Femi Josiah: My Journey Into Politics, The Intrigues, And The Adedibu Factor
The Special Assistant to the governor of Oyo state on community relations, Hon Femi Josiah has hinted at publishing a book containing his detailed experience as a politician, the Intrigues, the baba Adedibu factor and other sundry issues.
When I decided to participate in politics, I had several reasons. The state of my constituency- Ekotedo was decadent.
Although governments had changed several times in the federal and state level, but my area of birth and childhood was the same as I left it several years ago, when i went to further my secondary school education in Ilorin.
There were still the known neighbourhood poor people around, children out of school and youths lazing around with no opportunity in sight. Growth and development rate was also very low, it was as if my locality had grew out of the developmental plan of Oyo state and Nigeria.
I am talking about the 2000s when series of developmental programs had started taking place in different parts of Nigeria. There and then, I made up my mind to contribute my quota in any way to the development of my community.
I realized the first thing the community needed was a voice, but I was perplexed as to how to go about it.
One day I was having a discussion with some of my area friends at Idioro.
Conversation drifted to politics and I told them that since I left Ibadan in 1985, I noticed that nothing else has changed in 15 years, especially when we now have a democratic government.
“Is it that the people ruling this country and the local council don’t carry out their social responsibilities in grassroot communities?” I asked them.
None of them could answer my question well but all agreed that grassroot communities especially our locality isn’t been recognized fully, in the affairs of the state. We unanimously decided to form a pressure group.
Some of the people in that gathering like Fatal Adetunji- a good friend of mine- were partially educated and forming a pressure group wasn’t difficult. We agreed that the membership of the pressure group would be mainly open to the youths of the area.
These discussions and agreements led to the founding of Ekotedo Youths Forum. I was nominated to be the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the group. An important factor that aided my nomination as the PRO was that amongst the co-founders, I was the only university graduate.
The members felt that with my outspokenness, knowledge and level of education, I would be able to represent them well. As the face and voice of the forum, my roles were to inform the members of public about the happenings of the forum and most importantly act as a mediator between the forum and the elected leaders of the constituency.
Personally, even till now I felt I have always played the role of a relations officer in any of the establishment and organization I find myself. People have always entrusted me with the roles of a PRO and I tried my best to justify their reason for giving me that position. Although I studied engineering in school but I had done more of relations than work on engines.
On September 12 2001- a Saturday- we decided to hold a symposium in which we invited the community leaders and some political personalities in the state to open their eyes to the plight of the people living in the neighborhood. The member representing the state constituency was invited, but he sent a representative.
The local government chairman was also invited, he likewise sent a representative – the secretary of the council. We weren’t perturbed by this. We felt our message would be felt whether the people we invited were on seat or not.
I read the opening speech which was good because i wrote a large part of it.
The speech focused on the problems of the community, the neglected roles and promise of the community leaders, as well as the aim and objectives of the group. The community leaders said some little things, gave their usual promises and took a copy of the speech away.
The speech no doubt sent its desired message and unsettled the leaders because on Monday the president of the association was invited to the council.
However, for some reasons best known to him, the other executives were not informed and he went to the meeting alone.
When he came back, he gave us a feedback on what he had experienced at the council. He had met with some councilors and the chairman.
He was offered some money to possibly reduce the agitation and voice of the association, he however rejected it. This act of inducement didn’t go down well with us and we decided to increase the volume of our grievances.
Shortly after the forum began to gain more grounds and more following in the locality and its environs, we started receiving attention from the political parties and their leaders. The political parties with an active presence then in Ekotedo was Alliance for Democracy (AD) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
The political leaders saw the potential and voting power of the pressure group and tried to win us over to their camp. We knew more changes can be made if we have a say in the political happenings of the state and the locality, so we accepted every arm of mentorship and friendship extended by the political leaders.
At first, AD was our unspoken party of choice, nobody convinced anyone in the group to belong to a political party, but we find ourselves going more to the meetings organized by AD. Since I was a businessman, I didn’t have enough time to go to these meetings but when I could make time, I attend and the proceedings of other important meetings I missed, were relayed to me by my friends. During this period, we hadn’t fully decided to be full members of any political party, we just went to different party meetings as observers.
There was one time I and my friends went to an AD meeting and one of the leaders said
“I see many of you youths are joining our party and hope to attain power. However, that is not the way we do things here, we follow due process here.
You will have to join the queue and it is a long one “
Thereafter some of us lost interest in the party. We understood the message the man was passing across. We will wait a long time before any of us can be given the ticket to contest for any position or we might never even get to that stage.
