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PRINCIPALITIES AND POLITICAL PRINCIPLES: Troubling times in the house of Oodua

*A look at the political intrigues in the South West
*And what the future holds

BY LEKE ADESERI, South-West Regional Editor

The South-West remains, arguably, the most sophisticated of Nigeria’s six geo-political zones while politicians from the region practically dribble spectators with their deft moves in the arena. They engage in dummy activities that shift attention from their real plans and unfolding in-fighting. In Lagos for example, many may be tempted to say yesterday’s council polls were the main issues of the day but it is not exactly so. Most of the results could be predicted and correctly too, many months back.

Take it or leave it, the ruling Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, in the state is still in turmoil and unsure of what happens early next year when Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) finally cancels the use of consultants for tax matters.

It is also strange to hear former governor Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu advising his successor publicly on what to do to improve the lot of Lagosians as he did over the repairs of the nation’s gateway, the notorious Airport Road, in Lagos.

Some even say Fashola does not share the view of his Deputy on why Alimosho Local Government roads have to be abandoned. According to Her Excellency, Mrs Adejoke Orelope_Adefulire, the enormity of the task of repairing the roads in Alimosho LG are better imagined and, therefore, 10 years hence, we would still be on it.
Leaders in Yoruba land met in Ikene penultimate week but cold water was poured on the meeting as the Alaafin of Oyo, Iku Baba Yeye, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi raised concerns on the propriety of the meeting at a time of national challenge.
Lacking a clear sense of direction – beyond that fact that the ACN controls five of the six states – the House of Oodua is not what it used to be.

LAGOS
Fashola’s performance after 1,600 days in office is the main issue today. This is followed closely by the performance or otherwise of the party at the local government level throughout the state.  These issues are supposed to be the main factors in what the result of yesterday’s elections will look like.  This is so topical and worrisome to the ACN that in rendering the stewardship of his administration in the last 1,600 days, Governor Fashola met with stakeholders, artisans, residents at the Lagos Television, LTV 8 Blue Roof Multi-purpose Hall, Ikeja, saying his government had so far shown diligence, commitment and faithfulness in serving the people of the state.

These achievements, the governor said, reflected in the area of education where government improved the infrastructure in the state’s University (LASU), appointed a new Vice_Chancellor, reviewed the Visitation Panel’s Report and released report of the accepted recommendations and awarded contracts for the reconstruction of 197 classrooms at the primary and secondary school levels, among other projects.

It could also be seen, according to him, in the area of the Environment where, “in spite of the unwelcome visit of inclement and severe rainfall, the state has remained a model of environmental commitment and standard with the on-going cleaning and construction of drainage in Agege, Babs-Animashaun, Somolu, Lekki, Ijora and Ilasamaja.
Other achievements made in the area of the Environment, the governor said, include continued annual tree planting campaign, hosting of African Mayors’ Conference on Climate Change, addition of 100 compactor trucks to the fleet of the Private Sector Participation, PSP Waste Collectors and the commissioning of the Oshodi Transfer Loading Station with the first purpose built medical waste auto-clave plant in West Africa.

He said: “In the area of Transportation, our commitment to safety and global competitiveness is visible to our worst critics, even if our cynical opponents require “jigi Bola” to notice it”,  adding that many Lagos roads were being adorned with street signs, traffic lights and thermo-plastic lane markings and zebra-crossings to assist motorists and pedestrians as well as manage traffic.

Urging all motorists to obey the signs, Fashola, who cited the example of a taxi driver whom he observed voluntarily obeying the traffic light late at night on one of the roads in Ikoyi, declared, “The truth is that your government is alive, responsive and working. We will commend law-abiding citizens and sanction criminals”.

Still on roads, the governor said “We have completed the design of the Mile-12 Ikorodu Road which is expected to cost us about N30 billion. We are currently trying to conclude the final arrangement so that we can award the contract. We have completed Iju road and we are making progress on Ibeshe road in Ikorodu while the link road in Amuwo Odofin between Apapa Oshodi Expressway is now open to traffic,” Fashola stated.

