Ode To Lam Adesina
The story of the life of the former Governor of Oyo State, Alhaji Lam Adesina of blessed memory is one that is replete with struggles. Struggle for a just and egalitarian society and struggle for the enthronement of democracy. He dared the military by confronting them. Albert Einstein once said ‘as long as I have any choice, I will stay only in a country where political liberty, tolerance and equality of all citizens before the law are the rule.’
Lam Ade as he was called by friends and associates was born of Friday, January 20, 1939 to Alhaji Olowoporoku Adio Adesina and Mrs. Ayisatu Asabi Adesina. He died on Sunday November 12, at the age of 73 after a brief illness.
Lam was a friend of the masses, a leading democrat, a reliable and courageous leader and above all, a man of unequalled integrity. That Lam Adesina was truly popular with the generality of the people was manifested in the landslide victory over his opponents in the governorship election in Oyo State in 1999.
He had contested on the platform of the newly formed Alliance for Democracy (AD) and won. Lam Adesina implemented programmes on education, health, integrated rural development and full empowerment. There is no gainsaying that Lam Adesina possessed a rather combination of talent, qualities and virtues that ensued the leadership role which he assumed as governor.
As a young man growing up in Ibadan in the Western Region, Lam Adesina had always been a secret admirer of the late sage, Chief Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo who was the leader of the defunct Action Group.
When the people of Oyo State freely gave him their mandate on Saturday, January 9, 1999 just as he knew that the tasks ahead were indeed gargantuan, he was equally aware that he and his team must deliver in order to continue to earn the peoples’ confidence. He also knew full well that the masses remained his primary constituency and he had a strong resolve not to betray the hope of his teeming supporters.
On May 29, 1999, the new Governor of Oyo State, Alhaji Lamidi Onaolapo Adesina was sworn in amidst pomp and pageantry. The new governor, who was visibly excited, stood upright on the dais at the Liberty Stadium, Ibadan, Oyo State capital. A huge crowd of people had gathered to witness the epoch occasion. It was indeed a moment of triumph for a man severally referred to as ‘Prisoner of War’ and ‘Ore Mekunu’ (Friend of the masses).
On what he would like to be remembered for? He claimed that he would like to be remembered for the service he offered his people with other political activists like Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the All Progressives Congress National Leader for the enthronement of real democracy in the country.
“The big role I played during the National Democratic Coalition struggle for the enthronement of democracy was a huge success. Asiwaju Tinubu and other members of NADECO were very active. They did not allow the military to prolong their stay. Asiwaju Tinubu had to go on exile for fear of being killed. It was a very challenging time for us. I can’t forget Asiwaju Tinubu, he came to my house several times. He is like a brother to me. I also remember that my articles in the national dailies, which had served as a source of inspiration to many youths, make me happy. I wish to be remembered for my four years in service as the governor of Oyo State between 1999 and 2003. Though I was robbed of my victory at the gubernatorial elections, I have handed the perpetrators to God and I encouraged my colleague not to contest the verdict in court. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the All Progressives Congress shared a lot of things with Great Lam. “Asiwaju Tinubu referred to me as Brother Lam. When I lost the governorship election in 2003, he came down from Lagos to console me. He was then the Governor of Lagos on the platform of Alliance for Democracy. During my crisis days in Oyo State, he was always there for me. He stood solidly behind me.
“When NADECO confronted the late Nigerian head of state, General Sani Abacha, myself, Asiwaju Tinubu and several others battled the military government. Asiwaju Tinubu is my soul-mate, a great politician, a loyal friend and a man of the people who had contributed selflessly to humanity.
Describing the late Adesina, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, said: “Great Lam, whom I fondly called Brother Lam, was a progressive, astute, a democratic warrior who never gave up in the face of intimidation, detention and manipulation. He led the democratic struggle against the military that led to the triumph of the people and the brightening of hope of opportunities for our people. He was a courageous National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) hero with Chief Bola Ige. He was paraded on the streets of Ibadan as “Prisoner of War” for having the dexterity to oppose late General Sani Abacha, who was the head of state. Asiwaju Tinubu said further “Great Lam was a courageous man who would not trade his conscience for a pot of porridge or gold. He had great character, he fought a battle and won and was loyal and honest to his friends”.
The former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel described late governor of Oyo State as a committed leader. “He was a man who had deep knowledge of the masses particularly the common man. He was a straight forward leader who was concerned with the people’s welfare. He was a good leader, a writer of note and a philanthropist. Great Lam is fondly missed not only by his family but by the political class and Nigerians. He was full of wisdom and he had political wizardry and oratory knack. In fact, he was a bridge builder and a man of integrity. Alhaji Adesina was a dynamic, selfless and a considerate leader. He was a source of inspiration to many people,” Otunba Daniel said.