SHOW OF SHAME: POLITICIANS, THUGS MAR OLUBADAN'S BOOK LAUNCH
Dirty politicking and intolerance yesterday almost marred the public launch of the biography of the Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Samuel Odulana Odugade I. The event meant to be a celebration of culture was turned into a political jamboree and contest among contending political forces in the state.
Poised in the fray on one hand were loyalists of the Oyo State Governor, Adebayo Alao-Akala and on the other, were chieftains of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) faction opposed to him.
Indications that the event, which held inside the Lekan Salami Stadium, Adamasingba, Ibadan, would go awry emerged, when political hoodlums welcomed former Lagos State governor and ACN chieftain, Bola Tinubu, who was the chief presenter, to the venue with prolonged taunts and derisive songs including Pa Fatai Rolling Dollar's, O kere si number wa. Awon omode wonyi kere si number wa, thus holding up proceedings for about 10 minutes.
Midway into the public presentation of the book by Senator Tinubu, as the former Lagos State's helmsman was reading his address and extolling the virtues of the monarch, supporters of Governor Alao-Akala comprising mainly serving commissioners and local government chairmen launched verbal attacks on him, the Senate Leader, Senator Teslim Folarin and the immediate past governor of the state, Senator Rashidi Ladoja who were also present.
Senator Tinubu apparently incurred the wrath of Akala's supporters when he praised the stand of the Olubadan in checkmating the excesses of some politicians in Ibadanland. The ACN chief had stressed that to the best of his knowledge, 'the Olubadan is not a partisan politician. But he ascended the throne when reactionary politics was threatening the moral fibre of our society and where Yorubaland was becoming the political land of anything goes.'
He stated further that, 'when most people in the land were playing safe, anxious and fearful not to offend the powers that be, the Olubadan launched a full-scale campaign on such vile politicking, and why it dirtied the traditional institution.' Apparently construing Tinubu's comments, as veiled reference to their boss and his late political godfather, Chief Lamidi Adedibu, serving commissioners and local government chairmen in all the 11 councils in Ibadan as well as other political office holders in the Akala administration began chanting praises of Governor Akala as well as singing abusive songs, drowning Tinubu's speech.
They were soon joined by hoodlums, who sabotaged the public address system, such that the rest of Tinubu's address could not be heard. They sang: A o ni e tu ilu, ilu lani ki e tunse. Throwing decorum into the wind, some of them moved towards Tinubu, asking him to 'keep shut and go away'. At this juncture, the few supporters of the ACN stalwart launched a counter attack, while all efforts by the former governor to continue with his prepared speech were resisted.
Repeated pleas by the master of the ceremonies and renowned historian, Prof. Bolanle Awe, for calm fell on deaf ears. With the rowdy situation, Tinubu was forced to end his address abruptly after which he quickly left the venue, amidst tight security. Few minutes after his departure, the Senate Leader, Senator Teslim Folarin, the immediate past governor of the state, Senator Rashidi Ladoja and former Minister of Special Duties, Elder Wole Oyelese, also left the venue. Hoodlums immediately shifted attention on them chanting: Ole nsa o, duro de Akala ki o wo sokoto (meaning the cowards are running away for Akala).
The exit of Senators Folarin, Ladoja and Tinubu nearly ended the programme as majority of the invited dignitaries including traditional rulers, on sensing the tensed atmosphere, sneaked out of the stadium to avert possible embarrassment from political touts. Governor Akala, who kept mute on the behaviour of his supporters, declared that his administration 'is at peace with all the paramount traditional rulers in the state.'
He cautioned traditional rulers in the state especially the Olubadan 'to be careful of politicians ,especially those who use the hallowed palaces of our fathers as a guise to create the impression that their actions are supported by our kabiyesi,' adding 'this is an abuse. 'I want to state here with all emphasis at my disposal that this administration is at peace with all our paramount rulers and the seeming tension is the creation of those who wish to benefit from the so-called discord.
'They must know that they are on their own and they should be man enough to carry their political fate in their own hands instead of committing sacrilege by involving our revered fathers.' The governor also advised Oba Odulana to 'listen even to those who do not see eye-to-eye with you,' adding, 'as the Olubadan of Ibadanland, you are now the father of all, regardless of religious, political or socio-cultural differences.'
He donated N10 million towards the launch while Tinubu launched the book with N2 million.