How Nigeria Works
Chris Ajaero and
culled from Newsweek, Jan 26, 2006
Lamidi Adedibu, the "strongman of
Ibadan politics" sacks Governor Ladoja through a controversial impeachment
sponsored by him and puts his loyalists in the government of Oyo State
At nearly 80 years old, Lamidi Ariyibi Adedibu not only
prides himself as the strongman of Ibadan politics, he lives up to the name too.
His role in the January 12 controversial impeachment of Rashidi Ladoja as
governor of Oyo State is a proof of his political clout and overwhelming
influence. Adedibu, estranged political godfather of Ladoja effectively used the
18 legislators of the Oyo State House of Assembly loyal to him to oust his
godson. Since the successful execution of the 'coup,' Adedibu's expansive
residence in Molete, Ibadan has been literally turned into a 'Mecca' for
politicians, particularly his loyalists.
Signs that Adedibu is the 'real power behind the throne' and
indeed the 'defacto governor' of Oyo State manifested immediately after
the swearing in of Adebayo Alao-Akala as new governor of the State January 12.
His first official assignment was a visit to Adedibu's residence with a horde of
his supporters. On sighting the veteran politician, Alao-Akala prostrated flat
and pledged loyalty to him. Adedibu advised him to learn from the predicament of
his predecessor by remaining loyal and listening to his "words of wisdom."
The new governor's visit instantly turned the home of the 'Ibadan
political mafia lord' into a carnival arena as numerous politicians were
visiting to pay homage to him. Last Monday, when Newswatch visited
Adedibu's residence for an interview, the carnival still continued. 'Political
heavyweights' in the state, youths and women were milling round the L-shaped
compound. At about 6.30pm, Adedibu reverently called 'Baba' emerged from one of
the main buildings flanked by close aides. He then made his way to the front of
an enclosure where he sat, facing the crowd.
Engraved on the outside wall of this enclosure were big,
framed painted portraits of Nigerian leaders like Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi
Awolowo, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Adegoke Adelabu, and Arisekola Alao amongst
Hardly had Adedibu sat down when he was besieged by people
who either came kneeling or prostrating. Sitting cross-legged eventually, he
perused the curriculum vitae and a list of shortlisted names of those to be
given political appointments in the new Alao-Akala administration. After
browsing through the list and CVs, he beckoned on members of his caucus and
together they moved spiritedly into the anteroom said to be his office to hold
discussions on those who would likely receive his final blessing to be part of
the new cabinet.
As they returned to the enclosure at about 7.00pm, the entire
arena was thrown into a frenzy. This was when the crowd hilariously heralded the
entry of Olayiwola Olakoja the new secretary to the State Government, SSG, who
was sworn in on that day. Like the new governor, he had upon leaving office on
his first work day, decided to pay homage to Adedibu, also known as the
'political lion of Oyo State.'
As he made his way to the enclosure where Baba sat, shouts of
'SSG, SSG' rent the air. He immediately prostrated before Adedibu in obeisance.
Using a microphone to address the crowd which formed a
semi-circle round them, Adedibu lavished prayers on the new SSG. While Olakoja
was still on his knees, Adedibu enjoined him not to toe Ladoja's line. Calling
Ladoja an ingrate, Adedibu recalled how he used to render financial assistance
to the ousted governor. He noted that upon getting into office, Ladoja became
swollen-headed and was deluded into believing that nothing can be done to him.
He said that Ladoja deserved the manner he was disgraced out of office.
Going down memory lane again, Adedibu recalled that shortly
after his re-election, Ladoja sent one million Naira to him through an
intermediary. He refused collecting the money. The intermediary returned with
the money, again he refused. On the third trip, the intermediary refused taking
the money back to Ladoja when Adedibu rejected it again. Instead, he persuaded
him to consider the money as his right for using his political wizardry to put
Ladoja in power.