However the speech I wrote and recited during the symposium was also received by the honourable representing the constituency in the state of assembly- Honourable Ladapo. Just like the political leaders, he and his followers too tried to “cultivate” us and bring us to their side. Although the honourable got to the position through the AD party, he had followers across different parties.
These followers had a group called Ladapo Golden star. The group serves as a social cum political group, in which every activity revolves around the honourable.
One day I visited my friend – Fatai Adetunji when I was coming back from my store.
It was a casual visit but we discussed several issues ranging from business to the situation of things in the community. It was when I was airing my opinion on how things could have been done better when Fatai Adesoji exclaimed
“Josiah! You need to go into politics and contest!”
His exclamation just gave voice to the thoughts I had been having throughout the week. I want to do more for the community but I felt I won’t have the power, authority or wherewhital to do that if I don’t belong in the governmental administration of the community.
The problem now was I hadn’t decided the party to join, neither do I have the influence nor funds to secure me a party ticket. As a young graduate, I had been content with making money from my business, and being active in the pressure group.
Politics and actually contesting was like an untested ground to me. However, Fataii edged me on and encouraged me
“The money you make from your business and extra loans from friends and families is enough to support your aspiration”
Although I didn’t conclude that day, but the thought wouldn’t just leave my mind, after some time I decided to work towards it. After all what do I have to lose? Virtually nothing I couldn’t live without.
By this time I had decided to be a card carrying member of People Democratic Party (PDP) for several reasons. Firstly, there was no strong contention in the party, there was fertile ground for ambitious individuals to attain positions without sacrificing too much.
This is not to say that there were no strong personalities in the party then but compared to AD, the situation was far better for new members. Secondly at that time, PDP was in the opposition in my state and constituency. Therefore, we believed that they needed support and were more sincere.
Also, I personally met with a PDP political leader in my ward who convinced me that PDP was the right party for me. Since I hadn’t been really going to AD’s meeting, I decided to give PDP a trial.
After some of us- leading figures in the Ekotedo Youth Forum identified with PDP, we easily moved and convinced most of our members that PDP is the right party to join and they did. Convincing them was a simple task, they believed in us and our mission, and they are ready to follow us to any depth to achieve this goal.
Weeks into our membership in PDP, I, Fatai Adetunji (President of the Ekotedo Youth Forum) and Biodun Lawal (Pionner chairman of PAG) decided to create another pressure group that would have participation from all wards in the local government.
We named it PAG- Progressive Action Group, a name that was coined from what we hoped the pressure group will achieve. This didn’t mean that we stopped playing active roles in Ekotedo Youth Forum.
Rather, we saw PAG as an extension of EYF, and while EYF remains active in the ward level, PAG will be very active in the local government and state politics.
Another main difference of the two pressure groups is that EYF was created with no political basis and has no affiliation with any political party.
Although through our efforts, there are predominantly PDP members in EYF, but the group is also open to members of different parties. PAG on the other hand was created as a Youth arm of PDP in Ibadan North West local government.
Since the group is mainly filled with youths and young adults, we can consider it to be a radical group that emerged from PDP. The group cuts across all wards and as such we have many members.
Fatai Kolawole Alade (Akolad) who once vied for the chairmanship position of my local government was a member of this group. Tunde Oyedeji (Ward 5), Nuru Raji (Ward 2), Bosun Oyenuga (Ward 11), Kunle Akanji(Ward10) , Lukman Shofela (Ward 9) and several others were all members of PAG.
The aim of the group is to help and give support to members of the group who are interested in running for any position in the local government.
This group would later prove to be a big help to me in my political ambitons. It helped me have presence in all wards of Ibadan North West which is essential for winning elections in the local government.
Through the solidarity group, I was able to project my political ambition and coordinate delegates for my campaign in all wards.
Now, around that time, an information was going through the rounds in the party that the member representing Ibadan North west constituency in the state assembly was not interested in going to the house again.
This was due to the expectation that in the proposed constitutional amendment, Ibadan North West would be given a federal constituency. As at that time, up till date, Ibadan North West shares a federal constituency with Ibadan South West.
However it was widely believed then that a constitutional review would enable Ibadan North west to be both a state and a federal constituency just like Oluyole local government.
This was good news to me.
Since I felt the incumbent honorable won’t be going back to the house, it gives an equal level playing ground for anyone interested in running for the position. I decided to declare my aspiration for the state assembly in PDP. At first I had no opposition in the party.
