I almost described the All Progressives Congress (APC) as a miserable copycat of the fallen Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) when it unceremoniously removed John Oyegun as its national chairman. But the ongoing Adams Oshiomhole treatment has upped the game in martial politics. I am not surprised that Oshiomhole is ending it this way. When a leader has unhinged hubris garnished with verbal incontinence, he is just one short step away from a fall. The Greeks, in their tragedies, said he whom the gods want to destroy, they make proud, arrogant, overconfident. Nemesis, the Greek goddess of indignation and retribution “for evil deeds and undeserved good fortune” always took care of such people. The suspended APC chairman ought to have known that the mountain top is always very slippery for the rude and arrogant. He should have studied the terrain and begged his weakness not to be his nemesis. A man who would not go to hell must work against hell. Niccolo Machiavelli warned that the sure way to paradise is to “learn the way to hell in order to steer clear of it.”
On Monday 30 July, 2018, I identified Oshiomhole as that great man who would help the APC to die teenage death. I said the party was, perhaps, tired of ruling Nigeria and so had hired a combatant with a sledge hammer to knock holes in its walls. And there is really nothing wrong in destroying one’s own property if you won’t destroy others’ with yours. That was when Oshiomhole fought his twin brother, Emeka Ngige, called the minister unfriendly names and distinguished himself from President Muhammadu Buhari who “condones indiscipline.” I described him as a twisted version of Napoleon Bonaparte, a strong man who compensated himself “for his lack of height by seeking power, war, and conquest.” But a short man looking down on everybody – and talking down at those who made him – will end, one day, in the valley of fire. That is the consequential demon pursuing Oshiomhole now.
Must a man fight all wars all the time? A cannon on the loose endangers all. Is there really anyone Oshiomhole has not fought in that party – and outside the party? Think. Did you read his response to the question on whether he thought Buhari was comfortable with his leadership of the APC? You didn’t. Adams said he was “not a comfort reader.” Why did Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole say this? So, he didn’t know that the statement could only mean that he did not trust the president, the only trustworthy fellow in Nigeria? And he wants to continue as the chairman of a president who enjoys being called the one and only transparent, maigaskiya of Nigeria? That innocuous broadside should not surprise any keen Oshiomhole watcher. He has very scant regard for mores and niceties; he boxes without rules of morality — in and out of the ring. What about all the great things he said in the past about his current enemies and what he says now? Politicians of his school are snakes; their memories have no space for small and big favours. Remember what Oshiomhole did immediately he got his second term? He rushed to the Villa to thank PDP’s President Goodluck Jonathan and kissed the ass of that president who was too simple to know his enemies. Oshiomhole attributed his success to what he called Jonathan’s “determination to enthrone credible democracy in Nigeria.” He then described the ex-president as “indeed, a statesman; a man of honour.” And, immediately Jonathan suffered defeat, the ex-president became, in the mouth of Oshiomhole, a man who “lacked a sense of fairness.” We wait to read his judgment of Buhari and his years after this hurricane.
You saw how Oshiomhole rushed to meet Buhari last week. He came out and asked State House reporters if they were looking at him with pity. The big man should rather pity himself for not knowing how to propitiate his hubris and get a brake for his unhinged tongue. A friend asked me if I thought he was going to survive this? I said I did not know; only God knows — but I know that his enemies are like him, brilliant students of Machiavelli who know the ways of snakes. They know the implications of attacking a snake and allowing it to sidewind away with the head intact. The book instruction from their teacher is: “if an injury has to be done to a man, it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.”
Oyetola’s good morning in Osun State
The APC may be a sick, contagiously diseased party, but there is no desert without patches of hope. The white man calls such isolated breaths of fresh air oasis. One of such flashes of surprise is the report that the ultra-conservative Kano State has banned street begging and ‘deported’ hundreds of Almajirai to Chad, Niger Republic and to other northern states. And down south, the APC appears to have a number of states without its debilitating contagion. By their fruits, trees make their characters known. The Yoruba say if you are born by whomever, make sure you give yourself a rebirth. Recent decisions taken by the Osun State government on schools and schooling there lit fires of rebirth, regeneration and hope. The decisions were significant enough to catch the attention of wailers, hailers and haters. And they did.
