ISAAC OLUSESI writes, the very many contradictions of the erstwhile Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government in the State of Osun that violated Osun people typically in the Aristotle brutish and nasty state of nature, however fired up in the state Grandma a moral dilemma on Osun politics, security and society.
“Memorylane. In Nigeria, the date was Monday 16 April 2007; and time, 10.00am. Osun State Governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in a convoy of heavily armed anti-riot police men and soldiers, on sirens towards Ilesa en-routeOkefia- Odiolowo – Ojaoba on Isiaka Adeleke dual carriage way in Osogbo and pulled up in front of the Isokun Ilesa campaign secretariat of Engineer Rauf Aregbesola, Action Congress (AC) governorship candidate and arch-challenger of Oyinlola in the April 14 election.
“And about 55minutes ahead of the governor convoy, there was a bus full of PDP thugs and other squabble characters, each issued with a gun and bullet-proof vest, ostensibly in a hurry to engage in fisticuffs; the bus occupants, in disguise, erupted into praise-worships, singing and clapping the Christian way. The rendition of the “sweet” religious melodies deceptively made them look friendly to the well-known religiously over-zealous Ijesa people. And suddenly, the bus stopped at Isokun in Ilesa and the PDP thugs menacingly jumped out of the unmarked vehicle, throwing teargas, wielding batons and lethal weapons; and terror was unleashed on the irate youths and women in their inside-out dresses who had gathered, chanting songs and protesting, on reflex the PDP- INEC’s deliberately illogical falsification of the results of the April 14 gubernatorial election in favour of Oyinlola.
“The sight was one of the stunned disbelief, shock and fear as the protesters caught unawares and outgunned, had to beat a hasty retreat, with the PDP thugs in hot pursuit. The protesting youths and women’s backward movement like the he-goat tactical energy renew, soon re-gathered in large number. But like a scene from the Gulf war, in quick swift, the convoy of Oyinlola, with Major General Mohammed Saleh, General Officer Commanding (GOC) 2nd Mechanized Division of the Nigeria Army, Ibadan, Oyo State, arrived without sirens and sharply joined by the advanced gang of the PDP thugs already on ground and in a twinkle, mayhem, in full was let loose; havoc in torrents, wrecked; and terror in its nude, walked on the streets of Ilesa.
“That Oyinlola-fated Monday was a full scale invasion of Ilesa as orgy of violence from all cylinders was released by the Brigade “c-in-c,” spewing forth death that ripped the brain and butchered the body of Ijesa women and youths in their prime. Oyinlola, a Brigadier- General (retd) who had a bullet-proof vest on him was seen raining bullets indiscriminately on all moving objects, reminiscent of when the Late Sadam Hussein bombed his own citizens and occupied Kuwait, or when the Late President Assad of Syria turned the gun against his own children. Few of the Ijesa protesters missed death by a whisker, from the exploding teargas, cracking rat-a-rat sound of gun fire and sight of billowing smokes from the rampaging Oyinlola and his war brigade. The reporter, also in Oyinlola’s convoy, saw the terror grow. Bullets zinged into the walls of buildings around, with the same frequency as human beings. The first person in the pool of her blood was a heavily pregnant woman, incidentally said to be a relation of the state PDP woman leader, a Chief of Ilesa…” ISAAC OLUSESI ‘’Roll Back Leprosy, Roll Back’’ Oyinlola”, Osun Defender, Wednesday, 28 January 2007
The history of Osun people under the PDP government 2003-2010 is the history of violation and dislocation by the very many contradictions of the party in the state that provoked reflex response of the people to the grand electoral heist of 14 April 207 in the state, marked by the seemingly endless torture of the governed in a more terrifying disequilibrium of power relations between the governing PDP, its agents on one hand, and the people of Osun on the other hand.
And for the writer, the most terrifying, most tormenting was that life and living in Osun became a nightmare; and Ilesa, a metaphor of horror. There was burning, breaking, beating and bulleting as fire of protests spread in the land and anything, anybody in sight like in a mob action, became a ready target. In the reprisals by PDP, the opposition AC enthusiasts were frisked, ravaged, captured and flung into waiting vehicles with registration numbers EN 30 FCT (Caravan Bus) and OS 345 AOI (ash-colour Jeep) and driven away to the house of Gani Oladiran, the PDP chieftain and the alleged Ilesa PDP lead-thug at Isokun, with the trappings of medieval nativity, and were reportedly stripped totally naked and thrashed with metal objects that grotesquely twisted them in excruciating pains, typically in the Aristotle brutish, short and nasty state of nature.
