By Doyin Odebowale
The candidates in the August governorship election in Osun state have been campaigning for votes all over the place. There appears to be two major contenders, Iyiola Omisore, a former Deputy Governor of the state and the incumbent governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, who has simplified the art of governance in the last four years. While the former is of notorious pedigree, the latter cannot be easily accused of being “elitist” in the backward Nigerian sense, which denigrates proper upbringing and celebrates vacuity and idiocy as exhibited by those who have reduced serious issues concerning acts of governance to patronage at motor parks and “paraga” joints. Aregbesola started his interaction with the people from his very first month in the saddle. The other candidate, Omisore, has been battling very hard to sell himself to the people of Osun. The fact that he depends solely on federal might is not hidden at all.
I am not going to dwell on the notorious case of the gruesome murder of Chief Bola Ige, SAN, the arraignment of suspects considered responsible for the horrendous crime of hacking to death the then Attorney General and Minister of Justice of the country at his Ibadan home, the barely disguised intention of the ruling party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, headed by General Olusegun Obasanjo, to ensure that some of the suspects, especially Omisore and the current Minister for Police Affairs, Jelili Adesiyan, did not go through the crucible of rigorous trial and the eventual discharge and acquittal of these special people by the trial court.
Chroniclers of political events should spend some time analysing the propriety of having the murder trial of a serving minister, the Chief Law Officer, slaughtered like a miserable ram, conducted in a sloppy manner. Perhaps, moralists may still want to dwell on matters of scruples regarding the insensitive and indecent choice of Omisore as the senatorial candidate representing the very district, EsaOke, where Chief Bola Ige hailed from. What was considered a novelty was the fact that the anointed candidate “contested” from Agodi prison and “won”. Nobody has been able to explain how Omisore deposed to an affidavit of intent in detention. So odious was the personality of Chief Ige among his people, one would conclude, that one of the suspected killers was “voted” for, “overwhelmingly”, to represent them while his trial was on. The same man was to lose an election against a relatively unknown candidate after Obasanjo stepped aside, having failed to secure a “third term”. He wants to “rule” Osun state now.
As the political road-shows continue, the two candidates have been trying to convince the electorate of the appropriateness of choosing either of them as the only route to socio-economic redemption for the state. While Omisore intends to discontinue and cancel most of the programmes of the current government, if (s)elected, Aregbesola promises the people that the best is yet to come. Top functionaries of the ruling party have confirmed that the “Ekiti formula” will be used in Osun. From the president and his vice, to the appointed goons specially deployed to disturb the peace of that state, the confidence exuded should not be dismissed as misplaced. Mr. Ayo Arise boasted on Channels TV that they were ready to capture Ekiti state. I had taken this effusion as the rants of a deluded man. He was dead right. The incumbent “lost” in all local governments! Even his hometown “rejected” him for being too “elitist”! Fayose, the impeached governor who was later arraigned for stealing billions of naira in the infamous poultry project, is PDP’s choice. Dr. Jonathan celebrated his victory wildly!
As has been stated earlier, it is difficult for me to pretend that I do not have a preference. I have some personal experiences to share in this respect and I sincerely hope that all those who feel sufficiently concerned will also take a position. I had practised law on a low scale before my return to the university where I currently teach. My hustling had taken me to the state High Court in Osogbo on several occasions during the reign of PDP in that state. On more than two occasions, I had been driven off the road by the unruly convoy of Omisore when he was a senator. I had equally witnessed, twice, the tragic aftermath of torrential down pour and the attendant deaths which ensued near Okefia and the road to the High Court. I saw the corpses of little children who died having been washed off in their sleep by the rampaging flood. Those places now wear different looks now.
I visited Iragbiji recently to attend the wedding ceremony of the son of a good friend. I passed through Ikirun. I drove on tarred roads all through the town. I even joked with some of my friends that the APC stalwarts must be patronizing the Babalawos in that village to have warranted this pervasive attention in a place with a modest electoral value. My friends, who are indigenes of the state, have since confirmed that virtually every part of the state has witnessed the aggressive but positive intervention of this administration. The opponents of Aregbesola’s government have leveled all manner of accusations against him in their bid to portray him as undeserving of the people’s trust. They criticised him for feeding pupils. They accused him of extortion concerning the sale of school uniform to them. They accused him of using Osun indigenes who stay “abroad” to govern the state without asking those who have been staying at home to mention their special contributions apart from participating in prebendal politics to fleece the people of the state.
The criminal elements, who have been put out of job since this inception of this government, are now gainfully employed by these unscrupulous politicians. There is the creeping feeling that the re-introduction of violence into the state is a prelude that will be used to justify the imminent militarization of the state for the forthcoming election. Our people must be ready to resist this savage incursion. Yoruba land must not be overrun by the descendants of those whose ancestors were still steeped in barbarism long after this part of the world had showcased its sophistication.
Doyin Odebo wale, PhD, Classics, LLB(Hons) BL