He has no airs nor does he holds any around himself. Though he is a “son of the soil” from Oke-Oluokun in Ibadan, there is nothing to suggest he is from the South West nor does he even speak nor understand Yoruba because of his outward mannerism.
You would be generous to even pass him for an artisan or a tradesman. Moderately built in stature, he hardly wants to be noticed or recognized. He strikes one as an introvert. But he is not. It is when you engage him that the fire in his belly exposes him as a tested, rugged, fire-eating activist and a veteran of Odua Peoples` Congress (OPC).
ADESINA AKINPELU, currently holds the position of the National Publicity Secretary of the New Era faction of the militant group. A survivor of many battles, some of which almost sent him to early grave, AKINPELU coordinated the coalition of other forces that rose in support and defence of CHIEF SUNDAY ADEYEMO- popularly called SUNDAY IGBOHO in his latest intervention in the wanton killings of people and destruction of farmlands by herdsmen in Ibarapa area of Oyo State recently.
In this encounter with the MEDIA HUB Team, AKINPELU recounted the Ibarapa episode, dissected the crisis rocking the OPC as well as the reconciliatory efforts being made to unite the factional groups. He also spoke about the debate going on over restructuring, describing it as belated and that the Yoruba would take decisive decision at the appropriate time and on other national issues.
Could you trace the OPC journey into national politics?
It was late Dr. Frederick Fasheun who brought us into the system during the Campaign for Democracy days. I can described him as my father, my leader and mentor, may the Lord bless his soul!
Obasanjo particularly doesn’t
want anything ethnic.
He doesn’t believe in the
Yoruba agenda and would
always speak on national
and international matters.
He saw us as rebellious people
against the government. In
all honesty, OBJ is a nationalist.
If you want to annoy Chief
Obasanjo just bring up
Yoruba ethnic matter
How close were you to the Late Dr. Fasheun?
We were very close, actually, when we were together, we were always with him and the Late Dr Beko Ransome Kuti, we were so close. Then our office was at No 40, Araromi Street, Mushin, Lagos, we were always together, very close even up till the time of his death. He was good to all of us. It was the crisis between him and Chief Gani Adams that caused disaffection among us.
How did the crisis separate you?
Sometimes in 1998, Dr Fasheun went to Ota to see Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, his friend and told him he wanted to contest for Presidency and would need Fasheun’s support. Fasheun went to Ota with some people, I was not among them, and those people gave us information that Obasanjo gave Fasheun some money which Fasheun didn’t disclose when he got back to the group. They said the money was N20m. It caused a lot of crisis because at that time we were seriously looking for money to do certain things in the group. Not quite long, we discovered that the money Dr Fasheun got from OBJ was N20,000 after some people contacted Obasanjo’s aides and it was confirmed that the money was given to Dr Fasheun as his transport fare. That was what broke up OPC till today.
We don’t have leaders that
are comparable to those
you mentioned because our
leaders of today don’t believe
in the unity of Yoruba Nation.
So, was that the only thing that broke up OPC?
Yes, it was because of the secrecy surrounding the money that led to the walking away from the OPC by Chief Gani Adams at a meeting presided over by Dr. Fasheun at Orita-Aperin, Ibadan.
As at today, as an insider, what figure would you put as the membership strength of the OPC?
Hmmm! We give thanks to God that in the beginning, we social activists and elderly members of OPC started the project. We have foot soldiers in large numbers in the OPC, if all of us come together. You know, I said crisis made us to have factions, from 1998 till today we have four factions, so if all of us come together, then we have quite a large number of foot soldiers, apart from other departments. And when I say foot soldiers, you know what that means.
You said you have four groups now?
Yes, four groups
Can we know them?
