In a period of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act – George Orwell, author of ‘Animal Farm’ & ‘Nineteen Eighty Four.’
From time immemorial, South-West politics has been laced with the poisoned chalice called treachery. I read this in History books as well as witnessed first-hand in my native Owo in Ondo State, first in 1964/65 and later in 1983, some of the gory consequences of “politics with bitterness.”
These included setting people and properties ablaze in what was called “Operation Wetie”, meaning “set them ablaze.” Many of the owners of properties wasted in this manner never recovered from their losses. Inherent in politics is competition and the jostling for power, position, influence, relevance, and, of course, wealth. To ensure that “the game” is played within reasonable bounds, laws are made and processes prescribed; but these are oftentimes short-circuited by those cutting corners. Use of coercion, reliance on the apparatuses of state power by the politicians who control them, and the counter-measure of employing private armies by those who feel short-changed by the compromise of state power, are the sure recipe for mayhem. The earliest deadly struggle for power amongst leading South-West politicians was the one between Chief Obafemi Awolowo and others on the one hand and Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola and others on the other, during the First Republic. South-West politics was never to remain the same again.
The political divide survived into the Second Republic with the like of AMA Akinloye, Richard Akinjide (Mr. 12 two-thirds); Victor Omololu Olunloyo; and later, the turn-coats: Busari Adelakun aka Eruobodo; Sunday Afolabi and Akin Omoboriowo, all of the NPN, leading the challenge against the mainstream Awoist party, the UPN.
Before the curtain was drawn in 1999 on a long period of military rule, Olusegun Obasanjo, an Egba man, had declared that MKO Abiola, another Egba man who had won a pan-Nigeria mandate to be president in the landmark presidential election of June 12, 1993, was not the messiah that Nigeria needed. Ernest Shonekan, also Egba, had sided with a military junta trying to rubbish Abiola’s mandate. Thereafter in 2003, we had the Obasanjo civilian “coup” against Afenifere leaders/governors of the South-West; only Senator Bola Tinubu, the then Alliance for Democracy governor of Lagos State, escaped the onslaught; after which Tinubu himself ambushed the Afenifere leaders and offloaded them from the driver’s seat of South-West politics.
Chief Bisi Akande versus Iyiola Omisore; Chief Bola Ige versus Afenifere leaders at D’Rovans Hotel, Ibadan; leading to the schism in the organisation that is yet to heal; Segun Mimiko versus Chief Adebayo Adefarati; Mimiko versus Obasanjo; Mimiko versus Agagu; Mimiko versus Tinubu; Gbenga Daniel versus Tinubu; Daniel versus Obasanjo; Fashola versus Tinubu; Amosun versus Tinubu – we can go on and on. Treachery; lack of principles; politics of selfishness; use and dump politics; “my stomach, my belly” politics have all characterised South-West politics from time immemorial. But today, more than ever before, political prostitution has become an art; shorn of morals, politics is worse than banditry.
I have a friend. A couple of weeks ago, he called to fire barbs at Buhari/APC and said CHANGE has become CHAIN! After he had enjoyed a hearty laugh, I asked him what he was still doing in PDP when the man he was supporting had since “ported” to APC. “That is ‘egbon’s own cup of tea,” he said. I felt pity for him. Here was a man who went everywhere with a lorry-load of MTN call logs bent on proving that the Court of Appeal judgment that sent Olagunsoye Oyinlola packing as governor of Osun State was procured by illegitimate means. Sadly, however, he did not get as much as the courtesy of an advance notice before the main actor abandoned the field and ported. Stripped of the indispensable garb of what the law calls “locus standi”, he can be described, like a judge once described the late social crusader, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, for his ceaseless advocacy, as “busy-body and meddlesome interloper.” In other words, he is crying more than the bereaved and trying to be more Catholic than the Pope – which the law does not encourage.