In the ensuing aftermath, the chief thug, otherwise, a community leader reportedly backed out instructions, wagged his finger in a gesture of superiority and gave out orders with a calculated glance akin to the Roman Centurion, and promptly, one of his boys, Obafemi Kolawole on solo assignment seized one 17-year-old Tosin Ajakaye, shaved her pubic hair with broken bottle and forced the screaming, terrified girl to swallow the stuff and raped her with uncommon velocity and gravity of violence that landed the innocent lady in several hospitals in serial order.
Isaac Olusesi in Rape Case, Judiciary and PDP’s Gangsterism, writes: “The man did not use condom to make legal investigation, legal proof and legal conviction difficult. He did not use condom to eliminate rape crime lab evidence…. He did not use condom to give the appearance of the victim’s consent to the sexual encounter…. And the man did not show any recognizable abnormality. The man, Kolawole was last September at the Osun High Court sitting in Ilesa convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment with whipping for rape and indecent assault, contrary to Criminal Laws of the State of Osun”. OSUN DEFENDER, Thursday, October 30, 2014. While Oladiran was earlier docked at Osogbo Magistrate Court on Monday August 18, 2008 on the order of President Usman Yar’adua who read riot act to the nation’s Inspector-General of Police who in turn read same riot act to Osun Commissioner of Police who then arrested and charged Oladiran to court. But the governing PDP in Osun, the Magistracy and the Police compromised judgement in the matter.
Scores of Ijesa women and youths were killed by the PDP thugs’ ecstatic quest to satisfy their pay masters, while children overwhelmed by their infertile sensibility were whisked indoors. And when it was evident that the dark forces of PDP were not ready to give Ilesa any let-up and that the war for the extirpation of political opposition members and relations must go on, the late state Grandma, Alhaja Saratu Asabi Aregbesola, affectionately called Iya Olobi was dramatically forced to leave her primeval Ilesa home. Ironically, she was not one who loved swimming against the current. Neither was she one who tilted the world into her own orbit, nor moulded the world into her own image to have mosaically attracted the madness of PDP’s thugs. Her offence was just her son, Rauf Aregbesola’s 2006 foray into Osun politics with his activist politicking, and the son became Governor Oyinlola’s arch challenger in the 2007 gubernatorial election.
And with the thuggery larcency, the grandma and son were harassed, intimidated, hounded and victimized by the PDP political brigandage.”Remember, there is no woman so old that she cannot be ill-treated by brigands,” cried Dioki in Camera Laye’s. The Radiance of the King. Yet, the adrenaline in grandma did not order her to flee from Ilesa but to stay put and fight back. The steely courage in her starred at the face of the thugs and spit at them. But her children including her daughter in-law, the state first lady, Alhaja Sherifat Aregbesola, ferried grandma underground to Lagos as it were, for affectionate cover over and around her. And in Lagos, grandma did not “take refuge in an attitude of passivity, of mutual indifference and sometimes of cold complicity” in the words of Frantz Fanon. Rather, she anchored her support for her son’s struggle to retrieve his April 14, 2007 governorship mandate by engineering bridges of support in her aged primordial Ijesa people for her son’s struggle for his governorship.
However, to her children, the fact of grandma’s initial refusal to re-locate to Lagos on her own terms could have been too costly. Imagine the insults that grandma suffered from the opposition quarters at the count-down to the August 9, 2014 gubernatorial election. In a SUNDAY TRIBUNE newspaper interview, Iyiola Omisore, a constantly PDP governorship candidate in Osun, steeped in morbid hatred for Aregbesola, said:” …. May be, his PARENTS (emphasis mine) should answer that question….’’ in apparent response to the question, ‘’Are you saying that Governor Aregbesola is not from Ilesa?’’ Grandma’s initially wondered why a governorship candidate had to stand moral sensibility on the head in such a simple mater. And when she finally decided to speak on the on the prompting of the writer, she simply said: “Iyiola’s attack on me should be consigned in the gutter of his own disgrace. He’s a Yoruba child but deepening wet with restiveness, his tongue waxing carelessly and conscience impervious to the urgings of Yoruba culture of respect for the elderly”. As a politician requiring the votes of the aged to ram into power, Omosore ought to have waded through the torrents of sentimental and illogical anger in the interview.