Initially, we had only Dr. Fasheun’s Group and later, the Gani Adam’s Group. In 2015, President Goodluck Jonathan gave money to all the militant groups in Nigeria. OPC got N1.5bn, but the two factional leaders pocketed the money, I mean Dr. Fasheun and Chief Gani Adams and that was how we had another crisis which consumed over three thousand OPC foot soldiers. It was a serious issue at that time. I belonged to the Gani Adams faction, some people belonged to the Fasheun’s faction and we now decided to form a splinter group which some people suggested should be an entirely new group, but we knew that would not be the best as OPC would sink that group. So, we decided to add something to OPC and that was how we came about OPC Reform and OPC New Era.
So now you have four OPC groups?
Yes, that is OPC Fasheun, OPC Gani Adams, OPC New Era and OPC Reform (From Gani Adams group). We were the foot soldiers, we were trained, We are unlike Fasheun and Gani. Gani Adams cannot compare himself with some of us, he only covers up by claiming to be our leader. And we don’t begrudge him.
Do you people consider reconciliation, can you come together again?
In 2018, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II gave me the assignment to resolve the crisis. He said he learnt that I was one of those who started the crisis within OPC, but I said no. We later gathered ourselves together and explained things to him. Along the line we were advised to add something to OPC for proper representation by the time we present ourselves to the government.
Who is the head of OPC Reform?
Comrade Dare Adesope heads OPC Reform and Alhaji Razak Arogundade is the leader of OPC New Era. Arogundade was formerly the Chief Security Officer (CSO) to Chief Gani Adams. We strategically made him leader of OPC New Era, he knows Gani Adams in and out and Gani himself would be careful not to confront him in any way.
We are not happy about what
is happening at Ibarapa but
our message is clear. If the
Seriki Fulani and his people
cannot tell us who the
criminals among them
are, they should leave
our community. We have
had enough of the nasty
killings in that area.
That is all.
Looking at the way Chief Olusegun Obasanjo dealt with the OPC during his Presidency, where exactly would history place him in the affairs of the group?
Yes, Chief Obasanjo subtly contributed to the crisis in the OPC. You know OBJ was a good friend to Dr. Fasheun. Again, politicians including OBJ knew we were becoming stronger and more forceful, so, they caused a lot of crises among us. Obasanjo particularly doesn’t want anything ethnic. He doesn’t believe in the Yoruba agenda and would always speak on national and international matters. He saw us as rebellious people against the government. In all honesty, OBJ is a nationalist. If you want to annoy Chief Obasanjo just bring up Yoruba ethnic matter. Though, recently OBJ speaks in favour of Yorubas because he doesn’t want Yorubas to become disillusioned with the Nigeria project, knowing that such would hasten Nigeria’s disintegration.
When last did you see Obasanjo?
I don’t have his number as I’m speaking with you, but I do see him anytime I wish to see him, I’m OBJ’s boy. The only thing is that he doesn’t listen to anyone who brings purely Yoruba matters to him.
Concerning the reconciliation assignment given you by the Ooni of Ife, how far have you gone with it?
I can tell you categorically that both OPC Reform and OPC New Era are now working together. Anywhere you see OPC Reform, you see OPC New Era. There is unity of purpose between us now.
Who is heading the Fasheun Group now?
It is Chief Osibote, Gani Adams is the one heading the Gani Adams Group.
What are the fundamental differences that prevent you from becoming the OPC of old, which we all knew?
That crisis of 2015 caused a lot of damages to the OPC. Fasheun encouraged his foot soldiers to kill Gani Adams Group, so we were killing ourselves. I lost my girlfriend and a lot of close friends then. But later, we came together as men to review the situation. Then we all began to shed tears that these two men (Dr. Fasheun & Chief Adams) took us for fools and caused us to kill one another while they enjoyed themselves. At that point, we came together and that was how we formed groups. However, the groups are becoming one now. There is crisis within the Fasheun Group headed by Chief Osibote as I’m speaking with you, but within the next three weeks, it would be resolved. Even Gani Adams Group now communicate with us, I remember when Reform and New Era went to Idogo, Gani Adams Group was not happy that we didn’t invite them so we are achieving the reconciliation objective and will surely have something interesting to tell the Oonirisa very soon.
