Were it to be a Friday, anyone would have thought the house we were about to enter was agog for a Jumat service or a sort of thanksgiving service. It was a replica of what obtained at the erstwhile political headquarters of Late Alhaji Lamidi Ariyibi Adedibu’s “Political Academy” at Molete, Ibadan.
Politicians, old and young – mostly People’s Democratic Party (PDP) supporters – were making their presence felt in whatever way they chose and could go. Singers and dancers who would make King Sunny Ade or Salawa Abeni go green with envy abound in his modestly organized compound.
The scene was to introduce the MEDIA HUB team to the residence of Alhaji Adebisi Aremu Adeyemo – fondly called Adebisi Olopoeniyan. Olopoeniyan is not his family name. Not even a nickname. But he got the name – just an happenstance from the abundant witty disposition of his mentor – Late “Alaafin Molete” – Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu.
Adebisi Olopoeniyan is a leader of the PDP and a critical stakeholder in Oyo State politics.
The first thing that strikes you in this ebony, six-footer, sturdy built man is his suffocating humility. Soft spoken, he is very measured in his words, always conscious of not being misrepresented on any issue in which he has to offer an opinion.What you can take from him is his frankness when it comes to issues bordering on the welfare of mass of the people. He has an expansive sense of humour, though some could be sarcastic.
He threw the whole interview team into prolonged laughter when he spoke about situations that could warrant a serving governor to be given automatic ticket to serve a second term. Asked what happens if a governor fails to secure automatic ticket from his party, looking so serious as if there was nothing to the question, Olopoeniyan retorted: “There is no problem about that, if he fails to secure automatic, he can go for manual.” Who beats that?
Adebisi Olopoeniyan, came from a very humble background, read formally up to Primary Six School Leaving Certificate, trained as a printer but rose to the zenith of success in the business world. The doors of success started opening for him in 1983 when he, through Late Chief Layi Ajakaye, met Late Chief Augustus Meredith Adisa (AMA) Akinloye at Advocate Press. Akinloye, who was then the National Chairman of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) kick-started the interest of politics in Olopoeniyan.
By the Year 2000, when Olopoeniyan met Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu, a real turning point came to affect his political fortune and his businesses as well. Olopoeniyan was the first to sell telephone handsets and accessories in Ibadan at the introduction of GSM. He had the franchise for the whole of Ibadan. Olopoeniyan takes pride in being called “a product” of Adedibu`s Political Academy, Molete, Ibadan. There, he mastered the art of philanthropy in political space. “Adedibu is an elephant you can’t pretend to see in a room. He knew the rudiments of what you call politics. He never discriminated. He didn’t care whether you belonged to his party or not, for him to assist you on anything and whatsoever. For Adedibu, politics is about the people. That’s what we learnt!”.
Asked if there was anything he thought Adedibu could have done differently when he was alive, Olopoeniyan said NONE! ” Anything Adedibu did was right. Anything he did gave me joy. I felt happy anytime I was with him. His attitude to people should be emulated.” Truly, Adebisi Olopoeniyan spoke candidly, a bit emotionally as if, Adedibu died just yesterday. That speaks about a disciple who wouldn’t forget his mentor and leader.
Can we be let into your background?
I was born in Beyerunka in Ibadan. I attended CAC, Olugbode Primary School, Odo-Osun, Labiran area, Ibadan. I could not proceed beyond primary school because there were no financial means. I went into a printing apprenticeship at Charity Printing Press Limited, located then at Yemetu, Ibadan. I was thoroughly trained in the art of printing and spent five solid years serving my apprenticeship. My training in no small measure got me employment in one of the most reputable printing companies in Ibadan then, Odu’a Printing Press Limited at Eleyele, Ibadan. It was during my annual leave when I went to Lagos that I approached another printing company that found me worthy and employed me. The name of the company was Harrison Printing Press located in Yaba, Lagos. The offer was irresistible as it was about double the salary being paid at Odu’a. I had no choice but to tender my resignation letter at Odu’a in December 1982 and by January 1983, I moved to Lagos to start work at Harrison Printing Press Limited at Yaba. Barely a month at the place, another offer came, with a better salary package and I equally left. The name of the company was Onward Printing Press, Iwaya, Lagos. During the Easter Break of 1983, I came to Ibadan and was told about the founding of Advocate Newspaper by the late Chief A.M.A. Akinloye, the then National Chairman of National Party of Nigeria (NPN). It was my mother who told me and I had a brother then, named Ayo who took me to the newspaper house at Basorun and I was given an offer that was again better than what I was earning in Lagos. That was how I came back to Ibadan to start work in the newspaper with the likes of the late Chief Layi Ajakaye and Segun Oni, heading the editorial section while I headed the printing section of the newspaper. I worked there till 31st December, 1983 when the military junta led by Major General Muhammadu Buhari, the current President of Nigeria sacked the civilian administration headed by the late Alhaji Sheu Shagari. Alhaji Lateef Oyelade was then our Director of Production, the late Alhaji Ghani Kola Balogun (GKB) was our Chairman while the founder, the late Chief A.M.A. Akinloye was the Publisher. The coup led to the closure of the Advocate Newspaper. I went back to Lagos and got employed at Iranian Embassy Press at No.1, Alexander Avenue, Ikoyi, Lagos.