This was mainly because people felt then that the position is less juicy and comes with little benefits.
Funny enough, the post of a council chairman was seen as more lucrative and at that time ten people declared their ambition and jostled to be the council chairman. Since I was closer to a greenhorn in the party, I was mocked by some people for aspiring to go into the state assembly.
” Someone that should have been glad to be a councillor wanted to go to state assembly” I once heard a man said at my back, I knew he was referring to me, but I wasn’t bothered.
There were several people too that questioned and sought to discourage me whenever I informed them that I was now actively involved in politics. Some just laughed it off
“What? With your soft face and gentle appearance? Better go and sit down. Politics is not for you?” A friend once remarked.
” Josiah you get charm? You Sabi fight?” Another one asked jokingly.
I laughed their responses off. I was determined not to back down now that I had started.
One day I met the leader of PDP in my ward- Alhaji Lekan Adeogun and in our discussion, he asked me
“Josiah, I have been hearing a rumour about you.
Is it true that you want to be an honourable?”
“It is no rumour sir, it is true that I want to contest” I responded him politely.
“Good, you are a good boy, don’t talk to anybody again. We will know how we will do it. I will help you ” He said to me.
This was reassuring when you think of the responses i had been getting and this man actually belonged to a group of old men who controlled the structure of the party.
True to his words, he introduced me to the other leaders of the party in the ward.
The first meeting we had was in a lateMr. Adeaga’s office. All the leaders of the ward were in attendance and I was presented to them. I was accepted unanimously. From then I had no opposition in the ward. All agreed that I was the right man for the job and I vowed not to let them down.
There were several influential political leaders in Ibadan North West at that time. Alhaji Lekan Adeogun was one of them and he coordinated the political leaders under him.
As influential as Alhaji lekan Adeogun was, he has a boss he reports to and that was the overall leader of PDP in the LGA- Late Cheif Felix Odubiyi. Alhaji Lekan introduced me to Cheif one day and told him I was their choice for the honourable position in the ward.
Cheif Odubiyi would later introduce me to Cheif Lamidi Adedibu,all of blessed memory.
I learnt three lessons during this time. First, you need people as you need money in politics.
You need the right people in the right places that would give you their support and would have solved half of your political problems. Secondly, you never grow beyond having a mentor or boss in life.
No matter how big and powerful you are, you will still have a person you learn from. Lastly, you don’t go empty handed to Cheif Adedibu’s house. Cheif Adedibu’s politics was politics that revolved around money.
Adedibu was a generous man and his house is never devoid of people. To impress baba as we called him in his lifetime, you need to give him some money and be generous to these people too. There was not one day that I visited Cheif Adedibu and I didn’t bring money along.
The first day I visited Baba Adedibu, I registered my commitment to him with some amount of money. I was personally handed over to Adedibu by Cheif Odubiyi. Baba acknowledged me but that didn’t guarantee his support.
The first visit was for him to know me and be informed of my political aspiration. Future events and observation would help him decide if I was going to get his support or not. With Baba, you don’t rush things.
Although no one had voiced his/her interest to vie for the same position I was running for, I prepared as if there was going to be a primary. Now, I think the level of my preparation then and support across all wards though the PAG discouraged other individuals from contesting.
After declaring my aspiration for the state assembly, my volume of meetings and engagements increased. There were series of meetings that were been held and I had to attend all. PDP general weekly meetings, stake holders meetings, caucus meetings, pressure groups meetings- when I said all, I meant all.
However PDP was getting more popular with the masses in my local government, and as its acceptability grew, so did its size. Soon, the general meetings of PDP in my local government started recording many people in attendance.
In the meetings, the leaders and any other individual that want to address members would normally use his/her voice with no form of additive communicational tool. This mode of communication had been enough for the meetings for long since we had no huge participation.
However, one day I was in a general meeting, a leader was addressing the members and I looked around and decided that the voice wouldn’t just do it anymore- we are more than that now.
There were many people present and from where I sat, I couldn’t hear the man well and I wasn’t even sitting close to the back. Right from where I was sitting, I started thinking of what I could do to make people hear and participate more in the general meeting.
I felt the purpose of the meeting which is to brief members on the latest happenings in the party, local government, state and national level was getting defeated. Since several members couldn’t hear well,some started talking to each other and those people that didn’t come with friends started venting their complaints.
The outcome then was that the meeting was getting rowdy, uncomfortable and uncontrollable. I decided to get the party a public address system. I discussed the plan with my supporters and they gave me the go-ahead.
