Of Obasanjo, Soyinka, Ige & Adeyeye

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Of Obasanjo, Soyinka, Ige, and Adeyeye

 

By

 

Mobolaji Aluko

alukome@aol.com




 

July 29, 2003

THE STORY ACCORDING TO PUNCH


The PUNCH
July 29, 2003

Obasanjo takes up Soyinka on Ige's last letter

o At last, PUNCH  gets Ige's last letter to the president 

Yomi Odunuga, Abuja

President Olusegun Obasanjo has, in a letter to Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, taken exception to statements linking the Peoples Democratic Party and The Presidency with the assassination of former Minister of Justice and Attorney- General of the Federation, Chief Bola Ige.

Obasanjo, in the letter dated July 11, accused Soyinka of peddling "perfidious falsehood" and fabricating stories in an interview he granted The PUNCH on July 7.

In the interview published last month, the playwright said that Ige, before his death, wrote Obasanjo and promised to ensure that the PDP did not win a single seat in the South-West.

Soyinka, had also disclosed that Ige informed him and an associate, Prof. Sola Adeyeye (now a member of the House of Representatives), that he would write Obasanjo about his desire to resign in the first quarter of 2002 to reposition the Alliance for Democracy in the South-West ahead of the April 2003 poll.

This, the slain Ige said, was to counter moves by the PDP to sweep the region by fair and foul means.

The Nobel Laureate, who, at the time, was reacting to the bail granted a prime suspect in the assassination of Ige, Senator Iyiola Omisore, linked the killing of the minister to PDP's alleged questionable victory in the South-West, which he said would not have been possible were Ige to be alive.

Quoting copiously from the said publication, Obasanjo said Soyinka did not only shock him but that he was at a loss as to why the literary icon would sensationalise the death of a great Nigerian to whip up public sentiment.

Obasanjo said, "I have taken the liberty of enclosing a copy of that letter for your perusal and for the record. It follows that what you have written about, and indeed claim to be the contents of that letter, is nothing short of perfidious falsehood.

"The truth is that I am completely at a loss to understand why you would wish to fabricate such stories or indeed sensationalise such matters. Again, I cannot understand why you would try to manipulate the situation and attempt to use the untimely and tragic death of a great son of Nigeria like Chief Bola Ige for what I can only describe as political purposes."

The president, who attached a copy of the December 19, 2001 seven-page handwritten letter by Ige for Soyinka's perusal, advised him (Soyinka) against taking undue advantage of the untimely death of the former Attorney-General of the Federation.

He also urged him to respect the dead by exercising self-restraint in his public comments.

"I want to take this opportunity to urge you, and strongly too, to perhaps show a little bit more self-restraint, sobriety, decency and honesty in your public comments as regards the death of Chief Bola Ige. I believe that both you and I, and indeed all Nigerians, owe him at least that much", Obasanjo said.

Explaining the rationale for reacting to Soyinka's comments on the seeming cover-up surrounding the trials of suspects in the murder case, Obasanjo said he was surprised that Soyinka was quoted as saying that the slain Ige pledged, in the controversial letter, to "assist in ensuring a second term for the President but that the PDP would not win any part of the South-West."

He also faulted Soyinka's claim that "the slain Minister was worried about the antics of the PDP which he said was pointing towards sinister plan to overrun the South-West politically but that he would make sure that the PDP did not win one local government in Yorubaland."

Though it was addressed to Soyinka's ESSAY Foundation in Abeokuta, Ogun State, it was not clear if the playwright had received the letter, which was dispatched on July 12.

Several attempts to reach him on phone between 6:30pm and 7:45pm on Sunday, failed.

But a copy of the letter written to the president by Ige, and obtained by our correspondent, appeared to confirm what Soyinka alluded to in his July 7 interview with The PUNCH.

Ige, in the letter written in longhand on December 19, 2001 - four days before he was assassinated - on his letterhead as Minister of Justice, had made up his mind to leave the government, after an earlier request to that effect was rejected by Obasanjo.

Almost three-and-a-half pages of the seven-page letter were devoted to the issue of Yoruba in national politics, with Ige affirming the need for him to return home to personally take charge of efforts to re-energise the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo political family, which he apparently envisaged should champion the cause of the South-West in national politics.