How did you become a politician?
I had been playing politics before I went to Lagos at my own level and on coming back to Ibadan to work in Advocate Newspaper, I got more involved, more so,
nobody would move close
to the late Chief Akinloye
and would not love politics.
Nevertheless, the politics then was at a peripheral level for me, I was an employee of a big politician. But, I had developed an interest in politics since then. While in Lagos, I could not get deeply involved in politics until the Year 2000 when I came to Ibadan. During my visit to Ibadan in the Year 2000, I went to greet the late Chief Ajakaye and it was he who took me to Chief Lamidi Adedibu’s house in Molete, Ibadan. It was at Chief Adedibu’s house that I started politics again, with the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo State. Let me add here that while in Lagos, I had been interacting with the PDP because I always love being a member of a truly national party and the party that controls power at the centre.
The moment the late Chief Ajakaye
brought me to the late Chief Adedibu
and I saw the style of the man’s politics,
I became fascinated and threw myself
wholly into it as a member of the party.
While staying with Baba Adedibu, I was running my business in my office at Basorun. I was the first person to sell handsets in Ibadan when GSM was introduced. I got the franchise and became the first person to sell the handset in the whole of Ibadan. So, in a nutshell, I can say that I became a full politician in Baba Adedibu’s house in the Year 2000.
So, if we say that the late Chief Adedibu was your political mentor, we would be correct!
That was exactly what happened. It was the late Chief Adedibu that really brought me into politics, he was my political mentor in the real sense of it.
What can you say about the experiences gathered in Molete, the base of the late Chief Adedibu’s politics?
The experiences are too many but the only thing I can say with all emphasis is that there was nothing done by the late Baba Adedibu that did not please me. I was always at home with whatever he did.
You mean the late politician could not be wrong as far as you are concerned?
To say something is right or wrong is about perception. What you perceive as being wrong may not be so in my own view. And so, whatever Baba did as far as I’m concerned was always pleasing to me maybe because of my love for him or whatever. He was not an angel and had his own faults like every other human being, but, I insist that I was always pleased with Baba whether you consider whatever done by him wrong or right, he was my mentor! I always loved him and his politics.
the only thing I can say with all emphasis
is that there was nothing done by the
late Baba Adedibu that did not please me.
I was always at home with whatever he did.
What were those things that you loved in him?
Baba made one to understand politics as a very interesting aspect of life. Baba was very accommodating, he embraced all, he did not discriminate, he had no enemy, he was a man of the people, he loved all irrespective of creed, faith, tribe or any consideration. That’s politics in totality. Baba was good to all generally, he made politics so interesting. He was never bothered about political party affiliation, whichever party you belong to, Baba was ready to assist you if you have any problem, that was Baba Adedibu for you. All these things endeared him to me. I could see religion in Baba Adedibu’s politics. I saw that his politics had transcended mere politics, he had taken it to the realm of religion. His politics made me appreciate God the more because if one plays politics and does not include God in it, the politics cannot be complete. Whoever passed through Baba Adedibu’s politics would appreciate what I’m saying and would know him as a deep Islamic faithful in his politics. All these made me fall in love with him and whatever he did, as said earlier was always pleasing to me.
What is your relationship with all the other politicians you came across at Molete?
