They labelled me military mole in NADECO for nothing â€” Bucknor Akerele
*Says I became senator with nine delegates
*Narrates how AD was destroyed
Breaking away from tradition, this interview would not be blessed with the typical introduction. But Sunday Vanguard invites the readers to be as dispassionate as possible in reading and digesting the views in the and be the judge. It is the interview with Senator Kofo Bucknor-Akerele, former deputy governor of Lagos State. Excerpts:
By Jide Ajani, Deputy Editor
YOU once practised as a journalist.Â Was there a passion for it or how did it all happen?
That was in the 60s when I was working for the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation and Voice of Nigeria. I started actually when, how would I say it? I got my diploma in journalism in 1962 and after that I started freelancing for BBC, VON Magazine and then I was spotted in BBC by a colleague and I was invited to be one of the people who pioneered Voice of Nigeria.
So, how did you find your way into politics?
Well, I come from a political family. The Egbe Omo Oduduwa was actually formed in my fatherâ€™s house in London. My late father was the first president and Papa Obafemi Awolowo was his deputy. These people founded the Egbe and later on transported it to Nigeria and that was how it eventually translated into the Action Group.
Of course, I was young, I was still in school then. We were on the threshold of being an independent state and those who formed the Egbe, they saw what was going on in Europe – free health, free education and all that – and they wanted to translate same to Nigeria so that we could move forward and if possible catch up with the western nations.
One was always listening to the old men discuss politics. I was always interested in politics. I read a lot of papers, magazines; I met a lot of politicians in those days and all sorts of people. As a result of these, my interest in politics developed and it became something that Iâ€™d always wanted to do. And being a woman, I wanted to be one of the first in politics to make a mark in Nigeria.
You became a senator with just nine votes at the Social Democratic Party’s, primaries. How did that happen?Â Just nine votes?
What actually happened was that the other contestants were fighting among themselves. There wasÂ money exchanging hands. I went into the primaries with 26 delegates and my delegates were literally bought off me and I was reduced to nine.
How many delegates were expected to vote at that primaries?
I really canâ€™t remember now.
You said you had over two dozen delegates and most of them were bought off you and the number was reduced to nine, how?
Yes, at the end of it, I was left with nine. In fact, there was a joke because Towry Coker too, who came prepared for the primaries – I canâ€™t remember how many delegates he came with – but at some point he was just wandering around, asking â€˜where are my delegates?â€™ because they had all been bought over.
The thing was held somewhere in Surulere, Lagos and it was for the Lagos Central Senatorial District ticket of the SDP.Â It was a terrible situation because it was obvious there was going to be violence. When we entered the cinema hall where voting was to take place, people came in with axes, guns. The chief coordinator for my campaign said someone lifted his hand and showed him the gun he hid there; there were machetes, UTC axes, everything.
Who were the other contestants?
The other contestants were Dr. Wahab Dosunmu, Alhaji Shitta-Bey, Towry Coker, myself,Â I am not sure, whetherÂ Biola Johnson participated but also there was Tunde Edu and Professor Simpson. Well Tunde Edu and Professor Simpson dropped out, so, left in the race were Coker, Dosunmu, Shiitta-Bey and myself. Eventually when Coker could not find his delegates, I think he basically bowed out. I refused to bow out.
I refused to bow out because at that point, you could not really tell how many delegates you had until you were asked to arrange your delegates and ensure that they formed a line. When we were asked to line up, I ended up with nine delegates and I think Prince Olusi was the person who conducted the primaries on that day and he was telling me I should step aside, â€˜you have nine delegates, how far can you go?â€™
He must have said that day because honestly, it looked ridiculous. But I said â€˜no, I am not going to step aside, no matter how many delegates Iâ€™m left with, even if it will be one. Count themâ€™, I insisted.
The result was that for Shitta-Bey and Dosunmu, their delegates were busy fighting one another; they would not each form a queue. Some people from Lagos Island threatened Olusi physically and told him that if he didnâ€™t announce Wahab Dosunmu, he should not return to Lagos Island. It was in that charged atmosphere that Olusi, at great risk and threat to his life, quickly announced Dosunmu and disappeared.
Number of delegates
But in the meantime, I was the first to be counted because they didnâ€™t reckon with me, so they counted my nine delegates and I insisted that the number should be recorded. It was recorded and the other two aspirants never had their delegates counted nor were their numbers recorded. The atmosphere was very charged that day.
