The Adebibu connection • Ajimobi’s fortune
Both former Oyo State governor Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala and former Senate Leader TeslimFolarin used to belong to the same political camp of the late strongman of Ibadan politics, AlhajiLamidiAdedibu.
While Adedibu was alive, both of them were political buddies. Alao-Akala and Folarin are now estranged. The animosity has been stoked at present by the battle for the Peoples Democratic Party ticket for the 2015 gubernatorial election in the state, a contest in which both of them are the leading contenders.
But WESTERN POST can reveal today how Alao-Akala and Folarin became political enemies.
It all started when Alao-Akala held sway as governor and Folarin as Senate Leader.
Alao-Akala as governor was always complaining to those who cared to listen that Folarin, a senator from his state, would not come to receive him in Abuja when other senators would come and welcome their governors to Abuja.
This went on like that for some time. Then on one occasion, Folarin was invited to deliver a lecture at the University of Ibadan.
He was said to have informed then-governor Alao-Akala who promised to mobilise party members for him to honour him at the lecture.
Instead of mobilising for him, WESTERN POST learnt that Alao-Akala allegedly told some PDP leaders and stalwarts to shun the event, apparently believing that Folarin was trying to prepare grounds to run against him in 2011.
Then came the congresses and primary election within PDP leading to the 2011 election. Alao-Akala was rooting for the present Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory, OloyeOlajumokeAkinjide, as opposed to Folarin to contest for Oyo Central Senatorial District.
On the day of the congress in Ona-Ara Local Government in Oyo State in December 2010, Folarin’s constituency, violence had broken out, which led to the death of then Chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers in Oyo State, TaofeekSalako aka Eleweomo. One account said the violence was between the group of armed men led by Salako, an ally of Alao-Akala, and supporters of Folarin while another account said the clash was between Salako’s men and those of another rival faction of NURTW led by LateefAkinsolaakaTokyo.
Eleweomo’s death was hung on Folarin’s neck as one of his Security Orderlies was alleged to have killed the ex-NURTW leader.
Within days of that incident, Folarin was arrested and clamped in Agodi detention and a murder trial began, to his chagrin.
Meanwhile, an autopsy was being conducted on the body of Eleweomo.
Eleweomo’s Autopsy Report
The autopsy report, which the police in the state then guarded jelously, however, vindicated Folarin.
WESTERN POST learnt the report showed that Eleweomo was butchered to death and that there was no single bullet hole on his body.
On further investigations, it was also learnt that none of Folarin’s security orderlies had fired a single bullet on the day and they all accounted for the bullets given to them by the police.
Folarin at the time was still holed up in Agodi detention camp, but armed with the autopsy report, the former Senate Leader’s men reached for Abuja and the leadership of the Senate.
On the day of the PDP presidential primaries in Abuja in January 2011 at Eagle Square, the PDP Senators said since the autopsy report had shown that Folarin’s orderly did not shoot Eleweomo as alleged, there was no point keeping him in detention.
They threatened that if the former Senate Leader was not released, they would boycott the primaries.
President Goodluck Jonathan who needed the support of the senators was to direct the Inspector General of Police to order Folarin’s release immediately.
A presidential plane was sent to Ibadan to convey him to Abuja where the former Senate Leader eventually participated in the primary election, being an automatic delegate from the state.
Meanwhile, by that time, Alao-Akala had gotten the PDP ticket to contest for re-election in the state and Olajumoke-Akinjide had been rail-roaded as the party’s ticket for Oyo Central Senatorial District.
As the election drew near, Folarin became more disenchanted over the treatment that had been meted out to him.
When the governorship election came, rather than work for Alao-Akala, he ordered his supporters to support his cousin and then Action Congress of Nigeria governorship candidate, Senator AbiolaAjimobi, who was later to win the election.
The Ghana Reconciliatory Meeting
Politicians being who they are and perhaps living out the essence of that Yoruba proverb- Ti omodebasubu, a wowaju; tiagbalagbabasubu a bojuw’eyin, which literally translates- if a child falls he would look forward, but if an elder falls, he would look back to know the cause of his fall; both agreed to a reconciliatory meeting.
A meeting was arranged in Ghana to resolve their differences afteer the election. It was brokered by then Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Ghana, Senator MusiliuObanikoro.
Five persons were at the meeting held at Obanikoro’s official residence in Accra, Ghana. They were Alao-Akala, Folarin, his brother YinkaFolarin, former Special Adviser Media to Alao-Akala, DiranOdeyemi, and Obanikoro.
At the meeting, according to WESTERN POST sources, Folarin had said that he had to fight back, saying after Alao-Akala took his Senate seat, he was also rooting to send him to jail over Eleweomo’s murder he knew nothing about.
He said even after the autopsy report had exenorated him, the former governor was also threatening that he would send him to jail.
The former Senate Leader was also said to have added that after all that, he expected the former governor to reach out to him before the poll, saying his failure to reach out to him was not in consonance with what they both learnt from their late political godfather, the Alaafin of Molete, Adedibu.
Folarin said he did not work against PDP during the 2011 election, but that he only worked against Alao-Akala. The former Senate Leader was said to have apologised to Akala.
The former governor said they should all let bygone be bygone and the duo reportedly embraced and made up at the meeting.
But as it emerged later, both Alao-Akala and Folarin agreed to the reconciliation meeting because both had their eyes fixed on the 2015 poll and they knew they would need each other.
However, after the meeting, the issue was now who would control the PDP structure in the state.
Alao-Akala said he should be allowed to produce the chairman and control the party structure.
WESTERN POST learnt the former governor brought out one Adetoro for the chairmanship but the on-doing of the would-be-chairman was that he was said to be reaching out to only the Alao-Akala group.
Displeased with that, Folarin and a few other leaders proposed that they would present Alao-Akala with five candidates out of which he could pick his choice as chairman.
He went for Hon. YinkaTaiwo, the present PDP chairman in the state, believing he was his man. It was not long after that Alao-Akala realised he had been sold a dummy, and that the YinkaTaiwo he picked is actually a die-hard Folarin associate.
It was not long again that both Alao-Akala and Folarin were back in the trenches, till date.
First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan during her recent meeting with PDP gladiators in the state asked why Alao-Akala and Folarin could not work together.
If, on the one hand, Folarin picks the PDP ticket, will Akala support him? If, on the other, Akala picks the ticket, will Folarin also back him?
This is the dilemma at present in Oyo PDP. Will the 2011 history repeat itself as we approach the 2015 election? Big question!