Either as a PDP member presently or other parties, all those that passed through Molete like me are in a very good relationship with me. Just this morning, I and Barr. Azeem Gbolarumi had interacted on phone. I’m in a good relationship with Sen. Teslim Folarin, H/E Taofeek Arapaja and a host of others. We are all like one united family.
From your interaction with Baba Adedibu, did he set any condition to determine his relationship or assistance to anybody?
No, not at all. Whoever you are and whatever you bring as a problem, Baba was always at home. He had no condition whatsoever before going into a relationship with anybody or before rendering assistance to anybody.
Baba didn’t need to know you before he assists you. The moment you came into his place, you would be received with open arms.
In all, how many years did you spend on a printing job?
All the years I put into a printing job after my apprenticeship was about 11 years between 1976 and 1986.
I could see religion in Baba Adedibu’s politics.
I saw that his politics had transcended mere politics,
he had taken it to the realm of religion. His politics
made me appreciate God the more because if one
plays politics and does not include God in it,
the politics cannot be complete.
Between 1986 and Year 2000 that you fully came into politics, what were you doing?
I was working as a businessman, selling vehicles. I was going overseas to bring vehicles down to Ibadan and sell to people. I still do that till date. If not for COVID-19, I would have gone overseas. All the vehicles you see in my compound were brought in by myself. I do go to the United States of America, the United Kingdom among others. There was a time I was changing vehicles from being ‘righty to lefty’, I was doing all those things. The last time I travelled overseas was 2019 before COVID-19 and it is even difficult to say the exact number of people that had bought vehicles from me in this country. People ask me to buy vehicles for them and I don’t go to auto-mart to buy a vehicle and I’m still in the business till tomorrow.
You were a key factor in the process that led to the emergence of the present government in Oyo State in 2019, can you share with us how the process came into being?
The struggle actually began in 2015 shortly after the year’s general elections which our party, the PDP woefully lost to the All Progressives Congress (APC). You recall that immediately after the 2015 elections, members of our party, PDP left in droves and to halt the mass exodus, I began a meeting here in my house that I name Reformed PDP. I started calling our members that had left for other parties like the Labour Party, Accord Party, among others to come back.
It was during that time that I went to call Engr. Seyi Makinde flew the flag of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) as its gubernatorial candidate in that year’s (2015) election. We met in London and asked him to come back to the party with a promise that we would properly organize the party. While I was doing the reorganization of the party using the Reformed platform, he was contributing his own quota too, though, he was still in SDP. Then, somebody by the name Eyombo Anabi from Oke Ogun was made the Chairman and Ismail Asipa was made the Secretary. That was how we came together and it became Oyo PDP today, we had started since then Engr. Seyi Makinde can attest to it. If we needed anything then that could be made available by him, he never hesitated to give it to us. He was with us, though still in SDP then.
What now caused misunderstanding between you and the governor, because we are aware that the two of you are not in one accord?
I won’t call it a misunderstanding. You know, when some people get into government, they forget where they are coming from. There is a gulf between government and political party, though, the primary focus of any political party is to form a government, but the moment the party gives birth to government, there comes a kind of separation. However, it is the responsibility of the government given birth to by the party to energize the party, make it robust and viable so that other members can use it in the future to actualize their political dreams. When we say the government in this sense, we are talking about all those members that got elected for one position or the other on the platform of the party. If the party is neglected, what you are saying indirectly is making it unviable for future election and no serious or reasonable party man would take that. I’m a party man, I’m not in government, when a governor emerges under our party’s banner, he must look at where the party is. That’s what I said and they said I shouldn’t have said so.
We met in London and asked him to come back
to the party with a promise that we would
properly organize the party. While I was doing
the reorganization of the party using
the Reformed platform, he was contributing
his own quota too, though, he was still in SDP.
Yet, I can’t allow the destruction of the party because I can’t go into any other political party. That was what I said then. I only advised the governor that members of the party were suffering, that the members were not enjoying the government because we are the ones being seen by the party members. I think you too can see the crowd downstairs when coming in here. That was when a committee, headed by Dr Saka Balogun was raised because he knew I was saying the truth. The committee really tried, they visited me and many other members considered as being aggrieved, but, it was unfortunate that the committee became another ‘Oputa Panel’ and you know Oputa Panel turned out to be a circus show. I came to this conclusion because immediately the report was presented to the governor, it was on social media that we first read it. It then dawned on me that it won’t get us anywhere and that’s the situation to date. By the time such a sensitive matter was thrown to the social media, what you were telling the people was that see what they were saying o, it was meaningless, that was my own interpretation. Since then, nothing was done on it and I came to the conclusion that the governor wants to destroy the party, he’s not ready to build the party. If we have any misunderstanding, it is nothing personal, it is about party matters, that’s all.
