By Doyin Odebowale
The campaign rally of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, held at Osogbo in the State of Osun on Saturday, 2nd August, 2014, should compel deep introspection. It may, perhaps, be used as a veritable template to measure the nadir of infamy to which the south west has fallen. Speaker after speaker entertained the audience at the event with embarrassing shallowness which left an unmistakable impression of pervasive vacuity.
The central message was that power must change hands; the people of the region must embrace “mainstream” politics to arrive at the Eldorado of opportunities which they have been missing since they decided to try another group of politicians. The cast for this tragic histrionics included several personalities whose sordid deeds have brought us, as a people, to this sorry pass.
There was indeed an impressive array of run-away fugitives, ex-convicts, characters currently undergoing criminal trials ,but who eagerly anticipate the munificence of “plea bargaining” for crossing over to the ruling party, plain hustlers, governors, ex-governors, the rambunctious Ekiti “people’s governor-elect”, Ayo Fayose, former and serving legislators including the former speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, a recent beneficiary of the shoddy preferment of charges by EFCC, Alao Akala, a former nemesis of Oyo State waiting to “reclaim” his birthright, Buruji Kashamu, the PDP south west “enforcer”, beatified ex-con Bode George, among others. Yoruba people, widely reputed for sophistication and sagacity, could not have felt more humbled by the show of shame.
There was absolutely nothing promised, specifically, other than omnibus and hypocritical references to a “better performance” than those “who have carried your money to Lagos”. Programmes concerning the welfare of the masses are not considered as important. No mention was made of the roads they constructed which Aregbesola destroyed. Very ominous promise! The word “progressive” has also finally crept into the lexicon of the very people whose omissions and/or commissions are responsible for much of the despair in the land.
It matters little to these funny elements that the whole country is at war and their ineptitude is at the root of the lingering crises. The fact that Nigerians are killed on a daily basis and the so called security agencies are unable to respond positively means nothing to them. This same party has been at the helm of affairs at the centre for fifteen years, during which time there has been progressive degeneration in virtually all sectors of the polity. There have been stories of missing funds in billions of dollars in NNPC. That is not serious enough. Major functionaries have been accused of profligacy and outright stealing. Dr. Jonathan says corruption is not stealing. This government wants to obtain a loan of $1billion to combat Boko Haram. No explanation is regarded as useful.
Musiliu Obanikoro, Minister of State for Defence, justified this unpardonable profligate tendency with the claim that the military had not purchased new weapons in the last twenty five years. PDP has been in power at the centre for fifteen years out of this period. Defence has always had a humongous chunk of the whole budget throughout the time in focus. Our people are not considered important enough to warrant an answer before seeking their mandate for another round of affliction.
I had listened attentively in anticipation of the manifesto of the “most educated politician in Nigeria”, Iyiola Omisore, PhD. Nothing, other than vacuous effusions from characters, who should, at best, be in jail in Europe and America or should have been forgotten as having existed in the world were they to be in China.
There was a boast that they would repeat what they did in Ekiti. The security agents had arrested notable members of the opposition party, APC some days before that charade. Two serving governors were prevented from entering Ekiti state. Amaechi was turned back at the border. Adams Oshiomole was unlucky.
He was prevented from boarding his flight. Many of the party agents were arrested and detained. They were only released after the so called election. This threat, as this is what it amounts to, was not predicated on any index of sterling performance, both in the past or at present. They even invited “God” and “Allah” to come and assist them in their mission to pillage the land.
The quality of the crowd in attendance confirmed the hypocrisy of the elements in government. I was at Dada Estate in Osogbo during the rally. I watched it life on Channels Television. Many of these characters were invaders brought in buses and countless SUVs. The hotel I stayed was fully booked by thugs and security agents who cohabited in a curious symbiotic interaction which presages danger for the peace of that state. I watched a gregarious exchange of pleasantries, cigarette and the tough stuff, puffed generously to scorn the on-lookers. I believe that these goons are brought in not for the rally but for the election proper.
The other place where you would find miscreants struggling for money, “rices”, apologies to Iyiola Omisore, PhD, and campaign souvenirs was at the PDP candidate’s” war office” on the road that leads to Oke-Fia. The people of the state watched the invaders, some of whom “wore” the T-Shirts which bore the inscription “Bode George Boys”, with utter contempt. Perhaps the government recruits had sensed that the mood of the people was not favourable to any further display of idiocy after the riotous display of the so called security agents who covered their faces in hoods. The PDP chieftains fear that there will be a backlash if they intensify the siege. No soldiers came this time around but security operatives and thugs stood in for them.
The programme opened with the invocation of the power of the “holy ghost” in a gathering of vultures. It was evident that the organizers of the rally are mediocre in perception and execution. It is not surprising that they have run the country aground if that was their mega rally. Ambassador, “Dr” and “Pastor” Yemi Farounbi was invited to pray in the Christian tradition.
He invited Jesus to come and assist them to take over power from Aregbesola. He also asked him to develop the state. Some of those standing by did not seem to believe in his prayer and they were going to grab the microphone from the hypocrite. Were they not there for Omisore? Why on earth should anyone bring in Jesus Christ even if some people regard him as God? He was first rendered inaudible before being asked to get off the stage for more enterprising entertainers.
