Oba Saliu Adetunji; Chief Alao-Akala; Alaafin of Oyo, Olusegun Obasanjo, Kayode Fayemi, Rauf Olaniyan, Sunday Dare and others at the book launch.  

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo wondered why Chief Alao-Akala blamed him on his book, 13 years after he had left office.

Obasanjo made this known while speaking at the formal launching of the 140-page book, titled ‘Amazing Grace’, authored by Alao-Akala.

The event took place on Thursday at the Trenchard Hall, University of Ibadan.

The book launch was to celebrate the former governor’s 70th birthday anniversary but was earlier postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, Obasanjo, who was the chairman of the occasion, explained why he took the decision that led to the criticism he received from Alao-Akala on page 139 of the book.

Obasanjo said: “I wonder how you come on page 139 of your book to blame or criticize me for dividing the Ibadan-Ilorin Road into three sections for reconstruction during my second term so that it could be expeditiously completed.

“As an Ogbomoso man, I can understand how important that road is to you. But when I took the steps which I took for the road to be expeditiously handled, it was not for your interest as an Ogbomosho man for the economic life of Nigeria, and it is tragic that the artery road is in the sorry state it is today.”

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Obasanjo also corrected the aspect of the book where Akala claimed that Atiku backed down before the primary poll.

He said the alliance of his former deputy, Atiku Abubakar with late Dr Alex Ekwueme during the 2003 presidential primary election of the Peoples Democratic Party collapsed after Ekwueme was defeated at the poll.

He said, “Again, Atiku did not back down as you claimed until Alex Ekwueme was defeated at the primary of PDP in 2003, as Atiku’s agreement with Ekwueme was to be Ekwueme’s running mate and Ekwueme, as President, spending three years and resigning for Atiku to complete the fourth year and then for Atiku to contest election in his own right in 2007.

“It was after the result of the primary that Atiku backed down. If you put it that way, it was when there was no other choice.”

Obasanjo also faulted the roles played by Alao-Akala in the failure of the South-West to produce the Speaker of the House of Representatives, which Aminu Tambuwal eventually won.

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He said Alao-Akala first proposed Ajibola Muraina and he (Obasanjo) and others accepted him, adding that Alao-Akala later began to lobby for Mulikat Akande, who was eventually defeated by Tambuwal.

Meanwhile, some dignitaries in the Nigerian political class who were present eulogized the virtues of Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala at 70, describing ‘Amazing Grace’, his official biography as a worthy addition to the literary world.

In his review, Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, who launched the book, said it was worth having in the library.

He lauded Alao-Akala’s efforts in contributing to the literary world through the book.

He said that the book was worth having by every student and practitioner of politics as well as every general reader in the country.

“So, what I’m going to do is that I’m not launching the book but make it possible for the wider audience to get to read this book. I’m going to put a copy in every library in our universities,” Fayemi said.

The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi lll appreciated Chief Obasanjo for the role he played mediating between him and Alao-Akala during his tenure as Governor of Oyo State.

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Responding, Akala recounted the performance of his administration as the governor of Oyo state, saying “Our administration concentrated on the welfare of the people in addition to the need for development in every step we took.

“In writing the book, I was faced with the challenge of writing some of the events with innuendos, window dressing and some of the issues of life spoiled by myth, especially within the period when I was on the driver’s seat of Oyo State administration”, he said.

The book launch was graced by prominent Nigerians, including Gov. Seyi Makinde of the state, who was represented by his deputy, Rauf Olaniyan, and the Minister of Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare.

Others included the Olubadan of Ibadan land, Oba Saliu Adetunji; Chief Bayo Adelabu, Chief Adeniyi Akintola, Dr. Gbade Ojo, Dr. Saka Balogun among others.