Dapo Alibaloye: Fayose destroying Ekiti of our dream

Dapo Alibaloye: Fayose destroying Ekiti of our dream

Friday, January 15, 2016 11:04 am


Dapo Alibaloye: Photos by Idowu Ogunleye

Dapo Alibaloye: Photos by Idowu Ogunleye

Chief Dapo Alibaloye, 77, a native of Ire-Ekiti, is one of the founding fathers of Ekiti State. He is the Chairman of Ekiti APC Elders Forum which also comprises other members like Retired Chief Justice Edward Ojuolape, Dr A. Akinyemi and Dr Balogun who is the Secretary.

Alibaloye, apart from being the electoral commissioner in Ondo State in the Second Republic, worked in many federal ministries: Internal Affairs, Education, Presidency, Mines, Power and Steel. He was in the Cabinet Office also under Olusegun Obasanjo’s military regime. His last tour of duty was at National Emergency Management Agency where he retired 20 years ago.

In this interview with Ademola Adegbamigbe, he speaks on the creation of the state, the goings-on there now and state of the nation.

Q: You were one of those instrumental to the creation of Ekiti state. How did it start?

A: We were formally in the old Western Region under the late Chief Awolowo, When the military came in 1966 and they created states, I was part of the creation of Ondo state itself. At that time, we thought that Ondo State would cater for all our interests in all ramifications of human endeavour. Unfortunately our interest, our intention were not being met in Ondo.

We thought we should be well integrated, but no sooner had they settled down that they started showing some dimensions, interests. We thought Ekiti should become a bloc since we always lived as a bloc, that is how we fashioned the interest of Ekiti State and we started from that modest aspect. We pushed the idea under Babangida but when the new states were created, Ekiti was not accommodated in the arrangement; they only created Osun in the old west and it means, breaking Oyo into Osun and Oyo.

We continued with the agitation and at that time, I met Justice Olajide Olatawura, Chief Deji Fasuan and this architect from Ikole, he was there and there was one lecturer from College of Education Ikere. We met in Chief Fasuan’s house and I introduced the idea to them that we should have our own state. After the first failure when Ekiti was not created along with Osun, we prepared another memo and submitted it. The agitation continued until it materialized under Abacha in 1996.

Q: Which federal ministry were you then when the agitation went on?

A: I was in Mines, Power and Steel. And because Mines, Power and Steel Ministry was broken up (it used to be one ministry), I was later in Mines. I had started under Education (in administration). People in administration produce perm secs. In public service, when we were posted, they said we had a tour of duty in the ministry. I worked in so many ministries, internal affairs, education, presidency, mines, power and steel. I was in the cabinet office under Obasanjo.

Q: What were the challenges before Ekiti was created?

However, I passed the information to Ekiti sons in the military, especially those that were in the Armed Forces Ruling Council. They were aware, people like the late General James Oluleye, Adeleye who was not in the council but he was there as military governor. Once they came to the meeting of council of state, I would pass the information also to them. Then general Oye was Commandant of Brigade of Guards. My my wife once escorted me to General Oye, a jovial man.There was also another top military brass from Ijero who was leading the Air Force, whom I involved too. I have forgotten his name now. I think I tried. All those people supported the idea.

A: There were other people agitating for state creation too. Oke Ogun wanted it badly. They had very strong connection with the then administration because the late Chief Shittu Olopoenia was very close to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

However, I passed the information to Ekiti sons in the military, especially those that were in the Armed Forces Ruling Council. They were aware, people like the late General James Oluleye, Adeleye who was not in the council but he was there as military governor. Once they came to the meeting of council of state, I would pass the information also to them. Then general Oye was Commandant of Brigade of Guards. My my wife once escorted me to General Oye, a jovial man.There was also another top military brass from Ijero who was leading the Air Force, whom I involved too. I have forgotten his name now. I think I tried. All those people supported the idea.

Q: Despite that Babangida supported the idea, he could not create Ekiti. What happened?

A: We were also supported by the Chief of Army staff under him, General Abacha, so both of them supported us. When Abacha came to power, I was using my friends in the north, the SA to Abacha was very close to me and so many of them, I cannot really know their names now including the NSA to Obasanjo, General Aliu Muhammed was considerable. He was able to influence a lot of northerners who were sympathetic to our course, he was able to go around to our advantage. That it was why we won rather than Oke Ogun. The late Aliu Muhammed made it possible.

When Ekiti Obas went to see Babaginda, he got the Presidential plane to fly them back to Lagos, although I was in Abuja he thought I was going.

