Why Omisore was impeached as Deputy Governor-Chief Adebisi Akande
He is an indispensable newsmaker that journalists, irrespective of status in Nigeria always chase around to have his well-informed views on state and national and issues. But he rarely talks; and when he does, there is always explosive information and helpful realistic ideas for people to grab. Chief Abdulkareem Adebisi Akande, a former Secretary and Deputy Governor of the old Oyo State, Osun State governor, national chairman of the Action Congress, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and the first interim national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), speaks with CityMirrorNews crew on issues affecting Osun State and Nigeria. Excerpt:
We just celebrated Osun State 25th anniversary; do you think we have fulfilled the dreams of our founding fathers with the reality of what we have today?
Akande: If Osun had been a country on its own, it would have been easier to assess whether we are fulfilling the dreams or not. But Osun is a state within a country; when that country is sick, Osun definitely must be sick. If you have a small pinch on your toe, the pain will reach your brain, it will be everywhere in your body. Because Nigeria is not nearing the fulfillment of such dream, Osun as a matter of fact, may not be going as a fast as we envisaged.
But we are moving?
Akande: I think we are moving, but we are moving too slowly, but not static. On the average, we don’t have any cause to roll out the drums, because if we have good roads which we don’t have, we have good houses and good all other thing which we don’t have, it appears we are going very backward in the area of human development, education. By the time Osun state was created, we had our men everywhere in big position all over the country but now I am becoming afraid. In the last school certificate examination result, Osun didn’t shine enough to give me the confidence that in future, we are going to have such men, to have our share of those who will manage the affairs of this country. Education is key to everything we are doing, and I don’t know how it is that bad, but it is very bad.
What is your remarkable achievement as the Governor of Osun State between 1999 and 2003?
Akande: My remarkable achievement is that I was able to stop the Ife-Modakeke feud. It was very bad, it was giving Yourba a very bad name and it was so bad that everybody was afraid of Osun state. People who were coming from Ibadan via Ife were in trouble, if you were going from Ilesha via Ife, you were in trouble. That why we were forced to by-pass Ife by creating a road from Apomu to Orile-Owu to Garage Olode, and created another road through one place they call Togudu or something like that to Ifewara and from there you can go to Ilesa. So, when you are going to Akure from Ibadan, by the time you get to Apomu you will have to detour and travel almost the double of your destination distance before you can escape the carnage that was going on in Ile-Ife and Modakeke. But I thank God that within my two years in office, I was able stop all that and from that time, it has never rear its head again. Now I think they are friendlier than they were when they started life together.
What would you attribute your success of stopping the war to, despite several failed attempt by past governments and military administrations to stop the war?
Akande: The feud between Ife and Modakeke is historical. You know it has been as old as the Yoruba war and it was very bad. Ife was our greatest ancestral home and it was trance to almost five times; that everybody in Ife was sent on an exile as a result of war between Ife and Modakeke, almost five times before I came. And that I was able to do it right, it has always give me joy any time I remember that I have done something that is that lasting, and since I left they are becoming more friendly than what it used to be.
Do you have any regret of your time in office?
Akande: It is not regret, you can do all works, but if I had remained longer in office, I would have made it possible for everybody in Osun State to go to work from his own home in his own village. I was trying to make sure there is roundabout round some of the big towns in Osun state, which I see Aregbesola doing around Osogbo now. And I was trying to do a connection; we had done the design-the engineering design was completed. Between the secretarial in Abere and where Akure road get to Osu, it would have been a straight line to the secretariat when you are coming from Akure. You done have any bending before you get to the secretariat and is only about 18km or thereabouts. We could have done it. When you are going to the secretariat, you done need to go through Ilesa or Osogbo if you are coming from Ondo state, and if you are coming from anywhere else, like people coming from Ifethey don’t need to go through Gbongan or Sekona before they get to secretariat. And I was trying to make sure I link all villages with nice motorable roads. If you see some them around here, the one that link us with Ekiti and Ijesa people is like this floor. But because we could not remove the forest left and right that is why it look like the road is not there, but the road is there, go and try it now is better than many roads around here. So, we want to make sure that we have good roads that won’t take anybody more than forty minutes from his own home, in his own village to get to capital of Osun. That was my plan- ambition and I see Aregbesola follow the same plan.
You were an apostle of running government with a lean civil service; during your administration you trimmed the civil service of Osun state, which some people think cost you your second term. Do you still think that Nigerian civil service is as big as it is an albatross, do you still have the same conviction as you held then?