One fateful Friday in October 2013, an Osogbo Chief Magistrates’ Court ordered four persons, including a company, to be remanded in Ilesha prison custody. Their offence: they produced and sold Osun State school uniforms at N1,000 per pupil instead of N1,800 which the monopoly created by the APC state government sold theirs. It is difficult to believe, but it happened. The charge sheet read: “That you Abdulkareem Saheed (35), Olatunji Saheed (35), Ismaila Akinlosotu (49), Japhlet Banudai Vincent (50) and Cotzyn Nigeria Limited Plot “A” Block IX Ilupeju Industrial Estate of Lagos State on same date, time and place at the said aforementioned did knowingly make, distribute and sell infringed copies of Osun public school uniform without any licence or authority…”
People went to jail, in a democracy, because they produced and sold school uniforms “without licence” and at cheap prices. Only an APC government would do that and get praised for it. That was seven years ago.
On Monday, October 1, 2018, I wrote in this space that Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola who was billed to be sworn in as governor of Osun State the following month would soon come face-to-face with what annoyed those who voted against him and his party in the September 2018 election. I said his foes and genuine friends would watch if he would “vote for either the legal Osun State (in whose name he swore to serve) or the illegal State of Osun” which he would inherit. I said he would inherit LAUTECH with its loads of unresolved issues and cases of students spending nine years on a four-year course. I alerted him that it would be seen whether he would “quickly allow schoolchildren wear their real, historic uniforms” or he would “continue the policy of forcing them to don the current alien sacs which everybody loathes.” I told Oyetola that he would “have to choose between preserving worthy legacies and destroying them”; that he would be made to “choose either letting Oduduwa College, Ilesa Grammar School, Kiriji Memorial College, Osogbo Grammar School and all other schools take back their glorious names and identities or he will retain the strange rechristening of these icons of history.” I told him that “Osun State will ask him to find out why Governors Bola Tinubu, Babatunde Fashola and Akinwumi Ambode did not merge Lagos’ iconic Kings College with Queens College and name the hybrid as Government High School. And why they didn’t demolish Igbobi College and plant an uncompleted mall in its stead.” I reminded him that all these (and many more) happened to Osun State under his predecessor.
I warned that the people would look up (or stand up) to Oyetola to restore their schools, remove boys from Baptist Girls High School, Osogbo and girls from the all-boys St. Charles Grammar School, Osogbo. I said “we will demand back our alma maters which the outgoing governor merged and gave new names without our consent.” I added that “when the new governor takes over on 27 November, Osun State will wait to see if Osun State money will be spent on Osun people in Osun State; and whether his own commissioner for education will also come from Ogun State.” I said he would be assessed the very first month on whether or not he would pay suffering workers and teachers, old and dying pensioners their full monthly pays or he would half their figures. I said the unpaid would tell him stories of hopes dashed, of dreams shattered and of destinies altered. I told the new governor that he must listen to them and offer balms. I hinted him that “so much he will be asked; so much he must answer.” I did not envy him.
That was almost two years ago. Then he took over and, truly, found out that those were the issues he faced everywhere he went. Today, Oyetola has surprised all who thought his reign would be somebody’s third term with all the warts and blisters. He governs the state quietly and reasonably without high dramas and tension — and without inheriting anyone’s enemies. More instructively, he has been building what should be built without injuring people’s humanity. He pays salaries and pensions in full and without defaulting. Last week, he reversed all the obnoxious policies he inherited and made himself a man of history. And he is APC. I am surprised — and shocked, and impressed; but, as said by Chinua Achebe, it is still “morning yet on creation day.”