Since the creation of Ondo State from the old Western State in 1976, the collective aspiration and the determination of the people to succeed as an entity within the Nigeria commonwealth has never been threatened as had been witnessed in the last two years.
Not during the post-election crisis of 1983 when scores of prominent lives were wasted and hundreds of millions of naira worth of property destroyed when the anger of a politically conscious people was visited on the unbridled ambition of some power mongers who were hell bent to steal their ballot was the state moved to the edge of the precipice.
Not even during the difficult days of the struggle for the actualization of the June 12, 1993 presidential elections, won by business mogul, M.K.O. Abiola but annulled by a gang of selfish military cabal when identified political icons in the state stood unwaveringly on the side of justice, was the state drawn to the verge of disintegration.
The two above-stated episodes instead of threatening the unity of the state, only reinvigorated the believe of the people of the Sunshine State in their collective responsibility to blaze the trail of democratic principles as enshrined in the power of the ballot and their commitment to the oneness of Nigeria based on fair play, truth and social justice.
Like every other state of the federation, Ondo had its ups and downs specially during the military regimes when non-indigenes were made to preside over the state affairs, leading to the heat-up of the system and the neglect of all the indices of growth thereby stunting development of a people whose state, because of their sophistication, should be the flagship of others in the country.
The democratic experience of 1999 – 2003, during which the flag of democracy was hoisted over the land through the rule of the Alliance of Democracy (AD), a party that laid claim to continuity of the old political order of the South-West region when this part of the country witnessed tremendous growth, only wet the appetite of the people for the goods inherent in representative governance.
The growth, in the real sense of the world, wherein an unprecedented list of development was recorded in every facets of social and economic life however came with the advent of the administration of Dr. Olusegun Agagu’s administration in 2003.
And for once, the progressive minded people of the state saw development as it had never been seen before. It was almost unreal, like watching a grain of maize grow before your very eyes and in your presence. All the flashpoints were doused and irreversible steps of development that launched the state well ahead of its peers were being taken in measured and sure gaits.
But when the Labour Party (LP), an amalgam of groups of political jobbers who found leadership and direction in the character of a public name with uncontrolled personal quest for political power, things took turn for the worst.
The first sign of their appearance was the introduction of violence into the political field such that even before the election, fear of the unknown hung like the sword of Damocles on the state’s political firmament.
It is on record that on the eve of the gubernatorial elections, something unheard of in the state, the frightening sound of a detonated bomb, planted within the premises of the Agagu Campaign Headquarters, minutes before a schedule meeting of prominent individuals, shook the building and indeed the whole of Akure, to its foundation.
Caches of arms and ammunition, meant to play out the bizarre drama of the emergence of an over ambitious man and his band of political leeches as the controllers of our collective inheritance, were smuggled into the state with the connivance of dubious security agencies and powerful outsiders who, discredited at their various homes, wanted to pitch their camp on our shores to loot our treasury.
A ravenous band of opportunists had been unleashed on the state and the polity would never be the same again as several unwholesome antics were brought to play in the field of politics putting concrete meaning into the saying that politics is a dirty game.
As expected, a dark cloud of apprehension was hovering over our state but our people, despite the unprecedented release of a floodgate of negative propaganda and outright lies, stood their grounds and re-elected governor Agagu, who in the previous four years had given a refreshingly new meaning to governance.
Even during the polls, attempts were made to literarily set the state on fire to prevent the democratic train from running its full course. In Irele, several of these people were rounded up by the security agencies in possession of fearsome armoury with which they intended to unleash mayhem in the sleepy community.
Arrested alongside these destructive political elements were several hoodlums who were brought in from outside the state but unfortunately the Irele stoppage could not be replicated in other parts of the state and many of these thugs found their way in to cause general confusion on poll day.
With the defeat of these elements at the polls despite all their antics and violence which could not stop the aspiration of a people determined not to halt the cause of development, one would expect that they would at least give peace a chance but even after the exercise, they appeared more resolute in their destructive tendencies.
To the tribunal they went with all manners of manipulations that could be found in their books of tricks and at the end of the day, succeeded in getting a flawed judgment.
And when the matter had been taken to the appeal level, where the inconsistencies of the lower court are expected to be revealed and the truth upheld, a new onslaught is being visited on our state.
An order to stop the state from functioning was obtained without any legal representation from the government and this was done in Benin even when a parallel court of equal jurisdiction exists in Akure.
Prior to this, they had, through spurious petition to the EFCC and the ICPC, obtained restraints against the government from discharging its statutory responsibility to the people of this state through the spread of general goods among the population.
Some of the projects that these people hoped to stop are the N14.4 billion Owena Multipurpose Dam water reticulation scheme which would in effect put a stop to the thirst of millions of people in the Central Senatorial District for potable water and the N3.8 billion Akure Township Stadium that will change the skyline of the state capital.
Their recent actions have however showed clearly that they are a band of retrogressive elements that are uncomfortable with the giant strides that the state under Agagu is taking in the area of development and who are ready to do anything from stopping the people’s progress.
It is a pity that the Labour Party is fighting it dirty and making politics look like a do or die affair. Politics is not dirty. Neither should it be as vicious. Politics is not a do or die affair where people are honest and sincere.
The people will overcome.