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Demola Olarewaju @DemolaRewaju
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Of all the Political Minds that ever traversed the geographical Space called Nigeria, Bola Ige was the most enigmatic in my eyes.

I remember him today as always, 16 years after he was brutally murdered on December 23, 2001 while serving Nigeria as its Attorney-General.
I’ve in the past few years done tweets about Ige’s enigmatic life but this year I want to do it a bit differently.

Thank God by last year I’d discovered how to thread tweets so you can read up about him here while I take a different direction.

I want to break Ige’s life into four sections based on the Republics we’ve had so far and look at his role and impact in those political periods.

This way, one can draw relevant lessons for our time from his politics.

In view of our present realities, I’m especially saddened.
Saddened that despite the presence of progressive impostors in Govt, there is no remembrance of Ige.

Saddened that the political realignment Ige prophetically foretold came in his absence and without him took a wrong turn.

Saddened mostly that his killers are still unknown.
Ige in the First Republic was a party member in Awo’s Action Group who rose to the forefront in February 1962 at the infamous “Night of Long Knives” AG Convention at African Sports Club in Jos.

Awolowo openly took the battle to Akintola and many of Akintola’s men fell in battle.
Awolowo came out drawing punches by talking of certain contradictions in the AG ranks.

Akintola sought in vain to postpone the elections of new officers seeing he was outnumbered but his motion failed and he walked out with some supporters.

The election eventually held however.
Ayo Rosiji was removed as Secretary of the party, with S.G. Ikoku replacing him.
Anthony Enahoro and Ibrahim Imam (formerly of NPC/BYM) became Vice-Presidents.
FRA Williams replaced A.M.A. Akinloye as Legal Adviser and Bola Ige became the Publicity Secretary at the age of 32.
Ige’s selection as Publicity Secretary of the AG was down to his absolute loyalty to the Awolowo wing of the AG.

In this role, Ige continued to flourish and never once wavered, even giving Awo a foothold in the Oshun Division of the Western Region where Akintola held sway.
By the Second Republic where the presidential system came into effect, Ige felt popular enough to contest to be a Governor under the new political arrangement where Awo’s party was the Unity Party of Nigeria - UPN.

Imposition by Awo was however the order of the day in the UPN.
Awo wanted one his staunch allies, Archdeacon Emmanuel Alayande to be the UPN candidate but Ige and many others including Chief S.M. Afolabi wanted an open primaries.

Ige being from Ilesha also had an uphill task: NPN was strong in the area and the UPN machinery there wasn’t his
Lawrence Omole and Ojo Ajanaku controlled the UPN structure in Ijeshaland but they were always beaten in the First Republic by the likes of Odeleye Fadahunsi and Tunji Olowofoyeku.

Ige however had support from outside Ijeshaland in the person of Busari Adelakun.
Adelakun was, to put it politely, a party enforcer. He had the ability to cause trouble anywhere and a slap from him was also said to induce vomiting.

He also wanted primaries and Awo gave in but it wasn’t until the third time that a clear winner emerged: Bola Ige.
That Ige defeated Pa Alayande who had been his principal was no mean feat within the UPN ranks but he quickly picked SM Afolabi as his running mate to shore up support.

NPN fielded Richard Akinjide, NPP fielded Areoye Oyebola with a woman, Janet Akinrinade as his running mate.
Televised debates were a thing in the SW at the time and so Ige and Akinjide squared up in Ibadan and it was here that Ige’s caustic tongue first manifested itself.

The AG has implemented free education in the 1st Republic and the UPN also promised the same in the 2nd Republic.
Ige on TV promised to implement same if elected as Oyo Governor and Akinjide rebuffed it by saying it had only ever bred robbers and miscreants.

Ige replied by asking which of the Akinjide’s were robbers or miscreants since they’d also benefitted from it.

Akinjide walked out.
Ige won that election and was sworn in as Governor. He chose Pa Alayande as his Special Adviser on Education, Abiola Morakinyo as Commissioner for Finance, Bisi Akande as SSG, Busari Adelakun was also made Commissioner even though he was frankly no more than a party thug.
At the primaries in fact, Adelakun who was popularly known as Eruobodo (river no dey fear) had allegedly roughed Pa Alayande up a bit.

