The Alao-Akala Calamity

by Abiodun Ladepo

He couldn’t believe his luck. He had gone to see the late Lamidi Adedibu about running for a senatorial seat under the PDP banner. Adedibu, the father of godfathers, reigned supreme in Oyo State politics. How much would Adedibu accept before giving (yes, giving!) him the senatorial ticket? N1 million? N5 million? Just take N10 million in the event that Baba was greedy.

Alao-Akala, Chairman of Ogbomoso North Local Government, knew that the fastest route to the pinnacle of politics in the state was through the progenitor of Amala politics himself, the indefatigable (until his death) Lamidi Adedibu. He arrived at Adedibu’s Molete residence in Ibadan and presented his case to the chief in the presence of his retinue of daily, permanent leeches.

Akala: Baba, I will like you to support me for the post of Senator in Oyo State.
Adedibu: What do you have that qualifies you for that post?
Akala: I have N5 Million, and it is just the beginning.
Adedibu: N5 Million? You know we have to take care of the boys and girls, men and women, who will cast the ballot; the drivers who will drive the buses with the ballot boxes; the police officers who will escort the boxes and the buses; the police officers who will not find the boxes at the various checkpoints; the electoral officers who will not return the right results but whatever we tell them to return; the Tribune and NTA journalists who will not publish or broadcast anything against us; the other contestants who will step down for you; and, of course, myself.
Akala: Baba, I understand. What about N10 Million?
Adedibu: N10 Million? You have N10 Million with you right now?
Akala: Yes, Baba. And there is more from where that came if you can make this happen.
Adedibu: And all you want is to be Senator?
Akala: Yes o, Baba.
Adedibu: You are a good boy. But don’t you like to be Deputy-Governor?
Akala: Ah! Baba, that will be difficult o.
Adedibu: What will be difficult? I am the one in charge here. If you have N10 Million and there is more from where that came, then I can make you Deputy-Governor. Besides, I have already given (yes given!) the senatorial ticket to someone else.
Akala: Baba, I will take Deputy-Governor then. Ah! God bless you o! And if you can make it happen, I promise to take good care of you! Ah! I will never forget you!

Now, I must confess that I was not present at that meeting between Akala and Adedibu. But those present swore that the conversation went almost exactly as narrated above. Alao-Akala walked into the Molete den of the lion, dined with the monstrous cat himself, and from that day on became an appendage of Adedibu’s. On that day, the future of the people of Oyo State; the sovereignty of Oyo State; the budget of Oyo State; the authority of Akala as Governor and his manhood were sacrificed at the altar of greed. Adedibu made Akala deputy to Rashid Ladoja, another conniving, corrupt, greedy don’t-know-how-or-when-to-quit-when-the-ovation-is-loudest man. The trio met at Molete several times, perfecting the scheme with which they rigged the 2003 election that ended the AD government of Lam Adesina and catapulted Oyo State into the season of anarchy and mediocrity. I will not bore you with how Ladoja reneged on his promise to pay Adedibu handsomely and how Akala put a huge sword (not a knife) through the back of Ladoja by funding the infamous impeachment of the latter.

We all remember that while the machinery of government came to a screeching halt in Oyo State over the amount of un-appropriated State funds that Ladoja was supposed to pay Adedibu as stipend, the rest of the old Western States marched forward. Lagos, in particular, under Tinubu, made waves. There was infrastructural transformation in Lagos and there was political tranquility in Ogun State. While Ondo and Ekiti States did not achieve a lot (money was scarce in those States), their governments gave a semblance of hope to the people. Not so in the so-called Pace-Setter State. Oyo meandered peripatetically from one calamity to the other. Members of the State’s NURTW (National Union of Road Transport Workers) became law onto themselves. They killed, maimed and raped in broad daylight. They brandished prohibited handguns and Dane guns in the open, especially around the Molete motor park and in clear view of a police checkpoint mounted in the area to prevent such things. They openly smoked marijuana, displayed drug paraphernalia without compunction and ingested a cocktail of other drugs. They became the de facto security force for Garrison Commander Lamidi Adedibu. Molete became a “no-go” area for decent people. If you lived north of Bode, west of Oke Ado, east of Yejide, and south of Felele, you took a detour to bypass Molete. And all that time, there was a commissioner of police in Oyo State. His headquarters was located in Ibadan. His office was located in Ibadan, and his official residence was also located in Ibadan. Yet, on a regular basis, there was pandemonium at the motor parks in and around Ibadan.

Akala used his connection, as a former police officer, to spring from jail in Abuja, the leader of the NURTW in Oyo State, Alhaji Lateef Akinsola aka “Tokyo”, who was supposed to stand trial for alleged multiple murders and conspiracies to commit murders. He and Adedibu then used Tokyo and his men to bludgeon the people of Oyo State into political annihilation. No one dared question any act (or inaction) of government. It was as if Oyo State witnessed the reincarnation of Sani Abacha and he now governed the State. If you said or wrote any unsavory thing about Akala or Adedibu, you were visited at home or accosted in the streets in broad daylight and beaten into pulp. If you were unlucky, your wife and daughters were raped (or fondled, at least) and everything was blamed on “armed robbers.” The menace that Tokyo and his cohorts posed to Oyo State in 2007 is still present today. As of 19 June 2011, Tokyo and his main rival, Mukaila Lamidi, aka “Auxiliary” (some nickname!) shared a farcical N1 Million bounty reluctantly placed on their head by the Police. This was ostensibly due to fresh murder charges leveled against the two thugs. These were Akala’s political associates! These were men with whom Akala dined and wined at Adedibu’s house, government house and his own private houses in Ibadan and Ogbomosho! These were the people that determined elections in the State!

