Alao-Akala: I was not party to Ladoja’s impeachment

Former governor of Oyo State and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Adebayo Alao-Akala recently clocked 70. In an interview with reporters at Ibadan, the state capital, the Ogbomoso-born politician spoke on his political career and other issues. 

As a major politician, why do you think we play monetized politics in Nigeria?

Money will continue to play a major role in Nigerian politics as long as we remain unprincipled as a people and as long as we don’t have ideology for the political parties. When Nelson Mandela left the prison to contest for the presidency, he had no money. It was the structure and strength of the African National Congress (ANC) that he used to win the election. The party is based on a principle, and it has been in existence for several decades.


We have been able to stabilize after the military did a lot of damage to the political structure of Nigeria. If they had allowed our forebears to govern, Nigeria would have matured politically. So, until we get ideologically inclined in party formation, we can’t get anything right.

When political party is real party, it takes a position on issues and every member falls in line. In the United States, when you do first term, no party member will stand against your second term ambition because the party stands by you for a second term. That’s one of the problems we have here. This is due to poor party structure and absence of ideology.

Does that mean that the concept of progressivism is not true of your party, APC?

I laugh when people talk about progressives and conservatives in Nigerian politics. We have mixture of both progressives and conservatives in every major party in today’s Nigeria. Let’s take the case of Sen. Bukola Saraki as an example. When he was in the APC, you will say he was a progressive. Now that he is in the PDP, will you say he has become a conservative? We have the same example in Aminu Tambuwal. If that had been established the way it should be we would not be having political problem in Nigeria. Yet there is hope for the country.

We have all identified the problem. All of us will now do our bit to make Nigeria a better place. There is hope because the younger Nigerians are seeing what is happening now. They will come and correct things. The younger generation will not allow the systemic problems to continue.  When Ghana got it wrong, they later sat down and reviewed their journey. Today, Ghana can never be considered as a failed state. Therefore, hope is not lost for Nigeria.

A major problem confronting Nigeria is population explosion. Though experts conduct research and submit to the government, their research findings which suggest solutions and warn about looming dangers are not utilized. When I was in secondary school, there were only three secondary schools in Ogbomoso. Today, we can’t even count how many they are due to population explosion.

That’s why Uncle Bola Ige and Lateef Jakande established many more schools to take care of that. The explosion is affecting virtually every sector including housing. I tried my best in housing when I was governor. I built the best estates in Oyo State today – Aerodrome and Kolapo Ishola estates. We also brought in a private company to participate in that of Kolapo Ishola – Carlton Gate.

Does that mean that our problem is more of leadership not essentially that of structure, for which some people are calling for restructuring?

I won’t say that because sometimes we have good leaders but they are not allowed to perform. We need a Nigerian who is slightly mad to rule this country. Somebody that will not look at anybody’s face but do what is right, and which may not be popular.

A leader or decision may be popular and wrong. But we need a leader that may not be popular but right. People will come to appreciate him later. We need a slightly mad leader that would be ready to step on toes to do the right thing for us and not something that is popular.

The argument of those who are advocating restructuring is that we should go back to parliamentary system of government or true federalism…

(Cuts in)

True federalism is also in parliamentary system of government. It is just because we Nigerians want to do things our own way. The federating units in Nigeria want to do the same thing. Nigerians want me to pay the same salary that Rivers State is paying in Oyo State. Nigerians want me to pay the same salary Lagos is paying in Zamfara State. Are we the same?

The type of money Lagos is earning, are we earning it in Oyo State? Lagos can call the bluff of federal allocation. Can Oyo State do the same? States in the South South can bluff federal allocation. Can we do the same? After sharing federal allocation, they also share derivation fund. That is why they are talking of restructuring; I agree with them. Let each state go according to its strength.

I would have loved us to go back to parliamentary system. It is cost effective; that is something about it. Number two; you will know yourself as politician because even before you become the Prime Minister, you have to come from your constituency. True leaders always emerge from that system not just rotational or because you have money. If you have a Foreign Affairs Minister, you have a shadow cabinet to watch him. It is the best.

I want to tell you today, I have been there before – presidential system is too expensive. A situation where you have members of the Parliament becoming Prime Minister is good. He is taking one salary. He is a minister and a lawmaker. We have to restructure this country. Let’s take care of we have. Three, through that, we will be able to identify what we have and develop it to our advantage. When I was young, cocoa farmers’ children used to have their school fees paid before us.

People think that you are better as a socialite than a political leader. What do you think about that?

