The former governor of Oyo State, Alhaji Lam Adesina, had been praised and vilified, but in death, he became the subject of high praise even by some of his most virulent critics. Tunde Sanni looks at the knocks and applause
Tributes have continued to pour in for the family of the former governor of Oyo State, Alhaji Lam Adesina, who died last Sunday. Fellow politicians have been falling over themselves to extol his virtues and praise his style of politics. Interestingly, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has refrained from the tributes. Obasanjo was president while Adesina was the governor of Oyo State.
The Alliance for Democracy governors in the South-west between 1999 and 2003 will never forget Obasanjo and how he foxed them at the 2003 polls, which had led to their loss at the polls, except former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu, who saw through the deceit and warned his colleagues.
Up Against Obasanjo
Few months before his terminal ailment, Adesina had taken on Obasanjo in a media chat, dismissing his administration's anticorruption war as merely meant to deceive. "We do not need outsiders to tell us that corruption has pervaded the entire system, particularly, at a higher level of government," Adesina said.
The former governor also referred to the contract for the Lagos/Ibadan expressway, which was awarded to a Peoples Democratic Party chieftain during the administration of Obasanjo and which was either not done or executed poorly. "It is a deceit that Obasanjo's government had zero tolerance for corruption. What happened to the road contract awarded to his friend? What about huge sums of money spent to put PHCN in proper condition? Let them stop deceiving the masses," Adesina asserted.
The former president fought back. He stated that the statements credited to Adesina only ridiculed him. "It is equally self-evident that the institutions for fighting corruption that the country relies on today were set up by the Obasanjo regime, likewise some of the individuals manning those institutions today were nurtured by the same Obasanjo regime that Lam Adesina so mischievously described as deceitful," Obasanjo said.
Adesina's party, Action Congress of Nigeria in the state, intervened in the media altercations between the two politicians and reminded Obasanjo through its publicity secretary, Dauda Kolawole, that Adesina had contributed to the course and development of democracy in the country than Obasanjo.
"While governor of Oyo State, Alhaji Adesina built human beings and structures in Oyo State which are still enduring till today. He is a known incorruptible man and has been living in his pre-governorship house for decades. We challenge Obasanjo to say the same of himself," Kolawole stated.
Another critic of Adesina while he was alive was his immediate successor, Senator Rasidi Ladoja.
Adesina had always been critical of the political actions of Ladoja. On the victory of the state governor, Abiola Ajimobi at the 2011 polls, the deceased ACN leader was happy that the victory was to avenge his loss to PDP at the 2003 polls.
In the wake of the harsh comments of Adesina on the romance between Ajimobi and Ladoja's Accord Party in the state legislature, Ladoja had hit back at his predecessor, describing him as a frustrated politician and suffering from senility. Adesina had declared that the government and the party did not need any alliance with either the Accord Party or the PDP to have its way. Ajimobi kept quiet all through while his body language continued to indicate that there was no going back on the alliance with Ladoja party.
However, in his tribute on the death of Adesina, the AP leader described Adesina as a great uncle.
"I always call him uncle. I know him as a nationalist, a dogged fighter and a very dear man. He helped me to enter into politics and we were very close until 2003 when I was elected as governor.
"His wife is a dear sister to me. He was loved by all and Ibadan will miss him so much. We call him 'Great Lam'. Where he disagreed with you, it would basically be on principle; there would be no sentiment attached. I can describe him as a pillar in Oyo politics. The Action Congress of Nigeria won the governorship election in the state through him," Ladoja said last week about Adesina.
Another political foe of the late ACN leader who was full of kind words for him in death was the PDP whose zonal spokesman, Kayode Babade.
Babade said in a statement, "We commiserate with the entire Adesina family, the people and government of Oyo State as well as all members of the ACN on his death. Lam Adesina's death, though painful, is another reminder of the inevitability of death as the end of all mortals. It is our prayer that the Almighty Allah will console his family, friends and associates."
The party added that the death of the former governor was bound to have some far-reaching implications, like his former kinsman, the late