They came to power riding roughshod over everybody and everything in their path, ruling as if they had the mandate of the Oyo State people. Alao- Akala and his motley crowd of political marauders fired all the Commissioners and Special Advisers that Ladoja had appointed, even though some of those appointments were made in consultation with him. He dismissed members and chairpersons of boards of government agencies. He canceled contracts that were awarded in an administration of which he was a part, and re-awarded same with a significant increase in cost. Alao-Akala’s government (of eleven months!) re-tarred a few bad roads in Ibadan and “commissioned” them with fanfares, complete with music and dancing in the streets. His administration printed his name on the notebooks that were procured with government funds and distributed them to secondary school students.
Every so often, some of his garrulous aides held press conferences during which they trashed Ladoja who had re-located to Lagos. They wrote or sponsored editorial opinions that lampooned Ladoja, tarnishing further his reputation while they prepared Alao-Akala for a possible full term as governor.
Alao-Akala, so confident of himself and the security of his job, publicly admitted the adroitness of his skills in the “management” of Adedibu. He cemented his relationship with Adedibu by making sure that the old man never experienced any shortage of funds. Adedibu’s monthly “budget,” we all know, far exceeds the official salary of any governor in Nigeria. The EFCC may want to know how Alao-Akala met those huge Adedibu responsibilities.
Alao-Akala used his “connections” as a former police officer to swing from detention, Alhaji “Tokyo,” the Oyo State “thug-in-chief” who was pending trial for murder under the Ladoja administration. Alao-Akala, a former police officer (!) then withdrew all charges against Tokyo. By the way, Tokyo is now back in detention for yet another murder, having been arrested by operatives of the SSS a few weeks ago. This time, the Adedibu hatchet man was not detained anywhere near Ibadan. He was taken to far-away Abuja. His absence from Ibadan is probably why there is relative peace in the city in the wake of the reinstatement of Ladoja.
The recent quashing of the impeachment of Governor Rashid Ladoja by the Supreme Court is, therefore, an appropriate comeuppance for the duo of Alao-Akala and Baba Adedibu who ruled with the swagger befitting a remorseless backstabber. They had stolen the Oyo governorship in a brazen daylight robbery, ostensibly because Ladoja would not continue the remittance of millions of naira to Adedibu as stipend.
Prior to the December 7 ruling, the Adedibu/Alao-Akala camp had threatened hellfire and brimstone. Adedibu, in an obvious preemptive intimidation of the Supreme Court, dragged all of his 240lbs massive frame and 79 years of senility from Ibadan to the courtroom in Abuja. The justices apparently did not notice his presence as their December 7 ruling jolted the Nigerian political class back to reality. All of a sudden, the judiciary hitherto reduced to a mere conviction-less, bribe-taking, wig-wearing, and robe-wearing, all-bluster-no-muscle bunch of people is again relevant.
For now, the people of Ibadan can have some respite, and rest, assured that there will be no violence in the city as Governor Rashid Ladoja returns to complete his abbreviated tenure as chief executive. Their fear, that Alao-Akala would sit tight and turn the state into another Ekiti State governed through the extraordinary State of Emergency law because the politicians there maintained their infantile proclivities, will, after all, not materialize.
In spite of the arrogant, crass and irresponsible statements credited to Baba Adedibu immediately following the Supreme Court’s invalidation of Ladoja’s impeachment, that he would not allow the former governor to reclaim his job even if the Supreme Court so decreed, the instrument of office, the paraphernalia and appurtenances that Ladoja needs in order to resume have been restored by the Federal Government. Baba Adedibu will stand in the path of Ladoja at his own peril this time. Those who think that President Obasanjo has favorite politicians should vacate fantasyland, as the SSS would not hesitate to arrest Adedibu and cart him to faraway hot and humid Zamfara State in order to forestall a breakdown of law and order.
Ladoja’s return to power, with 20 members of the House of Assembly still beholden to Adedibu and Alao-Akala means that Ladoja will serve out his last 5 months essentiallyas a lame-duck governor, with no time to initiate any new projects. Although the 20 lawmakers may try to re-impeach him, they still will have to find a malleable Chief Judge who will appoint an equally gullible 7-man panel to find him guilty.
Having been entangled in the fight to reclaim his mandate, Ladoja, effectively marginalized by Adedibu and Alao-Akala in the PDP, did not have the time to prepare and contest for re-election in the just-concluded Oyo State primaries, which Alao-Akala incidentally “won” in a landslide. So, when Ladoja resumes this week as governor, he will have to contend with a deputy-governor who became heir-apparent in the most politically loathsome manner. That there will be a fractious working environment at the Governor’s Office is to understate the matter. Although Ladoja has reportedly said that he could continue to work with Alao-Akala because the ex-police officer was good with “taking orders,” Ladoja will be surprised to find how much the cornucopia of money and power that Alao-Akala now enjoys has changed the man. He is no longer easily amenable to taking instructions from anybody other than Adedibu. In fact, word on the streets is that Alao-Akala will fulfill his promise to resign rather than serve as Ladoja’s deputy.