Speaking specifically on the recently commissioned Falomo new link bridge, Governor Fashola, who noted that it was part of the benefits of the Concession on the Eti-Osa- Lekki Expressway, declared, “If we get more of these investments, we will free up limited funds to accelerate development in other parts that are not yet commercially attractive to our investors”.

The governor also added that after the third quarter budget review, the aggregate January to September performance of the 2011 Budget rose from 57 percent to 66.5 percent in the third quarter adding, “Although this is higher than the average which our visionless opponents post, they do not represent our own Eldorado”.  So much for performance!
However, Lagos may become very hot for both master and servant.

The reason is because the relationship between the former governor, the incumbent, the incumbent speaker of the house of assembly, some supposedly anointed inheritor of the governor’s office seem to engage in a relationship that is verging on a no-love-lost scenario.  The questions that would ring hollow until the elections in 2015 would include:  Who succeeds Fashola?  Which camp would produce the successor?  What role would Fashola play? What would be Speaker Ikuforiji’s aspiration be?  What of Muize Banire?  What would he aspire for?  Then Senator Gbenga Ashafa – would he go back to the Senate?  There is GO Solomon; there is Tunji Bello; there is Demola Seriki and many others; where would they pitch their tent?  The media! Yes, the media!  How would it conduct its affairs?

OYO -The Politics generated by Akala’s arraignment
Oyo State is agog with the politics generated by the arraignment of former governor, Otunba Christopher Adebayo
Alao_Akala.
To start with, the trial judge, before granting the accused persons bail, screamed that some un-named persons who had interest in the case should stop pressuring him, saying he had his name and integrity to protect.
Justice Moshood Abbass, who is hearing the case of the immediate past Governor of Oyo State and his former Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Senator Hosea Agboola and a contractor, Mr. Femi Babalola who are being tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for alleged misappropriation of funds totaling N25 billion, had alleged attempt by some un_named people to influence his decision.

He therefore warned all parties in the case and their agents to avoid trying to influence him in whatever manner.
“I have my name and integrity to protect. Enough is enough. When I say enough is enough, I know what I’m saying. Those who are concerned know themselves”, he charged.

Shortly after the accused persons were granted bail, a former Minister of Power  and Steel, Elder Wole Oyelese, Alhaji Hazeem Gbolarumi and three other persons called for the reassignment of the trial of the immediate past Governor of Oyo State and two of his former aides to another judge.

They claimed that the trial judge, Justice Mashood Abass, being alleged friend to Alao-Akala, it would be difficult to get justice in the trial of the accused persons.

In a petition to the Chief Judge of the state, the group that christened itself, concerned citizens said because of the alleged cordiality between the ex-governor and the judge, expecting justice from the trial would be a mere fantasy.

The accused persons are standing trial on an 11-count charge which bordered on financial impropriety while in government.

They alleged further that the accused persons “are facing serious offences emanating from their gross breach of the trust reposed on them by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the breach of their oath of allegiance to the social contract they have with the innocent people of Oyo State.”
Even as that continues, Biola Ajimobi, the incumbent governor, is confronting his own demons in the mould of challenges inherent in governance.

Has he helped matters?  The jury is yet to deliver its judgment.

OGUN -The political game against Daniel
For years, those close to the former Ogun State Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, have consistently talked about a plot to take out the two-time governor from the political calculations in Yoruba land by a coalition of forces that are uncomfortable with his rising profile in the scheme of things in the country. While he was in power various plots and agenda were unfolded by his traducers from within and without the state to, as it were, clip his wings.
And out of power, the plot against him, his supporters said, had been intensified and his opponents are bent on delivering the killer punch by all means possible. The high wire political game in Ogun State is now reaching a crescendo as a coalition of forces which has been engaged in a relentless battle with Daniel begins the final onslaught against him.