Akande: The civil service as we have today is a parasite on the state. If the parasites doesn’t kill it own host, they will die together. When Chief Awolowo was the premier of the old western Nigeria, from Lagos to Asaba, he was using 11,000 people to run the service. Today, go and look at the figure, it won’t be less than 20, 000 in Osun alone, add it to that in Oyo, Ogun, Lagos, Ondo, Ekiti, Delta , Edo states and so on. You will be having millions. So, what we find is that there is no more what we call job schedule in the civil service and you will see one man duplicating the effort of the other. Or when one does a good thing, the other will rob it off and that is why we don’t get result. When I was secretary to government in the whole Oyo state, it was the civil servants that were teaching us the politician how to formulate policy. When I came back as a governor 20 years later, the civil servants I met in Osun state could hardly write good memorandum, so I can see that there was a lot of degradations. There was marked difference between the civil servant we had then, and the civil servant we had when I came back as governor. I don’t know what the situation today is.
Will you advice any government national or state to embark on trimming adventure?
Akande: Yes! But I won’t say trim the civil service, I will say develop the state in such a way that the government will not need as much as it is needed today. Private sector should provide most of the things we use, if we want to be capitalistic, private sector should produce everything. Government should not be going to farm to produce yams, everybody around should produce yams and government should help them to produce yams. And those who will be producing the yams should not be civil servants. Government should not produce garri or produce fish, or making all sorts of what private sector should handle. Government should not be producing electricity; private sector should be doing it. When the government was producing telephone, we were not enjoying phone but when the private sector began to produce it, market women are now using phone and employments are more in that sector than in the government. So if you improve the production of services and materials outside the orbit of the government, those civil servants will be reduced and more people will be employed in the private sector.
So you are in support of private sector-driven economy?
Akande: That is what I favoured. I do not know what but that is what supposed to exist in Nigeria today.Nigeria cannot be in isolation in global economy. All over the world today, the economy is driven by the private sector. But in Nigeria, we still do not want to let go. Government wants to produce electricity; they cannot produce it, they want to produce water, they cannot produce it and they want to produce many things, they can’t produce it. But if it is privately driven, all those working in the government will be working with private sector and the staff of the government will be working with the private sector and the staff of the government will be small.
If the economy is privately driven, don’t you think the people would be subjected to vagaries of capitalism? Chief Obafemi Awolowo practiced socialism when he ruled the western region.
Akande: I do not know what he (Awolowo) practiced, but the situation then is quite not the same as today. When Chief Awolowo came to my area here, apart from a dispensary where they could help you clean your sore, the nearest hospital to us was either Osogbo or Egbe. But today there is a hospital here; that hospital could equally be owned by private sector. I just came out of a private hospital, I was in a bad shape before I went in there and I can see the services; very excellent. The service here is sluggish because it runs by government. Somebody got to the gate of a hospital one day, and he said oh!, Governor I am at the gate of so-so-so hospital, and there was no gateman, no nurse, no doctor, no patient and that was around 12 noon. I asked what happened and they said because there was no patient nobody was there. It is because the hospital is a government run arrangement; if it is a private run, it won’t be like that. All the other workers will be there even if it is only to be doing research when they don’t have patients. But in a government setting, you can be a doctor and wake up in the morning and go to your poultry instead of going to your hospital, and then nothing will go right because you are working for government. I don’t know why it is so, the government is not supposed not to trade at all. The government is supposed to administer and ensure that those who are trading are doing it for the benefit of the people.
Back to your time as the governor of Osun State, one notable thing that happened then was your relationship with your deputy, Senator Iyiola Omisore. You had a turbulence relationship with him; What really caused the friction, the rift that got so bad that he had to go?
Akande: Honestly, there was no friction between me and him (Omisore). But I knew I was doing my job and nobody disturbed me. He has his own job to do and I don’t think anybody disturbed him. But our sense of responsibility towards financing was not in the same direction: he was a spend free person, I was been careful with the public money and I could not have approve all vouchers. I could not approve all requests and that was not going well with him. It was because of those attitudes that led the House of Assembly to get him impeached from the government.
You were not involved in the impeachment?
Akande: Am not part of it, I just heard it.
You recalled that you survived impeachment then too?
Akande: Yes, at a different time. People felt I was too stingy with the money and it took time before people knew the money belonged to the people of Osun state. And that the money was not suppose to be spent by those of us in government. The treasury of Osun state is not supposed to be spent on those who are in government. The treasury is supposed to be spent to alleviate the suffering of the people of Osun state. But it is always very difficult for those people in power to be able to draw that line. They feel that there should be no extension between their pockets and the pocket of the government; thinking that it is their money and the government’s money. That is because of inexperience; ignorance of governance. Many people who are in government learn governance through the newspapers, but if you are knowledgeable about government, you will know that you in government are not suppose to freely spend the money of the people; the money belong to the people, it doesn’t belong to you.
