The name Christopher Adebayo Alao-Akala will rankle eternally in the legends of Oyo state, the “orphan” boy who rose from the ashes to attaining incredible heights. His life is a romance of history. In public service, he bequeathed a unique series of inscriptions carved upon pillars and rocks across the length and breadth of Oyo state. His strides are no doubt evident of a lover of good deeds and humanitarianism, of charity and generosity. He demonstrates virtues of a great ruler not only by reason of what he achieved but of what he is. In this exclusive interview with editor, FEMI OGUNLANA, he bares the story of his life in a most exciting way from the cradle, he tells the hitherto unknown aspects of his life in a thrilling way; the events that shaped his life, his difficult but fun-filled youth, the turning points in his life, his politics, his regrets concerning Ogbomoso, views on the virtue of loyalty and many more just as he has scathing remarks against trusted followers who parted ways with him unceremoniously. He recalls vividly and reels out smoothly the great incidents of his life, perhaps the scenarios flowed because he just got down the horse of writing his memoirs (The Amazing Grace: The Autobiography of Adebayo Alao-Akala), everything is on the tip of his fingers, giving dates with exactitude, the misconceptions about him he demystifies. It is sensational, it is vintage Akala, it is brilliant Akala! It is no surprise, the occasion is his 70th birthday! So, the motivation is overpowering, the thrill is teeming, as he is goaded to uncover himself to the general public for the first time.
A legend is born
Tell us briefly about your father, your childhood, and the experience after the passage of your father.
My father was secretary general of Ogbomoso Parapo in Ghana. Specifically, he was in Kumasi. In 1952, he was sent to Ogbomoso to meet with the colonial masters. Then, despite the large population of Ogbomoso, its people had to go to Osogbo to take passport and as such, they wanted to stop that – going to Osogbo, either they take passport in Ogbomoso or they go to Ibadan to go and take the passport, definitely they were not ready to go to Osogbo again. So, my father was sent to iron out the issue. It was a determined decision. The little I knew about my father was from friends, they told me that my father was well organized, he knew how to put things right, very meticulous in doing things, that is why he was made the secretary general of the Ogbomoso Parapo in Ghana. So, he was sent from Ghana to come and carry out that assignment.
At what age did he die?
To be precise, he died on 13th of September, 1952.
At what age?
He was above fifty. Mind you, my mother was not the first wife, it is there in my autobiography (Amazing Grace: The Autobiography of Adebayo Alao-Akala). My mother was his third attempt at marriage. But he had one wife at a time, so, I had step brothers and sisters.
At what time did you realize you did not have a father?
I will tell you. My father came to Nigeria to do all those things. After visiting Osogbo he went back to Ibadan. On the way back to Ibadan from Ogbomoso again to prepare his final journey back to Ghana, he had a ghastly accident, on that bridge near Iroko (very close to Fiditi), that bridge before you get to that school in Iroko, that is where he had the accident and died.
While going or coming?
While coming to Ogbomoso. And to God be the glory, by the time he died, my mum was still under 30, he had only two of us by then, my elder brother and myself, we are the two. People now said you can’t be living alone at twenty something, you have to remarry. So, she remarried. And because she remarried, I was two years then, she had to leave me with her mother, my maternal grandmother. So, I started enjoying life with my grandmother.
She was the one that sold aro (indigo)?
Yes, that is why they called her “Iya Alaro.” Before I would leave for school in those days I would sell aro, and would go and collect money. I did not know that Iya Alaro was not my mother, I did not know that I did not have a father but I had a faint idea of what was happening but I couldn’t just confirm. When I was to be enrolled into primary school, because I was staying with my maternal people, all other children of my age were all taken to school at the same time, the rest were bearing Otunla and Mama Alaro now said ‘look, Alao is the name, you are Adebayo Alao!’ I said, ‘Ah, ah! Why are they bearing Otunla? Why am I bearing Alao?’ She said nothing; you know your father is in Ghana!’ They told me my father was in Gold Coast (Ghana was then called Gold Coast). If my father is in Gold Coast, okay. I still took it like that. But during the elections in 1959, I was in primary 3, my friend, late Bayo Fabunmi, his father was Pa Fabunmi, he was the organizing secretary of Action Group. Awolowo came to Ogbomoso that year and when he came, he came in a helicopter and they gave us a lot of balloons (this kudukudu), so, Bayo gave me some. We ran down to the public field (now called NITEL) at Takie, to welcome Chief Obefemi Awolowo. That day, our teacher asked us to draw the helicopter. He fumed, “All of you left school to go and watch helicopter, so go and draw a helicopter.’ So, I blew my blonblon and got it burst. I said ‘Bayo, can you give me another balloon?’ He said ‘no,’ I now jokingly said, ‘Baba re o ni wole ibo ti won fe di’ (your father would not win the election). Do you know the answer he gave me? ‘Iwo to ni Baba nko? (What of you that does not have a father!). I replied ‘my father is in Gold Coast.’ ‘Baba re wo lo wa ni Gold Coast, mon tan ra re.” (Be deceiving yourself, your father is not in Gold Coast). He insisted, ‘Baba re wo lo wa n Ghana). Baba re ti ku (your father is dead).’ Ah, I cried, I cried all the way home. My grandmother said ‘why are you crying?’ I retorted, ‘Iya Alaro, e n tan mi ni, Baba mi ti ku, e n tan mi ni.’ (Iya Alaro, you are deceiving me, my father is dead, my father is dead). She just picked a wrapper, ‘ta lo ba n tufo fun omo mi o’ (who broke the news of his father’s death to my son o?) I mentioned the person, so Iya Alaro went to the boy’s house. Do you know what happened? As a child, as a small boy, do you know Ile-Eyeba? That is the house of Bayo Fabunmi, very close to Ile-Oloola, where I lived, I used to go to Ile Eyeba to play. And aside, whenever I went to their house to play, Bayo’s mother would sorrowfully say, ‘Ah, omo ore mi ti oko re salaisi ni (my friend’s child whose husband is dead). You know she was my mother’s friend from when they were spinsters. So, he (Bayo) got that ‘Salaisi’ (dead) from his mother, he now used that on me in school. Iya Alaro now followed me to the house, ‘kinlode ti omo yin n tufo fun omo mi ni school?’ (Why is your son breaking the news of his father’s death to my son in school?). I cried bitterly. Luckily as God would have it, the horn of Akintunde just sounded from the direction of Laka, ‘Akintunde de.’ (Akintunde is here). Do you know the meaning of ‘Akintunde de?’
