…a leader, upon assuming political leadership, should first make a list of his personal foibles and monitor them, lest they drag him to the crucifix. Amosun didn’t tame nor monitor his Sango-like temper, his arrogance of power and disdain for the other person – a triad of foibles that dragged him to a metaphorical Sango’s Koso – the place of political death.


Shortly before the 2003 governorship election, then Governor Olusegun Osoba had come on television to address the common grouse of Ogun State people against his four-year reign. He had apparently gleaned security report, which predicted his waterloo at the polls. It was a grouse that was ostensibly the river that would shortly drown his ambition to do a second term in office. “I am not proud,” he had begun pleadingly. “People say I am proud… I am not proud.” This apologia was coming rather too late to save the second journalist to rule Ogun after the immortal editor of influential First Republic newspaper, Daily Express and columnist, Bisi Onabanjo. Osoba was voted out. After eight years of being in the saddle, Gbenga Daniel, whom the electorate gleefully thumb-printed to replace Osoba, had become a lord unto himself too, enmeshed in allegations of rituals, the arrogance of power and tragic attempts to play God. This piece will try to illustrate Ibikunle Amosun as the tragic power hero whose twilight in power – barring a last minute reversal – has been heralded, even as he is due to depart Oke-Mosan in a few months’ time.

In explaining the common thread that runs through the persona of these governors, the story of the mystic grandeur of Alaafin Sango and his elder brother, Alaafin Ajaka, will clearly illustrate their glide from the zenith of power to the abyss of powerlessness. Like each of the governors too, Sango was a character whose political misfortune arose from the bitter tapestry of the politics of his time in the Oyo Empire, which he personally wove, with his moral lapses and character flaws becoming indelible imprints for the rest of modern society. For would-be rulers who abhor the tragic outcome of power-drunk rulers, the Sango power model advertises doom, in and after office.

Pardon me as I digress. There is a sustained intellectual crossfire among African historians on the correct reading of the interface and cross-cultural exchanges between the Yoruba of South West Nigeria and the people of Borgu, Nupe in present day Niger State. While historians like Idris Jimada in his The Nupe and the Origins and Evolution of the Yoruba, in seeking to reconstruct the centrality of the Nupe in the pre-British conquest of the area now known as Nigeria, claims that virtually all that the Yoruba hold as their cultural artefacts, traditions and culture were imported wholesale from Nupe, some other historians have challenged this as barefaced historical revisionism. One line of oral history which may not allow Jimadu’s work to be totally consigned to the realm of historical conjecture is the relationship between the Old Oyo Empire and the Borgu and Nupe kingdoms. It demonstrates that there were inseparable interactions between these kingdoms before the British conquest that birthed modern Nigeria. It is on record, for instance, that the early Alaafins married from Borgu, as confirmed by the story of the legendary hero-god, Alaafin Sango, whose mother was a Tapa from Nupe.

Oral history tells us that Alaafin Ajaka was the second monarch of Old Oyo. Unfortunately, however, his reign was pockmarked by wars. He was perceived as a weakling for his inability to contain the rampaging enemies who surrounded his kingdom, especially in relation to the wars always initiated by the Owu. It was so bad that Alaafin Ajaka was captured by the Owu and imprisoned in the courtyard of the Olowu. Incensed by this impudence, the Oyomesi sent emissaries to Sango, who then resided in the land of his mother in Nupe, to come rescue them from the rampaging Owu. A valiant with a renowned magical power of emitting fire from his mouth like a dragon, Sango invaded Owu, vanquished the kingdom and set his brother, Ajaka free. The Oyo however declined to continue with the effeminate Ajaka as their king but installed Sango as the Alaafin instead. Like Osoba, Daniel and Amosun, Alaafin Sango was ushered into the ancient palace of Oyo-Ile with pomp and ceremony, carried in a traditional cart and the people celebrating that, thenceforth, their adversaries would dread Oyo under its new valiant and magical king. It didn’t take long for them to drawn into crude groveling by the cult of power.

