This has been our longest running democratic experience. Nineteen years. Despite the odds, we are trudging on. It is a day of exhortations and congratulatory messages. And of lamentations. I wish to bring some good cheer into the day by sharing two anecdotes from a book I’m working on – The hilarious book of Nigerian politics. It is a book about the funny or sunny side of Nigerian politics. They are records of episodes that brighten the political landscape otherwise filled with lies, deceit, violence, brigandage and the like.
Today I serve you two episodes involving the late strongman of Ibadan politics, Alhaji Lamidi Akanji Adedibu. I met him as a reporter at the Nigerian Tribune, and as a lecturer in Political Science at the University of Ibadan, I encouraged my students to study his politics. The findings were intriguing. As researchers, we kept open minds about Adedibu as a subject, and the findings are essential for the development of politics in Nigeria, including how to prevent some of the vices he was known for. Please read and enjoy.
ADEDIBU AND THE HUNCHBACK WITNESS
There had just been an election in which Adedibu’s candidate was declared the winner. The opponent challenged the victory at the tribunal. His trump card was the evidence of a hunchback who had witnessed the massive falsification of election results at a beer parlour. The manipulators had dismissed his presence because he was considered an invalid.
As the case progressed, it became increasingly apparent that the evidence of the hunchback would make all the difference. Adedibu devised a ploy to prevent such damaging evidence.
One day, he arrived at the Tribunal and chose to sit beside the hunchback. When proceedings started, he beckoned at one of his aides. He pretended to speak in low tones, but audible enough for the hunchback to hear. ” How far have you gone with the ritual they asked us to perform on this case? he asked. “Everything is ready, but we have not found a hunchback to complete the ingredients,” the aide replied. ” You are always careless about taking advantage of your opportunities,” he said as he threw a glance in the direction of the hunchback. “You must not miss him today,” he said as he waved the aide away.
The hunchback looked the other way, pretending not to hear the conversation. As Adedibu pretended to resume concentration on the court proceedings, the hunchback tiptoed his way out of the courtroom. Barely out of the courtroom, he removed his shoes and took to his heels.
He did not turn up in court the following day. When the petitioner who relied on his Evidence-in-Chief went to his residence to get him to appear, his neighbours said he had relocated with his entire family and did not leave a forwarding address!
ADEDIBU WON THE CASE .
When I worked on his biography in his twilight years, I asked him why he devised such an intriguing plot; Adedibu, lively and ever jovial- with his infectious laughter- replied; “Opolo oloselu gbodo ma sise ni gbogbo ‘gba”( a politician must be at the top of his game at all times).
Happy Democracy Day.