So the source of the friction there was really money issues?
Akande: My belief about money is not the same as the belief of other people and the deputy governor then.
Is it through that he (Omisore) funded your campaign to become the governor then?
Akande: I don’t know because he did not tell me he was funding my campaign. He knows he didn’t fund my own campaign. I was already winning the election here; I have been a counselor for 9years, I won election to constituent assembly twice before I even knew him. So, do not let us go to that; he didn’t spend money for my own election. Bola Ige spent a lot of money for my election, bringing vehicles together; bringing loud speakers and public address equipments. He moved to the bush and villages and we are relied on his credibility in our campaign to the extent that Omisore asked me, he was driving a car one day as say “ Baba how do you manage it that everywhere you go, people are craving for you to come and talk to us”? He said when he was contesting for governorship during Abacha time, he would send money ahead before they can welcome him in a place and by the time he got there, if he did not distribute envilop, they won’t come to listen to him. But in our own case, we did not give money to anybody and in everywhere we go, people welcome us. We had our programmes, we were going to Osogbo to attend meeting people waylaid me between Inisha and the level crossing and diverted me to Oba and force me to talk to them on campaign before they allow me to attend the meeting in Osogbo. I was about two hour late, Bamgboye was supposed to be the chairman. So that thing was worrying him (Omisore): You don’t spend any money but everybody was coming out left and right to say come and talk to us. He asked me and I say it is credibility of the UPN that we were enjoying that time. In my time, we don’t distribute money to people to vote for us. If we spend money for election, it is for transportation or buy petrol for your cars. So if he (Omisore) funded any election, I didn’t know about it, he did not show me the account. Shola Akinwumi was the Secretary of the party; he knew that Omisore was borrowing money from the party secretariat during that campaign.
It seems your values are quit apart?
Akande: Yes! Not the same
So what informed your interest on him as your deputy?
Akande: I wanted to win election. He had structure, I did not have structure. I was with Bola Ige; we were sit-down-look during the military, we did not belief in military governance at all and we didn’t participate in politics then. We form a party, maybe in August or September 1999 and the election was to hold in December and we had no structure, particularly in Osun state. He had structure, he had boys and in addition to the credibility that we brought into governance, I wanted his structure to be part of me.
Is it true that he was promised that he was going to succeed you?
Akande: We did not talk about that and in democracy you don’t know who succeeds you. Anyway I didn’t promise him that.
People said that rift between you and Omisore led to the death of Chief Bola Ige.
Akande: Bola Ige was killed by the Federal Government of that time. He was killed in Oyo State, not in Osun state. That is the mistake Obasanjo made that day when he said it was because I was not managing Osun well, and I said haha Mr. President, don’t you know that Ibadan is not in Osun state. I reminded him that “have you forgotten that Ibadan is in Oyo state, he (Bola Ige) died in Oyo state, is it because I am not managing the security of this place that was why he was killed in Ibadan?” If he (Bola Ige) had been in Osun state, he would not have been killed.
You don’t believe his death was as a result of the crisis between you and Omisore?
Akande: I wouldn’t know the result of what led to his killing because a week before Bola Ige was killed, he was attending Obasanjo’s wife chieftainship ceremony at Ile-Ife when he was about to be killed the first time but because of the good security in Osun state, that is why he escaped death and got killed in Ibadan, Oyo state.
So you think the Federal Government killed him?
Akande: Federal government of that time killed Bola Ige and I said it loud, I wrote it in papers and I said it all the time.
Chief Obasanjo was the president as at that time?
Akande: I think so; it was his government that killed Bola Ige
What do u think could have been the real reasons for killing him? Why would they want to kill him because he was the attorney general and minister of Justice of that same government then?
Akande: May be the power that be was afraid of their own shadow and they were afraid of the popularity of Bola Ige among the Yoruba people.
Years after, his killers are still not been found and justice has not been done?
Akande: The government happened to be his killer; we know that, only we don’t know the instrument they used. We have not been able to identify the instruments the government used. When the government wants to kill you today, they will just kill you and nobody will know. They have all the arsenal of killing.
But your party is now in power, is your party doing anything to unravel the misery behind his death?
Akande: Buhari said the killers should be found, he instructed the Inspector General of Police, so he wants the killers found.
Do you believe the killers will be found?
Akande: I don’t know the strength of the police. I don’t know the strength of the security apparatus now in government; I am not a member of the government.
The rest of the interview will be published on Monday
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