Once a week, Akintunde would come from Osogbo to sell bread in Ogbomoso. He would just announce himself, ‘pon un pon un pon un!’ And we will reecho the sound, ‘Akintunde de,’ meaning bread is available now.
So, there was no bakery in Ogbomoso then?
There was no bakery, there was no baker in Ogbomoso at the time. Ah, ‘Akintunde de!’ So, they asked me, ‘Se o je buredi?’ (Will you eat bread?) I said, ‘Nje, nje’ (I will eat, I will eat). So they bought bread for me and I forgot the episode. That was the first time I got to know that I did not have a father anymore. Iya Alaro took good care of me. Do you know what I wrote about her and that is exactly what I wrote in the book. In fact, I dedicated the book to her and to the families of Oloola and Akala, but I specifically mentioned this woman. She was very close to me, and I was very close to her. She was all I had that time. Fortunately, I was not the only child there then.
Was she able to fund your education?
She couldn’t do so, that is the period I found my level. She couldn’t. She would have loved to do it, but she had no wherewithal, trading in aro was not prosperous to fund education. All her efforts to get me educated proved abortive. What pained me most was that in those days (you people don’t know what God has given to you these days), people I was beating in class, when we finished, got admission to Ogbomoso Grammar School, I couldn’t go. In those days, if you were a student of (Ogbomoso) Grammar School, and you came to Ogbomoso township, it was as if you were coming from England. They used to have “Open Day,” and they allowed the students to go to church in town. I was then attending Ijeru Baptist Church, they would come in their blazers, matched with cap, very immaculate, beautiful thing. It was fascinating. However, I couldn’t attend the school, we were poor. But along the line, Iya Alaro got one of her nephews to take care of me, but he too couldn’t take care of me, so, he asked me to go and learn mechanic. Thus, I started learning mechanic at Apake, under ‘Oga Folly,’ the location is where you have Union Bank now at Apake – ‘Oga Folorunso! But somebody insulted me there one day and I left the place. When I decided to go, one of the boys I started together with (he is late now, David, he died about four years ago) implored me not to leave but I couldn’t stomach the shit flung at me. That my friend said, ‘Bayo stay,’ I did not, I left. What really happened? One small boy I met there sent me to go and buy efun, efun is beans and garri. It was being sold very close to where you have that post office now, that place used to be motor park garage. A woman used to sell beans and garri there with dodo (fired plantain), it was very popular, we called it efun danin. If you take it in the morning, you would just be taking water till evening because you would have been full. He now asked me to go and buy it for him, and I considered it an insult for that boy to send me out for such errand. I refused to go and I knew they would not condone that, and so I left the place unceremoniously. They now asked me what trade again I would learn. I told them I wanted tailoring. That time, there was a friend of mine, we called him ‘Olu Baba.’ Have you ever heard of Olu Baba in Osupa? He is a tailor. I was to go under Paragon, a tailor then, but he said he had enough apprentices that he was not going to take me, so, I went to Ontelu. Ontelu was at Okelerin, that was where his shop was. I went there, I was not comfortable, I just wanted to go to school.
But you started…
Ah, I started, I started with button hole, I can do button hole, I can fix button. But I got annoyed again, this didn’t sit well with me too! An uncle now asked me, ‘Bayo what do you want to do now?’ That time, they just started this farm settlement at Agric. I told them I didn’t mind to go and learn agric – farming. They now sent me to the farm settlement to go and learn how to manage poultry. So, I learned poultry rearing for 3 months. And that my uncle now set up a poultry farm, very close to Apake, I managed it, I was a bit comfortable now, I made little money, I was on my own, and that is what informed my decision to have this farm I have now. I was doing it, but after some time, I got annoyed again, I now said, ‘look, I would have to go to school.’ I just took some money, and I didn’t tell anybody, I absconded from Ogbomoso through one man, Eze. Eze was a very big transporter plying Ogbomoso to Ghana then. He inscribed on his vehicle, ‘Envy no man.’ So, I bargained with Eze with that my friend, David, he had already advanced in mechanic training, but I was making more money in my poultry job, because I had learned how to go and buy feeds at Osogbo. So, I was making more money. In fact, there was a time I bought ‘Estaby’ from S. Ade, I bought one for him too.