In her Lagos home, the writer had opportunity to speak with grandma one-on- one on the milestones she would live to remember, and she readily recalled the 2006 Osogbo Oroki Day, Bomb Blast saga, 2007 Invasion of Ilesa, Police Report, and the November 2010 final Court of Appeal Declaration of her son as winner of the 14 April 2007 governorship election in the state. How did she bear all of that and the travails of her son that disrupted her serene life? ”I do my prayers and have my faith in Allah (SWT). Rauf would not only come out of detentions to govern Osun, he would be alive, hale and healthy to accord me a befittingly celebrated burial when I pass on at my own time, Isah Allahau,” she prophetically said. As she finally saw her son unscathed after all detentions and assassination attempts on his life, grandma’s faith in Allah (SWTs), her mental alertness and radiant look made the writer’s delight to visit her again. She was never an inch any wreck, her blood pressure never rose, and she did not take ill nor show any sign of illness. She never slid into any emotional abyss because her son’s wife was always bringing gifts for grandma purportedly from her son in detention cells that convinced her that all was well with the son.
Eureka! Grandma had reasons for her gratitude to Allah (SWT). There were desperate multiple attempts to assassinate her son, Aregbesola by PDP’s dim wits who apparently felt his death would end the nightmare of the erstwhile PDP government in the state. The first plot to eliminate him, as though before the April 2007 governorship election was at the 2006 Osogbo Oroki Day when PDP’s thugs and other freelance roughs riddled his Mercedez Benz jeep with bullets leveled to his head to mow him down permanently just as an armed gang of PDP descended on the Osogbo campaign headquarters of Aregbesola a few days to the 2007 governorship poll and shot at his office room, thinking he was in office. What about his multiple arrests over many absurdities of the kind of PDP politicking, with phillistinic determination to keep him out of circulation: at least,(i) his arrest and detention on the heels of bomb blast hullabaloo; and (ii), his detention over police report. Both epitomized PDP’s over-reached odious propensity for agonizing fatalities.
The August 2007 bomb blast contraption was to run Aregbesola out of town after the controversial governorship election and several failed assassination attempts on his life that also included the scheme to kill him by the PDP government for his alleged role in the suspension of the re-run Osun East Senatorial election, and another attempt to eliminate him at the 2007 Iwude Ijesa festival that coincided with the un-ending wave of Ilesa spontaneous reaction to the INEC – PDP electoral heist, a reflex action of the Ijesas that set houses ablaze at the wake of April 16, 2007 after the 2007 controversial governorship in Osun. Meanwhile, the PDP government in Osun callously brought murder dimension into the blast that occurred at the government secretariat, Osogbo and the party’s braggadocio also concocted a mystery dairy that dispatched Aregbesola into another detention even after police forensic analysis unveiled that the celebrated bomb blast was just a rock blast device of water engineering stuff.
The police report was the succinctly accurate and unambiguous accounts of violence, multiple thumb-printing, political brigandage and such electoral misdemeanor that characterized the April 14, 2007 gubernatorial election in the affected wards and local governments in Osun. But the presiding learned Justice Victor Omage (JCA) in his March 30, 2009 historic judgment up- turned the rejection of the police report by the Justice Thomas Damar Naron- led Osun Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal that practically perverted justice, that technically kept PDP in governance. The Osun PDP interloper government had earlier branded the police report a forgery and orchestrated the arrest and detention of Aregbesola despite the court order to the contrary.
And as Aregbesola had his mandate to govern Osun retrieved, grandma knew her time to die would sure “come at a good time. My eyes have seen the goodness of my beloved son!” She exclaimed with an air of triumph. But the Osun late grandma always raised a moral dilemma on the contemporary Osun politics each time the writer asked her the question: who do you blame for the ravaging political crises in the land under the PDP watch? “Attention has willingly and unwittingly been focused on the ringworms, the thugs laying siege to our Ijesaland and Osun generally; while the more deadly leprosy, the PDP government that produced them is left untouched, ” was consistently her dilemma on the question. In other words, the leprosy, the decadent PDP government in the state only bred decadent society of men, women and youths who graduated into thugs, hoodlums and political bandits.
