BY OLA AJAYI
EVER since politicians in Oyo State saw the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, as a veritable instrument for winning elections, peace has continued to elude the political atmosphere in the state.
The first administration to involve the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW in partisan politics was that of late Lamidi Adesina which governed the state between 1999 and 2003.
If politicians had not sought their services at one point or the other, it would have turned into a shocker how mere drivers got the effrontery to assert authority the way the union has sought to do in recent times.
It is as such not surprising that the union has in recent times sought to put politicians as co-perpetrators in the repeated violence in the state who they claim want political office by all means.
That was the issue when the reinstated leader of the NURTW in the state, Alhaji Lateef Akinsola aka Tokyo recently engaged the government over the leadership of the union.
That was despite the seemingly matured way Governor Abiola Ajimobi was credited to have handled the delicate issue of the leadership of the union.
Tokyo too, had also been trying not to involve the governor in the controversy.
It is no news that the governor effectively laid to rest the spate of violence that had characterized the activities of the union immediately he assumed the mantle of leadership in the state. But Tokyo, as he is popularly called, is saying he has delivered his own part of the agreement reached with the governor to ‘help’ him mobilize his supporters to win the election. He is accusing the governor of having reneged on his own part of the agreement that he would reinstate him.
Though, many people are saying Tokyo has had enough domination over the union for the past eight years or more, Tokyo insists he has never been allowed to spend his full term as specified by the union’s constitution.
According to him, his tenure was interrupted by Senator Rashidi Ladoja when he was arrested and detained for a crime. And when Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala brought him out of the custody, he did not allow him to finish his second term when he was rudely impeached by his late subordinate, Alhaji Lateef Salako, aka Ekleweomo.
Governor Ajimobi has stayed aloof but, his party, the Action Congress of Nigeria has taken on Tokyo telling him to come out and tell the world how he worked for Ajimobi. In a statement by the publicity secretary of the party, Dauda Kolawole, the party challenged Tokyo to say in specific terms, what work he did for the party in the 2011 elections that could warrant his ceaseless shouts to that effect.
According to the party, to the best of its knowledge, Tokyo was never a card-carrying member of the ACN, nor was he any of its political leaders who could effectively lay claim to the victory of the party in the last gubernatorial election in the state.
“As far as we are concerned, Tokyo is just a frustrated man who is attempting to clutch at straw and reap where he did not sow. He should face his travails headlong in the hands of the state which had declared him wanted and in the hands of the NURTW body which does not want a remembrance of his Satanic leadership of the union. Neither ACN nor the leader of our party in Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, is responsible for his woes,” the ACN said.
While maintaining that the people of the state who sacrificed their all and queued inside the scorching sun on the day of the election were more significant than Akinsola in sacrifices for the ACN and Governor Ajimobi, the party urged the former NURTW kingpin to take his life travails in his strides. “When the name Tokyo is mentioned, he reminds the people of the dark days of bloodshed in the state, when life was indeed nasty, brutish and short. He belongs to a forgotten era that God will never inflict on us again,” said ACN.
Challenging Tokyo more, the ACN said. “From what we gathered, ACN did not win in Akinsola’s ward, nor even in his polling booth. We are not even sure he voted on election day. So how did he help Ajimobi win election? How did he work for Ajimobi? Some people have also claimed that he was a head of a thug army. This too is absolutely untrue. If you know the governor very well, he abhors thuggery. More fundamentally, how could thugs have stood against an incumbent whom we were campaigning against… an incumbent who had the paraphernalia of security?” the party said.
But, Tokyo, responding to the statement said, through a spokesman, Hammid Yusuff, that “the statement credited to Dauda Kolawole is larger than his mouth and a larger load for him to carry.
“The best thing he should have done before uttering such ill-advised statement is for him to have gone to elders of the party to learn the history of the party instead of uttering derogatory statement on Alhaji Lateef Akinsola,” saying everyone in the state knew the extent of Tokyo’s efforts in assisting Ajimobi to win the election.
While describing Kolawole as “a political opportunist,” he directed the party spokesman to ask Governor Ajimobi about his contribution towards his success at the 2011 poll in Oyo state.
The group said that Kolawole’s statement was “a careless talk of a pretender, distorter of facts, a starter in Oyo state politics and a political mercenary”.
This man Dauda Kolawole should know that those who live in glass house should not throw stones. Another election is around the corner. We shall see what contributions Dauda Kolawole will put in ensuring another term for his avowed party”, Yussuf said.
It is claimed that the fear of the government is that if it tries to reinstate Tokyo, that that might trigger another orgy of violence in the state because other leaders of the union who are now in hiding, could resist it.