The newly appointed Caretaker Committee Chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers in Lagos State, Fatai Adeshina, aka Akeweje, tells KAYODE OYERO his grouse with his predecessor and now Chairman of the Parks Management Committee in Lagos, Musiliu Akinsanya, popularly called MC Oluomo, and the lingering crisis in the state branch of the union
Can you give an insight into your background as a transport unionist?
I am from Osun State and a core member of the NURTW. I am about 62 years old. When I started as a commercial driver in Lagos, MC Oluomo was a motor boy. I started in Lagos as early as 1979. I was a molue driver with one man called Baba Ise Oluwa. I plied the Agege to Idumota route. I have many of MC Oluomo’s photos as a lad. I have known him for close to 40 years. There was a man called Alhaji Basiru Daniel. He was the one who helped MC Oluomo. The man took notice of him because of his hustling spirit despite having some physical challenges. The man brought him into his house and trained him to become a transport unionist. He was a letter delivery person for the man.
MC Oluomo’s struggles started with the union in the days of (Saka) Saula. Saula was gruesomely murdered. After his assassination, a man called Rafiu Akanni Olorunwa was brought to become the chairman, but MC Oluomo also picked a fight with Olorunwa. Olorunwa acted as the chairman for three years. MC Oluomo was involved in a brawl with Olorunwa and there was a shootout at Bourdillon such that (Asiwaju Bola) Tinubu sternly rebuked both of them for shooting at his house as though it was the garage of a union.
The union was dissolved thereafter and (Tajudeen) Agbede became the Lagos chairman of the NURTW. He was there for eight years and after his tenure, a vacancy was advertised for the post of the state chairman of the union. They said anyone was free to obtain the form for the chairmanship seat and I purchased one and I contested the seat. I contested the seat of the Lagos State chairman of the NURTW.
When was that precisely?
That was in 2019.
What happened next?
Some days to the D-day when they were supposed to announce me as the NURTW chairman for Lagos, the chief of staff to the governor called me and told me that he and the governor had endorsed my candidacy, but Tinubu said they should give it to MC Oluomo. I told him there was no problem. He asked me what I wanted to do next and I told him that I was okay with anything the government wanted. He asked whether I wanted the deputy or treasurer position, and I said any of both was fine. He drafted a list of the state executive members to be announced and showed me that I was penned for the deputy chairman position. I agreed with the plan. However, on the day we were to be sworn in, my name was cancelled with a pen, not that they drafted a fresh list. I was not offered any position. MC Oluomo took away my job, hijacked my branch and my unit despite meeting me on this job.
What is the name of your park?
Odo Olowo Branch ‘C’ in Oshodi.
When did MC Oluomo take away your job as you alleged?
When he took over as the NURTW chairman in Lagos. The worst thing he did to me that made me part ways with him was that after his inauguration, I bought a foreign used car for N13m and took it to him as a gift. I added N10m to the car gift, but he rejected them. I begged him but he refused to make peace. I am not MC Oluomo’s peer and he knows this, but I prostrated before him to make peace. He told me he would look at what he would do, but the more I begged him, the more his mind was made up. I left his house that day and returned to him around 8pm the following day, but he warned me not to come to his residence at night. He said anything could happen to me if I did. I stopped going to his house after that incident.
Did your paths cross afterwards?
Yes, there was a lady called Ronke Oshodi Oke, a popular actress. She was a friend to my second wife. Though they met outside my residence, Ronke started visiting my home at one point. So, I challenged her and warned her not to ever step into my house again.
Is there any reason for your action?
Yes, Ronke was an associate of MC Oluomo and I know what Oluomo is capable of doing. When I challenged Ronke, she told me that she came to see her boss, adding that my second wife was her boss. I told her not to come to my house anymore, because MC Oluomo and I did not belong to the same camp. My second wife and Ronke knelt and apologised, but after five days, I met Ronke in my house again. I was furious and I accused her of trying to carry out a mission in my house. I sent the two of them out of my house that day. To my surprise, Ronke took my second wife, who I sent packing, to MC Oluomo.
How did you know this?
Some concerned close allies at MC’s hotel in Oshodi phoned me that they saw my second wife at MC’s place. They asked whether MC and I had settled our issues, but I said we were yet to resolve our differences. They told me that MC had asked them to give my second wife a room in his hotel. She was there for one month and seven days in his hotel.
You mean your wife?
Yes, my second wife, Queen B. She stayed in his hotel for one month and seven days before he bought her a house. Unionists in the state know this story very well.
When exactly did this happen?
It happened about a year after MC Oluomo became the NURTW chairman in Lagos.
Did you finally reconcile with your second wife?
No, they are still in love and she is still with him till date. I was not worried that she left because I considered her as the death that wanted to kill me. If I was blind or had any health challenge, I wouldn’t be concerned about what they did. What if I was poisoned? She was my second wife and we ate together, slept together and woke up together. I thank God that something more dangerous did not happen.