In the event that Alao-Akala resigns before Ladoja takes over, Hazeem Gbolarumi, the current deputy governor will continue to serve as deputy, leaving the PDP in Oyo State with the unusual (and unacceptable) situation where both the governor and deputy are from the same place – Ibadan. Somebody will have to leave. You will recall that Gbolarumi (the man with scant formal education who lied about graduating from a non-existent Department of Agriculture at the University of Ibadan, the Ibadan Polytechnic and Timi Agbale High School, Ede) was the personal aide to Adedibu when Adedibu sprung him from relative obscurity and shove him down Alao-Akala’s throat as deputy after Ladoja was impeached. I confess that I am so very ashamed, as a native of Ibadan, of this incorrigible charlatan parading himself as my deputy-governor.
There is no way in hell that Ladoja and Alao-Akala will sit together in a room. There is absolutely no way in hell that Ladoja and Gbolarumi will sit together anywhere. And there surely should be no way in hell that Ladoja and Adedibu will speak to each other ever again. But politicians are of a different breed. They enjoy the credo: there is no permanent friend or permanent enemy in politics. I am no politician. I have permanent friends and permanent enemies. I will find it abhorrent and abominable to breathe the same air that these lecherous opportunists breathe, were I Ladoja.
If Alao-Akala resigns, (which is unlikely because he would lose his immunity and be subject to the EFCC’s fangs) he will not go into oblivion now that he has “won” the PDP ticket to contest the governorship next year. He will begin to traverse the length and breadth of the state canvassing for votes. It is unlikely that he will do so without stiff opposition from the Wole Oyeleses, the Raji Rasakis, the Omololu Olunloyos, the Yekini Adeojos and no doubt the Rashidi Ladojas, who are convinced that he was imposed on them by the soon-to-be Octogenarian Adedibu. It is not impossible for Ladoja to find, within the next few weeks, evidence of massive looting of the treasury, to which he could invite Nuhu Ribadu and the EFCC. And should the EFCC find prosecutable e
vidence, it could change the entire political calculation for Alao-Akala and Adedibu. If that fails and Alao-Akala still manages to stay in the race, it is not unreasonable to imagine a gubernatorial election day marred by melee; anarchy and bloodshed, as aggrieved political heavyweights seek to extract their pounds of flesh from Alao-Akala and Adedibu by letting loose their avalanche of thugs and caches of weapons. Until now, Adedibu has enjoyed the monopoly of political brigandage in Oyo State. He is about to be seriously challenged.
And if Alao-Akala wins the general elections and becomes the substantive governor of Oyo State in 2007, he may have to literally watch his back for his entire four-year term and beyond. His greedy, “winner-takes-all” attitude, displayed in the past year that he governed, will prevent him from taking the necessary steps to unite the power players behind him. He will continue to surround himself with self-serving “miss-educated,” “ill-literate,” and sycophantic hacks who will not have the common sense to advise him against rubbing salt on the wounds of his defeated opponents. The threat of reprisals in the form of the assassination of his appointees, acolytes, friends and family members will then become a very real one. Rather than govern, he will spend an appreciable length of time striving to quell one crisis or the other, much like Ladoja did throughout his tenure.
Either way, we the people of Oyo State will not enjoy the so-called dividends of democracy – all because our leaders do not see beyond their noses.
While the Supreme Court’s decision is worthy of celebration because our hitherto spineless judiciary is beginning to show some backbone, and this judgment in particular, curbing the excesses of the state’s House of Assembly, will serve as lesson to all of our dubious legislatures across the country in the long run, it is instructive to note that the people of Oyo State have been denied proper governance since Ladoja and Adedibu began their feud in 2003. And they will be denied peaceful and proper governance for some time as the battle seems to have just begun.
“A people,” they say, “deserve whatever government they have.” In Oyo State, we have ceased to put forth our “A Team” for government. Not even our “B Team” is in government today. In a state replete with talented managers of people and resources; brilliant people from Fiditi to Lanlate; from Oyo town to Oke Ogun; from Ibadan to Ogbomosho – people imbued with the natural ability to weave together pieces of torn societies and people committed to our communal sense of unity – we have our “D Team” running around Government House, Agodi, pretending to be governing us. We truly deserve this bunch of ne’er-do-wells.