Home Interview from the past Interview from the past: “I never betray any of our Yoruba leader”
Interview from the past - March 9, 2024

Interview from the past: “I never betray any of our Yoruba leader”

Late Alhaji Lamidi Ariyibi Adedibu, the strongman of Ibadan politics, when he paid a visit to England and had interview with The Entertainer, published in 2003 on page 30. He spoke on various issues in Nigeria.

How do you see politics generally?

Polities is not about getting your reward in heaven. When you go to Mosque or when you give alms, the prayer is always that God will reward you. In politics, it’s eat where you have worked. Now, we are blessed that all the Yoruba States are being governed by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and also Federal Government. Few days back when the President Olusegun Obasanjo submitted the list of ministerial nominees to the senate, they did not waste time to approve it. This is because people are behind him now. My view about politics is not theory. It is practical because no one is into politics for fun. Everybody knows for that.

While I was in the Action Group (AG), all my activities pushed me into reckoning. During that time, when Chief Awolowo says something that I am not in support, I usually confront him and tell him that there is difference between people to love you and being afraid of you, we must be able to tell you the truth. So, when there was crisis and all our leaders left with Akintola, I was with him alone and I later became the leader of the party.  That is just my own politics. All these period we were being troubled, detained everywhere, I stood for Chief Awolowo, and I don’t leave him until the last day of AG. So, when we started NPN and people were saying that I don’t follow Awolowo, I told them that he was in a different party. And I was in another party. The one we were together, I don’t not betray him and I have never betrayed any Yoruba leader.

What was your view about President Obasanjo and his government?

Obasanjo should considered the luckiest person in Nigeria politics.  He is blessed in all ways. You can imagine how long we have been struggling to be at the centre of the affair. No one ever confront Awolowo on ways to get to the centre. On July 8th, 1956, we went to Ilorin in Kwara State with Chief Awolowo to campaign, that day will forever be a memorable day in his life. It was that day he believed he can penetrate into the North region through Kwara State. That was how we started and did it for three times. However, we never won the presidential election.

Abiola also came, won but did not get there. Obasanjo in his case, first came and it cost him nothing to get there. Even all the money raised for his campaigns were not spent. He did not give anyone money. I will say it is Obasanjo who released us from bondage. As a military man, he is the only Yoruba man to have been a head of State. Now he has contested on two occasions and won, nothing of this can ever happen again. Even the Hausa are saying it now, that a Yoruba man is there, he should take care of his people. I told Obasanjo that Hausas say you should take care of Yoruba. He asked me who told me that and I said, it is Shinkafi, when you see him you should ask him.

When I met Obasanjo, I told him that what God has done for him, I did not know anybody who can be that lucky again. I said there was  a story of how Jesus raised the dead, healed the leper, fed 1000 people with one cake , but the unbelievers did not believe him. Also Moses crossed the sea with his stick and unbelievers still argued. Prophet Mohammed passed through seven planets to visit God, people did not believe him, Prophet Yusuf, was thrown into well and into slavery, he came back to be the leader, unbelievers still did not believe him. God now said for people to believe, he will be creating people like you to remind us of his words through peculiar cases.

I was asking AD people what connection between them and Awolowo. Awolowo did not know them. He knew only people like us. In 1999 when we were about to vote, they came out to say that they want to deliver Yoruba from suffering and bondage. Truly all the Yoruba voted for them and also for Chief Falae, but the whole country voted for Obasanjo. Their campaign was that Yoruba are been cheated. But the question I want to ask is all your councilors not Yoruba? All your local government chairmen are Yoruba, you do not have any commissioner who is an Igbo man, all your house of representatives are Yoruba, all the six governors are Yorubas, and the head of government is a Yoruba man, the Inspector General of Police, the previous and the new are Yoruba. Sanusi who is governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria where they make money is a Yoruba man. So who is cheating them? The story of AD can be traced to historical stand of Yoruba on political issues. During the McPherson constitution of 1951, all the region had its leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo led us in the West, Sardauna in the North and Eyo Ita in the East. Everything was peaceful; we has central ministers who were Akintola and Bode Thomas representing the West. It was the constitution we were following till November 11, 1954, we voted, and Action Group lost, so we became opposition.  Till today the first opposition leader Nigeria ever had was Chief Samuel Akintola, deputy leader of AG and the last leader of the opposition in Nigeria was Chief Awolowo.

In the history no other tribe has been in opposition except Yoruba. It is only God’s intervention that somebody like Obasanjo, came to liberalize everything. No other government can achieve this two term again. It will be four-four years. The only reason for his own his that God is on his side.

What was the genesis of the crisis you had with some journalists in Ibadan?

Some people were trying to do a campaign against the Alaafin of Oyo, they were writing all sorts of articles. We know they are being sponsored by Haruna Elewi. So, when they wanted to do their press conference, they came to Ibadan to do the press conference. I sent a message to them that they should go back to Oyo to do the press conference, because you cannot be against Alaafin in Ibadan, he is the king of all the Obas in Oyo State. They did not agree and we went there to disturb the press conference. Obasanjo called me and I told him that what he heard is truth. My approach to politics is very simple, where we supposed to beg, we will beg, when it comes to compromise, we must do it even if it comes to fighting, we must also fight. That is politics of our area. I remembered a particular incident when Governor Lam Adesina came to pray at our praying ground. I went to him and told him that after that day, he must not come back there again for prayer. By the grace of God, he will never come there as a governor again.

Shortly before the election, there was report that you were summoned to Abuja for security reasons. What transpired at the meeting?

It is true I was invited  to Abuja. At the meeting were our leader Chief Alayande, President Obasanjo, Governor Lam Adesina, Ladoja and myself. At the meeting Obasanjo said there was a security report that I was causing trouble in the state and I said, we must do something to get rid of the government there first before we can talk of any victory to our side. He now said at 76, what legacy I will leave for my children. My reply was that Chief Alayande attended Colorado College in Sierra Leone, and he is a graduate, Ladoja is an engineer, you the President, you are an engineer, Lam is also a graduate. Among all of you, I am the only one who did go to school and today, I am in your midst talking, that’s legacy on its own.

 So, at 76, when are you going to retire from active politics?

Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, were never at any time retired from politics during their lives. They die as a politicians. I am also going to die as a politician.

Few months back, your lawyer who is also regarded as your son, Ajibola Olanipekun was murdered. Was this not a bad sing to you?

That’s how God wants it. I won’t say more than that. 

There was these complain that the government of Ladoja in being  hijack  by you?

I will take it in good faith. I have said it many times and openly too that I will never go to his house during his tenure. I leave him in the hands of God to lead. But when people say that it is Alhaji Adedibu that is doing this or that, I will bear it because I have lived in politics for the past 52 years. I put him there as a governor because he is an experienced man with over 20,000 staff working under him. I never asked how he managed his staff and he succeeded in it. I will say categorically that I don’t know how he is managing the government affairs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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