Alleged N5m Bribe To NUJ To Stop Aregbesola’s Award: My Story


By Ismail Omipidan

I deliberately did not want to lump this with my response yesterday to the lies against my person by Osun Defender and some of its staffers so the essence is not lost.

Like I said yesterday, most of the guys around Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola lie with impunity. They make bogus claims and pass them as truth. Wale Alabi, one of the megaphones of Aregbesola was the first to make this allegation about three years ago. I did not bother to respond because I saw it as coming from someone that has little or no knowledge about the ethics of the journalism profession. But now that a deputy editor of Osun Defender has reechoed the same allegation, I will be doing a disservice to the profession and the Union if I fail to respond by setting the record straight. 

Let me state straightaway that at the time we were in government, we ran on a very lean budget. My principal was so prudent that we hardly had funds to fund any lavish lifestyle, let alone go and bribe a union not to award Aregbesola. It is, therefore, mischievous and wicked to claim that myself and the SSG at the time, Prince Wole Oyebamiji, a fine gentleman, travelled to the National Secretariat of the NUJ in Abuja, to bribe the union. I am glad that the NUJ president, Comrade Chris Isiguzo is still alive. Since he was re-elected as the NUJ president three years ago, to date, I have not visited the secretariat. I may go there tomorrow. But as of today, I have not been there.

Only a mischievous character, who is used to such a thing, would accuse another person of doing same. Isn’t it said that we judge others by our own standards? Throughout our time in government, I and the SSG travelled together just once. Our destination was Ibadan and the event was the book launch of a foremost Osun-born journalist and editor of repute, Dr. Lasisi Olagunju. 

As a stakeholder in the Union and as a former acting chairman of a council, I know we have a tradition when it comes to the issue of Patron, Grand Patron and awards. That of Aregbesola was somewhat controversial. I had it on good authority that he was never the nominee of the Osun Council and that the majority of the Councils’ leadership, including Oyo State Council that is supposed to host the event, kicked against it.  So, I became interested. Yes, of truth, I placed a call to the NUJ National President to express my concern over what was happening then. In fairness to him, he requested I call the then Zonal Secretary, Pastor Bamigbola Gbolagunte and I told the president I would not call him because I knew his relationship with Mr. Bola Ilori, Aregbesola’s man Friday at the time, so as not to misconstrue my intention. Gbolagunte too is alive. He could speak on the matter. Till date, I have never raised the matter with him.

However, I am aware that the president did not eventually honour the event with his presence. I am equally aware that the six council chairmen from the South West boycotted the event, as a sign of disapproval of the event.

The members of the union had at their zonal meeting on 12th March 2021, taken a decision to put the Investiture of Aregbesola on hold following the leadership crisis in the zone. Following the crisis, the matter was referred to the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Union for adjudication. The truth is, only a desperate person desirous of undeserved attention would present himself for such an investiture. 

After the boycott of the controversial investiture in Ibadan by the six council chairmen and I learnt they were coming to Osun for their zonal meeting, I placed a call to the Osun State Council chairman of the union, Comrade Wasiu Ajadosu, pleading with him to change the venue. He told me the meeting was on a rotational basis and it was the turn of Osun. Therefore, there was nothing he could do about it. In fact, they had not arrived Osun when Wale Alabi posted on his wall that they were already holding a meeting with my principal inside the Government House and a mysterious N5 million was being shared to them. Aregbesola’s men and their lies are five and six. In fact, I could not extend the usual courtesies to my colleagues because of the circumstances of that visit. Yet, some scums want to tarnish their reputations. 

This is my story as far as the alleged N5m bribe was concerned. There was no bribe anywhere. Council members only tried to challenge the attempt to force an Aregbesola on the union through the backdoor. Only God will forgive some of the Aregbesola’s guys. Their penchant for lies and misinformation is ‘legendary.’

  • Omipidan, a journalist and public affairs analyst and served as Chief Press Secretary to Adegboyega Oyetola writes from Ile Olorisa Compound, Eyindi, Ila Orangun.


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