Ogbeni Aregbesola: In The Womb Of A New Morning

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nigeria is in dire straits! No thanks to a system that joys in fortune for the few and misfortune for the many. Currently rated as one of Africa’s worst governed countries; and with a threatening political terrain, comical economic life and confusing rural sustenance, that dear country has become a world of sin and woe, practically unable to fulfill its constitutional obligations to its component parts is no longer news.

As a result of the gross incompetence of her leaders, Nigeria has become a backward country of backward people who cringe before backward leaders. Ours is a country of wounded hopes, appallingly submerged in the whelming flood of blind pursuits and egocentric ambitions. Armed bandits have seized control of a sizable portion of a region of this fractured country while another suffers from the aftereffects of aquatic assault.

Unlike in civilized climes, where soldiers elect to fight, even die for their fatherland, in our country, our ill-equipped, ill-motivated, ill-prepared, overwhelmed and outdone military Generals shamelessly scamper for safety at the mere rumours of war…

In our very eyes, Nigeria is now regarded as one of the world’s worst places to grow old. The World Bank has also revealed that, unless some steps are taken in the right direction, by the Year 2030, Nigeria may become one of the world’s main contributors to global poverty. As we speak, Nigeria has dropped to 127th place on the Global Competitive Index as her fortune in FIFA ranking slid to the 42nd position. She is the 15th Most Failed Nation in the world and ranks an unimpressive 110th out of 117 countries on the Global Innovation Index. As if these are not enough for a country as troubled as Nigeria, reports also have it that, between 2016 to around 2020s, Nigeria is likely to be overtaken by Angola as Africa’s largest crude oil producer. Reason: “crude theft and regulatory uncertainties in the Nigerian oil industry.”

So far, so troubling! It is in this Epistle of Darkness which currently defines Nigeria that Rauf Aregbesola is again taking up the challenge of running the affairs of Osun State for the next four years. Having first mounted the saddle on October 27, 2010, the ‘Land of Virtue’, under Aregbesola’s leadership has in the last four years experienced genuine transformation in all its important sectors and attracted development as a result of its new status. A man not given to the putridity of inanity or the extremity of frivolity, the 57year-old Mechanical Engineer-turned-politician represents a new dream, new vision and new hope for a country in search of productive and God-fearing leadership. He is a grassroots politician of immense wealth of experience and a willing companion in times of trouble who never allows the fortunes of life to becloud his sense of humour and belongingness.

Aregbesola is sticktoitive and understands not only “how great it is to be great” but also “how greater it is to be human.” He is a man of quiet courage and undying faith who is neither shy nor weary of confronting the trends, tricks, arrogance, even, the ignorance of Abuja and its anti-people policies.

One good turn, it is often said, deserves another! Now that Aregbesola is beginning the second lap of his administration, I have a buoyant feeling that, like his first term in office, the next four years will be as eventful as they will in the end turn out to be a huge success. Osun State will continue to experience growth and all eyes will see it. That the consummate politician has therefore started on a sound note is not only commendable, it is also a sign of greater things to come. For instance, while the campaign lasted, work never stopped for a day on ongoing projects.

Not only that, while we are reliably informed that Aregbesola has never earned any salary as governor in the last four years, like a man already on a mission to succeed, he has inaugurated no fewer than ten huge projects, less than two months into his re-election. Among them are Oranmiyan New Town, Central Mosque of Osun State House of Assembly, and the Electronic Tax Clearance Certificate (E-TCC), facilitated by Osun State Internal Revenue Services. Others are rural community projects under the Replication of UNICEF Community Development Initiative Programme; and the construction of 225 kilometre rural roads under the Osun Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP).

In the wake of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) scourge, the state rose to the occasion by establishing four EVD Isolation Centres in the state’s three Senatorial Districts and Osogbo, the state capital, in addition to the distribution of over-2000 non-contact forehead infrared thermometers to State- and Federal Government-owned schools as well as provision of over-2000 boreholes and toilets, together with potable water supply to residents of the state for the purpose of curbing the outbreak of water-related diseases. The World Bank has also promised to support the state with an interest-free loan as part of its contributions towards the enhancement of basic education delivery in the state.

In Osun State, the amount charged for the issuance of Certificate of Occupancy now stands at N30,000 only, as against N100,000, for a piece of land. The ‘Tablet of Knowledge’, popularly referred to as ‘Opon Imo’ is running its course and Agriculture is being accorded its pride of place. Ditto for the School Feeding Programme, O’MEALS, which continues to attract national and international recognition.

In the words of Bear Bryant, “It’s not the will to win, but the will to prepare to win that makes the difference.” Students of Political Practice will readily admit that the expression of love and the show of support for Aregbesola’s cause remain unsurpassed in Nigeria’s recent history. For instance, on the day of the election, I was at a stage moved to tears when a group of well-wishers from Kogi State vowed, through telephone conversations, to give neither sleep to their eyes nor food to their mouths until Aregbesola was declared re-elected. Again, I doubt if I ever remembered the location of Elf Filling Station on Iwo Road, Ibadan, until we received unsolicited ‘gird-your-loin’ information from a well-wisher that more than ten buses, carrying some People’s Democratic Party, PDP mercenaries, were already on their way to Osogbo!