It was on the day that I was presenting the PAS to the general party that I realized that you can’t give the party such gift without giving the same or equivalent to the youth arm of the party.
I had to buy another PAS and present it to the youth in the next meeting. That is one of the ways in which politics eat into your cash. In politics, even following traditions and norms cost money.
The gift was both appreciated by the party members and it increased my popularity in the party to an extent. Prior to this time, I had not come out publicly in any party meeting to declare my aspiration for the state assembly.
However riding on the good gesture, i declared my intent on the day I presented the second PAS to the youth members of the party, I was largely supported.
For quite some time, I was not challenged or had no opposition until one day when I heard an opponent might have emerged and a strong one at that. There were two leading contestants vying for the chairmanship position in the party – Chief Remi Adeboye and Doctor Remi Ayodele.
However Remi Adeboye was the party leaders and specifically Baba Adedibu’s choice for the council elections. Since they knew the other contestant had a large followership in the party, they decided to pacify him with the state assembly ticket- The exact one I had been working towards.
Irrespective of the efforts I had put in place, and the people I met, my name was not brought up when the party stakeholders were making this decision. But I was not greatly disappointed by this.
That was politics then and politics now- a game of the best interests.
Remi Ayodele was consulted about the decision of the party and asked to agree to the setup.
If he had agreed, that would have automatically put paid to my state assembly’s aspiration. There was absolutely nothing I could do. Even if I challenged him to a primary, he would have won, if he had accepted but he didn’t.
From the story I heard when the emisarries relayed the decision of the party to Remi Ayodele, he felt betrayed and insulted. He responded to this development by leading his close supporters in a protest to challenge the leaders consensus.
They branched several places to vent their agitations and one of those places is Baba Adedibu’s house. Of course that didn’t sit well with Alhaji Adedibu, he decided that if Remi Ayodele isn’t comfortable with the state assembly ticket, then he isn’t getting anything.
“Ehn if Remi isn’t comfortable with the state ticket we have given him, let’s give somebody else now.isn’t one boy aspiring? ” Alhaji Adedibu was reported to have said this in the next meeting.
Luckily for me, some of my supporters were present and they quickly told him about me.
Since I had registered my commitment with him, it was not hard for Baba to remember me.
“Oh yes. Go and give Josiah the ticket then. That’s the person we will use. Since Remi doesn’t want it.
At least Josiah will take it” Baba said and that stamped my candidacy for the state assembly
I was in a caucus meeting in Chief Odubiyi’s house when I received the good news. I and my supporters were gladdened by it.
We knew then that once you have Alhaji Adedibu’s backing in PDP, you can be sure of getting the party ticket, because Adedibu’s word was the final say then in Oyo state politics.
In a party, we can have different caucuses and camps.
Their temporal decisions or short term goals might not align, even their views and ideals might be in contrast with each other. However they strive to achieve the same ultimate goal- Put their party in power and make sure it remains there.
For instance, the Democratic party in USA can be argued to be split into three wings based on ideological differences- the most-progressive wing, liberal and moderate wing. There were three main camps in PDP in my local government- the Chief Odubiyi led camp, the Ibadan elders camp and the intellectual camp.
Cheif Odubiyi was an Egba man and was a leader in my LGA. However some Ibadan indigenes in the party were skeptical about his leadership and created a group to influence decisions locally in the party.
Not all Ibadan indigenes subscribed to the idea of the Ibadan group however, some were comfortable with Cheif Odubiyi leading them. This created division among Ibadan indigenes in the party.
The intellectual camp can be said to be a compromise, a middle side between two opposing camps in the party.
It was the intellectual side of the party that acted as a link between Cheif Odubiyi’s camp and the Ibadan Elders camp. The main actor in the intellectual side was Professor.
Soji Adejumo (Although he was a doctor at that time)
Around 2002, long before Alhaji Adedibu gave me his backing, I attended a meeting in Cheif Odubiyi’s house when Biodun Lawal- a strong supporter of mine introduced me to Prof. Soji Adejumo. From the way he talked and approach issues with reasoning, I felt I could learn more from him and when he was about leaving, I followed him to the car park. Besides I was contesting and I needed all the support I can get.
On getting to the park, Prof.
Adejumo didn’t enter his car however, he told me he wanted to pay a visit to Remi Adeboye and won’t mind if I follow him there. The outcome of the discussion Dr.Adejumo had with Cheif Odubiyi involved seeing Remi Adeboye and that was the reason for the visit.
