|Diran Odeyemi||Monday, February 16, 2004|
ANNOUNCE THIS ARTICLE TO YOUR FRIENDS
BETWEEN LATEEF KAYODE JAKANDE AND OLABODE IBIYINKA GEORGE
ne unique fulfilment that I derive from practising journalism in United Kingdom is the opportunity it affords me to question our leaders each time they are London for one business or the other. I always take the advantage of free access without security obstruction to close-mark them and ask those questions that perhaps would have landed me in trouble were I to be in Nigeria.
The purpose for this inquisitiveness is to learn from their mistakes should I find myself in their shoes and to be able to gauge my feelings to see if I have erred in the opinion that I have formed about them prior to my meeting them.
Last week Saturday, I met with the former action governor of Lagos State Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande (LKJ) and on Sunday with Chief Olabode Ibiyinka George (OIG), PDP Vice Chairman South West.
I met with the two personalities at different occasions but the intention was the same: to hear from the horses' mouth and enrich my knowledge about the make-up of two examples of Nigeria leaders.
It is good to say that there has been an instance that I have drawn the anger of a leader that deals in selling conscience, who insulted and threatened me for daring to put sand in his "gaari". He had organised a rally in support of the Abachas in London but his balloon of lies was deflated with the pin of truth.
This character is known to be a supporter of any government in power until now that he has gone underground. He completely forgot he was not in Nigeria where the size of Ghana-must-go determines justice. I got him questioned by security operatives in London; he was quizzed and banned within 500 metres to my residence. The rest is now history.
Back to the main issue, I had the exceptional opportunity to meet face-to-face with Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande, courtesy of a "coup" masterminded and executed by his former Press Secretary, Prince Bayo Osiyemi who was also Mushin Local government Chairman.
Prince Osiyemi, a thorough-bred professional, had organised a reception to honour his mentor and former boss and invited some of us: Segun Fajemisin (Editor, Focus magazine); Dayo Olomu (Publisher, M&M); Lara Wood (representing "The Guardian") and myself to share the evening with LKJ.
The small but elaborate ceremony was reminiscent of the past when governance was serious business and a review of the present where corruption is the trademark of being in government.
We also projected into the future to see if there remains any hope for our generation or anticipate that our tomorrow will be better. LKJ, a man that has seen it all enjoined us to pray for our country Nigeria as he rekindled our faith that after darkness comes the light.
Of important note at the ceremony was the revelation that throughout LKJ's tenure as Lagos State governor between 1979 and 1983, he never for once travelled abroad for whatever reason neither was he involved in "Owambe" stuffs.
Alhaji Jakande ran an open government that was devoid of corruption, injustice and oppression. He was extremely simple in his private and public life apart from executing those programmes that brought smiles to the faces of Lagosians. His era was strictly "selfless service to the people".
At what point did LKJ lost focus and got derailed? I have a suggestive answer: the day he became a Minister under late Sani Abacha. This to me is the permanent stain on LKJ's white garment that will continue to be his albatross. Then came the opportunity to ask questions. I posed before Alhaji Jakande a scenario; that given the opportunity to unwind the hands of the clock of his life, what are the things he would possibly not repeat. Through this, I wanted to know if Alhaji Jakande regretted serving in Abacha government which to me is the reason why he was politically de-robed of "action" in recent political schemes despite his accolade of being referred to as Awolowo's second in command, "Baba Kekere".
It was obvious from Alhaji Jakande's 30 minutes response that he acted according to the dictate of his conscience and the directives of the time that was approved by the custodian of June 12 mandate, late Chief MKO Abiola and the endorsement of NADECO chieftains. LKJ submitted that the progressives in Abacha government ran a transparent government until some people capture Abacha and made him a prisoner through a script of self-succession sold to him. He concluded that late Abacha was a listening Head of state until the "evils" came into his life.
I learnt a lot from LKJ's revelation and disclosure and could only pray to God to save my country from dealers that have been parading themselves as leaders.
The bitter point is that, these dealers have cornered Obasanjo too and have resurrected in his government acting the same script they wrote for late Abacha all in an effort to convert our commonwealth to their personal wealth.
