By Moshood Ayo Akinola
The eventual emergence of the Iragbiji-born financial expert cum public administrator turned politician, and erstwhile Chief of Staff to Governor Rauf Adesoji Aremu Aregbesola, Alhaji Isiaka Adegboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress, APC, as the Governor-elect of the State of Osun to beat his closest rival in the race, “Jackson” Nurudeen Ademola Adeleke of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, did not come on a platter of gold right from the days of the primary election that brought him up. Democracy was actually at play in Osun because that is the best known form of political choice in any modern society.
If enviable career combined with strong certificates, robust degrees and public administration experiences are all that are needed to mount the coveted saddle of a state governorship position, perhaps Oyetola would have had no serious contender in the race. But because politics is a game of numbers to be won through the ballots, Oyetola still needed to go through the rigours of an election. If everyone thinks alike on the best criteria to be possessed to mount the saddle, perhaps each and everyone in the state would have begged Oyetola to carry on with the good works on ground and build on the foundations already laid by the iconic Rauf Aregbesola. But because of whom we are and whom we choose not to be, it was a tortuous race to the Bola Ige House for the quiet, unassuming Isiaka Oyetola which climaxed into a narrow victory on Thursday, September 27, 2018 run-off supplementary election following the inconclusive one of Saturday, September 22.
How does one situate an Oyetola, who has been a solid pillar of governance during the almost eight years of Rauf Aregbesola’s government here, labouring days and nights to assist in getting things done in policy and its implementation, to be paired with an Ademola Adeleke, battling with credibility problem, not for PhD or Masters degrees but that of a school certificate forgery and examination malpractice? How does one explain an Oyetola being put in same relay race with someone whose highest educational attainment is the base West African School Certificate through which his highest achievement in education is just one F9 as if its stand-alone status can fetch the owner a Messenger job in a local council?
Discussing this with a colleague, it soon came to limelight that the whole contest is not about an Ademola but about a party, representing a reactionary mindset of certain collectives in the southwest that has once held sway, dictating the pace and having all things going well for it in times past, whose wings have been scraped through series of electoral defeats in all states of the region, sinking deeply in the sea of oblivion, wanting to hold on to the last opportunity of relevance in a state whose government has for long been terribly misrepresented in the eyes of the entire nation; a party that, having recently lost Ekiti State with its icon brutalized by unknown corps in a disgraceful manner not befitting of even a school Principal, may want a revenge in a nearby state having misread the mood of the citizens. In all these, resources were pulled together from bourgeoisies which the party’s candidate’s family crudely represents and with few other uncanny sympathizers outside and within the geographical enclave to unleash cash-backed electoral bash on unwary citizens of the state.
On Saturday, September 22, 2018 Osun citizens went to the polls to choose their next governor only to be confronted, at the poll centers with bags and sacks of cash all across the state: their magic wand for a pyrrhic but short-lived “victory”. Their undoing, however, was the orchestrated violence and electoral malpractices which could not escape the notice of the umpire in at least seven polling centers. The criminologist theory that the undoing of any criminal often lies on his or her carelessness in leaving behind traces of such criminality which leads to eventual detection. The Saturday polls that raised Ademola’s votes a little bit above that of Isiaka is ominous enough in the eyes of the discerning public insisting that the party that was disgraced out of power in Osun some eight years ago, and still sinking deeper through loss of power in the centre and many other states uncountable could maneuver a comeback in a progressive state still begs for explanation. Investigations will sooner or later reveal that ballot-stuffing enabled through few compromised umpires and unscrupulous security men looking away provided that leeway for the election riggers.
A politically savvy APC soon saw the rescheduled re-run as a window to regain its stolen victory of Saturday. The party therefore opened discussions with some opposition parties, reassured the citizens, blocked the loop-holes through which the PDP had hitherto gained the Saturday’s pyrrhic victory, and ensured strict security of its votes throughout all concerned polling centres which the opposition claimed to be intimidation and harassments. These moves, which were neglected in the initial polls, were what actually saved the day on Thursday. My poser has been that if the PDP had had a true victory last Saturday as they claimed, there wouldn’t be the need for them to protest a rerun in less than 1% centres. But because they knew that the game was up, had to cry wolf by rejecting a re-run, which it eventually participated in and expectedly lost.
The election has been won and lost. Gbeyega Isiaka Oyetola has been pronounced elected as the governor of the State of Osun. But certain pertinent lessons are obviously learnt. APC leaders in Osun and elsewhere will learn not to relax on their guards relying solely on their sterling performances. The enemies are always around the corners. They will be blind to your performance and pretend you haven’t really performed; they will try to paint white (your efforts at uplifting peoples’ lives) into black (a means to hoodwink the people) and even outwit you in convincing the vulnerable electorates not to want you around. Worst is that they will also make attempts at compromising the umpires and security forces when all has failed to work for them as they did on Saturday, September 22nd.
The greatest winners in this race are the people of Osun, not just Oyetola or the APC. They’ve been saved from an ominous doom which awaits them if PDP had been able to get the day. Osun people would need to go to their worship centres and praise the Deities which they worship for saving them from the ravaging locusts looking for where to perch, after having been rejected in several other states and even at the centre. Another set of winners in this race is the entire southwest. I sincerely congratulate the Oduduwa sons and daughters home and abroad for rejecting the doom called PDP in their various states. Our cultural heritage as an Omoluabi nation has been restored wholly by this rejection of a party known for nothing other than feeding fat on our collective resources.
Finally, let me congratulate the O’YES and Apalara cadets, Agba Osun beneficiaries, as well as others too numerous to enumerate here. What would have been your fate if the dancing locust had carried the day? In order to recoup their illegal investments into the polls, most of these social interventionist funds would have instantly found their way into their individual filthy pockets and the schemes uprooted through disbandment.
Finally, I have no apology in using this medium to go spiritual, thanking God for, once again, showing us His mercies, after the near-calamitous events of September 2014 when hooded fake and real mercenaries stormed Osun for ignominious reasons.
God!…we aren’t perfect but we thank Thee for giving us the Day.
- Ayo Akinola, a public affairs analyst writes from Osogbo.