The South-West cries for leadership and yawns for direction; unfortunately, there is none on the horizon. In Ekiti and elsewhere, Yoruba leaders are busy tearing at one another. In the run-down to the last governorship election in Ondo State, Osun governor, Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola, campaigned vigorously for the ACN/Rotimi Akeredolu ticket on the platform of South-West integration. I jumped on the bandwagon. Anytime, I will support the integration of the South-West because that is the sure road to our economic prosperity. But once the election was lost; Aregbe, understandably, mentioned “integration” no more! Where will a governor struggling to pay salaries\pensions find the resources and time to commit to the pursuit of integration; more so when other South-West governors do not appear to be on same page? Sometimes, I feel Aregbe miscalculated going to Osun to be governor. He should have tried Lagos. For one, he seems to have more of Lagos mentality than Osun’s. For another, the resources in Lagos are huge, compared to those in Osun, which, even at the best of times, was one of the poorest in the league of the country’s poor states. I have met a lot of governors; permit me to humbly submit that few are as politically conscious as Aregbe. Articulate, forthright, visionary, and passionate, Aregbe is a delight to discuss with. He has retentive memory and an uncanny devotion to details. I know many will then ask: How come the “State of Osun” suffered ship-wreck under his nose? That, I dare to say, is a tragedy on its own! But Osun is not alone in that quagmire. There are states whose condition is as bad, if not worse, than Osun’s.
What I have failed to understand, however, is why “hijab” became an intractable problem in Osun. Whence cometh this brouhaha and why did it take such a dangerous dimension in Osun? Between August 1976 and January 1978, I was an Auxiliary Teacher at Osogbo Grammar School, after which I proceeded to Ilesha Grammar School in February 1978 for “A” Level. I thereafter attended the University of Ife – all in Osun State. There was nothing like “hijab” controversy in those days. Growing up at Owo, I attended Ansar-Ud- Deen Primary School; proceeded from there to All Saints Modern School where there were both Christians and Muslims; and later Owo High School, where Pa Adekunle Ajasin, staunch Christian; ex-governor of old Ondo State and ex-NADECO leader, was Proprietor/Principal. The school authorities made arrangements for Muslim students in the hostel to observe the Ramadan; no hijab controversy. Until the hijab controversy reared its ugly head in Osun, it was alien to the South-West. Ironically, South-West is one zone where Christians and Muslims are too inter-twined to be separable. It is therefore clear to me that whoever is at the roots of the hijab controversy has found a joker with which to destroy the South-West. It is slow poison they have fed us with; a killer-punch to our glass chin; and an arrow struck at our under-belly.
Are there female Muslims in the Armed Forces, Customs, Immigrations, Police, Prisons, DSS, FRSC, LASTMA, Civil Defence and in the banks – why do they not wear hijab on their uniforms and or to work? Is their fundamental human rights not thereby encroached upon? If they can bear not wearing hijab for the period they are at work, why can’t others bear it for the period they, too, are in school? But each time I walk the street and see female who wear hijab, I wonder if they will accept water from me and drink if they knew me to be a Christian\pastor. Will they not think I could poison them? The enmity this hijab trouble is sowing in our midst will blossom and bear dangerous fruits in no-distant future if care is not taken. It baffles me that Christian leaders do not understand that the more they drag this issue, the more they make hijab popular and the more people will subscribe to wearing it. If they ignore it, it will peter out on its own accord. By the way, whose cause are we fighting? If it is God’s, please take note of the admonition of Gideon’s (Jerubbal’s) father. I once shoved my legs into the same trousers with Aregbe over this issue, writing the stirring “The ‘arogidigba’ Aregbe killed.” But seeing where this dangerous matter has reached; now is the time for everyone to backpedal in the collective interest of the South-West, the well-being, good health, peace, and prosperity of the Yoruba Commonwealth. Yoruba – in Ekiti, Osun, everywhere – UNITE! Events around the country, especially those of the last one year, recommend the inevitability of the unity of purpose and action of the South-West; and we need the spirit of give-and-take to forge it.
LAST WORD: Will petrol remain at the present prohibitive price of N145 for long? The prognosis is that it will rise again; and possibly very soon or subsidy in trillions of Naira will return again. With dwindling resources, such that we have been told that even the 2016 budget cannot be fully implemented, where will government find the money to pay trillion-Naira subsidy to fuel importers? When N145 was slammed, the Naira exchanged for below N200 per dollar; now that a dollar exchanges for close to N400, can the importers sustain N145 fuel price? What will be the likely effects of another (unending!) subsidy removal? With the last removal, fuel consumption reportedly slumped by between 40 and 50 per cent. Sharp increase in the cost of goods and services followed, making life unbearable for the citizenry. The economy is the graveyard of governments all over the world. How efficiently the economy is managed to make life worth living is what matters most. Soon, people will get tired of how many thieves you caught and how many houses, trinkets, braziers and ear-rings you confiscated if it does not positively impact their living conditions. And time, I dare to say, is running out! CONCLUDED!