The present Ewi of Ado Ekiti also supported us because there were some obas who were afraid to join thinking that the military would just come and pick them up or do something sinister to them. But the Ewi gave a good leadership to his brothers, they were about nine and he was the chairman of the obas in the group. Oniye was the secretary.

In fact, Babaginda supported us from the word go. Babaginda was the person who supported the creation of Ekiti state because in their armed forces meeting, they asked ‘where is Ekiti, we do not know where Ekiti is’. Babangida had a friend who was doctor somebody in University of Ibadan, who had taken him round Ekiti. Babangida was telling his colleagues, ‘Aah Ekiti, the land of hills with cities like Ado Ekiti, Ikole, Ikere, Ijero, Aramoko, Omuo. From Ekiti, you would move to Ilesha, Akure and Ondo.’ He told them all the places he and his friend visited and his colleagues said ‘ok ok, we can include Ekiti there.’ So he supported us but it was not created in 1990 when he had the opportunity to have announced it when he announced Osun but he continued his support.

Q: Will you say this is the Ekiti of your dream?

A: I am so disappointed in Ekiti that I say I regret my actions for getting the place created. In the 50’s and the early 60’s, Ekiti produced 40 per cent of the professors in Africa. It is now a place being governed by a school certificate holder! I don’t know how to describe it. My friends in and out of service wonder how we got ourselves into this, asking: is this what we really bargained for? Is this the reason why I was agitating?

All through the era of politics from 1949 to 1966, when the Action Group was installed, there was no Ekiti person going to house of assembly that was not a graduate. Chief Ehinafe Babatola was vice principal of Ibadan Grammer school before he was elected; the late Chief Babalola Oye, was more or less one of the very first Ekiti graduates in 1931; Osuntokun from Ekiti west, attended Foura Bay college, Sierra Leone. He was a graduate. There was also Chief Okeya from Ekiti South, they were graduates.

So I am disappointed in Ekiti. You can see what is happening there. We thought when the boy who is the governor now came the first time, it was a mistake which could be corrected. But it was the AD that brought Adebayo and Adebayo was quiet alright because he is educated, he is a lawyer and he has read so many books beyond what a school certificate holder would have read. This boy was under PDP and we said we wanted to belong, party affiliation and the party in the centre was playing politics with primaries and we did not know where this boy got some money to bribe people. You know Ekiti was so poor that the PhDs, the professors had no money even if they are distinguished and our own people do not make right decisions that this thing is beyond money.

Dapo Alibaloye

Dapo Alibaloye

And the boy, Fayose, had a group of people like him and that was how he got it at first but then at that time we thought it was a mistake and he started being arrogant. He said he established poultry, poultry that did not give produce fowls or eggs. And he was very violent, very pestilential, so therefore the government at the centre was concerned and he was removed. The situation was so bad that people were running away from the state, the right thinking people were running away for their lives. There was emergency there. Then Segun Oni became governor and was working responsibly, addressing the issues.

Oni was trying to bring in some investments, he started investments in terms of petroleum at Ayede, he was interested in refurbishing Ire Ekiti bricks industry and some other small industries were coming up, Oni was bringing people, industrialists, people that matter, people that will kick start the mobilization of money into that place, so that our people could be recued from poverty. But his government did not last.

Q: Then why did Ekiti elite class allow the first mistake to be repeated?

A: The case of Fayose coming the second time was an imposition of Goodluck Jonathan because we went to him and we told him that Ekiti governorship was the turn of Ekiti south (to eliminate Fayose, because his town, Afao is not in Ekiti south). It was Jonathan’s interest and the crooked people that surrounded him. People like Buruji Kashamu and some faceless people misled Jonathan to settle for that boy.

In his first coming, Fayose was impeached and it would have taken him ten years before he could vie for any political office again. He was being investigated by the EFCC, he is a thug, he was taken to court, Jonathan stopped all those things. We are grateful that Jonathan is out of that place and you can see the type of government he was running!

Q: Was Fayose the factor that made you to leave the PDP to join APC?

A: Yes, Fayose was. The day Jonathan announced that Fayose would be the Ekiti PDP governorship candidate was the day I left the party. I said well this is not a responsible party that I would align myself with.

And the boy, Fayose, had a group of people like him and that was how he got it at first but then at that time we thought it was a mistake and he started being arrogant. He said he established poultry, poultry that did not give produce fowls or eggs. And he was very violent, very pestilential, so therefore the government at the centre was concerned and he was removed. The situation was so bad that people were running away from the state, the right thinking people were running away for their lives. There was emergency there

Q: How will Ekiti get out of this now?

