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Obasanjo used me as scapegoat

Posted by By KINGSLEY OKEKE, Abuja on 2007/07/03 | Views: 622 |

Obasanjo used me as scapegoat


He is an only child, abandoned by father, never knew his mother. But now, he is an oba, ten years after it was foretold.

Ö Yoruba oba in the FCT, who was lambasted by the former president at public forum relieves experience

He is an only child, abandoned by father, never knew his mother. But now, he is an oba, ten years after it was foretold.

His Royal Highness, Oba Olusegun Salau, leader of the Yoruba resident in FCT, told the story of how he had to see himself through school, since his father who was a polygamous man, couldnít be bothered.

According to him, "My father never knew I was going to be the breadwinner of the family. He never paid attention to my growing up, but today, I cater for my family."
Once, Oba Salau encountered former President Olusegun Obasanjo during his two- day official visit to the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, and the ex-president tongue-lashed him for what he considered an improper question. Salau, still embarrassed at that sad encounter, recounts the story in this interview with Daily Sun, as well as the story of his life.

Road to royalty
I was a grade two motor mechanic working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, then I was the chairman of the Lagos State Motor Mechanics and Technicians Association of Nigeria. When the ministry was moving to Abuja , I had to move with them.
When I came to Abuja, the Yoruba community here asked me to come and lead the people and I declined, because I led an association with over 5, 000 members in Lagos and I knew how I suffered. So, I said no, I donít want to take the position, but they insisted and I said okay, I have to consult with my wife first and when I told her, she said have you forgotten that a futurologist told you this ten years ago?
So when I got back I accepted the position, because who knows maybe I would have been dead by now or sickness would have made my life miserable. One thing that amazes me is that I donít have any royal blood, the man just said I was going to be an oba. I laughed at him, but today, I have become oba Yoruba FCT. That is tradition for you. If the gods say something, mortals cannot say other wise. Since then, it has not been easy leading the people but I thank God that I am still alive.

Encounter with Obasanjo
As a person, I did not have any problem with Obasanjo. People did not understand what happened. Obasanjo only used me as a scapegoat; he was talking to all the traditional rulers in the FCT. My question was very simple and it was not even directed at the president.
I was asking the FCT minister, I said that the non-indigenes suffer marginalisation, oppression and discrimination, that it should not be so. I also said that it would have been a lot easier for the minister if he consulted the leaders of this people he demolished their houses, so that their leaders would in turn ask their subjects to move to another settlement. The president did not even allow me to finish, he just attacked me, One thing you must know about Obasanjo is that he talks recklessly, a man who even insults CAN, who canít he insult? So, I am not surprised that he talked to me that way.
Everything the minister did in the FCT, was under the instruction of the president. No one was free under Obasanjoís regime.

Why the belated response
You know I am a traditional leader, so I am not supposed to be talking anyhow. I donít want to start joining issues with Obasanjo, people would have asked me why. I just said there was no need. Again, he said something about we (obas) constituting ourselves into a political group. I want to make it clear to him that I am not a politician; I donít belong to any political party, so why should he say we constituted ourselves into a political group? Some people said he was accusing us for his partyís failure in FCT. I am only a leader.

Why should I make him fail? My job is to tell my people to go out and vote. I canít tell them who to vote for. Anybody who says I am scared of Obasanjo does not know me. I am the leader of my people, so how can I lead the people if I am afraid? I can only respect a leader, but I canít be scared of that leader, what for? I have been to the Villa a number of times. If I was scared, I would not have gone. I only waited for the best time and it came, that is now.

Relationship with subjects after the incident
Nothing has changed. My subjects still respect me and regard me as their oba. In fact, it has not changed anything. It does not even look as if anything happened. Obasanjo has said his own and gone, but I am still the oba. Another government has come. My post is not a political post. I was chosen by the people, so I will remain here, even as governments come and go.

Legitimacy of obaship
My obaship is legitimate. I did not make my self king. The people made me king. I have my file in the office of the Ooni of Ife. Though we are obas in diaspora, what we do here does not concern the Ooni.
But anytime they have any occasion they give me invitation. I attend. Whenever the Ooni is visiting FCT, I receive him and pay my homage. So I am recognized everywhere. Even Obasanjo cannot say he does not recognize me because I have helped him a number of times in my capacity.

When he was first sworn in, in 1999, you know the Yoruba did not support him, when he was giving a reception in FCT, all other tribes were present but his own people did not come. He was sitting like a child that had lost his mother. When I came with a delegation to come and welcome him, when he saw us from far, he was jubilating. After that, Bishop Makinde called me and prayed for me. He said I did not let my people down. I cannot count the number of times I have helped him, but he is not grateful.

Lamentation
It has not been easy for me at all. Do you know I use my own money in running the affairs of the people?
Unlike my counterparts in the remote areas they do business with government and get millions. But I donít get a dime. Since I became the oba, I have lost two of my sons. They died mysteriously, one died a day after Yoruba day celebration. He did not complain of any ailment. It just happened that after the celebration, the next day people were crying in my house.

The second one just complained of headache, the next thing we were burying him, they were both a grown ups. I have visited virtually all the federal high courts in the FCT, fighting opposition. This man sitting here is one of my enemies (pointing to a man sitting close to him), he is the Oba of Zuba, but today he is with me. You know an oba who is loved by all will die on time; some will love you, while others hate you. That is how life is.

Early life
I am from Ogun State, Ijebu North, born on the 1st August 1953. I am married to just one wife with six children, two passed away. I am from a poor family, I am the only child from my mother. I donít even know her, I have not seen her picture before, my father is married to many wives. He never knew I existed, neither did he know I was going to be the breadwinner of the family. But today, I cater partly for the family. I had to sponsor myself in school.

I read Automobile engineering in school. I was working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a grade two motor mechanic. I was later posted to Poland by the ministry; I was very useful to them, because I configured all the cars that were coming from the west to Poland, which is in the East. It was in Poland that I first met Obasanjo as a military head of state.
I attended the institute of photography New York, were I read photography, so I am also a professional photographer.

YaríAduaís presidency
When you look at the man, you will see that he is ready to work. So, Nigerians should give him a chance. The good wind is already blowing. He is not like Obasanjo who does not listen to advice. He just does what he pleases. Obasanjo is not grateful at all, there was a time when I came home and saw a letter, in the letter there was a list of people whom the person said are planning to topple the government of Obasanjo. I was scared, I did not know how to get to the president due to bureaucracy. So, I used my connection in the foreign affairs to pass the letter to the Villa. I only did my job as a leader and since then, he has not said thank you or anything. Nigerians must forget the process that brought YaríAdua to office and support him to succeed.

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Comments (2)

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Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding

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Ikponmwosa Osamede(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Your meaning of Osamede is wrong. Osamede means God has given me a crown