It was a battle of wits, a test of might, a clash of wills, a conflict of beliefs, a display of skills, a fierce struggle between erstwhile brothers and comrades a thought provoking determination of who “owns papa's land.” It was ultimately democracy in action. And the people spoke loud and clear was the message, and it was as follows:
(a) People make leaders and not the other way round
(b) A tree does not make a forest
(c) king-makers are bigger than kings, even though kings may appear more prominent than their makers
(d) There will always be a day of reckoning for every deed, good or bad.
(e) A river that spurns its source will soon dry-up
(f) Pride goes before a fall
When Tigers, members of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ikeja gathered at the Onyx Plaza, I Sobo Arobiodu Close G.R.A Ikeja, Lagos on 30th June 2008, it was not for a party. It was for the very serious business of choosing whom their prime leaders, Chairman and General Secretary for the next two years would be. A week before then, some of their other new leaders in persons of Dare Akande Esq. (1st Vice Chairman) Terry Adeniji Badmus (2nd Vice Chairman) Leye Omitola (Financial Secretary) Lateef Abdusalam (Publicity Secretary) and Emmanuel Otobo (Social Secretary) had been known. The vice-chairmen, the publicity secretary and the social secretary had rode into office on the back of the disqualification of their respective opponents by the Layi Babatunde (S.A.N) Electoral Committee, while the financial secretary had no opponent. The Electoral Committee had also declared the posts of Welfare Secretary, Treasurer, Assistant General Secretary, vacant following the earlier disqualification of all the contestants in the posts.
In the contest for chairman, were only two candidates, Dave Ajetomobi 1st Vice-Chairman in the Niyi Idowu administration and Beckley Abioye the General Secretary in the same administration. They would have been four but the disqualification axe of the Electoral Committee had struck down the ambition of Niyi Akinmola Esq. and Dele Oloke, who were the other aspirants.
In the contest for General Secretary, there were only two candidates too - Isa Mohammed Buhari and Titilayo Osagie, Mrs.
Last week, in our volume 8 No 32 edition (re-printed in this edition) the Squib had predicted that Dave Ajetomobi and Isa Mohammed Buhari had the greater chances of wining the contests.
The prediction did not fail. Buhari coasted to victory with about 59% of the total votes cast to wit 212 votes to Titi Osagie's 149 votes. To become the chairman, Ajetomobi took 60% (221) of the votes leaving Beckley Abioye gasping with the remainder 40% (138 votes)
It was in the eyes of many observers, a fitting end to the unreasonable, even obnoxious and reckless ambitions of Niyi Idowu, the immediate past chairman of the branch, to single handedly install his successor in office. In pursuit of his interesting project, Idowu found a willing ally and tool in Beckley Abioye, who had tasted the sweet but heady wine of power in the office of the General Secretary of the famous Ikeja bar.
It was a long term project but destined to crash land eventually. It may never he fully understood why Idowu decided to go on his dismal one man mission of installing his successor but there are enough indications to suggest his decision was based nothing more than a hitherto hidden bitterness and resentment of some members of his former political caucus like Adekunle Ojo and Adesina Ogunlana whom he felt were waxing too strong in the political firmament of NBA Ikeja politics.
Another strong but clear impetus for this action was his exaggerated opinion about his popularity, influence and mastery of the strategies and tactics of political warfare and conquest combined with a lack of healthy respect for the capacities of all his former “comrades at arms” in the caucus.
What fuelled this strange delusion in the former chairman of the NBA was nothing more than his all too easy elections victories over Dele Oloke, first in 2004 to become the 1st vice chairman of the Tigers and then secondly in 2006 to become the chairman. Idowu, forgot however that Oloke was actually not a formidable opponent, worthy enough to match, talk-less of beating the group that produced him (Idowu) and which has had a hegemonistic hold on the politics of the Ikeja bar, possibly for the 'interregnum' of the Bisi Ade-Ademuwagun chairmanship (2000-2004) for more than a decade now.
The final stimulant that obviously goaded Idowu into rebellion and consequent betrayal of his group was the prominence that both he and his adopted political son Beckley Abioye enjoyed courtesy of their top positions as chairman and secretary of the Tiger branch between 2006and 2008. Both believed that the power of incumbency they enjoyed would certainly be of good help to their cause.
