BY BASHIR ADEFAKA
The long anticipated April 2011 elections have come and gone. What remains now in the saddles of leadership is the reality of the challenges of having to live up to the various electioneering promises.
Of particular case study is the South-West where control of politics was generally believed to have been stolen from the Alliance for Democracy, AD, governors of Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Osun and Ekiti states in 2003. The act of that “mandate stealing” was, apparently, hatched by no other person but by the maximum ruler controlling the central power at the time, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. He used the federal might under the grip of his ruling party to do it and it was total.
This piece will be limited to Ogun and Oyo states. In Ogun, the then sitting president was said to have pinned the then Governor Olusegun Osoba down to his Ibara GRA residence in Abeokuta, to prevent him from getting the wind of how he was carrying out the democratic coup to upstage the governor. It was as a result of that democratic coup that Osoba at that time lost his re-election bid.
Otunba Gbenga Daniel was Obasanjo’s best belt for the Osoba’s plum job and, on May 29, 2003, the lift engineer, beaming with full smiles in his face, danced into power and resumed work as new governor at Oke Mosan.
Osoba, invariably guided and abiding by rule of law, refused to challenge his ‘defeat’ in court. Instead, he bit a retreat but promised a come back. So, the Akirogun of Egbaland went on self-exile in Lagos and was away from his Abeokuta home for seven and a half years.
When asked why he hadn’t been on ground to give the PDP government the opposition it deserved, the journalist-turned politician, who was on two separate times governor of the gateway state, said he was keeping away for that long so that Daniel would not use his “criticism as an excuse for lack of performance.”
In the last interview he granted Vanguard before the April elections started, Osoba promised to return to Abeokuta and retrieve his stolen mandate, this time, as a statesman and leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, in the state but not by himself in the saddle as governorship candidate. Osoba can always be trusted for his style of political footballing. He, with no attempt at the Maradona type, violentlessly rode to victory.
Immediately after the National Assembly elections that saw ACN coasting back to glory in Ogun State, like it was in other states of the South-west, the former governor told Sunday Vanguard that “the mood in Ogun is anti-PDP”. Last Wednesday, that prediction by the ‘restored’ father of Ogun politics came to fruition as his candidate, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, was formally declared by the INEC returning officer having satisfied all requirements as newly elected governor of the state.
Amosun, a senator, was a major victim of the PDP’s non-promise-compliance. All is now history but what happened with the zoning killing that brought the Bayelsa-born Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to realisation of full four years tenure beginning from May 29 this year has become an eye opener of why, Amosun, under the watch of the Aso Rock chief tenant, President Obasanjo, was not allowed to take his place for Ogun governorship in the 2007 electioneering season on the platform of the umbrella party. The Owu Egba-born Amosun will now operate the machinery of government in Ogun from May 29, 2011 till May 29, 2015 all things being equal.
Oyo’s case is similar. That is where the leader of the ACN and former governor of the pace setter-state, Alhaji Lamidi Adesina, retired to fate in the name of Islam, saying “it is better for God to fight for us than we challenging the defeat in court.” Like a tale by the moonlight, Papa Lam, as he’s fondly called, truly has had God fought for him and the control of Oyo politics has not only slipped off the fist of the camp of the late father of amala politics (Adedibu) but also, even the police officer-turned politician and the outgoing governor, Adebayo Alao-Akala, has willingly or unwillingly lost it all.
The task ahead is for the two new governors of the hottest spots of the South-west to face what Osoba described as “serious business and not to laugh or joke at all.”
In Ogun, Amosun must learn how to dialogue with party’s leadership and elders before whatever he wants to do gets to public ears. The governor should be able to sit down and pour his mind on any issue into a tete-a-tete with the ACN leadership for the main and sincere purpose of fashioning a way their newly achieved success can be properly managed.
Osoba, leader of the ACN and now father of Ogun politics, has said he doesn’t believe in godfatherism except that he would make sure he calls regular meetings as the leader of the party to sit down with the governor and discuss how his government is complying and implementing the people-based policies of the party. That is a plus to the emerging Ogun ACN government.
This sincere advice is important because the PDP’s eight-year control of Ogun politics crashlanded the way it did because they (former President Obasanjo inclusive) failed to manage properly the fat and big success they questionably achieved with the 2003 elections.
There could be no more thing called failure! The entire membership of the Ogun House of Assembly was PDP; the governor, PDP; at the federal level, one of their own and father, President Obasanjo, PDP. They could do and undo; so to say. Yet they had no alternative to crashlanding. And they did, gallantly too!
So, Amosun should take note and be very careful of how he does things. He will have people he has never met in his life who will come to want to become his saviours from the control of his party’s leadership. He should not listen to them because, in many Nigerian democracies, such attitude has been witnessed in the past, it never worked. And in the end, it led to nothing but shameful finishing.
In the case of Oyo, another professional and senator, Alhaji Is-aq Abiola Adeyemi Ajimobi, will jump into the driver’s seat to drive the entire affairs of the state destiny on May 29. He too should know that the task ahead of him now is beyond listening to defection call by a people who did not only deprive him of ruling as governor in 2007 but also irretrievably submerged him into the economic pains of having to expend hundreds of millions of naira pursuing a court case that “God knows how many of them” refused to let go favourably in his way.
Ajimobi has promised to replicate the Lagos situation in Oyo if he was elected governor. Now he is governor. Although it still looks incredible that he’s declared governor, all that is remaining for him is to be grateful to God and the leadership of the party, both in Oyo under Lam Adesina and national, under Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu, that helped him to regain himself as a strong man of Oyo politics. He should ensure that he brings to pass all his electioneering promises in accordance to the party policies.