Legal luminary and Aare Bamofin of Ibadanland, Chief Niyi Akintola, has narrated how he, as deputy speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, was kidnapped in front of his wife and two kids, dumped in the booth of a saloon car and driven to the Molete residence of the late strongman of Ibadan politics, Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu.
OYO INSIGHT recalls that the senior advocate represented Ido state constituency during the administration of late Chief Kolapo Ishola.
He was the chairman of the committee that probed the purchase of car and financial transactions by the Ishola administration.
Akintola explained that the timely intervention of late Iyalode of Ibadan, Alhaja Aminat Abiodun, saved him that day.
He would later resign as deputy speaker, explaining that “I’ll rather be the head of a rat than be the tail of an elephant.”
Akintola narrated his experience in a post on a Whatsapp group- OYO STATE POLITICS.
The sermon of “forget the past” and forge ahead sound ‘Ostrichic’ to me and can never resonate with some of us who have sense of history.
The common trend amongst some Nigerian politicians is the fact of learning nothing from the past. Only mad men do the same task with the same instruments, the same methods and strategy all the times but with the expectations of different results. There should be at least a level to which a decent man should not descend no matter what. Those who think living the life of treachery with perfidious relationship whilst basking in temporary advantage most often times end up with the wrong end of the stick.
Dateline was August 18th 1992. It was a day of long knives. It was a memorable day but for wrong reason. I was kidnapped right in front of my wife and two kids, aged 4 and 3 respectively. The Merchants of violence and death in the then garrison command were one, a shapeless goon with strong apetite for butchering called “Super”; two, a stoutly built man, black ebony with mean mien called “Fire” and another mean rough looking fellow behind the wheel. Destination was Molete. The cargo was yours truly and the vessel was a yellowish Mercedes-Benz 200 saloon.
I was barely 32 years old, young, vibrant, married with two kids and with a “can do spirit”. Place of residence was Olubadan Estate along new Ife road. I was fairly comfortable, living in my own house with 3 cars to boot apart from the official fairly-used Peugeot 504 car assigned to me as the Rt. Hon. Deputy Speaker of the 3rd Oyo State House of Assembly.
The House had instituted a probe into the purchase of cars and other financial transactions of the Kolapo Ishola administration. There were quite a large number of professionals and academicians in the 52-member House of Assembly but only two of us were lawyers. We had two promising young men in Kazeem Adedeji, a voracious reader with chain of university degrees in many disciplines representing Ibadan South East. His soulmate was the representative from Erunmu in Egbeda local government, an erudite academician of Oyelese dynasty. Of course there were accountants, estate valuers, teachers etc. It was a vibrant House. Nothing much of the remunerations for political office holders of the time. My total package as the deputy speaker was N21,000 whilst that of the Hon. Speaker, 35 years of age, a lawyer and one time lecturer at the University of Ife, was N22,500. The governor and his deputy were on N25,000 and N23, 500 respectively, all inclusive at the time. Corruption was minimal and most participants in the body politics of the day were people with visible means of livelihood.
