By Akinlolu Hassan
Senator Adewolu Ladoja, former governor of Oyo State, relishes the comparative edge he had over the government of his former deputy and immediate-past governor of the state, Adebayo Akala, in terms of people’s estimation of the quality of their governments. Where Akala was perceived as a profligate and jolly-good fellow leader who made no distinction between public and private purses, Ladoja came across as a shrewd and miserly governor who had the people at the epicenter of his administration. In spite of the scandal of his EFCC rout over the scandalous sales of the state shares that ran into billions of Naira during his government, Ladoja still relishes that phantasma of his popularity.
Thus, once in a while, like the Roman Emperor peeping out from the patio and issuing codes of association to his people, Senator Ladoja peeps out from the patio; this time through postings on his Facebook page which he doubtedly personally authors. Most times penned in passably good English but every time filled with bloated and exaggerated air of self-importance, Ladoja communicates with some supposed public about the codes of good governance.
Last week, Ladoja walked to the patio again. This time, he regaled the audience with some codes of good governance. In surprisingly good English and coordinated articulation but flaw-filled logic about how a society must be governed, the former governor sought to teach Oyo State about good governance. But the Sermon on the Mount was so awkwardly penned that you ultimately wondered whether the same Ladoja, credited by his supporters as filled with some political know-how and sagacity, was the one behind that façade. The sermon on the Facebook was riddled with apparently self-serving treatises which showcased him as myopic and lacking the grasp of the dictates of good governance.
Ladoja’s sermon was chequered. He dwelt on health, education, hospitality and road construction and in all, his vainglory and self-congratulations were as vivid as Mount Everest. If you read his sermon, you would almost believe that you were reading one of Obafemi Awolowo’s imperishable thoughts on how to administer a developing nation, the blueprint of which he had successfully practicalized. For once, you wouldn’t believe you were listening to Ladoja, whose reign as governor was as unimpressionable as himself and whom many in Oyo State still wonder why the EFCC had suddenly gone into docility over his case of alleged sales of billions of shares belonging to the state.
The most instructive of Ladoja’s intervention in his sermon was his statement over the commendable Ajimobi government initiative of building the first civilian-constructed fly-over bridge in the state after the David Jemibewon administration’s own constructed over 30 years ago. A very mercurial politician that he is, Ladoja had earlier quipped, in a radio interview late last year, in the guise of commending Ajimobi, that his administration midwifed the idea of constructing over-head bridges in Ibadan. Craftily, he sought to appropriate the glory that Oyo State residents and visitors to the state had been heaping on the governor for building the fly-over. In the sermon on Facebook under reference, Ladoja again brought up this sickening quip. His administration was the one that conceived the project, he said, ad infinitum.
This stomach-churning sermon has elicited several comments. One, since when did dreamers become actualizers? How many leaders of Chief Awolowo’s time dreamt to change the faces of their province but ended up disappointed and going to their graves with their dreams? What I am saying in essence is that there is a very wide hiatus between an actualizer and a dreamer. Leaders throughout the world do not claim success for their dreams and designs but what they actually achieved while in office. How does anyone go into the basement of Ladoja’s mind to gouge out or gauge his dreams? How does one establish the veracity or otherwise of this claim? Even though he claimed that his government designed three over-head bridges but as at the time his cousin and current governor took over office, none saw the light of the day, despite spending over three years in office. The present government has only spent less than two years and Mokola overhead bridge is almost completed. Ladoja not only never laid any foundation of any of the bridges, not to talk of awarding their construction. It’s high time our leaders stopped claiming glory for dreaming dreams.
The former governor again went on in his dream world sermon. He believed in 30 students per class, he said and attempted to actualize it during his administration. Whether Ladoja dreamt this or not, what the current state government inherited was that, between him and his nemesis, Akala, a decayed educational system was the lot of Oyo state. Structurally and in all other facets, education was in stasis in Oyo. The state was placed Number 34 out of 36 states of the federation; classes had become dilapidated and moribund. But less than two years of Ladoja’s cousin, Ajimobi, coming on board, the situation has totally changed. The state’s position moved to 23rd and a massive rehabilitation of classrooms is ongoing. Thousands of furniture are also being procured for the schools. That is the difference between a dreamer and an actualizer.
Ladoja the dreamer and sudden critic was not done. Admittedly in innuendoes, he criticized the state government for, according to him, building a hotel when there are other needs of the people. This also reveals the quality of or the knowledge base of the former governor of the state. Is Ladoja ignorant or is on a mischief roller-coaster? Because this is a gaffe that even a toddler in Oyo State or Year 1 student of Development Studies should not make. First, Oyo State government is not building any hotel. The one he sees springing up on the Mokola Hills is being built by Hilton Group, in partnership with the state government. In other words, the state’s liquid fund injection is not only minimal but negligible, except its land deposit to the Private Public Partnership venture. But for Ladoja’s rabid ambition to destroy anything not his, building a gigantic hotel should have been commendable because it will expand the economy of the state and employ thousands of our people. It is apparent that the former governor neither appreciates the dictates of a new and modern economy that is thriving throughout the world nor is he happy to have his cousin be the engine of such economic innovation in Oyo State.
Funnily, in his unsolicited homily, Senator Ladoja never commended the present government for its unprecedented strides in aggressive expansion of the economy, in order to alleviate poverty and its quest to push this with unprecedented vigour. Nor did he commend the government for its massive urban renewal that has become the sing-song even in the mouths of babes and the suckling. The hotel he talked so glibly about, for instance, is meant to provide envisaged investors with a place to stay. Right now, even Premier Hotel, one of the biggest in the state, does not have the wherewithal to accommodate international investors of the hue envisaged in Oyo State. Aside infrastructure, security and clean environment have also engaged the attention of the present government. But Ladoja’s self-righteous homily does not have room for such.
Is it not a gratuitous insult to the people of Oyo State that all Ladoja talked about his having done was combating guinea worm when he was in government? How come he would turn his bile at a government that has done more roads than him and his former deputy put together? Why would he not have kind words for a man who has literally and metaphorically cleaned the dirt that they foisted on Oyo State? Oyo State is better than before and is wearing a new look. Our leader(s) should not mislead the public because of their ambitions. Ladoja had an opportunity to do exactly or even better than his cousin in government now but he was too busy designing and dreaming. In all these, what gratifies me is the responses from people to this Facebook ranting. Respondents put him in his place and asked that in 2015, the man who would by then be an octogenarian, should rather begin to make his path right with his creator than seeking the nameless thing he forgot at the Agodi Government House.
• Hassan writes from Monatan, Ibadan