Nigeria: Ogbeni Rauf: On His Rocky Mandate They Firmly Stood!
By Peter Claver Oparah
Nothing can best demonstrate the danger starring democracy in the land, with PDP’s desperation to retain power by all means than the official reaction of Governor Rauf Aregbesola to his resounding defeat of the PDP and its gubernatorial candidate, Iyiola Omisore in the epic August 9 governorship election in Osun. Smarting from that sparkling outing, Aregbesola, fondly called Ogbeni by friends and foes alike, instead of mounting a wild revelry, made it known that democracy is in real danger with what happened in Osun prior to and during the election. His cynical position is borne out of the desperation with which PDP approached the election and the untoward use of the military and all manners of armed gangs to swerve the election, in clear deference to the PDP’s newfound gun boat democracy.
Because he who feels it knows it, Ogbeni knew that he didn’t survive an election. He survived a war, a war that was levied with the full armoury that were not deployed to fighting Boko Haram and the multifarious gangs that take unhindered liberty with the people of the country at present. He, like many of those that really fought democracy knew that democracy is endangered with armed ghouls and mascots with clearly guided and ulterior missions, deployed to represent the face of election in Nigeria. He knew that very few politicians will survive the kind of warfare levied on him and his party in Osun and these were enough to provoke concern about the health of democracy in Nigeria.
A shocked and awed nation, still hurting so badly from the audacious liberalization of insecurity was riled to the marrow at the indecent deployment of troops to Osun in what should be a peaceful, democratic exercise. Close to 80,000 troops drawn from all known security agencies and unknown ones were deployed to Osun prior to Election Day and they instilled widespread fear and sowed limitless dread on the citizens of the serene state as the election drew near.
What more, some hooded and masked men, armed with sophisticated guns were freely laundered in the state and this served as a foretaste of the readiness of the PDP whose leaders boasted openly of the desire to ‘capture’ Osun. The concern of Nigerians is mainly on the unhidden bias of the soldiers who were known to be openly disposed to doing the political biddings of those responsible for their deployment. Their mission, as was seen in Ekiti involved hunting down the opposition and creating borderless operational fields for all manners of PDP fixers, job men and enablers to run riot. In the letters of this strange democracy, secured under the butts of the gun, nothing would be spared to forge favourable election results for the PDP.
Because the rest of Nigerians were not fully aware of the noxious letters of this strange politics, PDP walked away with a strange and obviously dubious ‘victory’ in Ekiti State, which it is still struggling to justify in so many laughable ways, chief of which was that Ekiti people hardly resisted the flavours of its quaint stomach infrastructure politics. This will certainly be a report for another day. But every doubt about the dubious mission of the security armada visited in Osun State were removed by the careless, irresponsible and embarrassing statements emanating from the so-called Spokesperson of the Directorate of State Security targeting the APC since after the election. By these slothful statements that prick on its credibility, the DSS is behaving like one frustrated from fulfilling the nebulous mission it was commissioned to do in Osun.
But the Ekiti malfeasance jolted Nigerians, especially those directly assaulted by the queer reasoning that a people, reduced to demeaning poverty will hardly resist the morsels thrown at them by the same party responsible for their grinding poverty during election time. In Osun, they met a determined and stoic people who have been warned by the anomie of Ekiti to expect the worst from a party that believes in coveting power by all means possible. In Osun, these invading forces met a people ready to withstand the bayonets and the tanks in their resolve to have a government they believe has worked for them continue the wonderful work it is doing in Osun.
Thanks to the lessons of Ekiti, the people of Osun and the opposition were resolved to serve as body bags against the invading forces that were sworn to preen Osun from the firm grips of Ogbeni. Even as the telltale signs were there that the PDP will meet a bloody showdown should it try to exert itself forcefully as it did in Osun, it never stopped trying to force its way against a determined people. Few days to the election, Osun was invaded by all manners of military and paramilitary forces, some masked and with questionable identity. They displayed guns and all other armoury like soldiers waiting to invade a conquered territory, in their obnoxious presence in every nook and cranny of Osun State, the import of not allowing the state to be snatched by those that emplaced their trusts in the might of such brazen display of brute force thickened among the people of Osun.
There was no doubt, even to the most ardent opponent that Aregbesola owns the ground of Osun. PDP and its candidate hoped, yes just hoped that somehow, the miracle of Ekiti will rub off on their dour challenge to the charismatic and eclectic Ogbeni and APC candidacy. But while Ogbeni and the APC premised their stake on credible and proven performance, the PDP and Omisore premised theirs on the invincibility of the Ekiti misnomer and of course, its stomach infrastructure components. This was why the PDP that has ruled Nigeria for fifteen awful years brooked no shame openly sharing kerosene to distraught Nigerians as ultimate vote catching attractants! They believed the ground would be pliable for the orchestration of their well-known ‘formula’ of hewing electoral fortunes from even the most stubborn stones.
Either in his monthly walk-for-life or his many colourful rallies, the people of Osun shoved it straight to the throats of even the most skeptical that Ogbeni is their treasured gem. A consummate crowd puller and a graceful political artist, he was home with the people and was wont to descend to their level to understand them and their needs. His greatest power was the incredible innovation and creativity he has brought to the governance of Osun. He has lifted Osun from the Sheol of a rustic provincial state to the very brinks of modernity through his creative concepts that cover all spheres of government.
Ogbeni has opened up Osun and employed the power of critical thinking to solve age old questions of development such that the state is today a bubbling oasis of growth and hope. He delivers through his characteristic élan that has elevated him almost to a cult figure. He is loved and adored by the old, the young, the healthy and the infirm, Christians, Muslims and Traditionalists in equal zeal. His indelible imprimatur dots every landscape in Osun today in such manner that cannot be easily erased. When he warned that whoever desired to steal his mandate should be prepared to march on blood, he was sending a clear and cadent warning that anyone will ignore to his sorrow. He was not bluffing. It was a warning solidly etched on the firm and unwavering support of his people. His victory was secured solely on the vigilance and resilience of his people and nothing else for they stood firmly on his mandate on August 9.