Africa

No Godfather’s Shoes Must Be Worn In Oyo State

I have refrained from the initial clamorous call to write on the death of Chief Lamidi Adedibu, the “strongman or godfather of Ibadan, nay, Oyo State politics” for several reasons, one of which is that I did not want to jump on the bandwagon vilifying or extolling this singular macabre phenomenon.
I am a strict cultural person and being a human being, I feel it is not right to dance on anybody’s grave, no matter how relieved to see the demise of a man who has caused so much grief, mayhem and disruption to the lives of others. It was the same attitude I had when I heard about the death of General Sani Abacha way back in 1998. The immediate families of those who die are the ones who feel the demise of their beloved one most, and one should see it from their perspective. Also to be taken into consideration are close or even not very close people who have derived some kind of succour or living whilst that person was alive. Death is not a good thing to wish on somebody, however we recognise that we must all go to where we come from, as long as we remain mere mortals.

Chief Adedibu died on 11th June 2008. To those members of his family that he left behind, I express condolence to them. To those who have been making their living as useful tools and errand boys of his political chicanery and influences, I have no regrets in saying, it serves them right, if there is such a better way to express myself.

In the first printed Totentanz textbook (Anon.: Vierzeiliger oberdeutscher Totentanz, Heidelberger Blockbuch, approx. 1460), Death addresses the Emperor:Her keyser euch hilft nicht das swert Czeptir vnd crone sint hy nicht wert Ich habe euch bey der hand genomen Ir must an meynen reyen komen Emperor, your sword won’t help you out Sceptre and crown are worthless here I’ve taken you by the hand For you must come to my dance Here, for the purpose of this article, Chief Adedibu was the Emperor (Reuben Abati in The Guardian, Friday, June 13, 2008, also referred to Chief Adedibu as “an emperor)) and it aptly sums up our covenant between life and death, mortality and immortality, and also our debt to God Almighty. Marcus Antonius, in “Julius Caesar” said “the evil that men do, lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones, so let it be with Caesar”. So let it be with Adedibu and others like him. Only God will be able to adequately pass judgment on him, and luckily for him, he was a man who believed very much in God.

What Chief Adedibu would like to be remembered for is his problem. I would rather be concerned about the fate of the state and people he left behind after wielding such “power” over them for nigh a decade or even more. Since a lot of people associated with him while he was alive have now realised that life is indeed very ephemeral and mortality is real, I wonder what else can change their minds. Please remember that while Baba Adedibu might never have personally killed a human being, he has caused many people to be killed, directly or indirectly, and this in itself is a sin in the eye of God. This is the number one charge he has to answer when God judges him.

A controversy about death concerns whether all deaths are misfortunes or only some. Thomas Nagel says that death is harmful and is always an evil, since continued life always makes good things accessible and possible, and Bernard Williams argues that while premature death is a misfortune, it is a good thing that we are not immortal, since we cannot continue to be who we are now and remain meaningfully attached to life forever.

The death of Adedibu therefore means a lot of things to different people. To some, he was someone to be reviled as through his kind of politics, he had brought much grief and loss to them; to others, he was someone to be loved because he is their lord and master who gave them food, jobs, money, etc.
I will dwell not so much about the death of Chief Adedibu but on what happens to Oyo State, his stronghold, after his death. I will also not dwell on what he did, or did not do to Oyo State during his life; we all know his impact, whether positive or negative, on the socio-political, human and economic well-being of the state and even beyond the state. As Reuben Abati (The Guardian, Friday, June 13, 2008) wrote “Adedibu’s death confronts us therefore, with the need to for an assessment of his kind of politics, and why if this nation’s democracy must grow, the way forward is to rid it of such influences”.

In fairness to Chief Adedibu, he was not, during his lifetime, the only “political godfather” we had in Nigeria since this new democratic dispensation started in 1999. Our type of politics is replete with such shadowy, ignorant, retrogressive, murderous, thuggish and irresponsible people. They are still out there, only Chief Adedibu was the most notorious. Chris Uba of Anambra State was another, but he seems to have quietly been sinking into oblivion. I hope this is the case. These ilk of politicians have no place in a decent society which we are trying to achieve.

Whilst Chief Adedibu knew and acknowledged that he was never qualified to hold any political position, he had been anointing his children and irresponsible, unqualified and thieving politicians and political jobbers for political positions in Oyo State, from Local Government Chairpersons to Councillors to House of Assembly to Senators, Members of the House of Representatives to Governor and Deputy Governor and their Commissioners and Board members. Thus he was reaping benefits, mainly money, from everyone of his appointees. He was certainly no Robin Hood, as some people would like to make us believe. It is even rumoured that he has anointed his son, who he put into the Senate, as the next Governor of Oyo State. There we have it. Shall we continue to have this in Nigerian politics, such as Dr Sola Saraki (another Godfather, though more articulate and subtle) installed his son as the Governor of Kwara State and daughter as a Senator?

