Southern Kaduna subservience as a geopolitical entity despite its erudite intellectuals and outstanding technocrats in all spheres of life and the vast resources within its territory is a paradox. Ferrying in a political culture that is devoid of an ‘Adedibu’ will potentiate the political and by extension the economic incapacitation of the region. This is not a suppose threat to undermine the already weak political strategy of victimhood played by the Southern Kaduna people but an awakening to the realities and demands of the 21st Century. That their political and economic freedom does not lie on the shoulders of human right activist or the recreation of a Tianamen or Tahir square at Abuja Unity Fountain but on a careful strategy that will empower the youth economically first, then politically.
My first acquaintance with Chief Lamidi Adedibu was through some series of articles on Political Sociology at the prestigious University of Ibadan. Political Sociology does not only study the formal organization of power and authority in a system, it is also interested in the informal interplay of power and the dynamics of politics beyond political parties and the formal processes of recruiting leaders. It is in such discipline that one can find the parlance “Godfatherism” and “Bigman” in a political discourse. Adedibu epitomizes the true definition of a ‘godfather’. It was his embodiment of the concept that elevated him to the status of an ideology called Adedibuism. Although he was not very educated as many Southern Kaduna elite, he successfully weaved a web of power in Oyo state politics, with himself at the center, pulling the strings.
Adedibu was called the Asipa of Ibadan and the garrison commander of Ibadan politics. Born on October 24, 1927, he logged into politics as an ‘errand-boy’ to the likes of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Mr Samuel. O. Lanlehin, and Chief Adisa Meredith Augustus Akinloye (The then national chairman of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in the early fifties. Because of his skills and expertise in grass root politics and his ability in mass mobilization of electorates, Adedibu was courted by many politicians. Notable among them were Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola- one time Premier of the Western region. It was believed that Chief Akintola wooed Adedibu from Awolowo by paying him One Hundred Pounds weekly. Adedibu was not only known as a grass root politicians, he became a political Robbin hood immediately providence bequeathed to him the mantle of leadership in Oyo state politics in the third republic. It was the exile of Chief Adisa Akinloye after the second republic was truncated, and the passing on of Alhaji Busari Adelakun, a stronger grass root politician that birthed Adedibu into limelight.
Remi Oyoyemi decoded six principles in John C. Maxwell lectures on leadership that encapsulate the operational tenets of Chief Adedibu’s leadership philosophy:
I. People like to feel special, so he always sincerely compliment them.
ii. People want a better tomorrow, he has a way to show them hope.
iii. People desire direction, so he dexterously navigates for them People are selfish, he first speak to their needs and map out means to accomplish them.
iv. People get low emotionally, he finds ways to continuously encourage them.
v. People want success, so he always help them to win.
Oyoyemi added that:
Chief Adedibu’s capacity to show compassion to the needy and empathy to the ambitious, despite his reputation for toughness and confrontation if need be is his greatest asset. His practice that no one would step into his compound and leave with an empty stomach shows he understood the language of the common man. The peculiar patterns of relation between him and his clients threw him up as a middleman between seekers of elective posts and the poor who constitute the core of the voters. This made him a patron that could not be ignored with a sleight of hand by any aspiring politician in the state and by extension in the country.
Adedibu’s self-styled Godfatherism is not be the best template for every society. In fact many scholars oppose such informal structure of dispensing state powers as it is considered toxic to development. One could also argue that the political terrain differs because Oyo state is habited by a single ethnic group while Kaduna state is characterized by multiculturalism separated along two dominant religious faith. But that should not encumbered the rise of an Adedibu in Southern Kaduna. Personal ambition fueled by competing interest of the various ethnic groups within the region stunted the elevation of the political and economic profile of the people. Since the reintroduction of democracy in 1999, most Chairmen of the ruling party in Kaduna State have come from Southern Kaduna but yet were only successful in producing one governor courtesy of the demise of Yaradua. The region has produced two Chiefs of Army Staff yet none among them had the initiative to build a military university. Captains of industries, heads of Banks and leaders of Government parastals have retired to be either spectators in the political arena of the state or pastors and church elders to preach against the moral decadence their ineptitude help to create. With the vast amount of lands and the diverse crops cultivated annually in the Southern Kaduna region, none of such elite has taken the initiative to introduce at least a processing plant or better packaging mechanisms for the crops. On account of the popular saying that ‘Politicians think about the next elections while Statesmen think about the next generation’ Southern Kaduna has lots of politicians but few Statesmen.
Now, there is a danger ahead. With the older Southern Kaduna civil servants retiring from the civil service, it has become increasingly difficult for an average Southern Kaduna youth to secure a job or an appointment especially with the Government at the centre. Pressure from parents (who have received gratuity that can barely sustain them for five years) and the blockade in accessing space for national service has driven most of the youth to a state of frustration; the consequence of which is seen in the increasing number of drug abuse and commercial sex workers racking themselves in jungles and nightclubs in the Southern Kaduna region. In essence, the youth are burdened to scour for opportunities that their parents never cared to pave the way for. A political culture spurred by fear, individualism and excessive loyalty to government has climax into a near political and economic extinction of the Southern Kaduna people in the current administration. The Federal Government has issued not many condemnations to the recurrent killings going on in the region and the tacit reaction of some of the Southern Kaduna elite to the crises is indicative of the fact that they are still cowardly bent on protecting their personal ambition and fallen reputations.
The strength of Southern Kaduna lies in its absolute liberalism and its weakness is in the fact that such liberalism is not undergirded by a ‘bigman’, an Adedibu. As it stands, there is not one political figure like Solomon Lar, Bola Ahmed Tinubu or a Kwankwaso who the next generation can make reference to. Someone who will discern the needs of the people and create the enabling conditions to meet such needs. Southern Kaduna is in dire need of an Adedibu. One who will transgressed the boundaries of ethno-religious politics and cement the cleavages of primordial identities. Someone who will rise above the strictures of ethnicity with a clear knowledge of the future to overcome the temptations of personal ambition for the salvation of the next generation. An Adedibu who will make the Hausas, the Fulanis and every other ethnic group within the Southern Kaduna geographical space understand that we are not competitors nor a threat to each other’s existence but are advantageous friends from which we can harness our entrepreneurship spirit, virtue of selflessness and political experience for the economic development of the region. As the need for economic prosperity is gradually taking the center stage in global discourse, the next will be ‘bigman’ should focus more on state of the art skills for his clienteles and the promotion of Small and Medium-scale Enterprises into viable companies. An Adedibu, a bigman, a Godfather who will refrain from asking the question ‘What did you read or what certificate do you have?’ but will rather ask ‘What can you do or what do you want to do?’ is instrumental in getting the Southern Kaduna people out of the political Bermuda triangle they have plunged into. Whoever asked such questions and answers them practically in the lives of the current intelligent youths of Southern Kaduna, it is to him that the crown of an Adedibu will be bestowed.
By Luka Odita Ashafa