The former governor of Osun State, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, has replied his predecessor, Bisi Akande, over comments made in the latter’s recently released autobiography.
PREMIUM TIMES reported the launch of Mr Akande’s biography, ‘My Participation,” in Lagos last Thursday.
At the launch, President Muhammadu Buhari said the author had retained his ‘‘inflexible integrity,” in and out of public office, never accepting or offering bribes.
The book has continued to generate debate among Nigeria’s political class.
In his reaction, Mr Oyinlola said some of the things Mr Akande wrote about him are false.
“I have just read a part of the recently released autobiography of my predecessor as governor of Osun State, Chief Bisi Akande, which concerns me.
“He levelled some allegations against me and also made certain allusions and insinuations,” Mr Oyinlola wrote in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES.
Mr Oyinlola said the content of Mr Akande’s book questions his forthrightness.
“I found it strange that Chief Akande who boasted that he was prudent and honest as governor, awarded the construction of a Government House in his last days in office, after he lost the election, and in advance, paid the contractors the entire contract sum of N800million,” he wrote.
Read the full text of Mr Oyinlola’s ‘preliminary response’ below.
Oyinlola’s preliminary response to Bisi Akande
I have just read a part of the recently released autobiography of my predecessor as governor of Osun State, Chief Bisi Akande, which concerns me. He levelled some allegations against me and also made certain allusions and insinuations. My forthcoming autobiography has already taken care of all the issues. Notwithstanding that, however, I have the following preliminary replies to some of the issues he raised where he mentioned my name. This is for the benefit of Nigerians who may be interested in hearing my own immediate side of the story.
1. Bola Ige House contract
Chief Akande said I wrongly accused him of corruption in the construction of the Governor’s Office (Bola Ige House). I did not level any false charges against him. I came into office in May 2003 and discovered that the Governor’s Office complex which Akande commissioned for use after he lost the election was really not completed. The state government asked the contractor to come back to site and complete the works, more so when evidence in government accounts showed that he had been paid. But the project consultant shocked everyone with his claim that part of the payment was taken back to finance the 2003 re-election bid of Chief Akande. The consultant said the contractor could not go back to work unless he was paid his full dues. One of Akande’s own appointees confessed collecting money from this contractor for Akande’s re-election. I consulted Chief Akande on this. He denied having any deal with the contractor and the consultant. Some people were subsequently taken to court on a seven-count criminal charge. Stakeholders in the state and Alhaji Arisekola Alao later intervened. I have the details of who collected how much in my forthcoming book.
2. Chief Akande brought into his narrative some names including that of General Alani Akinrinade whom he quoted as calling me on the content of a government file which Akande confessed was stolen by his people and brought to him in Ibadan. I state that General Akinrinade could not have called me “Lagun” which Akande inserted in his book. General Akinrinade and everyone in the military called (and calls) me Ola or Oyin. In any case, I have records of every document I appended my signature to in my years in government.
2. Akande’s full advance payment of N800million on new Govt House
Chief Akande wrote on the Government House that he wanted to build on a site on Ilesa road in Osogbo which I stopped. I found it strange that Chief Akande who boasted that he was prudent and honest as governor, awarded the construction of a Government House in his last days in office, after he lost the election, and in advance, paid the contractors the entire contract sum of N800million. Chief Akande confirmed this strange payment on page 393 of his book. This was a man who said there was no money to pay workers and pensioners but he had enough to pay a contractor in advance for a government house after losing his re-election. In any case, the state already had an ongoing Government House started by the military government which Akande refused to complete. I completed the project and added chalets plus a presidential lodge. Everything was completed and commissioned within my first year in office. The state has continued to use the structures till date. Akande, in his book, condemned my decision to opt for that project instead of his own idea. Further details on this are in my forthcoming book.
3. Chief Akande said the 2003 governorship election in Osun State was rigged in my favour. Chief Akande has repeatedly told this lie. The truth is known to everybody in the state that Akande lost the state shortly after he took over in 1999 and started fighting every one in the state. He sacked thousands of workers and did not pay their entitlements. In some instances, the retrenched persons included husband, wife and children. He owed those who were not sacked months of unpaid salaries which I inherited and paid. He deducted 20 percent of workers salaries to fund his projects. He fought obas, chiefs and religious groups and leaders. He sacked the press from government activities, blocked the only access road to NTA Osogbo and locked the gate of the Government House against even press correspondents in the state. He had no word of succor for his victims. These were the ingredients that cooked his defeat in 2003. But it is convenient for him to blame his defeat on everyone else apart from himself. I defeated him comprehensively in all local governments in the state apart from his home council area. Again, the details are in my forthcoming book.
4. I am happy Chief Akande described me in his book as his younger brother. I also hold him in very high esteem. That was why I counselled him at the beginning of his administration when he came to my house in Okuku, around June 1999, that the easiest way to destroy a state government was to draw a wedge between a governor and his deputy. I told him to watch out and prevent this from happening. He told me anyone dreaming of coming between him and his deputy, Otunba Iyiola Omisore, would be wasting their time. The rest is history.
5. Finally, I take responsibility for every action I took as governor. Chief Akande said I apologized to him for my actions as governor. That is not true. As governor, I feared only God and was nobody’s errand boy. I say so because I noticed that Chief Akande repeatedly blamed President Olusegun Obasanjo for the steps I took which he didn’t like. Ironically, Chief Akande was President Obasanjo’s favorite and the president always said this to those of us in his party. The saying that came to my mind when I read Chief Akande’s attacks on Obasanjo is “Eni a fe l’a mo, a o mo eni to fe ni (We only know those we love, we do not know those who love us).
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