By Goke Butika
Life is a product of deterministic concept, for every ounce of breathe is measured. It has a take-off point, maybe from the zygote at a formative stage in the womb, and it has a terminal date, a situation that makes all men and women mortals-a terminal project. For the fact that people booked different dates of departure: some will die young, some will be denied existence at all, some will live and live miserably; while some will have a celebrated life. But all within the given by a Great Determinist who could be given different names or nomenclatures: Nature or God or Eledumare or Olorun or Chukwu or Allah et al. I only know that something must be determining something somewhere as far as the concept is concerned.
In that wise, it is a rare opportunity worth of celebrating for anyone who lives, navigates the offerings of life and still being celebrated by the people the same nature imposes such an individual on, particularly one advances in age from golden to platinum. On that note, I celebrate with Governor Rauf Aregbesola of State of Osun who clocks 60 years on earth, obviously with good health, enviable position, beautiful family, sprawling wealth, thankless job and indelible marks.
Having been a distant watcher of his 50th birthday in Lagos, I could not tell which of the birthdays is best celebrated, because Aregbesola’s associates and friends ensured that the entire city of Lagos was painted red when he marked his golden age, and I learnt that the same people who bankrolled the birthday then are still the financiers of his 60th birthday where the entire Osun is being painted blue. At the risk of dramatic irony, one could say that Aregbesola is one of the luckies persons in the democratic experiment that took off in 1998.
Yes, his fame, politics and position came with a price. He had suffered in life like anyone from humble background, he had made a choice that is critical to him; that explains while he settled for the lineage of left leaning; following the track of Comrade Ola Oni, and made Fidel Castrol his mentor as a Communist in search of egalitarian society. He had labored in politics before the nature threw him up for the most important job in Lagos as Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure- that metamorphosed his life from common to elite, and his struggle to become the governor of Osun was fiercest and quite expensive, but the mother luck smiled on him after three and half years in the trenches.
Rauf, as his friends fondly call him is a dogged fighter, give it to him. He could dare devil sometimes when he makes up his mind. He came up with concept of unusual government, started from intangibles which were trailed by controversies; he faced stiff opposition from hostile federal powers; he fought with jaw-dropping performance, which radicalized the people of Osun in the heat of his reelection. Of course the then power that be, made an attempt to supplant him, but his popularity was feverish and only a war monger could toy with it.
With life expectancy pegged at 45 years in Nigeria, the great son of Aregbesola is an elder in the class of leaders with emotional intelligence called AGBA SHANKO to borrow from the Speaker Najeem Salaam of Osun Assembly. He is a game changer, because his sterling performance in office with a doctrine of utilitarian left of the centre makes him to cultivate 800 friends, that shows, if 400 are castigating him; 400 would eulogize him.
However, I am concerned about one ugly trend of the same people who bankrolled ten years ago, are still the ones who bankroll his birthday this year. Why the same people? Is it that only his friends residing outside the state of Osun benefitted from Rauf’s large-heartedness? Are his friends and political associates in this part of the country who might have benefitted from him in the last six years stingy? What would be their lot if Rauf is out of power? These and many questions are begging for interrogation from those who claim that they can die for Rauf today. Know that the son of Aregbesola has no problem with that, but the loyalty of the loyalists must be examined with cursory look.
However, celebration or not, Rauf will go down in history as one man who came to governance with load of ideas, he advances villages to cities, and turn incinerator of refuse dump into markets, as numbers of schools, markets, roads and bridges coupled with the number of people he made would bear eloquent testimonies to his contributions to humanity.
As someone who has worked for Rauf, sat with Rauf, listened to Rauf, and admired Rauf, and ultimately, one of the beneficiaries of Rauf’s large-heartedness, I must admit that he is a rare-bred iconoclast and a mentor to the younger generation. Yes, naysayers have issues with him, but it is a statement of fact that Rauf can never share the glory with God whose work must not be questioned, at the risk of fallacy of question begging.
Congratulations The Man of the People!
Butikakuro is a journalist of international repute.