MC Oluomo has since been threatening to kill me. I have been booed and assaulted many times on the streets of Lagos by hoodlums. I once attended a party at Onikan. (Sule) Malaika was the artiste who performed. As I was about to leave the party around 8pm, I was assaulted. Some boys pelted me with bottles of Hennesseydrink and other items. A particular lady at the party warned me not to go yet that the boys had a mission. Before she finished speaking, one of the boys named Afeez brought out a knife and threatened to slaughter me. One of those at the party, however, called some soldiers and I was rescued. I have been together with Oluomo for over 27 years and I know some of the pranks he plays.
Do you still receive death threats at the moment?
Yes. Some people still call to tell me not to leave the house that some people want to kill me, but I am not bothered.
What have you been doing since your park was taken away from you as you alleged?
I haven’t been working. I had 11 buses but they were all sent away from parks in the state. I later sold the vehicles when area boys kept vandalising them.
In all honesty, what will you say was the offence you committed against MC Oluomo?
I did not offend him in any way. What I think is that he had an eye on my then second wife, because MC Oluomo had since reconciled with some of his arch-rivals like Kunle Poly, but he has refused to make peace with me.
Do you still hear from her?
No, we stopped talking.
Did you have kids together?
No, there was nothing like that.
Do you have any wife at the moment?
Yes, my first wife is still with me and my children are grown up.
The national leadership of the NURTW in April appointed you as the chairman of the caretaker committee for Lagos following the suspension of the union by the state government. Have you assumed the role?
We have yet to occupy the state secretariat of the union in the Abattoir area of Agege as MC Oluomo and his men have yet to vacate the property. The office is the bone of contention now. MC Oluomo said he won’t vacate the NURTW office after his suspension. He has converted the building into that of the Park Management Committee and branded it as the park management office. He removed the NURTW logo from the place and on our vehicles. He also hired Oodua People Congress members to man the place with a standing order that any union member found around the place should be gunned down. I was in the office of the director of the DSS (Department of State Services) on Wednesday and he said what MC Oluomo did was not proper. It is not proper to defect from the All Progressives Congress to the Peoples Democratic Party and now convert all APC offices and vehicles to those of the PDP. It is just like mounting the PDP flag at the APC secretariat. That can’t work.
What was your mission at the office of the DSS?
I was invited concerning the planned protest of May 19, 2022, which was not allowed. The Commissioner of Police also invited me. I met with the two of them on Wednesday and they told me to tell my followers to be patient for them to resolve the matter, because this is the period of elections. I know that they are deceiving us.
What was the goal of your protest?
We want our office back. MC Oluomo and his people should not be occupying our office; they should be in Alausa as members of the Parks Management Committee. Ondo State has a parks management system and does not use the union’s office. Oyo State has a parks management system and does not operate from the union’s office. What is MC Oluomo still doing in our office in Lagos?
Have you written to the Lagos State Government?
Yes, the government has been informed. I have written about 10 letters to the state government demanding the return of our office. The last letter was the one I notified the government that my members would protest. Lagos would have been loud if the security agencies had allowed us to go ahead with the protest on Thursday. Even if Tinubu held a rally, he could not have garnered the number of people that would come out for our protest.
How many are your members, including those who didn’t move with MC Oluomo and are still with the NURTW in the state?
We have more than 5,000 members. They are all my followers. All my supporters have not been working since the crisis started; only MC Oluomo’s boys have been collecting tolls. Aside from money, he knows I have the crowd and I have the character.
Who do you think is behind MC Oluomo?
It is the government. You know if the government backs you, it is like you have the support of God. Sanwo-Olu is the leader of the state today. In fact, he presents the staff of office to monarchs. The same governor who banned us has the authority to say no to park managers and tell the NURTW to resume. However, if one has the support of those in government, it is not a licence for highhandedness. For instance, if a benefactor buys me a commercial vehicle, the person has done well by providing something for me to earn a living. That the driver decided to use the vehicle for kidnapping is another thing entirely and the donor of the bus should not be blamed. That one has the support of people in government is not a licence to misbehave.
Are you afraid for your safety?
I am going back to meet with the director of the DSS and the police commissioner. I have been receiving death threats from MC Oluomo’s boys.
What channel of communication are they using?
They have been calling my phone to deliver the death threats. I have the voice notes.
Have you taken any legal action to retrieve the NURTW office in Agege?
Yes, we have taken the matter to court. Femi Falani (SAN) is our lawyer. We want to recover our office. MC Oluomo should vacate our office. Aside from that, the NURTW is registered with the Federal Government through the Nigeria Labour Congress. The state has no right to ban the union, because we didn’t cause any trouble in the state before we were suspended.
Are you involved in politics?
I am not a politician; I am a core unionist but I vote during elections. I am a confirmed member of the APC.
C) The PUNCH