Sorry, what is that sir?
(Laughter). It was a kind of shoe that boys were wearing at the time, it was like sandals. So, I was able to gather money from poultry, to arrange my travelling. It was not a lot of money but I had enough money to play around with. I took some money and I left the coast of Nigeria, to be precise, I left on 28th of September, 1964.
When you were just…
Fourteen years old! And I joined my maternal people there again. And that is where I started schooling again. And my uncle, my mother’s younger brother, the last child of their mother, he was already in the Ghanaian Army; he used to be in the West African Frontiers. When Ghana got independence in 1957, he decided to stay put in Ghana, he refused to come to Nigeria, he now became a soldier of the Federal Republic of Ghana. He now put me in school, unfortunately it dawned on me that I had to change my name from Alao-Akala to Otunla, my maternal surname because my uncle was Otunla and for me to say I belong to his family, to establish a relationship, I had to bear Otunla as surname. I attended Kamina Barracks Military Primary School, and I spent four years there. Then, I went to Government Technical College, still in Tamale, Ghana. But I couldn’t make it to write my final exams, because we were asked to leave Ghana (due to Prime Minister Kofi Busia Eviction Order against Nigerians in 1969). However, I didn’t want to come back to Ogbomoso because I was enjoying life at Ghana, but I came, and I had to join Ogbomoso High School, where I finished in 1972.
You were a prefect at Ogbomoso High School?
Oh yes! I was to be the Senior Prefect but I was given…
Before that sir, at what class did you join at Ogbomoso High School?
Form four, I spent only two years, I was made the Labour Prefect. In fact, I was to be made Senior Prefect. In my class, I had only two people that were my competitors academically, the three of us used to contest the first position together, myself, John Aderinto and (now Professor) Olaleye. The first three positions were often among the three of us. So, I was to be made the Senior Prefect but because I didn’t start with them from Form one, they didn’t make me the Senior Prefect, they made me Labour Prefect, but I was still in control, they respected me more than the Senior Prefect. You know, I had swagger, Ghana boy!
Form auxiliary teacher to police officer
So, after you finished secondary school?
I did a lot of igbayilaro, you know I finished secondary school at the age of 22, that was not good enough. So, after my secondary school, I started teaching at Mosunmaje, between Ajaawa and Ipeba. And fortunately for me, I don’t know what happened, the village teachers were not going to the village to teach that time, those of us that were just auxiliary teachers were the only ones there. We were the best, and I was made headmaster. From there, I left for Baptist Modern School, Iwo (now in Osun state) to teach. I didn’t stay long there, I spent about two or three months and they posted me to Baptist Modern School, Ahoyaya, Ogbomoso. So, it was at Baptist Modern School, Ahoyaya, Ogbomoso, that I saw the advert of police.
You were interested in the police from the word go?
No, no, no! I was interested in uniform from time because of my association with my uncle. At that time, I was the one shining his shoes, I ironed his uniforms, I did everything, I knew I was going to be a uniform man, but which one I didn’t know. But unfortunately for me, the day I was to write police exam, it was the same day they did army exam. I wanted to go to the Defence Academy, and at the same time, I wanted to go to Police College. I took the exam. Not me alone, we were two from Baptist Modern School, Ahoyaya, there was another man with me there, called S.A.B. Adekunle. He was a teacher like I was. He retired as Commissioner of Police. We were there together. But…
You were admitted at the same time?