There were different accounts of Sango’s reign. Some of them are steeped in myth and legend, especially the mythical exploits of his three wives – Oba, Osun and Oya, the last said to be his concubine. Oya was also held to have been a spirit with the mythical power to transform to any animal of her choice. While some accounts held that Sango brought prosperity the way of Oyo, others claimed that he was a king consumed by raw power and naked display and use of his awesome talismanic powers. He was highly mercurial and in a feat of anger, conjured his fire power which manifested in the hurling of bolts of lightning which consumed his traducers. This exercise left on the earth’s crust stone axe blades called edun ara. Sango’s tragic end came in the war between his two Generals, Timi Agbale and Gbonka, and in the bid to destroy Gbonka, as usual, Sango hurled his edun ara fire but which had unbeknown to him soaked and in the bid to re-assert its potency, climbed a high rock and, facing the palace, began to hurl his traditional fire, which consumed his palace, belongings and children. Disconsolate, Sango journeyed out of Oyo and allegedly committed suicide beside the Koso tree.

In his almost eight years of being in power, Amosun never realised that he was more dreaded than loved, apparently due to his irascible nature. His famed Sango-like temper silenced his adversaries and though it hurt his cult of followers, yet they all decided to consider him as a bull-in-a-China-shop.


While the two governors before him were alleged to have fallen due to their tragic flaws, three objectionable character traits – an hyper-choleric disposition, disdain for the other person and the excessive flaunt and reliance on the presidential power, were Amosun’s main Achilles heels. Added to these has been his quest to play the role of a conquistador, without preparing for the pitfalls associated with it. I will explain this now.

Amosun fiercely snatched the front burner of news reportage recently. Akin to the tantrums of a child in diapers whose cake was relieved of him, he grumpily accused Tinubu and Osoba of being the architects of his drowning political empire. Like all governors who ostensibly, in the quest to keep their governmental cupboard skeletons safe from prying eyes, magisterially choose quislings who can safely put the lid on their stewardships, Amosun didn’t hide his decision to handpick a successor. For him, with those massive infrastructure drive, which some have described as needless and incongruent, if a lackey didn’t stay behind to hide the books, he may be done for. He peremptorily listed names of all standard-bearers, even before the contest began. He at first told the people that a woman resident in Canada was his pick but as the clock ticked, he zeroed in on Abdulkabir Adekunle Akinlade, a member of the House of Representatives of the Egbado South and Ipokia Federal Constituency in Ogun West senatorial district as his candidate. He also imposed himself and seven others as candidates for the Senate and House of Representatives in the forthcoming elections.

In his almost eight years of being in power, Amosun never realised that he was more dreaded than loved, apparently due to his irascible nature. His famed Sango-like temper silenced his adversaries and though it hurt his cult of followers, yet they all decided to consider him as a bull-in-a-China-shop. He rode magisterially on all as if the power he held has no expiry, buoyed by his highly-burnished closeness to the presidential seat of power.

Immediately after the 2015 elections and Muhammadu Buhari’s ascent to office, Amosun became the new poster-boy of power in the South-West. While the Man Friday of that presidential feat – Bola Tinubu – sulked in his imperial Bourdillon home at his clear denigration and deconstruction by the lanky Fulani president, Amosun relished his advertisement as the new locus of power in the region. Paradoxically, Tinubu had fought Osoba to queue behind Amosun for the 2011 governorship race. At a time when Buhari rudely disclaimed an earlier advertised presidential visit to Lagos, Amosun was pictured in Buhari’s office sharing a school boy-like scintillating laughter with the president. On many occasions, when he sits at the Ogun State Executive Council meetings and receives calls, rumour has it that he would loudly proclaim that: “It’s the president; I will call him back,” which accentuated his majesty and power. He had untrammeled access to the Fulani General in his Aso Rock sacristy and woe betides whoever crossed the path of his influence. Indeed, while Tinubu could not boast of a ministerial nominee in 2015, Amosun was invested with the power to pick Buhari’s all-powerful chancellor of the exchequer and he peremptorily converted his commissioner of finance for this huge task. Rumour has it that at the thick of his Sango-like anger, piqued by her alleged refusal to do his dirty biddings, Amosun threw Kemi Adeosun to the sharks by ordering his goons to parrot to the world her NYSC certificate infractions, which had its origin in Ogun State.