At the end of the day, because of what had happened, I turned out to be the only aspirant who had the validly counted number of delegates and which was recorded, while the two other supposedly strong aspirants never had their delegates counted, nor recorded. They were simply disqualified.
You mean despite the clear and present danger in that hall, you stood your ground.
Yes. I insisted. In fact, it was because they saw that the nine delegates amounted to nothing in the midst of the crisis there that they just rushed through the counting and I insisted that it should be recorded.
That brings us to your attitudinal make-up. Those who had worked with you and some who are close to you say you are a woman of very strong character but , in truth, that is just an elegant euphemism for saying Bucknor-Akerele is a stubborn woman?
No. I donâ€™t think I am stubborn or rigid. I think I am principled; I like to believe I am principled. I think if you believe in something you must stand by your belief. You cannot start wavering because of material benefits.
I am sorry this is what is wrong with our country today. So many people, once they see a material benefit, they start wavering. I could have been wavering, I could have gone to Tinubuâ€™s side and I am sure Tinubu and I would have been the best of friends today and I would have enjoyed so many material benefits like some people did and as some people are still doing.
Before we touch the Tinubu issue, what was the Senate like while you were there?
I think we had a very good Senate when we were there because there were a lot of professionals in the Senate, very well educated people, people who had madeÂ their marks in their own fields before they got to the Senate. So, it was a very good Senate; it is unfortunate, however, that we were not really allowed to function because had that Senate been allowed to function and also the Houses of Assembly, had they been able to continue with democratic governance at that time, Nigeria would not have been in the sorry state it is today.
In what specific ways would these have happened?
Take delineation of constituencies and things like that because the Senate was overly constituted and the North had a preponderant advantage. And, of course, I think the northerners had the shock of their lives that a southerner could have actually won the presidential election.
We tried our best to form the Group 24 because, at that stage, some elements were trying to remove the Senate president, Iyorchia Ayu, because he stood his ground on the June 12 issue and we formed the Group 24 that resisted the annulment and in fact we had a Senate session thereafter in Lagos where we passed a resolution upholding the June 12 result and it was as a result of that that so many people were arrested.
But you were not arrested?
No. Fortunately, I was not arrested. I got the message that I should go and see one, I think the chap was an AIG, I canâ€™t really remember since I could not go; they said I should see him at Alagbon.
I had heard that they were picking up people because my brother had called me that I should please flee the country, I said no I am not going to flee the country, and I asked if he had money for me to live on abroad; he said no. So, I said I donâ€™t have money to go and live abroad and I am not going to be a refugee with no money, so I am staying put.
I am not going anywhere.Â I went out and I got this message, it wasÂ on a Saturday, I think I went to do my weekend shopping or something but I got this message that I should I report at Alagbon and I made up my mind that I was not going to report anywhere and I usually go to church on Sunday mornings. They asked me to report at Alagbon at 9 o clock Sunday morning when I would be in church.
What I did was that I also left a message for them, too, at home, that since you want to see me, I donâ€™t know who you want me to go and report to. I had never met the man before but if the man wants to see me, he should come to my office in Western House, book an appointment with my secretary. I left it there. When I got home, I was told the guy had come and the message had been delivered.
Why I pressed on the issue of your insistence not to report at Alagbon is because of the information at my disposal that you had security connections.
How? I had no security.
At the height of the problem between you and your former boss, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, there was this story about you and one El-Yakub, a northerner, and the leaking of sensitive informationâ€¦.
(Cuts in) What?
Yes, that you were responsible for leaking information about activities of the National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, to the Abacha government?
I am familiar with the story and I will tell you my side of the story. First of all, El-Yakub happened to be my husband and we divorced 10 years ago. In fact, when you came in, I was on the phone with him because one of my sons lives in Kano and he asked if Iâ€™d greeted him for Sallah and now, youâ€™re talking about him.Â He does not have anything to do with my politics.
He was a candidate for the governorship of Kano State on the platform of the defunct National Party of Nigeria, NPN. And I supported the then Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN. That is how we play our politics. Our politics is like religion. He is a Muslim, I am a Christian.
So, I never ever discussed this NADECO with him all the time I was in NADECO, not once did he even ask me about NADECO and I never certainly discussed any single issue about NADECO with him. Now there was a cooked up story that I was supplying information to this chap in that very notorious military intelligence arm, whatâ€™s it called? There was this character there then whom people dreaded.
