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AREGBESOLA’S VICTORY: How Tinubu dismantled Obasanjo’s project

The moving machine called Asiwaju , The failed ex-president project to drag
Yoruba into mainstream

By Jide Ajani, Deputy Editor
Peerhaps, no other politician in this 4th Republic has demonstrated so much doggedness and commitment to what he believes in than former Lagos State governor Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

This report examines Tinubu’s brand of politics and his incremental ascendancy as he marches on in the Yoruba South West geo-political zone, bringing together politicians and thinkers under the banner of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN.

The party is today savouring a sense of de javu.  Its main opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which made an undisguised capture of five out of the six South West states in 2003 – the only state it could not capture was Lagos under Tinubu – has now lost three other states in the wake of judicial pronouncements on the 2007 governorship elections Ondo, Ekiti and Osun States in that order appears to be anything but co-ordinated under its own leader, former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

This report concludes by suggesting that Obasanjo’s relevance in the politics of South West has attained an anticlimactic height of embarrassment.  Worse for him, his little irritant, Tinubu, has become his comeuppance causing the collapse of Obasanjo’s project to drag the Yoruba people into the mainstream.

Bola Tinubu

For Matthew Okikiolakan Aremu Olusegun Obasanjo, his laughing days may be over. This former military head of state who was brought back to lead his nation between 1999 and 2007 laughed his head off last Thursday when reporters asked him about the possible threat Atiku Abubakar’s choice as the consensus candidate of the Northern Political Leaders’ Forum, NPLF, would pose to President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan’s presidential ambition within the PDP.  Obasanjo simply laughed.

However, less than 24 hours later, Obasanjo’s laughter was to be replaced by a grin and an unmitigated grimace. Reason:  One Bola Ahmed Tinubu who had served as the two term governor of Lagos State while Obasanjo was President and Commander-in-Chief has continued to be an irritant of sorts to Obasanjo’s hold on the politics of South West.

Specifically, Action Congress’ Raufu Aregbesola, a former commissioner in Lagos State and Tinubu’s protégé secured a judicial gubernatorial victory last Friday against Obasanjo’s Olagunsoye Oyinlola of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.  For Obasanjo who had become imperial in matters South West as regards PDP affairs, his domain is shrinking and shrinking fast.  Apart from Ogun and Oyo States which remain PDP’s, cold water is being poured on Obasanjo’s pre-eminence in the zone.

A relationship that started in 1999 between Obasanjo and Tinubu while the latter was an Alliance for Democracy, AD, governor, they soon parted ways when Tinubu discovered Obasanjo’s grand design to capture the six states of Yoruba South West geo-political zone at the polls in 2003.

Most instructively, however, the victory of Tinubu’s ACN in Osun State last Friday marks the end of Obasanjo’s project of attempting to drag the Yoruba people into the mainstream that has never bode well for the people and the nation at large.

This is the real lesson in Tinubu’s incremental ascendancy in the region.
When on Tuesday, July 6, 2010, they brought their case seeking some reliefs, Messer’s Ebun Sofunde, SAN; Chief Akin Olujinmi, SAN; Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, Kola Awodein, SAN, Charles Uwensuyi-Edosomwan, SAN, Professor ‘Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, Deji Sasegbon, SAN, Ajibola Basiru Esq, were convinced that they had a good case.

They were acting on behalf of Aregbesola, the Action Congress, AC, governorship candidate in the Saturday, April 14, 2007, gubernatorial election in Osun State. They sought the following reliefs: 30.2.1 An order allowing the Appeal of the Appellant and setting aside the Judgment of the Tribunal dismissing the Petitioner’s petition.

30.2.2 An order that votes recorded and/or returned in the following Local Government Areas, namely, Atakumosa West Local Government, Ayedaade Local Government, Boluwaduro Local Government, Boripe Local Government, Ife Central Local Government, Ife East Local Government, Ife South Local Government, Ifedayo Local Government, Isokan Local Government and Odo – Otin Local Government, do not represent lawful votes cast in the said Local Government Areas in the Osun State Governorship election held on 14 April, 2007 and as having been obtained in vitiating circumstances of substantial non-compliance with mandatory provisions of Electoral Act, 2006, violence and malpractices which substantially affected the validity of the said elections that none of the candidates in the said elections can be validly returned as having validly won in the said affected Local Government Areas. 30.2.3 An order that the said Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast in the Osun State Governorship election held on April 14, 2007 and that his election is void.

