OPINION: Osun, It’s All About Credibility

Desmond-EkwuemeI was in Osun, Osogbo precisely for the gubernatorial election that held on August 9, 2014. I was in the State of the Living Spring before, during and after the election. Before the election the people of Osun had spoken. Everywhere I went the message was simple. From Freedom Park to Dada Estate (in Osogbo) and from Ikirun to Odeomu the message was the same. “A o go. Aregbe la fe. Bi won ma pa wa ni ki won pa wa” In English this interprets to mean “we are not fools. It’s Aregbe that we want. They can kill us for all we care.” The kill here refers to the heavy presence of police, army and DSS.

In a random opinion sampling I tried to find out from the people why they “want to die for Aregbesola?” I got almost the same answer from all my respondent. An old woman (Alhaja Muyinat Akinbade) who obviously is above 80 but says she doesn’t know her date of birth responded thus, “from the days of old Oyo State Aregbesola is the second governor after Late Bola Ige whose performances and government has impacted so much on the lives of the people. When I mean the people, I am talking of people like me and not the people living in Abuja. As far as Osun State is concern he (Aregbesola) is one of the few politicians we can really trust. Majority of them (politicians)are criminals, rascals, liars and strangers whose upbringing and lifestyle do not have bearing with our culture and political ideologies.  Aregbesola is homely, respectful and God fearing, that is why we want him to continue his good works.”

The election result was a proof that the words of Alhaja Akinbade who is a textile dealer represents the mindset, interest and wishes of almost all Osun indigenes and residents. It is a pointer to the fact that indeed every other political party in the August 9 poll lacked credible candidates, of course including the PDP. That is the crux of this matter in this piece. Perhaps a credible candidate would have closed the gap in the election result and made things more difficult (for the APC) and interesting as far as the outcome of the election is concerned.

From the look of things the APC will continue to have the upper hand in any election in the state for a long time to come until and except the other political parties field a candidate that the appeals to the people. Election in Nigeria is taking a new dimension. From Anambra to Ekiti and now Osun, it is all about the candidate and personality. It is no longer about the party. It is no longer a guarantee that a candidate will ride on the crest of his or her party. In fact he or she has to work his or her ass up and this means the candidate will be someone very close to the people. He or she must be a grassroots person, a familiar face and a popular identity.

You can’t just come from the moon and win an election in Nigeria. The voters must know your background, your parents, your pastor or Imam, the schools you attended, your classmates and peer-group. That is the new face of Nigeria’s democracy and elections. If Senator Iyiola Omisore contested the August 9 election with Gov. Aregbesola over and over again, the former will be defeated flat because Aregbesola knows virtually every town and street in his state just as he knows the people residing in the streets.

Omisore is perceived by many in Osun as tough and perhaps rough. Despite his innocence he seems to be hunted by the anger of those who still believe that he had a hand in the death of Chief Bola Ige. Before the election the people on the streets of Osogbo kept chanting all manners of demeaning songs against Senator Omisore, implying that he has a lot of questions to answer concerning Late Chief Ige. One Biobaku Ologe who resides on Ola-Oluwa road said, “only Omisore knows those that removed the cap of Late Chief Ige at the Ooni’s Palace and after that drama, it was just a matter of time for Chief Ige to be slained. That episode remains fresh in the minds of Osun people and it has continued to hunt Omisore up till this election and even in the future.”

The average Osun person believes that Chief Ige if alive today would have been the political light and godfather of Osun State and since his demise only Gov. Aregbesola has the leadership qualities near those of Chief Ige. It is only natural therefore that they vote him back into office for a second term. This means that once Aregbesola finishes his second term in office, surely the people would need to be convinced beyond reasonable doubt about another candidate even if Aregbesola presents any as expected to be his successor or godson.

This is why the PDP must commence the search for a credible candidate now. It is better to start preparing for the 2018 election now than wait till things gets late especially when it is considered that Osun is a peculiar state. The PDP if really it wants to take control of Osun after the exit of Aregbesola in four years, it has to go after a young man or woman who knows Osun and the people also know him or her. Preferably a civil servant with transparent lifestyle and modest family upbringing and background should be groomed from the middle class and projected to the people.