Abdulkareem Adisa was born in Ilorin, now in Kwara State. As a Lieutenant during the Nigerian Civil War, he was captured by Biafran forces in August 1967, and was detained until January 1970.
Abdulkareem Adisa was appointed military governor of Oyo State in August 1990 by the head of state, Major-General Ibrahim Babangida, holding office until January 1992. While governor of Oyo State, Adisa erected a statue of the unknown soldier in front of government house, Ibadan. This statue was destroyed and replaced with a statue of Obafemi Awolowo by Governor Lam Adeshina. The second statue was pulled down a few days after Governor Adeshina left office.
General Sani Abacha, who became head of state in November 1993, appointed him Minister of Works and Housing. He investigated the conduct of his predecessor at the ministry, Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande, and absolved him of any wrongdoing. He continued the National Housing Policy initiated by Lateef Jakande, which planned to build affordable units across Nigeria, but more than doubled the price of each type of house. During his term of office, deposits for the houses were used to award contracts for infrastructure to the sites. As a result, many years later a considerable number of depositors had not got houses or refunds of their deposits.
Abdulkareem Adisa directed that the Federal School of Surveying should channel the evolution from analogue to digital methods.
In December 1997, Abdulkareem Adisa was arrested on charges of participating in a coup attempt against General Sani Abacha, along with Lt-General Oladipo Diya, Major-General Tajudeen Olanrewaju and others. He was tried and found guilty on 28 April 1998. In June 1998 he was on death row when Abacha died suddenly. In March, 1999, Nigeria's outgoing military government granted state pardons to Adisa and the others convicted of the coup attempt.
After the return to democracy in 1999, Abdulkareem Adisa ventured into publishing with a paper The People's Advocate based in Ilorin. The paper was the target of a N250 million libel action from the Kwara State Governor, Mohammed Lawal, which was later withdrawn.
In 2003 Adisa said he would not accept a pardon from President Olusegun Obasanjo, who had himself participated in a coup attempt in 1995. In April 2004 he was active in the People's Democratic Party (PDP) in Kwara State. One PDP group suspended the Minister of State for Women Affairs, Miss Funke Adedoyin, but another group of PDP elders, led by Adisa, voided Adedoyin’s suspension. Adisa also became vice-chairman of the Kwara Progressive Movement (KPM).
Abdulkareem Adisa was leader of a movement to elect General Ibrahim Babangida as president in 2007. He published an attack on the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) in The Guardian of 28 April 2004, warning the group not to try to prevent the Babangida's presidential election. He said the Yoruba would vote for Ibrahim Babangida despite his role in annulling the 12 June 1993 presidential election won by the Chief MKO Abiola.
Abdulkareem Adisa died in a London hospital in February 2005 from injuries sustained in a car accident. His body was returned for burial in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital on 27 February 2005, in a ceremony attended by many prominent people including three former state governors and former General Ibrahim Babangida. On 23 June 2009, President Umaru Yar'Adua granted a presidential pardon to Abdulkareem Adisa and others convicted of treason for the Sani Abacha coup attempts.