Okay, let me tell you this, there was a drama, it would interest you. I don’t know, we were at the staff room at Baptist Modern School, Ahoyaya when we saw this advert, maybe because I was a school cert holder not a Grade II certificate holder, he went to Grade II, he did his O ‘level at home, that is what he used to join the police, you couldn’t join police with Grade II. He had already prepared himself by doing O‘level at home, so I was making noise in the staff room, that ‘me o, I won’t stay long in this teaching profession, thank God, I am not a certificated teacher.’ I would be saying that ‘I was just managing myself,’ and before then, they used to call us auxiliary teachers, they jokingly called us ‘cheaters’ not teachers. But we didn’t care at that time. He (S.A.B Adekunle) didn’t say anything until the day we went to Ibadan and I saw him, we first of all went to Osogbo, I met him there, he didn’t talk to me, he passed, I passed, we did interview, he didn’t tell me that he passed, whereas, I mentioned it in the open in the staff room again that I passed, they asked us to come to Lagos, I passed he was there too, I said why didn’t you tell me you were coming too. Finally they took both of us. He didn’t tell them that he had been shortlisted, but me, immediately I got to school I was making noise that I had received my letter of admission. It was only when he submitted his letter of resignation alongside me that we got to know he had been enlisted too. And throughout our time in the police, we didn’t get on. We joined police in the same day and I had it at the back of my mind that he was older than I am and moreover should be matured than me, I don’t know how I offended him. Even our mates they would say ‘are you not from the same town with Christopher?’ Sometimes ago, he came to my house with one of our mates but he stayed outside, I don’t know what I have done that riles him. When he finished after 35 years of service, his children came to me to say, ‘Daddy, we want to invite you to our Dad’s thanksgiving,’ I was already a governor, I said, ‘children, look, I know you want me to come, it is okay with me, but will your father like to see me there?’ They went to ask their father, and their father said ‘no.’ When they came back I said ‘didn’t I tell you?’ They said, ‘you know our daddy o,’ I said, ‘I know him very well.’ When I was with Adewusi, when we left College, they posted me to Jos, then Benue-Plateau state, they posted Adekunle to North-Western state – Sokoto. So, he was in Sokoto. I was there when he wanted to marry his wife, so, the wife came to me, and she complained, ‘you are posted to Jos, and you are now in Lagos, help me, so that they would bring my husband down south too.’ He didn’t go there with his family. So, when his wife told me. I said, ‘Do you think your husband will like it?’ She said he might not but that I should just do it. Do you know what I did? It is not done anywhere! But I had that power that time. Do you know where I posted him? To Durbar, Oyo! I supposed to post him to Oyo state first, the Commissioner of Police, Oyo, would now post him to wherever he wanted, and that time it was a bigger Oyo state, which included Ilesa and that axis. So, I posted him straight from Sokoto state to Oyo state. That was the power I had as Personal Assistant to the Inspector General of Police (late Chief Sunday Adewusi). He reported, he was very happy about it, I don’t know what I have done to him, he came to the headquarters, I saw him, I said, ‘S.A.B., you saw your posting and you didn’t say thank you.’ He just looked at me and said, ‘Se mo be o n se.’ (Did I ask you to do it). You will read the thing in my book.
Sunday Adewusi and me: An association made in heaven
How did you get close to chief Sunday Adewusi?
Providence! He did not ask for me, I did not ask to go to him. I was just posted there. I was with him before he became IG. And apparently, he had been a boyfriend to a cousin of mine. I had been working with him before he became IG. So, when he became IG, definitely, I became his ADC (Aide-de-Camp).
How did he become IG?
That is a very good question which I dealt with also in that book (The Amazing Grace: The Autobiography of Adebayo Alao-Akala). There was Maitatsine riots in Kano, which needed to be quelled. Already before he became IG, he had been known as a super cop because of his incorruptible police career. He busted a lot of crimes. The Bacita Sugar Company robbery was one of the assignments that brought him to limelight, and he was given double promotion. So, when Maitatsine crisis came, when (Abubakar) Rimi was governor in Kano state, everybody was trying to do something to quell the riot just like the present Boko Haram insurgency. They drafted police there, he was then AIG Operations. Many lives were lost in the riot, then the Acting Inspector General, Adamu, now drafted him to Kano and we went to Kano, on the 28th of December, 1980. I was in Ogbomoso enjoying my Christmas holiday when I was asked to come that we were going to Kano. We left for Kano, and one week, he (Sunday Adewusi) assessed the situation and he proffered solution. In fact, Maitatsine had been troubling them, more than a year in Kano, but God gave my boss the leeway after assessing the situation. What did he do? He asked the (President Sheu) Shagari government and Rimi government that the only way was to invite Armoured Corps in the Army to come in and destabilize the insurgents, that the Army Corps would be moving in front, and the police would be coming behind. Within three days, we dislodged the Maitatsine rioters. And not only that, we caught the leader alive – Maitatsine Marwa. That was the end of Maitatsine troubles in Kano. Early 1981, we wrote a report, Oga wrote a report that police should be given permission to use armoured vehicles, he included a lot of recommendations in the report, when the thing got to Shagari, Shagari said I had not appointed an IG, this man who wrote this report, let him come and implement this report. That is how he made him IG. The man that was there before (Adamu) joined on short-service, he joined from the administration, he didn’t do police duty from the scratch. So, that is show my Oga became IG, to come and implement the report he wrote.
So, it was solely on merit?
Solely on merit!
Sir, what were the experiences when he became the IG? Your experience as ADC to the IG?
Not only when he became IG, I had a lot of experiences with him. Number one, he taught me a lot, he taught me a lot of police duties and he made me to have self-actualization. And he made me to be able to stand on my own. Some of the experiences I got helped me a lot when I became governor. How to give directives to subordinates and how to delegate power, especially in my administration and police duties, I learned all this from him.
Many Ogbomoso people do castigate him today for not siting a police institution in Ogbomoso during his tenure as IG or after using his influence? Why did he not do it sir?
Let me tell you he couldn’t. It is now people think like that, in our time, we were not thinking like that and there was no opportunity to site that kind of thing, if there was, we would have done it. He had no power to say this is what I want to put here or there. If he had gotten that kind of power that time he would have done it. This was somebody who could not run away from his birth place, he had the characteristic of his birth place, look at his face, there wouldn’t have been a way he could have done that. That is number one. Number two, he wasn’t in government, he was just part of the government. We reigned during the civilian, had it been during the army, it would have been a different thing. We reigned during a democratic set up, and that is very important. So, he wouldn’t have been able to do that without politicians taking care of it, the politicians who were there with us, who were in Ogbomoso should have agitated for it, and he could now give it his own technical backing if requested to do so.
