‘I Am The Only Lawyer That Removed Four PDP Governors In Nigeria’ -Chief Niyi Akintola

-Remi Ajayi
 
 
Chief Niyi Akintola is not a greenhorn in Nigerian politics, he had seen it all while working with Chief Bola Ige and other Progressives to mould the future of Nigeria.  
 
He was a member of the House of Assembly at age 29 and he rose to the peak of his career when he became a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and one of the best in the wig and gown profession.
 
The politician was a guest of Southwest Group of Online Practitioners (SWEGOP) in Ibadan recently and he fielded questions on the aftermath of the last elections, his commitment to the APC and his future plans…
 
 
 
Right After The APC Primaries In Oyo State, There was A Particular Write-up From You Where You Described The Immediate Past Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi. What Went Through Your Mind When You Wrote That?
I said Uncle Biola Ajimobi was my brother, he was my brother in every sense of the word. We’ve come a long way and it was rather unfortunate that what happened really happened. Most of the people that claimed to know him today never knew where we were coming from. I remembered when I built a hospital for my community in 2006, Asiwaju Tinubu came down to lay the foundation of the proposed Teaching Hospital.  All the progressive governors were there that day, including those who were aspiring to be governors,  Adams Oshiomole, Chris Ngige, Fayemi, they were all present. Nobody has ever thought of having a cottage hospital anywhere in this country before then. Ajimobi was there that day too and he wasn’t a governor then.  Asiwaju that day said I should get ready to be the governor of Oyo State. I said I still have an elder and I pointed at Uncle Biola Ajimobi and said, these are my egbons, let them do first.
  I had the opportunity of stealing the show that day, but I didn’t. I took Ajimobi to Asiwaju Tinubu, this is what everybody knows. I took him there because they had fallen out and he was living in my house in Ikeja. I was on exile for 14 months, I was staying in the hotels and he was living in my house. When I had my own house in Omole all of them were coming there, including Chief Ladoja, Uncle Biola Ajimobi, Senator Amosun, Aregbesola, Fayemi…my place was the meeting point when we plotted against the PDP, and that was why it was easier for me to be the only lawyer that removed four PDP Governors in this country.
Ajimobi was actually staying in my house in Ikeja, in fact himself and Chief Ladoja were staying in my guest room. He was my brother and we knew each other far more than what I can tell you. Most of the people around him never knew him, they were just opportunists.
The write up was actually an interaction with a friend and compatriot from Ibadan who is a medical doctor. He put a call to me, I didn’t pick, so he messaged me on whatsapp to inform me about the loss of election by Ajimobi . I don’t dance on the grave of defeat of my adversaries, by my own assessment, I believe he would have been a better Senator, even he had his faults which I enumerated. it was Wole Arisekola that later called me from Dublin and said they’ve made 5000 copies of the write up to Ibadan indigenes in Dublin. That was it, I never knew it would go viral. The truth of the matter remains that I knew this man more than the people claiming to know him. They knew nothing about him, I knew him, we plotted many things together and like every human beings he had his faults and virtues, but he was the best. In terms of intellectual, he was articulate, he had class but unfortunately he lacked native intelligence. The write up wasn’t meant for public consumption, it was meant to be a chat between me and a friend who threw it out to the public. I’m not flippant, I choose my words.
After the primaries, you claimed you would quit partisan politics. But judging from recent activities, it seems you are coming back. Are you contesting again in 2023?
In the heat of the moment I felt betrayed and cheated and I knew what was going to be the implication for our party. Some of our compatriots don’t read and that has become the bane of our politics. If people read and look at the past… I saw myself in the same position  Chief Bola Ige found himself in 1998. Chief Bola Ige had been with the progressives since the 50’s . He anchored the Pan-Yoruba congress and we took a decision that the Yorubas should participate in the government. Bola Ige was in the thick of all these on behalf of the Yorubas. Suddenly some people just brought Chief Olu Falae and asked Chief Bola Ige to come and sit with Falae and he refused.  I’m an Ige boy and I’m proud to be. I was the one that asked him not to attend, it was outrageous. So my case was similar, and i looked at myself, with all the things I’ve done for these people , a lot of them were beneficiaries of my effort. I was the first in this country to remove a sitting governor and I was also the first to return an impeached governor. I had to go on exile because of these people and for somebody that joined our party in April to get the ticket in August, like Chief Bola Ige would say,  ‘do you expect me to start clapping?’.
 I don’t know why people don’t subject issues to perusal analysis again, no sense of value, no serious thinking, how did Yoruba degenerate to this level that we now tie everything to money? We have sense of value and concept called Omoluabi.
 I remembered in 1998 that Omisore financed the AD and we didn’t because of that throw the ticket at him.  See how he has been very useful to us the progressives of recent with what happened in Osun State. I was the one charged with the task of removing him as Deputy Governor. I went to Osogbo to remove him. How would you feel if you are in my shoes? I felt the way Chief Bola Ige felt. Just look at the conglomerate of the aspirants. We have a concept in Yorubaland called Omoluabi. One of the first lessons you learn in politics is to know your limitations.
 Some people, the only qualification they have is because they are from Ibadan. I didn’t just get up from the blues, I paid my dues, I went through the mills and that was why we are at this stage of quagmire because we have mixed it up. We’ve mixed the wheat with the chaff.
 Ordinarily the people our leaders would never sit with. Bola Ige would never sit with some people not to talk of them coming out to say they want to become Governor.
