Mrs. Bose Adedibu was not just the late Chief Lamidi Adedibu’s wife; she was the maverick politician and acclaimed strongman of Ibadan politics’ confidant and alter ego. She wielded so much influence that many of the grassroots politician’s followers knew that to get any political favour, post or patronage, they needed her support. The vivacious beauty, who Adedibu married as his third wife, spoke on their relationship, intimate and romantic side of the ‘Garrison Commander,’ how his political associates deserted her and the family after he died in 2008, among other issues.
How did you meet the late Chief Lamidi Adedibu and became his wife?
It was the wish of God. I met him in front of my house in Idi-Arere, Isale Osi Ward 4 in the South-West Council, where I was living. I was very young then and he was in a car and about going out.
Until then, I did not know anybody called Adedibu, but my uncle was always with him. He worked with him and they were going out together on that fateful day. My uncle was inside his car when I stepped out to see off my boyfriend who came to visit me at home.
I heard my uncle calling me, “Bose, Bose,” and I replied, Egbon (uncle). He alighted from the car and told me to come towards the car. I refused. I told him he should come over, knowing that he was with a stranger.
He crossed over to meet me and as he was coming, I was laughing and asked him, Egbon, nibo le ti n bo? (Uncle, where are you coming from?) Then, he just asked me, “Do you know Chief Adedibu?” I said ‘you have started again, ta lo n je Adedibu?
He then said I should come and meet him. We both crossed the road back to where Adedibu was. Adedibu then said, Omo yi nibo lo n gbe la’dugbo yi? O ma rewa o. (young lady, where do you stay in this neighbourhood? You are quite beautiful).
I thanked him, and then he said, “I want to marry you.” When I heard that, I just laughed, because I thought he was joking. That happened in the afternoon and in the evening, they came together again with my uncle inside a car, a station wagon, and my uncle came inside the house.
Immediately, he told me that Chief Adedibu was outside. I asked which chief he was talking about and what he was looking for? He repeated that chief wanted to see me, but I told him I did not like what he was doing. But he started pleading with me to see chief, before I knew it, chief was just right there behind me.
He told me the reason he came was that he wanted me to marry him. But I didn’t take him serious, I just laughed. I was wondering why he could say such, because I was looking at him as someone who much older than me. He was clean-shaven and when I married him, he was just between the ages of 49 and 50 years.
That was how we met. But it was not an easy and immediate thing, because I was hiding and running away from him. He then started moving about to get people to influence me.
The current Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji, who was his friend, came to my house, which was close to his and he was like a father to me, and said: “Bose, chief said he wants to marry you.” I asked which chief he was talking about and he replied Adedibu.
I told him I had someone I was dating and he just laughed, saying: “We will marry you, this girl.” He left and was discussing with my mother, telling her, Iya Egba, Omo mi lo ma fe Chief Adedibu o. My mother said: “Since she is your daughter, no problem.”
I was still not happy. So, Adedibu went around to see my uncles and my stepfather. It was then that my stepfather called me and spoke to me about his proposal.
What then persuaded you, pressure from family?
I will say pressure from family and pressure from him, because he did not give up.
So, you could see he loved you?
Yes, he loved me. That was the reason he did not give up. I just felt maybe he was the one God had destined for me to marry, which eventually turned out to be true.
Did you regret marrying him?
I did not regret it for once, because he was a good man. He was like my perfect man and I even pray to marry him in my next life.
He was a good father, a good husband and a good companion, a man that loved me so much. He married me in my youth and made me live with his entire family. He had three wives (my seniors) and I lived with them and with his first, second and third children, who were even older than me.
He did not just marry me and keep me somewhere; he married me and kept me right there in the house.
How was life in the polygamous setting?
You would not believe it; I did not experience any polygamous problems. The family was unlike other polygamous families I know.
I think it was because the women I met took me as their daughter, as I took them as my mothers. So, there was no cause to say I was offending them. Although as a human being, there could be differences, but we never engaged in a quarrel to the extent that my husband would settle our differences. No, there was nothing of such in the family.
My husband was the captain of his home, so the “ship” was sailing smooth. I believe it was God’s making. He was a very prayerful man and engaged in fasting and prayer.
Adedibu was such?
Oh, yes! Nobody fasted as he did. I have never seen any person that fasted fervently than him. He was a prayer warrior.