You mean the Directorate of Military Intelligence, DMI, with Colonel Frank Omenka
Yes. Omenka. First, I never met the man. I donâ€™t know what he looks like, I donâ€™t how I could have been supplying information to him. It was alleged that it was through somebody in the SSS – I canâ€™t remember the name now but I know it was published in a magazine. I had the magazine upstairs before but unfortunately it was destroyed in the fire that destroyed my house.
The story was that I was supplying information to this chap in the SSS. As deputy governor, I had SSS people myself, so, I phoned my chief detail and asked him who the chap was that theyÂ mentioned in this story. The reply I got was that this chap left the service during the Babangida era. Now Babangida era was before NADECO. So, how could I have been supplying information to somebody who was no longer in the service? So, you can see that it was part ofÂ allÂ theconcoction of the Tinubu administration or Tinubu himself, to discredit me once I had refused to go along with his team to take over Alliance for Democracy, AD.
You talk about Tinubu as if heâ€™s the architect of everything evil that has happened to you and the AD. First , what destroyed AD?
As I said, the destruction of the soul of AD was as a result of Bola Tinubu wanting to take over the party from the elders.
You mean just that and nothing else?
Well that was it. There was nothing else because it was as a result of this struggle to take over, first of all, you know those of us of the Awolowo school are very, very strong and we have strict party discipline and this is where party discipline broke down because you would have a caucus meeting, we would have a decision and as soon as we dispersed, Tinubu would give another instruction to people.
I will give you an instance. We had a meeting in the late Pa Onasanyaâ€™s house and it was decided that we should form a committee to go back to the local government and select, through consensus, the secretary, the supervisory councillors, etc.
Once we dispersed from that meeting, Tinubu told the chairmen that they should pick the supervisory councillors themselves and not allow the committee to function and the result was that we were still in Pa Onasanyaâ€™s compound when Tinubu came out of that meeting and said to the chairmen, ”e lo yan eni to wun yin-o jare, e ma da awon baba ye lohun” (meaning, you people should go and pick whoever you want to pick and donâ€™t mind those old men).
The consequence of this was that the chairmen refused to pick the people who had been picked by the committee set up in the local governments; the chairmen picked whoever they wanted; they selected their own stooges some of whom did not have any loyalty to the party at all. That was the beginning of the collapse of the AD.
So many other things went on. Again, Tinubu wanted to remove Ganiyu Dawodu as chairman of the party in Lagos State; he wanted to put his deputy, Chief Femi Taiwo. There was no reason for this other than that Dawodu didnâ€™t support Tinubu for the governorship, and I pointed it out to him that, ” look, if anybody should have been supported, it should have been me because I was the closest person to Dawodu but he didnâ€™t support me, he supported Funso Williams who was not even in NADECO with us.
But I told him that that was over and done with. â€˜’You are governor today, I am your deputy by the grace of God, let us forget the past and leave that. Dawodu remains the most experienced politician in Lagos State that I know, let him run the party, leave Dawodu and let us bring Funso Williams on board ”. It was on that day, it was as if I had shot him. And from that day, the problem started.
How did the decision to make you Tinubuâ€™s deputy come about?Â Were you forced on him because it appeared that right from the outset of that ticket, everything didnâ€™t go well?
The decision to make me Tinubuâ€™s deputy came about because we had the structures. The NADECO people were the people that brought the structures on the ground for AD. Tinubu had no structure at all.
And he became the candidate of AD just like that?
Yes, he became the candidate because, ostensibly, and I said ostensibly, he won the primary. When I say ostensibly, it is because Funso Williams really would have won if the results of one or two local governments had not been cancelled; so, because the results were cancelled, Tinubu, who came second before now won and, therefore, our leaders thought it wise to send his name forward. But it then occurred to them that Tinubu was not a member of Afenifere, he had no structure on ground; he didnâ€™t help us build any of the structures and that if he was governor, then, it was necessary that those of us who built the structures should have a say in governance and that was how I became the deputy.
But he wasÂ a member of NADECO, so this issue of monopoly of NADECO structures by some old men couldnâ€™t have been correct?
Well, when he came back, he was supposedly a member of NADECO Abroad and, of course, in the West, it was a well known fact at that time that it was Afenifere that was reigning and Afenifere would have won any election at that time and so anybody who wanted to win came to Afenifere, even Funso Williams who was in one of the five fingers of a leprous hand as Chief Bola Ige called the Sani Abacha-created parties then, came to AD because that was where he felt he could win.
