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Akande captures own life journey in an unforgettable book

Akande tells own story the ‘controversial’ way

In chapter one

Bisi Akande says his victory and subsequent election into the Constituency Assembly in 1977 which was his entrance into national politics, came with nostalgia.

The conference had been set up by the military regime of Olusegun Obasanjo to deliberate on the report of the Constitution drafting committee which was then headed by Rotimi William.

Bisi Akande, who until then was a young professional, was active in developmental efforts in his hometown of Ila. In the election to the Constituency Assembly of 1977, he was able to defeat established politicians of that time. In the Constituency Assembly, he was courteous, despite an invitation from different groups and camps that had begun politicking ahead of the 1979 general election. He refused to join the emerging groups while in the CA.

He says that there were many politicians and interest groups who were opposed to the idea of the late Obafemi Awolowo’s renewed bid to contest for the presidency in the 1979 general election, and he resisted pressure from them to join their caucus even when he had not met Awolowo. These politicians, some of whom from the North and also from the West, especially Oyo State, were creating groups to stop Awolowo from ascending the presidency at the end of the military rule.

According to him, “I was determined not to become a willing tool in the hands of anyone, more especially those who were opposed to Awolowo and his brand of politics”.

Akande further revealed that he later joined the pro-Awolowo group in the CA which championed the cause of the 1979 election. The group was led by Chief Olabisi Onabanjo, a popular journalist then, and Abraham Adesanya, a well-known lawyer who was one of those who defended Awolowo during the treasonable felony trial.

The pro-Awolowo group was later joined by the Justin Tseayo-led group from the Middle-belt region and the group was later renamed Committee of Understanding and held regular meetings, in which he was nominated to be the chief whip.

A committee was set up with one representative from the Constituency Assembly and with one representative each from the 19 states headed by Shehu Shagari, it was supposed to be a think-tank to deliberate on the future political direction of the country in which he was a member.

Akande further revealed that major significant occurrences at the floor of the constituency Assembly were recorded where two bills almost generated controversy which almost destroyed the House.

One of the bills was passed but was removed from the constitution before signing into law by the regime of Olusegun Obasanjo, while the other was defeated in the House.

According to him, “The first bill was the one restricting the age of any presidential candidate to 70 years, which the anti-Awolowo group worked vigorously to see pass. The second was the attempt to insert sharia law, the Islamic cannons favoured by the conservatives from the Hausa-Fulani North into the proposed constitution and bring it to parity with every Act of parliament.

He described the debate as acrimonious, adding that when it was defeated by the majority, its proponents, led by the duo of Alhaji Sheu Shagari from Sokoto State and Malam Aminu Kano, from Kano walked out from the proceeding.

Akande said, “With that, the sharia lobby stayed away from the Assembly until they were persuaded back when Olusegun Obasanjo intervened and addressed the plenary session of the Assembly. He warned that the military would not hesitate to intervene in the interest of the nation if the politicians continued to fuel tension and unnecessary division.

Akande revealed his eventual encounter with Awolowo, along with some leaders and sons of Ila such as Oyeniyi Popoola, who was then a lecturer with UNILAG, Tunji Fadeyi, civil servant, Bayo Adeniji, then a captain in the military, who disguised as a trader.

In Chapter 2

Akande described the general picture of Ila-Oragun his hometown, saying that it was neatly arranged and a splendid city. He talked about the cultures and the arrangement of the cities, the traditional, religious worship of the people, and occupations. He said the failure of the Yoruba to unite to fight a common enemy, which is the Fulani’s Jihadist who has sized the town of Ilorin.

The Yoruba had also failed to come to the aid of Lagos when it was overwhelmed by the British force, thus opening the way for 100 years of British rule. Akande stressed that had they come together, they would have reversed the Ilorin tragedy and maintained the independence of their country during the scramble for Africa.

Read also: Akande’s ‘My participations’: A tale of opportunistic and self-serving politics

In chapter 3

He described his growing days, schooling, and his family size. His father’s occupation was palm wine tapping, and his paternal grandfather, he described as a businessman, his mother was into cloth weaving she inherited from his father. The woman had a significant influence on him. His grandfather was a rice farmer with large farmland, slaves, and flocks of sheep and goats handed over to him by his father; these were veritable sources of wealth. One significant event was the conversion to Islam of his Father, joining the Kewulere Islamic group and denouncing the faith of his father in Sango.

Akande said that despite the apparent poverty of his father who was a palm wine tapper, he enjoyed life in Ila in his childhood days.

In Chapter four

He talked about his decision to dump primary school and go and learn mechanics, just like his friend who had embraced trade and was doing well.

