Adedibu: The Garrison Commander Of Ibadan
By Reuben Abati, Guardian, Lagos

Democracy and the rule of law received another kick in the groin on
Friday, January 13, with the kangaroo process orchestrated by Alhaji
Lamidi Adedibu and his 18 lawmakers of the Oyo State House of
Assembly, resulting in the purported impeachment of Governor Rashidi
Ladoja, and the swearing in with immediate effect of Ladoja's former
Deputy, Adebayo Alao-Akala. The incident raises both legal and moral
issues. It is a direct product of the flawed nature of our democracy
and the full-blown spread of the dictatorship of the Presidency. It
is an open triumph of gangsterism and a legitimation of the
godfather syndrome in Nigerian politics. It is a sad development
made possible by the refusal to place principles and ideas at the
centre of the governance process. It is the latest addition to the
long and growing list of sommersaults by the ruling party, the PDP.

A 'rain-beaten' Ladoja is now threatening to show up in his office
on Monday, January 16, to continue with his work as a duly elected
Governor of Oyo state. His argument is that since a court of law has
declared the panel which investigated the allegations against him
illegal, then the purported impeachment cannot stand. Within the
purview of Section 188 of the constitution dealing with impeachment,
it is further clear that Ladoja's alleged removal is illegal. He was
not given a chance to defend himself: he had only two hours (!) and
he received the notice at almost 5 p.m on the particular day. His
impeachment was carried out by 18 members out of the total of 32
members, whereas the Constitution prescribes that only a two-thirds
majority of all members of the House can remove a Governor from
office. The undue haste with which the entire exercise was conducted
points to a miscarriage of justice.

Ladoja's removal was also pre-meditated. He is a victim of Lamidi
Adedibu's politics. Adedibu, the strongman of Ibadan politics as he
calls himself, had informed the public weeks ago, that Ladoja's time
was up and that he would be removed as Governor. He also reportedly
told whoever cared to listen the exact time when this would be done:
after Sallah holidays. President Olusegun Obasanjo had also 24 hours
before the kangaroo process in Ibadan, advised that Ladoja should
resign or be removed in 24 hours. Once the President so directed,
the machinery of Ladoja's removal was fast-tracked and within 24
hours truly, he was out on the streets. His security aides were
immediately withdrawn. His Deputy was sworn in to replace him.
Ladoja's hope is that the Courts will not allow this to stand. He
has been quoted as saying the "judiciary is the last hope of the
common man."

He also added that "the law is the law." It is interesting to see
how members of the ruling cabal suddenly start quoting the law when
they are in distress. The only problem that Ladoja faces is that the
politics of Oyo state, and his removal has been taken beyond the
law. Ladoja has powerful enemies, within his own party, the PDP, and
in the Presidency. I believe that when he says he will show up in
his office on Monday, he is genuinely bluffing. Nigeria is a country
where anything can happen, where phrases such as "due process,
justice and human rights" mean close to nothing. "We will crush any
dissident", Alao-Akala has been quoted as saying. The Police have
also made it clear that they will not allow any one to disturb the
peace. Ladoja's impeachment smacks of moral turpitude, but the
powerful forces that have removed him will not hesitate to crush him
completely. A man should know when he has been beaten. What has
removed Ladoja from office in Oyo state, is not just Adedibu and
his "amala-eating" troops but federal might. President Obasanjo
could have saved him, but he refused to do so.

In retrospect, those allegations were dug up to justify an outcome
that had already been presented before the public. Before the crisis
started, Ladoja's right to fair hearing had been foreclosed. When
President Obasanjo visited Ibadan on the eve of his removal, that
was clearly a signal to the troops to complete the assignment.
Before then, the Chairman of the PDP, Ahmadu Ali had described
Ibadan as "a military garrison and Adedibu as the Commander". He
recommended that Ladoja should go and take directives from Adedibu
or get out of Government House.

