Babalola being shielded by Governor Ibikunle Amosun and another person.Picture: Punch
An aide to Governor Rauf Aregbesola who was attacked at the burial of late Senator Isiaka Adeleke on Monday, Hon Idiat Babalola, on Tuesday said her attackers picked on her simply over unfounded rumors that she wants to be Deputy Governor after the current tenure of the governor.
Babalola, who was attacked shortly after arriving the venue of the burial, said she sensed trouble when some of the hoodlums started to make utterances which suggested that her rumored deputy governorship ambition was to checkmate the governorship ambition of the late Senator, who had openly declared his intention to succeed Governor Aregbesola.
Explaining further, Babalola, who served in the last cabinet as Special Adviser to the Governor on Federal Matters, said her attackers could not have been acting over anything against Governor Aregbesola but simply on the local politics of Ede, where she also hails from just as the late Senator Adeleke.
“I am a proud daughter of Ede and Uncle Isiaka has been a mentor and we never had any disagreement till the news of his death was broken to me while in Lagos on Sunday morning. I was heartbroken and immediately cut all my other engagements and came down to Ede from Lagos.
“We worked together with Uncle for the re-election of Governor Aregbesola in 2014 and for his own election into the Senate in 2015.
“Those who masterminded the attacks on me are people with poor understanding of the relationship between us and who act based on their own political permutations only,” Babalola said .
She explained that she was at the burial in company with her father, Chief SOB Babalola, a prominent industrialist who is also a friend to the later father of now late Senator Adeleke.
“Not long after we sat down for the prayers, I sensed some hoodlums saying some things like I wanting to be deputy governor while Uncle (Senator Adeleke) has declared his ambition to be governor from the same Ede. I heard them talking about the new caretaker committee members being more of my loyalists than those of Senator Adeleke. And before we knew it, they grew more daring and unruly and brought down the canopy on the dignitaries present. It was the most unruly and irresponsible act I have seen in our land in history,” Babalola said
She said it was unfortunate that the unruly behaviors of the miscreants robbed a prominent son of Ede, the state burial that he deserved and which state government planned for him.
“That cannot be the best way to honour he memory of Uncle Adeleke. Senator Adeleke was a man of his people; a lover of peace and a political associate of Governor Aregbesola. Senator Adeleke could not have countenanced such misconduct in his lifetime,” she added.
She said there is no reason for the people of Ede, in spite of their political differences, to have any misgiving against Aregbesola saying that the city has benefitted immensely under the Aregbesola administration. She said with Ede being a beneficiary of the some of the best schools, roads, industrialization, youth employment and others, the city owes the administration appreciation.
Babalola expressed appreciation to Governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun, whom she said dropped the honour of being a governor to practically engage the hoodlums not to carry out their more dastardly plots.
Below is the Statement:
“I write to thank the many Nigerians of goodwill who have reacted with considerable shock, consternation and concern at the unfortunate incident of the attack on me at the funeral for our dear departed first Governor of the State of Osun, Senator Isiaka Adeleke. Special thanks to the Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, who played father and defender, shielding me from the hoodlums at a significant personal cost of bleeding from one of the stones aimed at me. Thank you so much, Sir. May we continue to have elders with bravery, heart and wisdom such as you.
“I also thank Governor Olurotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, Uncle Wale Adeeyo, Brother Deji Adeleke and all the other personalities at the event for their support, personal risk and understanding.
“First, let me state upfront that the incident is not in the character of Ede people. Therefore, I apologise to everyone offended by this unruly and unusual behaviour.
“We mourn the loss of a significant political personage, a great son of Ede, and the first Governor of our state, Senator Isiaka Adeleke. Senator Adeleke left a significant mark on the state and Ede. It is understandable that his departure would evoke deep emotions.
“It is sad that some persons would engineer a crisis at such a solemn event in pursuit of political objectives. I am a proud daughter of Ede and Brother Tunji has been a mentor and we never had any disagreement till the news of his death was broken to me while in Lagos on Sunday morning. I was heartbroken and immediately cut all my other engagements and came down to Ede from Lagos.
“We worked together for the re-election of Governor Aregbesola in 2014 and Senator Adeleke’s election to the Senate in 2015. Those who masterminded the attacks on me have a poor understanding of the relationship between us. They acted based on their own political permutations only.
“Unbeknownst to the antagonists, the Babalola and Adeleke families have a relationship that goes beyond past, current or future political engagements. I went to the funeral in the company of my father, Alhaji Sakariyau Olayiwola Babalola. My dad is an elder statesman and friend to the father of Senator Adeleke; who was in turn a close associate of my late grandfather, Alhaji Raji Babalola. Not long after we sat down for the prayers, I heard some hoodlums saying some things about me wanting to be deputy governor while Senator Adeleke had declared his ambition to be governor from the same Ede. I heard them talking about the new caretaker committee members being more of my loyalists than those of Senator Adeleke. And before we knew it, they grew more daring and unruly and brought down the canopy on the dignitaries present. It was the most dangerous and irresponsible act I have seen in our land in recent history.
“It is very sad. That cannot be the best way to honour the memory of our illustrious son and leader. Senator Adeleke was a man of his people; a lover of peace and a political associate of Governor Aregbesola. Senator Adeleke would not have countenanced such misconduct in his lifetime.
“It is not in the character of Ede people to disrespect the dead, to embarrass our guests or to denigrate womanhood.
There can be no reason for such behaviour in Ede, or for the negative narrative of spite against the Aregbesola administration. The government led by Rauf Aregbesola has ensured even development of our state. Ede, being a significant and historic town, has been a primary beneficiary of all the government’s projects in education, youth employment, industrialisation and other areas.
“I appeal for calm and understanding and for the right atmosphere and attitude as we mourn the loss of our great son, Senator Isiaka Adeleke. “