Shagari called my father the day Buhari overthrew him —Kunle, late Busari Adelakun’s son

Shagari called my father the day Buhari overthrew him —Kunle, late Busari Adelakun’s son

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Prince Kunle Adelakun, son of iconic Ibadan chief and politician, Busari Adelakun, is the Jagunmolu Agbekoya, former General Secretary of Ilana Omo Oodua Worldwide and Principal Partner JIIL Properties. He speaks on the politics of his late father and other issues in this interview by SAM NWAOKO.

What is it like being the son of Chief Busari Adelakun, a man called Eruobodo. What comes to mind and what follows you around?

Being a son of the man called Busari Oloyede Adelakun is a very huge challenge. He had crafted his own personal image in a way he wanted people to see him politically and in business, because he was a very successful businessman. When I go to places and people find out that I’m the son of Oloye Busari Adelakun, everybody would want to know one or two things about him from me. He was a thorough person. He was a disciplinarian who never condoned any act of corruption. He believed that in life, you must build an image that would live after you. He believed that you must work to earn your integrity. No matter what, you must always be honest to your people and you must not engage in any act of corruption or any act that could stain your personality. I know this about him. He was a man who would never accept his right being trampled upon; he didn’t like cheating or oppression. He fought for people’s rights. If you brought a complaint that some people were trying to oppress or bully you, he would follow you there and fight for you. He was a freedom fighter.


What did his death in 1986 mean to you? What was the period like?

It wasn’t easy for us. It wasn’t easy for me, especially, because it was a rude shock when we got the news that he died. It was shocking. We could not believe it.


Why? Was it because he was not sick?

He was sick. He was detained during the military regime of General Muhammadu Buhari. The general took over the government on December 31, 1983 and there was a clampdown on political leaders, former governors and so on. He was one of the people that were detained. He even faced a military tribunal. What was so painful was that Alhaji Shehu Shagari, the president then, could not get to speak with him after the military toppled his government. I was at home while my father was away to our village, Ejioku. Shagari had called him on the telephone at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon. I was the one who picked the phone. He said, ‘This is President Shagari. Where is your dad? I want to speak with him’. When my father came back around 7.00 p.m., I told him that President Shagari called and he said he would call him back, and I think he did. What I got from my dad about their conversation was that Shagari thought my father knew about the coup. I think the suspicion was because my father had just defected from the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) to the National Party of Nigeria (NPN). He had been with the NPN for just about three months and they were yet to believe that he was completely with them, having left UPN after so many years as a very strong member.


Why did he leave the UPN? 

I think it was as a result of internal party and cultural issues. However, what I understand about the entire issue was that the Ibadan people approached him and told him to withdraw his support from Chief Bola Ige, the governor and also UPN candidate who was getting ready for a second term. It was a collective decision of the  leaders of Ibadan – both traditional and political. The Olubadan of that era and the who-is-who in Ibadan called on my father to support ‘our own’ to be governor and said ‘we don’t want to support Chief Bola Ige anymore’. They believed that if they could win my father to their side, there was no way Bola Ige would win the election. So, the Olubadan; Chief Adisa Akinloye, who was the national chairman of the NPN, and Chief Richard Akinjide and the other bigwigs rallied and asked my father for his support. They said that was what they desired and wanted as Ibadan people. He joined them and began to work on the project with the other Ibadan people who had always been in the NPN. Then the music changed.


Was this when Oloye Adelakun got the alias ‘Eruobodo’? Was it because of the work expected of him? How did that name come about?

He was someone who hated cheating and he had audacity of purpose. He was very confident. He was the type that believed that no matter what might happen, you must stay on course and stay true to your principle. That was one of the reasons he was loved by the leaders and people in the progressive fold.

The name ‘Eruobodo’ was actually given to him by admirers. It came as a result of an incident in which some people tried to ambush him. They met and planned their attack. It was to be carried out at a meeting he was to attend. My father didn’t know that some people were planning some evil against him. It was an informant who came and informed him of the sinister plan. ‘If you love yourself, don’t go to that meeting you are planning to attend. They plan to attack you and may kill you’, he was informed. They were said to possess charms and they were many and would easily get him. In plain terms, they had planned a war. My father thanked the informant and said he had heard. On the meeting day, he just arrived at the venue suddenly and took over the control of the meeting. He was alone. He took over proceedings from the gobsmacked people and commanded them on what to do and so on. The news filtered into town that Adelakun went to the meeting where they had warned him not to attend and took it over. The people that planned against him became impotent with their juju. So, his admirers hailed him for his boldness and described him a brave man (Omo akin) and as Eru o ba Odo, eni ti o wo odo l’eru nba’ (The river is never afraid, he who entertains fear is the man that wishes to take a plunge into the river) That was how the name Eruobodo came about and it stuck to him.