30.2.4 An order that Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola was elected and ought to have been returned having scored the highest number of votes cast in the Osun State Governorship Election held on April 14, 2007, and satisfied the requirements of the Section 179 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and the Electoral Act, 2006.

30.2.5 An Order that the 1st Petitioner/Appellant be declared validly elected or returned.
30.3   We submit that by virtue of Order 4 Rule 3 of the Court of Appeal Rules 2007, the Court of Appeal has undoubted power to draw inference of fact and to give any judgment or order which ought to have been made by the Tribunal and to make such further or other orders as the case may require.

3.4     We urge the Court of Appeal to allow the appeal and grant the orders sought. Their reliefs were answered last Friday.

In an exclusive interview with former governor of Osun State, Bisi Akande, who is today the National Chairman, Action Congress of Nigeria, CAN, and who was also a victim of Obasanjo’s garrison politics, Sunday Vanguard was told of how Obasanjo conned the then Alliance for Democracy, AD, state governors.

“We went to invite elders like the Awujale of Ijebuland, we went to invite Bishop Gbonigi, we went to invite Bishop Ladigbolu and asked some of our leaders to meet with Obasanjo and we met with Obasanjo again.  “We met him in Otta but that time, Obasanjo who said he would not sit down to talk to Papa Abraham Adesanya because he claimed to respect the old man was unfazed this time around.  He simply laid down there on his couch, sleeping, and he was no longer going to compromise”.

What led to that encounter was that Obasanjo had some seven months earlier persuaded, pleaded with and cajoled the AD governors in the six South West states not to conduct council elections but instead wait until after the presidential elections of 2003 just so he would not be disgraced by the governors who would have secured their bases.

“Deep down in my mind, I knew Obasanjo was deceiving us”. By dawn, the cock crowed.  AD lost Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Osun and Ekiti states to the PDP.

Only Lagos State, then governed by Tinubu, withstood the onslaught. But because, according to Governor Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State, the “capacity of our party to manage crisis is nil”, Daniel’s fears have come to pass with the loss of Osun. Governor Daniel saw the danger ahead and he declared:  “We (referring to the PDP) are all endangered species”.

This was a realistic Daniel speaking just four weeks ago to members of the Presidential Campaign Council of Goodluck Jonathan for President in the South West Zone.

Daniel, who appeared very dissatisfied with the way events were unfolding said:  “In this room our expectation is that we should tell ourselves the truth and if the truth must be told, in the politics of the South west, we do have challenges. My worry is that when former President Obasanjo was there we could not take Lagos. I do not think we have managed our victory well.

The worst disaster is losing Ekiti State. If we are not careful, and God forbid, it could be the end of our party in the South West. The capacity of our party to manage crisis is nil. We are all endangered species.  If we think deeply, we will know. We must forget this issue of I want to be Governor, Senator or anything. We must work together, otherwise we will look like jokers, and if we lose it; it will be terrible.  In Ogun State, there is no other party. What we have is internal crisis.

“But we will not”, Daniel charged, “concede one inch of space to the rampaging Bola Tinubu machinery. What happened in Ekiti State is a big shame to all of us without exception. What we have in our hand is a major challenge”. Daniel then went ahead to reel out a litany: “In Osun, what I am hearing is scary. If that kind of thing happens, it will be a disaster.

I think people here should be able to go back home and tell the Governor some things. We must bury self interest. I was with the former Governor of Ekiti and some members of his exco yesterday and they are feeling bad. They feel unhappy.  They feel a sense of abandonment and feel bad that their President even congratulated the new Governor a few hours after the court case; they feel he should have at least waited for 24 hours. But I explained to them that he is the president of all”.

But all these did not happen over night. It was becoming obvious that the PDP would at some point begin to lose in the South West.

