Like Ekiti, Unlike Osun

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Doyin Odebowale

To imagine that anyone will contemplate a situation where the state will regress into savagery once more is shocking to say the least. There are outstanding cases of murder of political opponents during and immediately after the gubernatorial election which was massively rigged by the PDP. The Court of Appeal returned the stolen mandate of the people to Aregbesola after a long-drawn battle to reclaim it. The reckless statement credited to the Vice President, Mr. Sambo, that his party lost, due to “judicial rascality”, is irresponsible. All honest lawyers know that Justice Ayo Salami was one of the few beautiful ones in the judiciary before his forced exit. The hint that they now control even the judiciary should be taken seriously. When they rig elections, they advise the dispossessed and cheated to go to court. It is simply not going to work in Osun.

The growing audacity of the members of the ruling party in Nigeria, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which continually finds expression in the subversion of the people’s wish, in an unabashed display of moral bankruptcy, must be confronted headlong. Beyond the security challenges currently faced by the people of this country and the crass ineptitude of the main functionaries of government in tackling the socio-economic problems bedeviling the country, the obdurate determination of the current impostors to rule in perpetuity, using all vile means, must be challenged. This is, perhaps, a convenient point when all those who still believe in the project called Nigeria must cast aside all pretensions to neutrality and eschew petty and puerile comparisons between political office holders and some prominent politicians in the opposition who have exhibited traits of uncommon avarice and unwillingness to adhere strictly to the tenets of neo-liberal democracy.

While all decent people must readily agree that there is virtually no difference between six and half a dozen, talking about the patent lack of ideology and the predilection of politicians in the political platforms, erroneously dubbed parties, to espouse policies of alienation from the mass of the people, the pretence that there is no marked difference between a band of unscrupulous hustlers and those who put in place some tokenistic palliatives, which permit us to have a glimpse at the larger picture possible in a society in transition, requires closer scrutiny.

I have been watching events closely in my own immediate space of the agglomeration in these disparate socio-political entities corralled together by colonial fiat. I have lived in this part for almost five decades of my life and I am not going to be apologetic about deciding on the itinerary which best approximates my desire to live the same way as those considered as human beings do elsewhere. Consequently, I believe I have an insurable interest in the way my region, nay the country, is run.

Let me hasten to make certain disclaimers before my position is misconstrued as that of a paid hack, who aims at buoying the dwindling fortunes of perceived opponents of the marauding band of confirmed misanthropists in our clime. I do not belong to any of these so called parties. I find them beneath the level of my social consciousness. I am not a contractor. I do not hope to become one. I do not crave any political appointment. I teach in the university and I am a lawyer of modest means. I am satisfied with my state in life. I shall, however, not hesitate to throw my hat in the ring to join issues with anyone who argues in favour of certain obnoxious tendencies as represented by some notorious individuals who enjoy undisguised and unqualified support of the federal government.

I had written in support of Dr. Kayode Fayemi as the gubernatorial candidate in the just concluded election in Ekiti state. I predicated my position on ocular evidence; what my eyes saw while I visited that place in 2008 and the marked difference I witnessed, first hand, on another visit late last year. Ekiti electorate had some other ideas. You need not be decent and focused to deserve a second term! It was also not difficult to notice some inexplicable complacency on the part of the incumbent. The unscrupulous characters in the other parties had devised means of subverting the people’s will without making it look so.

INEC, an electoral body erroneously referred to as independent, was apparently a willing collaborator in this subterfuge. The politics of using the so called permanent voter’s card, as against the current one, to disenfranchise as many as over two hundred thousand registered voters, came in handy. A little above eight hundred thousand were registered to vote. About four hundred thousand were accredited to vote. INEC released a final figure of less than that number of those who actually in a gubernatorial election! Yet some so called analysts returned the curious verdict of “free and fair”, “landslide”, “clean sweep” among other hyperbolic descriptions of the grandiose charade. INEC has promised to” improve” on this magic in the forthcoming election in the state of Osun.

The candidates in the August election in Osun have been moving around the state to campaign. There appears to be two major contenders, Iyiola Omisore, a former Deputy Governor of the state and the incumbent governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, who has simplified the art of governance in the last four years. While the former is of notorious pedigree, the latter cannot be easily accused of being “elitist” in the backward Nigerian sense, which denigrates proper upbringing and celebrates vacuity and idiocy as exhibited by those who have reduced serious issues concerning acts of governance to patronage at motor parks and “paraga” joints. Aregbesola started his interaction with the people from his very first month in the saddle. The other candidate, Omisore, has been battling very hard to sell himself to the people of Osun. The fact that he depends solely on federal might is not hidden at all.

