It was for this newspaper, a defining moment, a moment to relish. An opportunity to salute the vision that brought the medium into being, a great moment to validate what we stood for all these years by the very people on whose behalf we took on the mission to inform, educate, and edify- in the enterprise to wrest the state from the deadly afflictions of incompetence, mediocrity, and electoral banditry.
A newspaper conceived in the crucible of battle couldn’t have chosen a better time to do its launch as was the case on February 26, 2007 at the MUSON Centre in Lagos, when the world literally stood still for Osun Defender. It was a moment of celebrations and stock-taking.
From Osogbo to Ila-Orangun; from Ikire to Gbongan; from Ile-Ife to Okuku extending to every corner of our dear state, they came. It was humbling to see the rich and the poor alike troop out in their numbers to make our day: the ordinary folks – our fellow foot soldiers with whom we have marched shoulder-to-shoulder in battle – to confront evil currently preying in our dear state. It was touching to hear from these worthy citizens that Osun Defender has lived to its billings as the authentic voice of the people.
To you all, we owe a debt of gratitude; without your invaluable contributions and support, our message would never have amounted to anything.
It is only natural to acknowledge what became the icing on the cake of epochal event- the brilliant lecture delivered by the erudite scholar and Professor of Law, Itse Sagay SAN, chaired by an equally distinguished scholar and professor of International Law, Akin Oyebode on the subject “Election Tribunals and the Survival of Democracy”?
It was our modest contribution to the debate on our democratic future.
Coincidentally, two interrelated events would render the historic launch truly historic. The first is that the launch was coming against the background of the ruling by Justice Naron-led tribunal in the petition between the Action Congress (AC) gubernatorial candidate, Rauf Aregbesola and his Peoples Democratic Party counterpart, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, in which the tribunal hatched a classic Jud-el-ex coup (apologies to the late sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo) – when it decided, contrary to expectations, to shut out vital forensic evidence in the matter before it.
The other development was the ruling on the consolidated petitions of former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar challenging the election of President Umaru Yar’Adua.
Both events, both for their timing could have overshadowed the launch; that this was far from being the case says a lot about the relevance of our theme and the timeliness of our gospel. The two developments would also remind that the battle is still a long way ahead.
On our honour, we pledge never to be bystanders in the unfolding events in our potentially great country. We will continue to do battle with the forces holding the people down even as we point the way forward for our people. This is the struggle that has endeared us to the people.
We appreciate that the large turnout of the people at the launch couldn’t be anything other than a testimonial to our unassailable integrity as well as the relevance and the timeliness of our message; we would continue to speak truth to power no matter what it costs. In return for standing by Osun Defender when the powers-that-be were sworn to hound us out of town, we can only restate our solemn pledge to remain their authentic voice.