September 17, 2015

Fishing in troubled waters: The Odumakin example

Mr  YINKA ODUMAKIN, author of the piece, “Finishing well: The Osoba example”, is a “change fiend”. At one point he belonged to the Afenifere camp. Later he switched allegiance to the Afenifere Renewal Group, which was and is not in good terms with the parent Yoruba socio-cultural group. Today, he is back in the old Afenifere.

At a point, he fought the then President Goodluck Jonathan to a standstill. But just before the 2015 general election, he espoused the virtues of Jonathan to the heavens. He was a prominent figure in the quest of the current President, Muhammadu Buhari, to lead the nation in 2011. Today, he is a budding critic of the Buhari administration. Like a bolt from the blue, Odumakin now sings the praise of Chief Olusegun Osoba. We pray to God to grant Osoba good health and long life so he may be in a position to form the right opinion about Yinka.

Given this background, I hardly had time for anything written or said by Odumakin, until the very latest assault on my home state. Not even Joseph Goebbels of the Nazi Germany was capable of the propaganda spin introduced by Odumakin in the article published in the Vanguard of September 1st, 2015.


More worrisome is the timing of his write-up. The SDP, for all you care, is no longer in any public space in Ogun State. Even the ruling APC in the state has been quiet, concentrating on governance. It’s only the PDP that is already preparing for 2019, albeit by subterfuge. I agree with a commentator who says Isiaka has no case but only chose the tribunal option in order to court public opinion ahead of 2019.  But at the level of political mischief, Ogun State has not been silent, as the opposition hacks outdo themselves in their mission to discredit Governor Ibikunle Amosun. And there are no blinkers in their obsession with “Pull Him Down”, hence the campaign of calumny also directed against his family. So, why did Odumakin choose this time to launch this malevolent propaganda?

According to Yinka, “They (the Osoba camp) moved to the unknown SDP and campaigned like never before in all nooks and crannies of Ogun State. There wasn’t much electoral dividend to all the efforts given the sham nature of our electoral process…” Odumakin was totally wrong when he blamed the woeful performance of SDP on what he termed “the sham nature of our electoral process.” Well, he is not from Ogun State, so I assume he does not know the level of political consciousness of our people. Yes, the SDP “campaigned like never before in all nooks and crannies of Ogun state”. Yes, they spent money like water. Yet, they were overwhelmingly rejected by the electorate because the party was seen as anti-progress and anti-people. From within and without, they did everything possible to sabotage all the pro-masses policies and programmes of the Amosun government. Our people saw all the machinations and punished SDP commensurately at the polls.

Indeed, it was sheer happenstance that made my cousin drive along Itoku market in Abeokuta during the SDP campaign. If the party could not command a modicum of respect in what should ordinarily be the jurisdiction of its leader despite the name, money and well-oiled propaganda against Amosun, I wonder how it should have fared elsewhere. And when the votes were counted at the polling booth of Osoba, news went round that SDP recorded just thirty-six (36) votes as against APC’s one hundred and sixty-nine (169) votes; PDP got twenty-four (24) votes. It was apparent the electorate had taken side with the APC even right to the doorsteps of Chief Osoba. If the poll was rigged as Odumakin tried in vain to establish, was the election also rigged at the polling booth in front of Osoba’s house, where majority of the voters were his neighbours? Haba! Odumakin! Tell us something else!

Yinka was equally economical with the truth when he insinuated that the Amosun government owed salaries before the elections. From the facts available in the media, Amosun did not owe salaries, before, during and after the elections. The problem, according to some workers that I know personally, has to do with co-operative deductions, which was caused by the financial problem in the country. And I read in the papers recently that the deductions in question amounted to only one month salary of workers. So if Amosun owes just a month salary at a time many state governments owe up to nine or thirteen months, how does that imply the governor won elections without winning power?

However, let me say that I have no sympathy for Amosun on this matter of wages. I remember when the Minimum Wage problem began some years ago, I was on a radio programme where I cautioned Amosun against implementing the increase across board. My argument was that somebody cannot sit in Abuja and decree what the states must pay their workers. We need money for capital projects. The cost of living in Lagos, Rivers, Abuja etc is higher than that of Ogun, yet Amosun decided to pay above the Wage, citing as excuse the need to motivate workers for productivity. He did not stop there, he implemented the percentage increment up to the highest level in the civil service which ballooned the salary bill to twice the figure he inherited from the previous government. Up till today some states have not implemented the minimum wage. Many that did so only stopped at the level of junior staff. When the going was good, we did not hear the voice of Odumakin and by the time the governor will sort out the deductions, no external voice will be needed.

The Tinubu/Osoba ‘war’: But the most tragic aspect of Odumakin’s piece was his reference to an incident that did not happen on the day Amosun was inaugurated in 2011. From the two public events that I attended and some that I viewed on television, Amosun always recognised Chief Osoba as “our leader” before recognising ex-governor Bola Tinubu or any other leader. Interestingly, I relate with a couple of ACN chieftains on another level. They agreed that Odumakin is a good “fiction writer”. According to them, there was no single ACN chieftain that was not aware that Asiwaju Tinubu would not attend the inauguration ceremony early that day as he was billed to honour other ACN governors, with a promise to attend Amosun’s post-inauguration lunch, which he did. Therefore, the idea of tagging a seat next to Amosun for Tinubu instead of Osoba was a criminal lie, a complete fabrication and distortion of history. Where again is honour in this land, Mr Odumakin?

As I stated earlier, based on the political trajectory of Yinka, I am not sure his publicity stunt for Osoba is with good intentions. Another aspect of his piece does a disservice to Osoba. If Osoba knew the former governor of Lagos was a “rogue” as Odumakin alleged and related with him very closely for years, having their houses beside each other, eating and drinking together, wearing the same clothes to private and public functions,  logic teaches that it is either the two of them are “rogues” or the former Lagos governor is not a “rogue”.

The political battle between Chief Osoba and Senator Amosun remains a tragic interlude in the political evolution of Ogun in this generation. If it’s all about the electorate or public service, then the voters have spoken, and loudly too. And it is commendable that both Osoba and Amosun have since moved on with their lives.

Chief Kehinde Adetayo writes from Ifo, Ogun State