I do not know how to describe him, but as old as he was then, he fasted a lot.
That, I must say, contrasts with the image of a mean, vicious and violent politician that people have of him?
This is because they did not know him. If you ask those close to him, they will tell you that he was a praying person. In fact, he was a ‘coward,’ but his cowardice was in the sense that he had the fear of God.
In the area of politics, which was his calling, yes, he would not joke with you and do not joke with him in that line either. But when it came to his marital life, my husband was a fantastic man.
In terms of giving alms, he was a cheerful giver and never slept with money. He helped the needy and even when he was aware you had money, he would still endeavour to give you.
He loved women. But even if he did not like them, they always wanted to stick around him, knowing that he was a cheerful giver. He invested in every person he came in contact with. That was my husband for you.
Don’t you think that perhaps also helped his political influence and career, as beneficiaries definitely feel a sense of obligation to pay back during elections?
Maybe… Like some people, they would buy land, they had no money to build and when somebody wanted to take the land from them, they would say it belonged to Adedibu. If he heard of it, he would summon the fellow and asked why he brought in his name in the matter and the person would plead and explain that he did that because some people wanted to take his land from him.
He would ask what it would cost to build on the land. Before you know it, he would build the house for the person. That was the same he did with the cash gifts he usually gave people. They are just too many to mention.
But some people do not really appreciate or reciprocate kind gestures. If they did, Adedibu’s name would never be forgotten.
For instance, our governor, who is my ‘brother’ and my ‘husband’ often tells people that it was Adedibu that helped him to reach certain stage in life, that he (Adedibu) was his father and he meant a lot to him. But what has he done for the family, even though we do not belong to the same (political) party?
When Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was President, I know how much advice he gave to my husband and how many people my husband assisted to get federal appointments. My husband would mention their names to Baba Obasanjo and he would assist them once there are qualified and not corrupt of fraudulent.
So, how do you react to taunts of being married to an old man, to a politician of Adedibu’s hue, who believed in the Machiavellian principle of the end justifies the means?
Can you imagine? Was he old when I married him? He was not an old man when I married him. The age gap was quite high, no doubt about that, but he was not that old. Am I also not old now? Am I the same age as when I married him?
They don’t know what they are saying.
How did he influence you to join politics?
A Yoruba adage says, Bi ewe ba pe lara ose, oma ndi ose (leaf wrappings of a soap soon become soap). So, it is not strange for me to become a politician. When he was alive, we did everything together. He was my husband and that was what my husband was doing.
I understand that you tried to run for the Senate, what happened?
He refused. You know you men. He decided that I should not go.
How did you now feel about that?
He was my husband and like I said, he was the captain of his house. He said he did not want me to go.
He would have allowed me contest for the seat, but for the influence of the late Alhaji Arisekola Alao, who came very early one day and said to my husband: “Baba, I heard that you want to allow Alhaja run for the Senate. They will ‘snatch’ her away from you in Abuja o (laughs).
Then, my husband said: “Aare, let her go. You know she has been the one doing several things for me and we have been in this (politics) together. I do not want others to take her place or reap where they did not sow.”
Arisekola, in response, said: “No, no! Don’t you think it is better she does not go, at least, one of her children can run for the seat in her stead. Please, talk to her.”
My husband said he would talk to me. He could not tell me himself, he was feeling shy and because he had great respect for me and did not want to confront me, so he sent for my uncle and told him to help beg me not to run.
It is interesting to know that Adedibu had this soft and intimate side to him. How romantic was he as a husband?
He was a very romantic man. Let me tell you, he knew that I was a young girl and never denied me of anything.
Really? Even in his old age?
I am telling you. He often knew what I wanted and did not turn down my requests too.
Like I said earlier, I never regretted marrying him. He never ‘starved’ me of anything and if I wanted something from him, I knew how to go about it.
Even before he did anything, he would tell me in the morning or wake me up at night and say: “Alhaja, I can see that you are interested in somebody getting political favour, this is why I am not going to use that person and I am telling you this for your own consumption alone, not for anybody.”
So, we were very close when he was alive and he was very romantic. That was why you saw young ladies flocking around him.
How did you feel when young women surrounded him?
(Laughs) Ah, I was so jealous. I would be thinking, ‘is it how you did to me that you would be doing to young ladies out there?’ Then I would go mad with him and he would say: “I am just helping them.”
