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  • Bayo Adelabu, A child of History

    Adegoke Adelabu Penkelemesi was a self-made successful Ibadan businessman turned colourful, dazzling and flamboyant politician who bestrode Ibadan landscape like a colossus in the fifties.

    Bayo Adelabu

    Adelabu was a brilliant, iconoclastic and creative politician who had his special ways of doing his own things. If Adelabu was visiting a politician of note, he would disembark from his car a kilometre to the house. Like magic, his drummers would appear from nowhere belting out eulogies and praises for him while they dished out profound Yoruba proverbs to berate his political opponents.

    Adelabu would dance, sing and walk to his host house, gathering followers along the way like a masquerade, and by the time he got to his host, another crowd had gathered to listen to the enfant terrible of Ibadan politics. Not for him to rent crowds as they do these days, he generated them.

    Another legend. As a Federal Government minister, Adelabu had an official car. On getting to Ibadan, he called his constituency to a meeting at his Oke-oluokun residence. After the meeting, he asked his people to ride in the car in groups of four to Beere round about, just to have a ‘feeling of a minister’s car’. The following morning, newspapers went gaga “Talakawas ride in ministerial car”. He was such a grass root politician who understood his people like the back of his palm.

    His party once has six seats in the Western  Region House of assembly  but before you knew what was happening he had lost five of them overnight in what would be Nigerians first political carpet crossing .

    Adelabu Penkelemesi

    An orator per excellence, he once described what he believed to be AG shenanigans in the house of assembly as a peculiar mess which his not-so-literate followers turned to penkelemesi,  hence the sobriquet,  Adelabu Penkelemesi.

    Chief Obafemi Awolowo acknowledged Adelabu’s intellect and cerebral prowess, but he detested the Oke-Oluokun born politician with passion.  Adelabu returned this hatred in equal measures if not more.

    Whether for personal interests or economic reasons, nobody knew, but Adelabu countered every move made by Awolowo. He opposed his tax reforms to increase IGR and his reforms on the role of Mogajis in governance thereby posting himself as a supporter of tradition and culture.

    This rivalry culminated in the probe of Ibadan Municipal Government accounts which made Adelabu to resign but that did not deter the Ibadans from worshipping their own.

    On one of his return journeys from Lagos, the Ibadans went to receive their own at somewhere near Molete with a carnival of drums, songs and dance. Adelabu, ma kowo wan na, igunnu lo ni tapa, tapa loni gunnu, ma kowo wan na. (Adelabu embezzle our money, Igunnu owns Tapa, Tapa owns Igunnu, you own us, we own you, go ahead and embezzle our money). Don’t get it wrong, he was not just a local champion, his empire spread to as far as Ilesha in the preset Osun state.

    This is the political legacy fortune had dropped on Bayo Alelabu’s lap, a former CBN deputy  governor and  grandson of Penkelemesi who died in 1958, twelve years before the birth of Bayo himself. What a child of history?

    He has to be a child of history and destiny looking at the qualifications and pedigrees of the 20 candidates he defeated to clinch the APC primary despite being the youngest amongst the lot. Casualties include former Governor, serving and old commissioners, A-list technocrats and highly referred SANs. His ascension must have been divinely sanctioned.

    When in 2016, the kite was being flown here in Ibadan that one Bayo Adelabu, a grandson of Adegoke Adelabu would take over from Ajimobi, I said to myself, this is payback time for the Adelabus. And by and large, this is the feeling of many Ibadan indigenes. More so, Bayo is believed to be a finished product of work-in-progress started by Aare Azeez Arisekola himself and when Aare signifies his interest in a matter, the Ibadans sleep and put their heads in one direction.

    Yorubas, and particularly Ibadans don’t forgot their heroes and that is the reason the likes of Ogunmola, Lagelu, Latoosa are still revered till today.

    But besides the political dynasty he is inheriting, Bayo has earned his say.  Aside from his many investments in Oyo state and many indigenes he has empowered economically, we have it on good authority that he facilitated and supported the CBN sponsored technical university in Ibadan.

    Adelabu’s investments cover hospitality, agriculture and real estate. He heads the Best Western Plus Hotels, Bayse One Group of Hotels, Ibadan and Bayse One Farm. If he did these without power, you can imagine what to expect when he superintends over governance at Agodi.

    Add to all this, his young age of 48. He is not too young to run as they say and this his handlers should use to advantage. Enough of these Agbadas on billboards. He should be sold as a dynamic young man and a management volcano ready to explode. Big agbadas don’t convey that image.

    Let the handlers give us some photos in shirts and trousers and jeans and possibly some shots showing him sweating it out on sites.  They may want to learn one or two things from the handlers of Sanwoolu in Lagos.

    Now, will Ibadan alone make Bayo a governor? No, Ibadan is not Oyo state and Bayo would definitely need the support of other parts of the state. And that is why I am pained by the departure of Alao Akala, otherwise, it would have been a walk over for Bayo.

    APC should not stop wooing Akala because the Oyato governor has Ogbomosho axis in his pocket. But if he insists, there are still Oke-Ogun and Oyo for Bayo Adelabu to maximise.

    The top Ibadans know how to rally round their own. Remember the late hour support Ladoja gave to Ajimobi in 2015. When the chips are down, the oba Otudekos, the Baloguns, the Ladojas, the Kola Daisis of Ibadan will jettison politics and support their own.

    That is why I am sorry for Seyi Makinde another astute and brilliant young man from Ibadan who is simply unlucky to  have Bayo Adelabu to contend with.

    Because if Oke-Ogun give their votes to APC as they gave to Ajimobi in 2015 and there is no reason why they should not because I understand this government has been nice to them, and the Ibadans vote overwhelmingly for their own, there is no reason why the new Penkelemesi should not win this election, even if it’s going to be by teeth skin.

    When this happens, Adebayo Adelabu would have affirmed himself a child of history fulfilling destiny.

    Jide Omiyale (SME expert and  amateur political analyst)

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