She explained that thuggery is the inevitable end in any polity if the government shirks its responsibility of providing avenues for the individuals to realize his potentials. The PDP government gave expression to injustice through inequitable distribution of resources in a way that put paid to tyranny, if grandma were to be understood. Her dilemma was appositely resolved in tandem with the traditional Marxist assertion that “there is just no reason isolating criminal on the prowl from the attitude of the government that produces them”. And that is what instructed the Belgian social statistician, LAJ Quetelet’s postulation: “it is the government that prepares crimes and the thugs are only the instrument necessary for executing them.”
The reason for grandma fidelity to her prolific output on Osun politics, facilitated by her empirical experience typified by Ilesa politics, was admittedly occasioned by the progressive mentoring role she played to the emerging generation of people in politics that lent her the quality of foster- mother to the received paradigm of progressive politics and security in Osun contrary to the rubrics of the PDP reactionary politics and pervasive culture of insecurity. Interestingly, grandma’s reticence, ordinariness and simplicity could hardly be reconciled with her eminently cerebral analysis of the contemporary Osun politics. She represented and stood for time- honoured political –security- societal values in a generation in which those desirable values have fast degenerated. Of course, yes. Her theorizing lifted her above the more familiar common runs on politics, security and society.
While Aregbesola was put away several times in the PDP detention cells in Abuja and Lagos, he remained fearlessly both a player from the pitch and coach from the bench. With these accoutrements, he heroically called the players of politics in the same political party with him, to order and instilled in them progressively courageous struggles for the enthronement of democracy that eventually retrieved for him the governorship mandate that the vote robbers stole away on April 14, 2007. His heroism, well applauded in jubilations across Osun that greeted the retrieved mandate, was the brilliant triumph of his conviction and perseverance in the famous words of Henri Frederic Amiel: ”Herosim is the dazzling and glorious concentration of courage.” And the Aregbesola governorship, a product of the efficacy of law, armed with the law as the supreme instrument of electoral re-engineering, challenged the orthodoxy of that time in the state, dared the tyrannical dragon in the government of PDP, re-claimed his mandate and he has not betrayed the Osun people mandate these past years, leading the state entirely to Charles Caleb Calton’s ”Society owes its knowledge of new frontiers of development to those who have differed.”
Indeed, the travails of Aregbesola in and out of detention cells sharpened his skills the more and the lessons of steely conviction and perseverance emboldened him on his ‘dangerous adventures’ that has today turned Osun around for durable, massive growth and development in the state, consistent with Kwame Nkrumah’s oft-quoted exhortation. “when conscience-less power meets powerless conscience, the former laughs first and the latter laugh last.”
Comparatively, although the lazy baboon, the erstwhile Osun conscience-less PDP government laughed first but got truncated, the government lived in opulence that left the business of governance at the back seat because his party that foisted self on the hapless people of Osun, had no blueprint on governance and the tragedy reflected in the indolence, instability and under-achievement of the government; while Aregbesola, the rational but restless governor of Osun in the familiar animal analogy is the baboon, not the idle baboon who waits for the monkey to bring him what he must chop. Indeed, Aregbesola works more than his employees, the state public servant because the survival of the state enterprise rests on him, not the employees.
Aregbesola’s hero in the enterprise of physical infrastructure and welfare politics in Osun was Chief Obafemi Awolowo who believed that government is there mainly to provide social services for the people, and with his Universal Primary Education (UBE) programme in Western Nigeria, Awolowo was ahead of his contemporaries; and correspondingly, Aregbesola, with his Mega schools, O’Meals in schools, O’Ambulance, O’Yes and several other functional social service projects encapsulated in his 6-Point Integral Action Plan, is also ahead of his colleagues in physical infrastructure and welfare politics, policies and projects. Although, Awolowo’s hero in English politics was Wiston Chruchill, he had more in common with Sir Clement Athlee and Lord Beveridge, the architects of British Welfare System.
And for any further political preferment, it will not be difficult for Aregbesola to re-sell himself to the electorate-his personal attributes, sterling; party programmes, enchanting; what he could do, earth–shaking; and what he has done in Lagos and Osun States, un-precedent. His political values have taken root and his political loyalty is firm. And he has today chalked up impressive credentials for heroism through his accomplishments in government, unlike the Casanova in Osun government house (2003-2010) who never broke the cobwebs of irrationality.”Osun will miss Aregbesola,” the writer once professed in one of his several writings. Meaning that the people of Osun will gloat after Aregbesola’s tenure, wishing that the hand of the clock could be pulled back and the populist man called back to serve the state again.
