Late former governor Lamidi Adesina’s personal assistant for over three decades, Alhaji Fatai Ibikunle, has revealed that the late politician taught him and his other disciples to approach any political struggle with brain and diplomacy.
According to the Lanlate-born politician who recently declared his senatorial ambition, “Baba Lam never harbour any grudge against anyone. He would say things the way they were without fear or favour. He would tell us look, whenever you want to go to for political struggle or contest, make sure you go with your brain and diplomacy, and that as a politician, you must be diplomatic and must succumb to the will of Allah. And that anytime you are looking for something, you should prepare your mind that it is going to be a failure. If you succeed, okay, but if you fail, it will not be a problem to you because you have already prepared your mind. That’s is why some politicians develop hypertension.”
He went further: “Throughout his life, he never suffered blood pressure or undue anxiety because anytime we were going for any contest, he would tell us, look Fatai, let us prepare our mind to the fact that humans are what they are, we should never look for perfection, human beings can change. Let us believe that it’s either we win or lose. And let us put in our best that will make us win. But if we lose, it should not be a shock to us. So, Lam was a complete politician.
“You know he started in 1979 when he contested the State House of Assembly election, but along the line, Baba Awolowo said no, he should go for the House of Reps. So, his mind was to go to the State House of Assembly, a lower position, but Awo said he should go higher. Then, in 1987, he was prepared to go for local government election, but Babangida banned them and thereafter they said he should come, but he said no, he was no more interested. That was when Baba Alayande’s son became local government chairman. Recall that the late Lam Adesina had made attempt in the late 1980s to become governor of Oyo State, but somewhere along the line, that wasn’t to be. What happened? Well, what happened was that in 1988, his people came to him and asked him to represent them in the Constituent Assembly, and he went. So, during the 1988-89 Constituent Assembly, he and others like of Chief Segun Osoba came together and formed a political movement which later on metamorphosed into SDP. So, he tried to become governor at that time, but people disappointed him. People like Adedibu and co., they sabotaged his effort and he was left to resign to fate. And in 1983, when he wanted to go for the deputy governorship, with Chief S. M. Afolabi, they disappointed him again. But those who believed in him urged him to go for a second term in the House of Reps, but he still resigned to fate. Chief S. M. Afolabi and others went to NPN, but Baba Lam said he was not leaving the UPN because his own philosophy was tied with the progressives. He said he was not leaving. And he did not leave the party even when the likes of Eruobodo went to NPN. A lot of people went to NPN then in annoyance because Awolowo disappointed them but Baba Lam said no.
“So, despite the disappointment in SDP, he did not leave the party. He remained there when Adedibu and co disappointed him. At a point in time, it was learnt that Abacha tried to lure him to his side. They were urging him to leave the struggle then in NADECO. A lot of enticements were brought to soften Baba’s stance but he turned them down and later Abacha wanted a reliable politician and sought him out, but he said no, he was not leaving the struggle.
“He said he was a NADECO member and that they were going to fight Abacha till he left that office. And after Abacha’s death, with all the struggles including imprisonment, they asked him, sir, what are you going for? But Baba Lam said he was not desperate. He said he didn’t know, but God will tell him the thing to do and the right way to go. After some time, they told him to go for governorship and after much consultation, he went for governorship. And he became governor in 1999.”
Describing who the late politician was to him, Ibikunle, who chairs the national lottery regulatory commission board, added that ”he was a father to me because he took over my upkeep right from my tender age and brought me up since then. He took over everything that had to do with my upbringing since he became the House of Representatives member in 1979. He mentored me on how to live life and on how to chart the political terrain.
“He was a fine gentleman. Adesina was my own Awo because I never lived with Awolowo, but I have been with Adesina and he was a very kind and considerate leader and he loved people and loved putting his followers in positions of authority. Ask people the question, who made you chairmen of local government chairman? And the answer will be Lam. Who made you commissioner? Lam. Who made you the House of Representatives member? Lam. He loved to put people in positions and make people happy. He didn’t even have much time for himself, but was always addressing others’ problems. So, he was a complete gentleman.”