Once he became governor, Akala rode into the Agodi government house like the political, administrative and cultural neophyte that he was. Hardly had he been sworn-in than he began to ride roughshod over every notable Oyo State politician who opposed his (s)election and maladministration. The few journalists he could not buy also caught hell. He unleashed on his critics Diran Odeyemi, his infamous garrulous megaphone and Special Adviser on Communication, threatening, rough-handling and sponsoring the beating up of journalists who dared publish or broadcast news items that painted his government in its true light. Akala, through this incorrigible, caustic, morally indigent reject from Osun State’s Governor Oyinlola, went after cultural and political icons that opposed him. Akala paid this faux journalist native of Obokun to desecrate the institutional morals and ethos of the Yoruba people by lambasting those elders who helped build the State that he now was ruining.

He did not stop with the elders. Akala went after traditional rulers who refused to openly support his government, sacrilegiously kicking the Alaafin of Oyo, the Soun of Ogbomoso and the Olubadan of Ibadan (among others) in the teeth. I am still befuddled by the legendary arrogance that caused this governor to lose the support of these three monarchs – all at the same time! Remember that Akala is from Ogbomoso, and the Soun is his monarch. Also, Oyo, Ogbomoso and Ibadan are the three largest cities in Oyo State. It was as if the gods made crazy he whom they w

anted to destroy. Akala withdrew from these Obas some of the accoutrements and emoluments to which they were entitled as Grade A traditional rulers. He fomented rebellions in their respective domains by promoting lesser chiefs to Obaships as symbolic shots of sputum at them. Oba Adeyemi caught most of Akala’s ire. Somehow, Akala managed to wake up everyday in search of one way or the other to disgrace the paramount ruler of Oyo town. Things got so bad that the monarch once accused Akala of planning to kill him (a pretty darn serious accusation coming from an Oba of his stature), and petitioned the Inspector-General of police accordingly. Akala threatened to depose the Alaafin and banish him from his domain – the same Alaafin who has reigned over Oyo since Akala wore just underpants around the neighborhood. What is it with these power-drunken governors who spit on their own fathers? Do they not remember that “governors come, governors go” but the office remains? I can’t even begin to count the number of governors that the Alaafin has welcomed and to whom he has said goodbye since ascending the throne. Many of those governors, like Akala will be soon, have since disappeared into oblivion or, at best, degenerated into tangential relevance. But Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, like the other royal fathers, remains influential and revered. Akala had forgotten the inherent lessons in the transiency of gubernatorial power.

Oyo State, under him, became the laughing stock in Nigeria and abroad. How did we get from the likes of Ladoke Akintola, Adeyinka Adebayo, Oluwole Rotimi, Tunji Olurin, Lam Adesina, Oladayo Popoola, and Bola Ige, to Alao-Akala? Where did the people of Oyo State go wrong to have deserved the unmitigated mediocrity and kleptomania that Akala epitomized and propagated in the State? Once he and Adedibu ate one of their own (Ladoja), they plucked one Hazeem Gbolarumi (he of the questionable high school certificate saga; he who was literally Adedibu’s errand boy and carrier of Ghana-Must-Go bags) out of nowhere and made him deputy governor. It was the season of crassness in Oyo State; a moronic, thieving, back-stabbing governor and a raw, clueless, thuggish deputy at the helms of affairs in the Pace-Setter State. It was anomie all over the State. And to add insult to injury, President Olusegun Obasanjo came to Ibadan to lift Akala’s hand and tell the people of Oyo State that he was the best thing that had happened to them since Amala and Abula soup.

Akala junketed out to China more than a few times with a long line of acolytes, to purchase buses for public transportation in the State. He signed contracts over there, paid Advance Fees, drew estacodes for himself and his aides, and yet, did not bring home any buses. Why it took a whole governor to negotiate such a deal on behalf of the State I will never understand. He awarded huge contracts for new roads but only fixed potholes on old ones, and then organized ribbon-cutting ceremonies to commission them; he used government funds to purchase text books with his picture embossed on the books, and then distributed the books to students as if he personally paid for them. It was the crudest form of absolute power corruption and shameless political opportunism. He embarked on the “renovation” (some cosmetic changes and painting) of Mapo Hall, awarding a N179.2 Million to a company in which Adedibu was the majority shareholder, while major sections of the state lacked water and were strewn with refuse. By the time he was voted out of office, this unrepentant, shameless character went around making nebulous claims of uplifting Oyo State!

No sooner had Alao-Akala lost his re-election bid than notable indigenes of the State started calling for his probe. The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, spearheaded that call in a way that some, including this writer, first thought was too far beneath his exalted throne as a pre-eminent traditional ruler. My reasoning was that it was unnecessary for Oba Adeyemi to dissipate his energy on chasing Alao-Akala all around the world. That is the job of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). It will also be a monumental waste of Governor Ajimobi’s precious time to engage in the exchange of barbs with Akala. Let the man carry over his head by himself the EFCC sword of Damocles. Ajimobi has a full plate and very little time to deliver. However, it is very easy to feel Oba Adeyemi’s frustration and anger at “that boy” who was invited to the dining table of Governor Ladoja, only for him to hold down Ladoja’s hand while he fed fat at the table. It is also very easy to understand Ajimobi’s consternation at Akala’s crude, last-minute deals, literally emptying government coffers as he walked out of office as Governor. These unconscionable acts underscore the arguments of those who believe that the vain, skin-bleaching “O Yato” (he is different) governor was “the worst thing” that ever happened to Oyo State

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