Beyond Aregbe’s victory

By IAfrica
In Nigeria
Aug 16th, 2014
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For the progressives, it’s time for introspection

Two weeks before, I had made a case for the reelection of Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State in the (then) forthcoming governorship election in the state billed for August 9. I mentioned some of Aregbesola’s many achievements in less than four years, and in spite of financial limitations. As I said then,  such campaign would have been unnecessary as Aregbesola’s achievements should have spoken for him. But we have entered a dangerous era in our political development where achievements alone no longer speak. That much was learnt from the June 21 governorship election in Ekiti State in which the incumbent Governor Kayode Fayemi of the All Progressives Congress (APC) lost to his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) challenger, Ayo Fayose.

Mercifully, the Osun election result was different. Although Osun people took ‘political notice’ of the nuisance value in Aregbesola’s challenger, they rewarded performance by retaining Aregbe (APC) as governor with 394, 684 votes against Iyiola Omisore’s (PDP) 292,747. It would have been tragic to have allowed unserious people and impostors to take over another state in a pace-setter region like the south-west. It was not that they did not try; they did, but the people’s eternal vigilance and God made it impossible for them to carry out their satanic desire. This is why I find it so ridiculous to laud President Goodluck Jonathan for deploying troops to Osun as he did in Ekiti. Only that in the former, we saw not only genuine soldiers but also suspected fakes; both hooded and hoodless.

Moreover, the motive for sending the soldiers was not altruistic. An account had it that at a point, the soldiers were reminded of the ‘patriotic duty’ not to disappoint their C-in-C in Osun. But everyone who should know ought to have realised that Nigeria is one of the very few places where President Goodluck Jonathan could be a political asset. A situation where the president would have thrown his hat into the ring should have been avoided instead of allowing him to do that only to start looking for security agents to ensure his party was rigged in. More importantly, soldiers would have had no business in elections if the ruling party had done what was required in the police force all these years. Why should soldiers take up police duties while duty calls at Sambisa Forest?

It baffles me that despite what happened in the Western Region in the ‘60s and ‘80s, some people still had the effrontery to want to rig election in the region so barefacedly like the PDP tried even in Osun on August 9. But, as we all know, if history is always to repeat itself, there must be people to make that happen. Renegades there always will be. They were there even in Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s time. With every 12 disciples, there must be a Judas. I mean sons of perdition will always be sons of perdition, no matter what.

But, it is good we continue to remind such people that they rig election, especially in the south-west, at their own risk. This is not a clarion call to arms. And even if it is, it is nothing to be apologetic about. After all, John Kennedy in 1962, it was who said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” This is forever true, whether in Kennedy’s America or anywhere for that matter. America will not experience violent revolution today simply because politicians there would not attempt to subvert the will of the people blatantly as our politicians do at the polls. Elections are supposed to be sacred and those who desecrate that sacredness are like people who cause rain to fall. Unfortunately, they did not reckon that when the rain starts, the possibility of its being accompanied by thunderstorm is high. Yet, they do not want thunderstorm.

One of the reasons why Africa is in a shambles today is because people who do not deserve to lead have forced their way into positions of authority in many African countries. And they always want to stay put even when it is clear that they have outlived their usefulness. When undeserving people sit tight in power, it has implications not only for today but also for tomorrow. It is people’s future; people lives and people’s progress that such usurpers arrest for every minute that they stay in power.

Anyway, having driven away those who wanted to reap where they did not sow in Osun, it is time to tell the progressives some home truths. Posterity would not be kind to them if they give people who have nothing to offer the opportunity to fish for ridiculous excuses why politicians who perform cannot be reelected, thus throwing the people into perpetual lamentation. All over the democratic world, performance is key. We should resist the attempt by non-performers and vagabonds who are lurking around, waiting to exploit minor weaknesses of some of the region’s performing politicians. We have passed that stage in our political evolution where achievements would take the back seat; we should not allow the PDP to reduce the region to its base standards.

I say this because if truly Omisore scored the 292,747 votes that INEC said he scored in the August 9 election, then, the value system that we used to hold dear in the south west is being gradually eroded. And this is dangerous. In the past, no one in Yorubaland would touch Omisore, not even with a long pole, given his antecedents. His acquittal over the murder of Chief Bola Ige might have had the force of law, but it would have lacked the force of votes in the south west because the people’s court too used to count. Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey, in one of his evergreens it was who sang that ‘ka to fi’yan j’oye larin Egba, o ni lati je’ni rere’ (before anyone is given chieftaincy title by the Egba people, such a person must be worthy of it). Ekiti people say their land is ile iyi; (land of honour); but this is not true of the Ekitis alone, it used to be like that all over Yorubaland.

Yes, the PDP might have fielded Omisore, not necessarily because of what he has to offer, but, as a source put it, because it wanted people who have an infinite capacity to cause trouble; still, the Yoruba people would have rejected him resoundingly at the polls. I hear the ruling party also sponsored another candidate in the region because, again, as the source said, ‘he get craze for head’! These are, trying times for the south west; indeed trying times for Nigeria!

But, the point is, if the Yoruba people were ready to insist that their votes count in the 1960s, breaking their rediffusion sets which they saw then as the roguish government’s tool of propaganda in the process; and if they were ready to do same even in 1983, then there must be a reason why they think such struggle is no longer worth it today when robbed of their votes, even in broad daylight. Agreed, as Hans J. Morgenthau argued ‘… all politics is a struggle for power’ but not all struggles for power are struggles for people’s development. If politicians in Nigeria devote only 30 percent of the energy they give seeking power into governance, things would never have been this bad. Indeed, as we saw in the First and Second Republics, and as we must have seen so far after more than 15 years of PDP rule, the struggle for power has largely been a struggle for personal aggrandisement. “If someone spent eight years in power, I should be able to beat that record”. “If someone who entered the Government House in bathroom slippers is able to come out in golden shoes barely a week after, I should be able to do same in two days”. This may seem more of exaggeration, but that is the spirit among many of our public office holders now.

Without doubt, the PDP would not mind allowing people who want to ride Okada from Lagos to Ibadan on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway kill themselves if that would fetch it votes. It is ready to return Nigeria to the Stone Age, provided that would bring in votes. Such is its desperation. And it is understandable; that is the only way it can get gullible people to still reckon with it in spite of its monumental failure since 1999, especially at the centre. I am not arguing that the south west should fall to such base standards, because the region has always been a pace-setter, but the political leaders in the region have to learn to sell their programmes to the electorate instead of putting up a ‘know-all’ posture or being arrogant or messianic in doing things. And, when like all mortals, they find they are wrong, they should not hesitate to reverse themselves. That is one sure way to keep the predators at bay.

All said, the progressives family has to call a meeting where they have to tell themselves the bitter truth. As I argued earlier, if the Yoruba people were ready to go the whole hog like they did in 1966 and 1983 when roguish politicians subverted their electoral choice, then something is missing if they cannot take a similar risk today in the face of a rampaging ruling party that has nothing to offer and yet wants to ‘capture’ more states in the country, particularly in the south-west. Like the biblical missing axe, it is that missing link that the progressives must find to make the difference in 2015.

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