A: You have seen what is happening now that first and foremost, Fayose was not elected by the Ekiti people; that his election has a comma. We have now seen the role played by the army on behalf of PDP; we have now heard that what Goodluck Jonathan told the Army was: Install Fayose there for me, whatever you do I do not care, I just want to see him there. It was because of the fact that Jonathan believed in Fayose’s mobilisation ability.

Two things made me leave PDP. First, imposition of Fayose. Second, the misrule, misdirection and Jonathan’s desire for a second term. I did not support him anyway; I supported Atiku. From when this boy was elected and from the time the election to field people in the party were all completed, there was no other thing that government was doing more than: will you support second term? Anybody who was not for second term is not a PDP man. I knew right from that time, if you would not support Jonathan you were on your own.

Dapo Alibaloye

Dapo Alibaloye

Q: Apart from Atiku that you mentioned, you were close to Obasanjo, Dangote…

A: I knew Dangote when his uncle gave him half a million naira to start their own business in 1978. Dangote went to rice business. He gave me rice distributorship, but I don’t have money. He even assisted by saying that they should go and empty it in Ado Ekiti for me, he said I must pay for the goods but I didn’t have money. That was 1997, so I had retired then.

Q: There is this argument that while the Ekiti elite condemn Fayose, others see him as a grassroots person, a star, ready to come down to the level of the hoi polloi…What is your view?

A: Do you as a journalist think that a person who rushed to the market to suck sachet water has the right mind? Is he the sensible person to rule a place like Ekiti? Have you heard that Obama runs out of the White House in America to be popular to share egg or tomato with anybody selling it? How many governors have been doing that in the whole of Nigeria? Do you think he is a person with a right mind that will be doing that, and people say he is a grassroots person!

To be a grassroots person is to bring something special to the development of the people. Right now as I am telling you, Ado Ekiti has no water supply. Will those people in the market not prefer having water with which to soak their garri? It is not there, let alone, all other local governments, towns and villages. It is when you provide us with these that we can say you are a grassroots person. If they say he is eating with them, ask yourself which type of people is he eating with? Are they decent people in Ekiti and in any case if you were in Ekiti would you have joined him?

To be a grassroots person is to bring something special to the development of the people. Right now as I am telling you, Ado Ekiti has no water supply. Will those people in the market not prefer having water with which to soak their garri? It is not there, let alone, all other local governments, towns and villages. It is when you provide us with these that we can say you are a grassroots person.

Q: Given the way you have spoken, you would strike any reader as a quintessential Ekiti man: straight, honest, Spartan and blunt. You were the electoral commissioner in Ondo State in the Second Republic when you announced Chief Akin Omoboriowo of the National Party of Nigeria winner of the governorship election. Were you forced to do that or what?

A: If that opportunity comes back my way today, I will do what I did in 1983. I will do it! I was not on the field, I was a returning officer and I was to return the figures that were added, pronounce them as they were added.

Omoboriowo had the highest figures before me by what was tallied. And I was there, it is true that the UPN, NPN, they said this one is from so, so so, and each returning officer was accompanied by a police officer. I did not have the power to cancel it on my own at that time and if let’s say that I knew the right result, I didn’t have the power to cancel it.

The alternative, therefore, was for the state not to have a result, then as a senior civil servant, I would have been irresponsible for not announcing the results, because making a bad decision is better than making none.

Q: Violence erupted after that announcement. There was a myth waxed around how you escaped from Akure. Some said as an Ekiti man with relevant African insurance, you disappeared, using transponder (egbe). On a serious note, how did you leave Akure because some people allegedly wanted to attack you?

A: I do not know whether I was to be attacked or not but I finished my work, went to my house and took my bath and started off to Lagos that night. Those who wanted to attack me, maybe God stopped them, saying this person is not what you think, so there is no power that is above that of God. God was with me and ever since I have lived. Were they not around to use that their foul power? God knows I didn’t do anything wrong. I had to sign when they had added the figures. That’s all.

Q: Lets come back to Ekiti. Every Ekiti son and daughter is not happy with the collapse of value system amongst the youths in the state and elsewhere. How can this be addressed?

