Segun Osoba The Conqueror

by Banjo Odutola

Segun Osoba The Conqueror

If the title of this monograph is considered a blurb, I plead the issues raised are judged contextually with the political landscape of our country. If I am charged with a lack of originality, then I plead guilty. But, I seek to be absolved because the arguments herein mitigate on my behalf. Trust me; I hold no brief for the diminutive governor of Ogun State, whose political strides are gigantic and a direct antonym of his stature.

So, I begin from the beginning – a pleonasm borrowed from K.O. Mbadiwe’s circumlocution. Are there similarities between Osoba and William the Conqueror, the King of England and Duke of Normandy? Is it the reputation of their tenacity or brutality, whichever is nearer the mark that is an acceptable symbol? King William fought real battles and captured territories. Osoba’s victory is of no territorial dimension. At least, the recent gubernatorial primaries of the Alliance for Democracy in Ogun State, where all but five votes cast went to him and his opponents did not have a single vote is the point of my focus. His political victory is curious and grave for our nascent democracy. This is not about Osoba bashing, it is about the under currents in such (s)election and how it affects the future of our democracy.

Is this not the same governor, who is considered to have had a bite of the apple once and this current term should have been his last? Well, the penchant for holding to power for as long as there is a powerful constituency backing the affront, is an African phenomenon. As you know, our so-called leaders have no understanding of natural justice or equity in the precedents they champion. Osoba though may rely on the abhorrent political set up, which paves the way for him to govern more times than is required in a sustained Constitution. But, there is an essence of leadership that strives to do what is morally just and shun what is legally permissible. Let us take a weird example that is still possible in our country; would Osoba seek to run for the same office in the future if the military intervenes in 2008 for a few months before returning government under a different Constitution? Would the governor argue that he served two terms under a different constitution, so, he is entitled to another term under a new constitution? He may well attempt it. You see, such submission, albeit is legally right but it is equally perverted. Are there no capable hands in the State to run its affairs? If this Osoba were a military man, you can bet that he would have been a bedfellow with the men of the armed forces that we condemn so readily for their putsches. Yet, he is one of those yelling about democracy. What hypocrisy?

Now, his fate lies with the electorate; somewhat, I hope he is humiliated and reminded that he is a Wobia and an Alaseju. In as much as his victory humiliated his opponents, it is unconvincing and raises more concerns than it dispels. There are several questions that we should be asking. The so-called landslide victory in a part of our nation, which is mostly rural, unsophisticated and underdeveloped, portends danger that we must stand against and nip in its bud. So, my proposition is an aide de noir to stir the electorate into rejecting a homegrown and dubious political makeover presently pervading our country. If the trend takes root in our politics, it may be difficult to expunge in the future.

King William as a forebear of Osoba operated with political dexterity; I am sure that the same can be said of the governor. The King was adept at rewarding loyalty to the extent of granting largess of captured parcels of land to his supporters. Osoba is most likely different. His recent victory is an indication that there are no dissents to his governance. It is difficult to imagine such satisfaction in Nigeria. Anyway, it must be granted that the opposition to his candidature converts the concinnity, which the victory suggests. So, why am I unhappy with the outcome of the AD primaries that s(e)elected Osoba? I ponder on three reasons that inform my discomfort.

Firstly, one or two of his opponents may have contested the primaries as tickets out of oblivion. After all, there are no defined requirements that candidates for these primaries must have contributed constructively by way of political foot soldiering in the States that they seek to govern. Furthermore, the Oduduwa States lack vibrant oppositions; that of course excludes the miscreant OPC politics. The absence of opposition in Yoruba politics cannot be good for democracy; it is a wrong; it is a regressive construct that breeds the wrong people for our seats of power.

The reason for the failure of Osoba’s opponents is the same as the one for his victory. It is simple. There is no distinct reason to prefer one candidate to another, so it is preferable to vote for the governor as a volte-face to any other alternatives. Where the political achievements of the opponents ought to have served them; they had no track records of service to expect support. They have little to showcase their involvements in their own villages and surrounding conurbations. When closely examined, their political antecedents are barren. Yet, they present themselves for the highest office in the State. It can only happen in Nigeria.

In the forthcoming elections, there is a disturbing trend that needs to be addressed. A lot of ‘Andrews‘ (Nigerians in Diaspora) living in the comfort of foreign lands rush home to contest elections. If they lose the elections, they have the alternatives of returning to their foreign homes and environments; thereby, avoiding the reality of harsh existence at home. These are politicians that should be denied access to elected offices or at least be required to pass a domiciliary test, which must require aspirants to be domiciled in the areas they seek political appointments for a certain number of days in a year within the life of the previous administration. This means that once an aspirant fails to meet the test in one of the four years, he would have to wait for another term before he can aspire for an elected office. If these ‘Andrews‘ care enough to serve the electorate, they should live amongst those whom they aspire to govern. These same ‘Andrews‘ are of no political benefits in the constituencies of their foreign abode and they are far away from home to contribute meaningfully to our country; they are absent stakeholders. Ridiculous, isn’t it? Their aspirations only result in fattening the delegates who vote in primaries. Perhaps, it is arguable that Osoba truly deserves his victory. But does he really?

Secondly, the impending ‘Battle for Ogun State’ is set to define President Obasanjo, who like Osoba is seeking another term. There are other similarities between the governor and the president; both are easily irritated and they are known for vituperating outbursts. They are two of the luckiest citizens on our political landscape; the seat of power is a Kola that the gods have broken for them, so easily. Lucky duo. However, their similarities end there. Osoba represents AD and Obasanjo is for Peoples Democratic Party(PDP).They are of different political persuasions. Can I say that? Are our political parties different from each other? I am still to be convinced. This present democratic dispensation, more or less proves the point. The only issue our politicians care about is self-serving at its core and that is the reason why the news is all about the players and not about the purpose of the game. If you doubt me, take stock of news reports of the last six months and therein my point is made.

Anyway, Obasanjo needs to deliver his Home State for the victory of his party. Otherwise, his failure may wound him like Al Gore of the USA. Therefore, should we not be concerned that when two elephants fight, it is the ground that suffers; the proverbial ground in this case may well be Ogun State. Would Osoba sink Obasanjo and his micro-lending friend, Gbenga Daniel of the PDP? Well, since Osoba’s party is still in the market place for a presidential candidate; if it adopts Obasanjo, such a move may not absolve Osoba in favour of Gbenga Daniel. But at least, the contest is set to introduce a vibrant opposition into the politics of the Yorubas, which in itself is encouraging. My concern is not only about the impending bilious and inveterate rancour, which Ogun State is to witness at the victory of Gbenga Daniel; it is the power now invested in Osoba to hand pick his successor, if Daniel is not elected. Look, if a public official is returned unopposed by a collegiate constituency, nothing stops him from messaging his ego at the expense of the electorate. Accordingly, we are geared to expect future aspirants seeking the anointment of Osoba. I have not doubt that we shall regret the enterprise.

My last concern is of the same head as the last one. Here is the proposition. If it is accepted that Osoba rules, OK?, can we expect his stooge to unravel his policies even if they are bad for the State? I admit this is a conjecture; it could well be an apothegm. So, how does that bear for us, as a country, if the politics of Osoba is replicated in other States? In Ogun State or other parts of the country, the electorate may be stuck with bad political judgements of a previous governor, which the incumbent would not change in defiance of his mentor. In that case, what invariably we are endorsing by stealth is the disenfranchisement of the electorate – pure and simple.

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