A son of a former governor of Oyo State, who is a member of the House of Representatives, Dapo Lam-Adesina, tellsOLUFEMI ATOYEBIhow thugs beat him up during the recent All Progressives Congress ward congress in Ibadan
Can you tell us your experience in the violence that broke out during the ward congresses of the All Progressives Congress last (penultimate) Saturday in Ibadan?
I don’t think it is possible for anyone, who does not purchase a form for the West Africa School Certificate Examinations or any other examination to sit for it or expect a result. There are two factions in the Oyo State APC today. The Congress Committee came from Abuja and had a stakeholders’ meeting. At the venue, members of the Unity Forum faction of the party, to which I belong, were attacked by thugs. We have been clamouring for internal democracy, justice and fairness in the party for quite some time now. It was obvious that only our members paid for the forms before the deadline on Friday.
The committee made it clear that only those with evidence of payment would be provided with forms. On Saturday, we were the only ones that collected the forms because we showed our evidence of payment. What this meant was that all the candidates would be returned unopposed. The committee in charge of the congress announced that because of the violence that marred the stakeholders’ meeting on Saturday, the congresses would be held on Sunday and we all agreed to the arrangement.
However, members of a group loyal to Governor Abiola Ajimobi, who did not buy the forms, held kangaroo congresses on Saturday against the committee’s guidelines. The Unity Forum followed the committee guidelines and we held our congresses on Sunday. The APC should be careful in handling issues like this in order not to tarnish the image of President Muhammadu Buhari and what he stands for.
Are you saying the SENACO group members are with the governor?
I don’t know what they are called and, in fact, it is wrong to regard SENACO members as Ajimobi’s loyalists because top leaders of SENACO are with the Unity Forum. Alhaji Abu Gbadamosi from Ilero; Dr. Busari Adebisi, Alhaji Ajibade and others are with us. In the Unity Forum, we have members from the LAMIST group, Adebayo Shittu group and members from all other smaller groups. Our common agenda is to stop the reign of impunity under the Ajimobi administration. We cannot continue with his one-man-show system. The party has been destabilised and members are afraid of the forthcoming elections. The way out is to stop the era of impunity.
You recently cried out that your life was being threatened. What informed this?
Our group was punctual at the stakeholders’ meeting on Saturday but while we were waiting for the event to start, there were sporadic gunshots and broken bottles thrown into the hall. We had to run for dear lives. It was God that delivered us from the hands of the attackers. We were also helped out of the venue by our official security agents.
An Ibadan chief led the thugs to the venue. We ran to the state Police Command in Eleiyele for safety but we were told that the Commissioner of Police, Abiodun Odude, was not around. We stayed there because there was nowhere to run to. Even when we were called back and were assured that adequate security had been provided, we were skeptical. Nevertheless, we had to be there to fulfil all righteousness for the sake of the congress.
While we were going in, members of our group were attacked by thugs even when the governor was seated. They removed my cap and used it to hit my head in the full glare of everybody.
The security aides of the governor and members of the Directorate of State Service, who manned the gate, did not allow us to enter even though it was the governor that called us back to the venue. They watched as we were beaten up by the thugs.
We forced our way in but immediately after the meeting, the thugs entered the hall and began to harass me again. I moved to the front of the governor so that he would see what was happening but he pushed me away with his two hands. The security men in the hall did not provide any security; so, I cried out that everyone should see what the governor was doing to me.
That was when he realised that someone might be recording what was happening. I told the governor that I would not allow him to leave me behind so that the thugs would kill me. I said I would go out of the venue with him. I entered one of his cars by force. Even then, the thugs were throwing stones and sticks at me. I alighted somewhere and found my way back home.
Were you or members of your group specifically targeted?
After that scenario, people started calling me and threatened that they would kill me. They also threatened other members of the group and that they would eliminate us or implicate us. They asked if we had forgotten that we were fighting a governor. That was why I had to cry out.
I have written a letter titled ‘Save my soul’ to the Inspector-General of Police, stating clearly that the governor and his wife want to assassinate me.
Did you approach some of the party leaders to complain about your position?
I met the chairman of the party in the state, Akin Oke, who I respect so much.
On Sunday, the congress committee met stakeholders and journalists to deliver its report but it was as if there was nothing to report going by the committee chairman’s address.
If tomorrow, the governor calls you and mends fences with you, how would you react?
He is my father and I cannot fight him forever. I have done a lot for him but he has to change his ways. I have discussed life after his tenure with him as a leader. With the way he is going, he cannot be a leader.
Imagine what is happening with the council poll. His people wrote a list and excluded names of loyalists of other stakeholders. We know how Asiwaju Bola Tinubu runs Lagos as a leader. He will call all groups and tell them to bring their lists. It is not done like that in Oyo State.
Have you reached out to Tinubu on this issue?
A few days ago, I called him and he is not happy with the way things are in Oyo State. He does not believe in injustice. With time, he will wade in. The Unity Forum is in the majority in Oyo APC. That is why it was only the group that held congresses. The President and national headquarters of the party will have to wade in. We will not compromise our position.