Ige said, "There is much work to be done in Yorubaland for the purpose of consolidating strong participation in the governance of this Federal Republic of Nigeria in an atmosphere of mutual tolerance, freedom from fear and suspicion, and assurance that Yorubaland has a pivotal role to play in the sustenance of the Federal Republic. It is a complex situation, which needs careful handling. I know and believe that I am up to the task. I will not be able to give enough attention to it if I remain in government beyond 31 March 2002.

"As you are no doubt aware, I am a disciple and apostle of Obafemi Awolowo, and I intend to harness the efforts of all of us who believe in his political philosophy towards the attainment and enhancement of the greatness of this country, taking into consideration, of course, of the facts on the ground at this point in time.

"Your Excellency is also aware that I have a pivotal role to play in my party, the Alliance for Democracy. While you are engineering your party (PDP), I need to strengthen my own, so that in 2003, there will be a credible, strong and clean national government in which the major parties will be well represented. In that regard, it is not merely because of our personal friendship that I wish it, it is because I believe it will be the best for Nigeria, for all nationalities, and for Yorubaland, which is my primary constituency."


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LETTER FROM OBJ TO SOYINKA


Aso Rock, Abuja

July 11, 2003

Dear Wole,

It was with sheer disbelief and the utmost surprise that I read the contents of a statement which was credited to you by The PUNCH newspaper of Monday, 7 July 2003, where you supposedly exposed the contents of a letter that my good friend and former Attorney General of the Federation, the late and distinguished Chief Bola Ige wrote to me a few days before his tragic murder.

In the said statement, you were quoted as saying, inter-alia, that Chief Bola Ige had written a letter to me a few days before he was assassinated in which he purportedly said that "he was ready to assist in ensuring a second term for the President but that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would not win in any part of the South West." You went further by saying that Chief Bola Ige" wrote in the letter that he would work for the re-election of Obasanjo for the second term but that he would ensure, with everything that he had, that the PDP does not win one single seat in the South-West." You were also quoted as saying that "the slain Minister was worried about the antics of the PDP which he said was pointing towards a sinister plan to overrun the South-West politically but that he would make sure that the PDP did not win one Local Government in Yorubaland."

Now assuming that you have been quoted correctly and that you have indeed said such things, my response is as follows:

The letter which Chief Ige sent to me and which was dated 19 December 2001 did not contain even one of these statements which you alleged were contained therein.

I have taken the liberty of enclosing a copy of that letter for your perusal and for the record. It follows that what you have written about and indeed claim to be the contents of that letter is nothing short of perfidious falsehood. The truth is that I am completely at a loss to understand why you would wish to fabricate such stories or indeed sensationalise such matters. Again I cannot understand why you would try to manipulate the situation and attempt to use the untimely and tragic death of a great son of Nigeria like Chief Bola Ige for what I can only describe as political purposes. I want to take this opportunity to urge you, and strongly too, to perhaps show a little bit more self-restraint, sobriety, decency and honesty in your public comments as regards the death of Chief Bola Ige. I believe that both you and I, and indeed all Nigerians, owe him at least that much.

I sincerely hope that you will take my advice so that we can both continue to contribute in our own separate ways to the peace, development and progress of our great nation. Indeed, it is to that end and for that purpose that I have chosen to write you this letter.

Needless to say if you had not made such statements or ........... such michievous and malicious falsehood I would not have been compelled to write this letter and say such things to you.

I pray that you will have the humility and courage to accept my counsel on this matter and that you take such counsel in the right spirit and in good faith.

My best wishes to your family.

Yours sincerely,

Olusegun Obasanjo.


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LETTER FROM  IGE TO OBJ

Abuja
December 19, 2001


My dear president,

First, I wish to thank you most sincerely for the respect and affection you have shown me and my family since you appointed me as one of your ministers on 30 June 1999. You have, of course, always shown love for my family, especially our Brother George and Tinuke for the last two and a half years, however, you have gone further to show it, whenever you could, move  correctly. The latest is yesterday's investive by your moving Tinuke an officer of the Order of the Federal Republic. This followed fast on the heels of my election to the International Law Commission of the United Nations, concerning which your excellency gave me total support.

It is not only you; your amiable wife, our First Lady, Stella, has equally, always, everywhere, treated me and Tinuke with great respect and affection. We are very grateful.

Secondly, I have enjoyed working with your Excellency in this government. Whether it was when I was the minister of Power and Steel or in my current office as Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, I have had this to complain about. I thank you.