So, I told Tinubu that I believe that once primaries are gone, okay. Look at Hilary Clinton, is she not working with Obama? I said, once primaries are done, then you have to close ranks within the party and get on with the business of governance, you should not continue the fight; after all we are all in the same party and once your party has won, it means you are in power.
At the risk of sounding as if I am holding brief for Tinubu, if you were the governor, would you really allow some old men to exert influence on you or to determine how you govern your state?
Well, I donâ€™t know what you mean by the influence of the old men. Certainly the old men did not interfere in governance; they didnâ€™t interfere in what was happening in council meetings, they didnâ€™t interfere in the day-to-day running of the affairs of government.
Influence of the old men
What they were interested in was keeping the party strong as it was and making sure that those who worked for the party were rewarded and not just friends of the incumbent.
Okay, did Tinubu also kill the AD at the national level? There were some people, too, at the national level who some people believed had no progressive credentials to beÂ part of the AD. Some people easily say a Yusuf Maman who had worked with General Babangida or Chief Olu Falae who people refer to, rightly or wrongly as Mr. SAP, who eventually went on to be the presidential candidate of the AD?
First of all, Maman Yusuf was one of the founding fathers of the AD. He was right there when we formed the AD and, therefore, that was how he came in. Then you had Chief Falae who, though worked for the Federal Government of Nigeria when General Babangida was head of state. If youâ€™re talking about those who had worked with the military, Tinubu too could have been regarded as a military person; after all, he lobbied to become deputy to Oyinlola. Politics is a fluid game. So, I cannot say how one could have lobbied if you were really a NADECO person at that time to become a deputy to a military governor.
But, well, I think what happened at the national level was as a result of what was happening in Lagos. You know Tinubu had a of lot money at his disposal to use to destabilise the party, then, of course, there was the PDP at that time that was trying to make in-roads into the west. So, the two factors worked together to destabilise AD.
Was there anything that could have been done to bring the party back from the brink?
I think the main thing could have been if Tinubu had not messed up but, of course he had his ambition, he was looking at 2007 because, at that time, he still thought he could become Atikuâ€™s vice.
At what time?
Oh yes. He had already discussed with me even before we were sworn-in
Yes. And I remember precisely it was in Kresta Laurel.
At Governor Gbenga Danielâ€™s office?
Yes, he allowed us to use a floor in his building as our temporary office and this was where we were doing all the transition meetings and things like that and I remember that immediately after the meeting with the Australian high commissioner and I could see things were going wrong and I told him that; that was when I told him that he should leave Ganiyu Dawodu alone and try to bring Funso Williams on board. Tinubu said he would want Femi Taiwo to be chairman of the party so as to prepare for 2007 because he was going to support Atiku Abubakar for presidency and Lai Muhammed came in and chipped in and said ”yes, Excellency will be Atikuâ€™s vice”.
So, it was at that point that I said, ”look, do you and I even know whether we are going to be alive in 2007?
This was in 1999?
1999! ”I said please let us drop this idea for now and let us try and bring everybody on board in the party. We had not been sworn -in”. I understand that or I later got to know that all these things had been planned while Tinubu was in exile with all his cohorts.
But Tinubu was in AD while Atiku was in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
So, how was that idea going to crystalise?
I really didn’t know. In fact, all along we felt that he was going to jump ship and join the PDP because of Atiku but it never materialised and because he was meeting Atiku of PDP, the plan to completely destabilize AD was accelerated.
This matter between you and your former boss, what actually were the issues you had with him?
What issue did I ever have with my boss? I didnâ€™t have any issues with my boss. The only issues I had with him were the political issues.
Looking back now, are there things you think you would have done differently?
Well, I donâ€™t think there is anyway I could have acted in any other way.Here was a man who was trying to ruin my reputationÂ and destroy me by all means. As I was telling you that, in my office, my CSO is there to tell you, we had ebo, juju, hontu, tira, all in my office.
Eventually, I understand that when they found that they could not get to me because I believe I am a Christian and believe nothing is stronger than the power of God, so I would just take my bag and go and take a bottle ofÂ holy water, pour it on it and go and burn it or throw it away. It got to a point they used to say I was a witch because I was not moved by anything they were doing.
But the way youâ€™re speaking and your refusal to also leave them and just pack it up ties to the issue of stubbornness and for them to also call you a witch, that â€¦
(Cuts in) They said it? Won a ma sope aje ni woman yen (they used to say the woman is a witch).