As a strong partyman, how much of the coalition efforts that produced the governor do you know?
I can claim to know much especially at the beginning because I was the one that began the move. Together with Engr. Makinde, we held meetings with the former Governor Adebayo Alao Akala and some others up to four times in that respect before he pulled out. Later, I was not brought into the picture again and did not participate in the subsequent negotiations.
But at the initial stage when you were with the team negotiating the coalition, what did you take away from the meeting?
At that initial stage, I knew they were sharing positions, what to go to where and things like that and I want to believe they definitely agreed on the sharing formula before the election.
We asked the question because we learnt that the coalition has collapsed. How do you react to this?
I may not be able to say much about that because as I said, I was not part of the concluding aspect of the negotiation among the parties in the coalition. However, what I got to know was that the governor did not honour the agreement sincerely. You know, it was parties that went into coalition and not individuals and so whatever is due to the coalition forces must go to the respective parties that formed the coalition and not individuals within the parties. It should be the responsibility of the parties to give out such things to the chosen members of the parties. But, the governor in his own wisdom and what can be described as ‘divide and rule’ tactics picked individuals known to him within the parties in the coalition to enjoy the benefit of the agreement reached when forming the coalition and that would naturally spark now. So, if there’s a crisis within the coalition, that was what caused it as far as I know and the governor should be held responsible.
Aside from you, we learnt there are other members of your party that are aggrieved, are you all aggrieved because the party is suffering a lack of patronage by the government formed by the coalition?
Individuals may have different reasons for being aggrieved and I only know of my own which was said earlier. If you have access to the report I made mention earlier, the Dr Saka Balogun’s committee, you would see that over 90% of the PDP members are angry, but, I may not be able to account for the basis of individual’s anger. Somebody like me, I’m not looking for a position, but I want people that worked for our success at the poll to be compensated by giving them positions. Not everybody can be given a position, but, others that don’t get positions can benefit from those who are given, We have been in power before as a parry, so, I know what I’m saying. If there is a functional local government, for instance, the burden on the governor or state government becomes lessened. But we don’t have such now and what the governor said was that he was developing the state for now which is not bad. After all, it was we that promised the electorate what we would do and we must fulfil our promise. I however reminded the governor that the party members I was advocating for are also members of the society the governor is developing. There is nothing bad in the governor developing the state and at the same time take care of the party. There is the availability of what he can use to do both and things will be going on smoothly because the party, the platform of which was used to contest and become the governor must not be destroyed. If the party is destroyed and the electorate even ask you to come back, what platform are you going to use to contest the election? It is the party that the electorate first knew before the contestant. It is when the party presents one that one becomes known to the public. It is the party that one uses to proclaim his or her message.
The recent upsurge in youth unrest in Ibadan is becoming a source of worry to both residents and non-residents, are you not bothered?
Everybody should be bothered, so I’m deeply bothered like every other person because I always live here in the city and nobody is immune when the city is not at peace. About two weeks ago, they said there was a crisis at Beyerunka, that was my root, my place of birth, what about my people over there? That was why I must be worried when a crisis rocks the area because my people are there. Likewise, if it happens in any other area, it affects all of us wherever we may be.
How do we end such and ensure peace reigns in the city again?
I’m aware the Local Government Councils’ chairmen are making concerted efforts to address the ugly situation. There should be a way to reach out to the restive youths, they have groups with distinct leaders, in a street, there can be five different groups with different leaders, there should be a way to sit down together with them and iron things out. However, the salient issue is sustainability. Most of these youths are hungry and they are looking for what to eat. Hardly would anybody gainfully engaged have time to foment trouble, that’s the crux of the matter. It is more than certain that somebody enjoying life would not want his peace to be disturbed and won’t go and cause trouble. There must be a way the person who left the office did it and we all enjoyed peace, let the government study the files and reach out to the trouble makers. That’s what I said about the functional local government if the local government councils are functional and give out jobs and people are making little money, all these unrests would become history or how would somebody who has gone out since morning doing one thing or the other come back in the evening to cause trouble? It is not possible, he would want to enjoy the little money he is able to make. That’s what I’m saying.
