To the people of Osun, August 9, 2014, will forever remain august! It was the day they buried the shackles of perpetual slavery. They openly resisted and rejected those who sought to throw them into economic and social captivity. They broke the crab fingers of looters and killers. They expelled domination and oppression. They defied over 50,000 boots and guns deployed to the state to harass, intimidate dehumanize, and steal their inalienable right to elect a leader of their choice under a peaceful, free, fair and credible elections. They voted for the All Progressives Congress (APC). They re-elected Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola as governor.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had stolen Aregbesola’s victory in 2011. He fought for three years to retrieve it. This time round, when the PDP came like a flood, the great people of Osun raised a standard against it with their votes. They have confirmed to the whole world that they elected Aregbesola in 2011 and not the candidate of the poverty development party who was wrongly declared winner then.
How could an Otunba Iyiola Omisore, the PDP governorship flag-bearer in the just concluded elections in the state, have ever dream of ruling the great and sophisticated people of Osun? In 2007, he went to the Senate by fraud. He was in prison. Nominated in prison. Won in prison. And was surreptitiously let off the hook to go to the Upper Chamber. A fugitive as federal lawmaker! He was given the appropriation committee. And he lived in a fool’s paradise thereafter. Omisore loves roasted corn. In a manner that evinced the greed in him, he grabbed two cobs and grubbed them simultaneously. What manner of man is this that sought to rule over the sophisticated people of Osun, the land of Oramiyan?
The victory is not for Aregbesola or the APC. The victory is for the great and valiant people of the State of Osun. Osun today represents the new face of true democracy in Nigeria. The people of Osun have displayed their rich pedigree with royal courage. The PDP thought they could beguile the people of Osun like they did in Ekiti. But the people were wiser. The people of Osun did not fall like the people of Ekiti. They showed resistance and now they are happy for it. They were not cowed by the overwhelming importation of thugs dressed in national security apparels and other hooded security agents to intimidate the people and make them abandon their mandate. They were not moved by the slush funds that were openly distributed to security agents in a bid to make them complicit in the rigging of the election.
Nigeria needs to borrow a leaf from this exemplary determination and courageous disposition, if this country must witness the needed change in 2015. The people of Osun were too positive to be doubtful. Too optimistic to be fearful. Too determined to be defeated. They have not only elected Aregbesola but have defeated the worst form of coup against democracy in the annals of Nigerian history. The total clampdown on the leaders of the APC with over 250 of them arrested within 12 hours led to the outcry by the leadership of the APC that except the people rose, their state might again fall into the hands of plunderers.
The Chief John Odigie-Oyegun-led superlative national leadership of the APC must be commended for their courage and doggedness to preserve and make democracy work in Nigeria. They must be specially commended for exposing the rigging plan of the PDP before the election. They must be lauded for refusing to run out of town in the face of the fiercest intimidation and political terrorism in the history of this country. Even the national publicity secretary of the APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, was among the over 250 APC stalwarts that were arrested in a Gestapo style by agents of the state and detained in a bid to break the resolve of the party’s leadership and supporters at ensuring a free, fair and credible governorship poll in Osun. The leadership of the APC has been vindicated. The people can now see that the Ekiti fiasco was a broad day robbery which must be reclaimed. The harder the battle, the sweeter the victory. Security agencies at the behest of the PDP harassed APC governors, intimidated and deceived the people of Ekiti and stole their mandate scientifically. But the leadership of the APC and the people of Osun, even though they were stretched to breaking point, persevered till victory was attained.
The victory will remain a potent signal to the federal government under the PDP and all agents of election rigging in this country not to try their evil antics in 2015. This is not 1999. This is not 2003. This is not 2007. This is not 2011. This is going to be 2015. Osun has shown the way and Nigerians will follow their sterling example to make their votes count in 2015. The PDP and all reactionary forces in Nigeria are beatable and defeat-able. Osun has proved it. Those who are banking on stolen mandates in 2015 should beware!
Ogbeni’s performance endeared him to the people. In fact, no other governor has developed Osun State like Ogbeni since its creation in 1991. His victory has successfully upturned the lies that the people of the south-west would rather prefer “stomach infrastructure” to innovative leadership and development. They bandied the lie after stealing Governor Kayode Fayemi’s victory in Ekiti State. But the state of Osun rejected the evil label. The people were ready to die for the man that is leading them out of Egypt to the promised land. They rose up, having learnt from the Ekiti heist, to defend their votes.
Nigerians must not go to sleep. They should not be deceived by the outcome of this election, which was won due to the tenacity of the people, to believe that this outcome will usher in a free, fair and credible election in 2015. For the election to turn out the desired way, the people must insist that their votes must count. INEC cannot be trusted based on this flash in the pan in Osun. Democracy in Nigeria must truly be the government of the people, by the people and for the people and never a government of the mighty, by the mighty and for the mighty. In view of this, INEC must not take glory for the success of this election. They have always compromised wherever the people were not defiant like the people of Osun. They either shape up or ship out. The people will not tolerate any shenanigans from them in 2015. The people must be allowed to choose their leaders at all times. Osun is not the litmus test for 2015 as many erroneously think. 2015 is going to be the litmus test for credible, free and fair elections in Nigeria. Until then, let INEC not bask in false euphoria of having got it right.
Nigerians must seize this moment and say “never again” to rigging and brutal subversion of the genuine wishes and aspiration of the people for true democracy in this country. If not, we the people will have ourselves to blame, like Shakespeare said in Julius Caesar: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” This is our chance; let the Osun example be our guiding light in 2015. Nigerians are more than ever before determined to vote out corruption, insecurity, poverty, unemployment and continuous looting of our national resources.