The many ‘sins’ of Ajimobi
READING my “Now Amosun, Okorocha have repeated OGD’s mistakes…” (“TREASURES” column, New Telegraph of Wednesday, 13 March, 2019 Back Page), a reader asked why I did not include Oyo State’s Gov. Isiaka Ajimobi in the list. The reason is that while Ajimobi failed like his Ogun and Imo counterparts to impose his godson as successor, he, unlike the others, stayed within his party and did not play the harlotry like the others who played “one-leg-in, one-leg-out” with their party. In this regard, Ajimobi, like biblical Jabez, was more honourable than his colleagues. That he even lost his bid to make a return to the Senate did nothing to vitiate this viewpoint. Ajimobi, however, had faults of his own, which explain why he crashed badly after having broken the jinx of one-term governor in Oyo State. Let us first take a look at the OGD mistakes Amosun and Okorocha repeated before returning to Ajimobi. By the way, OGD is the acronym for Otunba Gbenga Daniel, two-term governor of Ogun State between 2003 and 2011, who made his own mistakes in 2011; Amosun and Okorocha repeated these same mistakes in 2019, despite that I had alerted and warned them (“Will Amosun repeat OGD’s mistakes?” New Telegraph, Wednesday, November 7, 2018). In this column, I warned Gov. Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State NEVER to repeat the mistakes made by his predecessor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, who stayed in one party but supported/sponsored a governorship candidate in another. In 2011, Daniel failed in that enterprise; his then godson, Gboyega Nasir Isiaka (GNI) of the Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN), as well as the favoured candidate of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, retired General Adetunji Idowu Olurin of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), lost the race to Amosun of the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). It was a three-horse race in 2011 but a four-horse race penultimate Saturday. In 2011, the splintering of the PDP into two factions weakened it and allowed ACN to coast home to victory. The same splintering of the PDP, this time into three groups – the Buruji Kashamu INEC-recognised group which contested the Ogun governorship election on PDP’s ticket, and the Ladi Adebutu and Daniel factions which split their support between the APM and APC candidates. INEC declared APC winner and Amosun is seething. But we warned him! Refresh yourself with that advice (given on November 7, 2018 and re-printed hereunder). We shall then return to draw some inescapable conclusions:
George Santayana’s words and those of other sages remain immortal; to wit, that if there is any lesson history teaches; it is that men seldom learn from history. And those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeating its mistakes. Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels also posited that human memory is very short. Human memory must be very short indeed for Gov. Ibikunle Amosun to contemplate the very mistakes that his predecessor, former Gov. Gbenga Daniel aka OGD, made less than eight years ago. If Zik is right in his polemics with a Colonial officer that you cannot execute the same wrong policies and get a different result, then, it follows that if Amosun repeats in 2019 the same mistakes that OGD made in 2011, he will most likely get in 2019 the same disastrous results that OGD got in 2011. Incidentally, OGD’s mistakes of 2011 paved the way for Amosun to snatch victory in that year’s governorship election in Ogun state, under the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu-inspired Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), beating OGD’s candidate, Gboyega Nasir Isiaka (GNI), who contested under the platform of the Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN) hurriedly put together by OGD to spite Obasanjo; and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, retired Gen. Adetunji Olurin, imposed by the ex-president. Obasanjo and OGD had turned Ogun State into a political battle-field of sorts; having suffered the excesses of Obasanjo as sitting president for a gruelling four years (2003 – 2007), OGD in his second term (2007 – 2011) decided “no more”. OGD leveraged on his position as sitting governor and leader of the party in the State but Obasanjo and his forces, which at a point included the dreaded Kashamu Buruji, fought back so ferociously that they made Ogun state virtually ungovernable for OGD. The State House of Assembly soon became the epicentre of many battles for supremacy, with the removal of OGD’s crony, Mrs. Titi Oseni, as speaker.
GNI was a brilliant and smart technocrat; one of the “Young Turks” credited with the OGD economic blueprint that produced stunning results which rapidly transformed Ogun from a sleepy civil service state to an investor’s destination of choice. Truth be told, OGD’s first tenure (2003 – 2007) brought massive economic transformation to Ogun; had he thrown in the towel at that point, he would have left the scene when the ovation was loudest. His second term (2007-2011) was marred largely by the many battles for survival that he had to fight. Up to a point he rode the storms and had the upper hand. After he finally settled for GNI as successor out of a motley crew of jostlers, everyone around started seeing and addressing GNI as “Your Excellency” People started currying favours from him and worming themselves into his heart. The governorship all appeared signed, sealed, and only waiting to be delivered. GNI at that point must also have started seeing himself as “governor-designate” All of a sudden, however, the tables turned. OGD could not get the PDP ticket for GNI; Obasanjo muscled OGD and his godson out of the way. OGD’s political group decided to move into another party, hence the PPN – but OGD himself faced a dilemma. He did not want to be seen as an antagonist to circumstantial President Goodluck Jonathan’s 2011 presidential ambition. Moreover, OGD was appointed the South-west coordinator of Jonathan’s campaign. So, OGD got stuck in PDP even though he had pushed his vibrant political forces into PPN, where they became rudderless and leaderless, so to say. Confusion and uncertainty set in. Many retraced their footsteps to PDP; some left for other parties, including ACN. OGD was a sorry sight to behold: A PDP sitting governor sponsoring a governorship candidate on the platform of another political party; a South-west coordinator of Jonathan’s campaign who asked his supporters to vote PDP in the presidential election but vote PPN in the governorship!