Why I left police and joined politics
You eventually joined politics, what motivated you to join politics and why did you leave police at the time you left?
That is another chapter. I gave it a chapter in that book. I refuse to curry favour. What happened to me in the Police Force was on account of the activities of NADECO (National Democratic Coalition). Before I joined politics, I was already behaving like a politician; do you know why? I built a house in Lagos, I called the house ‘Ile Iya Alaro’. I was allotted an official quarter in Victoria Island, 1004. So, I did not need that house I built but if you were a son or daughter of Ogbomoso and you were looking for where to put your head, Ile Iya Alaro was there for you free-of-charge. The only qualification you had is to be in Ogbomoso son. And you sleep there free until you could afford your own accommodation, both boys and girls. And yours truly, they were marrying each other there. So, l had been behaving like a politician before joining politics. My leaving the police was because of June 12. Because they felt I refused to do some things or obey some orders and I was classified as a NADECO officer, I was not the only person, we were about 12 or so. We were classified as NADECO officers, and the IG called me, he met me in Ibadan, and he said, ‘Bayo, you have joined politics,’ he said, ‘blah blah blah.’ The only thing was that they knew my relationship with (Chief M.K.O.) Abiola. During the NPN (National Party of Nigeria) days, I had a good relationship with Abiola, they thought maybe it was because of that we couldn’t do some things or be harsher against the June 12 rioters, I was at Ibadan then. The thing however was that we couldn’t cope, the reaction of the people was spontaneous. At Agodi Prison, there was jail break, if the person who is statutorily in charge of keeping the prisoners in check did not do his duty, what is my business? They made me scapegoat, in fact, they thought maybe I had taken ‘weed’ the way I was talking to my superiors that time, because I was really annoyed. How can you be blacklisting me because some prisoners escaped? At that time, the IG couldn’t deal with me, it had to go to the Police Service Commission, those people also couldn’t create a fault against me. They had to use (General Sanni) Abacha. It was Abacha that said they should allow me to go, that I must go. I went to court and we won, they asked me to come back but I said no, I like the retirement.
Me, selling guns to criminals? What gun! Rubbish!
So, all this rumour about gun-running against you is not true?
They don’t know anything. What gun! What would I sell gun for? In the police I excelled, I worked with the right person, at the right time, with the right rank. That was Adewusi. So, I had money, money, money (slapping his pocket), real money. I knew the experience I gained from him. As at that time, there was no IG that would not know me. I was what Mustapha was to Abacha to Adewusi. All those insinuations were just rubbish. I have told them the truth, go and investigate. If it is not the truth, some of my mates who are envious of me would have exposed me. And anything that comes from my mates would have been genuine. It is just like asking whether I went to High School! If it were not so, those who finished in 1972 would have said we didn’t know him o. So, the same thing, if I had done that kind of thing, people that have police secret would have exposed me. But I take my pension every month, if I ran gun, you see, if you even miss your personal gun, it is sack, dismissal. If you are given a personal gun to protect yourself and you lose it, stolen or whatever, you are sacked. And I am enjoying pension, I take pension every month, though my driver takes more that. But it is pension, what I worked for, for 35years.
I attained beyond my dream in politics
By the time you joined politics, what were the dreams, the goals, did you see yourself becoming governor?
My goal was to localize my politics in Ogbomoso. I wanted to be a spokesman for Ogbomoso. I wanted to be able to talk for Ogbomoso anywhere. In fact, you must have heard me, I always tell people in any gathering that my politics is Ogbomoso first, my political party second, my pocket third. And then I can take care of others. And under my political party I can take care of other politicians, my pocket is last. But my politics is all about Ogbomoso. It is all about how Ogbomoso will excel. And I don’t play with it at all.
Is that why you were able to look Ibadan people in the face when you were governor?
Don’t you hear what I said, you will soon read the book. There is a chapter, Ibadan and the rest of us.
Can you give us a glimpse about what is in the chapter?
It is about how they started the domination, they started with Bola Ige. Bola Ige wanted to be governor, but they started to say that Ibadan would be governor, however they didn’t have that political structure to be governor, in UPN (Unity Party of Nigeria) it was Bola Ige, in NPN it was to be Ogbomoso, nothing but Ogbomoso that time. It was between two sons of Ogbomoso – Alhaji Olatunj Muhammed and Dr. Saka Balogun and the fight was too roforofo that they divided Ogbomoso into two. It is either you were for Olatunji Muhammed or you were for Dr. Saka Balogun. They did primary election in Ogbomoso, they went to Gbongan, they did it everywhere, only for Ibadan to conspire to put forward an Ibadan man. I remember (Dr. Victor Omololu) Olunloyo saying, ‘NPN, you bought a car you don’t have a driver. You had to beg me to come and drive it for you.’ That is how Olunloyo was drafted in. The only person that would have been governor that time was an Ogbomoso person and any other person with the support of Ogbomoso. So, they made sure that did not happen. They used ‘Ibadan lo mo, o mo layipo.’ They used ‘layipo’ for them and they turned it. That is where it started. And the phrase ‘omo wa ni e je o se’ began. Bola Ige said, he was an Ibadan son, that he had lived in Ibadan all these years, he went to school in Ibadan, his wife, an Ibadan woman. They insulted him and he was even stripped of his chieftaincy title. That is how it began. Since, then, ‘a le e le a ba’ (we pursued strenuously without achieving it) until Akala broke the jinx. That is how it started, anytime we made headway, they used their Ibadan deceitfulness to dismantle us. An Osogbo son or daughter has never become governor of Osun; Ado-Ekiti son or daughter has never become governor of Ekiti state; Akure man has never been governor of Ondo state; no Lagos Island man has become governor of Lagos state. Look at where those who became governors in those places came from. I am looking for a time when someone from Kisi, somebody from Iganna will become governor of Oyo state.
