OPINION: The Passion Of Ogbeni…By Steve Osuji

Ogbeni's Potrait -  (6)Prelude to the June 21 Ekiti State election, this column waded in on the side of the incumbent Kayode Fayemi because it was the right thing to do, taking cognisance of his antecedent and his performance in office. Also judging by the puny personality of his major contender in terms of integrity quotient, record in office, possession of the requisite gravitas and nobility for high office, this column insists that Fayemi and not Fayose is more deserving of the office even though one cannot help but respect the choice of Ekiti people.

In the same manner and going by the parameters listed above, this column will vote for Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola to remain as the governor of Osun State on August 9. The Ogbeni advantage, just as in Fayemi’s, is made seemingly unassailable when ranged against an opponent, Iyiola Omisore, who is weakened and compromised by an odious antecedent. In the days of yore when elders were the spirits of the land and taboos were indeed, abominations to the living and the dead, an Omisore would not deign to be a leader in Yoruba land. In those days, elders would sit at dawn at the first crow of the cock and speak as one with the gods; pour libation and set the land aright, an Omisore would never have found the face to stand before the people to seek to lead them.

But this is an age that is at once licentious and forgiving; an age that easily changes black in white, using confounding ‘means and machinery’. We are in an age that not only gets away with murder (in a manner of speaking), the more dastardly murderous a man can dare to be, the better he is ‘regarded’ in the society. It is in this kind of weird world that an Omisore would stand a strong contender in a governorship election.

It is not to say that Ogbeni is the quintessence of humanity or a citizen of the celestial realms. It is just that he has a track record and a reference point that even his opponents cannot fault. Ogbeni is also a man of immense passion; burning passion for the people; passion to drive change, to improve and to make good. You may quarrel with his method or even the fiery intensity of his passion, but it is often in the quest for the greatest good for the people.

This column had occasions to prick and jab him on some of his actions, especially his dalliance with religion in his state, but his finer motive it turned out, is to upgrade learning and education in his state. Though Christians may have misconstrued it as antagonism towards their faith, what are we to then make of his government’s move to catalyse the building of a mega Christian centre, perhaps the largest of its kind in the country, in his state. Of course, Muslims would see this as deploying the state’s machinery for the propagation of the Christian faith, but for the Ogbeni, the nobler motive is to tap into Christianity’s huge economic potentialities to develop his state.

Such is Ogbeni’s passion, which had been manifest right from his days as the commissioner for works in the Bola Tinubu years in Lagos. He is part of the mastermind and architect of some of the great developmental strides that have unfurled under Babatunde Fashola in Lagos. Of course, Ogbeni is not only a master of the grassroots; he is the essential man of the people who eats his roast corn with the people both on and off camera. The people of Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos, his constituency and domain, would testify to this.

If half of the governors are half as passionate about working for the people as Ogbeni, there would be less strive in the land and the country would progress in leaps and bounds. In nobler climes, Ogbeni would not have had to campaign to be returned to office. But this column wagers that the Ogbeni passion would carry him through: for a man who is credible both on the streets and in the State House, who has rolled out as much physical infrastructure as the fabled stomach substructure, the people of Osun will be utterly nihilistic not to return him. They need to be vigilant too.