Ladoja should wake up. His statements since the coup against him
(that is the right word: a coup not impeachment), portray him as
rather na•ve. Even if he goes to court and a court of law reinstates
him, what is the guarantee that the coup plotters will respect the
court ruling? He must know that the PDP, the party to which he
belongs does not respect the courts of the land. The President
himself has refused on more than one occasion to act on court
rulings. The PDP Chairman also once publicly asked a court of law to
mind its own business. Obviously, the likes of Chris Uba and Adedibu
are above the laws of the land. The Chief Justice of Nigeria has had
cause to protest that this government is violating the rule of law.
What hope then is Ladoja talking about? Our tragedy is that hope is
becoming a scarce commodity in our land, there is great
disillusionment, in part because of the shenanigans of our political

Ladoja by now must also have learnt one or two lessons about human
nature. Alao-Akala his former Deputy, now the beneficiary of his
misfortune has been so triumphant. He has dissolved the cabinet, and
has held a meeting with senior civil servants. He told them: "I
called you to a meeting to inform you of the dissolution of the
cabinet and the need to take charge of the ministries in acting
capacity. My immediate challenge is to bring back the peace to the
state, to make for the smooth running of my administration. I will
continue where my predecessor stopped. I will lay emphasis on the
transformation of the party and will not meddle in the affairs of
the state House of Assembly. I believe they will resolve all their
differences politically as time goes on."

Now, these are not the words of a man who thinks that Ladoja, his
former boss is on leave and would soon return. He sounds like
someone who will do everything that is humanly possible to keep the
seat that he has suddenly found. To be sure, his first assignment in
office was his trip to the den of Adedibu where he prostrated and
thanked the Godfather for making him a Governor. Without a doubt,
Akala has no intentions to disobey the "garrison commander". He will
be a good boy. He will do as he is told. That this is the state of
Nigerian democracy is tragic. But this is what President Olusegun
Obasanjo and the PDP elite want. And Adedibu wants something else.
He says: "Ladoja is too greedy. He was collecting N65 million as
security vote every month. You know that governors don't account for
security vote. He was to give me N15 million of that every month. He
reneged. Later it was reduced to N10 million, yet he did not give

To this Ladoja has responded: "we did not reach any agreement about
sharing money. When he asked me about his own share, I asked him
under which account should I put it....The understanding of both of
us of what governance is supposed to be differs. The difference is
that I see governance as service while he sees it as business." He
sees it as thuggery too. Listen to Ladoja once more: "...after we
had our quarrel in 1994 and we wanted to make up in 2002, he came to
see me and said Rasheed what do you want and I said I want to be
governor and he said then let us work together. I said without him,
we had been winning elections, so what is it that you can do that I
cannot do and he said three things. One, he asked me, do you know
how to abuse people? And I said no. Then he asked, can you take away
your clothes in the public and fight? I said no. Thirdly, he asked
can you tell lies against somebody and swear on the Quran and again
call witnesses and I said impossible. Then he said those are the
things we always used in politics."

This then is the picture of amala politics as championed by Adedibu.
This is the man who is President Obasanjo's friend. When Alao-Akala
settles down in office, would he now share his security vote with
Adedibu? Would the President consider that right? If there is any
gain in what has happened in Anambra and Oyo states, it is the
exposure of the failures of the Nigerian political culture. We have
in power a rent-collecting elite. Thuggery and revenue sharing are
the main substance of Nigerian politics. The Presidency is too
powerful, too morally selective. Illiterates and egotists are the
drivers of the governance process. Our leaders do not operate at the
level of ideas but ego and personal ambitions. We are not yet in a
democracy, but a kind of military rule. Ladoja may sound
sanctimonious but he is also part of that prebendal class. He is
whining only because he has lost out. The seeming helplessness of
the people of Oyo state is disturbing; the total discounting of
their power and voice and the manipulation of the political system
in the state by one man whose word is law is condemnable.

By now, however, life for Ladoja must be very lonely. He failed to
build a strong political base for himself. He misunderstood the
nature of Nigerian politics. He is politically illiterate. But let
Alao-Akala who has taken his place develop a sense of history. Was
he not the same Alao-Akala who was recently rough-handled and
undressed at a PDP event in Abuja by Adedibu's supporters? Let him
therefore not deceive himself that he is the Governor of Oyo state.
The real Governor lives in Molete. He is the commander of the Ibadan
garrison, Lamidi Ariyibi Adedibu: a symbol of Nigeria's political
backwardness. The likes of Adedibu continue to thrive because they
are "useful" agents of a dictatorship that the Obasanjo government
has imposed on Nigeria. But how many more blows can this democracy