It has always been like that since
Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s days.
We are not forcing anyone to join
this struggle, we know that
they are rich and influential,
but they should not work
against us, they should not
sabotage any of our efforts.
From the benefits of hindsight, do you believe Yoruba have replacement for those great leaders like Late Justice Adewale Thompson, Late Chief Bola Ige and the rest of them with exemplary qualities when it comes to Yoruba interest/agenda?
We don’t have leaders that are comparable to those you mentioned, because our leaders of today don’t believe in the unity of Yoruba Nation. Pa Fasoranti and Pa Adebanjo believe only in Gani Adams. They don’t bother to speak to other groups in the OPC. But I do tell them, you have so many children and shouldn’t take side with anyone. They asked me to see them and discuss the matter sometime last year, but I couldn’t go because of the COVID-19 pandemic and even then, they have never called me for any update. I have always been the one calling them. The only person I trust who perfectly promotes Yoruba Unity is Baba Prof Banji Akintoye. That’s why I will always support any of his moves. Prof. Akintoye was actually recommended as someone who could unite the factions in OPC by Senator Femi Okurounmu
Did Ooni give any time frame for you to work on the reconciliation of the OPC?
You see, our leaders and Obas don’t know how to empower people around them, that is why politicians take advantage of our youths. I went, sometimes to the Ooni’s palace with Prof. Akintoye and getting to him, he asked. “Sina, how far about the assignment?” I told him about the challenges I encountered and it ended there. ‘The truth is that not until our leaders and fathers become conscious of the need to empower those around them, especially the youths, the politicians will continue to take advantage for their political and self-centred reasons.
The Ibarapa matter, how much of it did you know?
We are not happy about what is happening at Ibarapa but our message is clear. If the Seriki Fulani and his people cannot tell us who the criminals among them are, they should leave our community. We have had enough of the nasty killings in that area. That is all. Before Sunday Igboho gave that ultimatum to the Fulanis in that area, we OPC had made some moves and when we saw what Igboho was doing, we tried to join forces with him, as we felt he shouldn’t be left alone in this struggle. Our initial move was hindered by logistic problems. That very day, we moved in a convoy to Igangan with Igboho’s Hilux van in front. We got to Eruwa where we met the Area Commander of the Nigeria Police, who along with some officers went with us to Igangan.
So police were with you at Igangan?
Yes! They were with us and the Area Commander won’t have followed us if the Commissioner of Police did not give him the order. Sunday Igboho didn’t do anything wrong, many of the Fulanis are criminals and should be checked properly. Yorubas are not fools.
Now what happens if Sunday Igboho is arrested?
Let’s wait and see, I believe he won’t be arrested. If they want to arrest him, they should arrest all of us too, including Obas who supported his move. Sunday Igboho has the support of all Yorubas, I know that as a matter of fact.
People are castigating Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State over his failure to support Sunday Igboho’s move, how do you react to this?
The Governor is pursuing his personal agenda, and doesn’t reckon with anybody, be it pressure groups or non-governmental security outfits. Compare what Amotekun is in Oyo State to what it is elsewhere in the South West. In Oyo State, Amotekun is being used to play politics. That’s so repulsive. We contributed to the making of Amotekun in the South-West, but now we are not involved. We have an idea of what Amotekun should be like but Governor Makinde has turned Amotekun to his own use.
You implied that Amotekun in Oyo State is different from Amotekun in other states in South West, could you further expatiate on this?
Yes, Amotekun in Osun or Ondo states have not been reported to be killing people within towns, they fight against criminals and are on top of the battle, but here, the situation is different, we have controversial Amotekun who are gradually constituting nuisance to Oyo State people. Security operatives don’t kill, look at what they did in Ibarapa, they claimed to have killed criminals, whereas they were supposed to capture and extract information from them. Even military men don’t kill unless in a state of war.