My one-to-one meeting with Chief Olabode George was remarkable because it opened my inner eye to the mind construction of our leaders. I however want to publicly acknowledge OIG's cool temperament and understanding for having to displease himself to please my curiosity. He opened his door for me at the wee hour of 12.00 midnight for a three-hour question and answer despite the fact that he was to board the next day (Monday) flight back to Lagos. I positioned myself as speaking with somebody who is in government and power and really wanted to know if I have been unfair in my assessment of Obasanjo's administration as a failure and inept.
Chief George was very frank; he admitted reading my previous articles, an evidence that my messages are getting to the right source. He conceded that there are times that I made valid points and there have been some instances where I have exhibited ignorance in the workings of governance. By and large, we agree on few issues, disagree on many and share the same sentiment on various topics that touches on PDP as a political party, Anambra debacle, President Obasanjo: his policies and styles, Col Umar's letter, the judiciary and economy. We also did a post-mortem of 2003 election especially the abracadabra "magic" that made Chief Iyiola Omisore to win election from inside Agodi prison.
Chief George was at his best in explaining the strategy that made PDP acceptable in the Southwest, which is partly exposing AD governors as non-performers. "Issues became the cornerstone of our campaign rather than sentimental attachment to Awolowo's name that was devoid of action. We put forward candidates that are true believers and students of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo's political school and that did the magic" Chief George told me.
Specifically, OIG was logical and philosophical while defending PDP's winning tricks. He said for instance that Governor Tinubu would not be ruling Lagos today if PDP had rigged the election and directed all those who still doubt Omisore's overwhelming popularity in Osun state and particularly Ife/Ijesha senatorial district to look at the supremacy fight between Chief Bisi Akande and Chief Mojisoluwa Akinfenwa both from Osun State and see if AD could have won any election under such hostile circumstances.
He also revealed a strategy that PDP selected an indigene of Esa-Oke, late Chief Bola Ige's hometown as its candidate for the Federal House of Assembly, which fetched the party a substantial patronage and sizable votes. "These are examples of some brain works we did here and there that won us victory, if we had rigged, there would not have been peace in Yorubaland". I really gave it to Chief George that he is eloquent and a delight to talk to. One thing that is clearer from my meetings with these leaders is that our rulers knows the problem confronting Nigeria and have adequate knowledge of the solutions to the mess. But then, there still exist a major problem that defies solution, which in itself is our predicament.
The trouble is: some cliques that are in and outside the government are too hot to handle. They are super rich individuals that are tremendously richer than the country. The cliques that I am talking about are extremely powerful and highly connected to such an extent that to ignore them completely would spell doom for the country.
They are monsters; we all must make daily sacrifices to them if Nigeria must be. Then comes the question: for how long shall we continue to worship these "evils" that are genius and brilliant in executing wickedness, I mean, set of thieves that have mastered the art of using our wealth to destabilise us? God, in your hands I leave Nigeria. Cleanse it as you did the late Abacha whose evil machination was to rule an already ruined country. Let us have a repeat performance of your miracles over our modern day Pharaohs that are holding your children hostage and keeping them in bondage. Lord, this is my prayer request, come prove you are the saviour, in Jesus name I pray. Amen.
This is to announce that I have transformed from a motherless adult to a full-fledged orphan. I completed the orphanage circle known in Yorubaland as (omo orukan) last week when I was told that my father Prince Anthony Omotayo Odeyemi-Shajuyigbe has passed on, quietly in his sleep.
I am pretty sure "wicked people" have no hand in this; my father bid the world farewell at the ripe age of 93.
I have no doubt in my mind that "Baba" is already in heaven, sitting on the right hand of his creator. My father completed his sojourn on earth with good memories and lived a fulfilled Christian life, leaving behind for us his numerous children, grand children and great grand children a unique legacy-good name.
We all cherish this heritage more that gold and silver. This is why you must all join me, not with tears lease, in praising the Good Lord for his mercies. According to the scriptures "In everything, give praise and thanks to God". I will be officially initiated to the "Amori" club (an association that is lackadaisical about death having lost father and mother) on the 17th April 2004. That day, in the afternoon, I will perform the dust-to-dust rights for my father who double as my adviser and confidant. Venue is the city of IBOKUN near Ilesha.