Since Remi Adeboye’s house is not far from Cheif Odubiyi’s residence, Dr.Adejumo decided to go on foot.
As we walked through the footpath, Dr. Adejumo engaged me in a discussion about politics and my aspiration.
He said something that opened my eyes further to the political divisons in my local government.
“I see you have aligned yourself very well with Cheif Odubiyi.
Do you know that the Cheif Odubiyi led group are fielding a candidate for the council chairmanship?” He asked me “Now, you have an ambition to the state assembly, do you think it is politically correct for you to remain there and expect the other camp not to nominate a candidate?” I was speechless to these questions.
After we had a lengthy discussion and bade our pleasantries, I called Biodun Lawal and recounted what Doctor had told me. Biodun Lawal was more experienced than me in the party matters and I felt he would be able to explain those questions better.
He told me that the doctor was only saying that if Chief Odubiyi group picks the chairmanship aspirant, they won’t be allowed to field a state assembly aspirant, which will no doubt affect my aspiration. Biodun advised me to shift camp to save my political aspiration, i agreed but I didn’t cut all ties with Cheif Odubiyi. As a matter of fact, he didn’t notice anything was amiss.
I continued attending Cheif Odubiyi’s meetings but in the background, I was meeting with Professor Adejumo and he was acting as my link to the Ibadan elders group.
On the very day I met Professor Adejumo and had that little discussion with him, Biodun Lawal- took me to his house. We didn’t meet the good professor at home.
Biodun had an important meeting to attend and he left, however, I decided to stay. Afterall, I was the one willing to contest and I need all the support I can, besides I was impressed by the professor and I wished to speak more with him.
I waited for about four hours, I remembered we got there around 3pm and the Professor came in around 7:30pm. Waiting for someone can be so tiring especially if you have nothing to interest yourself during the long wait. But I did, I had a religious book with me The Golden Heart by Sri Harold Klemp .
I opened the pages and I lost the count of time. I was jostled into the present reality when Professor Adejumo came in.
He was surprised to see me, especially when he learnt that I had been waiting for more than three hours.
I told him I was encouraged by the discussion we had in the afternoon, and that I was there to conclude it and guarantee his support. He was happy with my answers and gave me his word that I have his full backing and support.
That day marked the beginning of a cordial and lasting relationship between I and Professor Adejumo. Later in my political years, his information would save me from several political clashes that could have claimed my life.Today we are more like brothers than political allies and he still advises me before I make major political moves.
After receiving the news of Alhaji Adedibu’s endorsement, I went to Professor Adejumo’s house to relay the good news. He was excited to see me and told that he knew I had been given the ticket because he was in that meeting where Baba gave his endorsement.
The next day he took me to Baba Adedibu’s house to thank him for his support and further alleged my loyalty to him and the party.
On that occasion when I visited Baba, he engaged me in a short but interesting conversation.
This conversation was significant because this would be the first time, baba Adedibu would have such one on one discussion with me.
“It is nice to see you again Josiah” Baba said
“Thank you sir” I responded with all politeness I could muster.
” I have heard much about you and your involvement in the party”
“Thank you sir” in my mind, I thanked Cheif Odubiyi, professor Adejumo and every of my supporter that had promoted me.
“Everyone is talking about you and we believe if we give you the ticket, you will serve the party well.I will love to see you in my house very well” Baba said.
I was honoured that a political bigwig like Baba wanted me to be around and from that day till the day of election, I visited baba occasionally.
It was clear that Adedibu’s backing had helped me surpass a main obstacle and the ticket was mine, but I wasn’t much relaxed- trouble was brewing elsewhere.
It was at this period that some unscrupulous elements decided that I might not be a full indigene of Ibadan and they began to pass these rumors across various channels of the party.
It was this rumour that started encouraging some people who had never wanted to go to the state assembly to give a go at the ticket. Some of these individuals tried to convince Baba Adedibu to withdraw his support.
However as luck would have it, Adedibu was not a man that likes to be pushed around, and whenever he makes a decision, he doesn’t like rescinding on it. That was the main reason why he refused to withdraw his support for my candidacy.
Besides I have the backing of majority of the leaders and strong supporters in the main factions of the party, in the persons of Cheif Odubiyi and Professor Adejumo. Trying to stop the party from not giving me the ticket would be like trying to stop a moving train.
Fully armed with my party ticket and support from over 75% members of the party, I was encouraged to start and intensify my campaign in the local government. There is no mincing words about it- Campaign gulps money!