Grandma, a veteran of Obi, kola-nut and bitter-kola trade, had to her credit a harvest of active and conspicuously involved women (and men) in the trade. She was a distinguished Iya Olobi in Ijesaland, judging by the concentration of her trade and reproduction of herself in a good number of several other star dealers in the trade. She was a rare gem, known to be an embodiment of strict discipline, integrity, humanness and impeccability in the trade manner and appearance, and she was marked out by her assiduous empirical work on the methods of the preservation of Obi.
And viewed in procedural terms, her value-added kolanut preservative methods professionalized the trade along the systemic body of the ethics of the trade as a workable tool for the resolution of disputes, conflicts, intransigencies and dissonances on the best practices of preservation methods among Obi dealers who saw her as an icon of knowledge, to be reckoned with within the Egbe Olobi, Kolanut Dealers Association in Ijesaland comprising of twelve (12) Council Areas of Osun. No wonder that grandma was an enigma in life; and in death, she remained dear to the people in her trade, and to her family and town folks as well as the flotsam and jetsam of the society who turned out in large number to pay their last respect at her burial. Grandma was described in various tributes, most deservedly as energetic, industrious and honest, a devout and compassionate confidant, who also had a great heart and humane disposition, always in selfless humanitarian endeavour towards those around her. And as at the time of writing this piece, tributes continued to trail her departure.
And going by the condolence register, she raised her children to be strong and forward-looking and also raised several other children with the understanding of her late husband, Alhaji Ahmed-Rufai Aregbesola of Ogbon Irogbo in Ilesa. Hear her son, Ogbeni Aregbesola in a tribute: ‘’Moomi was an unforgettable source of inspiration, a pillar of support, a good role model and a worthy jewel of inestimable value. She shaped my life and guided my footsteps. She was loving and strict, tender and tough, charming and harsh, warm and caustic, loyal and supportive throughout our relationship. She was the ideal mother.’’
Grandma represented the conscience of her trade and the barometer of the community and her religion. At her burial, devoid of reins of tears, tempers, rumour-peddling and accusations, hot or mild, were people of her trade and school of her progressive thoughts as well as other dignitaries including government functionaries, religious leaders, Obas , traditional and honorary chiefs and youths; and political party leaderships fellowships splendidly customized in different uniforms, with their scintillating choreography that elicited quick witty applause. There was no blaring of sirens and the burial was done in honour and sobriety.
However, the 3rd and 8th day Fidau prayers were proclaimed by the intimidating blare of sirens and frightening hazards of lights as the day typical configuration changed with security escorts, road safety marshals and civil defence corps that accompanied the resplendently dressed galaxy of business and political elites of diverse backgrounds, tribes and nationalities; dignitaries, high and mighty men(and women) in diverse human endeavors; and other people re-known for their status and achievement in diplomatic corps, governance and administration on the strength of grandma’s son, Ogbeni Aregbesola, Governor of Osun.
Human and vehicular traffics were heavy on the road to the venue. The long queue of vehicles broke up into three lanes, with the building up and spilling over to the other side facing the traffic in the opposite direction. Road marshals as well as The Police had hectic time. Some guests, disembarked and had to walk; others tried to maneuver their vehicles to the next line and just then, one of the cars broke down on one of the illegal lanes and the meandering became more desperate. Vehicles began to move in different directions against traffics and yet, trudged at snail speed in long snaky rows. The gorgeously dressed occupants of the vehicles and other guests at the venue spelt unspoken satisfaction that grandma came, saw, conquered and gone from us at age 84.May the soul of the state grandma continue to rest in Alijana Firdaous.
From the onset, the events promised to be grand and that was further reinforced by the choice of the venue, filled to the rafters, spilling guests to the surrounding neighborhoods. The guests exchanged pleasantries and radiated humors in an atmosphere enlivened by tantalizing meals. There were entertaining music that caught a picture of a huge carnival ground and the extravaganza of dresses, rooted in the different motifs of the designers and ranged from the pristine, the modern and the unfathomable, with some designs that elicited cheers from the crowd, others were booed and yet, others were greeted with deafening silence.
–Olusesi is Assistant Director, Directorate of Publicity, Research and Strategy, Osun APC.