A: Ekiti has collapsed in all ramifications. I told you when we were about to start this interview that I regreted my part in creating Ekiti State. That is because of what I see there. Haven’t you heard that some Ekiti people were killing their mother to use them for money rituals? When we were growing up in the 30’s and 40’s we didn’t see that in Ekiti. My father used to go to Ilasha where he had a friend. He used to comes to Ijero. When you were hungry and you saw some people cooking or roasting yam, along the way (we used to pass through bush parts and farmlands from one town to the other at times) you, a stranger, would go into that place and eat, you would go your away.

Dapo Alibaloye

Dapo Alibaloye

That was the spirit I learnt from my parents and that is the spirit I had even when I was in the service.

Q: How will you appraise the Buhari administration so far?

A: Buhari administration is a God given administration, we thank God. Every morning and evening before I sleep, I continue to thank God and pray that nothing will happen to him. Some people said Buhari had no education, some thoughtless people said he is ill; has he been showing that now? Who is the Christian governor or president that has done what Buhari is doing in Nigeria now?

Q: If you were to meet him in a room, having served in government at high levels, what will you tell him, what will be your advice to him?

A: I will first of all thank him for choosing Rotimi Amaechi in Rivers as a minister. When this group of people were sitting in somewhere in Abuja going through the series of petition that was against Amaechi, I phoned Segun Oni who is the national vice chairman for the south, that I know, that Amaechi must be made a minister.

Amaechi was at war in Rivers since he joined APC and throughout the period of election. There was no election in Rivers, there was only war against Amaechi. Amaechi is the person we should have if Nigeria is at war with another
country.

Then I will probably ask Buhari to change the colour of the naira. At his first coming, he changed the colour of Nigerian currency, I will ask him to change the colours of the currency in the domination of N200 to N1000. Those who stole and buried money in their houses will be in trouble. Giver people two weeks for them to change the money.

Two, I will thank Buhari for appointing Fashola, giving him key areas, because he wanted somebody who can succeed. I am not from Lagos State, I’am sure Fashola will succeed, he will work, we know what he did in Lagos, if he repeats what he did in Lagos, he will end up being the president of Nigeria in the future. I will thank him.

Then I will probably ask Buhari to change the colour of the naira. At his first coming, he changed the colour of Nigerian currency, I will ask him to change the colours of the currency in the domination of N200 to N1000. Those who stole and buried money in their houses will be in trouble. Giver people two weeks for them to change the money.

I will also advise him to ignore the rantings of the so called opposition who had looted, destroyed Nigeria in the last five years doing nothing. If not because of Obasanjo and the little time Yar adua did, should we be talking about Nigeria? Obasanjo created the EFCC, he cant creat it because of himself but he didn’t want our money to be looted, rather the money that was alleged to have been looted by Abacha was being returned home under him. Obasanjo did some, a lot too but the best, we are yet to see the best of Buhari and God will spare him.

God will destroy all those people who are trying to poison or kill him. God will scatter and destroy all those plans of those devilish people.

I will also advise him also about the party, APC. Bola Tinubu should be highly appreciated. Buhari should not listen to people who are trying to destroy Tinubu who did a lot to make the party and Buhari to win election.

So Tinubu has suddenly become a venom to the party! Everybody knows he is an asset, he is the builder, those who failed to get what they want in the party now ascribe everything that is bad in that party to Tinubu. Now Buhari should know enough so that he does not make the mistake of quarrelling or ruining his confidence in Tinubu. Rather he should take him as his right hand man. Many of them who won election in the north would have never won anything, they used Buhair’s name, many of them cannot win election on their own from the north.

I will also advice Buhari that you were once a head of state and you had the NSA, was he the person that was buying ammunition for the military? I am not soliciting for Dasuki but I think Dasuki must have had his authority from somebody, he cannot be distributing money which he did not own, if somebody had not asked him to distribute that money, it is that person that should have been arrested.

I am a civil servant from the federal level, I know how it works, the procedure. The overall decision is yours sir even in the council. When everybody must have been addressed, when every memo must have been addressed, studied, discussed, you give the final approval, when you said I am approving this, that rests the whole thing.

Anybody having any other thing cannot raise any other issue after that. Even the purchase of arms, I think there should be a memo to the council. I have never heard the purchase of arms is from the market place.

About Ekiti, I learnt the federal government set up a military investigation on what they did in Ekiti. Now that it is realized that they installed the governor in Ekiti, it is for the Buhari government to cancel that out immediately. I know that there is no doubt you will punish those soldiers involved; if they are punished, the beneficiary should also be punished. The best position is clamp an emergency on Ekiti and call for a new election.

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