IJA LODE LORIN DOWE, YORUBA RONU: Excerpts Akinfenwa’s interview in Sunday Tribune
Recently, Chief Akande claimed that Senator Omisore borrowed from their campaign fund in 1999. As an insider, could you shed light on what happened?
Mojisoluwa – Akande is a pathological liar. He is my personal friend. We were very close in government. To have said that, I think he is a disgrace to our generation. I was the chairman of the party in Osun State. In the first place, I made Akande the governor. If I had insisted I wanted to be governor, we would have gone to primaries and he wouldn’t even contest, because he ran away as soon as he left prison. He said he wouldn’t play politics again. Then, I was bringing our people in Osun State together, first in my house in Ibadan. Then at a time, we had to move to Ayo Fasanmi’s house in Osogbo, because we said it would not be good for Osun State political affairs be decided in Oyo State. So, I brought all of them together in the days of Abacha. Then, the people said I should be the chairman. And I said no; Akande who had been the deputy governor and vice-chairman of Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) should automatically be chairman in Osun State. Then I led a team of three: Professor Kayode Adedeji and Sola Akinwumi, to meet Akande in Lagos to ask him to come back. He said he didn’t want to participate in politics again. After I had organised everything and the ban on politics was lifted, Akande now came; and I still gave him the chairmanship.
We called the meeting of state congress to Osogbo. And I remember that Akande had once told me that I would be the governor of Osun State. Let me not go into the detail, because he ditched me; though I don’t mind because I never wanted to be governor. So, we called the meeting of the congress at Osogbo Presidential Hotel. Then, they said those of us who wanted to be governor should raise our hands. Because he had spurred me on earlier, I raised my hand. Omisore, Lere Adebayo raised their hands; nine of us. Then, Akande suddenly raised up his hand; the man that told me to go and be governor; I was surprised. Then, they asked us to go into a room and come out with one name. When others had gone, I called Akande aside and said Bisi, do you want to be governor? He said Moji, mi in fe se, sugbon won ni kin se (Idon’t want to do, but I was asked to do it). I said ok, do you want? He said yes and I said it was well, because I have been praying to God to let me know if I should be governor. I said thank you God, you don’t want me to be governor. Then when we got into the room, we decided to pick one person and I told them that being the oldest and the one who started the political movement, I would explain the hierarchy. Papa Awo was the founder of Action Group (AG) and he became premier. He was founder of UPN and he became presidential candidate. Bola Ige was chairman and he became governor. So, the man who automatically becomes our chairman takes the party’s ticket. But I, Akinfenwa, step down for Bisi Akande. Akande nearly collapsed. Then Omisore said aah, eyin agbaagba yi, e o dara o; ibi ti e gba yo si wa yi o dara o (you these elders have shortchanged the younger ones). So, all other stepped down for Akande, except two; Salami and Biola Morakinyo. Then I called Salami outside and begged him. I said when you wanted to be governor under zero party, I sponsored you. We have a system. Then, he said akuko nla o fe ki kekere ko (the mighty are subduing the vulnerable). The he said he had stepped down. You know when I was senator, he was also a senator. I was the AD leader in the Senate. And we always held meeting in my office. Morakinyo too, I begged him and prostrated for him; he insisted and said we had to go to Ibadan to settle it at Bola Ige’s home. Then, I wrote a communiqué; the decision of nine of us; we all signed it and that was how Akande became the candidate.