There are so many aspects of campaigning that you need money for. In a society like Nigeria, the amount of money you dispense during campaigns might be the difference between you winning at the polls or not.
I didn’t have enough money to fund all the things I needed for campaign. By then I had started using some of the capital meant for my business to fund my political ambition.
On a good number of times, my supporters or leaders in the party would request for money to carry out an activity that would favour my campaign and most times on short notice. I would have to look for avenues to get the money, and most times, the brunt is always felt by my business.
Around this time too, I got a clothing contract from BAT worth about #2M and I was also using my business profit to service this contract. Simultaneously my political ambition and the BAT job were siphoning funds from me and as a result, most times I was not financially stable.
There are several things I did to improve my campaign which includes the usual making of bills and posters. Due to the proceeds I got from the BAT job, my campaign received a new revenue boost. I was able to buy myself a personal car and a campaign bus. The bus was designed with my picture and names inscribed on it.
At that time, the use of branded bus for campaigning was not mainstream and I was part of the first political personalities to use that method.
Although there were other candidates, but my main opponent then was late Yemi Yusuf who contested under the platform of AD. There were several reasons why Yemi Yusuf was the opponent I recognized and feared most during the campaign.
Firstly, he was a staunch politician, in the state. He was not only popular, he was also influential. Secondly, his party AD was the party in power and they had a sizeable support in the local government.
There were several members in my party that would have bet their money on Yemi Yusuf winning the election. I didn’t let this knowledge discourage me, rather, I intensified my campaign.
There are several tactics parties use during campaigns to degrade their opponents and uplifts their choice as the perfect man for the job . Propaganda, Rumours, Scandals, Lies – This is just plain politicking.
Several allegations were laid against me by my opponents to score cheap political points and the main propaganda was the claim that I was an Igbo boy. That was led to the the mantra “Omo Igbo” that some of my detractors still use against me today.
My opponents were amazed at the strength of my campaign, since I was just a greenhorn and they sought to throw a clog into the wheels of my campaign. Their way out was to claim I was an Igbo boy because my father wasn’t born in the state.
However, I found a way to turn this mantra into an advantage for me.
Whenever I go to popular places and markets like Ogunpa and Agbeni markets in my local government to campaign.
People who had heard rumours about me being an Igbo boy would be waiting to hear me talk and confirm the rumours for themselves. When I started speaking in clear and unabridged Yoruba language, I would see surprised looks on the faces of my audience.
“But didn’t they say you are Igbo?” some would ask
Then I would use that moment to talk about how the other party was lying about me and confusing the people to promote their candidate. I would also use the opportunity to highlight the lack of trust and reliability in the other party and how I was the best man for the job.
There are times too that I and my supporters go on the offensive by using propaganda and the information we have received about AD’s candidate that could discredit him in the public.
At a point, the campaign got dirtier and messier and the propaganda team of both leading parties were working 24/7 to reduce each other’s image and public standing.
There was a particular campaign that was very interesting.
One day Baba Adedibu summoned me to his house and asked ” Didn’t they say you have relationship with the Igbo?” I said I did.
“Good. We are going to have a big rally in the next couple of days, where we will go round the whole areas of Ibadan.
You will get us an Igbo masquerade. That should appeal to the Igbos and we can get their votes”
“Okay Baba” and that was it. I was given an impromptu order to provide an Igbo masquerade in the week.
Short notice spending, that’s politics for you
I asked around and I was taken to an Igbo man in Inalende, who told me he came from a masquerade family and he has the masquerade costume with him. I told him about the offer and he said he’d collect #100,000 after negotiations.
I was perplexed, at that time, I had only about #40,000 with me, so I decided to go back and report to Baba
“Baba I met a man ,he said he will collect #100,000”
“So? What’s my business with that? Are you not the one that want to contest?” Baba responded.
“Thank you baba” I said and as I was making my leave through the courtyard, baba called me back and told me to call Super- the man in charge of distribution of resources in Baba’s house. Baba then told him to give me money- I was not aware of the price but I was given #30,000.
The ball was now in my court to provide the remaining #70,000 to complete the man’s fee. I sourced for the remaining money and paid the man. On the day of the rally, I brought out the masquerade as my contribution to the campaign.
During the campaign in my local government, three of us, who were contesting for key positions- Chief Wale Atanda (senatorial candidate), Barrister Dotun Ladipo (Rep candidate) were asked to address the large crowd one after the other. Of these three, I was the one who got the least attention and response from the crowd.