His kind of politics came down to using people and resources, including intimidation and terror, to hold sway and not for the benefit of all. I do not care how many mouths he feeds everyday in his Molete compound. This is not what we want. What we want is for him to create jobs (not thuggery or hatchet jobs, if you can call it that) for people so they can learn to feed themselves and their families without recourse to government funds. Even the money he was using to feed these hangers-on is not his own, but our money, or else tell me, what work had he ever done in his life that he had that kind of money to feed multitudes. Was he Jesus Christ?

Whatever way, Adedibu, and others of his ilk, was able to succeed with his own brand of politics because of the corrupt nature of our society, politicians and circumstances. Our politicians, most of whom are naturally condemned to failure, could never abide playing politics on a level playing field, hence they resort to using people like Baba Adedibu to get to power by all means. They need the services of thugs, who will provide security and intimidate opponents, snatch ballot boxes, mass-thumbprint ballot papers, etc. And they have to pay Baba Adedibu for these services.

Life is very short and transient and this is a lesson to all godfathers of Nigerian politics, who are obstructing not only the growth of our democracy, but also obstructing our very progress, development and survival as a nation.

In Oyo State, (and this should also apply to the whole of Nigeria as a learning outcome) the aftermath of Chief Adedibu’s death should present an opportunity for collective reflection, and not joy or sadness at his death, and move forward. Oyo State had been denied good governance, progress and development for over ten years. This is a time to do away with the old guard who have never been of much use to us as a people, once and for all.

This is a chance for new blood and young, forward-looking politicians and technocrats to come forward and take the reins from these useless political ogres. They must be driven to extinction, if they, as supposedly elderly wise men, cannot do what tradition and culture demands and help their people. Hence my clarion call to sincere, honest and knowledgeable young people with sincerity of purpose, of Oyo State to come forward from their hibernation and grapple with these “Elders” and seize the steering wheel from them. We do not need you if you are just going there to “chop”. We do not want you if you are going to be a puppet to some shadowy political godfather. We do not want you if you do not have any idea of what to do.

News coming from Oyo State, after Chief Adedibu’s death, is that already, those useless politicians are now re-aligning themselves and trying to take control of Adedibu’s empire and political setup. His remaining thugs are being wooed to different camps. His party, the PDP is trying to bring those Ibadan so-called elders, who had been marginalised, and who stood arm-akimbo doing nothing while the state was held to ransom by the late Chief, back to the party.

I would definitely not like to see the likes of several unappealing and useless political dinosaurs (please I am loath not to mention names here) still controlling Oyo State politics and its people in 2011. Retaining them is tantamount to eternal servitude, poverty, misery and catastrophe to the people of Oyo State. They have had their times and chances, and they have misused them, and thus should be taken away from them. It is never their birthright, so don’t let them cling to it. “O to ge e” (It is enough). Put them out to grass. Up and coming politicians should steer clear of them if they are to redefine and redesign the political landscape of Oyo State.

The people of Oyo State must prevent, by all means necessary, the emergence of another “Garrison Commander” (courtesy of ex-PDP Chairman, Ahmadu Ali, an ex-soldier devoid of any real achievement). Nobody must be allowed to take over from Chief Adedibu and again implement his type of politics. We do not need another or other Godfathers in Oyo State. If this happens, we are doomed as a state and as a people. I am not talking of Ibadan only, but the whole of Oyo State, from Saki to Iseyin, from Ogbomoso to Ejigbo to Oyo to Ibadan and Ibarapa. It does not matter to most of us where the next Governor comes from (Governor Alao-Akala has definitely had his 15 minutes of fame), what we want is real, sustained progress and development which had been denied us through the stupidity, inconsideration, irresponsibility, greed, dishonesty and arrogance of this dinosaurian breed of politicians ( I can name and shame up to a hundred of them).

Of course, we know that “nature abhors a vacuum” and that voids must be filled, but it does not say that we should fill it with the wrong or the same kind as before. There are thousands of Oyo State indigenes who have more than the capabilities, abilities, ideas, intelligence, education, sincerity of purpose, right attitude, commitment, know-how, wherewithal and aptitude to turn Oyo State round and stop it from being the “leper” of Nigeria. That I am sure of.

In Nigeria as a whole, this learning outcome should apply, and it presents us with an opportunity to look at ourselves and our leaders and bring into focus a determination to renew and reform our political system to negate nefarious influences such as this anomaly and others like it. Our current system is inadequately short of bringing the needed progress to enable us enjoy our wealth and the so-called dividends of democracy. Most of our current crop of political parties, politicians and technocrats will not lead us to the promised land. They are just in there for the loot. And on their ruinous way, they deliberately commit some genocide too.
I say, let the truth be said always, only then can we progress as a nation and as a people.

CSN: 41006-2008-09-01
 

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