At what point did the burning of houses, cars and other properties occur in Igangan as later reported?
We don’t know about that. On that day, we got to Igangan at about 3pm and left at about 6pm. If the mayhem had occurred during that period, the police, soldiers and other security outfits won’t have allowed us to leave the area. Maybe aggrieved indigenes of Igangan carried out the attack and damages later that day I can’t say. We never encouraged any form of violence throughout our stay in that place. I believe that Governor Seyi Makinde and Garba Shehu were instigating Igboho’s arrest. Frank Mba, the Force PRO never said anything about it, we know how the police work. Garba Shehu is a Fulani man and the one calling for his arrest, here and there, saying it’s the Presidency, these people are confusionists who lack the capacity to hold public offices. They can’t shut Yorubas up, we can’t be gagged, if they want to arrest Sunday Igboho, then they should arrest all of us. We are ready for them.
We know quite well that President Buhari is the Grand Patron of Miyetti Allah and Garuba Shehu is also a Fulani man, representing them in the Presidency.
Now this issue is snowballing and we don’t know where it would end, but certain Yoruba leaders are keeping quiet over it for the fact that they have 2023 in mind. What is your take on this?
We don’t have leaders, but individuals who are ready to sell their kinsmen to outsiders and achieve only their own purpose, economic and political. There was a conference in Ibadan last Thursday and we went there as a group, but what we found there were people who are not even known to Yorubas acting as conveners. They are parading themselves as leaders of Yorubas.
Some time ago, we attended a World Conference where it was stated that four of the six geo-political zones in Nigeria are not well treated as citizens of Nigeria, both Yoruba and Igbo took the same stance and it is viewed that the Middle Belt and South-South would join at the next conference, the outcome of which would determine where the country is heading to. Prof. Akintoye told us that we would not shed blood before the issue surrounding our self-determination is resolved and I strongly believe him. Though Fulanis are provoking us to go to war, we are wiser than that.
Are you aware of the clandestinely moves to thwarting Prof. Akintoye’s effort?
It has always been like that since the Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s days. We are not forcing anyone to join this struggle, we know that they are rich and influential, but they should not work against us, they should not sabotage any of our efforts. We are not going to be violent, but we know how to handle this. Everyone only needs to wait and see what happens.
As Yorubas, we know what we want and we know how to achieve it, we are intelligent people and we will never shoot any gun at anyone before achieving our aims. Let the world powers know also that anything that takes place in Nigeria will have a spiral effect on other African countries, as well as the world powers’ investments in Africa.
Coming back to the crises in OPC, do you reach out to other factions to seek other possible ways of reconciliation?
We have reached out, because people like Gani doesn’t want anything to work, Gani came from nowhere to hijack the OPC, he destroyed our struggle, but soon we shall resolve all issues concerning the OPC and we will come out stronger and more purposeful.
Where is the meeting point between your agenda and the clamour for restructuring?
Any Yoruba man talking about restructuring at this time is a betrayer. We don’t need it again, we are tired of this country and we want to go. If there is any group that doesn’t want us to go, then we will give our terms. Fulani have destroyed our business, education, industries and economy in Yorubaland. I spoke with a friend in Sokoto, Garuba by name who exempted the Hausa from everything the Fulani have turned Nigeria into. The Fulani don’t own any land in Nigeria, yet they believe they can capture every land and install Emir everywhere, including Yorubaland. Anybody that doesn’t want Yoruba to leave should let us see what is in the 2014 Confab report. This cheating is too much, we shouldn’t be made to suffer in our own country, we have everything to emerge as one of the most successful nations in the world. What Fulanis achieved in the North in the 18th Century cannot happen in the 21st century, it’s impossible, it can never be. We will invoke the spirit of our ancestors to curse any Yoruba man working against our collective interests.