Adedibu told the new SSG to perceive his new position as
ordained, adding that he would not only serve as SSG in Alao-Akala's
administration but the one that would emerge in 2007. He reminded Olakoja that
Ladoja's problem started when he appointed his relation as SSG instead of the
candidate he (Adedibu) 'anointed' for that position. He also demanded that he
should always come to his residence to pay homage in order to fortify the bond
between the godfather and godson. He felt it was pertinent to mention this to
Olakoja because that was one of the factors that strained his relationship with
Ladoja. According to him, Ladoja was visiting him every other day, but later
changed it to weekly and then fortnightly. This did not go down well with
Adedibu who wanted to be briefed on a daily basis how he was running the
After his speech, the crowd sang a song in his praise and
spontaneously, he stepped out joyfully dancing to the rhythm. Women leaders
among the crowd cheered him on. Not done yet with his pronouncements, Adedibu
seized the opportunity to publicly announce the names of two of his loyalists
who he had 'anointed' as deputy governor and special adviser to Alao-Akala. They
are Hakeem Gbolarumi, Adedibu's personal assistant who is to become deputy
governor and Princess Ladega endorsed as special adviser. Adedibu confirmed
their appointments even before Alao-Akala ratified their nominations.
He then stated emphatically that Lateef Akinsola a.k.a.
Tokyo, former chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers,
NURTW, Oyo State chapter who has been in detention since 2003 would be released
on Friday, January 20. Akinsola was incarcerated by Ladoja for alleged murder.
He was touted to be Adedibu's topmost henchman whose alleged versatility in
manipulating the electoral process is legendary. His detention is one of the
grouses Adedibu has against Ladoja. Newswatch learnt that Tokyo is
the 'political bulldozer' on whom Adedibu was relying upon to guarantee victory
for his protégé in 2007. Therefore, it was not surprising that Akinsola's
release was one issue he felt Alao-Akala should effect without delay.
Although Adedibu was in an upbeat mood last Monday night, he
could not grant an interview to Newswatch. Timehin Eweyeju, his media
assistant, said his boss was tired after series of meetings during which
decisions were taken on how the Alao-Akala administration should take-off on a
He, however, directed the new SSG, Olakoja to talk with
Newswatch. The new SSG told Newswatch that he would work with
Alao-Akala to implement the PDP programmes and improve the lot of the people. He
said that Ladoja's greatest undoing was that he was running the government like
a personal company. "He posted his relations to key positions of government. And
if you consider the five states being controlled by the PDP in the South-West,
you will see that Oyo State which is known with the appellation 'Pace-Setter
State' has not been able to enjoy the dividends of democracy like the other four
states," he said.
Olakoja dismissed Ladoja's insistence that he was still the
constitutionally recognised governor. "I can assure you that we are effectively
in control of government with my boss. I don't foresee any problem at all. The
government of Akala, my boss has come to stay, we are in charge. That is the
constitutional government," Olakoja said.
When Newswatch visited both the Oyo State secretariat
and Government House, Agodi, Ibadan last Tuesday, there was uneasy calm as
workers initially complied with the strike order by the state branch of the
Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC. There was a heavy presence of mobile policemen in
these two places and an armored personnel carrier was stationed in front of the
In a bid to compel labour to call off the strike, security
agents had on Sunday January 15, arrested some of their leaders. They were later
released but 13 were re-arrested last Tuesday. Alamu Oloyede, NLC chairman in
Oyo State who later effected the release of his colleagues told Newswatch
that workers were directed not to report for duty because of the precarious
security situation sparked off by the tensed political atmosphere in Ibadan.
The stay-at-home order was called off by the labour leaders
last Tuesday after the new state governor had assured them of adequate security
of their members in and outside their offices.
When Newswatch sought audience with Alao-Akala, he was
said not to be in the mood to entertain any press interview. It was learnt that
he was holding consultations with Adedibu so as to streamline the list of those
to be appointed as members of his cabinet. Sources told Newswatch that
Alao-Akala is not fully in charge of governance in Oyo State. Having almost
single-handedly installed Alao-Akala as governor, Adedibu expects absolute
loyalty from him. Political analysts recalled that between 1991 and 1993 when
the 'Ibadan political mafia lord' acted as the political godfather of Kolapo
Ishola, then Oyo State governor, he never allowed him to run the government
independently nor assert his authority.
This was why Ishola attributed his failure to perform while
in office to the misdirection by Adedibu. There are fears that considering the
circumstances through which Alao-Akala emerged as governor, he would likely be
pandering to the whims and caprices of Adedibu to the detriment of the people.
