OPINION: Options Before The Ruling Party By abiodun KOMOLAFE


Going by the objective of this piece, one of the articles I wrote some six years back could be described as the first of a two-part piece. The article, titled ‘Options Before the Opposition, came at a time the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, was not only in control of affairs in Nigeria, it also held five of six states in the Southwest by the jugular. Osun, the-then ‘State of the Living Spring’ was one of them.

While the grip lasted, Osun State was not only regarded as PDP’s world, the party’s word was also law. At the helm of affairs were impertinently capitalistic and haughty hawks in whose eyes progress was measured only by what went into their pockets. Emergency democrats of Hitlerian antecedents hijacked power and the best they could offer was the mortgage of the state’s fortune for thirty shekels of silver. A strange amalgam of contradictory traits, PDP became law onto itself, eloquently ridiculing humanity with blatant contradictions and comical sincerity. The ‘do-or-die’ party ruled the state with titillating indignation and it was as if tomorrow was a thousand years away.

Nothing, as the saying goes, lasts forever! Like a broken-winged bird that could no longer fly, PDP lost power in Osun State and its fortune immediately took a nosedive. Trends turned and fates twisted: the ‘Power‘ party not only lost in terms of men and materials, its loss also became the gain of the new party on the saddle. But, unlike the wasteful son who, when he came to himself, penitently went back to his father, PDP’s attempt at seeking righteous repentance after a downward spiral and crash has in the course of years past taken some dangerous twists, the latest being an incautious haven in the ‘financial crisis bedeviling the whole of the federation which Osun State is part of.’ Regrettably, rather than treat the current salary challenge as a national crisis which demands collective prayers and efforts to resolve, PDP has seen it as an opportunity to blackmail Governor Rauf Aregbesola as well as discredit whatever dividends of democracy his administration has delivered to the people.

“Politics”, according to Henry ‘Groucho’ Marx, “is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.” Recent events in Osun State tend to have confirmed the worrisomely volatile nature of politics which Mao Zedong once described as war without guns. As a matter of fact, that PDP as the main opposition party now blames others for its misfortune is not any surprise. After all, Nigeria’s ‘Five Majors’ blamed the ten percenters for that unforgettable insult on our national psyche while Yakubu Gowon and his band blandly blamed Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi for what eventually befell his (Aguiyi-Ironsi’s) gang. Olusegun Obasanjo blamed ‘Unknown Soldiers’ for the murder of Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti and, when he again failed as president, he simply asked us to take our case to God. When Olusegun Agagu lost at the Tribunal, he attributed his loss to the work of some invisible hands in government, even when he was an integral part of that government. PDP blamed Card Readers for its woes at the 2015 General Elections while Goodluck Jonathan, its presidential candidate, blamed unfriendly friends for his inability to keep a promise. Remember Godsday Orubebe? He blamed his embarrassing outbursts on frustration!

Adam blamed Eve for eating “of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden”; and Eve blamed the serpent for deceiving her. Patriarch Isaac blamed Rebecca for swapping Esau’s blessing with Jacob’s; and Esau blamed faintness for the mortgage of his birthright. Judas Iscariot blamed the Sanhedrin for “betraying the innocent blood”; and the Sanhedrin refused to put the money back into the treasury because, to them, it was [now] “the price of blood” and would rather use it to purchase the “Field of Blood” for the burial of strangers. From the foregoing, is anyone disconcerted by Justice Folahanmi Oloyede’s failure to substantiate her allegations which, in any case, are as far removed from decency and truth, against the governor?

But, opposition’s inherently defective and incurably incomprehensible distractions notwithstanding, it is a transparent fact that Aregbesola’s name remains untainted; his record, impeccable; and his popularity, unswerving. Unlike others who have drunkenly adapted to the exigencies and the contingencies of living in denial, the governor is a man of demonstrable accomplishment who sees the salary challenge as an unfortunate pass which would soon “smoke off in the state”. Little wonder he has set timelines for the completion of most of the outstanding projects initiated by his administration. For example, the Akoda-Gbongan-Ede Road is expected to be completed before the end of next year while the airport project at Ido Osun will become a dream-come-true before his Second Term expires. He’s given his word that Osogbo will attain its promised world class Capital City status while the School Feeding Scheme will not be sacrificed on the altar of wicked politics.

On a personal note, I refuse to accept the notion that the sole reason behind Osun State’s inability to meet its salary obligations to its workers is the ‘deduct-from-source’ loans problem. In my considered opinion, it is the inability of Nigerians to comparatively scrutinize certain premises that the people are this confused. For instance, interrogating the debt status of‎ other states in Osun’s situation in relation to monthly deductions from their Federation Account allocationswould have led us into why they are also in salary default to their workers. Peradventure, its outcome would have allowed for an appropriate classification of their governors either as prudent or reckless managers of resources – as Aregbesola is being unfairly labeled.

In any case, these are trying times for the ruling party in Osun State. Understandably so! We also know that the race to 2018 actually began the day 2014 governorship election was won and lost. And with an opposition party as desperate for power as PDP, docility in whatever shape or form on the part of the ruling party is not always a viable option. In other words, while we concede that the opposition reserves the right to remain ignorant and blindly agreeable, its penchant for mischief should neither be underestimated nor its capacity for treachery overlooked. Also, while APC, as it is presently constituted, may be a collection of sincere, vested and strange minds; and that it may take some time before the wheat is separated from the tares, events on our hands present a lucrative opportunity for holistic evaluation of possible roles played, in particular, by fifth columnists and ‘enemies within’ as this will go a long way in repositioning the party.

Which brings me to the all-important issue of internal democracy. For APC to remain the party to beat in Osun State, especially, within the context of the Nigerian socio-political landscape, it must continue be guided by the fundamentals of democratic tradition. For a fact, we should not delude ourselves into thinking that crushing the drama and the trauma of the Justice Oloyede-compliant ambush automatically translates into the suppression of the opposition’s penchant for devilish logic. No, not at all! Since they aren’t unsophisticated in their agenda, PDP and its agents have only temporarily switched into a ‘retreat and re-strategize’ mode! This is the more reason why some suggestions as canvassed by Jacob Adekomi and Obisesan Daramola at a summit recently organized by Osun Legislators’ Forum on how to move the state forward may not all be wished away. Gleaning one or two lessons from aftereffects of Bisi Akande’s downsizing of the state’s workforce in the early 2000s may also be helpful at a time like this. The culture of internal democracy and involvement of younger blood in the scheme of things are equally essential ingredients of democracy which the ruling party must continue to embrace.

As we all know, building an active governance competence requires tactics-savvy, innovative and proactive APC leadership. Like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Saul saw an opportunity to become king but wasted it. Blind Bartimaeus and Naaman the Leper not only grabbed the opportunity which came their way but also made the best use of it. After all, it’s only the wise who enjoy their wealth till old age.

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us the strength to defend our common values!

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (ijebujesa@yahoo.co.uk)