Your Excellency will recall that .................. in June this year, I indicated my ................ to leave government in September 2002. Your Excellency would hear nothing on such suggestion and you said you would like me to stay on with you till the end of your term. I thanked your Excellency for such expression of your confidence in me, but added that I would raise the matter some time again.

Two of our mutual good friends Brigadier-General Oluwole Rotimi and Prince Bola Ajibola have told me that they have each discussed the matter with you; the latter has told me that in discussed the matter with you recently at some length, and that your Excellency now seemed satisfied with the reasons why I should leave on 31 March 2002.

I wish to reiterate some of the reasons. There is much work to be done in Yorubaland for the purpose of consolidating strong participation in the governance of this Federal Republic of Nigeria in an atmosphere of mutual tolerance, freedom from fear and suspicion, and assurance that Yorubaland has a pivotal role to play in the sustenance of this Federal Republic. It is a complex situation which needs careful handling. I know and believe that I am up to the task. I will not be able to give enough attention to it if I remain in government beyond 3 March 2002.

Although your Excellency and I may not be on the same wave length when it comes to the issue of the federal structure  of Nigeria and the inevitability of a National conference fora new constitution for the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I have found in the last ethnicity months that you are probably the most fervent Nigerian nationalist I have ever met, and your utter commitment to the unity of Nigeria even to the point that I sometimes fear that you may not care much about federalism is genuine. You eat, drink and breathe Nigeria, and you hardly have time or room to bother that there are serious differences within Nigeria. Your military background has bored this your passionate love for the country, and I greatly admire you for it.

That is why I believe that God has a purpose for making you the president of this country at this time, and you need the support of everyone of us who care for this country, whatever our "ideological positions, that is why I have never had any hesitation in giving you my full support, and urging people who think like me and hold generally the same position as I to give you support to enable a good foundation to be laid  for the future greatness of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

I have no reason to think that you will deviate from the path of righteousness, rectitude, good governance honesty, transparency and accountability or that you will allow personal or party political interest to become more important to your Excellency than the greater good of this country. That is why you can count on me to join hands with you to build this Federal Republic of Nigeria on such a good and endowing foundation which will make it the first and the biggest black superpower which I have always believed God has purposed this country to be, and in which all our nation politics will bring their talents and ............................ to ........ this great country.

As you are no doubt aware, I am a disciple and apostle of Obafemi Awolowo, and I intend to harness the efforts of all of us who believe in his political philosophy towards the attainment and enhancement of the greatness of this country, taking into consideration, of course, of the facts on the ground at this point in tune.

Your Excellency is also aware that I have a pivotal role to play in my party, the Alliance for Democracy (AD), while you are engineering your party (PDP) I need to strengthen my own, so that in 2003, there will be a credible, strong, clean national government in which the major parties will be well represented. In that regard, it is not merely because of our personal friendship that I wish it is because I believe it will be the least for Nigeria, for all nationalities, and for Yorubaland  which is my primary constituency. My prayer is that nothing will happen adversely which will frustrate the fond hope.

I am glad to report to your Excellency that work has almost ended on the putting together of the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2002. By the first or second week of January 2002, we should have the "clean copy" which will enable us to go to print electronically and in paper. Before I leave on 31 March 2002, everything will be ready, God willing.

With regard to the reform of the administration of justice system, I have received such wonderful cooperation from the chief justice of Nigeria, the State judiciaries, the Attorneys-General of the states and Police and Prison officials that I can say that we are on the right track.

Between now and March 31, 2002, I assure your Excellency that I will do all in my power to see that God and the courts give us victory in the two landmark cases that it has been my good fortune to bring to the point of hearing.

Between 7 and 11 January 2002, the Supreme Court will hear the (on-shore/Off-shore alias" Resource control")  case it is going to be very interesting and all the parties will put their best and most ingenious efforts into it. I am glad to have Chief Rotimi Williams SAN and Alhaji Abdullahi Ibrahim SAN work with me on the case.

It is not unlikely that the case will take longer than fuse days as there will be at least 38 addresses, as every Attorney-General will have filed his brief of argument. W, on our part, will marshal a good and strong case.

