After Chief C.O Adebayo and Senator Femi Okurorounmu had presented Afenifere’s position, Obasanjo cleared his throat and got up to speak. Chief Olusegun Osoba asked him to sit and address the meeting as one of his legs was hurting him but he responded, “How can I sit to address my leaders?
He started off by thanking the delegation for honouring his invitation. He then picked the issues raised one after the other. First, he said he was for free and fair elections as he believed in “cooperative competition”. He said that informed his decision to have lunch with Chief Adebayo Adefarati after he finished the PDP campaign in Ondo State. He added that when he got to Oyo State and discovered there was trouble in Oyo State when he visited, he had to wade in and resolve the rift.
He said the problem in Oyo State started when Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu went to town removing Alhaji Lam Adesina billboards in retaliation over the uprooting of Senator Rasheed Ladoja’s own. He was able to call the three of them together and he asked Ladojja why he did not call Lam when he noticed his boards were removed to which he responded that he only reported to Adedibu. He then asked Lam what happened and the governor explained that it was the agency in charge of environment that removed illegal billboards and that they removed some of his own as well. He then turned to Adedibu to know why he did not call his two younger brothers to resolve the problem, asking him what type of legacy he would want to leave behind. He said Adedibu replied him thus: “I created a problem and you president of Nigeria is here to resolve it. What legacy are you asking me to leave behind again?”.
On the issue of census, he said he was already talking to some foreign companies about aerial mapping and that things were being done to know the number of school age children across the country and all those who are enrolled. And that with the National I.D card and Voters registry, only random sampling would be required to have accurate census. On restructuring, he said that he did not personally accept that Kano which was same division with Lagos would have two states and 77 local governments now while Lagos has only 20. He however said it is not only Obasanjo who would restructure Nigeria, all stakeholders have to be involved.
He then turned to Okurounmu and asked: “What are you people doing about the bill for restructuring before the National Assembly?
As usual, the meeting did not end without him throwing his usual banters. He exchanged some with Chief Ayo Adebanjo. He also turned to Otunba Niyi Adebayo to mention their meeting at a Parent-Teacher Association meeting. Otunba Adebayo replied that he didn’t know that Obasanjo still had children who could be his own classmates and Obasanjo said: “Look at you, I still have in Nursery schools”.
The meeting ended with a decision that both sides should have smaller teams to expand the discussion in a fortnight. The Afenifere team therefore retreated to Gateway Hotel where Chief Osoba arranged refreshments to review the meeting. It was at the review meeting that Chief Ayo Adebanjo said Obasanjo who obviously spoke with sugar in his mouth appeared a “born again”.
The fortnight follow up meeting was a disappointment as Obasanjo arrived the Presidential Lodge in Abeokuta ahead of the agreed time. Senator Adesanya who had Chief C.O Adebayo and myself with him arrived the venue to meet Obasanjo who came with Chief Bode George and Haruna Elewi with Chief Osoba and Chief Bisi Akande. Obasanjo announced to Papa that “we have discussed” and went on to add that he had received reports that some of the AD governors have been campaigning for him.
I reported my observations at the meeting to a small group which met Papa Adesanya to draw his attention to the fact that Obasanjo was playing games with the engagement.
Worried Adesanya requested for another meeting with Obasanjo and now called in the Awujale of Ijebuland, Bishop Bolanle Gbonigi and Bishop Ayo Ladigbolu. Papa told Obasanjo at the meeting that he is aware that in the military there is a strategy to lure the enemy into false safety and launch a ferocious attack. He said he had a feeling that was what Obasanjo was up to. The Ebora kept a straight face. Bishop Gbonigi thereafter said he had information that fake solders were being kitted to rig the South West for the PDP. Obasanjo asked him his source and he said it was Chief Adefarati. “Adefarati is a liar,” thundered Obasanjo. “I have known Adefarati from our schooldays, he is not a liar,” responded Bishop Gbonigi. Awujale came in at that point to say the onus was on Obasanjo to conduct a free and fair elections.
While the AD Governors were sold on the idea of a pact with OBJ, his footmen were already digging in. One Bola Shofu was carrying on all sorts of legal shenanigans in Ogun State but Chief Osoba wrestled him down through Mr. Niyi Akintola(SAN).The same attorney fought Adefarati’s case in Ondo State. While Lam was doing “Aremu isale and Aremu Oke” in Oyo State, Adedibu and his army were being armed to the teeth to rout him.
By the time elections came in April, Obasanjo took out five of the governors except Lagos where Asiwaju Tinubu remained “the last man standing”. After Obasanjo got the results, he was said to have tapped his renowned belly and said “this my stomach is full of tactics and strategy”.
I must not fail to mention one little incident in this narration. When Senator Adesanya turned 80 in 2002, Obasanjo attended the Church service in Ijebuland-Igbo. When the service was over, he stopped over in Papa’s house at Oke Agbo but refused any refreshments and left. As we got to the first meeting of Afenifere in the compound after the event, the heaven opened immediately after the opening prayer and we could not hold the meeting. Papa went upstairs and some of us went to meet him. I recalled Mr. Funminiyi Afiuye asking him what was happening as no such thing ever happened in all the years we have been holding meetings in that compound and Papa answered “Ko yemi(I don’t understand what is going on).
Now to the issue in contention. Senator Adesanya came on the radar in the long episode. The involvement of Adesanya in this whole process was between January-March 2003. Meanwhile, Obasanjo held the first meeting with the AD governors in January 2002. That meeting was facilitated by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. He had gone with Obasanjo to the University of Lagos convocation that day to use his popularity to shield the President who feared the students might attack him. After the convocation, the duo joined the rest of the AD governors at Dodan Barracks.
Obasanjo told them he had called them to discuss with them in the interest of Yoruba people and thanked Governor Tinubu whom he said had been in talks with Alhaji Atiku Abubakar for facilitating the meeting. It was at the meeting the issue of electoral pact was first broached.
Asiwaju Tinubu was to later declare at a rally that Lagos would give Obasanjo the maximum votes any presidential candidate can have. He would later turn his back on this promise due to the fact that Atiku who had fallen out with Obasanjo briefed him on what Obasanjo was up to. It is doubtful if he shared the privilege information with his colleagues.
That he already developed a new game plan became manifest when his Information Commissioner, Mr. Dele Alake went on LTV telling Lagosians to vote AD in all elections. That was where they developed “Jeun Soke”(chop up) as AD was the first party on the ballot.
I have gone to this extent as a public intellectual in service of the cause of truth. There is so much revisionism going on in our society concerning recent history to which some of us were in the first row. I have records of all Afenifere meetings held in all the period I have run through in this narration if anyone wants to dispute my narration.
To the memory of that selfless and distinguished patriot, Senator Abraham Adeasnya, I say: you served your people with your life. Your life practically ended after the 2003 perfidy by the grand fox and we owe your memory the duty to state the truth of what happened. Sun re o!