Chief Segun Odegbami declared for the Labour Party during the week. Here is Odegbami’s political diary, as recorded by the footballer-turned politician himself.
I am venturing into a space that I am not familiar with. My only guide is the silent voice within me that assures me ‘it is well’.
I know it is going to be a very challenging and difficult journey. That I do not have to come first in order to win. Sport teaches me so.
My mission is simple.
My mother told me before she passed on that I should not live my life in such a way that one day I will look back and say in regret that I wish I had done certain things I did not do for any reason whatsoever.
Spiritually, the worst thing any human can do to themselves is to bury, or hide their freely given talents. Whereas, they can deploy them and make a little difference to the world. That’s our human mandate by our Creator.
Then, being human, we start to fall victim to human frailties and create small and artificial human boundaries and divisions that distract us and diminish our capacity to be the best we can be and do.
Thats the doctrine of ‘divide and rule’, the product of which is in the litter all around us to see and experience.
That persons that we have become today, driven by distrust, corruption, distorted values, greed, narrow, personal and ethnic interests, now represent the worst version of who we really are and should be.
I am neither afraid or courageous, as many people think. I am just driven by my deep love for my people that fate, over which I had no control, has con-joined with me in Ogun state on this earthly passage.
In this artificial space, I am ‘blind’. I see only my sisters and brothers, young and old, all of us of this same stock and from the same SOURCE.
To these my people, I want to present my vision of the future of this immediate geographical space called Ogun State. I will also tell them how I want to use my God given talents, combined with their own talents as well, in a new and unique team effort that can turn our collective dreams to reality.
I want to tell them that the journey shall challenge, engage and empower every citizen, and provide us all with a stage to make our individual contributions to building the common wealth that will be utilised for the common good of all without the burdens of discrimination of class, of economic status, of family background, of dialect, of creed, of colour, of religion or of gender.
Because divisions have hurt us more than they have healed us in our immediate past,
In this our own new ‘planet’, we shall all be ONE. We shall not just mouth it, we shall LIVE it. Our governments have done good things with good intentions in the past. We shall acknowledge their contributions and keep their places in our history.
But we can be at a higher place and operate on a higher plane even now. We have all it takes to get there with the guidance of a humble Yoruba servant of the people, who carries no physical or spiritual burdens.
These burdens only serve to distract and diminish the capacity of the Yoruba to take on their cultural responsibility to provide a template and a model for the rest of our country men and women, and to lead the challenge of establishing a new Black consciousness in the world.
Our fortunes and future depend on developing ourselves to be able to compete with the rest of the world, with the best amongst us enlisting and ready to serve in that ‘army’.
I am joining the Labour Party today simply because everything about the party addresses the issues of the PEOPLE in whose hands lie the fate of our State, our country and the black race on earth.
We must this time around focus on the disenfranchised people that constitute the vast majority of our people – their families, their wellbeing, their welfare; and their willingness to actively participate in the governance of their State.
The People are indeed the greatest resource we have in Nigeria. By making them our priority we are infact making ourselves our own priority.
In the Labour Party I find that spirit and ambiance . We shall not have and be slowed or burdened or hampered by the baggages of godfathers and patrons whose legitimate goals and aspirations are different from ours.
In this journey I choose to listen to the voices of the people which is the voice of God.
So, this morning I start that long, torturous, difficult, dangerous journey in full faith that my Creator walks with me no matter where that journey takes me.
Let it be written already that I did not stand and did nothing when I had the gifts and the opportunity to serve and be a part of lifting the people by making Ogun State the safest and best place to live, to work and to invest in Africa in the next few years.
I enjoin all to pray for me.
I had my baptism into partisan politics yesterday in Abeokuta. It almost did not happen because the police expressed some fear about a possible conflict with opposing groups leading to breakdown of law and order if my meeting with the State executives of the Labour Party turned into a street procession of music, dance and a long walk through town, as the excited Labour party leadership had planned.
That was not what they told me was going to happen. I had thought it was for me to go to the secretariat with a few friends, be introduced to the officers from all the wards in the State, say a few words of appreciation and go back home.
Well as it turned out, the police refused to allow a procession, the meeting was not a quiet and simple affair, and in the end, I was pre-warned to get out of town immediately after the meeting because no one could guarantee my safety and predict how the government would take my effrontery to challenge ànd join a party different from the ruling one in the State.
The governor is my brother and friend. I campaigned and voted for him in my community during his own elections. I kept a great relationship with him throughout. But his tenure is coming to an end and a new leadership must be elected to run the State. Having played his part in developing the state in his own way, the choice of who takes over from him belongs to the people of the state. It is as simple as that.
So, I had no qualms throwing my hat into the ring.
My choice of party is because I cannot cope and will not be welcome into the whirl pool of the major parties. I would be consumed by the internal intrigues and unending crisis. I cannot also do what they do in those parties that I am very well aware of – the reckless financial brigandage and practices that do not fit into my spirit.
I will also have to sell my conscience and mortgage the values I espouse in my membership of the Afenifere Renewal Group and the ethos and ethics of the Omoluabi in Yoruba Culture to which I owe my allegiance.
The Labour Party represents the values I cherish and with the party I will not compromise who I am on the altar of practices that will diminish everything I stand for. I have walked as faithfully as I could on the path of honour, dignity and integrity in my life – it is a long and lonely road I must confess also.
That is the path I will also walk on this political journey.
Yesterday, although the massive crowd at the secretariat of the Labour Party that welcomed me into their fold could hardly hear anything in said above the din of the rowdiness of the venue, because of the unprecedented turn out of people for an ordinary meeting, I still went ahead to tell the listening walls and the clouds of dust at the venue that I had come to team up with the people, making the people the priority when we get into power, making sure they live well, that their children get a good education,
that even in retirement the elders and their welfare are taken care of, that the youths get the best education, training and opportunities in line with their passion, that health for all will be a priority and dying in the State would no longer be ‘cheap’ or easy; that the State shall become a giant construction site of systems and projects and institutions; that the entire State shall become a theatre of artistic, leisure and technological expressions by the youths pursuing their passion;
that very citizen shall become involved in activities that will improve their lives and put food on every table; that the civil service that drives governance shall get maximum attention, and civil servants (and teachers in schools) shall become the superstars of a new society;
that the State will resurrect and invoke the spirit of our ancestral family found in the common blood and bond with our kith and kin, brothers and sisters, in the diaspora enslaved for 600 years and now desirous to identify with their ancestral home, restore their relationahip with their kith and kin, and become the corner stone of new and genuine global investments scheme that will create new dignity and respect and equality for the Black person, driving a new Black economy that will make Ogun State the epicentre of a new Black cultural tourism was well as the best place to live, to work and to invest in the world within a few years into the future.
The ‘infection’ of the unique development in Ogun State will spread throughout the South West States and to other States and provide the ‘water’ that will quench the raging flames of poverty, hunger and disease that fuel all other disenchantment and crisis in Nigeria.
I could have gone on and on but the noise by the huge audience of celebrating my presence amongst them drowned my voice. But the walls heard. The air around heard. The elements heard my voice. FoU me the covenant was signed yesterday on Quarry Road in Abeokuta.
These is no turning back again.
I thanked them for welcoming me to the only political Party whose logo is the picture of family – of a father, a mother and their child. It fits into my soul and my spirit.
The police did their best to keep the surging crowds from hugging or harming me, no one could tell the difference.
Then the heavens opened up with the gentle showers of blessed rain to confirm that the universe had heard my voice and my message.
Ogun State will never be the same again after 2019.
By Segun Odegbami