you found out how many houses I had abroad and how many banks have monies I collected from the governors I installed?
So you want us to believe that you were some kind of Nigerian Robin Hood?
Put that way, you have indirectly indicated that I was a thief robbing the wealthy to benefit the poor. But I would not want to agree that I was a thief. I was not common and I was not Robin Hood. I was Lamidi Ariyibi Adedibu. I just had structures on ground that I put at my own disposal and for the interest of those close to me. I do not see anything wrong in that, except you want to also say that having structures on ground and using those structures to influence who gets chosen to govern is criminal. Those you refer to as ‘wealthy’ are actually the common rogues, who took what belongs to the poor and put it at their own and family’s disposal. They bought jets, mansions, and stashed monies in foreign lands. Have you traced any foreign jets and accounts to me? These people were far, far above the reach of the people they were supposed to stand surety for. They go about with a retinue of security detail, armed to the teeth and bones. But me, my Molete residence swarmed with over five thousand people daily who needed one favour or the other. At least, they were guaranteed breakfast and dinner. These people were indirectly my security detail and there was no way I could have been killed by an assassin. I never took decisions on my own. When any wannabes showed up with their requests to be this governor or that senator or that councillor, we collect the monies they brought with them and distribute to those who it rightly belongs to. Thereafter, I sit in council with my advisers to determine what we should do. In most cases, it was easy to know those who just wanted to use us just to win elections. But let me assure you they never got far with us.
But as significant as you may want us to believe you were to the ordinary man, you did not leave any enduring legacy behind, apart from feeding your loyalists…
At least I was able to achieve that. What ordinary folk need are just those basics – food, a place to lay their heads and a little respect. Give them that, and they’ll be ready to lay down their lives for you. They would tell you to go to blazes if you tell them that the man who gives them food, shelter and a little dignity is a thief or a common rogue. That is what the so-called Nigerian leader has not come to realize. In nearly a decade of a free rein of democracy in Nigeria, how many Nigerians have the so-called leaders provided with structures that provided them social security and some decent arrangement to take care of their tomorrow. I tried to do that, in methods that I admit were crude, but I got something done, no matter whose ox was gored. I may have fed people without teaching them how to fish, but at least I fed them when no one was ready to feed them. I have opened their eyes to the realization that they can actually choose those to rule or ruin them. And I promise you this: in less than five years from today, another Lamidi Ariyibi Adedibu would emerge in Oyo state. He would do more than I have done with the structure that I left on ground.
Any last words before you meet your maker or your master the devil?
I believe I will meet my maker. HE is the one who said we should not judge other people. He is the one who said that if you help people, we ‘help’ him, in a manner of speaking. I believe that I’m qualified to take my place among the great children of God across the millennia, who put themselves at the disposal of HIS creatures.
Well, your detractors will insist you go to hell
That’s their funeral, not mine. I was buried two days ago.