I don’t know what you mean by that. Because I don’t believe that, I pretend not to hear it. They are wrong. I believe in welfarism. I take care of people’s welfare than going to parties. I enjoy going to parties too, just to keep friends, socializing. When you don’t keep friends, you will miss a lot of things. Where I am today, a friend put me there (referring to his house).

In 2007, I was squeezed by Ladoja to ensure that I did not have money for my governorship campaign. It was friends that believed in me who rallied round me. A good politician must have social life. If a politician does not have social life, you can’t enjoy him. That is why I am everywhere. Those days, when you don’t drink, people feared you. How do you mix with people? Anybody socializing has a clear heart. So, I am a politician and I socialize. I am a life member of Ikoyi Club, honourary member of Island Club, member of Ibadan Polo Club and many others.

Has that helped you in your political life?

It has helped me a lot. I gather useful information from left, right and centre from friend

If people say I dress in a certain way, yes that started since I was born. My mother used to wear necklace on me since I was a child. You can’t be born in Ghana and not dress like socialites. Anything outside that is a ploy to call a dog a bad name in order to hang it. I am a very free man.

You appear to be seen by many people as controversial. Why is it so?

Let me guess; it is so because politically, I am an introvert. I don’t  believe in propaganda. I don’t say what I don’t believe in. Because of that people don’t know the stuff I am made of and people don’t know me. They don’t know the stuff I am made of. Because I don’t talk too much, they just guess. You know, when you don’t have much information about a particular person, you just guess. It is whatever information that is available that you will use. That is responsible for why they have erroneous opinion about me; I am not controversial.

Many people believe that you played a major role in the impeachment of your boss, Chief Rashidi Ladoja, in 2005. Is that not correct?

People did not know what was happening that time. I tried to explain in my memoir, which by the grace of God, will soon come out. Those who executed that plan to remove my boss, if they were to have their way and if not for constitutional barrier, I was not supposed to be their candidate as governor, but there was no way they could jump that constitution, and there was no way they could impeach both of us at the same time because I was not doing anything. I was hiding as a deputy governor.

If they had their way, they would want another person to be governor. I did not play any role in the impeachment. I was right in Ogbomoso when the impeachment was done. I was not in Ibadan. If I knew, I wouldn’t have allowed that impeachment to take place. I would have just advised them to let us talk to my boss. My boss was adamant; he was fighting at all fronts that time and that was why they were able to hit at him. He thought I was part of it, but I was not.

He knew I wasn’t part of it because I left Ibadan for all of them when I was about to be killed on 18th of December, 2005. I nearly lost my life; my office was bombarded. They sprayed bullets into my office. Luckily for me, I was not hit. The whole of Governor’s Office was deserted. I narrowly escaped being killed. I just used my police experience to maneuver. My then orderly also helped me to get out of office. That was what happened.

Did Sen. Ladoja take that personal?

He is still taking it personal. By the time you read my book you will understand that he had made some mistakes. If I was waiting to be governor when the seat was vacant, they were looking for me to be sworn in, I was not in Ibadan; I was in Ogbomoso. If I knew there was going to be vacancy, I would have prepared myself to fill the vacancy.

They knew I was not going to come; they had to send my very close friend; Sen. Ayoade Adeseun to me. When he arrived, I said look, I know that you are my friend but I don’t trust you too. If you want me to follow you, I can’t follow you tonight. Number two; come very early in the morning.

He said lets go and sleep in Ibadan, I said ‘No.’ He said there would be vacuum, the man was already gone. I said: “Look that is not my cup of tea, my life first. As a security man you have to take my instruction.” I told him to come back the next morning. When we left Ogbomoso, it was the route that I decided that we took. By 5:30 am he was in my house. I didn’t come out until around 6am. I said they should look round to see if I was safe. When I came out I saw him in a rickety Peugeot. I said: “We are leaving Ogbomoso now and we are going to Osogbo.

From Osogbo, we would get to Gbogan.” From Gbogan, I detoured to Ile-Ife. When we were getting to Ile-Ife, he said what are we doing? We now turned and passed through Gbogan to Ikire and came to Ibadan. On that day, under the flyover in Iwo we waited but people did not see me because I sat in the middle. If I was preparing to be governor, I would have lodged in a hotel. January 12, 2006, I would have just walked into the secretariat. I was not part of it and God sees my heart. Maybe that was why God rewarded me for being a four-year governor.

Culled from The Nation Newspapers

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