Don’t you think that some members of the state National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) who felt aggrieved by the approach of the governor to the union are part of the current problem in the state?
Well, there is no way somebody who has been enjoying something and was stopped would not feel aggrieved, it so natural, that’s among the NURTW members but I don’t think they have anything to do with the current wave of crises across the Ibadan metropolis. The leaders of the union are elders and matured, they can’t be engaging in brigandage round about the city. Most of the youths causing trouble here and there are compound residents in various areas of the metropolis and some of them don’t even know how to drive, and, so they can’t claim to be NURTW members. Don’t get me wrong, we are very much aware that some of the NURTW members are not happy that they are being sidelined, but, they can’t because that begin to disturb the people of the metropolis.
Recently, there was a discordant tune on who earns the support of the Oyo State chapter of the PDP in the race towards the leadership of the party in the South West. Where actually do you belong?
I, as a person and member of the PDP, I’m with former Governor Ayodele Fayose. If one wants a position, you get it through an election in a democracy which we are practising, you can’t be a lone ranger in democracy. We are positioning for the congress of the South West, it is not about who becomes the leader now, it is about congress which will come up very soon. Eddy Olafeso, who is currently holding the position of Zonal Vice-Chairman of the party intends to go for another term which he eminently qualifies for. So, whoever wants to challenge him must come out and present him or herself. So, the idea of one individual staying in a corner and claiming to anoint somebody is antithetical to democratic norms. I’m the Eddy Olafeso’s campaign organization in Oyo State and I’m campaign for him. Let any other person that wants to contest come out and pick his or her own campaign coordinator as well in the state and we both go to the field. From the time immemorial congress is held and officers are elected and not that somebody would say he should be anointed to go and appoint somebody, that’s not it and we are not fighting over that. We all know what is right and that’s what we will do. Even, if we are all going to resolve and settle for a consensus candidate, it must be at the congress, there must be congress.
Is there any group saying otherwise as far as congress is concerned
We don’t actually know, we are only saying that there is no need for any crisis in the party in our state. I was part of the meeting that threw up the question you asked earlier and those who disowned us lacked the competence, it was beyond them. Most of them claiming to be members of party exco in the state had once left the party and came back later, so what do you expect from such people, what do they know about the party?
They would be dishing out balderdash. A few days ago, they said they suspended the chairman of the party in my local government without committing any offence. In the party’s constitution, whoever is alleged to have done something wrong must be queried. In essence, there’s a laid down procedure for the discipline of party members, none of which was followed before the suspension order was handed down. They said the man committed an offence and without trial, they announced his suspension following which he petitioned the party’s zonal level which looked at the merit of his case and quashed the suspension order, asking him to continue in office as the chairman.
From your submissions so far on the way and manner Engr. Seyi Makinde has been handling the affairs of the PDP in the state, won’t it work against the party in 2023?
We won’t allow such to happen. We own the party, it was the government that Seyi Makinde owns. Even, if his intention is to damage the party, the responsibility is on us the party members not to allow him. He may be doing things that can endanger the party, but we will not allow him. Engr. Seyi Makinde does not own the party, he met the party there. Don’t you know the number of people that had used the PDP platform to contest the election? Since 1998, when PDP was formed, a lot of people had used its platform to contest election like Chief Yekeen Adeojo, Sen. Rashidi Ladoja, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, Sen. Teslim Folarin, Hon. Taofeek Arapaja and a host of others.
Engr. Seyi Makinde met the party like all others before him. People come and go, the party remains. Nobody owns the party as an individual, it belongs to all the members.
Another issue in the public domain that may affect the party is the borrowing spree which the governor is alleged to have engaged in. It is said that within about two years in office, billions of Naira are said to have been borrowed, are you not bothered?
That’s none of my business. Anything about money being borrowed by the government has nothing to do with me and anybody interested in such may have to go to those in government. I was not there when they were borrowing money if at all they borrowed money and I was not made to house the money borrowed if truly they even borrowed money. I don’t know anything concerning the running of government under Engr. Seyi Makinde. I think any of the Special Advisers or the Finance Commissioner will be able to answer your question on such an issue. Nothing concerns me about the government.
