Late Chief Lamidi Adedibu’s wife, Bose spoke with Okoeki Oziegbe at her Molete residence Ibadan. She throws light on her husband’s effort to get Abiola out of prison and the allegation that the strong man of Ibadan politics betrayed the June 12 struggle. Excerpts:
My name is Alhaja Chief (Mrs) Modinat Bosede Adedibu, the Yeyelua of Ibadanland and so many other titles.
There is no way you talk about June 12 without mentioning the role played by Baba Adedibu, and myself as his wife, I also played my little part.
As a wife I supported him in whatever he was doing. I disagreed with him initially about June 12. When Abiola was incarcerated; I told him we must get the mandate at all cost. But he asked ‘which mandate, can you tie someone’s hands and legs and tell him at the same time to fight’.
Baba said he has worked with Awolowo and so many other people and that he has to get Abiola out first before he starts to fight. “How can MKO be incarcerated and you are shouting June 12, what June 12 is that”, he queried.
According to him June 12 would be realized when Abiola is outside not when he is locked up somewhere. I saw reason with him; as an experienced person he knows you can not fight when you are tied down, but we wanted to fight to realize the mandate. He wanted Abiola to come out first before any fight. He was working for the release of Abiola and I gave him all the support that I could.
He made so many efforts before the problem started, Shonekan was the head of the interim government, Pa Adedibu was not comfortable with the interim arrangement because nobody voted for interim government.
Everybody voted for Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola. And before Abiola does anything he will call my husband first and my husband will advice him. But the advice that my husband gave him that he did not follow because of other people that surrounded him led to his incarceration.
He told my husband that he was going to announce himself as president, Baba advised him not to do it. Adedibu advised him instead that the matter should be taken to the international level. But Abiola refused because of people surrounding him, the NADECO people.
When he was apprehended, any court they take him to, Pa Adedibu will also be present there. The last one I saw was when MKO wrote a letter in a small piece of paper to my husband which he handed over to Baba in the court. He told my husband in the letter that, this people don’t like us, do anything possible to get me out of this place.
When my husband came back to Ibadan he met Aare Arisekola. Abacha was a very close friend to Aare. My husband and Arisekola now went to see Abacha at Abuja. Abacha told my husband that he knows MKO, that Abiola will not agree to whatever they discuss. My husband told him it is not true and showed Abacha the letter Abiola wrote him in the court. It was when my husband showed Arisekola the letter that he agreed to follow him to Abacha, that convinced Abacha that it was true.
Abacha now said, “Baba, you know I respect you so much, I know Bashorun so well, you know I am not his friend, it is Babangida that is MKO’s friend”. He said he wasn’t the one holding him up where he was.
My husband now went to see General Oladipo Diya, who was then second in command. Diya was doing what he could as a Yoruba man to get Abiola released, he tried. It was Diya that told Baba that he should stay on Abacha’s neck. So even when Abacha was telling my husband that MKO will not agree, my husband insisted that he would agree because he gave him a note saying ‘anything to get him out of the place’. My husband even prostrated for Abacha.
I followed them to Abuja, though I did not follow them to the Villa but when my husband came back to the hotel, he told me everything that happened. Abacha would always tell Arisekola to excuse them anytime they want to discuss, because according to him, Arisekola was not a politician.
My husband prostrated before Abacha promising he would stand surety for Abiola. Abacha now called for Diya and told him to go and do anything Baba wants; General Diya was very, very happy.
It was a weekend and the Judge handling Abiola’s case was not in Abuja, Diya now ordered two planes to be looking for him to give the bail, eventually they got the judge.
We were all in Abuja, it was very tough, going up and down. My husband now called, the late Alhaja Kudirat, Abiola’s wife to come to the court. She refused and told my husband to get MKO’s lawyer, G.O.K. Ajayi and another lawyer as well as Abiola’s personal doctor, Dr. Ore. They now insisted that they don’t want conditional bail.
Baba now told her on phone that they should let MKO come out first, that once he is out nobody can stop him but he must come out first. When Alhaja Kudirat did not agree with my husband, he now called Abiola’s other wife, Alhaja Bisi who said they should let him come out first whether conditional or not, he should just come out.
Everybody now went to court not knowing that they have mobilized people to come to the court. Immediately my husband got to court with everybody there; when the Judge came out and read out the conditions attached to the bail which includes that Abiola can not travel out, hell was let loose.
If you see the mob, my husband nearly died that day, they accused him of collecting money from Abacha. But before they could attack him, one man took my husband out of the court. They threw missiles at him, shouting “ole, ole, he has collected money from Abacha, he wants to give him conditional bail.”
That was when my husband said, okay, since God has saved him, he would just sit down peacefully on his own, that is like saying he has removed his hands from the matter.
That same night Abacha called him, I was the one that picked the call in the Hotel at Abuja because my husband had to be drugged before he could sleep that day, his eyes were reddish, the stress was much.
Abacha now told my husband on the phone that, “Baba didn’t I tell you, I told you, that man, let him stay there, don’t worry Baba”, that was all. Well, God knows everything, but I am very sure, maybe he wouldn’t have died like that.
After that time, Abacha called the Muslim elders and told them that they should pray. You know the problems were too much then, NADECO, this and that, bombs going off everywhere. He now told them to pray against whatever was disturbing the country.
We did our own prayers here, every state. Arisekola now went to Abuja to tell Abacha that we have concluded the prayers in Oyo, Osun, Ogun. My husband was supposed to see Abacha a day before. I was not around; I travelled and came back a day before; but he told me on phone that he has an appointment with Abacha. I was however not too comfortable with his going to see Abacha again.
It was that same night that somebody called us from the Villa saying Abacha had died. My husband did not believe the story and told the person so, saying how can somebody he spoke with the previous day who asked him to see him that same day die. The next thing Arisekola called to tell Baba he was going to Abuja immediately and Baba asked him what happened that he should wait for both of them to go together. But Arisekola told him that he has chartered a flight to take him down to Kano. Baba asked him what happened and he told Baba it appears his friend Abacha had died.
Everybody in the house was disorganised, running helter-skelter, because every time they use to attack us in this house because they saw us as supporters of Abacha especially since after the MKO court incident when Baba decided to stay on his own.
My husband and Arisekola were very close and Arisekola was a friend of Abacha. They thought my husband was also a friend of Abacha. They thought Baba had betrayed and abandoned Abiola. But after the ugly court incident where my husband was almost mobbed, my husband stayed away from making any further effort at interfering in the Abiola matter.
I think NADECO was sincere in its own approach to the struggle. I believe that was how they thought best to fight the course. Remember it was a military regime, they couldn’t have done more than what they did. They tried their best to actualise the mandate, they meant well, at least 70 per cent of them were sincere although some of them later took up appointment with the same government they were then fighting.