Now, in the first place, Akande joined us just in 1979. Before then, I had never seen him in my life. All he was saying in the newspaper shocked me. He said that Papa Awolowo called him and he engaged Papa Awolowo for two and a half hours, and then Papa Awolowo said they would form party. Engage Papa Awolowo? What was his intellectual capability for him to be able to engage Papa Awolowo? That he sat Papa Awolowo down for two hours to know whether he would join him or not? I was surprised when he said he was not of National Council of Nigeria and Cameroons (NCNC). He was an NCNC member; he told me as a friend. Do you see that? He said he had not been in politics and that it was only in 1978 that Papa Awolowo brought him into the thing. Then he is a neophyte; a newcomer. So, Akande was not one of us at all. He became a religious quoter. When S. M. Afolabi left the government as deputy governor as a result of the crisis, he left for the National Party of Nigeria (NPN). So, we wanted a deputy. Ayo Ojewumi would have been the deputy. But someone suggested a Christian/Muslim ticket and we bought the idea. But where would we get a Muslim from the backyard of Afolabi? Then somebody said but they said Bisi Akande is Abdulkareem. And I said Bisi Akande, my closest friend? He hada room in my house in Ijesaland; I had a room in his house in Ila to show you how close we were. But I never knew for one day that he was a Muslim. He never prayed in the Muslim way for one day; he doesn’t even know how to do so. His wife and children were Christians. So, I didn’t know he was a Muslim. But later I asked him: are you truly Abdulkareem? He said my people used to call me so. But then, we were happy, because he was very loyal to Bola Ige as the Secretary to the State Government (SSG). Then, we decided to make him the deputy governor.
He couldn’t have been deputy governor above me. He couldn’t match me politically in life. But I subjected myself to him.
Is it true that at that time, that Akande ran on
the ticket Omisore paid for?
All these stories are in my book. I will explain to you. When he became our candidate, we needed money. But Akande had told me initially that he had no money. I said I knew. Then as the state party chairman, I called a few people to my house in Ilesa to raise some money. We raised about a million naira within 30 minutes. I first entered my room and
donated N100, 000. And that was how it began; we raised a million within 30 minutes in my sitting room. Then I called Akande to tell him we had started raising money. He said Moji, so mo pe mo ti so fun e pe mi o lowo (I have told you I have no money). I said don’t worry. Then I sat down and wrote letters of appeal to prominent people to donate money, and we got over two million naira and we needed three million naira. And so we told Omisore who put down about N750,000. That was the first thing that impressed me about the young man. Then, Afenifere said each candidate should
pay N250,000.Omisore paid, but Akande had no money. Then, Omisore told the Afenifere that Akande should use his own money as he was no longer contesting. He used Omisore’s N250,000 as his nomination fee. So, I am surprised that he is saying that kind of thing now. During the campaign, Omisore provided three air-conditioned vehicles in which we leaders were travelling for the campaign. Omisore fuelled all the vehicles. Throughout the period, Akande relied more on Omisore’s funding. That’s why I was surprised when he said he borrowed from his campaign fund. Which campaign fund? Akande had no kobo of his own for the election. The only money we could say he provided was from a friend who gave him a cheque of N50,000. And the cheque was turned to our to our financial secretary, Professor Yemi Kayode Adedeji. He is alive. That was the only thing Akande provided. He had no fund of his own. Many of the things he said make him a disgrace to our generation. Elderly people like us should not lie; we should say the truth always. And what is more about Omisore? Let us be frank about that young man; we may not be in the same camp, but we must tell the truth. When we were founding AD in NICON NUGA Hotel, it was Omisore’s presidential suite that we used. Where did Akande come in? He just got all he did on a silver platter. He has now come to tell lies to frustrate people like me who raised funds for him. It is unfortunate. He also said it might be that Omisore gave money to Bola Ige. You don’t tell such a lie about Bola Ige. How can you go to that length? It is sad.
SENATOR MOJISOLUWA AKINFENWA ALLIANCE FOR DEMOCRACY OSUN STATE CHAIRMAN 1998.
READER’S COMMENT – I am at a loss as to why baba Akande will write a most polarising biography.
I was thinking that as an elder, you would want to be remembered for what you brought to the table during your years of service.
It is most unfortunate that this piece is bringing out old wounds at a time yorubas should be consolidating.
A most unfortunate write up that focuses on accusations rather than facts of history.
I’m am reminded of other great autobiographies of Nigerians that I have read.
Compliments of the season to you and yours.
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