Osoba: Akiolu Risked His Life for My Sake during Abacha’s Reign


Gboyega Akinsanmi

Former Ogun State Governor, Chief Olusegun Osoba, wednesday revealed tormenting experience he had in 1993 when former Head of State, late Gen. Sani Abacha toppled the Interim National Government (ING) headed by Chief Ernest Shonekan.

Osoba, who first governed Ogun State between January 1992 and November 1993, said the present Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwanu Akiolu, who was then Commissioner of Police, risked his job and life for his sake while being incarcerated at Alagbon cell.

He gave the account at the public presentation of a book, Cascade of Change: A Decade of Liberal Thoughts authored by the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, wednesday.

The book presentation, which took place at the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) on Victoria Island attracted President Muhammadu Buhari, the state Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, and the national leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Other dignitaries at the presentation were the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr. Olatunji Bello; Managing Director of THISDAY Newspapers Group, Mr. Eniola Bello; former Managing Director of Concord Newspapers, Dr. Doyin Abiola; a public commentator and development expert, Prof. Pat Utomi, and Director-General of DAWN Commission, Mr. Dipo Famakinwa.

Osoba, who was the chairman of the occasion, explained how Akiolu risked his job and life as the then Commissioner for Police during Abacha’s administration and allowed him to sleep in his office while he was in jail.

He said the Abacha regime incarcerated him in Alagbon cell after November 17, 1993 military intervention, noting that he “was sleeping on a bench at Alagbon cell. My mates were like big rats that freely jumped at me and made me uncomfortable at night.”

Having seen his pitiable condition, the former governor said the monarch came “to my rescue at the risk of his job and life. Oba Akiolu gave me the key to his office and asked him to sleep there after office hours.”

Osoba, therefore, openly commended the monarch for his doggedness and kindness, noting that he stood by him when the late tyrant jailed him for his struggle to ensure the actualisation of June 12, 1993 presidential election.

On his part, Ambode commended Ayorinde for the book, noting that his participation in the campaign that brought his (Ambode) administration to office was spearheaded by him as he was the head of the media and strategy team.

“Ayorinde represents a generation of conscious journalists who have committed to working towards a better society. We are proud to have him in the Lagos State executive council and he has been involved in various stages in the implementation of our Change Agenda. He has deployed his professional skills, competence and experience in promoting our socio-political reforms through a liberal and focused policy implementation strategy.

“I am sure that this book, a collection of articles written over a 10 year period, will make interesting reading to any student of history and politics. As you can imagine, the articles of the past two years had strong political leaning, echoing the call for ‘Change’ at the federal level and ‘Continuity with Improvement’ in Lagos.”