By Adebayo Adedeji
When the news of the assassination attempt on the life of Senator Adelere Oriolowo was first broken, this writer had to exercise restraint and measure his intervention so he would save himself of possible future tempestuous rejoinder that usually follows such an emotion laden event.
A calculated silence is more eloquent and is always rewarding in this instance because when politicians make statements that elicit awe, there are often meta meanings to them. This, though, does not intend to categorize politicians as dramatists.
Now that the dust has settled and the reality is beginning to take its own shape, one can hazard a reasonable position on the matter.
For those who do not know, Adelere Oriolowo is the Senator representing the people of Osun West Senatorial District in the National Assembly. He is from Iwo and he, lately, is said to be in running battles with his constituents across the 10 local governments that make up the senatorial district. However, the APC leaders in the district—even though their yearnings and aspirations have equally suffered in the hands of their senator— have consistently defended him and appealed to both partisan and non-partisan constituents to continue to have faith in the capacity of the senator to bring the dividend of democracy to them.
Last Sunday, 10th January, an APC caucus meeting was scheduled to hold in Ikire, the headquarters of Irewole local government which would have Senator Oriolowo in attendance. The meeting was graced by the party’s heavyweights and political office holders from Osun West. Some of the attendees included the state’s deputy governor, Benedict Alabi and finance commissioner, Bola Oyebamiji, who coincidentally are Ikire sons. Other leaders in attendance were Yinusa Amobi, the senatorial leader; Hon. Taiwo Oluga, the serving House of Representatives member; Ayo Omidiran, former House of Representatives member; state assembly parliamentarians from the district, among others.
Senator Oriolowo was said to have joined the meeting midway; nevertheless, he was given the courtesy of addressing the august gathering. His presence at the meeting seemed to be odd and unfashionable to some floor members—mostly youths who were merely around the venue of the meeting to observe the proceeding. A section of this youthful audience tried to whittle down the senator’s vocal with taunts and jeers.
For regulars at political party meetings, booing may be an effective way of accentuating their disappointment about a leader. And that is where it normally ends. Bi a ba nja, ki n se pe ka ku.
At the time the Senator was taking his leave out of the venue of the meeting, the deputy governor was on hand to escort him.
Above have been the accounts of the cross-section of attendees interviewed.
Contrary to the misinformation making the rounds that the caucus meeting ended abruptly, the meeting of 10th January in Ikire ended as planned with “Vote-of-Thanks” said by Hon. Olasunkanmi Akinola, former executive chairman of Irewole local government.
Does a meeting who ends in fiasco come with a Vote-of-Thanks? What would the “thanks” meant for?
It was similarly gathered that throughout the period the caucus meeting was in session, no leader of the party was physically assaulted. The ambience of the meeting was described as peaceful and hugely brotherly—save for mild drama of rejection that heralded the senator’s speech which the deputy governor and other leaders deftly managed.
According to a leader of the party present at the meeting but who would not like to be named in the public, “ There was no basis—no compelling reason— for any bonafide members of APC to attack Senator Oriolowo at the meeting. Nobody would have done that in the presence of the deputy governor, Benedict Gboyega Alabi and the Commissioner for Finance, Alhaji Bola Oyebamiji—two gentlemen whose motto in the party is ‘amity.’ You would not have these two fine men and leader Amobi in attendance when a sitting senator would be harassed physically, let alone an assassination attempt on his life. Never.
Also, APC members are law-abiding citizens who, rather than resorting to self-help and brigandage would choose to activate frontally their constitutional power of non-renewal of the mandate of the senator at the party primaries—if at all they have steeped resentments towards him.”
The foregoing position is not entirely different from positions a couple of other eye witnesses expressed. Nothing unpleasant was planned or carried out against the senator by leaders of the party in Ikire nor any part of the state as it is being speculated.
Whereas it is premature to, at this period, hold that assassination attempt was never made on the life of the senator; the senator should endeavour to follow up the assassination claim to law-enforcement agents— It was learnt he has not reported the case to the police. If he has not, he should do so NOW.
The claims, to journalists, that he was attacked along Ibadan-Ife road and the identity of his assailants are known to him, should be thoroughly investigated.
Anything short of firm investigation would cast eternal doubt on his integrity and also help validate and sustain the conspiracy theory that the narrative around the attack was a political dramatization orchestrated by him to smear people’s names, cause rift among friends and obtain undue sympathy.