There is this claim that you resigned but some insist that you were impeached?
Actually, I resigned. What happened was it got to a stage where it was obvious that Tinubu was hell bent on destroying me, not only my reputation but my political career and members of my family said no, you have to resign.
When was this?
This was on December 15, 2002.
And you resigned?
Yes. I wrote my letter of resignation to the then Speaker of the House of Assembly in Lagos State because Tinubu was away at that time and I understand he had given instructions to the House that they should impeach me before he got back but for some reason or the other, the House too was a bit hesitant about the impeachment but then I understand that money came to play and at that point my family just said,Â ”look, what are you fighting for?
The party you are fighting for doesnâ€™t even appreciate what you are trying to do, just leave the place for them”. So, I resigned on December 16, 2002. I wrote the letter to the speaker of the House because Tinubu was not around. Then Tinubu came back and said I had not resigned.
But he would have handed over to you as deputy?
He never handed over to me for one day since we resumed office. I wish you were here, yesterday, because someone was recalling that they were at the airport and he was off to, I canâ€™t remember where but he was out of the country; and the fellow said â€˜but you have not handed over to your deputyâ€™, and Tinubu was reported to have said â€˜donâ€™t worry, I have handed to the people I want to hand over to.â€™
Did you say Tinubu never handed over to you for one day to take charge in his absence?
He never even told me he was travelling, if I had not told him to ask him about something, I would not have known that he was leaving the country, he was already at the airport. As deputy governor, he never handed over to me. I never even knew when he was leaving the country. I would just hear that he had left the country.
There was one occasion, that was during the Ketu riot, and in fact I was in Badagry at a seminar, we had both seen one another in Abuja, he never told me he was leaving the country, I went straight from the airport to Badagry and it was Adeniji Adele whoÂ said â€˜by the way, you better do something because there is riot going on in Ketuâ€™, so I said, ”well the governor is there; but he said, ”I am telling you, because the governor is not there” he travelled out of the country last night”. This was during the Ketu riot. I canâ€™t remember what year it was.
That was during the OPC and Hausa faceoff. Then he said I had not resigned when he came back that I should have written a letter to him and not to the speaker, then I confirmed the letter immediately which I wrote and I sent it to his office, unfortunately all my records were burnt; otherwise I would have been able to show you the acknowledgment of my letter of the resignation.
Are you treated as a former deputy governor if you claim you resigned and that you were not impeached?
I was never impeached
Which means you get your entitlements as a former deputy governor?
No, I donâ€™t get my entitlements.
I donâ€™t know. You should ask them.
During Tinubuâ€™s tenure as governor or you are still not getting anything now?
Even till today. I have never got any pension as would be expected of a deputy governor. At one stage, former deputy governor, Alhaji Jafojo, also asked for his entitlements.
First of all, I understand that he was not entitled to it because the law had not come into effect when he was deputy governor and that he should go to court if he thinks he is entitled. Later on, I understand that the press secretary to the governor came and said we were all being paid our entitlement because I was at a meeting with Pedro when he told me that he was informed that we were all being paid our entitlements.
Have you pursued it legally?
Well, I am now going to pursue it legally. I havenâ€™t before because I have written to him, he didnâ€™t reply. I wrote several letters to Tinubu but I never even got a reply.
Have you written to Governor Fashola?
Yes. I have written to Fashola two times and it was when I got a lawyer to write to Fashola that they now said that they are passing it to the speaker of the House and they were waiting for the speaker of the house to confirm that I was not impeached.
On the day of registration of AD, what happened because the original name was not AD?
I canâ€™t remember even the original name now. I and Senator Okpozu and, I think,Â Chief Ezeife, were mandated to go do the registration. I had the money. I think it was N100,000.
You had the money as it was given to you or was it your personal money?
It was made available, contributed by members. We went there and I gave the name to the woman handling the registration, I had already paid, I asked to be given receipt, I took the receipt and put it in my bag and she was about to write the name down when somebody came and whispered to her and then she looked at me and said â€˜oh, the name has already been taken, you cannot register that name.â€™ So, I said alright weâ€™ll bring another name; we ran out and went back to the Hilton Hotel.
This was the last day of registration?
It was the last day for registration and the INEC office was down the corner to where we all camped at that time and we went to another meeting in the room which was made available to us, I think it was made available by Omisore who is now a senator and so we had to brainstorm.
