There is this adage in Yoruba which says that unless a fellow is in a higher position or become wealthy, you can’t tell his true character”. This adage applies to my experience with RotimiOgunleye who was a former commissioner in Ambode’s government, two years ago.
Before his appointment as a commissioner, he was a chap I liked immensely. Coupled with the fact that is a member of the Peacock Club, which I was its former president, the love I had for him compelled me to extend courtesy and regards to him every time the need arises.
For instance, when his mother passed on, I released my brand new Toyota bus which was a week old, to convey the Peacock members to Ibadan to comfort and support him.
After the event, he became a state commissioner and I received the news of his appointment with great joy. I attended his swearing in and organised a reception in his honour at the Peacock club while I was the president. Shortly before his appointment, Ogunleye placed political advert worth a twenty thousand naira in my paper, but I charged him only twenty thousand naira for the publication. A token he didn’t pay for, till I acquired a house property at Erunwen and he happened to be the legal counsel to the seller. I reminded him that he was owing me twenty thousand naira outstanding and I needn’t pay him for the legal charges on the house.
I have painstakingly refused to write about this until now that he has threatened to go to the law court, so that readers can have a background insight into his recent grudge against me.
The trouble started when I wrote an article condemning his uncle, the former deputy governor of Lagos State, Prince AbiodunOgunleye, and AsiwajuOlorunfunmiBashorun who are APC chieftains in Ikorodu Division.
In the article, acts of nepotism as committed by these leaders who appointed their son, wife and brother into public offices were exposed. Unknown to me, RotimiOgunleye was not happy about the story, even though his name was not mentioned in the news report.
Another incident happened when Kabiesi, Alaiyeluwa Oba KabiruShotobi, the Ayangbure of Ikorodu, won an award in the United States, we sent letters to many well-meaning indigenes for congratulatory messages in honour of Kabiesi. Prominent sons of Ikorodu including RotimiOgunleye were served letters. He asked his Personal Assistant (PA) to give us the green light to publish a half page congratulatory advert for Oba Shotobi at the rate of one hundred thousand naira. I even teased him to run a full page advert but he explained that he couldn’t afford more than half a page because he had exhausted his budget.
When the publication came out, I requested for payment, at that time, he pleaded with me to hold on because he was broke.
He even affirmed to his lady friend that he was owing me and had told me to exercise patience with him.
A month later, I requested for the money when I was preparing for the annual hajj trip, unknown to me, my last publication where I wrote about his uncle’s nepotistic actions annoyed him. When I phoned him for more than ten times, he refused to pick my calls. So, I spoke with two of our mutual friends, Prince BiodunAdeola and Engineer WasiuOlatundeOlokunola, when they reached him, I was surprised when he told them that he never authorized me to run the advert in question and that I did it on my own volition and was demanding for payment. He also told them that the article I wrote about his uncle annoyed him. I told the two men that what he told them was a lie that his PA, who is still alive, can attest to his boss’ directive for me to run the advert.
Right in my office, Prince Adeola phoned Ogunleye and narrated that I was not asking for the previous payment for four the (4) page pull-out I did for his ministry earlier but that I was only demanding for the half page congratulatory advert for Kabiesi’s award in America. Just as Prince Adeola was about handling me the phone to speak directly with him, Ogunleye said he was not interested in speaking with me over the matter that I should come to his office for the money.
The situation deteriorated when I sent my staff to pick up the cash in his Alausa office as he left an inciting message with his secretary that I must sign an undertaken that in future before I carry an advert, I must get his approval. He said he never asked me to run the half page advert.
When my staff informed me of the development, I drove down to his office a week later and met his secretary who insisted that I must sign the undertaken before receiving the hundred thousand naira, which I vehemently refused.
Fortunately for me, he came into his office and reiterated the order. I went livid and held him back when he was walking into his office. I told him that I considered his actions an insult on my personality and height of embarrassment to my reputation. The next thing was barrage of insult on me and he screamed aloud for his staff to hear from all corners of the office.
The commotion attracted staff of the office who intervened on the matter, I collected my money without signing the undertaking.
Immediately I left his office, he phoned Kabiesi to report me that I attacked him in his office. He also wrote my clubs, Peacock and Oriwu, blackmailing me with cheap lie that I published adverts without his consent and demanded for payment from him.
On hearing all the false charges, I challenged him, and I still stand on my words, that the two of us should take oath by the Bible or Quran if I lied about the his consent and approval for the advert.
The Oriwu Club replied him that he was not a member of the club and as such, has no right to write them over personal matters with me.
Since then, he has been going round to report me to people.
Unknown to RotimiOgunleye, I have unprintable stories about his affairs as a commissioner which I refused to print. For now, I will only highlight some of the town’s people personal complaints against him.
A prominent APC leader in Ikorodu (name withheld) once phoned RotimiOgunleye that he was sending his son to him in Alausa regarding building permit when he was commissioner for Physical Planning. When the man’s son arrived at Rotimi’s office, his secretary informed him and told the boy to wait. After waiting for over an hour, Rotimi and a female companion emerged from his office and left without acknowledging his leader’s son who had waited all the while. The man left his office on a sad note.
RotimiOgunleye used to be a member of the Africa Bethel Church in Ikorodu but soon dumped the church when he was appointed a commissioner. He switched and started attending Methodist Church in Ikorodu. Some of his former members came to my office to report that they had issues with him, I refused to grant them audience and told them to seek his attention for an amicable resolution.
Again, the former Union Bank branch manager in Ikorodu brushed Ogunleye’s car along Lagos road, RotimiOgunleye turned deaf ears to the pleas from the manager and dragged him to his Alausa office.
What annoyed the bank manager was that Ogunleye kept his car and driver in Alausa for the entire day only to ask for N20,000 for the damage done to his car, which he paid to him. I never wrote about the incident as narrated to me because of the brotherly love I had for him.
At that time, residents of Erunwen reported to me that, as commissioner, they believe RotimiOgunleye could use his influence to ask government to construct the bad road in the vicinity, but he never bulged till he left office.
Many politicians from Ikorodu were particularly not happy about the hostile reception meted to them when they visited his office. Again, I refused to write about that.
During his last days in public office, when he was chairman for the Ambode’s projects commissioning, there were so many reports from the ministry about his misconduct. Yet, I didn’t publish any of it because I was not interested in his downfall.
My purview as a press man is to call attention of public figures and politicians to development issues in Ikorodu.
I am more concerned about drawing politicians’ attention to how the people of Ikorodu can reap the dividends of democracy, not pursuing someone’s downfall.
If RotimiOgunleye thinks I’m after his downfall or making plans to cause him harm, he is dead wrong. For me, there are more development issues to pursue than fighting an individual.
Since I started my paper, I have never written a rejoinder and by God’s grace, we have continued to publish unhindered, by upholding truth on behalf of the community.
I am happy that Rotimi Ogunleye has sent his so called achievements résumé for us to publish, which, as an objective paper, we will publish for the community to see. If he still wish to go to the law court against me, I wish him well. But he must remember, those who live in glass house don’t throw stones.