By Kayode Oladeji
“No event, no history”, goes the popular cliche. Also, politicians and politics are members of the same family who may choose or refuse to conjoin or interrelate in order to be or not to be on the same page. This is simply because what is paramount and permanent in any political calculus is: Interest.
This informs why members of the same family may go to any length to outdo one another with a view to having the upper hand in the game.
In january, 2009, Chief Bisi Akande, then immediate past Governor of Osun State and also incumbent National Chairman of Action Congress (AC), had his 70th birthday.
Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola was still in the saddle as the state’s helmsman.
As should be expected, all roads led to the sleepy ancient town of Ila-Orangun which was thronged by the creme de la creme of the society to celebrate with Chief Akande on attaining the enviable milestone becoming a septuagenarian.
Curiously, though not so unexpected, Oyinlola, was not officially invited to the occasion, despite being the sitting governor.
Remember, it was the same Oyinlola that defeated Akande at the polls during the 2003 election.
Secondly, as at the time Akande clocked 70 and was being celebrated, Oyinlola and Aregbesola (AC’s gubernatorial flag bearer at the 2007 polls) were still fiercely contesting the outcome of the election at the Election Tribunal. That was an era of serious political scrimmage in the state.
Against all odds, however, attempts to discourage Oyinlola from going to Ila for Akande’s birthday met a brickwall. The Don’t-Go-To-Ila persuasions on that fateful day were genuinely meant to forestall possible backlashes from the dyed-in-the-wool supporters of the parties invited.
Oyinlola rebuffed security reports and all entreaties not to attend. In fact, some of us, his aides, “conspired” with the retired DIG ZONE II, Mr. Tunji Alapini so that the Okuku-born Prince could see reason.
Sadly, our plot fell flat to the ground.
I recall that we had gone to inspect the Free Trade Zone on that fateful morning. On the security radio set came the announcement that we were heading back to the Government House. We all heaved sigh of relief; thinking that our boss had yielded to the pressure.
No sooner had we got to Government House than we were told not to disembark from our vehicles as we (the convoy) would be stepping out again. To where? This became the question on the lips of everybody.
To our utter amazement, Oyinlola did what he used to do very rarely: he picked his wife to join us on the convoy.
By this time, reports kept coming in that Ila, Akande’s hometown, had become charged with Action Congress (AC) supporters who were said to be inebriating, heightening the fear that they could unleash mayhem at the sight of Oyinlola at the event.
As was the tradition, the commander (a code name for a designated officer in the convoy) demanded to know where we were heading to, and the chief security officer (CSO),who had the privilege of being briefed, announced through the radio set in security code; India Lima Alfa, meaning Ila! This man (Oyinlola), ysome of us exclaimed.Pronto! We headed to a place and an event to which we were not invited.
Apparently, most of the people of Ila, and other dignitaries, including Senator Bola Tinubu, Mr Raji Fasola, then Lagos State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomole (Edo State Governor), Kayode Fayemi, Rauf Aregbesola with the celebrator did not believe Oyinlola would make it, moreso that he was not invited. Of a truth, he was the least expected guest.
As our siren-blaring convoy entered Ila, the atmosphere became musty with nobody knowing what could happen next. Fears were real and palpable.
We drove straight to the eye-popping mansion of Chief Akande. There, were Fasola, Oshiomole, Fayemi,Tinubu, (Remi) and a host of others, already savouring delicacies of the bash in the living room.
In particular, the then Edo state Governor (Oshiomole), now National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) attracted our attention with the way he guzzled his food. Please, permit me not to say more than this about that.
Being a Friday and the fact that our arrival coincided with the day’s Jumat Service, Baba Akande ,Tinubu and Aregbesola, were all in the mosque.Late wife of Akande, Madam Omowumi Akande and Remi Tinubu, attended to him (Oyinlola) and his wife, before the arrival of the Celebrator (Akande) as well Tinubu and Aregbesola
Before their arrival, however, a serious drama had played out as Oyinlola did not hide his anger against Fasola and Oshiomole for breaching security protocols by not informing him that they would be in the state.
Fuming, Oyinlola told the two of them, matter-of-factly, “This is totally unacceptable for you to come to my state without informing me . Have you people forgotten that i am the Chief Security Officer of this State? I am telling you, if anything should happen to you while here, I will tell the whole world that I did not know you were around”.
Somewhat remorseful about their peskiness, Fasola and Oshiomole apologised profusely for breaching the protocols.
“Your Excellency, please forgive us, the two of them chorused”.
In particular, Fasola truly showed that they goofed by not carrying Oyinlola along. Fayemi, too, was not left out as he pleaded in yoruba, “Egbon, e ma binu (Sir, don’t be angry).
It was another searing moment when Tinubu and baba Akande came back from the mosque as Oyinlola didn’t pretend to them, particularly baba Akande. He (Oyinlola) retorted, “What kind of politics is this? First and foremost, you are a Yoruba leader and i am equally, a Yoruba to the core. Besides, whether anybody likes it or not, I am the Governor of this state. You are a former governor, you are celebrating your birthday and I was not invited, haba, that is not fair. What kind of politics is this? Everything should not be politicised”.
Chief Akande was short of words. He promptly apologized to Oyinlola that he never meant it that way. He also blamed it on the organisers of the event.
Aregbesola in his characteristic tawdry manner, did not come into the house where the drama was playing out; rather, he bigged up as usual, by mounting the roof of his car, waving to his supporters.
The open field outside Akande’s house where the shindig was held, had become charged and rowdy with goons and gonzos, ostensibly ready to do what they knew best – cause problems.
As dignitaries made their way to the party venue, Alhaji Wasiu Ayinde, known as K1 de Ultimate, brusquely and gibberishly, took to incendiarism by spewing songs that further heightened the situation.
In a bid to tar Oyinlola’s name through innuedos, he sang, “Eyin Osun, e lo f’okan bale; ohun to n bo, a dun j’oyin lo” meaning, people of Osun, be rest assured that what is coming for you will be sweeter than honey, thus playing on the Oyin (honey) in Oyinlola’s, and to downplay the “Oyin ni o” cliche which had been in vogue all through Oyinlola’s years in the saddle as the state’s governor.
This song was blaring in the speakers strategically placed on the field with lyrics spiced with rollicking drums.
Amidst the frenzy, K1 de Ultimate’s lines further exacerbated the situation as it became execrable and tension soaked. It was real and could be felt!
Wasiu Ayinde did not help matters with his pejorative songs; neither did Aregbesola who was dancing round the field as he clenched his fists, throwing imaginary punches as his supporters cheered him on.
In a seeming fit of rage, the then Commissioner of Police, Mr. John Moronike who later retired as an AIG, walked up to the Fuji musician (Wasiu Ayinde) and warned him to stop the song otherwise he (the CP) would personally effect his arrest there and then. Promptly, KWAM1 stopped! Somehow, it’s like Aregbesola, too, was warned as he, too, behaved to type. Everywhere became quite thereafter; a situation that could best be described as the peace of a graveyard.
When it was time to leave Ila, Fasola then Lagos State helmsman, implored Oyinlola that hid (Fasola’s) convoy would tag along with that of the Okuku-born Prince. Oyinlola obliged him, and so we left the ancient town together unhurt and unmolested.
As sirens were blaring left and right, people trooped out and lined by each side of the road; some cheering, some jeering.
We got back to our base unscathed; but our boss’ audacious decision to grace the occasion, formed our major plank of discussion for a long time, thereafter.
Our conclusion was that Oyinlola was not a typical politician which informed why he did not play politics of bitterness and exclusion while in the saddle as the state governor.
Good enough, he remains so, till date.