By Bode Akinbode, Ibadan
Former Nigeria’s President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, on Thursday, explained why he preferred reasons the candidacy of late Major-Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua over that of Chief Olu Falae in 1992, during the build-up to the 1993 presidential election.
Chief Obasanjo, who recalled this during the launch of the autobiography of a former Oyo State governor, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala’s book titled: “Amazing Grace,” said though both politicians were his close aides while he was the military head of state, he stated that his preference for Yar’Adua was hinged on his belief in the Nigeria project.
He said: “In 1992, Shehu Musa Yar’Adua came to me to request me to intervene on his behalf with Chief Adedibu. It was the usual thing I would do but for Shehu.
“I went to the chief, meeting him one on one for the first time and he received me warmly. And I said to him, I know both Olu Falae and Shehu Yar’Adua very well as they both worked directly under me, Olu as Permanent Secretary and Shehu as my political number 2.
“They are both very good. But if we are looking at the entire Nigeria picture, it should be Shehu before Olu. If, however, it is purely Yoruba issue, it should be Olu before Shehu. If my information is correct that you people are considering Nigeria and not just Yorubaland, then I will recommend Shehu. That led to Chief Adedibu changing his support in favour of Shehu Yar’Adua in 1992,” Obasanjo revealed.
He, then, congratulated Otunba Alao-Akala, who attained the age of 70 years recently, for his contributions in the political circle, saying: “You have had the opportunity to serve, you have served to the best of your ability.
“You have kept as best as you could recollect records of events as you wish to present them. It has become part of history and let others contend. And you are already a maker of history,” he added.
In his remark, Otunba Alao-Akala, said it fulfilled his desire to bookmark the landmark narratives of his life, how the tragic death of his father in a road accident in 1952 single-handedly threatened to swap his dream of getting to the cusp of his life aspirations.
“The title of the book, “Amazing Grace” is not a happenstance. It is the audacity of providence to bring me out of the dungeon of a hopeless tomorrow into a fulfillment of a life that I today, celebrate seventy years on earth.
“My very meaningful and impactful sojourn in the Nigeria Police Force is also amply documented in the book, to tell the story of how grace pushed me to the top.
“God brought me from junctures where many who had great and greater hope of tomorrow, fell. He lifted me, without an iota of hope, to my feet and brought me to this juncture,” Alao-Akala posited.
He, however, expressed appreciation to Chief Obasanjo, who chaired the event, for forfeiting many of his schedules to be present at the occasion.
Dignitaries from all walks of life converged on the Trenchard Hall of the University of Ibadan to celebrate the former governor.
Personalities in attendance included Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Deputy Governor of Oyo State, Mr. Rauf Olaniyan, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi; the Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji, former Chief of Staff in the state, Dr. Saka Balogun, who reviewed the book among others.