Ok, so this was one of those blood-boiling-type articles that leaves you dazed. Of course, we've all heard about the "great" Lamidi Adedibu, godfather of godfathers, and his antics in Oyo state(think ballot-machines piled high in his living room and police authorities knowing this but doing absolutely nothing to bring him to justice...this being just one small incident among many). But how can we talk about bringing an end to corruption when people like this still walk the streets without any fear of reprimand/repercussions for their actions? Imagine the huge difference one LESS Adedibu could make in the war against corruption (and one MORE Akinyuli for that matter)? According to this Reuben Abati article in the Guardian(this is a well-known fact, but for the sake of accuracy...), Oyo state is completely under Adedibu's control so this matter needs to go straight to the Presidency, as he might be the only one with the power (since we're not sure where the EFCC stands these days) to call this glorified hooligan to order. Do we (the government, EFCC, international authorities if need be) need to concentrate our efforts on bringing down the "big dogs" (the Adedibus, Ubas, insert names of other godfathers that you know of here) who've been on the scenes for Lord knows how long and are now in-built self-made institutions in their respective regions? or focus on taking down their cronies-turned-big-boys (the Iboris, Odilis, Alamayeiseghas) who stole sickening amounts directly from their constituents in order to butter their godfathers' bread?
NAFDAC And The Adedibu Menace - By Reuben Abati
"We have been having a lot of problems with Adedibu. When we were working on unfortified spaghetti and macaroni that were smuggled into the country and that were unhealthy for consumption of our people, Chief Adedibu got to our office and threatened our staff and stopped that activity. He did not stop at that. When NAFDAC closed Kollington fisheries, Chief Adedibu sent his boys to go and open the warehouse. When my staff reported to me, I told them to go back and seal it. They went back and sealed the warehouse. Chief Adedibu sent his boys to go and re-open it. Nobody has ever done this in Nigeria since we started our activities. Chief Adedibu never allowed us to complete any investigation. He (has) never allowed us to carry out sanctions that we carry out in other states" - Dora Akunyili, Director-General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control in Ibadan, October 17.
These were the words of the Director General of NAFDAC, Professor Dora Akunyili in
the course of her visit to Ibadan, Oyo state to flag off the NAFDAC/NYSC Grassroots Sensitization programme, last week. She pushed her case in a similar tone at the office of the Governor of Oyo state, Alao Adebayo-Akala, she also did so at the palace of the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Samuel Odulana, and at an open forum with the people of Ibadan. It was as if Akunyiili went to Ibadan to deal with the Adedibu menace once and for all. Governor Alao-Akala, Adedibu's protege was reportedly shocked by the allegations and he promised, we are told, to "personally confront Baba Adedibu to make sure that he does not turn the state into a den for the enemies of NAFDAC." The Olubadan, who is not on good terms with Adedibu was said to have compared Akunyili to Jesus Christ; and he promised to invite Adedibu to his palace to come and defend himself against the allegations leveled against him.
Akunyili took her case to the court of public opinion where she told her audience: "Adedibu is terrorising us. And this hostility is actually led by Chief Adedibu. We are getting disturbed. The hostilities in Ibadan are mounting by the day. The agency has reached a critical point concerning its activities in Oyo state and if the hostility continues, we are not only going to arrest some people, we are going to move our office away from here... It was disheartening that the agency arrested some people who were handed over to the police but the people were released on the instruction of Chief Adedibu... How can we operate like this? We cannot continue in this manner".
At this interactive session with the public, Dora Akunyili was taken up by the Deputy Governor of Oyo state, Taofeek Arapaja who was in attendance. Arapaja accused Akunyili of insulting Chief Lamidi Adedibu without having "sufficient facts". The event later became melodramatic as the public booed Arapaja and he felt compelled to return the jeers. The situation then became riotous. Arapaja's reaction is understandable. He is an Adedibu protege. Other Adedibu defenders have also responded to Dora Akunyili's allegations. One Alhaji Taofeek Olayiwola says: "What concern Adedibu (sic) with NAFDAC again? It is a lie. He cannot do such a thing. He is loving and caring and by the way, his own family members have been benefiting from the activities of the agency. He cannot hamper the activities." Another Adedibu aide, Alhaji Yahya Adetuinji alleges that some people may have committed the atrocities in Adedibu's name to discredit him.
