Legal luminary, Chief Niyi Akintola has said that he was instrumental to the reinstatement of former governor Rashidi Ladoja when he was illegally impeached in 2006.
He, however, didn’t state in full how he helped the Osi-Olubadan of Olubadanland.
Akintola, who is eyeing the 2019 Oyo State governorship seat, also revealed how he was the arrowhead of what is today known as the All Progressives Congress, APC.
In an interview published in The Nation, the former deputy speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, said: ”I was the arrowhead of what is now known as the APC. I was one of those that were present at 1998 Confab at Premier Hotel in Ibadan by Yoruba leaders, where we formulated the policy of participating under Abdulsalam Abubakar’s government. We mandated Chief Bola Ige to liaise with other leaders across the country.
“I happened to be the arrowhead of the take over of the Southwest by the progressives. We started in Ibarapa Local Government by the then AC before I moved to Oshogbo, and I moved on to Benin, where we got Oshiomhole installed, I was the lead counsel there. I also moved to Ekiti, where we got Dr Fayemi installed. God also used me to bring Ladoja back to office.
“So, there is no question of me leaving the progressive camp, it cannot just be. Wherever the progressives tilt their boat, you will find me. For me to jump boat, no I can’t because I am a professional in politics. I have a second address,” he explained.
Asked who is godfather is, Akintola, who is the Bamofin of Ibadanland, noted that “Every politics is local. There is a wall of difference between what ought to be and what is. Contrary to the impression out there, we are in a democracy where the majority will have its way and the minority will have its say.”
He continued: “The reality of our situation on ground is that, this state is different from virtually all other states in the country. This is Oyo State, where traditions still rule very strongly.
“In this state, the roles of the gatekeepers cannot be wished away. The gatekeepers are there and there are layers of it. Apart from that, we also have the stakeholders and anybody who wants to govern this state cannot wish away the roles of the gatekeepers. No matter how good a person is, you will also need a good platform to contest. So, my governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, is a gatekeeper. Our traditional institutions are gatekeepers. For instance, my own immediate environment— I went to my ward in my local government, all the traditional rulers and community leaders were there. That shows the role of the gatekeepers. You cannot underplay the influence of eminent traditional rulers like the Alaafin of Oyo, Olubadan of Ibadanland, Soun of Ogbomoso, Ibadan Council of Elders, Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII). Even, when we came on board in 2011, it was not the ACN alone that brought us to power. It was the combination of all these forces; and that s the reality. You cannot underplay the influence of these factors. This is a traditional society, not like any other state. The traditional rulers still wield a lot of influence.
“Every society has its own different patterns of governance. In some states, there could be an individual. For instance, when Baba Adedibu was alive, he was a gatekeeper and that was the reality. It has no negative effect on democratic principles as it were and that is the truth. No one has ever become the governor of the state without the support of these gatekeepers and our political leaders appreciate it that much. These gatekeepers live among the people, know their feelings and all what is happening to them,” he reiterated.
On his position on rotation or zoning, he explained that “There is no rotation in any part of the country. It is not part of our law. Oyo State is one. The Oyo speaking people know that they are one, and only one under one God.