The late Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, chieftain in Oyo State, Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu, has been exonerated from being the originator of the plot that led to the illegal impeachment of the former governor of the state, Senator Rashidi Ladoja in January 2006.
Describing as unfair series of comments, claims and reports that had consistently been fed the public over the years accusing Adedibu of orchestrating Ladoja’s impeachment for alleged selfish and pecuniary reasons, a former deputy governor of the state and Adedibu’s aide, Alhaji Hazeem Gbolarumi, said the decision to remove Ladoja was a collective one taken by PDP leaders and elders in the state.
In this interview with ‘TUNDE THOMAS, Gbolarumi spoke on national issues.
What is the status of PDP in Oyo State, with the view that the party is no longer vibrant since former governor, Adebayo Alao-Akala defected to APC?
Those who are saying that are not saying the truth. It is either they are strangers in Oyo State politics, or that they are making such claims out of mischief. Today, PDP still remains the toast of Oyo State people. PDP is still the strongest party in Oyo State, forget whatever propaganda APC, or its supporters are saying. The reality on ground today is that the PDP is still the best, the party loved by everybody in Oyo State. Although Governor Abiola Ajimobi is trying his best, he can’t do more than what he is doing now. He is only building on the legacy left behind for him by PDP government – Oyo State people are only waiting for 2019 to vote out APC in Oyo State. Quote me APC is not coming back in Oyo State in 2019. What has APC done both at the federal and state levels to deserve being returned to power? It is only when a party has performed to expectation that it can enjoy people’s support.
APC leaders should not deceive themselves or daydream that they are coming back automatically. Have they worked to be reelected into office? Is this the change Nigerians were expecting from them? APC has disappointed Nigerians, and the party leaders should not think 2019 is going to be tea party. 2019 is a year Nigerians will ask them to render account of their stewardship.
On the issue of former governor Adebayo Alao-Akala teaming up with Governor Abiola Ajimobi …Alao-Akala is just on sabbatical in APC. He is a strange bedfellow in APC. He doesn’t belong to that party at all. Alao-Akala is coming back to PDP very soon. He is just on temporary sojourn in APC. He is one of our fathers in PDP and he will continue to remain so.
PDP leaders in Oyo State have reached out to Alao-Akala, with a view to ensuring he returns to where he belonged and that is PDP, and we are getting positive signals in that regard. Alao-Akala can’t feel comfortable in any other party than PDP. While he is a tenant in APC, he is a landlord in PDP – we have been holding discussions with him, and we have his assurances that he will return to PDP. His place as a PDP leader in Oyo State is waiting for him.
How would you assess Governor Ajimobi’s administration, do you agree he is a game changer as some have described him?
I have not seen anything spectacular Ajimobi has done in Oyo State to warrant his being described as a game changer. What game has he changed?
Although Ajimobi no doubt is trying his best, even at that he is only building on what the last PDP administration in the state put in place before his own party, APC, took over. I can confidently say that people of Oyo are now wiser, their vision has become clearer, and they now know that the change APC promised them was not the kind of change they expected. It is like that popular saying in Yoruba that if a woman has not been to two different husbands’ houses she won’t know the better.
Prior to 2015 general elections, APC was desperate to get political power and they used the change slogan to deceive Nigerians. Now that they have that political power, the party has clearly demonstrated that it doesn’t know what to do with power. Events in the last two years have clearly shown that APC was not prepared for governance.
APC has no clear-cut political manifesto, it is a party that is bereft of ideas required to transform Nigeria. Under APC administration both at the federal and state levels, nothing has changed in the country. And if anything has changed at all, things have only changed from bad to worse. With APC in government, it has been tales of one disappointment after the other and many Nigerians are fed up with the party, they are only waiting for 2019 to punish APC with their votes. APC has actually short-changed Nigerians and 2019 will be payback time for Nigerians to exact their own pound of flesh from APC.
There has been renewed calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to take a look at 2014 National Conference report with a view to implementing aspects that will help move Nigeria forward, what’s your view on that?
Such calls on the President are calls in the right direction. President Buhari should have another look at 2014 confab report and recommendations. He could add his own contributions to the report, or even remove those aspects he disagrees with, or which he feels are not in national interest. But for him to dump the confab outcome without having a look at it is not in the best interest of the nation. Anybody or group advising Buhari to dump 2014 national confab report is doing a great disservice to the nation – is it because the confab was organized by Buhari’s predecessor, Dr Goodluck Jonathan that Buhari and his supporters are now distancing themselves from it? That’s not constructive politics. All over the world, the practice is that when a new government takes over, it continues to build on the legacy of the previous administration. It is only under APC that this globally recognized practice is being deviated from. Instead of building and consolidating on the legacy of the previous government, APC has been scattering everything and unfortunately, APC is bereft of any progressive idea.