For a fact, while the electioneering lasted, I never for a minute nursed the thought that Aregbesola would not win the election. Of concern to me however was the margin by which his opponents would be roundly trounced. My hope was assuredly buoyed by the remarks of a prominent labour leader in Ile-Ife that “a killer will never become a ruler in Osun State.” However, going by President Goodluck Jonathan’s body language before and during the election, keen watchers of Nigeria’s political experiment would readily admit that it was not in Abuja’s interest to allow a free, fair and credible election. For quite a good majority of us on the field on the day of the election, respite it was when Ooni of Ife’s Message of Congratulations to Governor Aregbesola on his re-election came in. With the message, interestingly, from Iyiola Omisore’s traditional ruler, the routing of perfidy from our land was sealed!

And, while the PDP, synonymous with peddling half-truths and absolute falsehood, never for once disappointed us as a resolute electorate, Omisore, Abuja’s preferred candidate, failed to learn some salient lessons on how not to be a hero. He refused to die when dying still has honour and he paid dearly for it. Indeed, neither the ‘cash-and-kind’ federal might nor his suspect ‘House-to-House Campaign’ strategy, comically tagged ‘Campaign on the Run’, or ‘Whatz up Campaign’, could save the already-destined-to-drown ‘Te s’oju e’ politician. In the end, the Almightiness of God prevailed over the vanityness of man as the electorate came out tranquilly, defying every form of intimidation, especially, from conspiratorial sympathizers and those Patrick Obahiagbon referred to as ‘Political Halleluyah Boys’, and confidently “demonstrated the Omoluabi essence” that has “made our race proud.”

A renowned polymath and one of the founding fathers of the United States of America, Benjamin Franklin defines democracy as “two wolves and a small lamb voting on what to have for dinner.” According to “the First American”, “Freedom under a constitutional republic is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.” If we may ask: why has Africa’s democratization not transcended the realm of the proverbial ‘Victory of the Lips’ and why have we not gone past doing old things the new way with old things remaining as end results? Why has peace in Nigeria remained “more of an uneasy calm than enduring peace” with “political crises, social unrest, inter-religious conflicts and crimes, insecurity of life and property” becoming the order of the day? In spite of our rulers’ claim to having solutions to our self-inflicted problems, why have things refused to work our way and why are those who, all their lives, toiled to see the country grow dying without realizing their dream of a politically peaceful and economically prosperous nation?

What is ‘Stomach Infrastructure’ and why has it become a defining feature of our democratic direction? On the other hand, how do we justify being in the opposition when, even as resources are limited, those with the ‘power to make and spread’ among members continue to prove too greedy, pretentious and inaccessible? Wait a minute: from where did Omisore’s handlers source those fraudulent figures with which they were at a stage boastfully claiming victory over popular will? Indeed, which sections of the Electoral Law support the arrest, better referred to as abduction, of over-50 prospective voters already on a queue, waiting for accreditation?

Were Isiaka Adeleke still a member of PDP, would security agents have barged on his compound with an attempt on his life the way they did on the morning of August 9? By the same token, why wasn’t any member of PDP arrested the way All Progressives Congress, APC, stalwarts were forcefully taken away from their homes and dumped in detention facilities by hooded terrorists who pretended as security operatives? Again, I ask: what was the mission of Niger Delta Youth for Jonathan (NDYJ) in Osun State during the election and why should its agents go as far as threatening to illegally shut down a State Broadcasting Station?

Michel Eyquem De Montaigne describes man as “stark mad”; one who “cannot make a flea, and yet he will be making gods by the dozens.” On a personal note, I have never been an apostle of a one-party state; for, if, where, and when it happens, democracy no doubt has lost its essence. Essentially, the Biblical Parable of the Lost Sheep has shown us how healthy competition could be the tonic of democracy. In other words, while a one-party state is not good for any country, the opposition also owes its supporters a duty of honesty, openness and sincerity of purpose. With a particular reference to Nigeria, one can only pray that Nigeria’s thirty six plus one states would not end up in one pocket, for that’s how money politics works!

Osun governorship election is over and it is presumed that governance has replaced politics. Thanks be to God who did not “not suffer” us “to be tempted above that” we “are able; but also”made a way to escape.” By now, those who were using religion as a potent tool to set the state ablaze ought to have been cleansed of their filth. Osun State has never been Islamized and nobody is contemplating it.

In Osun, we succeeded in wiping out the relevance of the political enchanters, attention-seekers and a band of Pharisean cult, which gloried in excessive vanity. As we therefore confidently march into the future, with Aregbesola as the sailor of our ship of state, “in righteousness shall” our state “be established.” As our land has turned against sorcerers and oppressors, long shall we continue, not only “to trample on snakes and scorpions” but also “to overcome all the power of the enemy”. And, because He lives, Osun State will continue to shine like the sun; and the name of the Lord who “knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations” will ever be praised.

May God save us from ourselves!

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (ijebujesa@yahoo.co.uk)
O20, Okenisa Street,
PO Box 153,
Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State,