The definite start of the Beckley Abioye for chairman programme took place around August 2007 but it was kept under wraps, although Idowu even then was heard by some geckos boasting in some quarters that “I will show those people in the next election”
Almost from the on-set however, the plot to make Abioye, Idowu's successor started to fail, with the refusal of Yinka Farounbi, a senior member of the caucus and a key executive office holder to join on. Farounbi's demurral ought to have warned the duo of Idowu and Abioye off their scheme, particularly Abioye since, he Faroubi was Abioye's sponsor into the influential power caucus. Farounbi was of the firm opinion that Ajetomobi who was senior in all political respects, in the caucus, in the NBA, and at the bar, to Abioye, who was actually the most junior in the caucus, should be Idowu's successor.
Faroubi's reasonable stance and wise counsel was however ignored by Idowu and Abioye who continued to push on with their plans. Still it was not ripe for them to show their hands clearly to the caucus, led by Dare Akande Esq, the newly elected 1st vice-chairman of the NBA.
But it was not only Idowu and Abioye who would rebel against the obvious choice of the caucus for the chairmanship of the Ikeja bar, after Idowu, to wit Dave Ajetomobi. Another rebel was Niyi Akinmola Esq, the immediate past second vice-chairman of the branch and a foundation member of the caucus. Instead of waiting for his turn to get promoted by the caucus as per her tradition, Akinmola, fearing that he might be out-ranked later, decided to take his fate in his hands. He too approached Farounbi for support but again that worthy refused, insisting on following the tradition of the caucus in preferring the senior to the junior except in special circumstances.
Interestingly, Farounbi was no fan of Ajetomobi, infamous in the past for late coming and his temper which suddenly can become volatile. Thus in refusing to participate in the plot to outrank Ajetomobi, Farounbi only acted in good faith and on principle. He later played a major role in debunking the accusation of Niyi Akinmola against Ajetomobi before the Electoral Committee that Ajetomobi contrary to the bye-laws did not pay his branch dues for 2006-2007 year and thus saved Ajetomobi's candidacy.
By January 2008, the stage for open manifestation of their rebellions intentions against their political family was getting very set by Niyi Idowu, Beckley Abioye and Niyi Akinmola. Both Abioye and Akinmola had declared their interest in the chairmanship and could not be persuaded by the caucus to step down for Ajetomobi the most senior in the cadre.
After a long wait to resolve the matter one way or the other, in the face of the intransigence of the Abioye and Akinmola, the caucus finally in February 2008 settled for Ajetomobi as her flag-bearer. Neither of Abioye or Akinmola made themselves available for the caucus election. Idowu also refused to participate falsely claiming that as the chairman of the branch, he wanted to be neutral.
The overwhelming preference of the majority of the caucus for Dave Ajetomobi, did nothing to impress Abioye and Akinmola to drop their ambition. Abioye in particular pointedly told the leader of the caucus, Dare Akande, who delivered the verdict of the caucus to him that for all he cared, the caucus could go and jump with her decision.
Both men, Akinmola and Abioye used different methods in trying to actualise their dreams. While Akinmola went solo, relying essentially on the strength of his assumed popularity and personal intense campaigns, Idowu and Abioye decided to wage the coming battle with a structure behind them.
Both methods failed ultimately in the face of the opposition of the political machine of their erstwhile political family who turned the heat full blast on them.
The first to fall was Niyi Akinmola courtesy of a powerful one-punch-do-it-all petition from Dave Ajetomobi who complained that Akinmola's nomination seconder, Biyi Oguntuga Esq lacked the competence to do so for lack of inadequate attendance of branch meetings. The complaint was sustained and Akinmola joined Dele Oloke in the league of disqualified chairmanship candidates in the elections.
