Diran OdeyemiThursday, October 2, 2003
London, UK



oing down memory lane, I still remember how in my secondary school days I used to invoke the 'devil's spirit' to ignite physical combat whenever two students had cause to argue. There were special renditions composed by some of us that were nicknamed "Apero Ija" (fight promoters) that would lure and encourage students to exchange blows. Our duty in which we were experts of sort was to persuade and convince two students to fight where there was not enough courage by either of the two to take up the challenge for a brawl.

Majority of us derived special fun and delight watching two students' exchange blows and head butts, we always want to determine who is the most powerful among our set to draw up the 'tournament chart'. As a matter of fact, we created our own boxing arena in a quiet jungle outside the school but very close to our school farmland that we designated "Oju Olomo o to" (literally meaning, the 'land of no interference') where we watch "two-fighting" free of charge.

While it was fun then, promoting fight and supervising combat, maturity has crept in now and I no longer see anything entertaining in two or more people calling for war. I want to enjoy the Biblical bliss of a peacemaker and have been an apostle of peace wherever there is uproar.

Perhaps it would be fun seeing political giants slugging it out physically, I mean Alhaji Adedibu grappling Senator Ladoja by the throat, and the governor fighting back to wrestle Adedibu to the floor while we stand by as judges to determine who is powerful and who is not. This however is an unlikely situation, what is possible and usually the tradition is leaving the supporters of Adedibu to do the real battle with the followers of Senator Ladoja using sword as weapon while the actors themselves watch from safe distance only trading in words while savoring "Amala with Gbegiri".

Who suffers in the fight of two elephants is the grass and trees around the venue, and of course in this case it is the foot soldiers. A distraction is enough to make a government lose focus and when there is absence of peace in Oyo State, there exists a dangerous signal for Yorubaland and most especially for the entire PDP, the ruling government.

When sometimes ago Nigerians were treated to the political interlude of what we now know as "Ngige-gate" my reaction was that, what happened in Anambra State was a smaller faction of the whole, indeed a mirror that reflects the true situation in other states of the country.

These were my exact words on this page; "As it was in the beginning, so it is now, many elected governors have their own "Ubas" while many Ubas also have their own stubborn "Ngiges". Like a circle, it goes round and it will come round, this is just a rehearsal of some disasters lurking in the corner… let us watch out for more free video show".

I continued: "In some States, the seemly silence of a graveyard is made possible because some governors have conformed to pre-election agreements; they have fulfilled the first leg of their vow…those governors who appear doggy will soon realise that they are seating on a keg of gun power. If it has not exploded like it went off in Anambra is never an indication that it will never detonate".

Now that Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu has declared war on his political son, Senator Rasheed Ladoja, it is logical to conclude that this is round two of a thirty-six bout encompassing "family affair" tackle that we the spectators will watch between now and 2007.

Senator Ladoja is a governor that has a unique style of doing things. I was in Ibadan in the early days of his administration and find it difficult to place him. He appears quiet but wears the look of a determined soul, taking time to plan a strategy. Unfortunately nobody could predict or say categorically if such strength of mind would be to avenge some past misdeeds or be directed towards achieving certain social and economic gains for the people of Oyo State.

He has taken a plunge to change the old order or so his action portrayed, which to him may be necessary to move forward but if I were to advise him, he needed to be more tactical and would not have rocked the boat of which he is the captain in control. It may be too early to know what is the cause of disagreement between the governor and Alhaji Adedibu but it sure has no semblance to what happened in Anambra State, I am confident that the personalities involved are too sophisticated for such absurdity.

Alhaji Adedibu's brand of godfatherism has a grade that belongs to another category, which is a direct opposite of Ngige's illiterate approach. For all I know, Adedibu seldom finances aspirants and in Ladoja's case, he is a big fish that came to swim in PDP's pond, which in a way ruled out the possibility of having to pay back in cash. Assuming that the demand to pay back is requested in kind, I do not think it should be a problem if gratuitous patronage is done within the confines of law and perceived in public good.

Alhaji Adedibu as far as I can say is a politician who loves to put his political energies to election so as to be able to put his mouth (not his sons and daughters) in such government. He represents the middleman between the governed and the government and like Oloye Saraki in Kwara, he holds the ace in Oyo State. As a grassroots but a practical politician that operates open door policy, with a nod of the head and snap of his finger he has installed many governors apart from being instrumental to the realization of other people's ambition.

It sure would be dangerous to challenge such a political strategist without a clear-cut explanation made known to the public who are very much aware that it was on the back of this same "tiger" that many people rode to office.

As we await the elders' efforts in this crisis, let all "Apero ija" beating the drum of catastrophe know that they will not be speared when the real "roforofo" fight begins. To the warriors, no good fighter ever emerges victorious without a bruise that will leave a scar as an everlasting reminder that once upon a time, a war had been fought. I do not see Governor Ladoja winning neither would Adedibu come out of it without a bruise. This is why the two of them should think twice, it better to give peace a chance.