On the anti-corruption war, some Nigerians have scored the APC-led Federal Government high, what’s your own view on this?
War against corruption is good, but there is a general perception that it is one-sided. You have more of PDP and other opponents of APC government being the victims of this government’s war against corruption. If the battle against corruption can be holistic, if it can go round without being selective, that will be okay. Even look at the way PDP members including serving governors, ex-governors, ex-ministers are being harassed, it is not good. Things must be done in a proper way, this is what government must know.
What’s your take on the comntroversy over the President’s health challenge?
I don’t see the need for all this controversy. It is unfortunate that some people are politicizing the issue. But I personally don’t believe in politicizing such an issue. We are all human beings, and anybody can fall sick any time. To me, instead of all this controversy and babel of voices expressing different opinions on the issue, we should rather have been praying for Buhari’s speedy recovery. What we should all realize is that Buhari is not President of PDP, APC, or any other political party or group, but President of the entire nation. He needs our collective prayers. For those clamouring for Buhari’s resignation, it is unfair. Buhari’s health challenge issue, if not well handled can plunge the nation into crisis. The issue has already started polarizing us, with opinions divided on how the issue should be handled. But, all these controversies should not have arisen at all, what we need to do is that with unity of purpose, we should all collectively be praying for Buhari’s speedy recovery, we should not politicize the issue at all.
But, even with the president’s state of health, some APC chieftains have been saying that he would run for a second term in 2019, should the President run for a second term?
This is why I said earlier that the whole issue is being politicized. Is this the appropriate time to be discussing second term for Buhari? Certainly no. What should be of concern to anybody that actually loves Buhari is that the President should be okay first. Health first and any other things can follow. Most Nigerian politicians are very selfish and narrow minded – why even talk about 2019 when Buhari is barely half-way into his second term? Is it not too early for these selfish and unpatriotic politicians to be goading Buhari into the 2019 race, when the man has not even talked about it? Buhari should be very careful about some of his aides. It is not that they love Buhari, but they are only out to protect their own personal interests.
The impeachment of former governor, Rashidi Ladoja in 2006 has been generating controversy lately with many commentators describing late Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu who engineered the plot as a selfish, greedy and undemocratic for organising the plot, following alleged refusal of Ladoja to give him a certain percentage of the state monthly security vote allocation, what’s your reaction to this because you were also a key player in the politics of that period?
It is very sad and also very unfortunate the way some people have been attacking Alhaji Adedibu over Ladoja’s impeachment. It is sad that even in death, some Nigerians have been very uncharitable in their comments on Baba Adedibu over this issue. I was not only very close to Baba Adedibu, but I’m also an eyewitness to what transpired during that period. I also played a key role, which could have even cost me my own life during the impeachment saga. Baba Adedibu was a mentor to many of us including Senator Ladoja. Ladoja was very close to Baba Adedibu – they were close to the extent that Ladoja could be described as Adedibu’s political godson.
I remember very clearly that when Ladoja was seeking the ticket of the party, that’s PDP, to become governor of Oyo State, he was virtually sleeping in Adedibu’s house at Molete – you find him there almost 24 hours of the day, and eventually Adedibu, being a man of honour that he was, ensured that Ladoja eventually clinched the party’s ticket. Don’t also forget that Adedibu was also instrumental to Ladoja’s becoming a senator. During that period when campaign was going on for the gubernatorial election, Adedibu used his political clout to canvass for votes for Ladoja and with Baba Adedibu’s backing, Ladoja won that election.
But I clearly remember that before the election, while campaign was still going on, Baba Adedibu used to express strong optimism that Ladoja would prove to be a great blessing to Oyo State, that he would transform the state into a centre of excellence, such that has never been seen in the history of Oyo State. Adedibu also told us that Ladoja had promised to run an all-inclusive government, and that he would be consulting Adedibu, and other party elders and leaders in Oyo State from time to time, while serving as the state governor.
But what eventually happened? Ladoja, as soon as he got elected into office, became a changed person. He reneged on his promises to Adedibu to carry him and other party leaders along in the administration of the state.
