Twenty –three years after he suddenly was reported dead of natural cause and two years shy of his golden jubilee , facts are now emerging on the reasons that led to First and Second Republic political heavyweight ,Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo committing suicide
It was learned that he did it to stem the tide of a possible military court martial into an insurrection he was planning to lead alongside his political associates at the time when it became evident that then Military President ,General Ibrahim Babangida was intending staying in power forever.
In a no-hold barred interview with FS Online recently,a grass root politician ,Mr Adebayo Adeyinka who lives within the College Road at Ifako-Ijaiye axis in Ogba ,a suburb of Lagos, Nigeria was livid with rage when he learned that a key politician connected to the issue was denying the incident.
He revealed that Chief Awolowo wanted to lead some kind of guerilla warfare or militant campaign against the government of President Babangida so that he can be overthrown through a popular or people -led putsch.
According to him , the Elder Statesman summoned a meeting of his core loyalists over the issue and this was even filmed so as to strengthen the extent of commitment of each of the politician that attended the meeting..
He pointed out that however unknown to all of those who were privy to this meeting and clarion call , Chief Lateef Kayode Jakande ,Former Executive Governor of Lagos State had a different plan as he betrayed them to the military .He Said:’ But unknown to them , Chief Jakande was planning to betray them, he went to President Ibrahim Babangida and promptly showed him the tape
“Papa Awolowo was invited for a meeting with President Ibrahim Babangida who was then staying at Dodan Barracks which was the seat of power then and the truth of his clandestine meetings was revealed to him by the gap –toothed General
“He gave Papa some options and that was for him to be ready to face a court martial , be ready to go to a prison or better still go on exile.
“At this stage Papa felt instead of allowing some ambitious khaki boys to mess him up he should just pack it in and call it a day ,so Chief Awolowo decided to commit suicide so as to save himself from the ignominy of going to prison for the second time in his lifetime .
“But before he did this, he called his core loyalists for a meeting ,before then he had called up Late Chief Bola Ige [Cicero],since the latter had a very strong understanding of the Hausa Language having had his formative years as a young man in Kaduna but discovered that the late Esa-Oke strongman was innocent after he was interrogated by Papa.
“He called others for enquiries while asking them to tender the video cassettes of the meeting they all attended to discuss the plans to topple President Babangida for examination ,at this juncture Chief Jakande developed a cold feet as he could not produce his own copy of the video which was freely distributed to all that were present at the meeting previously before the betrayal and that was how the cat was let out of the bag.
“So he cursed him at this point and pointed out that he will never have any form of relevance politically as far as Nigeria was concerned and till today members of the Awolowo Dynasty avoid him like a plague.
“I was there when the letter he wrote to the family to beg them for forgiveness over the unfortunate incident was read in the presence of all present ,if he continues to deny I am ready to confront him publicly again on the same issue as I can even remember that elders asked him to go to the grave of the late sage to plead for forgiveness.
“When he was questioned he lied that the National Security Organization now State Security Services had visited his house to check on him and in the process took the tape in question but” Awoists” knew that this was a very weak argument as he did not inform their political group of this development before their enquiry on the subject.
“That was how Senator Abraham Adesanya assumed the leadership of the Awolowo camp of Yoruba politics after the demise of the man ,he was not even so close to Awolowo during his lifetime like Chief Jakande and that was why many called him Baba Kekere on account of this cosy relationship.
“Before he gave up the ghost , he said his prayers and then took the poison which killed him almost immediately, but the public was not fully aware as they were given a different account of what happened.
“We were simply told that he died while he was brushing his teeth in his bathroom at his Park Lane,Apapa residence here in Lagos.
“He was stupendously wealthy during his lifetime, infact there is no company at Oba Akran in Ikeja ,Lagos where he does not have at least a five percent equity, Dideolu Court in Ogba alone cannot be valued at less than N10 Billion ,that was the place that he had in mind to be his Seat of power if he was elected as Nigeria’s President.
‘He owned Shonibare Estate but the man he was using as a front and who later went to prison over some issues which Awolowo himself was privy to eventually laid claim to the estate.
“He got all of these wealth due to a great measure of goodwill and tax waivers he gave to investors whenever they come to establish their businesses.