In his more than 50 years of experience in politics, Adedibu
has been allegedly known as a man whose conception of politics begins and ends
with what comes into his pocket. He is said to be always in a hurry to recoup
his investment in politics, hence, his preoccupation has remained political
Indeed, Adedibu laid bare his brand of cut-throat political
jobbery in a recent interview with Channels Television where he
said that he dealt with Ladoja for failure to pay him at least a quarter of the
state security funds. He said: "Ladoja is too greedy. He was collecting N65
million as security vote every month. You know that governors don't account for
security votes. He was to give me N15 million of that every month. He reneged.
Later, it was reduced to N10 million, yet he did not give me."
Many Nigerians, however, wonder why President Olusegun
Obasanjo who appears resolute in his war against corruption could pour encomiums
on a man who could so openly demand payment for his investment in politics.
Obasanjo caused a disquiet a few weeks ago when Adedibu rode on a horse back to
Ibogun-Olaogun, Ogun State, the president's village. Welcoming Adedibu, the
president described him "as a force to reckon with both in Ibadan and the whole
of Oyo State" politics.
Ahmadu Ali, national chairman of the PDP even endorsed
Adedibu's demand for absolute loyalty when he visited Ibadan at the peak of the
Adedibu Ladoja quarrel. In what has now been dubbed "Ali's Garrison Commander
thesis," the PDP chairman asked Ladoja to always take instructions from Adedibu
in the governance of the state.
He was firm. "Ibadan is a military garrison; you must obey
orders… so the present strongman in Ibadan, Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu, is no
exception. He has come, it is his turn, Ladoja should be able to take command
from him," he said.
The manner with which Obasanjo and Ali euologised Adedibu for
his brand of politics has made many political watchers of the unfolding drama in
Ibadan to believe that the Presidency and PDP leadership facilitated the
"unconstitutional impeachment of Ladoja."
No doubt, Adedibu is a force to reckon with in the politics
of Oyo State. But his overbearing influence on political office holders would
not augur well for democracy. Adedibu's forays into the murky waters of politics
dates back to 1954 when he contested for a council seat in the Ibadan
municipality against Yinusa Ladoja, father of the impeached governor. Adedibu
who contested on the platform of the Ibadan People's Party, lost to Ladoja who
was the flag bearer of the National Convention of Nigerian Citizens, NCNC.
It was, however, during the second and third republics that
Adedibu became a 'political heavyweight' in Oyo State who determined who gets
what? His political fortune nose-dived after the Abacha regime because of the
role he played in the 'Abacha self-succession project.'
He bounced back to reckoning in 2003 when he used his brand
of politicking locally referred to as "Amala politics" to install Ladoja as
Although he is not very literate, Adedibu is sharp, witty and
articulate in Yoruba language. But he is a man who invests in politics with
expectations of huge reward.
Colonel Abubakar Umar, former governor of Kaduna State
described Adedibu as the "thug-in-chief of Abacha who has now been transformed
to Obasanjo chief thug."
Ladoja whose present travails were instigated by Adedibu last
Tuesday claimed that his offence was that he did not surrender public treasury
to him. The ex-governor who is now in the law courts battling to reclaim his
mandate was happy that Nigerians have risen in defence of the rule of law.
"Today, the people have risen to liberate themselves from the You-chop-I-chop
politics of Lamidi Adedibu, a man who sees government money as political booty
to be shared by the oppressors while the people who own the money suffer for
lack of water, food, good roads, qualitative education and health."
Last Tuesday, Ladoja and the legislators loyal to him,
launched fresh legal battles at both an Ibadan High Court and the Federal High
Court, Abuja. And on Wednesday, an Ibadan High Court presided over by Justice
Bolaji Yusuf, fixed January 30 for hearing of the application by Ladoja's
counsel seeking that the matter be referred to the Court of Appeal for
Interpretations of certain sections of the constitution.
Wale Olanipekun, SAN, lead counsel to three members of the
Oyo State House of Assembly wants the Appeal Court to determine whether 18
legislators in a 32-member-House could remove a sitting governor. He also wants
the Appeal Court to determine whether there is any provision for an acting
speaker. The 18 legislators who impeached Ladoja are represented by Michael
Lana. He told Newswatch that "technically speaking, Alao-Akala by law is
the governor of Oyo State."
