Why Oyo State Is Not Working And Cannot Work

by Akintokunbo A Adejumo

“Those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable.” – Frantz Fanon

“Nobody, no matter how highly placed; and no institution, no matter what it considers the rightness of its cause, will be considered a sacred cow or above the law in the bid to rid Nigeria of corrupt practices,” – President Umaru Yar’Adua

I have always restrained myself from commenting publicly on the events in Oyo State, which happens to be my state, because of several reasons. One, I do not want thugs harassing my family or harassing me anytime I go to Nigeria to spend my leave, because these people we are dealing with are vicious, murderous people. Secondly, in most cases, I am too sad and disillusioned to bring myself to write anything about the state. This latter is borne by my belief that it is not always a good thing to write negative things about events, people or situations everytime. We should always look to write positive things, if we can. However, Nigeria’s political and moral situations as a whole has always been that of bringing out the pessimism and negativity in most of her people, such that we find it very difficult to celebrate achievement and excellence in all spheres of human activities in our country.

It is really a pity. We are often accused of being a difficult people to please. Yes, that is right, the reason being that at this stage in our nationhood and development (or underdevelopment, take your choice) Nigerian people expect a lot much more from their leaders, taking into consideration our wealth and human resources. Therein lies the problem – a dearth of good, sincere and committed leadership.

Talking of Oyo State, what now motivated and galvanised me to write about events in this sad excuse for a state government was the nice piece of editorial written by the Sun News Publishing Let Oyo State work” (Thursday, October 4, 2007) and that by The Guardian “Between Alao-Akala And Civil Servants In Oyo State” (Saturday, October 6, 2007). If only the renegade government of Oyo State and its backers and other selfish interests could read these and digest them and act on these and several other advice that have been proffered over the past 8 years.

The problems of Oyo State are the problems of Nigeria. In fact, a lot of Nigeria’s problems are reflected in the problems of Oyo State, if the truth be said, and those problems started a long time ago. And Oyo State is not unique. Nigeria has several problems, which means all the 36 states of Nigeria are conjoined in those same problems, however each state have local problems specific to them. Oyo State is by no means different.

It is not necessary here to delve into history, or else, this narrative might turn into a full blown book. Suffice it to say that the specific current problems of Oyo State, in my opinion, really began when the old Oyo State, comprising the current state and Osun State was split into two. This was further manifested when Governor Lamidi Adesina took over the reins of government of Oyo State, as it is today in 1999. To say that Lam Ade’s administration was a disaster is putting it really mildly. In fact, we are being kind to him for saying that. It was a monumental catastrophe. I will not go further than that in his case.

What followed a monumental catastrophe was another cataclysm in the form of the PDP government of Governor Rashid Ladoja. In fairness to this mild-mannered gentleman, he might have had good intentions, but the way he got into power haunted him and proved the cause of his downfall. You see, if you want to dine with the devil, you must have a very long spoon. Ladoja obviously is oblivious of this adage and other wise sayings. He bought his way into power, using the dubious power and influence of Chief Adedibu, and he found out to his great cost, that he could not tame the tiger. He had opened a Pandora’s Box. His plight again demonstrates the fact that power must be derived from the people, not through god-fathers, electoral corruptions and other trickeries to get into power. The people must really and truly vote for you and want you as their leader, otherwise, forget it. This is a lesson all our political leaders in Nigeria are yet to learn but must learn and realise.

Rashid Ladoja just was not allowed to govern and he also, foolishly and naively, did not give himself any chance as he was all the time embroiled in a personal war of attrition and wits with his godfather. Although this is very arguable, the people of Oyo State, and indeed Nigeria, may never know what kind of governance Ladoja would have run, had he been allowed to serve his 4 years in full and in peace. It is a pity really, because he himself will not be judged kindly. The only sympathy people like me have for him is the illegal manner he was removed from office, not his performance as a governor.

Enter the greatest opportunist Alao-Akala. And utter chaos besieged Oyo State, actually in Ibadan, because in reality, other parts of the state were relatively peaceful. It is only that bedrock of Nigerian politics that erupted. I don’t think God and history will ever judge Alao-Akala and Adedibu well. And for that matter, all the so-called elders and monarchs of Oyo State, ex-president Obasanjo, the so-called Ibadan elders and elites. They are all culpable in this shameful and murderous farce.

On the face of it, it would seem like the Ibadans do not want anybody else to rule Oyo State. Well, this would seem to be the case judging from the posture and utterances of the so-called Ibadan elites, but then, who are they really? Their opinions nowadays are not worth anything. They buried their heads in the sand when they should be seen to be taking up the charge on behalf of the people of Ibadan and Oyo State. In fact, some of them were openly or discreetly going to pay obeisance to the Molete Thug-father and rubbing shoulders with him. One of them even was planning to make his son the Deputy Governor when and if Ladoja was removed; therefore he had to cuddle up to Chief Adedibu. It is a shame really.

The issue had nothing to do with a non-Ibadan indigene ruling the state, but the qualities of the Non-Ibadan indigene. Unfortunately for the non-Ibadans, it had to come in the form of a disgraced, corrupt, former policeman who was said to be indicted by the Nigeria Police Force and then unceremoniously sacked. During the eleven months, that he ruled the state, after he had helped impeached his boss, he looted the treasury in connivance with his political godfather, who ironically, was also the political godfather of his former boss. And shameless and power-hungry as he is, even when the courts declared that he should vacate the seat for his boss, the man did not even have the decency to resign, despite all the humiliations that accompanied his removal as governor and the way his boss started treating him. There must be something in government and power that these Nigerian politicians cannot just give up – money, of course, or rather, the opportunity to steal money, lots and lots of it.

A little bit of digression here. We tend to think that elites and elders can do something to solve Nigeria’s problems. This is a very big NO, for the following reasons:

  • These decrepit and morally bankrupt elders and elites were the causes of our problems in the first place, so they cannot, and do not have any solutions to offer. They also want to keep the status quo because of their selfish interests. They are very selfish, and they do not really care for the common Nigerian
  • The elders and elites have lost the respect of the larger community and are not trusted. They are mostly discredited and compromised persons, including most of the monarchs in the Southern part of Nigeria.
  • The world has changed its attitude to community leaders in general. Because these community leaders, including these elders and elites, have failed the community they are supposed to lead or serve, the community has lost confidence in them; however these lepers still crave one kind of relevance or the other, and thus still prefer to refer to themselves as elites or elders.

While I support the saying that “we cannot have elders in place and let the head of a newborn baby be malformed”, the problem is that we have had these elders overlooking, and indeed contributing to the malformation of newborn babies heads a million times since our independence. In fact as Yorubas will say, they are “Agba-iya’s” translated as “Useless old persons”

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