Upon agreeing to his proposal, his father took him to learn mechanics with one of the friends of his uncle. But unknown to him, his father and uncles, Sunmonu Adeshina and Gbadamosi Adeshina, were in accord with his boss at the mechanic shop to ensure he went to school. Thus after being interviewed he was asked to go and bring his primary school certificate which he had none.

This forced him to return to primary school, where he passed his first school leaving certificate in December 1953 and got a job as a shop clerk and secondly as a teacher in the Awolowo-free education policy program. Akande subsequently proceeded to the divisional teachers training college, Ile –Ife, in 1956 and was admitted. While at the school in Ile-Ife, he was appointed the health officer, in charge of the college sanitation and First Aid Kit. He was also responsible and expected to taste and pronounce if the students’ food was safe for consumption.

If the food was pronounced unsafe the school would compensate every student with Nine pence. However, his frequent refusal to agree to the students’ wishes that it was unsafe led to clashes between him and some of his mates. They further collaborated to nail him with the school authorities.

Akande said he was taught the reality of life when clash with some of his mates who rebelled against him because of his refusal to constantly declare the meal unsafe for consumption.

According to him, “Therefore, I was always pressured to declare each meal unfit for consumption, especially around a day when all the students would go out to replenish their provision. Resistance to pressure often created bad fillings against me.”

In Chapter five

Akande further talked about his work experience, changing job and visit to Lagos State, and the impact his uncle had on him.

He revealed the job he got at Macjob Grammar School and the decisions of his uncle and friends, and Mr. Sofowora who made a great impact on him.

Akande talked about how he miraculously got a job at BP, being transferred across the country and rising through the ranks. The job took him to several parts of Nigeria which enabled him to know more about Nigeria and the people.

He said he worked for some time and decided to take a leave of absence in 1977, after working for fourteen productive years. His subsequent promotion after the resumption and the unsung crisis, in which Nigeria was leading Africa in the fight against the Apartheid regime in South Africa and it warned all the companies in Nigeria not to have any dealing with the regime.

Subsequently, Obasanjo nationalized the BP and posted a civil servant to become the MD of the company. Akande revealed that before he was posted to head the engineering department, he complained and was asked to take a leave that lasted for more than six months. Upon preparation for resumption, he was appointed the Secretary of government by the new Bola Ige administration in 1979.

Akande said it was a difficult decision for him to leave BP and take the SSG position, due to his experience and exposure on the job.

According to him, “BP was a great place to work with. I was sent to several countries and institutions for training in which I acquainted myself very well and to the satisfaction of my superior. My training intensified when I was to be transferred to the computer management system unit. I was sent to England for the course and at the end of the course, I scored 76 percent”.

In Chapter six

Akande talked about the Oba leadership tussle in his community of Ila-Orangun in which two candidates fought very hard to get the throne.

He said that one of the candidates was very educated and was the first graduate in Ila, while the other was not educated. He revealed further that most of the Muslim indigenes, artisan, tailors, bricklayers, and automobiles in his hometown were attracted to the politics of Adegoke Adelabu and his NCNC- Mobolaje grand alliance that was dominating Ibadan and strongly opposed to Awolowo’s AG.

Most Ila indigenes refused to attend Awolowo’s school when free education was introduced in 1955, waiting for Adelabu’s schools which were promised by the local political leaders. Akande revealed that his political activism began after he was admitted to the divisional teachers’ college, Ile Ife. At the school, he became an active member of the Ila student union which sensitized and mobilized the people to send their children to Awolowo schools in 1958.

He joined other students, under the leadership of Prince Thomas Gbolade, (chairman), Mr. Ogunremi Ogunlade (later professor of geography at UNILAG and a lawyer, secretary), Prince Adeoye Oyinlola, (Treasurer) among others. These people combined efforts with them to encourage IIa indigenes to send their children to schools, especially Muslim schools, known as Mangaranta.

Akande cited a particularly notable occurrence, in which he was accused of criticizing and ridiculing the councilors for corruption at a public place. Fortunately, he was rescued, while he was about to be punished publicly.

The huge man who rescued him entered the arena with his bike and dragged him away from the center, daring anyone who wanted to die to follow them. The man turned out to be Jimoh Alabeniye, his former classmate.

According to him, “Breathlessly, I ran to my house and fled the town the following morning. The huge man must have been summoned by the councilors to come to lead the expected assault on me but turned out to be Jimoh Seriki popularly known as Jimoh Alabeniye, my one-time classmate at NA school, Oke Aloyin.

Chapter seven

In this chapter, Akande explained his journey into politics, saying that despite his unceremonious exit in Illa in 1962, he was still in touch with the town being a leading member of the charity club, the premier clubs, in the town and later emerging the secretary of Ila town Union in Lagos. After being encouraged by his relations when he arrived in Lagos State, he joined Ila Union.

