NOVEMBER 15th, marked the ninth anniversary of the passing of Rear Admiral Muhammed Alabi Lawal, naval officer, former Ogun state military administrator and first democratically elected indigene of Ilorin as civilian governor of Kwara state. To commemorate the anniversary, a prayer session held in his residence in Ilorin, while his political associates used the opportunity to recall his contributions to Kwara’s development. I was unable to attend ceremonies to commemorate his death.
I had a very difficult relationship with Governor Muhammed Lawal. There was really nothing personal between us, but by proxy, we became enstranged, as a result of issues and individuals within his administration. Those directly concerned did everything to set Muhammed Lawal against me, and I must openly declare today, that it was testimony to his character, that he did not go as far as they wanted, in the manner that I decided to end my tenure as General Manager of the Kwara State Television Service.
I met Governor Lawal alone in his office inside the Government House, Ilorin, on May 7TH, 2002, to submit a letter of resignation; we then spent the next one hour and a half hours discussing all the issues that were crafted as political allegations against me as well as my honest view of his performance as governor that he insisted that I offered.
“You’re a journalist and Political Scientist”, he had reminded me, “please tell me the truth”! I resumed as Editor of DAILY TRUST the following week, and in February, 2003, I met Governor Muhammed Lawal again, in Ilorin, this time at the behest of General Ibrahim Babangida, who insisted on the meeting, so we can settle whatever differences we had. That meeting held before the 2003 elections and the backdrop was the deep political division, which had developed in the Ilorin Emirate, and the feeling that Governor Muhammed Lawal had designs against the Emir of Ilorin and the Emirate structure. Dr. Olushola Saraki postured as defender of our community’s values; therefore, a tactical alliance was built against Governor Muhammed Lawal.