The main objective of the plot is to send him to political oblivion. And the road map of those behind the plot is clearly mapped out. “They want to damage Daniel sufficiently in the eyes of the public both externally and internally so that his soaring image as one of the new breed leaders in Yoruba land will plummet,” one of his aides said.

The opponents of the former governor are also uncomfortable with the closeness of Daniel to the leadership of the mainstream Afenifere, and he has been accused of building a political base that may become a major player in local and external politics in the years to come.  A number of people have also not forgiven Daniel for propelling the establishment of the Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN), which gave the PDP a run for its money in the last general elections in Ogun State. They also accuse him of promoting the status of certain late Yoruba leaders and prominent citizens, particularly Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who were never in the good books of some individuals close to the national power loop.

To cut him to size, they then decided to move against Daniel by engineering petitions of graft against him. Their calculation is that even if the former governor survives the allegations against him, his standing in the society would have been negatively affected and he would not be able to stand for any major elective political office neither would he stand a good chance to be appointed into one. On a regular basis, simulated crisis involving the former governor and some individuals are pushed into the public domain.

They also put the nation’s anti-graft agency under relentless pressure to arraign Daniel over sundry allegations of graft. The ultimate objective is to make the former governor and of course the OGD brand “unsellable” in the emerging power configuration in Yoruba land and in the country. Those involved in the plot want to destroy the OGD brand which they see as a stumbling block to their own political calculations and interest.  All these are allegations from his supporters.

And during the formal arraignment of Daniel over allegations of corruption by the EFCC, those behind the plot, who caused the petitions against him to be written in the first place, came out in full force. Prior to the arraignment, the various interest groups going for the jugular of Daniel held a meeting where they decided to embarrass him during the arraignment. The meeting coordinated by the scribe of one of the leading political parties in the state had input from the camps of a former governor, who fell out with Daniel in the PDP, leaders of a controversial group within the PDP in Ogun State and some top government functionaries. Money was given to some students’ leaders and a hand bill was hurriedly put together against Daniel. The brief of the students who were hired to do the dirty job was simple: heckle and embarrass the former governor during the trial.

As the proceedings got under way the hired students arrived the State High Court, Isabo, venue of the trial and began to heckle the former governor to the embarrassment of court officials, counsels, officials of the security agencies and those who had other cases in court. “This is bad politics at play, what are we turning this state to? Why should some  people pay students to engage in this despicable behaviour, this is very sad indeed,” a court official, who went to check what was going on outside the premises was heard telling  a senior police officer, who led the operation to curtail the hecklers.

Of course the hired crowd miscalculated as soon as the heckling began some of Daniel’s admirers who had come in solidarity with the former governor replied in kind and the hired crowd was forced to retreat. However before long there was a shouting match in the camp of the hecklers as they bickered over sharing of the money paid by those who hired them.
All these, in a state reputed to have a very sophisticated citizenry.
Still, this is just the beginning of Daniel’s travails.  For, had things not gone awry for him, his ascendancy after just two years in power but which got into the heads of some of his closest associates, thereby substituting political realities for mirage, would not have suffered an overdose of discount.  The consequence is what is on display today.

ONDO -It’s about Alagbaka govt house in 2013
THE battle line is drawn between two gladiators – the former Lagos State governor Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and his ‘estranged brother’ and the incumbent governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, over the coveted seat of the state which is the only oil producing state in the South West.

Ondo State is the only state that is not yet in the kitty of the CAN, and the party and its leaders have been shouting on roof tops that they would kick out Iroko as the governor is fondly called.

Iroko had gone through many elections after his 2009 victory via the Court of Appeal verdict and had won all by landslides. Now that the 2013 governorship election concerns him then what should be expected is better imagined as he would give his all to the battle which would decide his political relevance. In short, the coming election is the battle of his life.