Enter the cast; the dramatis personae on stage will compete favourably with our Nollywood actors and actresses. Femi Fani-Kayode was overjoyed for returning to his “family”. He must have been acting under some extra-ordinary influence that he could not realise that his invitation to renounce APC publicly amounted to public humiliation. He recanted like a common slave. The same PDP which he deprecated with vitriolic venom has become the only party through which Nigerians can be saved.
The most hilarious aspect of his comedy was the reason he advanced for the volte face. APC is a Boko Haram party and PDP is not. Bola Tinubu abused traditional rulers, especially the Ooni of Ife, and he would not remain in the same party with a person who does not respect that institution. As for Aregbesola, this “born-again” Christian would have him bundled out of office because he introduced “foreign” idols to the State of Osun! Can there be any further evidence of insanity than this exhibition of ignorance?
I know that the word paganus in Latin refers to a worshipper of foreign gods and goddesses. It is from this term that the English connotation of paganism is derived. How can a sane person regard Africans as idol worshippers in their land when Christians and Muslims are indeed the pagans? He must have been referring to the introduction of the study of Ifa in Osun public schools and the official recognition accorded traditional worshippers.
He left APC for PDP because of Boko Haram, among other asinine reasons. Aregbesola, however, is an “idol worshipper” who has taken Osun back to “Egypt”. He could not have been talking about Osun, the source of the Yoruba in Nigeria. Somebody actually needs a shrink urgently! The charge of fraud preferred against him by EFCC is no longer of any moment. The president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, liberally described, in pejorative terms, is now fit to lead the country of a deeply divided people. Sycophancy is mild a word for such a confused character.
Ayo Fayose, the in-coming imperial governor of Ekiti state, pronounced Omisore as the next governor “by the power conferred” on him. He said PDP was now ready with senior lawyers who would defend him at the tribunal. The former Speaker, Dimeji Bankole, and the governor of Akwa Ibom state, Godswill Akpabio, want the people of Osun to join “mainstream” politics. Mr. Sambo, the Vice President of Nigeria, eulogized Omisore as one of the best Engineers in the country and a good “strategist”.
If his description of the character regarded as felon-in-chief by most decent people of the south west region is correct, then I admit that we have all failed to recognize a genius at close quarters. I shall be the first person to acknowledge this “erudite scholar”, a holder of a PhD degree in Engineering, as the best thing to happen to us after Ayodele Awojobi. I only have to be convinced that he did not participate in the gruesome murder of Chief Bola Ige, SAN. Like Lagbaja, the musician who refused to be corralled into the wicked attempt to rubbish Ige’s memory, I believe that he is culpable.
The president added nothing special to add to the inanities of the earlier comedy than to call on the people of the south west to vote for Omisore. He had apologized for keeping the people waiting. He went to pay homage to traditional rulers in contradistinction to Bola Tinubu who abused them, according to Fani Kayode. He would want us to join the transformation train like Ekiti. He had no words on the state of insecurity in the polity. Save from empty reassurance always given to Nigerians whenever lives and property are destroyed by mindless extremists, there was no word on the kidnapped Chibok girls, three months after the tragic incident.
The revelry came to an end as it started. The people of Osun took nothing away from this disgraceful outing. There was no promise on education in specific terms. Aregbesola met dilapidated schools and PTA employed teachers. A teacher was an expert of miscellany when he assumed the mantle of leadership. One teacher taught as many as five subjects in all areas. One of the sins committed by this man was the massive employment of qualified teachers. The fact that he has been feeding school pupils is also unpardonable. Local farmers empowered economically can now send their children to school.
The quality improvement on infrastructure is there for all to see. The PDP supporters who came from all over the country in solidarity with their candidate had a smooth ride in Osun. Not even Bayelsa state, the home of the president can boast of the quality of works in the state. President Jonathan could not have failed to see new school buildings in Ife when he went to visit the Ooni. The fact that most of the people living in the state shunned them became established after they ended their jamboree. A day after the invasion, there is no visible sign of their rancorous presence in Osogbo. I witnessed it.
The Opon Imo, the tablet of knowledge, an uncommon innovation by this government, remains unparalleled in the history of this country. I had expected a statement from the PhD holder because I had gone through a copy and found his earlier comment that the project was a scam as untrue and mischievous. I waited to hear that the farmers and graduates encouraged to practise agriculture on a large scale are from Lagos. I was disappointed when Omisore failed to mention the fact that the roads in all the nooks and crannies of the state being constructed are going to be used by “Lagos people”.
Above all, the unprecedented peace enjoyed by all and sundry in the last four years could not have escaped the memory of those who fondly described Omisore as a “strategist”. There was no violence in the land until he commenced his campaign. There have been explosions and deaths. A school building under construction collapsed, the very first of its kind. This incredible coincidence occurred at a time when the government was being praised for the quality jobs undertaken everywhere.
It is tragic, to assert the least, that the ruling party, which is responsible for the ruinous rule in the country, thinks that the people of the south west, who rejected all it represented a while ago, will now embrace it because of the parochial expediency of being at the centre. The region has been serially raped in the past. General Obasanjo deceived some into believing that joining other nation wreckers would be of direct benefit to the region. The country is being bled to death. The characters who paraded themselves, shamelessly, on that political stage cannot point at one positive thing they have brought to the people. All of them are united in one respect, namely, despoliation of our commonwealth.
It is our bounden duty to reject them in totality. The alternative is to watch our region slip into anarchy and under-development.