Can you imagine? He could not even tell me not to run for the senatorial seat, he sent for my uncle. In fact, the day my uncle and other relatives came to tell me that my husband said he didn’t want me to run for any political office, my elderly uncle had to come as early as 6.30am. He told me that since they were the ones that prayed for me regarding my political ambition, now that my husband had decided he did not want me there, I should stop henceforth.
I looked straight into my husband’s eyes and asked: ‘Alhaji, so you could not even tell me this?’ He replied that if he had told me, I would have been annoyed and that was the reason he sent for my uncle.
So, how has life been without him?
(Sighs) My brother, it has been a terrible experience. Yinka Ayefele sang Great Experience and Sweet Experience. I passed through both.
When my husband died, I was thinking he would wake up. I just kept on looking forward to the day he would wake up. I was lost in thought, talking to myself and people were always around me.
You know, Muslim widows normally observe five months of mourning in the house. As a widow, I did my five months without stepping outside my gate. From here (sitting room) to the backyard, because I had to exercise my body, as I could not sit in one position for five months.
Then, his political associates and hangers-on started leaving the house even before the period ended. The then governor, Otunba Adebayo Alao Akala tried and did all he could to sustain the compound and political family. But you know, people were around and there were too many people doing so many things.
When Senator Teslim Folarin and Akala started “fighting,” so many people just deserted me, but Folarin was coming to this house, Akala was giving us stipends, Gbolarumi Azeem and then deputy governor, Arapaja, tried their best and Arisekola was on ground as a Muslim brother and was there for the family, which included my brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, my children and sons-in-law.
But many, including those that if they came in the morning and could not see Baba had to pass through my room to his room, deserted me. God has really been on my side.
So, how did you cope?
With God, everything is possible. I sat down and accepted that my husband was gone and cannot come back and just decided move on.
Raising the children was where problem started. Before then, I did not know how their school fees were paid and how they bought pencil and eraser. So, I started from there and you know my husband was not somebody that kept money inside the house or the bank.
When he died, they said he had N7million or so in the bank. I did not even know where the money was and I could not get anything. You know, he did not allow me to work, so kitchen was my office. But I can say with the help of God, we survived.
Are your children through with school now?
My children are PhD and Masters degree holders, Allihamdullilahi (all thanks to God), and my grandchildren too.
Grandchildren? But you still look young and beautiful. There must be advances and pestering from men?
(Laughs) Yes, there would be, but maybe they are afraid.
So, if someone proposes marriage, would you consider it?
Will the person even want to marry me? That is the point.
Why not, you still look attractive?
But the person will be scared. The fear will be there.
Considering your position as Adedibu’s widow?
Yes! The fear would keep them away and I am not bothered about that, I am not concerned.
It would be 10 years on June 11 since your husband died, would there be any memorial event?
Yes, at least I am able to establish a Foundation in his honour. We are looking up to those God had blessed through him to help us immortalise his name, so that his name would not be forgotten so soon.
We are also trying to launch a book on the man Adedibu.
By the way, are any of your children showing interest in politics?
Yes, I have about two of them who want to participate in politics, but I am trying to slow them down.
But I will encourage them at the right time.
Tell us a little about you?
My father, the late T. S. Ewoyeju, was an Itsekiri, hailed from Delta State, but that is through his own father, while his mother is from Ibadan.
My father was the only child and was the only one that was allowed to marry from the Southwest. My mother is from the Balogun family in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
As I said, my grandmother was from Ibadan and we came here during the civil war. I was born here. All my uncles, I mean my father’s younger ones, were all born in Ibadan. Their father and my father, who was an engineer and worked with WNDC, stayed in Lagos.
As an engineer, we travelled to many parts of the country with my mother. We were transferred to Ahaoda in Rivers State, Calabar in Cross River State, we were in Aba in Abia State, Onitsha in Anambra State and finally, they brought us to Ibadan when the civil war started. Since then, we have been staying in Ibadan.
So, why would I not look like a person from Ibadan? I started my schooling in Ahaoda, but when the war began, I attended St Luke’s Grammar School and Ori-Aje St Luke’s Demonstration School and completed my secondary education in Molusi College, Ijebu-Igbo.
Afterwards, I went to a catering school and from there, I started my petty business, because my mother was a trader at that time.
Culled from Guardian