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Friday, June 13, 2008

LAMIDI ADEDIBU-WHAT MANNER OF LEGACY?

LIKE many celebrated men whose lives impacted on many others, Chief Lamidi Adedibu’s life was characterised by many tales.
Many of these tales only further confirm him as a controversial as well as a colourful politician. The intriguing story of Adedibu was actually best captured by the legendary Ibadan-based musician of the 1960s-1980s, Chief Odolaye Aremu.
In a long playing album he waxed in celebration of Adedibu, he described him as someone who returned from the market with a chicken.
“He did not buy it. It was not given to him. Neither did Adedibu steal it!” So intriguing was Adedibu’ s life. And so were many tales told about him.
In 2003, it was reported that Chief Adedibu caused a stir in a passenger plane travelling from Abuja to Lagos, after the PDP convention. He had reportedly strapped a Ghana-must-Go bag to a passenger seat beside himself.
When other passengers approached and made to remove the bag, Adedibu cautioned them, showing the ticket bought to secure the seat for the bag. The old man was said to have explained later that he could not trust the airline with his money, hence the decision to sit it beside himself.
Another tale about how he dislodged a major witness against him in an election petition tribunal is a testimony to his ingenuity.Adedibu had secured electoral victory for his wards in a controversial manner. However, the execution of the electoral heist had been witnessed by a disabled observer that Adedibu’s men had ignored.
Unfortunately for them, the disabled approached the opposing party, offering to be a star witness that could force the cancellation of the election. It was when the parties converged in the court that Adedibu and his men realised the great risk that the man’s evidence constituted to their case. Adedibu then designed a way out of it.
When they returned to court the following day, he stationed his men around the disabled man. As he had planned, he walked across to them and told them about a sacrifice they needed to offer to win the case.
While pretending that he was whispering to his men, he spoke loud enough for the disabled man to hear his instructions. He then reminded his men that the mallams needed the service of a disabled man like the witness to offer the sacrifice. His men must not allow the disabled man to escape after the court sitting that day so that he could be used for that sacrifice.
The witness, who also pretended not to have heard the conversation, took his time before escaping from the court room, ahead of the end of proceedings. He refused to return to the court to give evidence despite all assurances by the opposing side that he would be protected.
With this design, Adedibu denied the opposing side the evidence of a vital witness that would have forced the cancellation of the election.
Adedibu’s philosophy of election is that no politician in Nigeria will go into any election without any design to manipulate it to his own advantage. He believed that it was incumbent on any politician worth his salt to ensure that he was not outrigged by other politicians. His usual instruction to his men was that it is better to be declared the winner of an election and to be challenged in court than to be the one challenging the winner.
He said whoever was in government would use government resources to prosecute his case while the challenger would rely on his own resources, which he said was a major disadvantage.
In 2006 at the height of hostilities between him and Senator Rashidi Ladoja, Adedibu was asked by a group of journalists in Abuja what he thought his legacy would be in the light of the violence in Oyo state. He said “what other legacy can a man like me ask for? Yesterday, I was at the Presidential Villa where I had lunch with the President. On the same day, I was with the Vice President and we had dinner together. Any politician who is serious about winning Oyo State whether he is president or anything will come to my house. I already have a legacy that I am happy with.”
The contradictions of AdedibuChief Adedibu meant different things to different people. It was a mark of the contradictions of his life. To many people, Chief Adedibu was a politician who promoted violence and oppressed the people. His approachability told a different story. His Molete residence was always a beehive of activities, filled with men and women who came in search of solutions to their daily problems.
Adedibu got the appellation of promoter of “Amala politics” because of the ceaseless supply of the popular Ibadan staple food in the house.
Everyday, Adedibu served breakfast, lunch and dinner to the hundreds of people who thronged his house. Adedibu ensured that those who daily thronged his house went home with some money everyday.
He held court twice a day in the residence: 9 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.The routine was for his political foot-soldiers to report political happenings in their respective areas. The foot-soldiers covered every nook and cranny of Ibadan in the early days of Adedibu’s political suzerainty.
In the latter years, they came from all parts of Oyo State. As Adedibu listened to these foot soldiers’ accounts, he also had time for people who had come in search of solution to one problem or the other.
A daily check list would include those who had been wrongly dismissed, demoted or transferred in the state civil service. Adedibu would promptly assign one of his aides to contact appropriate government agencies or officials to address the problem. In addressing such issues, he relied on his extensive knowledge of the state to make a case in support of whatever action he decided to take. The arguments could exploit religious, community or historical grounds to justify any line of action.
In the crowd that thronged the house would also be people who had come in search of financial assistance. This would usually include men who had problem raising money to buy cows to bury their in-laws.
Adedibu would not only buy a cow and other materials needed for the funeral, he would also assign some people to attend the event. In most cases, he ensured that he was in attendance. Adedibu, attending the naming ceremony of a bus driver’s baby or the burial of the in-law of a vulcaniser, was all he needed to win the loyalty of such individual.
In Molete, Adedibu kept a retinue of officials who attended to specific responsibilities. He had a surveyor general who handled all problems about land in Ibadan. He had a security assistant whose assignment was to intervene and help any member of the political household solve problems they had with security agencies.
There was someone who related with agencies like the licensing office to handle traffic problems for members of the political family. It was a long list that catered for virtually every need that could be brought to the attention of the political leader.
Some people’s perception of Adedibu as an outlaw was somewhat negated by his religious engagements. Adedibu seemed pious. He was reputed to fast for about three days every week. He maintained a very large retinue of Islamic clerics who offered prayers for him.
In his last years, he could hardly express three sentences without bringing in the name of Allah. But then, it was also familiar to get reports of Adedibu instructing his men to carry out actions that conflicts sharply with the dictates of Islam, his religion.

4 comments:

mike said...

hello kola,nice blog you have.your piece on Adedibu was really cool.I thinks say the man no go die.anyway,i will visit your blog again.

Anonymous said...

death of a tyrant. Oyo state will now have peace.

akinyemi said...

a society gets the type/kind of leader its creates. Their are a lot of adedibu's in this country just waiting to explode into our faces.

Nneka said...

good riddance to bad rubbish

 
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