Amosun’s presidential link lionised him to take a step forward in constructing a mansion of power which, unknown to him, was made of straws and packs of cards. In one breath, he apparently wondered what height Tinubu climbed in the political equation of the South-West that he couldn’t, with the wealth and presidential buttons at his beck and call. Hence, he midwifed a dalliance of allied forces with similar angst against the Lion of Bourdillon; forces which had at one time or the other been clobbered by the crude political tackles of Tinubu. Amosun found willing allies in two other governors in the South-West and they began the job of dissembling the Tinubu political architecture. Oyo proved an immediately fecund ground for their Machiavellian acts and Amosun engineered the suborning of disgruntled elements to give Abiola Ajimobi sleepless political nights. At a time, they had effectively put spanners in the political works in Oyo and when political pundits had predicted doom for Ajimobi, Oyo State’s Constituted Authority, for whom an inexplicable dues ex machina always creeps in at a moment when he is politically down, suddenly emerged from his purloined state and began a race which landed him at a border end, where he peacefully produced a party candidate successor. Ajimobi today seems to have had a last laugh over Amosun and his gang but what the Amosuns failed to learn off him is his internalisation of that core Oyo wise-saying to wit, in knowing the moment to throw jabs and the juncture to retreat being the source of inner strength within the valiant: mon’ja, mon’sa laa mon akikanju loju ogun.

With this string of political successes in his kitty, Amosun’s swagger went a notch higher. While he was busy fighting wars of conquest outside his jurisdiction, he forgot that in the laws of power, the conquistador needs first to totally conquer his own territory so that when he is being pursued by those whom he daggered outside, there would be a place of shelter for him…


Ondo had earlier been the political trophy of the disgruntled assembly headed by Amosun. With Tinubu’s apparent underground attempt to tackle the candidature of bearded Rotimi Akeredolu by funding another candidate, Akeredolu received massive comradeship from the Amosun gang, whose major plan was to wrest Tinubu’s hold on the South-West. They soon added Ekiti as their trophy, when a leading apostle of the dissembling plot was enthroned. The gang was coasting home to victory in Osun until Tinubu, realising the deadly plot of the triumvirate dissemblers, cried to Buhari to intervene.

With this string of political successes in his kitty, Amosun’s swagger went a notch higher. While he was busy fighting wars of conquest outside his jurisdiction, he forgot that in the laws of power, the conquistador needs first to totally conquer his own territory so that when he is being pursued by those whom he daggered outside, there would be a place of shelter for him from the scorching sun. He should have known that not for nothing did Tinubu hold on tight to his Lagos territory like a leech is entangled to the skin. Meanwhile, Amosun’s list of traducers at home had quadrupled. His character flaws naturally assembled those who disdained him into a single file. By the time Amosun returned from his territorial expansionist battles, his territory had suffered serious mortal artillery bombardments. Without firing a single shot, his traducers had strategised effectively and clinically removed the rug from his feet, while he was busy exploding in his fury. Dapo Abiodun, billionaire, had become the anchor of the attempt to dissemble his Oke Mosan empire. The rest, as they say, is history. The truth is that, if Amosun had expended half the energy he marshaled fighting territorial expansionist battles at home, he would have found out the huge rank of enmity ganging up against him on time and probably found a way of tackling it. By the time he realised, it was too late.

All Progressives Congress (APC)’s new publicist, Lanre Issa-Onilu’s press release during the week defoliated a hitherto lush garden where Amosun sat in his power, glory and majesty. Amosun was never interested in a transparent process in picking the party’s standard-bearer, Issa-Onilu had said, alleging that the governor resorted to self-help. When it was obvious to him that the crew sent from Abuja by the National Working Committee was impenetrable, he organised his own parallel congress, still believing that the president – his man – would come to his rescue, for old time’s sake. Unfortunately for him, Amosun totally forgot that Osinbajo’s loyalty to Buhari would play a serious role in the whole equation. In assembling his team that would vie for the 2019 elections, his arrogance of power was so blinding that he never for once remembered that the Number 2 man in the country deserved a single slot in his home State. Rumour has it that a combination of Yemi Osinbajo’s request to his boss to give him the governorship slot, the gang-up by the business world of which Abiodun is a strong icon, Amosun’s palpable running afoul of the internal rules of the APC and his bafflingly swarming list of enemies, could not allow Buhari take a single step in his favour, in spite of his infantile marching of traditional rulers to the Villa. The whole equation of Amosun’s fall, Issa-Onilu described vividly: “no matter how close you are to him (the president), he will listen to you but he will ask for the rules to be followed.”

The moral of Amosun’s power fall is that leaders with his kind of awesome powers should rely on them sparingly but on the people. Second is that, a leader, upon assuming political leadership, should first make a list of his personal foibles and monitor them, lest they drag him to the crucifix. Amosun didn’t tame nor monitor his Sango-like temper, his arrogance of power and disdain for the other person – a triad of foibles that dragged him to a metaphorical Sango’s Koso – the place of political death.

Why Is the President Mocking the Rule?