The crowd cheered, and hailed both the senatorial and rep candidates when they were giving their speeches. However, when it got to my turn,it seems they have suddenly got tired and disinterested with the whole thing. I felt the low mood as I was giving my speech.
Most people were not paying attention to me, including party members but I continued anyway and said the usual things I was supposed to say. Ironically of us three, only I would win the election that year.
Pressure wasn’t coming from my opponents alone, it was also emanating in my party.
I nearly had issues with members of my campaign team. They made grievances that I was travelling too much and I have no enough time for the campaign.
They were not wrong, In addition to my campaign activities, I was also trying to maintain a firm grip on my business after all it was the hen laying my golden eggs. I was still traveling to Benin republic and Togo to get my clothes and shuttling through my shops in Ibadan.
I was also working on the BAT project- in short, my schedules were always full and tight.
This led to a form of temporary communication strain in my team, in which some members started complaining that I was becoming distant. They felt that securing the party ticket had me overconfident about winning the election without much campaign.
I felt some of the dissenting members in my team were sponsored by my opponent to create discord and conflict amongst us. Later I found this to be true.
Ironically the mole in my team was the coordinator of the campaign group – Egun.
We found out that he was hobnobbing with Yusuf Yemi and we were able to get concrete evidence against him. He was also alleged of receiving gifts from my opponent, which in reality can be considered an act of betrayal. Although I was shown evidence, I was still not convinced about the allegations laid against him.
It was his gross mismanagement of funds that broke the camel’s back. I gave him some funds around Christmas time to buy several gifts and share it to the people living in the locality.
The campaign funds were mismanaged by him and the gifts unaccounted for. It was then that I agreed with my close confidants in the group that it was dangerous to keep him in his position.
However, we were aware that he has sympathizers and allies in the group and removing him outrightly can lead to several disagreement in the party. We decided to outsmart him by making him the general overseer of the campaign team and choosing another individual as the coordinator.
Now the general overseer had no significant power/control nor any specific roles. His main duty was to head meetings and listen to the latest campaign developments.
The bulk of the decision making rests with me and the coordinator, and I made sure the new coordinator – Late Bosun Oyenuga report to me directly.
Thinking back to this time, I considered it a smart feat by us.
Withdrawing power from someone and making him feel he is still very much in control. From that time till election day, Egun would no longer participate actively in my campaign.
However Egun wasn’t the only betrayal case I experienced.
I had several people who acted as if they supported my candidature but their activities were so secretive that we never really knew who they backed.
Another memorable event that happened before election was when a simple innocent act of mine could have gotten me on the bad side of Baba Adedibu and maybe cost me my ticket. One day I was discussing with one of my close friends- Gbenga Carew about my incoming election and funding.
I complained to him about how the campaign funds were eating deep into my business coffers, then he asked me to follow him to Greenspring Hotel- His grandfather’s hotel.
I hopped into the car and Gbenga got behind the wheels.
He was always the one driving me around when he had the time. On our way to the hotel, we got to late Alhaji Arisekola ‘s vicinity and Gbenga decided to stop by his house and greet him. Alhaji Arisekola was the protegé of Gbenga’s grandfather – Alhaji Carew – the owner of the popular Greenspring hotel.
Gbenga rose on his grandfather’s influence to have a close relationship that could be likened to a father-son relationship with Alhaji Arisekoola. I sat in the car while he went into the house to greet Alhaji.
After some time I was called into the house by Alhaji Arisekola and Gbenga introduced us. Later, Gbenga would tell me that Alhaji had noticed me sitting in the car and asked about me. Gbenga told him about my political aspiration and that’s when Alhaji asked him to call me in.
Alhaji asked me a few questions concerning my political ambition, I answered and also gave him my posters. Shortly after, Gbenga and I left the house.
While we were with Alhaji Arisekola, news had already gotten to Baba Adedibu in his house in Molete that I had visited Alhaji Arisekola. I wasn’t aware that my meeting with Alhaji was already a big threat to my ambition.
As I later found out, this was mainly because Alhaji Arisekola was Baba Adedibu’s biggest financier and baba detest his followers going to the same source where he get money for his political efforts.
I got a call the next day from my ward leader, Alhaji Adeogun and he asked me to come to his shop. I didn’t know what was happening till I got to his shop.
“Kilo man se eyin omo isin. Iwo fe mó osho ju iya osho lo”
He said in Yoruba when I greeted him.
