Bola Ilori: The Moral Burden of Conflicting Identities

By: Festus Aladesanmi

The news of the fracas that greeted the appearance of Bola Ilori at the APC True Federalism Debate in Ondo state on Thursday 21st September, 2017 was a rude shock to many. There have been claims and counterclaims from both sides. This unfortunate incident threw up many questions? What was Bola Ilori doing at the program? Why must Bola Ilori attend the programs with hundreds of thugs from Osun state? Why was he stopped while making his speech? Why should anybody attack him? Why haven’t the national body reacted to the incident? Too many questions begging for answers.

As a policy, I detest violence. I, therefore, join many objective analysts to condemn the attack on his person. It was uncalled for because I honestly believe that he could have been handled more politely and maturely. On the other hand, I equally agreed with others that posited that Bola Ilori has no reason being at the program. If for any reasons, he was allowed to attend, he has no moral justification to speak let alone taking the floor. Apart from the ignoble roles he played during the last gubernatorial election, he has not renounced his membership of AD (Alliance for Democracy) in Ondo state.

One of the FIFA fair-play rules is that a player can not represent two teams in the same tournament no matter how good he or she is. You may have dual or multiple citizenship but you can only represent a country at a time. Bola Ilori seems to be having conflict of identity and until he states where he stands, he should stay away from Ondo state APC. There can never be restitution without forgiveness. Bola Ilori needs to eat the humble pie and apologize to the Ondo state APC before he can be restituted. He (like his fellow deserters) is trying to gatecrash his way back to the APC folds. I don’t see that working. Therefore Bola Ilori and his team have to make deliberate effort to peacefully warm their way back to the APC fold if they so desire to return to the party.

There is no permanent friend or enemy in politics but permanent interest exists. While talking about the ugly incident on Channels Tv Bola Ilori said “in the interest of the nation, the PARTY set up a committee on restructuring.” Which party was he talking about? This same party he attacked and rubbished on National Television or the party he worked for during the last election. Whose interest did Bola Ilori protect in Ondo state during the last election and whose interested was he representing last Thursday? The moral burden of this conflicting identities will continue to haunt him in Ondo state until commonsense prevails on him to do the needful. Unfortunately commonsense is not common.

I may not like Dr. Segun Abraham politically but I have lots of respect for him. He came second in the primary election. He disagreed with the outcome and he sincerely has the right to do so. However, instead of rocking the boat he chose to fight within the party. He didn’t support the party at the general election but there is no evidence that he worked against the party. Some other people went out of their ways and did all they could to ruin the chance of the APC. The fact that Bola Ilori led his team out of APC to the AD and later became the Director General of the AD campaign organization was not strange but the campaign of calumny that he spearheaded was unprecedented.

The AD came a distant third in the general election. That implies that the PDP had better chance of winning the election than the AD. Would Bola Ilori be attending APC function in Ondo state had PDP won the election? Based on Bola Ilori’s personal conviction and declaration, he is an AD member in Ondo state. The fact that he serves in an APC led government in Osun state doesn’t erase what he used his mouth to confess in Ondo state and on national television. Unfortunately we celebrate “amala politics” too much in this clime where morality and decency have no place and meaning. Otherwise, why would a Bola Ilori attend APC function in Ondo State? You bear false witness against my father in court but my father won the case. Do you expect me to embrace you without apology? No matter who you are, you must apologize to the entire family before you can earn our friendship and respect.

The APC national body seems too docile when it comes to taking appropriate action on pressing issues like this. Otherwise why hasn’t there been any meaningful reaction to the Bola Ilori / Ondo state APC brouhaha? The current issue involves two APC states with someone with conflicting identities at the middle. The national body can not keep quiet or stay on the fence at this level. It’s on record that Bola Ilori was not expelled from the party. He’s a deserter. He should therefore do the needful if he wants to return to the APC. Bold face or gate crashing isn’t the best way to do things.

The Ondo state APC also should be magnanimous in victory. We agree to disagree and vice versa. The person that hurts you today can be a blessing in your life tomorrow. The party hierarchy in Ondo state should create a channel through which genuine repentant deserters can be reabsorbed back into the APC fold. The more the merrier.

I wish to congratulate Bola Ilori for coming out of that encounter unhurt. Your actions reminded me of a Yoruba movie. A high chief misused and abused the privileges of his office. He revolted against the king but failed. He ran away to self imposed exile. He later consulted Fadeyi Oloro and expressed desire to reunite with his people because he missed home. Fadeyi gave him a very powerful charm (aforan). The charm will make the people overlook all his wrong deeds. He returned to the town during a festive period and met the people at the market square. He was received with mixed feelings of amazement and anger. He was welcomed by many while others ignored him. After all nobody expelled him. He simply went on self imposed exile. Things went on fine until he got carried away and became over confident because of the “aforan” (charm) on his waist. He approached the Kabiyesi, requested and insisted that he would like to sit on his usual chair beside the king. The people suddenly remembered that he was not supposed to be at the gathering abinitio. They charged at him and he was beaten blue-black.

In conclusion, I must confess that I don’t envy the styles of Bola Ilori. You came to the program with rented and imported crowd all wielding long wooden staffs because you knew abinitio that you may not be welcomed. This implied that you knew quite alright that you were not supposed to be there. You goofed big time with the show you displayed last Thursday while attending that function. Always treat people the way you want to be treated. For you to have been honored with the right of passage to attend the program you should have wisely remained an observer. I am sure you and your team will not accept what you threw at the Ondo state APC, if you were in their shoes. Have you forgotten the case of Senator Tony Adefuye and MKO? Brigandy and bravery are not the same. However you can still be an asset to the APC in Ondo state but you must tow the path of honour. Seek forgiveness and naturally restitution will follow. This same goes for many other deserters in your shoes in Ondo State. I detest violence as much as I detest your conflicting identities.

Festus Aladesanmi writes from Oba-ile, Akure. He can be reached through

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