Anyway, they all soon fell out and SM Afolabi resigned as Deputy Governor along with Adelakun and a few other Commissioners.
Bisi Akande soon became the Deputy Governor - a tactical mistake which meant the Ibadans had no major office in Govt.

When this was noted to Ige, he is said to have responded that the Ibadans are unfit for office - the rumour went wide but that wasn’t how Ige has put it.
Facing an uprising in his own ranks, Ige was saying that no Ibadan person, high enough to be Deputy Governor was standing with him on the same side of the political divide.

Eruobodo ensured most of them had followed him into the NPN where Lamidi Adedibu was the party enforcer.
NPN smartly gave its ticket to Victor Omololu Olunloyo (Aunty Kemi Olunloyo’s father) who was a first class brain and an Ibadan man.

NPN won the 1983 election but the version of the UPN-controlled media was that Ige was rigged out.

All the tribunals and courts upheld Olunloyo.
Buhari’s coup intervention in 1983 was rightly seen and foolishly celebrated by the same media justification for the UPN - notwithstanding that all its Governors including Ige were going to be in jail for the next two years for using Govt funds to finance UPN campaigns.
Ige was jailed in Ubiaja in modern day Edo State as were most of the other participants in the politics of the 2nd Republic.

Awo himself was jailed in the Lagos, in the hinterlands far after Lekki which was a crocodile and insect infested terrain at the time.
In the 3rd Republic, Ige refused to participate in elections under the military but had close ties to Olu Falade’s political formation which was banned.

SDP and the NRC were later formed by the IBB Govt and Ige’s position was that “parties form Govts, Govts don’t form parties”.
The SDP/NRC elections were cancelled and this was where Ige’s politics had to wear an ethnic mask as he and others stood in the forefront of trying to secure Abiola’s mandate from that period up till the time of Abacha as Military Head Of States.
Prior to this time, there was nothing to suggest that Ige was pro-Yoruba. He had written his own autobiography and titled it “The Kaduna Boy” having been born in Kaduna and he also spoke all three major Nigerian languages in addition to Latin and English.
Sometimes, events conspire to force people to wear an ethnic garb.

The platforms defending Abiola’s mandate were largely ethnic, mostly restricted to the SW with some support from SE individuals like Arthur Nwankwo and SS like AG financier, Osibakoro Alfred Rewane.
Afenifere was the political plank for agitation along with NADECO, CD, CLO, CDHR, JACON and some other civil society groups.

It was only in 1998 that moves towards more nationalistic agitations began with Alex Ekwueme in the forefront and this itself was a bit political.
Abacha also had his own transition programme which had five parties that Ige dubbed “the five fingers of a leprous hand”.

Most politicians waited to see how it would go but once it became obvious that Abacha wanted to transmute to civilian president, a number of them revolted.
So in late 1997 (not 1998, sorry), Ekwueme moved for a national coalition against Abacha and Ige was one of the first from the SW to join with him.

From the core North, Adamu Ciroma, Abubakar Rimi and Sule Lamido also joined them to make Nine Men who eventually became G9.
The 9 men were - Alex Ekwueme, Jerry Gana, Adamu Ciroma, Solomon Lar, Abubakar Rimi, Bola Ige, Francis Ellah, Sule Lamido and Iyorchia Ayu.

At the first meeting (as I heard from Lamido), Ige challenged the core Northerners to go and declare openly and publicly against Abacha.
Lamido challenged Ige by saying that their presence in Lagos at the meeting was enough to show opposition but Ige insisted and so Rimi, Ciroma and Lamido went back to form G18 in the North and openly declared Abacha’s transition a failure.

Abacha eventually jailed two of them.
And so G18 from the North combined with the South to form G34 which by the 4th Republic became the PDP.

Ige was a founding member of the PDP but led the People’s Consultative Forum out of it by August 20, 1998 to join the All Peoples Party before forming Alliance for Democracy.
In leading the PCF out of those parties, I believe Ige already foresaw that he may not get the presidential ticket and in the formation of the AD, he felt quite confident of getting the ticket but he was hugely mistaken as time has proved.
Many of Ige’s friends in the AD did not like his independent streak, his huge political clout and his ability to make friends from other ethnic groups.