Getting Beckley Abioye and his mentor, Idowu to drink the gall of political defeat took the caucus a longer time. The duo had planned to use their advantage of incumbency to form an Electoral that would be sympathetic to their cause and the cause of their motley crowd of hastily arranged team of contestants to wit S.O Omodara, Abiola Oketoki, Maimuna Esegine, Biyi Oguntuga and A Ahmed, and allow them to contest the election irrespective of any qualification deficiencies they had. Again the caucus proved its mettle against Idowu and Abioye, by bullying their interests (that due process and legality be observed in the conduct of the elections) into the two Electoral Committees set up by the branch, this, despite the fact that Niyi Idowu, the self glorifying master political strategist presided over the meetings which produced the Electoral Committees.
The beginning of the end of the Abioye -for-chairman project became more manifest when the caucus' influence first prevented the allowance of every Tom Dick and Harry in the race to contest, and secondly when the influence ensured that in conformity with the bye-laws of the branch, most of the unqualified candidates were dropped from the race by the Electoral Committee. In the event, every body in the Idowu Abioye team of contestants except Abioye himself and Titi Osagie was disqualified from the race, while all the main candidates fielded by that obviously better prepared caucus scaled through .
Inspite of all these set-banks, the Idowu-Abioye group, with her now limping rag-tag army of adventures still believed that, if only they could soldier on, they would still defeat the Dare Akande led caucus. So the struggle continued, but it was clear to any wide-eyed observer that the Abioye-for-chairman 2008 would eventually collapse like a house built with spittle.
Commenting on the situation, this is how commentator described it
“It is like when you have a mighty bull surrounded by a pride of lions. Despite his might the lions would certainly overcome him. It is only Idowu standing with and for Beckley Abioye, how could he hope to win? Yes he is the chairman but he cannot single-handedly defeat his comrades, who know him in and out and who themselves are no push-overs.”
Led by the veteran campaigner Dare Akande Esq, the caucus simply turned the screws tighter by the day against the jugular of their opponents. The caucus called out all her generals, even from far flung places to come back home to Tiger land and join hands to teach “traitors and ingrates” a bitter but vital lessons that a part no matter how big is not greater than the whole.
The caucus knew it was fighting the bitterest war of her life ever because this was one war between brothers and threw everything they had into it. There job was made easier however by the avoidable mistakes made by the rebels Idowu and Abioye to wit:-
(a) fielding too many numbers of candidates
(b) antagonising and contributing to the frustration of the NBA presidential campaign of a prominent Tiger, Dele Adesina S.A.N
(c) getting enmeshed in the scandal of the falsification of branch records
(d) scorning media publication opportunity via the SQUIB publication
Perhaps one of the greatest assist the caucus received from their opponents came from Beckley
Abioye himself. The former general secretary was simply a hard sell. Younger than his opponent in real life and at the bar, Abioye, simply did not cut a 'presidential' look and could not put his good looks to a charismatic advantage. Rather for most part of the campaign he looked harassed and under stress in real life and almost pathetic or at best somber in pictures.
Of course, once the story was out that he betrayed the nomination norms of his caucus who brought him to power, Abioye and his political leader laboured constantly under the strains of being labeled “greedy, over-ambitions politicians.”
On July 1 2008, the caucus showed its might in no uncertain manner. Even before the commencement of the voting. It was clear that Ajetomobi and Buhari were the preferred team of majority of the Tigers’present. By the time voting was stopped more and more supporters of the Ajetomobi Buhari kept coming but the door was barred against them.
When the sorting and counting of the votes began in the voting hall there was not much tension in the groups loyal to the Caucus. The air was thick with the fragrance of their imminent victory. On the other hand the clearly embattled Niyi Idowu and one or two supporters of his sat glumly at the back of the hale awaiting the announcement of the death of his pet-project.
Suddenly leaders of the caucus leapt up and started congratulating themselves. Two of them in particular, Adekunle Ojo and Adesina Ogunlana started executing curious dance-steps, to the amusement and admiration of their supporters. When Ogunlana was asked why he was acting so excited he gleefully declared that he was undergoing ‘political ejaculation’. The Caucus had won again and her chieftains were only dancing on the political coffins of those who had so arrogantly underrated them.After the official announcement of the results, the Caucus led no less than a hundred supporters to a 'watering hole' at the P.O.W.A market near the Ikeja High Court to celebrate their all important victory. Many were the tears of Bacchus in that gathering!