Chief Bola Ige, Chief Femi Okurounmu, Ayo Opadokun and I. Bola Ige insisted that whatever name we would pick, we must have a name that is apt, and one which would be at the top of the list. We then started juggling with all the As but I canâ€™t remember who actually said it, Alliance for Democracy, as soon as he said that, Uncle Bola said,Â ”yes that is it; Kofo, go on, go on quickly”
So, we ran back to INEC office and I gave the new name to the woman who was doing the registration. Again, I said please write it down and I gave her my receipt and told her, ” please write it on my receipt”. She wrote it on the receipt and I put it in my bag.
Again, somebody came to speak to her of the same observation that the new name was again already taken but this time, I had already asked her to write the name on my receipt which was already in my bag; she could not ask me to give it back to her.
So, there was nothing she could do, she looked at me, she looked down, she looked at me, she could not say anything. I said please put it in the book and she wrote it.That was the second time.
If you look at party politics in Nigeria, beyond the AD crisis and the PDP, of which you are now a member, and which is seen as Nigeriaâ€™s big headache, how would you assess it?
I donâ€™t think PDP is the problem of Nigeria, I think it is the kind of people that are allowed to go into politics that have problems with Nigeria. So, we, the electorate, also have our problems; then, of course, it is a question of the chicken and the egg, who do you really blame?Â Is it the people who are impoverished and, therefore, are exploited by the kind of people who go into politics or is it the sort of people who go into politics who are exploiting the people?
But you are in the PDP; how does that tie with your supposed progressive credentials?
I needed a platform. I left AD because my position in AD became untenable.
Why? Because at that time the elders of the party didnâ€™t believe me that Tinubu was the one destabilising the party and trying to take over the party. In fact, they disliked my thoughts so much that I had no choice but to leave the AD.
Where are the elders today?
They are not in AD now for the simple reason that by the time they eventually saw what Iâ€™d been telling them, it was too late by the time they saw it.
But, of all parties, why must it be the PDP that youâ€™ll join?
First of all, most of us or most of the people inAD had moved to this same PDP youâ€™re talking about and so I thought that at least since our people were there in PDP, I could work for the same people.
You talked about fire gutting your house, how did it happen?
I donâ€™t really know how it came about; it is a mystery.
Were you in the house when it started?
Yes I was sleeping upstairs and it was just that I was fortunate that two things worked in my favour. My son who lives in Lekki returned and had dinner with me. He wanted to go back but there was a horrendous go-slow on that road, he could not get beyond the roundabout, so he came back to sleep in my room.
We were about preparing for the funeral of one of our brothers, the musician, when the place was gutted by fire. That early morning, my tailor came at a very unusual time of the day and I reluctantly got up and went to the gate to attend to him.
When I came back upstairs that morning, I heard somebody saying that NEPA had just brought back power and my son went to change the power source when suddenly something happened.
I went upstairs to get the tailorâ€™s money, I was sitting on my bed with my bag trying to get the money when my son ran into my room and saidÂ ”fire, fire”.
We had about four fireÂ Â extinguishers. My cook of 35 years got hold of one and was using it to fight the fire. Unfortunately I didnâ€™t have a borehole, the little water we had upstairs in buckets we used it with the fire extinguishers. And IÂ got into my car because we could not get any of the emergency lines working.
My son who went down was very lucky because the ceiling just collapsed onto the bed. At any rate, the fire fighters turned up about an hour later. I lost every single thing I had in this house. I had to run to the market. It was Alhaja Ojikutu with her late husband, and my other son came to my rescue.
Has the state government sent any message to you on the fire incident?
Even when I wrote to Fashola about my pension, that my house was burnt down and that I needed money to re-build, I never got a reply. At some point, people were coming to greet me, there was no roof, there was nothing, I was always sitting outside.
Where were you putting up then?
I put up with my cousin for a while, then Chief Bimbola Bose Thomas provided hotel accommodation for me but then he could only do that for a month; though there was one room down here which was untouched by the fire which I managed to sleep in later but there was no roof. Then suddenly, there was a day when I was in complete despair, wondering how I would survive the next day so I picked up my rosary, I am a Catholic, I prayed to mother Mary and the next day I got a call from somebody, that they had found something, that people were being paid some money and that I should come forward and collect mine. At least if they said I was impeached, why did they give me that money last year? It means I was not impeached but I resigned.
But you are still going to contest the issue of pension in court?
Yes. But these people are just being plain wicked.
When was this fire outbreak?
It happened on November 19, 2007.