Translation – ” What is wrong with you children of nowadays, you want to put the cart before the horse”
“What is the problem sir?” I asked politely and he asked me what I went to do in Alhaji Arisekola’s house. It was then that my reason for being there dawned on me.
“No, it’s not like that sir” I said.I explained to him that I didn’t go there intentionally and I only followed a friend.
“No, that’s not how we heard it” Alhaji said ” They told us that you went there on purpose to solicit for campaign funds”
“No sir” I said and thought in my mind that I wouldn’t mind if Alhaji Arisekola gives me money. I have spent much and an inject of money in my campaign wouldn’t be a bad idea.
That evening I went to Professor Adejumo’s house to inform him about the problem. Ever since we have met, I have always made sure that I report any of my latest political happenings to the Prof.
He listened attentively and told me what to say when I get to Baba Adedibu’s house.
The next day I was in Baba’s house. As usual, there were people In his courtyard who had meetings with him.
I greeted Baba, he answered me and I sat down to wait for my turn, slightly feeling apprehension about what Baba would say.
When it was my turn to talk to baba, he looked at me and said in a mocking tone
“Honourable, so you too, you know Are?” Late Alhaji Arisekola Alao was the Are musulumi of yorubaland at that time.
“Baba, I don’t know him sir” I responded
“So how did you now get to his house?” He asked
“Oh sir, I didn’t plan to go there, it was Baba Carew’s son that went there and took me along” I said ” I sat down in the car, and Are told me to come in”
” Okay. That is all” Baba said and I was relieved.
That singular incident if I had not managed it well, would have cost me my ticket. Even at that time, Baba Adedibu still had the power to withdraw the ticket. This act would have gladden the hearts of my opponents in the party.
One such opponent was the chairman of my local government – Alhaji Dosu Although he was not interested in the state assembly position, but he didn’t like the fact that I was given the party ticket.
” I don’t fully know why he didn’t give me his support then, well proved his opposition by sitting on the information about the party screening of candidates. I didn’t know there was to be a screening or the venue scheduled for it and although he knew, he never told me.
“It was on the day of the screening that I got a call from my ward leader who told me the people that would officiate the screening are already on ground. I was befuddled. This was a vital information that my chairman was supposed to have told me the day before.
” I quickly changed my schedule and went for the screening at the conference center of UI Hotels. Note that Alhaji Dosu later gave me all the necessary supports as the election approaches.
“When I got to the venue and it was my turn to be screened, the first question the committee asked me was that who asked me to contest?
I was slightly appalled by this question.
“Nobody asked me to contest” I replied ” it was my personal decision to contest.
Their second question was who were my financiers?
I told them I was self-financing and I hope to get sponsors before the campaign ends.
They asked some other random questions before relieving me.
If I hadn’t gone for this screening, I would have automatically lost the party ticket.
” Since there was no way my name would be submitted to INEC, if the party didn’t screen me.
When the forms came out, I was made aware of it by Baba Adedibu’s boys in Molete.
“Baba had an habit of buying all the candidature forms for the contestants in his party and each candidates would in turn buy it from him. I was told the state assembly ticket was #100,000 and i was to bring the money that very day. At 2003, #100,000 was quite a sizeable amount of money.
” I told them that I only had #50,000 cash with me that day and would pay the next day. They told me to come with the money in hand and balance the next day. I took the money and went to collect my form at Baba Adedibu’s house.
“When you think about it, this looks like a funny set up. Aren’t forms supposed to be bought at party offices? Of course PDP had an headquarters at Mokola , but at that time, the party’s operation was coordinated from Baba Adedibu’s house in Molete.
“A few days to the election, we had a stakeholders meeting at the at the party Secretariat which had in attendance all the aspirants in the state running under the platform of the party. Our main topic of election was our moderus operandi on the election day. In that meeting, we aspiring candidates were asked to contribute money for the things that would be put in place during the election.
“I remembered the senatorial candidate for Oyo south – Cheif Wale Atanda standing up and addressing the whole audience.
“Baba we are not going to contribute any money. We have been told already that Abuja is sending money.
“What is the party going to do with that money?” Several murmurs followed this statement. That outburst was believed by many to have cost him his victory.
Silently I agreed with him, I was already tired and getting broke.
” However the party leaders didn’t rescind on the decision. The truth is that when you are contesting for a political position, you don’t stop spending money.
“Even on the day of election and after that,you still continue spending money especially if you win. The state assembly election was scheduled to hold on May 3 and as the day approaches, I looked upon it with faith and hope.” He said.