You did not promote your administration through propaganda when you were governor, you were rather pragmatic, making it look as if the opposition took the media from you, what was the idea?
Thank you. I do not believe in propaganda. I let things be as they are. You see, I never promote lies or try to put wools over the people. When I was governor by the grace of God, I fulfilled all the promises I made during electioneering, I had plans and followed them strictly. Why would I say beautiful and flowery things to entice people? I allowed the people of the state to form judgments on what I was doing. Let me give you an example, there are three Akala Ways in Ibadan today, did I name these roads after myself? Never! The names given the highways came off the cuff and that is why they stuck. Go and find out if the roads named by Ajimobi including the one he named after himself in Ibadan are called by those names today, it is propaganda, things like that will not endure but when you execute a project like a road and people see your genuine intention and commitment to alleviating their sufferings, you will engrave your name in their hearts. I built a College of Agriculture from the scratch, they came to do accreditation there and they asked whether we were constructing a university, the lecture theatres I built there are magnificent. At LAUTECH (Ladoke Akintola University of Technology), since I left no stone has been laid by the state government to add to the infrastructures in the school. Baba Lam Adesina executed projects there when he was governor, so also my Oga, Senator Ladoja but since I left, no single development has been executed in that institution. Now, the teaching hospital I built, if I had not built it, when LAUTECH becomes solely that of Oyo state, where would they get teaching hospital to continue their medical programmes? That is visionary leadership! The structures I constructed at the College of Health Sciences and Teaching Hospital have been widely commended by people who know; they asserted that the more famous teaching hospitals in the country do not have what I put on ground. And I never borrowed money from any financial institution because I knew it would mortgage the future of our unborn children. So, I don’t believe in propaganda, I rather believe in dissemination of information, factual information.
I never believed I would make 70years
Your 70th birthday is around the corner, how does it feel to approach such important milestone?
One must give thanks to almighty God and all praises and adoration must go to Him, to my creator and that is why I called an amazing grace. I don’t believe I would make this age. Even if making it, I don’t believe I will be in this position. With due respect and by God’s grace, if they are counting 1, 2, 3 in Oyo state, they must count my name not to talk of Ogbomoso. In the nation too, I am someone to be reckoned with. In my community, I am somebody to reckon with, so, I feel so cool, and I feel so good. They always say that age is in the heart, aside the physical wear and tear that someone has to face as a human being, I don’t see anything, in that age.
Me and women
Let me ask this, hope you will not take offence, you have a legendary reputation with women, how will you react to this?
If you don’t like women, why did you marry? I can’t take offence! If you don’t like women too you wouldn’t have married your wife. They got it wrong. Let me tell you that part very well, they got it wrong. And I gave it a chapter in my book, my family. I touched everything, only that I don’t know if some part had been edited out. Women have played an important role in my life. And as such I don’t play with women. Please, don’t play with women. If you are having an affair with any woman it is a covenant. If you know you cannot make a woman happy don’t go near her, don’t break her heart. If you see me woo any woman, I don’t woo her just to have sex, we can be friends, they are better friends than men, they keep secret more than men. You will never hear a woman say Akala jilted her or that. I won’t do that. Osa lobinrin (Women are gods). God used some women to shape my life. If I tell you this you will not believe it, my last year in Ogbomoso High School, a woman paid my school fees. I never fought any woman. Your male counterpart will always be jealous of you, females will not. They are very good to be around and they are very good to talk to. We all love women, it depends on what you do with women. Some take women like their houses girls, no, no.
How does it feel to have grandchildren, playing around you, troubling you?
That is part of the grace God has given me. You can see them troubling me, I have been with them since morning, we went to my farm, they asked questions. That is the joy of growing old. It is grace.
I love autobiographies
How do you relax?
I relax with friends, I travel a lot, I go to clubs, I read books, I am good at reading autobiographies and biographies. And I like reading Machiavelli too, I like reading.
Do you still keep fit sir?
I have a gym in my house. I have treadmill, I have facilities, if you want to keep fit you can come.
Disloyalty? I laugh over disloyal people!
How do you handle disloyal subordinates?
That is a very good question. People that are disloyal, I will beg them not to; the repercussion is not always very good. Even the Bible says that ‘he who pays evil with goodness, evil will never depart his house.’ It is not good, try to be loyal. Adewusi was no more in the police, I was no more in the police but I was loyal to him till his death. We were taught how to be loyal, so, if you are not loyal, you are cursing yourself. You may get away with it immediately but the repercussion will be bad. Look at those people who have been disloyal to me, most of them are really down, those who are not down are coming down, they are on their way down. If you are disloyal, if you are succeeding, it is just temporary, because you are cursing yourself, you are cursing yourself. I treated that loyalty also in that book. Baba Adedibu died, I am still loyal to the family after he died. You don’t do that, you can’t bite the finger that fed you. So, I take them as alaimokan (ignoramuses). I just laugh over it.
