By Janet Okafor & Moses Urherebrume, News/comments, August 23, 2019
LAGOS-Giving detail insights into his political life and how political enemies attempted to eliminate him , is Senator Anthony Adefuye, who represented Lagos East Senatorial district. The Senator who is generally known as the Olugbon of Lagos and key pioneer of All Progressive Congress spoke with our Editor and Correspondent, Mark C, Orgu and Moses Urherebrume, on a courtesy visit to his residence in Lekki, Lagos before the celebration of his 75th birthday anniversary. He related how assassins made various dangerous effort to end his political career by killing him.
Meanwhile, Sen. Adefuye had said that during one of his long vacations in Ibadan, around 1966, something happened. Then, he was working at the Eleye Power station. Hear him: “Usually, why it is about 12pm. the electricity consumption is usually very low, thus, most time, we normally find a place to sleep. Sadly, there was an old abandoned vehicle I normally sleep. Unknown to me, I was sharing this vehicle with a very big snake”.
By the time I was leaving this Danfo bus in the morning, the snake will be returning in to rest. Also, by the time am going in at night, the snake would have gone out to look for food. Unfortunately, there was a coup and the soldiers arrested everyone in that power station”.
Continuing, the third republic Senator stressed that when the soldiers were going around, it seems their activities had disturbed the snake and it came back to the danfo, where we both stayed and it rattled me and I shouted. This drew the attention of the soldiers, in fact, immediately, they opened fire at the vehicle so much that they caught the danfo with their bullets and they turned the snake into shreds and by God’s intervention not a single bullet touched me, but I fainted. The Soldiers then came over to the danfo, and discovered me -a young boy but I had fainted then.
However, among them, one noticed I was not dead, so they moved me out and gave me all the necessary care and then I regained strength. When I opened my eyes, I noticed that I was surrounded by soldiers, so I decided to close my eyes and pretended as if I have not recovered yet. As they were leaving in the morning, they took me along with them and we alighted at Chief S.L Akintola’s place where we found his dead body riddled with bullets and his house was brought down by bullets.
This was my second escape from death. I was later released by the soldiers when we got to the main town of Ibadan and I went home and decided not to tell anyone my experience. But my aunty noticed rashes and mosquito bite all over my body and asked me what must have happened, then I narrated my story to her.
Back to school and my experience with Awolowo
Because of the tragedy I had, I decided to do my higher National diploma (HND) at the Yaba College of Technology. During my HND, one of my lecturers had told me: why not go to the University. This motivated me to apply for University education.
I passed the A level and I got admission into University of Lagos, to study mechanical engineering. After my study, there comes convocation, it was the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, which came to present certificates to us. While, it was my turn to receive my certificate, I held chief Awolowo’s hand and I was just shaking it incessantly and, there was a loud applause from the crowd, because I was actually Student Union executive. Inquisitively, Baba Awolowo asked me, what was all that for. I responded, “Sir, but if not for your free education, I won’t be here”. So, he smiled and shook my hands very well. Now, after graduation, I worked for NEPA for a while and later changed over to John Holt.
Interestingly, in 1979, I was already a senior salesman executive and it was during this time, former President Olusegun Obasanjo regime did indigenization. At this development, foreign expatriates then left. This gave me an edge for promotion to a very vital position and my salary was increased from N1000 to N32, 000, a huge sum then.
How I volunteered to pay salary of Awolowo’s employee
One fateful day in 1977, I was told that the late Sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo wanted to see me, and I asked, what for. Interestingly, I was told that he wanted to interview me for a position and it was the early day of UPU party. So when baba saw me, he remembered me quite well- the experience we had during my convocation ceremony. Gloriously, he interviewed me for the position of director of administration.
He asked me when I can resume, I said, Sir, there was something we have not discussed, which is salary, Baba was surprised and he replied: “You are the first person I have interviewed that asked about salary”. He then said he will pay me 6000 Naira- which was a big money then- as a young graduate with little experience but unfortunately I am already been paid N32,000.
At this point, I told him that my salary is presently N32000 and if I drop that and come and accept 6,000 will he not suspect me that I want to steal money.” Are you trying to reject my offer” Chief Awolowo said. Then, I said not exactly, but that he should employ the second best person for the position he wanted me to have, that I will pay N6000 as salary to whoever he employs but will be present at every Friday to attend meetings. Politely, he hinted, “good, that’s an agreement”
Therefore, every Friday after a close of work, I would go and attend this meeting at Ibadan which took about 20 minutes from Lagos to Ibadan, because the roads where quite good at that time and that’s how I ventured into politics. So I joined campaign carrying speaker, distributing fliers, carrying flag e.t.c. Baba ( Awolowo) told me to form an association of individuals that benefitted from the free education he initiated while he was in government. We formed the group and called it the tribune.
