Ondo APC Unity Group: Altruism or personal interest?

According to Aristotle, “At his best man is the noblest of all animals. Separated by law and justice, he is the worst. Anybody can become angry -that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose and in the right way – that is not within anybody’s power and it is not easy. Therefore, and for posterity sake, it would not be out of place to put this in the public domain for objective assessment; otherwise, a tyrant would have been made to put an appearance of an uncommon devotion to religion believing that he has the gods on his side.”

The above postulation is apt as it is instructive. It is a potent foundation for humanity, human relations and compassion- the bedrock of conscience. In unpretentious manner too, brief as same appears, the quote has the commanding efficacy of thoughtfulness and thoroughness; tolerance and perseverance; love and gratitude. It is indeed, a beacon in its own right.

A quiet slant into the perfidious path of the common enemies (within the All Progressives Congress, APC) of the Ondo State governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), presents a brazen malevolence.

The APC Unity Group, led by former deputy governor, Alhaji Ali Olanusi (a.k.a Jasper), has created a niche for itself in all but the positive motives. No doubt, Olanusi sounds not too hidden. He was born at Supare Akoko, a town in Akoko South West Local Government Area of Ondo State. He attended Ansarudeen Grammar School, Ikole Ekiti, Ekiti State where he obtained the West African School Certificate.

On completion of his secondary education, he was employed as a teacher at Modern School, Ogbagi, Ondo State but left the school to join the services of the Lagos State Ministry of Transport. Alhaji Olanusi did not go beyond his secondary education; and his attestation to that is profound but swollen in mischief. He once said: “My greatest regret in life is that I am not a graduate. It is a fact that I do not have a degree certificate from any university within or outside Nigeria. However, I don’t have an inferiority complex.”

Olanusi’s political career has gone through the mill of partisanship, no doubt. He was a member of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) before he joined the Social Democratic Party (SDP) but, curiously, he was a foundation member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He was, at a time, the Ondo State chairman of the PDP. By another turn of event, on February 24, 2009, he was sworn in as the deputy governor of the state on the platform of the Labour Party and was re-elected on the same platform in October 2012. Finally, he expectedly defected to the APC, abandoning his then principal, Governor Olusegun Mimiko. That summarises his political journey so far.

Nonetheless, Olanusi’s strange comfort in conflict is legendary. He had to his credit the toga of a conflict hub against three former governors in Ondo State. All the same, the issues in question in respect of the current crisis between Olanusi’s Unity Group and the Ondo State governor daily melt into the cabin of personal interest.

The Unity Group, no doubt, is a collection of governorship aspirants, including inexorably perennial ones, who adherently find shield under a personal-interest-driven grouse held against Akeredolu by Olanusi. This can be traced to the third day after the swearing-in of Governor Akeredolu as the helmsman of the state on February 27, 2017. Olanusi had presented to the fresh governor a mandatory (not a suggestive) list of names to be inaugurated as members of the state Muslim Pilgrims’ Welfare Board for the Hajj processes for that year.

Olanusi had presented his personal alfa, Alhaji Yunis Alola, as chairman of the board, among other names. Akeredolu, after his initial objection, grudgingly accepted without a promise to do as Olanusi had perniciously desired. At a later date, an assertive governor had announced the Board, and to the consternation of Olanusi, none of those he had presented as of ‘right’, made the Board. This development infuriated Olanusi and all attempts to pacify him that the governor’s action was not to slight him but was the result of wider consultations with Muslims in the state were not acceptable to the crisis entrepreneur.

When Olanusi subsequently won the case against his impeachment by the House of Assembly, he approached the governor for payment of all his rights which he calculated and put at over N400 million. Without much argument, Akeredolu pleaded with him to allow a committee to look into the judgment. This committee consisted of the Attorney General of the state and other reputable government officials.

However, the committee recommended that the former deputy governor’s entitlements could only be by rights and not privileges. Hence, he was said to be entitled to the sum of N30, 117,757.02, which was paid to him at once through his Wema Bank Account Number 0230728992.

Rather than expressing gratitude, Olanusi flared up and resorted to blackmailing the governor. The governor then advised that he should seek a court interpretation of the judgment as it affects the money due to him. He headed back to court for interpretation where he was advised to collect the sum offered him as the judgment did not provide for monetary compensation.

After collecting the sum of N30 million, Olanusi privately met Governor Akeredolu where he threatened to deal decisively with him the way he had dealt with three former governors of the state. But Olanusi’s fury met the full anger of the Owo-born legal luminary turned politician, Akeredolu, who insisted that he would not pay anything more to Olanusi.

While the feud lingered, stakeholders within the party stepped into the matter for peace to reign between the two leaders. That brought about a political solution, via the setting up of a committee headed by the deputy governor, Honourable Agboola Ajayi and where it was resolved that additional N70 million be paid to Alhaji Olanusi, exgratia. This was paid in two instalments of N35 million each to the same account, via FCMB and Union Bank drafts (34571947 and 00000054) dated 16/05/18 and 25/05/18, respectively. The total sum paid to Olanusi thus came to N100 million.

While thinking all was now well with Alhaji Olanusi, Akeredolu and the good people of Ondo State with this gesture, most members of the APC became more confused as regards what probably can be the endless grouse of Olanusi against Governor Akeredolu.

Now, what does Baba Olanusi want? Does he want to be the governor of the state? Or what is the problem between him and Akeredolu? Perhaps stakeholders can inquire from him if there are other underlying reasons for his unjust gang up against the governor of our dear state. Contextually, is it proper for any governor, regardless of the type of conflict, to suffer from the same individual without any just cause? Should the personal interest of such individual, regardless of his status be made to override the collective interest of our dear state?

Rather than being subjected to unjust vituperations, Governor Akeredolu should be applauded and appreciated. Beyond the payment of the sum of N100 million to Olanusi, his current position as the chairman of Benin-Owena River Basin Authority was at the instance of Akeredolu. This demands gratitude from Alhaji Olanusi. Olanusi’s unholy allies will find this piece useful, if only to stratify between their collective conscience and the unjust confoundment they have subjected themselves without knowing the benefit of the depth of the slide Olanusi had taken them for long.

Olanusi should not be pilloried because he deserves everyone’s pity. His unsuspecting allies could, at best, find solace in Francis Bacon’s treatise that, “The tyrant dies and his rule is over; the martyr dies and his rule begins. The function of prayer is not to influence God; rather, it is to change the nature of the one who prays.”

 

  • Oyewamide is Senior Special Assistant (Media and Publicity) to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State.

 

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