Ladoja’s attitude irked not only Adedibu, but also other notable PDP leaders in Oyo State that time. They tried to call Ladoja to order but he snubbed all entreaties by these eminent party leaders including Chief Richard Akinjide, Alhaji Yekini Adeojo, and a former governor of the state, late Chief Kolapo Ishola. Even when the party summoned Ladoja to appear before a panel to defend himself against these allegations, he failed to appear before the panel.
I remember many of these eminent party leaders expressing shock that they didn’t know that Ladoja could change like that after being elected governor. They were all disappointed. It was at that point that a decision was taken that Ladoja should be impeached. That he can’t be greater than the political party on which platform he got elected into office.
So, the decision to impeach Ladoja was a collective one. The order to sack or impeach Ladoja was given by PDP leaders, after a meeting was held to discuss the issue. Adedibu was only saddled with the task of enforcing Ladoja’s impeachment. It was not just his own making. A lot of Nigerians who don’t know the root of the whole matter had been very unfair to Baba Adedibu. Adedibu, just like my humble self, only carried out party’s orders. May Almighty Allah continue to grant Baba Adedibu Aljanah Fidaus. Adedibu was a good man. He was good and compassionate and that’s why you have a lot of people loving him when he was alive. He was a progressive politician, and many successful politicians in Nigeria today were beneficiaries of Adedibu’s ‘Amala politics’. He was a man loved by the rich and the poor.
Baba Adedibu is not alive today, but it would be unfair for people to continue to lie against him, and again if people like me, who played a key role in the whole saga, failed to set the record straight, that would be very unfortunate.
I make bold to declare once again through this medium that the decision to impeach Ladoja was not taken solely by Adedibu. It was the party elders and leaders who mandated Adedibu to effect Ladoja’s impeachment. At the meeting where these leaders decided to impeach Ladoja, I was made the chairman of the task force to effect the impeachment. I was asked to lead PDP supporters, not just Adedibu’s supporters to Government House and Oyo State House of Assembly to sack ex-governor Ladoja and those lawmakers loyal to him. Thank God, I was able to execute the operation successfully.
Why did you choose to lead such a dangerous operation? Did you not fear for your life, or was it true, as some people claimed, that there was a live tortoise on your chest, and other charms, as you led both PDP supporters and thugs on that mission?
I accepted to lead that operation as a loyal party man. Ladoja as a person didn’t offend me. Ladoja all along was nice to me, and I regarded him as a brother, but you know when an order has been given it has to be executed.
The party elders gave me an assignment, then, who am I to disobey? As a loyal party man who also had a great deal of respect for these elders and party leaders, I have to carry out the duty given to me, and this was why I personally led the operation of that moment that invaded and sacked Ladoja from the Government House at Agodi.
On the issue of juju and charms, I’m a practising Muslim, I never and will never believe in juju. It is the protective power of the Almighty God that I relied upon. Even that day, when some members of my family were afraid that my life might be on the line, I told them not to exercise any fear that Allah would see me through the battle, and it was indeed a battle. That day, it was like a real war in Oyo State. It was a day many residents of Ibadan would not forget in a hurry, as I marched on the Government House with PDP supporters and other citizens of Oyo State, who by then had also lost confidence in Ladoja’s government. Again to set the record straight, I led PDP supporters and not thugs to sack Ladoja from office – I don’t believe in political thuggery. I’m an advocate of constructive politics.
How were you able to sack the governor and also the lawmakers from the chambers, because we learnt that lawmakers loyal to Ladoja were already seated in the House, and had vowed to resist any attempt to impeach him by the minority on Adedibu’s side?
Like I said earlier, while we were going on that mission to the Government House, I told those PDP protesters I was leading that nobody should attack innocent citizen or engage in any act of violence. Initially when we reached the House of Assembly, Ladoja’s supporters whom we met on ground to protect lawmakers loyal to Ladoja initially tried to resist us, but they were eventually overwhelmed by our own forces, and they were eventually dislodged from the Assembly chamber. And this was how we were able to provide cover for lawmakers loyal to Adedibu and PDP leaders and elders who eventually carried out Ladoja’s impeachment.
The news of our operation in the House of Assembly had already filtered to the governor’s office, and Ladoja’s supporters on the ground there eventually took to their heels, on sighting us and this was how we took over the office of the governor. I thank God that the operation was very successful and my efforts that day earned me a lot of commendation from party leaders and elders not only in Oyo State, but also at the national level.