So, we formed the tribune group and the unique thing about us was, we were all beneficiaries of free education which is from Lagos down to Bendel region.
My entering into engineering business
This was how I ventured into becoming an engineering contractor. There was this colleague of mine who was sacked and 6 months later he came back to the office excited with a car key. Anxiously, I asked him, “how did you made it so fast” and he said to me, “I am a contractor “ At this juncture, I decided to also become a contractor.
Then, when I became Stock manager, I told my company that for everything I sold, I should be given 5% commission. Meanwhile, there was an argument between me and my them on percentage, but we later came to an agreement of 1% which was much at that time, because some of our equipment were up N1, 000,000, and so I decided to be buying equipment and stocking them. Some of our contractors brought in their damage equipment and we repair them and I kept stocking them.
The Death of Baba Awolowo
When baba died in 1987, there was struggle for who to step into his shoes. Some believe, it should be his wife while others said it should be this or that. Or our leader in Owo should be. But the issue was he had problem with Awolowo before his death. We were divided over that. One day like that, we were having a meeting in Owo, Ogun State for a second remembrance of June 12- to strategise. Sadly, we were surrounded by the police. Fortunately or unfortunately, some of us were to be arrested, and one of the officers who was a Yoruba, told us that he knows that we are planning for the betterment of the Yoruba race, but further noted that if we will disperse, he will only arrest Pa. Ajasin. Pa Ajasin was over 80years as at then, and that no reasonable person will let him sleep over in the police cell because if he dies, that will be a problem. But some of us disagreed and followed him to the police station.
I decided to go also but I had a problem because I went with a brand new X-class with a plate number Shomolu 1. I Thought if I go to the police station with my car, and if individuals were bailed with N1, I will be asked for N10. I decided to park my Car at a friend- chief Adeshina’s place, staying close to the police station and then walked down to join my colleagues. But the party chairman, Chief. Adeshina said, I should come inside so he will serve me food, but I refused, telling him that my fellow colleagues are in the station. So he said, am I not a fool, to volunteer myself to be arrested over a serious national issue. He locked and housed me, saying, “You are not going anywhere because I needed to stay outside to help those under police net”
About 30 minutes later, our state party chairman came back that I should not come to the station, foreseeing danger ahead that he just escaped without his belt. He said I should find a way to bail us in the police station. So chief Adeshina said, didn’t he tell me not to go, that who would have bailed or rescued them, if I went to the station. He told me to go straight to the late Chief Bola Ige and tell him what has happened. Fortunately, he did not attend the meeting, it was later I discovered that he already knew of the proposed raid and if he has informed us, people will still refuse to boycott the meeting.
I went straight to him, I saw him heart and healthy and his reason for absence from the meeting was because he was sick. He told me the case was beyond him, that I should go straight to Ekene and inform Mama Awolowo, about situation of things. That meanwhile, he will let the press know of the situation at hand. So I left Ibadan for Ekene. He advised I should let General Diya know, stressing that Diya is my friend. So I told him, he said” why were you people trying to disturb the peace of the nation”,
I replied, no oooo, we called the meeting so that we can all stay at home because the police and soldiers are after us. He asked if that’s the decision, and I said yes, so he said I should call Mama Awolowo, that nobody will sleep in the cell. I called Papa Ajasin and told him the situation of things. I decided to go back to Lagos. On my way, my intuition told me to go to my friend’s place who lives in mainland, so that I would be able to communicate with others.. Unknown to me that information was already in the air that I am on my way home, so they laid siege to my house to arrest me.
Unfortunately, I went to my one of my friend’s house, told him my ordeal, but he said, Tony, excuse me, waited for 5-10minnutes. While waiting, I had his voice while in the rest room. Making calls that I am in his house, that they (Security men) can come and arrest both of us, and they can release him later, that he will say he was not at Owo, that am in his place. Immediately I heard him, I entered my car and drove off. It seems they discovered I was the one driving, so they started chasing my vehicle, I then bypass them at a housing Estate in Ebutta-Metta and parked into one of the empty car parks. I went to the apartment at the lagoon, thinking I could get to Cotonou. Immediately I had gunshot again, I started running and they continue shooting at me and after some time they stopped, thinking they must have shot me but fortunately not a single bullet touched me .
To be continued
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