 I remembered in 1998, myself and Uncle Yemi Farounbi and Chief Tunde Adeniran, we were the foot soldiers of Uncle Bola Ige , we followed him to Abuja after the emergence of the aborted PDP . We actually wrote the constitutions of the PDP. Chief Bola Ige was the Chairman, I was an errand boy to him in that process and we produced the constitution, but when things could not work, we pulled out. We were to join another party called APP, but when we got there and saw Baba Adedibu and Governor Akala on the high table we walked out. But these days we sit with all sort of people, all sort of charlatans. People our leaders will not touch with a long pole. no more principles, no more value, everything is now about money. But there are some of us who still hold tenaciously to these principles.
So are you contesting again in 2023?
By the grace of God.
State of lawlessness in Nigeria and Oyo state has increased. What’s the cause and how can it be handled?
The issue of security is tied to social problems. If you subject the challenges facing this country to simple analysis, you’ll see that they are tied to our nonchalant attitude to the socio economic and political development in the country, the issue of crime is also tied to that.
 When we were growing up in the 70’s, we hardly find a Yoruba man begging on the street. In fact the Yorubas had this concept then, that when you are giving him free things they will start suspecting you. But they brought feudalism into our system.  Awolowo fought all his life against feudalism. he would tell you that its better to teach you how to fish than to give you fish. Have you ever read in the history where Chief Bola Ige was giving people rice, giving them garri? Our lives had degenerated to that level. They now call it stomach infrastructure which is another name for feudalism. The man who controls what you eat has taken all from you, and the moment that happens to you, it means the man has died in you, and when the man dies in you, you lose everything.
 As an 11 year old boy I couldn’t proceed to Secondary School, I had to go and do what they call ‘birisope’, there’s a house around Odo Ona there I was part of the people that lifted sand and stones to build it. I would trek from there everyday to my grandmother’s house at Foko, that’s what they call dignity of labour. But now you will see them standing in front of a rich man’s house to beg. We have over the years been creating social problems within the community.
We used to have ways and means of leadership recruitment, but it has been thrown away. Now what is used to measure that is money. I was barely 29 years old when I was a member of the House of Assembly, there were 52 of us. There were accountants, estate surveyors and other people with means of livelihood in our midst and that was why we were able to look straight into the eyes of the then Governor, that was how we did what we did and I ended up in the booth of a car.
 We stood up against tyranny, but today virtually all the Houses of Assembly are in the pockets of the Governors. If you don’t have a means of livelihood you would never be considered under Bola Ige. you must have been useful to the system over the years, you can’t just come from nowhere. Baba Akande was a chartered accountant before he became Secretary to the Government and later became a Governor. Today we have people we don’t know the source of their income all over the place. All of us are guilty of this.
You sometimes criticised Seyi Makinde, but recently you’ve been praising him. Why the sudden change?
I’ve not changed my position. I don’t belong to the class of disco critics, the disco critics never see anything good in their opponents. I’m a political scientist and a lawyer, a chartered arbitrator. I don’t belong to the disco critics who don’t see anything good in their opponents.
Seyi Makinde came on board and had no template. The template of the development of Oyo State was anchored by Governor Ladoja, give that credit to him. It is the template that Tinubu established in Lagos and others followed. When Makinde came and didn’t have a template I criticised that. When he decided to take up some projects, like reviving Ajoda… how many people have thought about that? Governor Jemibewon established Ajoda New Town, he established Agbowo Shopping Complex and the successive Governors did nothing about those infrastructures and Makinde touches that, I had to commend him. Idea rules the world, its not just for you to have degrees.
when Governor Makinde came on board and in a year didn’t have a plan and I had to comment. I told him we made our mistakes in APC and he capitalised on that, he used two weapons, Populism and Demarketing against us. He saw the fundamental mistakes we made due to lack of native intelligence and appraisal and he capitalised on that, but unfortunately for him, he has people like me to contend with. If he does well, I will praise him even to the detriment of our party, because our members would tell me not to praise him even if he was doing good, but I’m not a disco-critic and I can never be.
WHERE DO LEADERS MISS IT? THEY USUALLY HAVE LOFTY PLANS BEFORE THEY GET INTO OFFICE AND LOSE IT WHEN THEY GET THERE. HOPE THIS WONT HAPPEN TO YOU WHEN YOU ACHIEVE YOUR AIMS?
Morning will show the day, I was reading Tribune’s editorial comment  yesterday that said by their convoys you shall know them and I kept the copy. Those who ruled us before had money but they never flaunted or use it to oppress. By all standard Awolowo was never a poor man  and so also was Bola Ige and Jakande. But they never left their old houses, they lived there, even Lam Adesina. How many houses can you attribute to them? But those sense of value is gone, look at them. Only mad men use the same weapon and expect a different result. I was a Deputy Speaker in this state, I had an official car, a 504, my own personal car was a 505, the official car was given as a back up to my personal car. I was a Deputy Speaker and still go to court and  do my job. You cannot grow outside of your background.
If there’s any move in the future for you to step down again for another person in your party considered to also be competent, would you agree?
Why are you comparing apple with an orange? I’m a core progressive. Ours is anchored on legacies. Awolowo died in 1987 and we still celebrate him, so is Bola Ige. I’m an unrepentant Ige boy. Against that back drop I don’t see myself on the same level  with others.