In the states taken over by the PDP, apart from the sense of participation with and as the ruling political party at the centre, there is hardly anything concrete or serious to show for the PDP take over of the South West.

Indeed, Daniel, who feels very bitter at the turn of events was seen in many quarters as the beacon of hope in his first three years as governor of Ogun State but his second term appears to have been bugged down by intra-party squabbles over sharing of money with some leaders of the party, a thing, Daniel told Sunday Vanguard “I would never do”.

In an earlier interview with Sunday Vanguard, Daniel said the practice in Ogun State before his emergence was such that people were content to just pull wool.  He made it clear that his insistence that governance is about delivering on the promises made to the people before making available their mandate is the only way to govern and not to deceive the people.

In a much earlier interview with Tinubu, the former Lagos State governor made it clear to (Sunday) Vanguard that “governance – and good one at that – is the only weapon the progressives have against the conservatives and that is what we would continue to employ in putting them to shame”.

The man who has brought this stark reality home to the PDP in the South West, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, while describing the PDP, told Sunday Vanguard in an interview:

“That thing they call PDP is not a political party.  It’s been a business concern, an agglomeration, an election machine.  That is what that thing is for.  And once elections are over, they turn against themselves, against one another, within the same party and they become the strongest opposition to themselves because for them it is about power that is what unites them and it is not power to do good or for the benefit of the people but power just for its sake.

Because they know that the party they belong to is a fraud and in their private moments they will own up to you that no decent human being should be in that party.  But right now, that is where Nigeria is and that is why we are where we are.  I have a lot of friends in PDP, even some of my colleagues in the academia are in the PDP.

But I have always said to them that PDP is a virus much worse than HIV.  If you are decent, of reasonable competence, honest and ready to work and serve the people of Nigeria, once you become a member of the PDP, the virus afflicts and affronts you in a way that you begin to behave in the manner a typical PDP member behaves”.

With the many crises afflicting PDP within its fold, would anybody blame Governor Fayemi for being that caustic?

No! But the man who is now Ekiti State governor after over three and a half years of litigation drove in the nail on the coffin: “We really need to crack PDP in order to have a Nigeria of our dreams”. He may have taken the first step by cracking the PDP in Ekiti State. What Tinubu has simply done is to rewrite history.

The Yoruba people have never been known to crave participation at the centre at all and any cost. That was a mentality that Obasanjo brought about.

In fact, when Tinubu discovered that the leaders of the pan-Yoruba socio-political and economic body were not in tune with his own vision of what should be done with the Nigerian nation, he began a strategy of weeding them into irrelevance, supplanting them and in the process creating his own vision.

It started with the 2007 elections when he attempted to spread his tentacles by unleashing younger individuals to go back to their states of origin and seek political power.

That was how the likes of Adewusi in Oyo State, Aregbesola in Osun State, Fayemi in Ekiti State, and Lai Mohammed who had earlier in 2003 tried his hands out for the governorship in Kwara State.
While the project commenced, some people wrote it off as the antics of a money bag intending to become a Yoruba leader.

Today, however, most of those who derided his move are wiser. With three states – Lagos, Ekiti and Osun – in the South West on the platform of ACN; Ondo States Dr. Olusegun Mimiko of Labour Party, LP, seen by many as an ACN governor in LP; and of course, Edo State’s Adams Oshiomhole also of the ACN, all in the hands of Tinubu’s political party which continues to wax stronger by the day, what other proof are politicians looking for to understand and appreciate that the Yoruba people are returning to their natural turf.

Three weeks ago, Sunday Vanguard had done a story under the title 2011, S/WEST AND THE SHIFTING TECTONIC PLATES OF POLITICS: To The Tent Oh Progressives of Oodua!  It was a story which foretold the events of last Friday and its significance.

Tinubu’s moving machine.But returning Yoruba people of Nigeria to their familiar political terrain is enough to mitigate whatever indulgences he may have been involved in, especially when weighed against Obasanjo’s eight years as President and Commander-in-Chief, using what the PDP refers to as the Yoruba slot for nothing other than self glorification.


Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.