If you are to summarise the politics you saw him play that time, how would you describe it comparing it with now?

There’s a very wide gap. It’s incomparable. You can’t make a comparison because the politics of that time was politics of purpose. They played politics of principle, accountability and integrity. It was about liberation of the masses because they believed that the masses entrusted that power to you and you must be accountable to the masses. You must not let the people down. First of all, you must have genuine interest in the development of the people and not for yourself. But now, it’s about the politician and not really about the people. At that time too, the party was supreme. That time, politics was not business but nowadays, it’s business. They go to bank to borrow money. You tell your friends to donate and gather money for you because you want to contest an election, you want to contest for a position. That’s what we have today.


Are these the reasons you did not take to politics? Did Nigeria happen to you?

Nigerian politics is a farce. I’m sorry to say that it is sometimes not a venture for sane people. It is not for people who have genuine interest to serve the masses. Nigeria is not the place to play that kind of politics. Those who have vision, this is not a place to do politics; those Nigerians that want genuine growth and development, politics is not for them. Those who want genuine welfare and would aspire to see measurable results through political engagements, this is not the place for them. When you represent the people, you have to represent them genuinely.

Back in the days of my father, when you fight, you fight not for personal interest but to defend the interest of your people. But nowadays, as a politician, you have to find a way to sort out yourself first and that is off-putting for me. Personally, what I would do that would offend my principles and drag my family into disrepute, I would not do it. Politics is to represent people genuinely, not what we have now in the country.


Is this type of politics the reason you shifted your attention to Yoruba nation agitation? 

There are many other ways of getting involved in politics without contesting for elections. I tried to look around and said if I cannot join political parties in Nigeria because of the way and manner they conduct themselves and the corruption, I will look for people of like minds because of the love I have for people. Who are the people that can stand and be upright without violence, personal aggrandizement and sundry ills. I saw the need to be useful to the society through the Yoruba nation agitation. So, I decided to look at the Yoruba nation. I looked at the people there and found a true progressive, Professor Banji Akintoye. I saw the progressive ideology and I saw that he is a sincere person who is super passionate about the Yoruba. I see that he means well for the Yoruba people and not that he is out to make money or behave like the typical Nigerian politician. So, I felt we could work together and do things together. On the agitation for Yoruba nation; I think the Yoruba is on the right path.


So, what exactly does the Yoruba nation agitation stand for – achieving equality in the country or you want to stand alone?

There wasn’t an agreement among the different indigenous nationalities in Nigeria. There was nothing like an agreement, all we were told was that there was an amalgamation in 1914. In 1960 we were told that Nigeria got independence and in 1963 we were told that Nigeria became a republic. When we had the regions, we saw the way things went and we saw that things were better. Each region had its own constitution and so on. But now that we have no such arrangement, you can see that all the key sectors of the Nigerian economy are dominated by people from a particular part of the country. The armed forces, customs, police, immigration and others are dominated by one region. Why should we continue to remain like this? That is why they can tell us to our face that whatever they want, they would get. This is because they have agenda. We, the southerners, are the ones who have been adrift without an agenda. So, there’s nothing wrong when a nation decides to correct such wrong of inequality by demanding for a memorandum of understanding on how the various nations can live together. The corruption tendencies are there so everybody should decide to live together and sign an agreement on how to do this. As it is now, it’s a bully system; one country two systems. It has never happened that in your own country you’re buying your own currency. It’s sickening. Something must be done to correct this. Look at how people are suffering.

The foundation of Nigeria is false. The 1999 Constitution is flawed and it was tailored to suit the needs of a certain region of the country or their interest. How did we even come about the 1999 Constitution? We even learnt that when Chief Obasanjo was sworn in in 1999, he didn’t even see a copy of the 1999 constitution. We heard that he only saw the constitution one week after. So, what was he sworn-in with? The country is in a mess while they would bring their own children to Europe and pamper them. We must not live under a false marriage. Look at how the country is being run in the 21st century. We must not continue like this.


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