With the May 26 Judgement of the Supreme Court that affirmed Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola as the winner of the August 9, 2014 governorship election in Osun, the state’s PDP knew it has come to the end of the road in its long sustained but futile bid to come to power in the state. It therefore had to devise some unconventional means to unseat the governor.
On Sunday June 14, one of the leaders of the party in the state called a meeting of party bigwigs, stakeholders and loyalists at the party’s secretariat for the purpose of repositioning the party for next elections after its brutalisation and crushing defeats in elections since 2011. But to their chagrin, they were told by the frustrated politician to brace up to his plan of action of making the state ungovernable, if they ever hope to win any election in the state.
However, Osun State Security Council got wind of the plans and read the riot act to them on June 19 after its emergency meeting.
The first stage of the plan was to import thugs and hoodlums into the state in the week starting from June 22. These thugs were to unleash mayhem in the name of protesting delay in payment of workers’ salaries and pensions. The ‘protest’ was to be accompanied with killing, looting and arson, both of public and private property. An NGO was formed a week before the rioting to be the arrowhead of the felony in order to give the thugs a façade of legitimacy.
Justice Olamide Folahanmi Oloyede’s petition asking for the impeachment of the governor was to be the second stage of this plot. Coming after the mayhem, destruction and state of insecurity, the petition would have provided a comfortable ground for some of the legislators who had been promised money and positions if they should carry the impeachment through.
When the state security council aborted the subversive protest with its sabre rattling, we though Oloyede’s petition would be shelved too. However, Oloyede went ahead with her petition. If stage two was to ride on the wave of stage one and stage one was aborted, why go ahead with stage two that landed on dry ground without the expected support?
This is because there was stage three designed to give fillip to stage two. Stage three was eventually carried out on Tuesday July 7 but it was stillborn. The ‘protesters’ made up of known PDP members and local leaders, a very tiny section of the retirees on the payroll of an Ife politician (about 50) and sundry thugs (local and imported) had gathered around Ola-Iya junction in Osogbo (The area is a hotbed of progressive activism).
However, Aregbesola, the master tactician and a good student of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu took the wind out of their sail. While going to his office that morning, he turned the trip into a carnival as he slowed his convoy to acknowledge cheers from the people on the route, who trouped out to greet him. Women, men, children, traders, artisans, commercial motorcyclists, just everybody within the vicinity came out to mob his convoy. Some were weeping. Others were praying loudly and openly for him while others were cursing his enemies.
When the convoy reached Ola-Iya, which is a market place, the crowd surrounding him had become tumultuous, swallowing and overwhelming the miserable protesters who had gathered in the place before. Possibly out of fear and or shame, many of them took to their heels on being overwhelmed. And so, Aregbesola rode to the office triumphantly that day, overwhelming and shaming those who thought they could ambush and embarrass him.
To add salt to injury, the story that went to town that day was how Aregbesola rode triumphantly to office and how his enemies put tail between hind legs and fled – ran away as in terror.
Interestingly, while signing a memorandum of understanding with the state government before calling off its industrial action, the state’s NLC denied that its members participated in the farcical protest of July 7, claiming that the charade was politically motivated.
The body of pensioners in the state also claimed that the union did not participate in any protest, that Governor Aregbesola’s administration had treated retirees very well before the financial crisis that engulfed the whole nation, and not Osun alone.
Also, the chairman of the state’s vendors association also signed a statement, denying that his members were attacked by Aregbesola’s supporters.
Lastly, on July 28, Justice Oloyede refused to appear before the house committee set up to investigate her claim. Apparently, she has developed cold feet. There are unconfirmed reports that the state’s Judicial Commission is unhappy about her petition, which has put the judiciary into disrepute. They were shocked to find that a judge displayed open political partisanship, something unheard in the history of the judiciary.
Her not appearing meant her petition is dead and she herself is in trouble. For all practical purposes, therefore, the coup of PDP to remove Governor Aregbesola from office through subterfuge and conspiracy has failed.
The first lesson we must learn from this is that if God is with someone, no matter how formidable his enemies are, he would overcome them and put them to shame.
Secondly, politicians must accept that a democratically elected governor, that is popular with his people and has not committed an impeachable offence, can only be changed through tenure expiration, losing election or by a competent court of law.
Thirdly, a new dawn has come to Nigeria where only values like credibility, integrity and a track record of unblemished public service will commend a candidate to voters.
It is my hope that the defeated candidates of PDP will accept their destiny and try to amend their ways, instead of working to destabilise Osun State. If, with all the support they got from former President Goodluck Jonathan with cash, dogs, masked gunmen and other security operatives, they could not unseat Aregbesola in Osun, what makes them think that they could overthrow him now?