By Ola Ajayi
The death of former Governor Lam Adesina has been mourned far and near. But the import of the exit of the famed politician on the political landscape of the state would be monumental.
When news of the passage of the former Governor of Oyo State and chieftain of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN Alhaji Lamidi Adesina filled the political space early Sunday morning, many of his supporters could not believe that the Great Lam had actually died.
For his political rivals within the ACN, and his foes outside the party in the Peoples Democratic Party, the exit of the famed politician well known as “Lam the Great” was of consequential political importance.
Not because the fallen political giant was immortal, but because of the import of his death on the different political structures in the pacesetter state.
Though Adesina taught the incumbent governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi in the secondary school, there were reports that the two of them had become partly estranged following their collaboration that helped to unseat the PDP from office in 2011.
That assertion was, however, punctured by unofficial claims of the personal efforts made by the governor and his family towards the former governor in the twilight of his life. Besides the government paying for the former governor’s treatment at the St. Nicholas Hospital in Lagos, Governor Ajimobi and his wife paid visits to Adesina in the hospital as recent as last Monday.
In demonstration of its sense of loss, the stage government has already declared a seven day mourning period during which government activities would be brought to a low key while flags are to be flown at half mast.
Adesina it is argued, deserves the outflow of tributes that have been coming his way since his death last Sunday.
He was outspoken and a man of firm principles who stood against tyranny and oppression.
While alive, he was almost always on the side of the people in the fight against repressive rule, especially so before his election as governor of Oyo State in 1999.
Before becoming governor Adesina had earlier been elected into the House of Representatives on the platform of the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN.
His colleague in the House of Representatives, Senator Roland Owie said of him yesterday:
“He was down to earth, a loyal person to friendship. His human relations was superb both within our party UPN and within the National Assembly,” Owie said as he enjoined living members of the 1979 to 1983 set of the House of Representatives to grace the 40th day prayers of their departed colleague.
In an interview with Vanguard a year ago, Adesina speaking of possible mistakes in his political struggles had said:
“I still believe that M.K.O. Abiola might not have died if he had bent over backward. Those of us in Afenifere and NADECO fighting that battle, it is not always that we must insist that if that does not happen, we are not going to accept this. Anytime I remember the circumstances of Abiola’s death and other people we lost, I always say we are Yoruba people and we know about diplomacy. Had diplomacy forsaken us at that period in time? No. it’s just that everybody thought that you must go the same way like this. We could have deceived these people and saved the life of Abiola and others that were hacked down, that is just an explanation.”
Tributes pour in
Remarkably, friends and foes agreed that Adesina was a fulfilled politician who left when the ovation was loudest.
A statement issued by the Special Adviser to Governor Ajimobi, Dr. Festus Adedayo quoted Governor Ajimobi as describing Adesina as “a dedicated patriot, foremost defender of democracy and human rights, and political war-horse who had always stood on the side of truth”.
In the words of Dr. Olapade Agoro (Aladura Patriarch) Owa’Tapa of Itapa Ijesa land and the National Chairman/ former Presidential Candidate National Action Council (NAC), “Obviously since what has a beginning must have an end, the news therefore of the death of Alhaji Lam Adesina must be seen and accepted as the closing chapter of a story begun lowly but ended on good note of success.
As the Chairman, Odu’a Investment Company Limited and a former Secretary to Oyo State Government, Chief Sharafadeen Abiodun Alli said: “Baba Lam in his life time was a political icon and we take solace in the fact that he was fulfilled”.
The Deputy Senate Chief Whip and Senator representing Oyo North Senatorial District, Senator Hosea Agboola in his own reaction described the departed former governor as a “’ great man and a leader who used his experience to the benefit of the state.”
For Senator Rashidi Ladoja who succeeded the late Adesina in 2003, the exit of Adesina has opened a new vista in the politics of the state.
A prolific and versatile writer, the former governor was a thorn in the neck of military leaders while he was in the National Democratic Coalition, NADECO.
His tough stance on the entrenchment of genuine democratic principles landed him in prison when he was declared ‘Prisoner of War’ (POW) by the then Military Administrator in the state, Col. Ahmed Usman.
Oyo without Adesina
The vacuum created by the death of Adesina will be felt most by the ACN and especially those aligned to him in the party.
Just like his predecessor, Adebayo Alao-Akala breathed some fresh air after the death of the then apostle of Amala politics and godfather, Lamidi Adedibu, Governor Ajimobi is bound to feel some liberty in the political space within the ruling party. But the omen is equally not good. Without Adedibu Alao-Akala even with all the liberty he had could not win re-election.