He said that through the union, he tried to get the members to show interest in Ila and help initiate developmental projects in Ila by lobbying the military regime then. Akande added that they also showed interest in the new Orangun of Ila, and challenged obnoxious policies against the town.

He mentioned a particular incident was when the military regime of Colonel Adeyinka Adebayo decided on new local government reforms, in 1971 with the proposal to convert the Osun North-East division (i.e merge Ifelodun, Odon-Otin, and Ila district councils into one local council to be known as the Osun North-East management council with the headquarters in Ikirun.

The Ila Union in Lagos in which he was the secretary fought against this proposal, saying the listing of Orangun of Ila, a historic legend among Yoruba Obas under the Ikirun and also rejected the idea to merge Ila- an Igbomina community, to the Ibolo communities, making up the major parts of the Ifelodun and Odon-Otin district council. Through his and the union’s strong position on the matter, the government decided to end the idea.

He said: “I was invited to the membership of the Osun North East Consultative Committee where I continued to adumbrate my views until the government acceded to it.”

Akande further revealed that he was part of the effort to raise money for infrastructures in Illa, especially for the building of schools, provision of electricity.

Initially elected councilor in his ward, he signified his interest to contest election in the proposed constituent Assembly in 1977. After extensive politicking among the other aspirants in the constituency, he defeated three other aspirants, which included Chief Kola Balogun, who was before then a former National Secretary of the NCNC and the first Nigerian Minister for Research and information in the first republic. Akande scored 14 votes, while his closest opponent had 8 votes. He was elected into the constituency Assembly to represent Ila local government in the Constituency Assembly.

According to him, “I moved into the constituency Assembly to rub shoulders with powerful men and women, and got initiated into the activities of the Awoist group known innocuously as the committee of friends; it was to define my career”.

Chapter 8

The chapter gives insight into his political journey, especially in the old Oyo State in the second republic and how Bola Ige emerged as the governorship candidate of the NCNC with Sunday Afolabi the deputy candidate. The political intrigues that led to his emergence and the political intrigues in Ila and his constituency in which NCNC won all the elections; despite the hope that Sunday Afolabi would emerge as the deputy Governor of the state.

He said that the Action Group was popular in four Oke-Ogun local governments, Ila town was NCNC, while Ijesha North within the Ilesa division was also AG.

Akande said at the end, Ige had the support of fourteen LGA’s and Sunday Afolabi had seven LGA’s. He said what also worked for Ige was the huge support he had from some influential businessmen from Ijesha who had mobilized resources to support Ige’s gubernatorial bid.

In the end, Sunday Afolabi teamed up with Ige as his running mate, in which the two of them defeated their closest rival in the primary election, Archdeacon Emmanuel Alayande who scored only 13 votes to clinch the Unity Party of Nigeria ticket.

Chapter 9

In this chapter, he talked about the victory of Bola Ige in the governorship election in 1979, when he defeated Richard Akinjide of the NPN by a wide margin across the state. However, Awolowo lost the presidential election to the candidate of NPN, Alhaji Shehu Aliyu Shagari.

He said he had first met Ige, during the constituency Assembly committee of friend meeting and played a key role in his success in the governorship election.

Akande subsequently talked about the intrigues that came with picking commissioners and appointments when a new governor is appointed which the new Governor Ige had to solve.

He said that after the governorship election, he had it in mind to go back to his work at BP because his leave of absence had expired, but he was miraculously appointed as the SSG in the Bola Ige and Sunday Afolabi administration.

Akande said he received the appointment with mixed fillings, even though, was unsure of what impact it would bring to his life and his family.

According to him, “I shared my wife’s feeling of apprehension but regarded my appointment as a call to national service. I was determined to succeed.

Chapter 10

In this chapter, he talked about his job as the SSG and the political intrigues that were played by two of his close friends, Dr. Agiri and Dr. Popoola, who he recommended to governor Ige, for the positions of caretaker chairman of the Ila town planning authority so that the two of them could join hand to plan a befitting site for the new college of education campus.

Akande said that Dr. Agiri on the assumption of duty at IIa as the chairman of the council, Agiri’s first action was to ask for the relocation of the college site from Offa, Ayna road to Ora road.

This generated tension among indigenes of Ila, while unknown to him, JK Fadeyi had sent a petition to the governor and deputy governor that he was the master minder of the crisis. The ensuing crisis that followed over the location of the college of education led to his resignation as the SSG under Ige’s administration.

He said the issue where to locate the college of education was, however, amicably resolved by political leaders in Ila, who all supported that the college of education should be shifted to Ora road.