What the ACN is banking on is the Akoko agenda in which all the four Akoko towns would join forces to present a formidable candidate to take over from Mimiko. But the clog there is that they do not have the massive vote that would ruffle Iroko as other major areas would want to go to the side of Mimiko. However, Iroko has to work more in Ilaje, Ese_odo. The ACN is visible in some Akoko towns and Owo area of the state.

As part of the Akoko agenda, the ruling chairman of the Labour Party, Dr Olaiya Oni, has resigned but his exit has not shaken the party as expected. Many believed the resignation would have been a disaster if he had waited till about two months to the governorship election.

Oni had announced during his resignation that other Akoko indigenes in the government would soon follow him to realise the age long agenda. He said that it was the turn of the Akokos to become the governor of the state, adding that none of the governors of the state apart for late Adekunle Ajasin whose second term was short_lived, was re elected for second term and that Mimiko would not be an exception.

Speculations were rife that a Senator representing Ondo North, Professor Ajaiyi Boroffice, and other National Assembly members may defect to the ACN any moment from now to give the agenda a bite. However, his aides have denied such move by the Asiwaju of Akokoland.

What is however surprising is that all those defecting to the opposition ACN are only interested in the governorship seat and not to build the party which has no structure in the state and this may spell doom for the party in the coming election.

The endless number of those that are eyeing the governorship position and have all queued behind the ACN in the state include,  Human Right Activist, Dr Tunji Abayomi, former Minister for Power, Dr. Olu Agunloye, the present state chairman Mrs Jumoke Anifowose, Alhaji Jamiu Ekungba formerly of the defunct Trade Bank, former finance commissioner in the state, Chief Tayo Alasoadura, Comrade Sola Iji, Bola Ajimuda a former banker, a former Finance commissioner Chief Segun Ojo, under late governor Adebayo Adefarati, another former finance commissioner Wale Akinterinwa.

Others who are still weighing their chances include the former NBA president Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, and a former Federal commissioner in INEC Senator Olorunnimbe Farunkanmi.

Asiwaju is banking on two things which include his deep pocket and the use of propaganda via his numerous media including a Radio Station by name Adaba FM station in Akure.

Many are saying that the Asiwaju has the moral right to want to tackle Iroko because of the alleged assistance and agreement before he became the governor to join the ACN and his presence and that of other leaders of the party during the inauguration of Iroko many believe they are on the same page. But the governor has consistently denied any such agreement to join the ACN leader.

On the part of Iroko, he has gone through six different elections within two years and won convincingly to the chagrin of the two opposition parties ACN and PDP.

Another important thing working for Iroko is his refusal to join the ACN and this has endeared him to the heart of many politicians and stakeholders in the state. Even many PDP chieftains are commending him for daring the Lagos warlord and not allowing him to “colonise” the Sunshine State like other states in the South West. This would work to a great extent for Iroko.

All said and done, from all indications Iroko still holds the ace but he should watch his back to avoid the long knife of the Asiwaju who is bent on taking over the state which would eventually make him realise his tall ambition of becoming a leader of the Yoruba states and with this may want to send his tentacles to other states in the 2015 general election .

EKITI _ Fayemi’s one year in office dominates
While the ruling ACN rolled out the drums, the main opposition, Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, insists the one year was a waste

According to the state chairman of PDP, Chief Bola Olu_Ojo says it is promises made, promises failed.
According to him, in Governor  Fayemi’s inaugural address, he made some promises, most of which were not fulfilled a year after.  But need the people of Ekiti be reminded that the PDP had over five years to perform but did not?

OSUN
The Osun ruling party is currently engaged in the calculations of who runs some Lagos council areas particularly Alimosho and, therefore, even inspite of all that the state governor may be propagating in the area of achievements, there is room for improvement.

To be fair, the shambolic approach of the opposition parties in the state gives consolation that, at least, the new man in the saddle is doing something.

Additional reports by: Olasunkanmi Akoni; Ola Ajayi; Dayo Johnson and Gbenga Ariyibi


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