This is the tragedy that befalls a nation that lacks institutional powers and structures. If INEC were an institution in the real sense of it, its structural make-up would have made it impossible for anyone, the president inclusive, to ride roughshod over legitimate requirements as this.


At the moment, the fury of many Nigerians is trending over President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to submit his certificates to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Buhari had, at the tail end of the week, in response to INEC’s demand for his certificates, affixed an affidavit to his form, which claims that all his credentials are with the secretary to the Military Board. The fury isn’t as much with the president per se, as with the team of those who defend this apparent insult on the collective psyche of Nigerians.

Of course, we shouldn’t return to the apparently barren argument on whether the certificate makes the good administrator, but to the drafters of the INEC law who demanded that a certificate should be affixed to the application, and who weren’t daft afterall. So why should Buhari flagrantly tell all – including the framers of this rule – to go jump inside the sewer? Why should Buhari choose which Nigerian rule to obey and which to scoff at?

In 2015 when same credentials were required, Buhari lined up close to 20 senior advocates of Nigeria (SAN) to argue in court why he shouldn’t produce them. The presidential impudence in this regard is so nauseating as he apparently takes everyone else for a fool. What does it take the president to order the secretary to the Military Board to produce these golden documents? Why does he dillydallying on this, as that was the same excuse in 2015? Would this have stood if Atiku Abubakar was the one who waffled this aimlessly in submitting his certificates?

This is the tragedy that befalls a nation that lacks institutional powers and structures. If INEC were an institution in the real sense of it, its structural make-up would have made it impossible for anyone, the president inclusive, to ride roughshod over legitimate requirements as this. In such nations with powerful institutions, the process for the completion of the request for Buhari to become a presidential candidate would naturally be stalled at that juncture, thus making it impossible for anyone to disobey rules as this.

Ambassador Symington, Buhari Is Your Example

This reminds me of the United States ambassador to Nigeria, William Stuart Symington’s recent submission that, disregard for justice and rule of law was “more damning a corruption than stealing of public funds.” When next Buhari or any of his lickspittles claim that he is fighting corruption, remind them of Symington’s imperishable nugget.


Those who claim that impunity was the second name of the Muhammadu Buhari administration, scored another hat-trick during the week gone by. A news item had announced that the board of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) had suspended its executive secretary, Professor Usman Yusuf. Like the day General Sani Abacha passed on, which attracted massive jubilations almost across the country, NHIS staff were thrown into jubilation. The Governing Council of the NHIS had articulated a list of grievous infractions which Yusuff had fallen on the wrong side of. Chief of these carefully listed ills are petitions against him from the management staff, unions and civil societies which border on procurement violations, financial mismanagement, executive high-handedness, a conflict-driven management style, total disregard of professional advice by the management staff, a militarisation of the work environment, inciting of staff against the council and willful appropriation of NHIS property, among others.

In a commando style however, Yusuf wangled his way through into the office on Friday, a day after his suspension, ensconced right, left and centre by fiery-eyed policemen. This was the same man who was suspended by the supervising minister of his agency on account of allegations of graft and financial recklessness but who Buhari, without simple courtesy, flagrantly ordered to go back to his seat. As if this was not insulting enough, a day after this show of shame, President Buhari delivered what looked like an allocutus for the pardon of his 54-year old Katsina kinsman. He alleged, through Garba Shehu, that Yusuf’s sack had been “ethnicised and politicised” and defending him further, claimed that “(Yusuf) has launched a major reform in that institution which had blocked access to public resources.”

That really is the tragedy of the whole issue. Only an irresponsible board would receive heinous petitions of Yusuf’s alleged infractions and keep mum. So, only Buhari and his “reformist” kinsmen are clean and right in this regard, while the board, the jubilating staff and the minister of health who earlier suspended him are sinners?

The most sensible thing to do while inquests into petitions are going on is to have the person accused suspended so as not to interfere in the inquisition; which the board did. Buhari didn’t even address the impudence and insolence of Yusuf in deploying self-help to address yet to be ascertained allegations. If every official in power does like Yusuf, isn’t it clear that we will all go shake Thomas Hobbes’ hands and his state of nature where life was nasty, brutish and short?

This reminds me of the United States ambassador to Nigeria, William Stuart Symington’s recent submission that, disregard for justice and rule of law was “more damning a corruption than stealing of public funds.” When next Buhari or any of his lickspittles claim that he is fighting corruption, remind them of Symington’s imperishable nugget.

Festus Adedayo is an Ibadan-based journalist.