OLA AJAYI, Ibadan
Alhaji Lam Adesina is a former Governor of Oyo State and he is a well known figure in the countryâ€™s political scene.Â In this interview he warnedÂ Â Â PDP to forget rigging in 2011 claiming that the partyÂ Â Â has betrayed theÂ legacies of frontline politicians like Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Colonial masters and Akintola. Â
It is a long story. I was living in Kudeti during my primary and secondary school days. That was the time politics came to the western region. It was during the time of Chief Adegoke Adelabu, it was in 1951 to be precise. I just saw them near the Kudeti Saint David Church in those days. I was in standard three. I saw a group of people saying â€œonly one man is not with us in Ibadan here.â€ I was wondering who that man was.
Later, I got to know that those who are talking were the Action Group leaders.
When I was going to school in the morning, I would pass by Adegoke Adelabuâ€™s house. I would see some people sitting down in front of his house chanting party slogans. I would join them because I enjoyed what they were saying. That was the time I developed interest in politics. And when I got to the secondary school and later the university, I founded the Action Group student wing. I was theÂ president.
I never saw Papa Obafemi Awolowo in my life until he left the prison and my uncle, S.A Adewale took me there to greet him. And he introduced me to Papa Awo telling him that this is the boy that has been fighting your cause. Papa Awo shook my hands.Â Â As from that time, I always met Pa Awo whenever he came to Ibadan .
I was enjoying my job as a school principal until 1979 when the UPN said I should resign and contest election into the House of Representatives. I contested and I won. From there I became a practicing politician.
You just mentioned Awo now as one of those people that brought you into politics. How do you feel about the crumbling ofÂ Â Â the Awoâ€™s political camp
It has even broken. It was due to the highhandedness of some of our elders. But now efforts are being made to mend fences so that we can be together again even though the efforts have not yielded any positive results. It is unfortunate.
But, thank God that the legacy of Awo is still being discussed. Hardly a day passes by without people talking about Awo. I believe with time, the camp will pullÂ together again and we shall be one.
A glance into the political history of the South West shows that it had always been an opposition to the central government. How would you assess the current political status of the zone.Â Has it been able to play its role well in the political scene?
It is very unfortunate. When we were in opposition to the central government, we enjoyed because we had good people leading us. But, today the zone is in the same party with the federal government and that is affecting us badly. There is mis governance at the federal level, so there is also mis governance in the state and the local governments.
The money which our leaders used to manage very well is now being wasted by those in the state and the local governments. That is why there has never been any progress. We now said, let us start alone because we can develop at our own pace.
Now, which PDP state is performingÂ in Nigeria . What can you copy from any of them? But, look at the only state that Action Congress is controlling. That is the only state performing.
So, we donâ€™t gain anything by being in the mainstream of Nigeria politics, rather we are losing so many things. It is very unfortunate.
2007 has gone and the complaints of many aggrieved politicians as a result of electoral fraud and ballot stuffing still linger on. 2011 is around the corner, what measure is your party making to make the zone better?
Almost everybody knows we are making frantic efforts to free the zone from political hawks that have held it by the jugular. We want an independent body to carry out opinion poll throughout the South West and feel the pulse of the people. That is the only thing that can show that AC leaders have not been sleeping but are working round the clock.
If we have free, fair and credible election in 2011, the AC would overrun the South West.
How would you rate the government of the PDP since it took the mantle of leadership in the zone?
You tell me, what have they done? What they have succeeded in doing is to destroy the legacies Awo and I left behind. Come to think of it. How reasonable is it to sell government quarters? Before some of them were born, government quarters had been. Colonial masters built some, Awo built some and Akintola built some. Military governments had been coming and going, none of them sold government quarters.
I and Kolapo Ishola came, we never sold any government quarters. Didnâ€™t I like government quarters to be sold so that I could buy my own jet? They behave like the prodigal son in the bible. Where is the money they realized from the sales they made.
They donâ€™t even think of the future. What is left after you have sold all the government quarters? That legacy has been destroyed. I bought that land at aerodrome back from the Federal Government at the cost of N40 million. My thinking then which tallied with that of Chief Obasanjo was to build big shopping mall like the one you find in Europe . I didnâ€™t know that I would be rigged out.
When they came, the first thing they did was to cut the land into plots and were selling them within their camp. I challenge the Governor of Oyo State to deny. Let him publish the names of those that own the plots of land in that area where there used to be aerodrome. Of course, Iâ€™m not property conscious. Despite that, donâ€™t you think that they should have contacted me? Those are the legacies they are destroying.
Some of them wanted to take over that old NTC which I bought for N140million and make it their own. But, when the noise was too much, they jettisoned the idea. Go round all the state and see if there is any structure they have put either for primary or secondary school.
Look at the old dairy farm at Monatan. I said it would not be an estate, we are going to revamp the dairy farm. As soon as I left, they have turned everything round again and they are calling it Kolapo Ishola Estate now. Why do we need land there? Because they want to get their own lands there and give to their relatives. Those that left it are human beings. I could have sold it and get lands for my family members. But, I did not do that. That is what they have done.
One step forward, three steps backward. When you go to GRAs in Ibadan today, you find people with questionable characters that have built houses there.
Is the reconciliation between you and Senator Abiola Ajimobi a genuine one. Are you ready to work together in the next election?
It is. If itâ€™s not genuine, Senator Ajimobi would not have been brought here to apologize and he did apologize.
Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala has been steering the ship of this state for quite some time now and he wants to come back for the second term
Record shows that nobody has ever come back for the second term in this state. Chief Bola Ige could not. I could not, and many others could not. Do you think Akala can? That is why I have been advising him to do what he can do within the spate of one and half four years left and let any other person take over. It is like a yoke. And that cannot be broken now.
What if his party supports him? And you know the influence that the Central Government can wield.
They would kill everybody in Oyo State. I know my people very well. He is my brother and I like him. That is why I have been advising him not to allow anybody to push into the pit. People who tell him, ride on please, o yato joo (you are different) are only deceiving him including our boys who are there. What can make me fear anybody again or prevent me from saying what is in my mind. That is why I always advise him, donâ€™t attempt any second term. Finish your four years very well, do, what you can do so that people of the state would remember you.
We all saw what happened in Ekiti during the rerun governorship election.
Do you think AC can match the PDP in the South West with its yawning influence?
Donâ€™t let them dare us. Look at me, look at me. Iâ€™m notÂ young man again but I could still perform wonders. If I could dare Abacha and I did not bother if I would be thrown into jail. Abacha was a maximum ruler. I can still dare anybody who wants to make us slaves in our area. So, donâ€™t let the PDP dare us in Oyo State or in Yoruba land. Yoruba people are ready to claim their legitimate mandate. And the mandate is for the AC to win Yorubaland.
Let President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua hear this that south west belongs to the AC. PDP is just living on borrowed time in Yorubaland.
This time around, if they make any attempt to rig, that would be the end of rigging in Nigeria .
As a human being, I donâ€™t want the army to come back. You know I fought them to a standstill. But a non performing government is either overthrown by revolution or the army.