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Odegbami: My Political Diary – Day 23

S Ade will be buried this Friday in Abeokuta.

The public reaction to the death of my friend and political associate in the social media has been unprecedented since the start of this diary.

The thread running through most of the reactions is that Abiodun’s story is one of the commonest amongst Nigerians. Every family continues to experience even worse situations in our medical health system.


Nigerians are benumbed by the sheer numbers, the seeming hopelessness of the situation and their helplessness to do anything, so much so that our lives are now dominated by the struggles of how not to die in pain, penury and pre-maturely rather than about how to live well and happily.

Yet, we are surrounded with abundance of every of nature’s blessings to humanity and should have no business being in the poor and parlous state that we are.

When you really think about it, and every Nigerian knows this, we, the people of Nigeria, have no business going through what we are all going through presently.

Deep down we all know what it will take to change things around. The tragedy is that the majority of the people are paralysed by ‘fear’ or‘poverty mentality’, orboth.

Those who can discern, let them do so. It is not from my mouth that Nigerians will hear that we are our own worst enemies!

So, on Friday, I shall join family and friends to send forth Stephen Adebayo Abiodun back Home to his Creator.

I believe the angles in heaven will all celebrate his return from his earthly pilgrimage. For that’s what he was – an angel missing in heaven!

I was in Ilorin a few days ago.

Now I know that everything I have experienced since this political journey began has been a warm-up.Ayodeji tells me I have not seen anything yet.

The Ilorin experience left me in a pleasant daze, particularly comparing what happened there with the on-going, unfolding impossible-to-comprehend melt-down in Ogun State within the giant parties.

The more I tried to make sense of it all the more I am lost.

So, I maintain my focus on my own journey in a small and lonely rescue boat, weaving and meandering in the rough and storm waters, with other giant ships tossing and ‘dancing’ to the swirl of the massive waves, involuntarily ‘discharging’ their cargo of disenchanted humans into the violent sea, to swim or to sink!

Far away from the smoldering cauldron of Ogun State politics I went to see and experience my first political Party Primary.

My friend, Comrade Issa Aremu, the well-known national trade unionist, was seeking to contest for the Governorship of Kwara State on the platform of the Labour Party, his natural constituency

As I would also be involved in one very shortly I wanted to experience the process.

For 24 hours after we returned I was still feeling the aches and pains of the physical and psychological stress of that horrendous journey.

As for the event itself, the primary election went like a breeze.

I was told that since the new political dispensation began in 1999, this would be the first time a party election will be held in that State without ending in some crisis.

This time, the major parties in several parts of the country are so embroiled in their own internal crisis that they had no time for orchestrated clandestine disruption of other parties’ activities by fomenting diversionary troubles.

INEC officials were present to monitor the elections.

The national and zonal leaderships of Labour Party were present.

Party delegates came from all the 17 local governments of the State, with each delegation rising up and answering a roll call.

The rules and the modus operandi for the elections were read out and adopted. The sole candidate had already been nominated in his form and endorsed by the required number of party delegates.

The delegates were called upon to affirm their decision.

A motion for adoption was moved and seconded, and, by voice affirmation, the sole nominee was confirmed the official candidate of the Labour Party in Kwara State to contest for governorship.

The INEC affirmed the process and decision, and declared him winner.

The National Chairman of Labour Party, publicly signed the certificate and presented it to Comrade, Alhaji Issa Aremu, who then gave a beautiful acceptance speech that lifted the spirit of all those present.

Towards the end, I was called upon to pass my own remarks.

I did to an undeserved rapturous applause that was more for the presence of a football player they wanted to meet, than for the short speech that was only to thank my friend for inviting me.

My earlier entry into the venue was a scene to behold. It held up proceedings for a short while, but generally enlivened the venue.

I am glad that I went to see how things work at this level.

It has prepared me for what will happen next week when the Ogun State primaries will also hold. I can’t wait!

Issa Aremu is my friend, a decent man of impeccable character, a gentleman with high principles and of integrity, a true workers’ representative.

The people need such a person and I am confident he will do great things in the Kwara State.

Everything went well, except for the trip itself.

I do not want to recall the horrendous experience of driving all the way to Ilorin and back. It was a nightmare. I had my heart in my throat most of the entire stretch of roads littered with woes.

We spent eleven torturous and psychologically grueling hours of actual travel time, to and from Ilorin from Abeokuta, through the Lagos – Ibadan express road, still the main artery connecting the North and the South West of Nigeria, the most critical stretch of road in the entire country.

Trucks, tankers and trailers make up the highest number and heaviest traffic on that road littered with horrific accident tales and sites; of constantly overturning, overloaded vehicles; of long, narrow and dangerously winding stretches; potholes the size of little gorges punctuating the middle and sides; and evidence of failed and endless token effort of successive governments to construct a road that will last beyond a few months.

I have been plying that road for over three decades.

I can’t recall when the entire stretch from Ilorin to Lagos was ever completely completed.

Permit me to digress from the matter of that road that appears to be an eternal curse.

In the past 24 hours, I have had a short but very interesting encounter with one of the governorship aspirants of a major political party in the State.

I have always admired the gentleman, but from a distance. He is eloquent, cerebral and well accomplished – a good candidate for leadership if you ask me.

My instincts tell me that somewhere down the line of this project we shall have some kind of collaboration.

I wanted to feel him out just as he also wanted to do the same several months ago when he called me from the blues to tell me about his ambition, as if he knew I was going to be involved too.

So, we met. It was great. We chatted for about 20 minutes. Nothing serious politically, just the latest news particularly his

Frustrations with the system and the goings on that are well known to the public.

It was a brief but very constructive conversation.

We parted with more mutual respect for each other.

Later in the day, I received a response to a message I had sent to him thanking him for the meeting.

This is an excerpt from his response on the goings on in his party:‘ ….those whom God wants to destroy he first makes mad….Big shame. Those who do not learn from history will either repeat its blunder or become history themselves. We are watching and praying for God’s best for the nation and our State. Shalom’.

It speaks!

By.Segun Odegbami

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