Jonathan won as president but GNI lost the governorship. It was a three-horse race between GNI, Amosun, and Olurin. The balkanisation of PDP’s votes paved the way for Amosun to win the laurel. The combination of PPN and PDP’s votes surpassed Amosun’s. One would have thought that fair is fair; after all, life itself is win some; lose some! Unfortunately for OGD, politics is not like that. You must have heard politicians say that all politics is local. Once a leader loses his political base, he loses relevance and dangles in the air. He may become an “Abuja politician”, as they are derisively called; and that is if he is lucky to land an appointment there or gets himself into the Senate as many ex-governors are wont to do these days. If, in his ongoing face-off with the APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, over the party’s primaries that have become “yonpon-yanrin”, Amosun toesin 2019 the path that OGD toed in 2011, it is likely he ends up in 2019 in the same cul-de-sac that OGD ended up in, in 2011.Amosun cannot remain in APC to campaign for President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election but send his political forces into another party to contest the 2019 Ogun State governorship election. A Yoruba proverb literally interpreted says if you want to be a leper, be a proper leper; and if you want to be blind, make sure you are blind in both eyes. To be partially blind causes confusion. That is when you will see an elephant and say you have just seen a grasshopper! Amosun cannot have his cake and eat it. I hope Baba Onifila Gogoro is listening!
Unfortunately, Amosun did not listen; ditto Imo State’s Okorocha who also sat in the APC where he, like Amosun, worked for President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election and also contested for Senate but went ahead to sponsor/support a godson to contest as governor on another party’s platform. Both governors are crying now; they are imagining what hit them. Their arrogance hit them! Their “Iberiberism” or folly did them in! It is queer when people take the same faulty steps but expect a different result. Theirs is the case of the proverbial hunter’s dog destined to get lost in the forest of many devils, which would not hear or listen to the hunter’s whistle. As dirty as we say politics is here, our people still have a modicum of morality to fathom out that there is something intrinsically wrong with Amosun’s and Okorocha’s arrangement: You had breakfast with the APC but went somewhere else for lunch. As ignorant and easily dispensable as our leaders think their hapless followers are, these same people still have enough commonsense to see through the gimmicks of their leaders. The literacy level is another problem this kind of political harlotry has to contend with; so also the crowded field of contestants, not to talk of the fact that the elections were generally flawed”
In this column last week (“My country, right or wrong”), I argued that it helps the growth of party internal democracy and the overarching interest of a virile democracy if politicians do not whimsically see and treat political parties as disposable items. Such use-and dump mentality is not only capricious but also an ill wind that blows no one any good.
We now return to Ajimobi, said by some to have performed in terms of the infrastructural development of Oyo State. Why, then, did he fail? Ajimobi’s Achilles’ heel of ‘arrogance’ is said to be legendary but I learned from William Shakespeare’s Othello to excuse that which cannot be helped. But what of the “Baba nla” error of his public altercation with protesting students of the Ladoke Akintola University, Ogbomoso, leading to him earning the sobriquet “Mr Constituted Authority?” With the way he handled issues pertaining to that university, which is the economic life-line of Ogbomoso, Ajimobi lost one of the largest voting centres of Oyo State. How about the needless demolition of Yinka Aiyefele’s radio station? Outside of government circles, I did not find anyone, including this column, who did not rail against Ajimobi for that action. Then came his tussle with the Olubadan: Ajimobi called it modernisation of the Olubadan chieftaincy stool, but not a few felt he desecrated the stool. Lose Ibadan/Ibarapa, lose Oyo state! Finally, there are few Nigerian leaders whose family have been a plus to them in office. Some of the negative publicity that Ajimobi attracted to himself came via the home front. It is hoped that the in-coming governor, Seyi Makinde, will consider the fault lines of Ajimobi and learn useful lessons. As our elders say; “Eni jin si koto…” Again, “Abo oro l’a n so f’Omoluabi…”