Ige was by far the most Nationalistic of all of them and for the Afenifere, to be that way was sort of an offence.
Another factor was that Ige has become friendly with Obasanjo whom the Afenifere clan held responsible for denying Awolowo the 1979 presidency in favour of Shagari.

Ige sought to be President but was rejected at a primaries held by a 23-man caucus at D’Rovans Hotel in Ibadan.
It wasn’t a presidential primaries actually - it was an Enclave.

23 members of Afenifere with the only elected AD officers present being the six SW Governors decided who would be the presidential candidate of the AD in the 99 election.
Ige knew all of them and felt confident that they would choose him over Olu Falae but he underestimated their dislike for him.

Ige went to London to rest and prepare for campaigns and lost the ‘primaries’.

This loss I believe, dictated his next political moves.
The excuse of the elders was that Ige’s candidacy wouldn’t be acceptable to the North but when the time came for Falae to campaign in the North, guess who was chosen to lead it?

Bola Ige.

Anyway, Obasanjo of the PDP defeated them and became President in 1999.
Obasanjo offered Ige a ministerial slot and Ige accepted it - mostly to spite his Afenifere friends who had voted Falae because Falae had been a Minister under IBB - shebi Ige too would now be Minister.

He also began to campaign for the separation of Afenifere from AD.
With Afenifere reluctant to relinquish control of the AD, a more pan-Yoruba group called the Yoruba Council of Elders emerged as an umbrella group for all Yorubas whether in AD, APP or PDP.

Some insist Ige supported the emergence of this group.
The YCE was led by Pa Alayande with Justice Adewale Thompson as its Secretary - both men had also been part of the Enclave and had been quite miffed that Falae, who was a lesser Awoist than Ige had been chosen.

Ige consistently maintained he had nothing to do with YCE.
Ige was killed while serving as Minister of Justice under Obasanjo and his killers were never found.

His wife, Justice Atinuke Ige died in 2003 - shortly after the trial of the suspected murderers was bungled.

Most of what I feel about his killers, I said in last year’s thread.
I’m just surprised that Obasanjo is alive and his friend Ige is forgotten.

I’m surprised that the Tinubus of this world claim to be in power and Ige is forgotten.

Nigeria has shed much innocent blood - this particular thought weighed heavily on my mind today over Ige.
Baba Bisi Akande is also there - we used to play on his verandah as kids living in Surulere where he had a house on Adetola Street.

Soyinka too was his bosom friend - he courageously delivered a moving tribute where he declared “Ige’s killers are here among us”.
Festus Keyamo bungled the case by harbouring a major suspect for over a week - (who even does that?)

Aregbesola is Governor in Osun State also - a fellow Ijesha man.

But it’s politics for most of them - let’s leave it like that.
I never met Ige but I read and kept his newspaper columns from the Sunday Tribune.

He was a fine orator who considered himself a better writer than speaker.

He was called “Cicero” but fancied himself more as Demosthenes - another ancient writer/speaker.
I followed his politics very ardently and he was an example of the finest standards of how a politician should be - a heart that cares for the people, a life of service and a mind that constantly works to find solutions.

He wasn’t perfect but the humans who become gods aren’t.
So I remember “Uncle Bola” today as he loved to be called.

I can’t describe fully how much of an enigma he was but I always engage those who worked with him whenever I can.

Sule Lamido, former Minister Musa Elayo and others - and they always respected him.
Lamido built nine houses to commemorate the G9 members when he was Governor of Jigawa and one of them is rightly called “Bola Ige House”.

Without a sense of history, our understanding of the present is skewed - this is why we remember.

This is why we must remember, to remember.
Radio Lagos announced his death this way:

Eni ba mo agbe - ko se idaro aro
Eni ba mo aluko - ko se idaro osun
Eni ba mo lekeleke - ko se idaro efun.

James Ajibola Idowu Ige was just a man like anyone else, but oh what a man he was!

And he lives on forever.
Addendum: just reminded by those who know that Ige’s detention in 84 was not in Ubiaja but at other prisons. Ubiaja was where he was restricted to in 1962 after Awo’s treason trials.

Awo himself was also detained in Lekki area in 1962 not in 1984 as I’d tweeted.

Apologies pls.
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