The other case is the Cameroon v. Nigeria before the International Court of Justice at The Hague. I am already fine-turning my address which will open the Nigerian case. Our team will be in The Hague from 11 February to 22 March 2002, the last day of hearing. I am quite satisfied with the ability and commitment of our foreign counsel, since I made clean to them the ............. position of this government. We have pleaded before the court a good and formidable case.

I will also continue our vigorous pursuit of those who looted our country's funds. A good start has been made and my successor can complete it.

Your Excellency, I thank you once again. All my life I will be your good friend, and I pray to God not to allow anything to break our friendship. Tinuke and I will always hold you and our dear Stella in our hearts. May our  Lord and Saviour Jesus

Christ bless all of us this .................. and all the days of our lives. Amen.

Yours, very sincerely,

Bola Ige


______________________________________________________________________



INTERVIEW OF SOLA ADEYEYE TO PUNCH


PUNCH
Ige's Letter: Soyinka is telling the truth
- Prof. Adeyeye

Senan John Murray, Abuja

An associate of Prof. Wole Soyinka, who is also a member of the House of Representatives, Prof. Sola Adeyeye, on Tuesday, countered claims by President Olusegun Obasanjo that the Nobel Laureate lied about the contents of a letter sent to the president by the late Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Chief Bola Ige, shortly before he was assassinated.

Adeyeye, who was until recently a university lecturer in the United States and a key member of the opposition against the regime of late Gen. Sani Abacha in North America, told our correspondent that Soyinka was "absolutely factual" when the Nobel Laureate quoted Ige as saying that the Peoples Democratic Party had a grand design against the Alliance for Democracy in the South-West, which the late Minister of Justice wanted to check.

Soyinka had told The PUNCH that himself and Adeyeye met with Ige in the United States, where the slain minister disclosed that he was preparing to resign from the Obasanjo government in order to prepare AD against plans by the PDP to use questionable means to unseat the party from its South-West base. Ige was said to have told both men that he would write a letter to this effect to Obasanjo, and promise the president that AD would support his candidacy, while ensuring that the disciples of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo did not lose their South-West base.

But Obasanjo in a letter to the Nobel Laureate denounced the statement by Soyinka, describing the playwright as a "perfidious liar."

However, Adeyeye, who confirmed that he was at the meeting as explained by Soyinka declared that, "I can tell you one thing. This is the truth before Almighty God: everything Soyinka said was the truth and anybody who knew Bola Ige knew that he loved Obasanjo; he wanted people to support Obasanjo, but he wanted to make sure that the Peoples Democratic Party did not take Yorubaland.

"That was the fact. It was not something that Bola Ige said secretly. He said it openly. When, in fact you read the letter to which the president was alluding - a copy of which I have - and you read the statement that Wole Soyinka made, you frankly cannot understand on what basis the president is pretending to have an axe to grind with Wole Soyinka, because the truth is this issue of the position of Bola Ige was never hidden."

Adeyeye, a former Secretary General of then Washington-based United Democratic Front of Nigeria, one of the groups that were at the forefront of the struggle for the restoration of democracy in Nigeria, frowned at Obasanjo's reaction to Soyinka's claims.

He said, "I love the president. I consider him an uncle, but the truth of the matter is that he is not a man who enjoys being corrected. But on this matter, the issues are clear-cut: Soyinka made a statement, the statement was factual, the statement was factual. In fact, wait for my own statement. I will soon come out with a detailed and comprehensive statement on this matter."

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See also:

http://odili.net/news/source/2003/jul/25/209.html
Ige: We Now Know the Mastermind, Says Soyinka
This Day, July 25, 2003


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ALUKO COMMENTARY

The Yoruba say that there is more to it than meets the eye (and ear) when the witch's howl of the day before (atop a home) is immediately followed by the death of a child (within.)  One would be forgiven if a direct connection were made between those two strange events.

For whatever its worth, Soyinka's stark allegations have forced Obasanjo's open revelation about Ige's probable impoliticality to the "Powers-Dat-Be",  as well as Adeyeye's confirmation of Ige's private (but now murderously aborted) pro-Yoruba resolve re PDP and AD on the heels of a preceeding Ife debacle that made him (Ige) briefly and involuntarily capless in the midst of pro-Omisore hooligans. 

Let the world know - or at least hope - that the workings of the secret and wicked chambers will in time be revealed.   One thing that we know:  Uncle Bola did not commit suicide. 

'Nuff said.


Bolaji Aluko

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