By Ayo Akinola
The Osun State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, on Friday, elected her flag bearer for the September 22 governorship election in person of the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Gboyega Isiaka Oyetola. Prominent politicians from the West Senatorial zone of the state were conspicuous in their agitation for zoning the ticket to their side, in the preceding weeks and months to the primary election.
Really, political assemblies of the ruling APC throughout the state have been punctuated in loud and hush tones to the hearings of traditional rulers and leaders of thought of the zone, asking them to advocate for the zone to produce the next governor. There’s hardly any day that passes by without this clamour being used as political weapon to ring it loud and clear to those whom it is thought, have the listening ears of either Governor or other powerful leaders.
On the other side of the argument are many others, not precluding some from the West zone though, who believe that to zone the governorship ticket is to limit the catch net for the best. An intellectual explanation on this is that Osun has had a terrific deficit of development in the recent past, preceding the present government, such that limiting the search for a quality successor of Governor Rauf Aregbesola to a particular zone is antithetical to the urge to drive Osun to higher level of development.
According to this line of thought, nobody is claiming that Osun West does not possess good leadership materials for the ticket, but let the state have a broader search. True to it, the west senatorial zone has not had a good hold on governorship seat of the state apart from the brief tenure of twenty -two months by late Alhaji Isiaka Adeleke from Ede.
However, the zone has had a good fortune to be at the pinnacle of legislative house at the state level, having produced the likes of the current Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly, Right Honourable Najeem Salam. Even in the previous democratic dispensation, Honourable Mojeed Alabi, from Ejigbo, like Salaam, was one time the speaker of Osun House of Assembly.
The truth is we must ask ourselves the pertinent question: must it be the West or the Best? The answer lies in every well-meaning citizen of the state. We must be content with the wisdom in the fact that searching for the Best candidate from the entire state does not preclude the West. If we must develop from our primordial level of thought to a more civil one, we must jettison being sentimental to a cause that could make or mar our future.
This democracy that we practice was borrowed from the American system. Democracy must not preclude or out rightly favour any given group of people. Everyone at any given time must strive to be his best in preparatory for leadership, not latching on sectional advantage. It has been my point of advocacy that leadership must not be served a la carte, based on gender, age, sectional, religious or ethnic sentiment.
It must be on the basis of competence, preparedness and acceptance. Our albatross in this clime is that, like in other spheres of life like sports, we most often do not prepare early enough for leadership. We often wait in the wings till the whistles are almost blown before we woke up to realization that we intend to take up leadership.
The late MKO Abiola, who was widely adjudged the winner of the June 12, 1993, election was said to have been preparing for leadership of the country decades before his foray. He was a leading figure in business, sports, philanthropic ventures, religious harmony, friendship cutting across boundaries, international connections and it was therefore no surprise that he was accepted across all these borders when he requested to lead his country. Abiola was not voted for because he was a Yoruba man or a muslim whose tribe and religion could have been marginalized in the scheme of things.
It is sad that at this age and time, people play on crude primordial sentiment, rather than on competence and acceptance, to ride to power. In the American experience, while speaking to the people of Kenya, former U.S. President Barrack Obama said “A politics that’s based solely on zoning, religion, tribe & ethnicity is a politics that’s doomed to nosedive in development and growth. It is a failure…a failure of imagination”
This is the fundamental of successful political structures of America (from where we copied our democracy) and has reflected so far in the politics of the U.S.A yielding positive results. For example, of all presidents that have ruled U.S.A between the period of 1789 till date, only 18 out of 50 states (Slightly greater than 35%) have been represented and yet America has recorded progress in its political structure.
In the same America, we’ve had a single family producing two Presidents (father and son) over a period of one decade and we’ve also had a wife (Hillary Clinton) securing the ticket of her party for the Presidency which the husband recently vacated and was supported across board because competence and acceptance take precedence over bio-considerations. To think that the U.S presidential system of Government was adopted by Nigeria in its present constitution and yet we choose to follow the path of ethnic, tribal, religious and zonal sentiment is disheartening. How does it matter if another Osun Governor to succeed Ogbeni comes from the Ijesha axis, if that person is found most worthy?
Most disheartening is the realization by all that, despite all visible achievements of Ogbeni in virtually all areas of consideration, the rigid proponents of the sectional agenda do not put forward the developmental/continuity need of Osun in their debates. It all centers on wherefrom. Just like virtually all states of the country, probably with the exception of commercially viable Lagos, Osun could be said to be on life support and it craves for that technocrat, level-headed, experienced leader to take up the baton from the Ogbeni. Who cares if the next governor comes from East, Central or West? This is not the time to fixate on primordial sentiments, maybe when things are totally back to normalcy in the state.
The decision of the party members in the state to elect the Chief of Staff to Governor Rauf Aregbesola as flag bearer in the coming governorship election is a welcome one for continuity and competence. The office of the Chief of Staff is the engine room of government. The office is a necessary creation of the current democratic dispensation to assist the political leader, the President or Governor, to achieve its real governance objectives since the two offices are mostly very political and fluid.
The holders of the office of the Chief of Staff hardly have enough time for politicking, neither is he or she expected to, because such a one must be the eye and hands of the Governor, (a shadow governor, you can say). So, by and large, no one in the administration knows the ins and outs of any administration more than the Chief of Staff. Ogbeni has achieved tremendously but much more is still needed to shout Uhuru. We are not yet there but we are on the path, surely. Therefore, to base our collective destiny on zonal consideration is to play lotto with it.
The primary election has come and gone, and like any race, a winner must emerge and has. And for the sake of our dear State, there must not be a loser. We must all be the winners, irrespective of who gets or didn’t get the ticket. We must not allow agents of retrogression waiting on the wings to feast on this to come back to reverse our hard-earned success. One must appeal to the aggrieved to shield their swords, rally round the holder of the ticket because if the chips are down, we will all be the losers on September 22 and the consequence for all is better imagined in reversed development and chaos.
It is heartening that the winner of the ticket, Gboyega Oyetola has veraciously extended hands of fellowship to his fellow contestants from the West and elsewhere to come join him in the continuity journey to build the state.
Akinola is a Publisher and Development Analyst