But Femi Falana, one of the counsels to the three legislators
loyal to Ladoja said Nigerians should understand that the legal battle was meant
to establish the essence of the rule of law in running the affair of a country.
According to him, once the rule of law is dismantled, political instability
could set in. "The only way to stop anarchy is to go back to the constitution
and the rule of law. The only way you can salvage a political crisis is through
the rule of law," he said.
On his part, Olanipekun told Newswatch that the resort
to "judicial recklessness" as was the case in Oyo State portends grave danger
for the nation.
In the case filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja, Ladoja is
asking the court to void his removal from office. He is also seeking an
injunction restraining the Federal Government and the Nigerian police from
recognising Alao-Akala as governor. Joined in the suit as dependants are the
federal government, the inspector-general of police, the attorney general of Oyo
State, the Oyo State House of Assembly, Alao-Akala, and the acting chief judge
of Oyo State. Other reliefs sought by Ladoja in the suite filed by Yusuf Alli,
SAN, his counsel are: an order setting aside the purported swearing in of
Alao-Akala as the governor of Oyo State by the acting chief judge of the state;
an injunction restraining the defendants from recognising Alao-Akala as the
state governor; a declaration that the police and the federal government have no
constitutional or legal authority to recognise Alao-Akala as the
constitutionally elected governor of Oyo State; and a declaration that having
regard to the provisions of sections 6 and 188 of the 1999 constitution, coupled
with the ruling of Justice Bolaji Yusuff, the administering of oath of office on
Alao-Akala as the governor of Oyo State was illegal and unconstitutional.
From all indications, the two suits promise to be epic legal
battles. As the judiciary attempts to salvage Oyo State and Nigeria from the
looming crisis, some national dailies have written editorials condemning the
drama of the absurd in Oyo State. In its editorial of Tuesday, January 17, 2006,
titled: 'Ladoja remains governor,' The Punch described the impeachment of
Ladoja as "the travesty of justice." "This is because the whole exercise is an
unmitigated illegality. The constitutional two-third majority of the House
required to determine the process was faulted. Due process was flagrantly
ignored in setting up the impeachment panel," the newspaper stated.
The newspaper asserted that "given the unconstitutional
seizure of power in Oyo State, the judicial and political recklessness in that
state should not endure."
In its own editorial of Wednesday, January 18, 2006, The
Guardian said the impeachment of Ladoja by a group of 18 lawmakers violated
the spirit of the 1999 constitution: "It is on all counts, an abuse of the due
process and it amounts to a travesty of democratic norms. It should be
The newspaper editorial stated that the genesis of the
present political crisis can clearly be traced to the disagreements between
Ladoja and Adedibu. "From utterances credited to the two parties, it is evident
that Ladoja had refused to surrender the reins of government to Adedibu, as the
latter wanted. Adedibu wanted his men appointed into key cabinet posts, he had
also demanded that the governor pay him regularly a sizeable chunk of the
state's security funds," The Guardian stated.
The Guardian submitted that "at this moment,
Nigerians are interested only in the practice of true democracy, not democracy
of a garrison command to which the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, chairman Col.
Ahmadu Ali likened Oyo State."
According to the newspaper, Nigeria cannot achieve any real
development if the concept of governance by political kingmakers is that few
individuals should share public money for purely selfish purposes.
For Uche Chukwumerije, a senator from Abia State, what the 18
legislators loyal to Adedibu did was to trivialise and reduce the impeachment
process to a routine weapon of political vendetta. "I have consistently warned
about the dangers ahead if the abuse of this weapon continues unchecked,"
Afenifere the pan Yoruba socio-political association said the
impeachment of Ladoja was "a coup against the people of Oyo State. In a
statement signed by Yinka Odumakin, national publicity secretary of Afenifere,
the association urged Ladoja to "rise up like a man and reclaim your mandate? It
called on the Yoruba nation and other Nigerians to a prevent the descent of
darkness and eclipse of democracy." If thugs are allowed to successfully chase a
governor out of office in clear breach of the constitution… if not checked, the
success of Adedibu backed by Obasanjo's machine in the political capital of the
Yoruba would have a reverberating effect across Yorubaland," Afernifere