A former chief press secretary to late former governor Lamidi Adesina, Alhaji Kehinde Olaosebikan, has revealed how his boss appointed many people who are bigger than him into his government.
In a recent interview, Olaosebikan, who was a council boss, said that “Without any doubt, Alhaji Adesina showed strength, capacity and tolerance from his first day in office. The composition of his cabinet was a rare display of vigour as it is only a strong and capable leader that would put somebody bigger than him not just in his government but in very key positions.
“For reasons best known to him but which eventually paid off, he made a fellow aspirant, an obviously richer person and even more experienced in government, Chief Michael Koleoso, the Secretary to the State Government. At that time, Koleoso was not only the Chairman of the Alliance for Democracy, he controlled the machinery of the politics and commerce of the state. Alhaji Adesina later revealed to us that he did so for political stability and as a reward for his support and diligence. He told us that the only way he could reward Koleoso commensurately for his contributions to his nomination and election proper was by making him a part of the government. He did so and the government was a huge success.”
On how Lam recruited him, “Alhaji Lam Adesina appointed me as his Chief Press Secretary on May 29, 1999, the first appointment he made after being sworn in as the Governor of Oyo State. We had a very good relationship before and while I served as his CPS. Naturally, we had our issues but with pride and a deep sense of responsibility, I can say without any equivocation that I served him with everything in me; total loyalty and dedication in all aspects. And to the glory of Allah, my service to him was recognised and appreciated by all. My constituency, the Nigeria Union of Journalists councils in Oyo and Osun states rewarded me as the best chief press secretary ever in the state and the most outstanding in Nigeria in that era. The National Association of Nigerian Students also celebrated me as an exceptional image maker.”
Recounting how the late ex-governor averted tribal clash between the Oyo farmers and herdsmen, he explained that Gen. Muhammadu Buhari visited Oyo Government House to demand an explanation on the clash between Fulani herdsmen and some farmers in the state.
“Clashes between farmers and Fulani herdsmen did not just start during Alhaji Lam Adesina’s government; it had been there all along and from about our first month in office, we had started handling serious cases of infraction between the indigenous farmers and Fulani herdsmen in the state. A particular one happened around August 1999 which, if not for maturity and deployment of sound leadership and effective communication, would have snowballed into a major crisis.
“However, at a time when the government believed that it was done with rifts between the indigenes and itinerant Fulani herdsmen, because of the effective proactive measures put in place by the government, the then General Muhammadu Buhari led a team from the Arewa Consultative Forum to the Governor’s Office, Ibadan, to challenge the government on its perceived unfair treatment meted to the Fulani in Oke-Ogun. It was on October 13, 2010, a tense day but it dissolved into glory for Oyo State and Nigeria as a whole. I think it is not necessary going into details of that again.”
On how it was resolved, he disclosed that ”the whole thing started on a very uptight note which could have resulted in anything, regional, tribal war, anything. It was that serious. But Alhaji Adesina exhibited leadership at its best with patience, tolerance and excellent deployment of teamwork in handling the matter. It was a great moment for us as was later reflected in all the post-event reviews in the media. Many newspapers did editorials on it praising Alhaji Adesina for the exemplary leadership displayed over the matter.
“First, Alhaji Adesina started on a very confident note, in spite of the intimidating personalities of his guests and this helped a lot in calming frayed nerves. After listening to General Buhari, with equanimity, betraying no emotions, Alhaji Adesina invited the heads of all security agencies in the state to respond to General Buhari and give accounts of the true situation of things. At the end of the day, General Buhari realised that there was no merit in the petition they brought to Oyo State.”
He said that it was true that Buhari, now president, actually asked why Adesina’s people were killing his own people.
“Yes, it is true. He said so and I don’t see anything wrong in it. At that time, he was the Patron of Miyetti Allah group, that is, the association of cattle breeders. There is nothing wrong in him calling the Fulani people his own people. Before being a Nigerian, he is first a Fulani man. We don’t need to pretend about that.
He also revealed how Lam ran a very balanced government, “giving all the zones and tribes in the state their dues in terms of appointments and patronages. Power was equitably shared among the stakeholders. Except in Oke-Ogun where we had the deputy governor and secretary to the state government, because of political expediency, other appointments were done fairly. Merit was also considered in all his appointments. Alhaji Adesina appointed non-Yoruba into his government and associated with them seamlessly. He had a solid and even-handed team and that was what made his a cohesive government.
“However, as a politician and normal human being, Alhaji Adesina showed feelings too. Issues concerning Ikija, his village, were treated with special concern and as an Ibadan man from Ibadan South-East Local Government, matters of Ibadan were of great importance to him as well. At every given opportunity we attended internal meetings of the Alliance for Democracy in IMG Primary School, Oriaje, Ibadan South-East.
“He exhibited a great deal of objectivity and he can also be said to be passionate about certain things that I just stated but if it is about being sentimental, the answer is largely no.