By Rotimi Fasan
LET that disaffected faction of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Osun State led by former governor Rauf Aregbesola gloat and thump its chest in self-congratulations as it might, the fact remains that the outcome of the election that saw the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Ademola Nurudeen Jackson Adeleke, emerging victorious is in the main a referendum on the performance of the APC under the administration of Aregbesola.
It is both a reaffirmation and restoration of the apparently stolen mandate of Ademola Adeleke four years go in an election that was declared inconclusive in order to perfect the heist against the happy-go-lucky candidate of the PDP.
True, the outgoing governor, Gboyega Oyetola, was Aregbesola’s Chief of Staff throughout the latter’s eight years in office and cannot totally separate himself from the activities of that administration, the buck stopped at the desk of Aregbesola.
While no outsider to the inner workings of the Aregbesola administration can be sure of what transpired under the administration and the actual role played by Oyetola but a lot happened immediately the latter became governor to suggest that Aregbesola might have run a one-man show while he presided over the affairs of Osun State. It was his insistence that some of the policies he put in place be retained by his successor, in a sense his determination to play the part of godfather while forgetting that Bola Tinubu, the real godfather (never mind the attempt by the singer, Davido, to appropriate that title for his own father in the wake of the electoral success of his uncle) has the final word on what happens in that government.
It was Aregbesola’s failure to make the simmering disagreement a family affair by bringing it out in a cantankerous outburst against Tinubu that blew the lid off the matter. Otherwise, Oyetola still appeared bent on keeping things under in the mild, gentlemanly ways of the governor. Now the people of Osun have reaffirmed their position and spoken loudly, possibly with the help of the disgruntled faction of the APC, it is time for a reassessment of the prebendal, godfather politics that has become one of the major banes of Nigeria’s electoral system. The APC in Osun State has had it coming for quite a while now.
During the Aregbesola years, the party inflicted some of the most pernicious policies on the people of the state under the guise of a populist welfarism. For a self-professed people’s administration of socialist orientation, a lot was not right with the Aregbesola administration.
Granted that Osun is not one of the most economically buoyant states but there could still have been a human face to the way the state implemented some policies. The government depended a lot on the monthly allocation from Abuja and suffered badly, especially when that dipped following the country’s slide into depression in 2016. Osun is, as it were, what might be called a civil servants state where government workers play some of the most important roles in the economy.
At this critical moment the government failed to be upfront and honest with the people even if people don’t often like the truth. But the government went about its policy of staggered payment of salaries according to grade levels of its employees in a dishonest way. Lies characterised its attitude to the people who saw the government’s action as a reprise of the anti-worker policies that the so-called progressives are known for whenever they are in power.
It was the same anti-worker policy the people had to endure under the administration of Chief Bisi Akande in the early 1990s. Thus, Aregbesola left this heavy baggage of discontentment for the Oyetola administration to carry. The government under Oyetola chose to focus on an aspect of this heavy baggage for priority attention.
He focused on salary payment which he tried to do religiously in spite of the heavy financial debt left for it by its predecessor. It obviously made its own errors that incurred the wrath or rather aggravated the disaffection of the people for the APC as a party and not Oyetola as a person.
The point of this explanation is to demonstrate that whatever the shortcomings are that have brought down the APC in Osun State, the bulk of the blame should go to the administration that the Oyetola administration took the baton of governance from. Except they work hard to win back the confidence of Nigerians the complications the APC in Osun State experienced is what the party is bound to suffer after President Muhammadu Buhari retires to Daura at the expiration of his administration. The problem the APC is presently facing selling its Muslim-Muslim ticket to the Nigerian people is a fallout and derives directly from the extremely narrow vision the Buhari administration brought to the management of Nigeria’s diversity as a federal set-up with diverse ethnic and religious configuration.
It has to be said that this parochial handling of matters has only been useful and favourable to the surrogates and hangers-on of the president.
It has not lifted the vast population of Northern Nigerians from the morass of poverty and economic deprivation. Nor has it improved their security in the face of the outlaw activities of fringe elements. The government has failed in its refusal, not just lack of zeal, to give all Nigerians a sense of unity and national cohesion. While it cannot be solely held responsible for certain things, while it cannot be held totally accountable for the downturn in the economic and political fortune of the country, it has done far less than it can to improve it and has in addition taken clear steps that have ended up aggravating the already parlous situation in its folds.
The change in the electoral map of Osun State is a reminder for us all that things can no longer remain the same in Nigeria. The votes of Nigerians should and must count and the people should be in the position to determine their political fate. Enough of the mismanagement and incompetence that is masked with affiliative claims to particular ethnic and religious sensibilities. Poverty, insecurity and decayed infrastructure have no gender nor are they amenable to religious and ethnic origins. Nigerians have been misused and abused by their politicians in a way no people should.
It’s about time the people started taking charge of their destiny. Where the people can play their part in the emergence of their leaders, the country can look forward to a more accountable leadership that takes the welfare of the people into consideration and realise that the essence of governance is the well-being of the people and not the enlargement of their leaders. The news from Osun State is simply that: enough is enough.