Ladoja knew I was destined to be governor
Sincerely, I have been trying to recall since you started talking whether I would be able to come up with an allegation of disloyalty against you but I couldn’t come up with any!
Me? Never! You can’t think of any! If I am disloyal to you, I will, I will not even do it, not to talk of coming to beg you. No! I treated Ladoja case very well in my book; you can even see that I still call him my ‘Oga’. He will ever be my Oga. He didn’t want me to exist because they had told him Akala would be governor.
He knew before you became governor that you would become governor?
Yes, he knew, they had told him Akala would become governor that there was nothing he could do to Akala, that Akala would become governor, that the only thing that could make Akala not to become governor is his death, you better kill him.
Who told him?
His Oluso, his shepherd, his ‘cele’ guardians.
Ladoja was told that Akala was going to be governor, luckily for me, his oluso is alive, Ladoja is alive, people that were there and heard it, they are all alive.
You heard the revelation too at that time that you were going to be governor?
I did not hear it, it was when everything scattered-scattered that I heard, when they wanted to kill me, when Sunday Igboho wanted to kill me.
Yes, he wanted to kill me in my office.
When you were deputy governor?
I was deputy governor! It was later when I heard. They told him Akala would be governor unless you kill him, that is why they wanted to kill me that day. I didn’t know I was even going to be proper governor. It is in my book.
No one else but Baba Adedibu made me deputy governor
At that moment you became governor on January 12, 2006 what came to your mind?
I believe God was rewarding my loyalty, to Him as God and to people I had served. My brother, I was very loyal to Ladoja. I was very loyal to Baba Adedibu. Baba Adedibu knew I was loyal to him, that is why he made me deputy governor, it was Baba Adedibu that made me deputy governor. This I didn’t tell you and it is very important because it affects Ogbomosos. When we were to do election in 2003, when we were to start our campaign, all the monies I had saved as chairman of Ogbomoso North local government had been exhausted, they now made me deputy governorship candidate, we did not know that my principal, Ladoja did not have money…
How Buhari’s N3m turned the table in favour of Ladoja
But he retired from an oil company?
He had no money. Baba (Adedibu) said I should bring money, they had spent all my money, and they were to do one important rally, no money. Baba now called me. I asked how much are we going to need? Baba said N3m. But I didn’t have N3m. Then, I phoned (Senator Fatai) Buhari. ‘Buhari, you have to give me, so, so, amount now, now! Transfer it to Baba Adedibu’s account.’ That was the money that made the magic, that was what made us win the election.
But they do say Ibadan people do spend money on elections?
As at that time, they didn’t believe in our cause until we committed that money to do what we did that time. And that was how I was able to force myself to give Buhari the ticket of House of Reps because they wanted to give it to Hon Temi Adibi to go for second term. People did not know that was what he did. And of course, (late Ademola) Alalade was rivaling me, supporting Adibi, whereas I was supporting Buhari. I knew if I take the votes of Ogbomoso North, add it to that of Ogbomoso South, Buhari has won, let him take that of Oriire. So, that is how I got Buhari to be our candidate. That is how I brought Buhari to the limelight in politics. So, that is loyalty. At that point of crisis, I said I was not going to be even deputy governor again, I came to Ogbomoso, they came to beg me, to come and be governor. That was after they shot me in the office. I came to Ogbomoso, and I refused to go to Ibadan.
I didn’t want to be governor in 2006 …
Now, there is something I heard, somebody analyzed what happened during your swearing-in ceremony for the 11 months tenure, that you were so hasty that day to get sworn-in, they alluded to the way you hastily got the Bible, to get everything done quickly with, as if a little delay could turn the hand of the clock backwaed, as if saying the opportunity would be swept away, it was said that particular action alone betrayed your role in the saga, that it was an indication that you betrayed your boss.
No, I would be hasty. I put it inside that book too. My brother, look, I was in Ogbomoso, they sent Senator Ayoade Adeseun to come and fetch me. And I told Adeseun I was not going to follow him. He said ‘please o, they would be waiting for me to be sworn-in tomorrow morning’. I said I am not going. He said, ‘Bayo, you can’t do this.’ They knew that it was only Adeseun that could talk to me. He pleaded with me. I now agreed, I said I would go in the morning, he asked what time should he come and pick me? He said everything is set, he said President Obasanjo had talked on it and all that, he said the Abuja people are waiting for me to be sworn-in. I said ‘ah!’ Okay come 5 O’clock.’ My brother, quarter to 5, Adeseun was already here. I refused to come out. When I eventually came out, I said, Adeseun if I would go to Ibadan, you would follow what I have to say because as a security man I didn’t even trust Adeseun. So, I said we were not going to take Oyo route. I said let us go, we moved from my house, straight, in his car o, a Peugo (Peugeot) 504. We moved in his car, do you know where we drove to, Osogbo? Hmnnn, Ife, hmm, Gbongan, Ikire, before we entered Ibadan. We drove under the bridge, we saw them selling the papers, ‘Akala to be sworn-in today’. We slowed we bought the paper, they didn’t know Akala was in that car. But my dear brother, by the time I got to the Secretariat, the place was jam-full. I felt I had been keeping people waiting. That sense of responsibility dawned on me, I thought we were delaying them, keeping people waiting, let us go and do what we are here to do. And that was the time they asked me a question, we heard that your boss is also coming, I said let him come. Have you ever seen two kings in the palace? I said we went through Osogbo, to Ife, is that the normal route to Ibadan from Ogbomoso? And Adeseun was in the car, I had my official car o, but I came in Peugo, which Adeseun used to drive to villages for campaigns. I used it to come to Ibadan.