We are not asking you about the money borrowed or about the running of the government under Engr. Seyi Makinde, our concern is that such may become an issue for interrogation when the time comes for the governor to seek election under the banner of your party or don’t you think so?
I understand your question. The point is that the person who is borrowing money definitely knows the purpose for which he’s borrowing money. The person borrowing money must have told the people the purpose for which the money is being borrowed and it will only become an issue when he is discovered not to have expended the money on the specific things or projects he told the people he would spend the money on. When borrowing the money, I’m sure what he told the people was that he would use such money to do certain things for the state and the people of the state should wait and see whether those things he promised to spend the money on are done or not. It is when they are not done that they can ask questions on the whereabouts of their money.
But, won’t that be the problem of the party if such a situation should arise?
There’s no way that can be a party’s problem even if a situation of that nature should arise. The governor holds the ace as the Chief Executive Officer of the state and knows what is good for the state. He has the power and the authority to govern the state in accordance with the law and if there is any issue, he is accountable to the people. We can’t shy away from the fact that he’s presently the symbol of our party and we would render account to the people the extent of which we know about his administration when the time comes, so, there’s no cause for alarm.
What is the vision for your party come 2023?
Like any other party faithful, the vision and focus are for our party to remain in power after the 2023 election by the grace of the Almighty Allah. That’s what we are struggling for.
Your response takes us back to the previous question that how do you realise such vision in the face of the issue raised concerning the state’s debt profile?
That has not yet become an issue as far as I’m concerned. I think it is your duty, for now, to take up the government on the debts profile and the purpose for which the money was borrowed. You will do well for the public by coming up with the results of the borrowed money. Whether it was judiciously spent or not. So, for now, the whole issue is still a subject of conjecture. There is no way whatever your findings are that can affect us as a party.
But Engr. Makinde is a PDP governor!
Yes, nobody is denying that. But, we have had cases in this country when governors were taken to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Were they taken there with their political parties? No!
I agree that he is the symbol of our party, but there’s no way his acts and deeds can affect our party. The party has a way of doing its own things. If it is found out that any candidate will be a hard-sell, the party will look elsewhere.
All said and done, what are the chances of Engr. Seyi Makinde serving another term under the banner of PDP?
Only God can answer that. Engr. Makinde himself cannot even say so. Nobody can say that authoritatively. The party would have to pick him for another term before he can contest, so, it depends on the choice of the party. Even, if the party picks one and loses an election, what can one do? So, it is only God who knows tomorrow and who can say what happens in 2023.
You were said to have tirelessly worked for the electoral victory recorded by your party, the symbol of which was and still is Engr. Seyi Makinde in 2019, are you ready to repeat the same come 2023?
This is a very good question. I will do my best for the party and whoever the party presents in 2023. It may be Engr. Makinde or another person. Engr. Makinde does not own the party. Whoever the party presents will have my support.
As a party chieftain, will PDP present Engr. Makinde again?
It is not sure for anybody, I have said it once. I told you the party does not belong to an individual or some select group. The national body of the party in Abuja will work together with the party in the state and agree on who to fly the party’s ticket. It is not a one-man show. The antecedents of whoever shows up will be looked at when they want to present anybody, somebody like me is a stakeholder, likewise others, they will ask for our inputs. There would be congresses, there would be a primary election. Engr. Makinde cannot say he will be the one to be presented by the party. Whoever the party presents, I’m talking about PDP and not about Engr. Makinde. He is a member of the party. If he is presented, I may decide to work for him, if I like and I may decide otherwise, it is a matter of choice.
But, it is more or less an unwritten code in PDP that every governor in the first term is given an automatic ticket for another term, how do you place this in your view that the question of 2023 lies in the belly of time?
There is nothing called an automatic ticket outside of the consensus among party members. Whatever name you give to it, there must be a primary election where people are still going to decide to affirm what you called an automatic ticket. By the way, if one is given an automatic ticket as you said and the person loses an election, has the automatic not turned ‘manual’? General laughter!