By taking the fight to Ibadan, and to Adedibu, Akunyili has again shown the depth of her commitment. By naming Adedibu in public as an obstacle to NAFDAC operations, she succeeded in shaming him and that was why she got the support of the audience at Jogo Centre where the interactive NAFDAC/NYSC forum took place. She spoke out of frustration. It should have been possible for her and her staff to report Adedibu to the police, but part of her protest is that the police in Oyo state are under the control of Adedibu. He is so powerful that he can order the release of persons from police stations! Akunyili in pointing this out confirmed what the rest of Nigeria had always known: in Oyo state, Adedibu is above the law. He is "the law". The NAFDAC boss referred to "Adedibu's thugs": these miscreants wield more powers than the Nigeria Police .
Oyo state is thus a classic case of how not to run a democracy and Adedibu is a threat to democracy in that state and by extension, Nigeria. His most memorable contribution to the show of shame in the House of Representatives for example is that Patricia Etteh should be left alone because she is a Yoruba woman and that any criticism of her leadership style is an attack on all Yoruba. The simplest response to the Adedibu menace is to say, that this is the quality of Nigerian leadership.
What manner of man would stand in the way of an agency that arrests the merchants of killer drugs? What sort of man would encourage the sale of fake drugs that can maim and kill? What man is this who cannot appreciate the work of NAFDAC? Who is this man who is prepared to reduce everything to politics, including the lives of people? The additional question must be asked: does Adedibu really love the people of Oyo state? Or he is just using them, that is the crowd that converges on his Molete residence to swallow dollops of amala? And why is Adedibu so audacious?
Akunyili's public protest in Ibadan last week may be a good strategy but it does not go far enough. Who was Akunyili reporting Adedibu to? To Governor Alao-Akala? Yes, the Governor has promised to take up the matter with Adedibu, but is he in any position to challenge, criticise or admonish the old man? "I will personally confront Baba Adedibu" , the governor promised. Can Alao-Akala call Adedibu to order? He owes his presence in Government House to the old man. I do not see him jeopardising his political interests just because some people are dying from the use of fake drugs sold openly and freely in Adedibu's markets. And the Olubadan? The king says he will invite Adedibu to respond to the allegations. Which Adedibu does the Olubadan want to invite? The same Adedibu who has made it clear to all and sundry that there are two traditional rulers in Ibadan?
So what should Akunyili do? When next Adedibu stands in the way of NAFDAC operations, he or his agents should be promptly arrested. The police may release him later but NAFDAC would have shown that it will no longer be intimidated by the Adedibu menace. The agency should also document its allegations against Adedibu properly and formally and send a petition to the Presidency. During the Obasanjo era, Adedibu acquired power and notoriety because he enjoyed the support of the Presidency and the personal attention of the President. Adedibu is one of those liabilities that President Yar'Adua needs to cut down to size. He and his men are already testing the patience of the Federal Government. Will President Yar'Adua continue to fold his arms and allow Adedibu bring further embarrassment to his government and the PDP?
Akunyili has threatened to close down the NAFDAC office in Oyo state and leave the people at the mercy of merchants of fake drugs. To do so would be to violate the NAFDAC mission statement. It is the Adedibu menace that should be dealt with. Adedibu's thugs have been accused in the last four years of all kinds of atrocities in Oyo state including a recent assault on the hallowed grounds of a praying ground on Eid-il-Fitri day. Oyo state is desperately in need of the rule of law. President Yar'Adua who loves the rule of law so much he mentions it at every conversation should help rescue Oyo state from the rule of that one man called Lamidi Adedibu.
Please read the full article on the Nigerian Village Square if you get a chance! And look out for a future post on the Amazing battles of Dora Akinyuli.