The right-hand man and closest aide of late Garrison Commander of Ibadan/Oyo politics, Chief Lamidi Ariyibi Adedibu, Elder Gabriel Okoeda, popularly known as “Baba Super,” will on Saturday, August 29, 2020 roll out the drums to celebrate his 75th birthday in grand style. In this exclusive interview with WESTERN POST, Elder Okoeda, one of the longest-serving aides of Alhaji Adedibu, revealed how he met and consequently served the Ibadan strongman for over 30 years until his death on June 11, 2008.
He also disclosed how he earned the nicknames African Strongest man, Super No Mercy, Try and See Double, The Son of God, etc, and other issues..
How did you earn your nickname “Super No Mercy”?
I earned my nickname “Super No Mercy, Try and See Double, Son of God”, during the civil war which occurred between 1967 and 1970. I was the one operating the machine gun then, and whenever there was a fight, I would fight with no mercy, shelling, the enemies very seriously with the machine gun. The soldiers at the scene of the fight really admired how I handled the machine gun. Since then, they nicknamed me “Super No Mercy”.
How did you meet the late Garrison Commander of Ibadan Politics, Late Lamidi Adedibu?
I was in the sports council as the first heavyweight when I met Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu between 1979 and 1980. It was shortly after I left the army. I met him through my senior colleagues in Judo, Henry, and Patrick who were biological brothers. They introduced me to him to work with him because they felt I would be useful to him owing to my strength. Though, in the actual sense, I was endowed with an unimaginable strength such that I could take up five people in a battle at once. After testing my strength and capacity, Adedibu employed me to work with him. As time went by, I became his most trusted staff as I was in charge of his food, money, and other stuff until his death on June 11, 2008.
There was a general notion that the late Adedibu was a tough and wicked person. They often described him as the Alaafin of Molete. How true is this?
The late Adedibu was never a wicked person. He could be a tough man, this was because he was a principled leader and politician. He would never support and tolerate cheating, that was why people thought he was wicked.
He would do anything to defend anyone who felt cheated on domestic or land issues. After carrying out his investigations on the issue, Adedibu would ensure that justice was served no matter how hard. His life was a blessing to me and many people during his time. Adedibu always fed over 300 people on a daily basis in his Molete palace. That was why they named his politics, Amala Politics”.
He was a kindhearted principled leader and political giant. Nobody has been able to wear his shoes since he passed on. He treated me as a member of his family. I was in the front line in his “Molete palace”. I was in charge of administration, finance, and domestic affairs.
How would you describe his kind of politics?
Adedibu politics was aimed at fighting for the common man. He hated cheating with passion. He was forthcoming anytime he was approached for assistance by the common people. That was why they named his kind of politics “Amala Politics”. He was a generous man. It was a privilege for me to work with him.
Can you share with us his last moment?
t was quite painful. It was on June 11th, 2008. That day, he asked me to come to his house very early because he had planned to go for medical checkups in Lagos. When he was returning to Ibadan, he asked me to make sure his food was ready. He was calling me intermittently, reminding me to make sure his food was ready. I went to inform his wife, Alhaja Bose to hasten upon Baba’s food because Baba was on his way back.
Adedibu was in the company of former governor of the state, Alhaji Azeem Gbolarumi, and few others. On his arrival in Ibadan, He went to the office of the immigration at Agodi Gate to sign some documents. But surprisingly, a shocking call came on my phone and the next thing I heard was that Baba Adedibu had collapsed and has been rushed to University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, and later confirmed dead.
How did you receive news of his death?
I received the news of Baba Adedibu’s death with a broken heart. My strength failed me as the news was broken to me.
The development threw all of us in mourning. And as the news rent the air, mammoth crowed including his political sons and daughters, associates, as well as his political friends besieged his Molote home. The news continued to spread like wide fire. It was a moment of grief for the state.
It was a day I will not forget in a hurry. His kind is rare. The late Adedibu raised and trained so many people who are today in high positions; there hasn’t been any political heavyweight who had his kind of strength since he died. He was a fearless man who believed in prayers, especially in the Qur’an and Bible. Some believed he was fetish, that’s not true about his person. Many pastors and Imams can testify to his belief in the Bible and the Quran.
You are celebrating your 75th birthday on August 29, 2020, what lessons do you want people to learn from your sojourn and experience with your late boss?
The celebration of my 75th birthday is a thanksgiving service to appreciate God Almighty for all I have achieved over the years. It is a moment to recall how the grace of God sustained me through the thin and thick in life. I served Adedibu with honesty and sincerity of the heart for over 30 years.
Can we meet you?
Thank you, as I introduced myself earlier, I am Elder Gabriel Okoeda, a native of Esan in Edo State, Nigeria. I enlisted into Nigeria Army in the year in 1967 in Benin, and was taken to Abeokuta training depot for the routing Army training, and was later posted to 3rd Marine Commando, 13 Brigade, and 8 Battalion under General Benjamin Adekunle popularly Black Scorpion when he was a colonel in the then Eastern Region. Though in the Army, I was an athlete, I took part in the civil war between 1967 and 1970. And shortly after leaving the army, I engaged fully in Judo, weight lifting, and others where I rose and emerged the African strongest man.