Last week, the ancient city of Ibadan, the military circle, and indeed the whole nation was greeted with the appointment of retired General Rafiu Adedapo as the National Mobilization and Administrative Director representing the South–West Geo-Political Zone of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Ordinarily, appointment into such an exalted and strategic office in the party was expected to elicit jubilation not only in Oyo State, his immediate constituency, but from party members, the military that he served for thirty-five years, and Nigerians at large. Surprisingly, the reverse seems to be the case as the appointment of Gen. Adedapo is threatening to tear the party apart. Since the appointment was announced, the party has facedstiff opposition, resistance, and criticisms from his home state and immediate constituency, Oyo State, and four geo-political zones comprising of South-West, South-South, South-East, and North-Central. The national office of the APC in Abuja has been inundated with protests and petitions calling for the immediate removal of Gen. Adedapo from office. According to a top officer of the party who pleaded anonymity for fear of backlash and sanctions, the national office of the APC has received over ahundred petitions from Oyo State and over three hundredpetitions from the other four geo–political zones in Nigeria urging the party to reverse the appointment because Gen. Adedapo is not a fit and proper person to occupy that office. The only support Gen.Adedapo is presently clinging to comes fromindividuals and groups from the geo-political regions in Northern Nigeria.
An investigation by one of our correspondents revealed that since the appointment of Gen. Adedapo, congratulatory messages are coming only from opinion leaders, Islamic clerics,organizations, retired top military officers, and individuals with strong ties to Islam in the Northern region of the country. For instance, the Nasrul -Lahi-li Fathi Society of Nigeria (NASFAT), Miyetti Allah, and ex-military generals with fanatical and extreme religious views are among a handful of those that havesent congratulatory messages to Gen. Adedapo. It is rumoured that some Islamic clerics who enjoy a very close relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari are assuring Gen. Adedapoto ignore the call for his removal as they will convince the president to ignore the agitations because he is one of them. The Nigerian president who has never hidden his love and devotion to Islam is notorious for appointing Muslims into key positions in his government.
From the information at our disposal, there are several reasons why the appointment of Gen. Adedado is generating so manycontroversies and furore. It is a notorious fact that every politician in Ibadan and indeed, the whole country knows the antecedent of Gen. Adedapo who ventured into politics after retiring from the army. In a society where public officials use their position to illegally enrich themselves because of the weak legal and institutional arrangements, Gen. Adedapo is indeed an extremely wealthy man. It was rumoured that after retiring from the army, Gen. Adedapo was advised by his colleagues in the military circle that the only way he would continue to be relevant in the country was to join the ruling political party, the All Progressives Congress. With money to throw around in a predominantly poor and illiterate society, Gen. Adedapo became a cult-like personality and a political godfather in Ibadan and the whole of the South-West region. From the pool of admirers, favour-seekers, and hangers-on who depend on him for their livelihood, Gen. Adedapo effectively built an army of thugs and outlaws which he has used to terrorize his home state and the South-West geo–political region, silence members of opposingpolitical parties and even dissidents within his political party. On Gen. Adedapo’s instruction, his army of thugs has snatched and destroyed ballot boxes during elections, beat, maim, attack members of the opposition political party, as well as engaging in a host of other activities aimed at not only disrupting electionsbut also ensuring that the wish of the people expressed by casting their ballots is subverted. A few years ago, Gen. Adedapo was said to have ordered a recalcitrant opposition party member who refused to yield to his attempt to manipulateelection results in Egbeda ward of Ibadan to be shot dead. Gen. Adedapo and some of his thugs were arrested for a few days butadmitted to bail, and subsequently discharged and acquitted by a shambolic and kangaroo court whose decision was rumoured to have been ordered from above. With this kind of reputation, it is a little wonder that the appointment of Gen. Adedapo is being fiercely resisted.
Another reason for the rejection of Gen. Adedapo’s appointment is his extreme and radical views of Islam. As a young officer in the Nigerian Army, he was indicted for the inglorious role he played in the Zango Kataf uprising by actively encouraging and illegally stealing arms and ammunition to help the Muslim Fulani in Zango Kataf to wipe out Christians whom he described as infidels. Gen. Adedapo narrowed escaped being court-martialed and jailed due largely to the intervention of some powerful Muslim organizations and clerics. The weird obsession with Islam has dominated the personal and professional life of Gen. Adedapo. For instance, he is known to have openly rejected praying or preaching the Christian faith in any of the commands that he led during his service years. He was also alleged to have always looked for excuses to ensure that Christian soldiers were either posted out of any command where he served or subjected to all sorts of embarrassing or agonizing roles and tasks. He claims that the only time he is happy is when he is surrounded by his fellow Muslim brethren. A generous donor to the cause of expanding Islam, it is on record that there is no town that Gen.Adedapo served as a Commanding Officerthat he did not build a mosque, or through his overt and covert actions encourage religious violence between Christians and Muslims. Gen. Adedapo’s bigotry can be traced to his family history. It is on record that his great grandfather was among the first sets of Yoruba that brought Islam to the South-West. History has that his great grandfather, Alhaji Ibrahim Adedapo was a wealthy trader who regularly travelled to the Northern part of Nigeria to buy merchandise which he sold to towns and villages in the old Oyo empire. Alhaji Ibrahim Adedapo’s trading activities coincided with the period when Uthman Dan Fodio and his Jihadists from Senegal began a religious war aimed at purging Hausa land of idolatry and replacing it withIslam. A fortuitous meeting between Olalekan Adedapo (who later changed his name to Alhaji Ibrahim Adedapo) and Uthman Dan Fodio led to the former’s conversion to Islam. Alhaji Ibrahim Adedapo became one of the earliest voices in the propagation of Islam in the South-West.
At a time when democratic structures and institutions are struggling to take root in a country that was almost ruined by several decades of military rule, many Nigerians think that a controversial and divisive character like Gen. Adedapo cannot be among the people to provide a focused, disciplined, and purposeful leadership that a fledgling democracy like Nigeria desperately needs. Political actors, pundits, and indeed all Nigerians watch with keen interest how the drama surrounding the appointment of Gen. Adedapo will be eventually resolved.