“Anytime you buy a bottle of Coca-Cola you are enriching the Awolowo Dynasty ,go to Ijebu Ikenne and you will discover that the price of a bag cement there is different from other parts of the nation due to the subsidy that the citizens enjoy on account of Awolowo who was their son and I hope you know that West African Portland Cement is in Ewekoro and not Ikenne.
“On account of this great betrayal, Awolowo family members regard the “Awoist” as a group people should deal with using a long spoon till this day and this explains why when The Peoples Democratic Party Government gave some of them political appointments lately, they accepted it without thinking twice.
“Dr Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu was made an Ambassador by Former President Olusegun Obasanjo while , Mr Segun Awolowo Jnr was given a plum job at the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja as a Secretary.
“Recently when Afenifere was disintegrating Mama out of concern for her husband’s legacies decided to call a truce because as she puts it then, she did not know what she was going to tell her husband the day they meet in heaven.
“He made Sijuwade rich , because he was his business associate and in fact some of us held very strong views that he was one of his fronts and later the same man became the Ooni of Ife”he added
Mr Adebayo Adeyinka recalled his several years of following grass root politics right from the days of Action Group to the Unity Party of Nigeria era in the second republic, but now lamented that he had since lost all interest in partisan politics due to the massive corruption in our polity.
He listed such blue chips like Dunlop Nigeria Plc ,Guinness Nigeria Plc, Neimeth Pharmaceutical Nigeria Plc ,May and Baker Nigeria Plc ,Vitafoam Nigeria Plc ,Wahum Nigeria Limited ,CAP Nigeria Plc , International Paints of West Africa [IPWA], Berger Paints Nigeria Plc ,Berec Nigeria Limited ,Kabelmetal, Nigeria Bottling Company Plc ,Leventis Nigera Plc ,West African Portland Cement Company,[Lafarge ],Wema Bank Nigeria Plc, Scoa Nigeria Plc ,CFAO Nigeria Plc, Cadbury Nigeria Plc ,Wemaboard Estates, Odu’A Group, Livestock Feeds Nigeria Plc , Nigerian Breweries Plc as places the Awolowo family have commercial interest to mention just a few.
Apart from all these, Stocks analysts believe that the most visible of his investment ,The Nigerian Tribune Newspapers cannot be valued at less than N100billion today in terms of brand evaluation as Thisday Newspapers was valued by the Owner ,.Mr Nduka Obaigbena at N200 Billion recently during a media chart while celebrating his fiftieth birthday sometimes last year.
Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo was a leader who believed that the state should channel Nigeria’s resources into education and state –led infrastructural development.
At his own expense albeit controversially ,he introduced the free primary education for all of the Western Region ,he equally established the first television service in Africa in 1959 and expanded electrification projects in the region using the proceeds from the highly lucrative Cocoa export industry.
The Cocoa House in Ibadan regarded by many as one of the major landmarks of Nigeria’s architectural history was built as a result of his economic blueprint which was targeted towards the emancipation of his people from poverty
He built the first stadium in West Africa , the Liberty Stadium ,Ibadan and he coined the name “Naira “for Nigeria’s official currency ,it was previously called Nigerian Pounds.
During the 1970’s ,he was very critical of Nigeria’s military expenditure insisting that more should be spent on development.
He ran a free health care programme for children up till the age of eighteen years .
On his death on the 9th of May,1987 as a mark of respect for his legacies ,The University Of Ile-Ife which ironically he helped to build as Premier of the Old Western Nigeria was re-named in his honour as part of a post humous celebration of his life and times.
His portraits adorn public places in Nigeria especially in his native Yoruba land where he is seen as an icon.
His picture also adorn Nigeria’s one hundred naira note.
He has been described surprisingly by some of his greatest critics and even political opponents as probably the Best President Nigeria never had.
He struck a chord with the womenfolk during his lifetime when in a rare show of public affection for his wife of several years, Chief Mrs Hannah Dideolu Awolowo told the world that the woman was his jewel of inestimable value.
How right or prophetic he was because his wife has continued to strengthen the mileage of the husband’s name even in death.
During an exclusive interview with FS Online at his Ilupeju home in Lagos last year, Chief Lateef Jakande upon being probed with questions over his relationship with Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo on account of what feelers were suggesting had denied that they had a bad relationship shortly before his death. He insisted that those that said that they had any problems between them prior to Chief Awolowo’s death were not been honest as they were all telling lies.