BY FATIHULAH ADEGOKE
(A response to Fisayo Soyombo’s TWO FIGHTING IN OSUN: A DANCING SENATOR VERSUS JAGABAN’S COUSIN)
Fisayo Soyombo’s piece of the above title no doubts stands out as a racy prose for those in love with fine writing. In there, he laboured very well to bring side-by-side the candidates of the two leading political parties in Osun ahead of the September 22 governorship poll. He concludes that the people of this South-West state of Nigeria are caught in what Joseph Heller called “Catch-22” in his novel of the same title. For better understanding, Catch-22, as it is defined, is a paradoxical situation in which one cannot escape because of the conflicting rules and conditions inbuilt.
Before we go further, it is germane to make it categorically clear and in unmistakeable terms that with Isiaka Gboyega Oyetola, the candidate of the All Progressive Congress, Osun is not in any dilemma of any dimension as far the post-Aregbesola era is concerned.
Of course, for the man Soyombo referred to as “Dancing Senator”, we are confident the almost eight years of the Aregbesola administration has created a politically sophisticated citizenry equipped with the intellectual capacities to identify good governance when they see one. They therefore can make their choice between Oyetola and the candidate who Soyombo himself asked in bewilderment: “For how long shall a man dance his way to glory?”
Without mincing words, the people of Osun have reasons to dance over the emergence of an APC candidate whose credentials, education, careers, comportment, orientation, networks of associates, family background and deep sense of history and culture and aspirations of Osun people are as enviable as anyone would ever wish for.
I am still waiting for anyone to question Oyetola as a thoroughbred Osun son, well-groomed graduate of the University of Lagos who grew to become an Insurance and investment guru in Nigeria and beyond. You may accuse me of meddlesomeness in the affairs of PDP, but that party clearly manipulated Dr. Akin Ogunbiyi, out of the race for the party ticket. That is perhaps, the only aspirant in its fold who could have presented a dossier in the rank of what Oyetola flaunts. Therefore, the writer should have looked well in his examinations of the processes that led to the emergence of the two candidates. Had he done this, he would have discovered which one was fraught with fraud and the one that came up as a novel formula to further deepen democratic choices.
Since it’s clear Soyombo has not made enough attempt to understand the modalities for the emergence of the APC candidate, it is called Direct Primaries which, rather than reserve the exclusive right to choose a candidate for the party to delegates that form a very tiny percentage of the total party membership, the choice was made by the entire card carrying members of the party at the lowest ladder of the party cutting across the entire state.
It is instructive that not one out of all those who vied for the ticket of the party at the direct primaries has gone to court rejecting the outcome. The clearly manipulated PDP primary election has seen one of the aspirants going to court while another, Alhaji Fatai Akinbade, has indeed left the party. Today, the PDP process has become a subject of very bitter litigations.
And why won’t stakeholders in the Osun project see Oyetola as a continuity of all that is good and fruitful about the Aregbesola administration? When the writer concluded that “Osun is in serious economic peril…” he should have gone ahead to remind his readers that the “perilous economic situation” predated the Aregbesola administration with a monthly borrowing of N1bn to augment salaries at a time when the wage bill of Osun was even less than N2bn.
How more perilous could a state have been if its monthly Internally Generated Revenue stood best at N300m a month? How much more dangerous edge could Osun have been driven to with no clear idea of how to cut and halt the growing army of jobless youths in the state? What was the future of education in Osun with those ramshackle classrooms and other learning facilities across the State? And with those network of death traps called roads, what other peril did you expect other than that Osun had been taken to the precipice? In all indices of development, Osun was in the red before the Aregbesola administration.
The point is this: The man who has emerged the APC candidate to Aregbesola today has been part of the engine room of the revolutionary transformation of this state in the last eight years.
Osun didn’t just become attractive to the National Bureau of Statistics overnight. Such good news when Osun was rated the state with the least crime rate; the state with the least unemployment rate; state with the highest school enrollment and a good number of others didn’t just happen. They remain the fruits of the hard labour the Aregbesola administration has been engaged in.
It is instructive to note that the Osun Government has been more than faithful in fulfilling its pact with the workers. Labour leaders in the state have attested to this fact on several occasions. Jacob Adekomi, Chairman, Nigerian Labour Congress commended Ogbeni Aregbesola had cause to applaud the government thus ‘’We are grateful for the support the workforce has been enjoying since the inception of the present administration. It is on record that the state, under the leadership of Governor Aregbesola has not only prioritised our welfare but also placed our interest at the front burner. We have confidence in the present administration because it has not disappointed us. We are proud to have someone like Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola as a governor, whose passion and love for workers have no measure.’’
Against the backdrop of the above attestation, does it not amount to crying more than the bereaved when a writer who is not a salary earner in Osun paints a gloomy picture of a situation much contrary to the claims and attestations of those who are directly concerned and have the locus standi to make such assessments?
On poverty alleviation, the state’s template of Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES) remains one of the best among its peers on the continent of Africa and has been understudied by the World Bank to adopt it for the Federal Government of Nigeria’s efforts at solving the national unemployment challenge.
To use the writer’s argument, if Adeleke had found himself on the political landscape fortuitously, riding on the sentiment of his brother’s death, can the same be said of Oyetola who has been in the saddle as the Chief-of-Staff to Governor Aregbesola for close to eight years; a position which has prepared him ahead for the task of governance.
Really, is there any need to amplify further? The contrasts in the personalities reveal themselves patently.
In addition, it must be stressed that the basic principle of evidence is that he who asserts must prove. The allegation of vote-buying, fake membership cards are all in a bid to cast aspersions on a transparent primary election of APC without any proof.
Let it be said that crying endlessly over Osun’s debt profile amounts to hypocrisy. You love what you see on the development of infrastructure. But you hate to admit that they did not come free. The reasonable question genuine, development-oriented analysts should be asking is whether the debt profile has been commensurate with the unprecedented infrastructure revolution in Osun. The facts speak for themselves.
At this stage, I don’t take serious, any condemnation of an individual on the basis of consanguinity. It is lazy, jejune and lacking in merit for anyone to reject appointees simply because they are related to one known figure or the other. Must successful, competent brains not have their own lives simply because of their accidents of relationships?
Let me conclude on this note. This is the season of politics. It is not unexpected that the reading field would be fraught with the good, the bad and the ugly. In a season when hacking is a potent tool in the hands of political rivals, those who write must exercise caution lest they unwittingly help desperate political warlords fulfill their nebulous missions.
Adegoke, a lawyer and personal assistant to special adviser, information & strategy, state of Osun, wrote through [email protected]