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Ladoja set to storm Govt House

Posted by By Yinka Fabowale, Lagos and Akeeb Alarape, Ibadan on 2006/01/17 | Views: 624 |

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Ladoja set to storm Govt House


Sparks may fly in Ibadan, Oyo State capital today if impeached ex-governor, Chief Rasidi Ladoja lives up to his vow to return to power despite the swearing in of his former deputy Otunba Christopher Alao - Akala as governor last Friday.

•…Why he may not regain power

Sparks may fly in Ibadan, Oyo State capital today if impeached ex-governor, Chief Rasidi Ladoja lives up to his vow to return to power despite the swearing in of his former deputy Otunba Christopher Alao - Akala as governor last Friday.

This is even as security has been beefed up by the police in Ibadan. Also, it is coming at a time a new deputy governor for the state has been picked.

Bolstered by a legal reprieve, which technically nullified the process by which Otunba Alao-Akala emerged, Ladoja at the weekend served notice to resume work today declaring that he was still the state’s Chief Executive.

Some of his officials, including the Secretary to the State Government, Ayodele Adigun and Chief of Staff Sharafadeen Alli, had pledged to join him.

But the odds are heavily stacked against Ladoja, whether he decides to test the will of the new administration through brawn or legal option.

Daily Sun, which felt the pulse and mood in both camps at the weekend, found that it may be paradise lost forever for the former governor as he is fighting from weak and disadvantaged position.
On the other hand is unflappable Akala, who is muscling in to consolidate his hold on power. Barely 24 hours in the saddle, the former police officer had ordered the recovery of the official vehicles and other government property in the custody of former commissioners, with instructions for immediate freezing of the state accounts with banks.

He also held a three-hour meeting with permanent secretaries last Friday with a directive to top civil servants to take full charge of their various ministries pending the reconstitution of the state cabinet.
Ladoja’s bravado is considered rather belated by knowledgeable sources, who felt he conceded the initiative to be on the offensive, in his long-drawn battle with the 18 lawmakers and his estranged political godfather, Chief Lamidi Adedibu, who masterminded his ouster.

Although he enjoyed a friendly and supportive press, observers believe he did not seize the advantage to rally and mobilise public empathy and support for himself as the custodian of their mandate.

"One of the problem he had, like I always said, is that he is a good manager but a terribly bad politician. He did not, or did rather little, to empower people around him. If he had, these are the people who would have led the vanguard against his enemies. So, when the trouble came, he practically stood alone…" an elderly politician in Ibadan told Daily Sun.

He said further: "Look at Ngige, with all their evil ploys, they dared not touch him, because he had the people on his side. After initial shock, he realised he must fight and he came out to fight. They withdrew his police security, he got a private security arrangement. He is still there."

Another observer faulted Ladoja’s seeming inconsistency in the build up to the impeachment. He contended that the former governor bungled his case by conferring legitimacy on the Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN) panel which investigated his alleged offences, when, at the last hour, he filed his defence, after initially refusing to recognise it for the irregularities involved in its constitution.

The observer argued that having done that, the former governor cannot successfully challenge the outcome of the committee’s probe.

But the greatest blunders allegedly committed by the governor, according to sources, are his absence at the Eid praying ground at Sallah festival and his abdication of his official residence, the Government House Agodi, on the eve of impeachment.

"Whoever are his strategists and advisers did not advise him well on those two counts," said a source.
He elaborates: "First, an Imam says you and Adedibu should stay away from the praying ground so that there would be no trouble and you comply, you the chief executive and chief security officer of the state? It could be binding on Adedibu as a common citizen. But he (Ladoja) should have gone and asked the police to provide security. Nothing would have happened. But he missed it. That’s when I knew he had lost the initiative."

The source said Ladoja’s quitting the Government House was the most cowardly act he ever saw.
But sources hinted Daily Sun that the former governor was forced to take the decision, after his personal security details were withdrawn on the same day the president visited Ibadan to felicitate with Pa Emmanuel Alayande on his 96th birthday anniversary.

There were fears that the Adedibu camp would overrun the place and assassinate the former governor. But the source countered: "That is why he should have thought of having a private security arrangement for himself, like Ngige especially when it has become obvious that the police were partisan in the whole matter."

Daily Sun reliably gathered that the embattled former governor, who is believed to be holed up at a location in Bodija may have finally taken that option.
But the rag-tag private army is no match for a detachment of fully armed mobile policemen stationed to guard the state secretariat.

When Daily Sun drove round the city Sunday, two police armoured vehicles were seen stationed at the entrance of the secretariat.

By evening, it was learnt that a reinforcement of policemen would be deployed this morning, apparently to check the Ladoja challenge.

Incredibly, the former governor, either out of intimidation or fear of possible worsening of his travails insisted on not accepting what appears a notorious fact about the complicity of the presidency in his ordeal.

When journalists raised the suggestion at an exclusive press conference he addressed at a location in Bodija last Friday, he disagreed that the president had a hand in the saga, ascribing the seeming hostile attitude of the police to the Inspector General of Police, Mr Sunday Ehindero.

But when reminded that the IGP is answerable to the president, Ladoja contradicted himself by saying anytime he noticed the police were being impartial, he promptly reported it to the president who he said often reassured him.

As the time ticks towards the anticipated confrontation, apprehensive civil servants in the secretariat complex vowed not to report for duty Monday to avoid being caught in the cross-fire.

In town, tension was also high Sunday, as city residents waited with bated breath for the D-day. But indications are that it will be Ladoja’s battle only as many are not willing to be involved in what some fear may be a re-enactment of the violent killings and civil uprising that greeted the announcement of the controversial result of the 1983 governorship elections in the state in the Second Republic, which was believed to have been rigged in favour of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) candidate Dr Omololu Olunloyo against the incumbent Bola Ige.

Already, many of Ladoja’s supporters and aides in government have gone into hiding due to hear of possible attack by Adedibu’s men.

However, senior lawyers said Thursday’s court pronouncement which Ladoja was relying on to legitimise his claim is a "pyrrhic victory." They said the new administration could conveniently set the ruling and order aside by invoking the ouster clause in Section 188 sub section 10 of the constitution, which bar courts from interfering in impeachment matters.

Reacting to his former boss’ threat to resume work today, Akala sternly warned him not to come near Government House and the Governor’s office at Agodi, saying anybody who attempted to cause confusion in the state would be met with the force of the law.

The police weekend said as much, declaring that they recognised only Akala as the sitting governor, and warning that there cannot be two governors.

In another development, Otunba Alao-Akala has picked Alhaji Azeem Gbolarumi as new deputy governor.

Gbolarumi, a former Personal Assistant (P.A) to the strongman of Ibadan politics, Chief Lamidi Adedibu, was the linkman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the last congress of the party in the state.

A chieftain of the party in the state confided in Daily Sun that Gbolarumi was chosen based on his commitment and loyalty to the party as well as being the appropriate candidate for the position as a native of Ibadan and a Muslim.

When contacted on the his selection as the deputy-governor of the state, Sunday, Gbolarumi did not deny the report, but said "it was the choice of people like you."

Forty-eight year-old Gbolarumi hails from Olugbesan Compound, Agbeni area of Ibadan.

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