I am not going to dwell on the notorious case of the gruesome murder of Chief Bola Ige, SAN, the arraignment of suspects considered responsible for the horrendous crime of hacking to death the then Attorney General and Minister of Justice of the country at his Ibadan home, the barely disguised intention of the ruling party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, headed by General Olusegun Obasanjo, to ensure that some of the suspects, especially Omisore and the current Minister for Police Affairs, Jelili Adesiyan, did not go through the crucible of rigorous trial and the eventual discharge and acquittal of these special people by the trial court.

Chroniclers of political events should spend some time analysing the propriety of having the murder trial of a serving minister, the Chief Law Officer, slaughtered like a miserable ram, conducted in a sloppy manner. Perhaps, moralists may still want to dwell on matters of scruples regarding the insensitive and indecent choice of Omisore as the senatorial candidate representing the very district, Esa Oke, where Chief Bola Ige hailed from. What was considered a novelty was the fact that the anointed candidate “contested” from Agodi prison and “won”. Nobody has been able to explain how Omisore deposed to an affidavit of intent in detention. So odious was the personality of Chief Ige among his people, one would conclude, that one of the suspected killers was “voted” for, “overwhelmingly”, to represent them while his trial was on. The same man was to lose an election against a relatively unknown candidate after Obasanjo stepped aside, having failed to secure a “third term”. He wants to “rule” Osun state now.

As the political road-shows continue, the two candidates have been trying to convince the electorate of the appropriateness of choosing either of them as the only route to socio-economic redemption for the state. While Omisore intends to discontinue and cancel most of the programmes of the current government, if (s)elected, Aregbesola promises the people that the best is yet to come. Top functionaries of the ruling party have confirmed that the “Ekiti formula” will be used in Osun. From the president and his vice, to the appointed goons specially deployed to disturb the peace of that state, the confidence exuded should not be dismissed as misplaced. Mr. Ayo Arise boasted on Channels TV that they were ready to capture Ekiti state. I had taken this effusion as the rants of a deluded man. He was dead right. The incumbent “lost” in all local governments! Even his hometown “rejected” him for being too “elitist”! Fayose, the impeached governor who was later arraigned for stealing billions of naira in the infamous poultry project, is PDP’s choice. Dr. Jonathan celebrated his victory wildly!

As has been stated earlier, it is difficult for me to pretend that I do not have a preference. I have some personal experiences to share in this respect and I sincerely hope that all those who feel sufficiently concerned will also take a position. I had practised law on a low scale before my return to the university where I currently teach. My hustling had taken me to the state High Court in Osogbo on several occasions during the reign of PDP in that state. On more than two occasions, I had been driven off the road by the unruly convoy of Omisore when he was a senator. I had equally witnessed, twice, the tragic aftermath of torrential down pour and the attendant deaths which ensued near Oke fia and the road to the High Court. I saw the corpses of little children who died having been washed off in their sleep by the rampaging flood. Those places now wear different looks now.

I visited Iragbiji recently to attend the wedding ceremony of the son of a good friend. I passed through Ikirun. I drove on tarred roads all through the town. I even joked with some of my friends that the APC stalwarts must be patronizing the Babalawos in that village to have warranted this pervasive attention in a place with a modest electoral value. My friends, who are indigenes of the state, have since confirmed that virtually every part of the state has witnessed the aggressive but positive intervention of this administration. The opponents of Aregbesola’s government have leveled all manner of accusations against him in their bid to portray him as undeserving of the people’s trust. They criticised him for feeding pupils. They accused him of extortion concerning the sale of school uniform to them. They accused him of using Osun indigenes who stay “abroad” to govern the state without asking those who have been staying at home to mention their special contributions apart from participating in prebendal politics to fleece the people of the state.

The criminal elements, who have been put out of job since this inception of this government, are now gainfully employed by these unscrupulous politicians. There is the creeping feeling that the re-introduction of violence into the state is a prelude that will be used to justify the imminent militarization of the state for the forthcoming election. Our people must be ready to resist this savage incursion. Yorubaland must not be overrun by the descendants of those whose ancestors were still steeped in barbarism long after this part of the world had showcased its sophistication.

I had witnessed, first hand, the attacks on the office of my client by hoodlums who demanded to be paid N500, 000 “protection” money when PDP held sway. I had joined the manager of the company at the Osun State Police Command to lodge a formal complaint, but we were advised to “cooperate” with the criminals as the police could not do anything. One of the thugs had even bragged that the Divisional Police Officer, under whose jurisdiction my client’s office fell, was with him shortly before the invasion and vicious attack. My client’s workers were beaten and stabbed. I was horrified! One of the invaders even offered to lend me his camera as he was also taking pictures of the scene to show his “boss” how they dealt with the recalcitrant. That was under Oyinlola PDP. Adesiyan, the current Minister for Police Affairs, was the Commissioner for “Special Duties” in that cabinet. Omisore hovered around the state as the patron of the tough boys.