Our investigations into the purchases were thorough and painstaking. We had in our midst experts in various fields of human endeavours and of course the civil servants, the nemesis and eternal enemies of the political office holders were on hand to supply necessary information and documents to the investigating team. Our discovery and findings were quite damaging to the government of the day even though the Governor himself was a pawn in the hands of the “Garrison Commander” and a business and motor dealer mogul of Iseyin extraction. The Governor was guilty not of outright corruption but of negligence and dereliction of duty borne out of fear of the Garrison Commander and his Merchant of deaths. As the arrowhead of the audacious probe team, I was targeted for elimination. I was taken away in the wee hour of that day, hand bounded to my back, still in my pyjamas and dumped in the booth of the saloon benz car and driven to Molete. I never knew where we were going, where we were until the booth of the car was open and I was hounded out like an animal and brought before the dreaded Lord of Manour who tonguelashed me to no end as his agents of deaths kept dealing me all sorts of blow from behind and a couple of lashes of “Pankere”. The Governor of the day, himself in bondage being a man in government and not in power, strolled into the sprawling compound unable to utter a word of compassion or plead for my release, lost his balls and glanced into space to no end. But there was a woman, yes a woman, my God-sent benefactor and mother in Israel called Alhaja Chief Aminat Abiodun, a woman of steel and many parts. She was beautiful, elegant, bold, courageous and disciplined. She called out the name of the “Commander” saying “Nkankan o gbodo se Omo hun t’obafe ki gbogbo Ibadan ogb’ogun tio” meaning nothing untoward must happen to that child unless and or except you are willing and ready to face the wrath of the people of Ibadanland. The old fox got up from his imperial seat, stressed his threatening finger at me and warned me to keep my strap and tap closed or else….. Like a weather beaten chicken, I struggled and staggered to my feet, got a good Samaritan to take me home. Got bathed and massaged with hot water and a large dose of Robb cream with all the attendant consequences of body pains. I was to leave for the hospital immediately but I opted to go to the floor of the house to tender my letter of resignation with what turns out to become memorable quotable quotes “I’ll rather be the head of a rat than be the tail of an elephant” which were captured by the front pages of the Punch, the Tribune newspapers and New York Times of the following day. The news of my resignation and quotable quotes spread like wildfire and I became the most sought after newsmaker of my generation. Our revered leader of blessed memory Uncle Bola Ige sent for me and made me a member of his think thank. The Heroes of that principled stand was not me but Chief Hon. Adeyemo now the Deputy Chairman of APC Oyo State, Hon. Barrister Kazeem Adedeji, Hon. Taiwo Ibrahim, Hon Dauda Adams from Irepo, Hon Ebenezer from Egbeda and of course Rt Hon, Dr Akin Onigbinde, the then Speaker and many others in the house who were on the same page with me and gave me words of encouragement and psychological supports. Those who sold out, compromised and dined with the devil are today holding the wrong end of the stick. They remain pedestrian in all ramifications of life. They kept silent in the face of Tyranny and the “man died” in them.
The bottom line of the above narrative is that, we must strive to play politics of principle devoid of pecuniary gains of the future or the present. Temporary advantage should not be our consideration in mapping out a plan of action. We are of the progressive bent for crying out loud. We are not of the bred and butter political school.
Our progenitors are Awolowo, Bola Ige, Bisi Akande, Lam Adesina, Segun Osoba, Adekunle Ajasin, Bola Tinubu, Micheal Koleoso, Lasisi Ayankojo, Busari Raji, pa Adewale, Dr Adeoye, etc. They were and are principled politicians. They picked the people they want to associate with and those they ply the trade of politics with. A progressive will not under any guise, compromise or intimidation port or migrate to the terrains of the conservatives.
There are certain characters we associated with in Oyo State politics under the last dispensation that some of us would never ply the trade of politics with again no matter the sermon of past forgiveness. We are no enemies of anyone. We can even be the best of friends socially, culturally, religious wise and even professionally but politically no. That was what informed Awolowo’s stand on National Unity Government in 1960 and 1979. Azikwe fell for the government of compromise in 1960, 1979 and 1983, where did it land our compatriots of Igbo extraction? Awolowo was proved right over and over again by the contemporary Nigerian political history. I am not in the least an ideological demagogue nor do I have my sense in the cloud. I do appreciate the fact of my preaching to the few forward looking compatriots who believe in shaping of ideas of today for our enduring tomorrow. For those who see government and governance as an end in itself or better still, as the only means of livelihood, I would be speaking in tongue but to the disciples of principle and Omoluabi concept, there is hope in the future. Yes, the beginning is bound to be rough, but the just shall be the righteous no matter the odds.
Like I did say to some of my friends in the present day government and ruling party in Oyo state, “laugh not out yet, roll no drum out for now. Behold, you are in the midst of Hyenas. Little is the meat available to the hungry carnivores mammals. The party would soon be over, the little meat would finish in no time. The hungry mammals would descend on themselves. The doves in the midst of the confusion would find their way back to the progressive camp whilst the political immigrants from the progressive camp would move to their natural habitat, the conservative enclave.”
As for me and my tribe, the progressive camp I would stay and strive, with no tainted money bags and people of doubtful ancestral, moral and financial backgrounds. It is not going to be wealth without foundation, education without character, position without humility, piety without fear of God, and status without principle. No compromise, no retreat and no surrender. This is my stake on the vex issue. Good night to all in the house, a very enjoyable weekend to all on this platform.