What advice do you have for the youths, he upcoming politicians?
I don’t have any advice for them yet. You should have asked for my regrets.
My regret on Ogbomoso politics
Okay, what regrets do you have?
The regret I have about Ogbomoso is that people I had wanted to hand over to, because of disloyalty, my line of succession has been disrupted. I want people to wait and wait for their time. I am talking of Ogbomoso o. My line of succession in regard of Ogbomoso politics has been disrupted. I was trying to build a line of succession for people to learn how to do follow-follow. If you don’t do follow-follow, you can’t be a leader. You will just be doing bula-bula, because you won’t know how to do it. It touches my heart that I am not having that person that will take over from me. You don’t see signs of seriousness because everybody is looking for what to gain, not what to do for Ogbomoso town. We have sacrificed a lot, we have done our own bit, and for us to be able to raise other people, they have to surrender themselves. If you don’t surrender yourself there is no way, if you are not submissive, no way, you should learn to wait for your time. Ask God to elevate you through people. Don’t say, ‘Who is Akala’ ‘Who is that?’ Baba Adedibu used to tell us if the Muslim faithful want to pray, they will go through Muhammed, peace be unto me, if Christians want to talk they will talk about Jesus Christ abi. Muhammed and Jesus Christ are their own godfathers too. But they will say ‘I don’t want to go to a godfather again, I don’t want to go to Randa again.’ Don’t go to Randa again. Who begged them to come to Randa before? Akala is already what Akala wants to be in life. Am I not? Who doesn’t know me? What do I need again? Do I need them to do anything? Haven’t I done my own? Look at what we are suffering now, my brother, until when I came to APC that we were able to get something for Ogbomoso in APC. Now in PDP, what have they been able to get from them? They are flocks without shepherd. Oyo state PDP, as Ogbomoso is concerned today, they are flocks without shepherd. Who is leading them in Ogbomoso! Who among them will Seyi Makinde not look in the eyes? Eyi ti o pe ra re ni Iya Gomina, who recognizes her? Has she ever contested election on her own? On the two occasions that Mulika won elections, I won the elections for her. After that, has she ever won any election? Awon ti o to gelete ti o ma mi fin! All of them, with Seyi, one day at Baaki Baptist Church, I said any one of them that has not passed through me, that didn’t take my water, let him or her stand up. They are flocks without shepherd. That is what is paining me. They don’t respect any of them, they don’t have pedigree – someone will say he was PLO, what PLO! That has become rusted. The position he held again, the Chief of Staff, he held it under me. That is why forever, till I die, I will respect Buoda Brimmo (Yusuf) and Engineer Dayo Lawal. They believe in my leadership, till I die I will worship them. They (PDP people at the state level) won’t accord you respect and you puff up. This is what pains me, you don’t want to give honour to whom honour is due, we paid our own due before we became what we are today. I wanted to be chairman here, they rubbished me during zero party, they disqualified me and that made me to put Noah Adigun there. Baba Adedibu made me deputy governor because he saw my loyalty to their cause. I am the one that liberated Ogbomoso from the grasp of Alhaji Yekini Adeojo because Ogbomoso was in the pocket of Adeojo. That’s the only thing that pains me. And unless we get it right in term of leadership they will continue to cheat us politically. In the APC, it was until I got there that we secured the position of Speaker. And the so-called Speaker, instead of him following my lead, he wanted to be the leader. May God bless Buoda Dayo Lawal in Ibadan he is now, he said, ‘let’s make Wunmi (Ladeji) Speaker, that Gunju is not a good person.’ I said, ‘if we make Wunmi Speaker they would insinuate I was dating her, let’s give it to Gunju, he is elderly, he will do well, if we give Wunmi, they would say, there was something between us.’ You became the Speaker and you turned coat! Wasn’t Tambuwal Speaker under PDP before he became governor on the platform of APC? ‘Don’t go, we will give you the ticket of ADP (Action Democratic Party) for the House of Reps.’ If he had come with us to ADP we would have given him the ticket but God wants to favour Captain Jacob Adejumo Ajao, so, Gunju refused us. That is why Captain got the ticket. You are nothing and you went to slander me over the radio. Whoever God puts forward, we should all support him. That is my regret, we do not want to accord respect to our seniors. But upcoming youths aspiring to go into politics, get somebody to mentor you, stay with your mentor, don’t think you have arrived, stay there until you continue to grow and grow. When I wanted to join politics, I went to Adewusi, he was not a politician? Insight, come and be going, thanks!