You have answered this question in part earlier on but still, need a kind of clarification. You worked for the success of your party at the last poll and your party now runs the government of the state, but, you have not been adequately compensated, Assuming the party picks Engr. Makinde for another term in 2023 and going by your earlier assertion that whoever the party picks would have your support, would you work for him?
Let’s wait till that time. When the time comes and he’s picked, then, you can come back and take me up on whatever I may say now or might have said.
The entire country is presently groaning under the yoke of insecurity, what’s your view?
The security matter is a very serious one, and we have been talking about it and we will still continue to talk about it. It is a very sensitive matter, and it encompasses a lot of things if not all about our national life. Whatever one wants to become or do, security must be taken into consideration. It is when God secures one that one can achieve one’s goal, so, it is a very important sector of our national life. It should be number one on the priority list of the government. It is expected that Mr President hears our cries. I’m sure he will do all he can to secure all of us. We may not see it because we are very far from the seat of government but as things are present, the security situation in the country is very very bad. But, I’m sure that with prayer, the Almighty God will help us all.
Still on the issue of insecurity, at a time in this state, especially in Ibadan, in the past, one would have to make a call to some areas before one could go out because of incessant killings, looting and other forms of violence.
Considering the recent happenings around the state capital, are we not back at that era?
You are right and that’s why I said youths should be engaged. Again, we are having this problem now because the rapport between the government and the police is not as it should be. Both the government and the police must always be on the same page. The governor must ensure that there’s no friction between the government and the police in the state. The Police are the ones in charge of civil security, they are the closest security apparatus to the civil populace. In addition, the stakeholders must be involved, so that residents connected to them one way or the other can be monitored. The issue of security is not about high-handedness or self-centredness, no one does that in government and succeed. It is an issue that must be frontally tackled.
The thinking within the public space was that the Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN) code-named “Amotekun” would solve the internal security problem that we now witness. Is the body doing enough?
Before we can enjoy the service of ‘Amotekun’, the body and the police must work together. The police must support Amotekun for it to succeed. With the support of the police, they will be more effective in their activities. If you are in doubt of what I’m saying, where is Amotekun cell to lock up offenders? By the time Amotekun keeps anybody in the “cell”, it has become kidnapping, a very serious crime. So, Amotekun must work with the police and don’t go into power tussle with them. It is the police that receives training in the art of investigating crime and arrest offenders, Amotekun never had such training. It is through the police that Amotekun can effectively work. They can’t work alone, they must cooperate with the police.
Anybody conversant with Molete residence of the late Chief Adedibu when he was alive and comes to your residence here at Basorun will see a replica of Baba Adedibu’s style, do we take this as part of what you inherited from the strongman of Ibadan politics?
Exactly, I took it from Molete. Part of what I learnt there and from the late Baba was that he was using what he had to assist the people and the little I have too, I’m sharing it with my people.
During the lifetime of the late Adedibu, there were various means by which money came to him to do all those things, but in your own case, you don’t have such means, how do you cope?
I don’t receive help from anybody. I rely only on what I have which I make from my business. I give thanks to God for sustaining it and you know that it is not possible for any man to do what has not been assigned him by God. What I’m doing is God’s project and He manages it for me. God has been showing me mercy, I don’t receive help or grant from anybody. Whatever I have is shared among all of us here, it is not that it has to be much but however little it is, everybody that comes here is sure of partaking out of the little I have. We are managing together here.
What is your advice to your party members in the state?
My advice to all our members is to cooperate and work in unity. They must not discriminate against one another. We need unity of purpose in the party. All those acts of discrimination destroy party like the recent suspension of a local government party chairman because he visited my residence. For crying out loud, what was offensive in a PDP man visiting the house of another PDP man? Is that how to run a party? They said the man took photograph with Eddy Olafeso, a PDP Southwest chairmanship aspirant not an APC person, how does one use power to destroy another person? The people you now set out to destroy were the same people you used to attain your own goal.
What is your relationship with Alhaji Olopoeniyan based in the Oke-Ogun area of the state?
We are not in any way related. My own father’s name is Adeyemi. It was the late Chief Adedibu who gave me the name Olopoeniyan. The old man just came in one afternoon and met the crowd here, as we presently have. This surprised Baba Adedibu and said here is our own Olopoeniyan with this kind of crowd in his house, there’s no need to look for Olopoeniyan in the far away Saki and that was how the name stuck to me till date.