Deeper Graves Than Bola Ige's


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October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007



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Deeper Graves Than Bola Ige’s



Bisi Akande


I feel so excited by Dare Babarinsa’s Grammar of Murderers published in the Tell magazine, of November 1, 2004, that it occurred to me to write this piece about the assassination of Chief Bola Ige, a mentor of most Nigerian youths, when he was the Attorney-General of the Federal Government under President Olusegun Obasanjo. Side by side with the opinion was the press statement by the family of Ige published by the newspapers of October 25, 2004 describing Ige’s murder trial as a shame. The two publications remind me of the circumstances of Ige’s life in his last days.

As governor of Osun State, I joined Lam Adesina, the then governor of Oyo State at lbadan Airport to welcome President Obasanjo who arrived in lbadan for an official visit to Oyo State. While President Obasanjo and Lam Adesina drove out in the presidential staff car, I drove out in Osun State Governor’s staff car. Uncle Bola 1ge, who accompanied President Obasanjo in the same flight to lbadan from Abuja, had no official car to help him out of the Airport. Seeing Bola Ige stranded at the Airport, Chief Mike Koleosho, then Secretary to the Government of Oyo State, offered him a lift to the state presidential reception arranged for Ibadan Liberty stadium. The car in which Bola Ige and Mike Koleosho drove was pushed so far to the back of the queue of the presidential motorcade that Bola Ige did not arrive until the doors of the Stadium were closed against non-presidential entourage in the motorcade.

Obasanjo and other dignitaries had sat in the state box (for the VIPs) before Uncle Bola walked into the stadium. Spontaneously, the crowd rose to welcome him with jubilant and deafening shouts of Ige! Ige!! Ige!!!. I observed that such an enthusiastic welcome was not displayed by the people for the visiting President. I wondered inside me what could be the feelings and the ego of Mr. President and the PDP leadership under such a circumstance and I was sorry for Chief Ige for what could be the consequences of his stealing the show as the political octopus of Yorubaland. Was it curious that, shortly thereafter, Obasanjo returned to the Liberty Stadium for the funeral of the same ‘Uncle Bola’?

I also wish to recall another incident. I received telephone calls in Mecca that the Osun State Police Command was being directly, without passing through the Inspector General of Police, controlled from Aso Rock by PDP leadership including President Obasanjo himself. I was asked to break my pilgrimage rituals to return to Nigeria to avoid a declaration of state of emergency being planned for Osun State. The story was that if a few people could be killed in a riot, President Obasanjo would suspend me from office as the Governor and take over the State. Riots were truly orchestrated. The House of Assembly was sacked. Arrests of people with arms and charms parading as rioters were made. Commands were coming from Aso Rock to the Police in Osun State that prosecution should be stopped and those arrested should be released.

Uncle Bola phoned and asked me to return urgently to see President Obasanjo and did not tell me further details. I asked my security detail, who accompanied me to Mecca, for advice and he suggested that it would be better to return home immediately. Governor Bola Tinubu and I discussed the desirability of returning home urgently too. I told them, I was more convinced by what God could do for me than what man – any man for that matter, might have in store against me. I decided to stay back for another ten days thereafter. I told Uncle Bola so. He advised me to speak to Mr. President on phone. I did not attempt doing so but I tried to placate ‘Uncle Bola’ by saying I was unable to reach Mr. President on phone. I am happy, however, that I had the opportunity of telling President Obasanjo, in writing, on my arrival from the pilgrimage, that his harassment and intimidation of my administration’s security apparatus in Osun State, during my absence on pilgrimage, created a fertile atmosphere for the eventual assassination of Uncle Bola Ige.

Uncle Bola Ige’s assassination is, perhaps, one of the greatest challenges that President Obasanjo’s government has had to struggle with. Whether justice has been done or not is for history to tell Nigerians and the world. We must add, however, that the courage which some print media demonstrated in the course of that historic national issue deserves praise by honest people. In the hands of the assassins, who knows, if the graves of some of us in the vanguard of articulating the course of justice on this matter would not be deeper than that of Chief Bola Ige.

•Akande is the former governor of Osun State.



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