By Abiodun Komolafe
At last, Adegboyega Isiaka Oyetola is the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the forthcoming governorship election in Osun. He defeated 13 other aspirants in a keenly-contested election adjudged by observers as free, fair and credible. With its massive turnout and the huge success that attended the election, I am sure enemies of ‘Direct Primary’ would have by now had a rethink.
In his Acceptance Speech, the Iragbiji-born Insurance guru called on his co-contestants to join him in the task of winning the governorship election, come September 22, 2018. While thanking party faithful for ensuring his victory, Oyetola, who currently serves as Chief of Staff (CoS) to Governor Rauf Aregbesola, urged the people to brace up for the task ahead with a firm resolve to ensure victory for the party. “Our opponents from other parties increase their arsenal to fight with us. But we are ready. We are tested. Like the broom sweeping away the rot, we are set and ready”, he said.
With this victory, APC has surely crossed the first hurdle. But, as Oyetola has admitted, the battle ahead is bound to be fierce. Personally, I have no problem with that! After all, such is the rancorous nature of political practice in this part of the world. However, the immediate task before APC is how to prevent going to that war with a divided house. More especially, it is about how to avoid a repeat of August 9, 2017 in which some key leaders in APC obviously betrayed the party.This task, in my view, must begin with reconciling aggrieved members – real, even imagined;particularly, those whose egos might have in one way or the other been bruised in the course of electing the party’s flag-bearer. Much as wrangling of this nature is not alien to a party of APC’s structure and strength, ability to admit faults (where necessary) and forgive (whenever the need arises) are essential ingredients of progressive politics.
Having said this, let’s now focus our attention on the candidate. In Oyetola, continuity of Aregbesola’s good works in Osun is guaranteed! With over-30 years cognate experience which also spans the Oil and Gas world; plus close to 8 years’ tutelage at the feet of the governor, I have no doubt in my mind that the urbane technocrat-turned-politician will successfully carry the torch to the Promised Land.
From investigations, Oyetola’s ‘sin’ rests on three major planks: ‘Consolidation and Continuity’; ‘Lagos orientation’; and ‘West Agenda’. While fans of the first plank think that a vote for Oyetola may amount to continuing with ‘same-of-the-same’, his ‘Lagos-factor’ accusers hold the view that his “long sojourn in Lagos” might have shut him out of the intrigues and peculiarities of Osun politics. The worst of their ‘odds’ is the zoning stuff. In the thinking of these ‘West lo kan’ sympathizers, it is “morally just” to concede the slot to the West Senatorial District, having done only 22 months out of the state’s almost-22 years’journey into democracy.
Zoning versus Competence! Infrastructure Development versus Salary Brouhaha! APC-Abuja versus aggrieved APC-Local! Religion versus Region! By the way, why is a tiny fraction of Nigerians interested in pouring sand in Oyetola’s gaari? Why are zoning traders silent on a similarly-contested terrain of religion, bearing in mind that Church and State also derive their powers from the people’s loyalty? Beyond the ritual of succession, the introduction of tribal primordial sentiments as a means of accessing power has remained such a shameful and sometimes painful part of our ‘Nigerianness’. In saner climes, Oyetola’s vast experience in finance management, business and public administration would have served as the needed balm to help heal the state’s economic wounds.
Sad that politics in Nigeria is an amusing hobby of sorts. Much as it is a game of Chess, it is also warlike in nature and texture. Interestingly, its victory is not served a la Carte! In the case of Osun-APC, its ‘chess’ component ended on July 20, 2018 while its war game is most likely to be felt as we gradually approach the governorship election. Having said that, a time like this presents an opportunity to devise strategic political plans that can help prevent unpleasant refrains from taking over our landscape as from November 27, 2018. Food for the stomach and the stomach for food: while there is no silver bullet to the challenges currently confronting the state, it is time those who love dear state sank their differences in the overall interest of party.
Looking more broadly, it must be emphasized that zoning and allied excuses possess the capacity to throw away great prospects.That a governor comes from a particular zone does not mean that resources meant for all will go into that zone. Otherwise, ‘Ona Baba Ona’ and other projects in Osun Central would have been concentrated in Ilesa; or Ijebu-Jesa. Besides, Obafemi Awolowo(from Ikenne-Remo),Gawain Bell (from South Africa), Ahmadu Bello (from Rabbah in Sokoto) and Michael Okpara (from Umuegwu) have all demonstrated that an administrator’s birthplace is not a core requirement of a progressive leadership that thinks into the realities of tomorrow.As a matter of fact, not until God granted Ibikunle Amosun the wisdom to look in the direction of Ikenne-Remo could Awolowo’s birthplace boast of a dual carriage way.
Jesus Christ once admonished “he that is without sin” among the accusers of a woman of adultery to “first cast a stone at her.” While those who are attempting to stigmatize this true, upright technocrat need to remember that Oyetola built his country home in Iragbiji over-20 years ago, they must also bear in mind that he only went to Lagos in search of excellence and that he took up the CoS assignment, neither in desperation nor for selfish enrichment but as a way of deepening his service to his people. Again, if those who label him as a greenhorn in party politics have forgotten his deep involvement in Osun politics, let them be reminded that the philanthropist has also committed huge resources to the empowerment of our youth, especially, through his sponsorship of intelligent-yet-indigent students in universities and other institutions of higher learning. In the last 25 years, more than 400 lives have been touched via this initiative.
May the Stone of Israel grant us peace in the State of Osun!
*Komolafe writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, State of Osun, Nigeria