Attempting a rehash of the old heart-wrenching stories of those dark days is not as important as reminding those who may choose a path of indifference of the danger which lies ahead if PDP is allowed to overrun the South West as they appear determined to do. We are confronted with the grim reality of having the panoply of the scum of the society as the anchor persons for those who do not put any premium on our values as a people. You cannot miss the message; this president wants to remain in the Villa. He does not matter if a character is accused of running a drug cartel. The wife of Commodore Bode George (Rtd) is competent enough to handle drug issues. None of them should worry about charges preferred against them in court. The EFCC is in control. From Muazu, the PDP National Chairman, Femi Fani-Kayode, ex-con “Alams”, a delegate to the jamboree which just ended as predicted, to Fayose, the in-coming “people’s governor”, Boni Haruna and a host of others, the president has enriched our jurisprudence with a new dictum. Corruption is not stealing! Join the thieving band wagon and be beatified. Cross to the other side and jolt the somnolent EFCC, ICPC and DSS come after you with uncommon ferocity.

I just listened to Chief Ebenezer Babatope, the renegade “progressive” and a converted and committed apostle of “mainstream” politics, a euphemism for lack of principle and foresight for which some politicians of south west extraction, unrepentant nation wreckers, are reputed. He said the people of Ilesa were ready to join the mainstream. That is the only campaign promise. “Power” is the mantra. There is nothing on education other than a vow to revert to the old 6-3-3-4 system. Babatope could not have failed to see the new school buildings being constructed in the state. If he will, for once, forget the groveling and cavalier histrionics designed to impress the current dispensers of largesse; it will be easy for him to acknowledge the marked difference between the immediate past era, when it was more important to promote the game of golf at Ada than the provision of social infrastructure for the people, and now.

Aregbesola has availed himself of the benefit of his vast experience as an activist of note before joining this current democratic experiment. He has approached governance from the standpoint of making the masses the focal point of his administration. He has been erecting structures that hold promises of abiding for a long time to come. You will not find shoddy jobs in any of the public works undertaken by the government. The practice in the past was well known to the likes of Babatope and his fellow travellers. Most contracts were abandoned by PDP contractors in that land-locked state. If the almost seven years of their rule in the state could still have left it largely in its patent provincial state before the assumption of office of Aregbesola, then it is only decent for them to praise him for contributing, significantly, to the development of the state.

Omisore referred to the Opon Imo, the electronic tablet distributed to the students in public schools in the state, at no cost, as a scam. He may, perhaps, be in possession of another version of this ingenious innovation. I have seen a copy. I was fascinated by the possibility of training our children in the best way possible. I read a chapter on Odu Ifa and was greatly impressed with the audacious inclusion of an issue ignorantly despised and demonised by adherents of the two imported self-civilising religions. I remember the idiotic statements made by some intolerant and ignorant politicians who sought to confuse the people on the symbolic content of the state flag adopted by the government. I cannot also forget the initial noise made on the refusal of Aregbesola to appoint commissioners and special advisers for eight months. All the hypocritical protestations concerning the so called phenomenon of capital flight has to do with the exclusion of the ruling party’s contractors who were accustomed to collecting huge sums of money as mobilisation fees with a clear intention of not executing the project.
Nigerian Tribune newspaper
There have been signs of violence bordering on intimidation, attacks occasioning harm and even death. There was an explosion in Ife and the curious incident of the collapse of a school building under construction. There was a reported case of an APC member shot to death by thugs on the campaign train of Omisore. Aregbesola has been going round all the local governments in the state and not one remote violent incident has been linked to him and his team. He has been in the saddle for almost four years. Nobody has been attacked and no opponent has been banished. The re-introduction of violence and attitudes which stand at variance with the Omoluabi principle with which anyone properly bred is nurtured must not be allowed.

It is sad indeed that our children are no longer taught history in schools. The PDP government at the national level has cancelled the subject. Those who claim to be teaching history even at the tertiary level of education are so much in a hurry to discard that sobriquet which they, ignorantly, equate with mere obsolescent narratives of the rise and fall of kingdoms and empires. It takes a functioning mind to see the direct linkage between the past and the present.

Any Yoruba man or woman, who fails to recognize the state of Osun as his root, readily exposes his/her ignorance and will compel an inquiry into his/her claim to Yoruba ancestry. It is our collective responsibility to safeguard this rich heritage, our common ancestry. No amount of intimidation and criminal connivance by INEC will stand in the way of a willing people. We must not allow these morally bankrupt elements, who have nothing to offer, destabilize our source. The PDP government has made it clear that only the scumbags in our midst are its pearls. We have a moral duty to reject this misrepresentation of our values as a people.

Odebowale, PhD, Classics, LLB(Hons) BL , writes from University of Ibadan.

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